makethislast

religion, books, henna

Posted in Uncategorized by Diana on March 19, 2010

Today was good all around.

Everyday in class, we have language and cross cultural discussion. Today’s discussion topic was Islam, something I know close to nothing about, so I was interested in learning more.

Personal observations thus far:

  • Most Muslims are not radical believers of Islam. They are like any other people who subscribe to a religion – they work hard, perform religious rituals, and are busy raising their children and taking care of his/her family. They are very hospitable people but also respect others’ differences.
  • People are religious (e.g., my host mother prays 4-5 times a day) but no one’s tried to convert me (that I know of).

Highlights from this introductory session – Islam 101:

  • Islam is the name of the religion; Muslim is a person who believes in and follows it.
  • Most Arabs are Muslim but majority of Muslims aren’t Arab. For instance, there’s a large Muslim population in Indonesia.
  • 5 pillars of Islam: Shahada (testimony of faith), Salat (prayer), Zakat (charity), Sawm Ramadan (fasting), and Hajj (pilgrimage).
  • Muslims have 2 angels on their shoulders: one on the right side keeps track of your good deeds, one on the left side keeps track of your bad deeds. Both are assessed on your judgment day.

Memorable parts of the discussion:

  • This cross cultural session wasn’t just about Islam. As a group, we covered most if not all of the major religions, compared and contrasted, and learned from one another. Each person was generally curious to know more. At the same time, there wasn’t anyone trying to push her/his own faith onto others. 5 intelligent women (and an LCF) discussing more than 5 different types of religions.
  • Muslims believe Islam is the most refined/fine-tuned religion. There are several versions of the Bible and, according to the Koran, people rewrote certain parts of the Bible so that it (in a sense) “accommodated” their lifestyles has it deviated from the religion
  • Islam and Christianity both say that the belief in Allah/God is the ultimate saving grace. Not believing in God negates all the good deeds one accomplished in a lifetime. But there’s also a catch 22 between having faith and doing good deeds.
  • Religion is about choices.
  • The more I learn about different religions, the more I see commonalities across them. Think about humanity and the common thread that connects us all. Do unto others as you want others to do unto you.

I want to read more books. I love how every in my CBT, including the LCF, enjoys reading as a pastime. Several book titles and authors have been discussed. Now I’m eager to lose myself in a book. Too bad it’s uncommon for women to read at cafes by themselves here. Then again, where are the cafes in my douar? 🙂

This evening, a few of us went over to a PCT’s host family’s house to get henna done. It was my first time getting it done! The “paint” reminds me of puffy paint. After peeling off the dried paint, the henna stain looks orange on my skin. The artist made really neat designs on my hands, let’s see how long they last. I’d like to pick up a henna kit and design (temporary) body art! 🙂

By the way, my hair’s grown “long” enough to braid now (sort of). Small successes. 🙂

Also, I forgot to mention in yesterday’s post: I successfully asked a man on the street to help me find the butahanout (store owner) when my group went to buy fruit. Woohoo, small successes!

Last but not least: Every now and again, I’ll feel pangs of homesickness. Luckily, they don’t last long. Why? Because I’m in Morocco! 🙂

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