Hal Pepinsky, firstname.lastname@example.org, pepinsky.blogspot.com
August 23, 2010
I was a guest of a devout Muslim family in Magomeni Makuti, Tanzania, a district of Dar es Salaam, from January to June of 1990. I have just viewed youtube’s “injustice cannot defeat injustice,” after listening to a local npr talk show, email@example.com. There Ann Fisher’s guests spoke of what it meant to them to celebrate Ramadan. First of all, it meant deepest jihad, the ultimate Koranic “struggle,” to do god’s work as in a community center designed to invite in and reach out in the face of religious extremism…as servants of the god of peace in the neighborhood of spiritual darkness.
During Ramadan, my Magomeni hosts served me kebab skewers in midafternoon when I got back from the U of Dar. They assured me that I dare not try fasting myself, and demonstrated their service of god to neighbors by giving me tiny delicacies like little kabobs.
The house I stayed in in Magomeni had a bench along its frontside, called a “baraza” in Swahili. Being on the baraza in casual dress is pretty much like being in a swing on a porch in an old US urban neighborhood.
One starlit evening a week or two after my arrival, after a fried-egg supper that followed his return from evening prayer, Mshangama took me out to his baraza. He looked up at a super starlit sky and asked me, Heri (my Swahili name), do you believe in God? By that time he knew my father was Jewish, my mother Christian by birth, my wife born Polish Catholic, and myself unaffiliated. And as Mshangama’s fellow child of Abraham, I readily answered yes, I believe in a higher force that spreads love and friendship.
Jews, Christians and Muslims are in ancestral order descendants of one dad guy named Abraham. My Cherokee friend Steve Russell calls Abrahamists collectively “patriarchal desert cults.”
I see the Islamic Cultural Center in lower Manhattan as an act of grace—of demonstration that public intolerance of non-violent religious practice will not be tolerated in our midst.
Surely in the eyes many in the outside world, the US nationwide Judao-Christian movement against mosques is political demagoguery fueling one more round of Judao-Christian religious Crusades also known as wars. Enough already. Love and peace--hal