The Islamic Center, You and Me

Muslims pray here

 

I’ve been reading a lot of the Huffington Post lately, as it is my new-found obsession. I have been commenting obsessively about this crazy “Ground Zero Mosque” charade that’s going on in NYC and across the nation and I’m truly at a loss for words.  

Buddhists Pray Here

What is Mosque any way?  What’s a shul, or synagogue?  What’s a church?  What’s a temple?  Do they make bombs in mosques?  Do they burn babies in synagogues?  Do they worship idols in churches/temples??  Nope.  We pray in them.  They’re houses of prayer.  A place for community, to eat, sing, dance, pray, meditate, enjoy the company of others.  They hold sacred texts, the architecture is often awe-inspiring, They are often beautifully decorated with stained glass, beautiful mosaics, paintings, gilded in gold.   Homes of languages, English, Spanish, Hebrew, Arabic, Sanskrit.  I digress… 

Jews Pray Here

Being a writer, I’m never at a loss of words but the words that I keep coming up with our those of a toddler.  Why?  Any parent of a 2-year-old will tell you that “Why” is one of those words that you try not to teach your child and some how it happens that they learn the singular question and the Pandora’s Box of Why is opened and you never, ever have an answer no matter how hard you try. 

I was a Why Child, my mother tells me.  Everything she said was questioned and the answers she gave were questioned until impatient and exhausted she would retort, “Because, that’s why!”  Jullian, my beautiful 4-year-old nephew, is a Why Child and as events continue to unfold before my eyes and ears I’m remembering that I am, in fact, a Why Child. 

The first I heard of the “Ground Zero Mosque” was at work at 4AM by employees who were giving me a very loose, very ignorant interpretation of what was going on.  Because they were talking in ear shot and they were being bigoted and you know, discrimination in the work place is a no-no I asked them to change their topic of conversation from racist ones to something more appropriate. 

As the weeks go on I can’t help but wonder Why American’s cannot see what they’re doing?  Let’s take a look at History, keeping in mind that I am not a history scholar, nor do I pretend to be. 

We “discover” America.  Never mind the people who’ve lived on the continent for centuries.  We come in, we over power them, we make them into savages, beasts, less-than humans.  We use our fire power to over power them and drive them off the land and now these people live in fractions of land without basic human, American privileges like education, health care, and a sense of belonging.  The entire span of the continent that is North America shrunk into spaces – Reservations we call them.  What are we reserving?  We’ve taken away a way of life, and more than that we’ve taken away a people. 

 

Next we board ships and cross the Atlantic and rip a people, my people, from their own country.  We strip them of their humanity, their dignity, their identity and shackle them in bowels of ships like cattle.  The unfortunate ones who survive the journey back across the Atlantic are then treated worse than cattle, worse than live stock.  They aren’t given rights because they are property and are treated as such.  Human beings striped of anything human in a society where a family can be broken up and sold, women can be raped, and men can be tortured. 

  

When my people are given emancipation we’re still second class citizens without the right to own property or vote and to this day a black person walking down the wrong street on the wrong night is not safe. 

 

 The Next second class citizens, women, are never stripped of rights because we never had them at all.  

 

 The thing that “marriage supporters” always forget that the purpose of marriage, originally, had nothing to do with religion at all.  It was an exchange of property and goods and ownership, the woman, from one man to another.  The Hebrew Bible is riddled with women being treated no better than slaves.  Lot offers his virgin daughters to the savages of Sodom for goodness sake!    

 

Women fought for what we believed in and still we make less money, we cannot be ordained as holy people in many faiths, we’re still seen as second class citizens and some men feel that it’s their right or privilege to call out in the streets, grab in the bars… 

 

Japanese people after the World War, Jews at any time in history.  We’re making it impossible for Mexicans to seek solice in our country when the purpose of our country was to give solice to those who came looking,   “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.  Send these, the homeless, the tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” 

 

When the twin towers fell I sat watching at home with my family like everyone else.  I remember listening to the broadcasters and thinking to myself when they said “Muslim terrorists” G-d help us.  Some blacks scoffed it off, “now someone else knows what it feels like.”  People spit bigotry and racism freely and very few opposed it.  

When the twin towers fell 16 radical “Islamic” men took the lives of thousands of men, women, children.  Jews, Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Atheists, etc., etc.  Gays, straights, lesbians, queers…Blacks, Whites, Asians, Latinos… 

It was a loss for all Americans including Americans who are Muslims.  The world watched in horror remembering D-Day, The Shoah, A divided Ireland, an oppressed Germany.  Why? 

Why can’t people remember those things?  Why can’t people remember their humanity, their compassion, their love, the fact that at one time we all were “Muslim”, the “other” person, people, sex, gender, race… 

Reading history books in school, whether it be grade school, high school, or college, I remember shaking my head in dismay at the horrors that we humans have wrought upon other humans.  Rereading the Torah I shake my head still.  As a civilization we continue to do this and Why don’t we learn? 

As a Jew, we believe that Moshiach will come when the world is free of all sin, and I’m paraphrasing clearly.  It’s written far more eloquently else where.  Christians also belive that the world will be redeemed when it’s pure and guess what?  Muslims think that, too!!  

How will Moshiach come if we’re acting like savage beasts!?  Why would s/he?  I sure as hell wouldn’t.  G-d promised Noah that he’d never destroy the earth again after the great flood.  Let’s remember that Erika does NOT take the Bible for face value.  One of the reasons I’m embracing Judaism is because it’s encouraged for me to “wrestle” with the Torah.  I’ve said it before and I’m saying it again.  I bet G-d is regretting that promise right about now. 

   

   

 

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One thought on “The Islamic Center, You and Me

  1. Pingback: The Islamic Center, You, and Me « Black, Gay, and Jewish

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