Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Lighten the darkness

Janet posted a question to my Pluralism entry:

I think it is nice to consider people can freely worship God and be religious however if their religion teaches hate of those who don't belong to it this is not acceptable. I have read a translation of the quran that seems to teach hate of those who don't worship God. This is exactly the opposite of love your enemies. How do you deal with that?

I'd love to hear everyone's thoughts on this, so please comment away!

As Janet points out, it's a *translation* of the Quran that says to hate. People have used holy scripture to justify hating throughout the history of humanity. The history of Christianity, as we know, is rife with bloodshed, with the words of Jesus and Paul twisted to manipulate the impressionable to acts of violence, including the invasion of Muslim countries.

I think it's these interpretations of the uninspired or the malevolent that has led to the misuse of scripture to promote hatred. The scripture itself, be it the Bible or the Quran or the Bhagavad Gita or the Tao te Ching, never really seems to say what these misguided leaders say they say. I've even seen the words of Science and Health twisted to justify a human position or policy that it's clear Mary Baker Eddy never intended.

I suppose it's human nature (read: mortal mind) to want to be right even in our prejudices or bigotry. But what inspired teaching or teacher has ever really recommended bigotry or prejudice as the path to enlightenment?

"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you," otherwise known as the Golden Rule or the Ethic of Reciprocity, is found in some form in many of the world's greatest spiritual teachings.

I love the Talmud version: "What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellowman. This is the entire Law; all the rest is commentary."

All the rest is commentary. This is true whenever we take scripture and discuss it. Scripture is available for us to read and comprehend according to our own light, and then apply in our own lives. I believe we each have the right, privilege, and obligation to do this, and we should not be inordinately influenced by the interpretations or conclusions of others, no matter how much stature they have in our particular teaching or movement.

We need to make the teachings our own. We need to go directly to the source material and figure out what it means for ourselves. My belief is that all those who are swayed by the interpretation that the Quran teaches to hate are being influenced by their instructors, who sometimes use their positions of power to "deceive the very elect." But Paul says, "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap" (Galatians). History has shown that Paul is right.

So to circle back to Janet's question: How do I deal with that? By going back to my beloved scriptures myself, finding my inspiration, and then living it. By being lights ourselves, we can enlighten the darkness for others.

Your ideas and inspiration are welcome! Please comment below or Contact Laura.
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At 2/13/2007 09:52:00 AM, Anonymous Gayle said...

I have to admit that I sometimes have a hard time with the Quran because it does have a lot of warnings to mankind if he does not follow God. But the commentary that came with my translation did not interpret that as hatred for mankind at all. Every chapter is preceded by the introduction "in the name of God, the Merciful, the Gracious." (not just merciful and graciouos but THE merciful and gracious, compassionate, beneficent.)

This indicates to me the correct thinking no matter what some misguided so-called muslims want to believe. One translator attends a local mosque and when he gives a sermon talks about finding common ground. He tells the congregation that a muslims job is not to convert, but just to give information ....God will do the rest. He then adds, "But they are all going to hell". There are many places in the Quran that contradict this. "Any who has fear in God.... the Christians, jews, sabians....shall have no fear." (paraphrased)

The Bible has examples of this same thing. This makes me realize that I have to look at the inspired message and the behavior of those who show the most compassion. Most of the muslims I know are not about hating "unbelievers". They are people who are devoted to doing good, and showing justice. They incorporate an awareness of God in their lives constantly.

How do I handle comments that seem to teach hatred? I know what I am taught in Christian Science, that man is the reflection of Good, Good is the desire of all, and the picture is false.

The Jill Carroll story, where her captors were certainly preaching this "hating" kind of Islam, was a good example in how to handle the lie. She behaved with respect, her parents and the monitor worked from a respectful and loving standpoint, and she came out of it at the end. Even though she did not seem to feel particularly "loving" toward her captors at the end, she was led to say the right thing. "You are my brother.. you would not kill me."

It was the perfect thing to say and know.

We have to know that God is all encompassing, not exclusive and the Principle of all.

At 2/13/2007 02:45:00 PM, Blogger PtCakes said...

For me it's the Lord's Prayer.

I don't believe that anyone's God promotes hate.


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