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Thursday, June 19, 2014
There is a reason I teach World Religions. Misinformation can kill. A woman was killed in England, it is speculated, simply because she was wearing clothing most often associated with Muslim women in Saudia Arabia (her home country)—the full long robe and hijab (head covering). 

Teaching World Religions is a large and sometimes unwieldy subject. It’s not an easy subject to teach simply because there is so much information. For a while I wondered why I taught this class. It seemed off my beaten path of Christian Education, but now I know why. I open students’ minds. I allow them to see another side of religious followers than what one sees in the news.

Having been a journalist, I have to admit I’m a bit of a news junky. I like to know what’s going on. I feel out of the loop if I don’t. But the other side of that is you see how the media is getting it wrong. I see over and over how the word Islam and Muslim is connected to that which is violent—and the media do not help with their words of Islamic Militants, Islamic Jihadist, Islamic Extremists.

The term Islam actually means “submission,” as in “submission to God,” also translated into “the peace that comes with submission or surrender to God.” The term “jihad” actually means struggle. The prophet Muhammad who recited what would become the Qur’an, the main book of Islam, said there is the “greater jihad” and the “lesser jihad.” He believed more in the greater jihad which had nothing to do with violence. It had everything to do with our inner struggle, our inner striving to be what God would have us be. That is all.

Now who as religious people doesn’t struggle with who God would have us be?  I find it now a responsibility to tell as many people as I can that your average Muslim does not hide AK-47’s underneath their burkas and Islamic robes. They want peace. But it’s the few extremists (and there have historically been extremists in every religion—remember the Crusades) that get most of the media attention. There is a local mosque, the Portland Rizwan Mosque, who are trying to publicize that most Muslims are not violent, that they want peace, and title themselves such—Muslims for Peace. They hold classes on who Muhammad was and what Islam is…and is, so that all who attend these classes are rightly informed about this passionate religion, whose followers are like us—they want to know and follow the will of God.

I am so happy to belong to a church organization that wants to know, wants to be informed. It seems so easy to just take another person’s word for it, including the media's word, without researching further. In this instant society, I pray that we take the time to know something, and not instantly decide who another person is without asking.

In the Peace that Passeth All Understanding (Phil 4:7),

Joanna

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Kairos-Milwaukie UCC Blog

Reflections on the Revised Common Lectionary by Rev. Rick Skidmore and Rev. Jim Ogden.

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