Don’t give up on Islam just yet

Perhaps I?m going soft in the head about Islam after Christchurch, but several things challenged my view of Muslims as people trapped in a barbaric, medieval time warp from which there is no escape from a violent agenda.

Changes are afoot on several fronts and China is leading the way. Quote.

Girl power is rarely a term used to describe women breaking glass ceilings in religion, let alone Islam, but it seems an unusually fitting use of terminology to express what female Imams are doing in China.

The concept of a female Imam is one we are unfamiliar to begin with because it is a rarity ? a virtually nonexistent phenomenon actually ? across the Muslim world.

But in the socialist country, women not only play the role of Imam, exactly the same as a man would, but also have their own mosques, an anomaly of a situation when compared to rest of the Muslim world.

Across most Muslim nations, the general norm is that women pray either in a separate room in a mosque, or behind a partition; they aren’t given their own house of prayer. However, in China, a country with a 21-million-strong population of Muslims, the country has over the years implemented Islamic practices infused with their own set of characteristics, which includes all-female mosques complete with female Imams.? End of quote.

Well, China is not quite there yet in terms of crushing the male dominance typical of Islam, but the influence of socialism has at least given Muslim women a crack at parity. quote

Of this lack of distinction between men and women’s prominent roles in the religion, Yoa [Yao Baoxia, who practices her faith in central China’s Henan province] says: “The status is the same. Men and women are equal here, maybe because we are a socialist country.” End of quote.

Definitely because China is a socialist country. Quote.

That is not to say that in China female Imams there can partake in all the same practices as their male counterparts (they cannot lead funeral processions or wash male corpses for instance) or that the issue doesn?t not [sic] come with its own set of controversies. Though in central China Muslims largely support female Imams, China’s borders, areas with more hardline sects of the religion, experience more resistance to it. End of quote.

Cairo Scene

Can you imagine the cans of worms that will be opened by giving Muslim women licence to teach their women how to interpret the Koran and the Hadiths? But good on the Chinese Muslims. It?s a start.

The second eye opener was from Peter Williams? conversation with Abdul Dean, survivor of the Linwood mosque massacre.

Abdul was on the programme as an avid Crusaders fan and a Muslim. ?He had no comprehension of the history of the crusades and therefore no objection to them keeping the name.

But would he have objected if he knew the history of the wars between Muslims, Jews and Christians ? and anyone else who got in Mohammad?s way?

His soft demeanour and openness made me think he would accept history as another time and place and still vote that Crusaders keep their name. It is important to know and discuss history rather than to sweep it under the carpet as a difficult subject.?

We live in a different time and New Zealand Muslims want peace just as much as we Christians do.

The final bit of cheering news this week came from the mouth of an Indonesian Muslim cleric. Quote.

Yahya Cholil Staquf, the secretary-general of Indonesia?s Nahdlatul Ulama movement, which claims to have more than 90 million adherents, wrote in an article in Britain?s Daily Telegraph saying that the traditional Muslim mindset needed to change.

He called for a rejection of Islamic orthodoxy, condemning it as ?obsolete and problematic? and ?fuelling violence on both sides?.

?The truth, we recognise, is that jihadist doctrine, goals and strategy can be traced to specific tenets of orthodox, authoritative Islam and its historic practice. This includes those portions of sharia that promote Islamic supremacy, encourage enmity towards non-Muslims and require the establishment of a caliphate. It is these elements ? still taught by most Sunni and Shiite institutions ? that constitute a summons to perpetual conflict,? he wrote.

Staquf stated that Brenton Tarrant?s murder spree, which killed 50 people  at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, on 15 March, was part of an ?ancient cycle of violence? and that the killer shared a ?historical framework? with many Muslims that went back almost 1,400 years.

He explained the traditional Islamic teaching that ?Muslims and non-Muslims are and shall remain in a state of permanent conflict, until the end of time (according to Islamists) or the disappearance of Islam (according to advocates of a ?counter-jihad?).?

?If Muslims do not address the key tenets of Islamic tradition that encourage this violence, anyone ? at any time ? can harness them to defy what they claim to be illegitimate laws and butcher their fellow citizens, whether they live in the Islamic world or the West. This is what links so many current events, from Syria to the streets of London,? he added.? End of quote.

Barnabus Fund

I think we should spread the word, celebrate new beginnings and pray for this bold Muslim cleric who will probably get death threats for his courageous stand.