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Tossing Pebbles in the Stream

This blog is my place to sit and toss pebbles into the stream. The stream of Life relentlessly passing before us. We can affect it little. For the most part I just watch it passing and follow the flow. Occasionally, I need to comment on its passing, tossing a pebble at it to enjoy the ripple affect upon Life's surface.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Lesley Hazleton

I have been reading the blog,, of Lesley Hazleton for a couple of years. She is an author who have written a lot on the Middle East, the politics, religion and sociology.  

I decided to read four of her books. I have ordered the one on Mary, the one on Jezebel, the one on the Sunni/Shia schism in Islam and he last book on the life of Muhammad.

The two biographies of the most powerful women in the Bible, the Virgin Mother and the Harlot Woman will be fascinating reading I am sure. I am most interested in her two book on Islam. Thanks to the Bush Administration and the American criminal wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, I have sought to understand better the history of the Middle East and Islam's power and influence in that area as well as it's contribution as one of the great monotheistic Faiths to the development of civilization. Our American/European centered history taught in our schools ignores much of the history of the Middle East and Asia.. This has much to teach us.

The following two TED talks by Lesley Hazleton  are wonderfully clear , delivered in her lovely voice, explaining  first the reading of the Koran and then the role of doubt in Faith. As a secular Jew, she sympathetically explains what is best in a religion, which so many religious zealot fail to do.

In this TED talk Lesley Hazleton discusses the role of doubt in Faith using the encounter of Muhammad with the divine revelation and his response to it  fear and terror. Only doubt explained it.  It made me think right away of the Numinous experience that points to the idea  of the Holy by Rudolf Otto,  :mysterium, temendum et fascinans. (the mystery that is both terrifying and fascinating).

A couple of things fascinate me. The first is the role of women in Islam.  Muhammad had only four daughters and no male heirs that survived. He also had a long and devoted marriage to his first wife, who was an older woman, widowed, who actually asked him to marry her.  The Prophet has several wives after his first wife died. None of them bore him children. None of them overshadowed his first wife. Islam from its beginning has a lot to say about women. The Prophet held them in high regards and Islam recognized them as being equal to men.  Why then to we see Islam as a faith that oppresses women.?  There certainly is within the best of Islam an honoured and equal place for women.  I was interested to learn the Mary is held in high regard in Islam, perhaps even higher than she is in Christianity.  She is after all recognized is the mother of the great earlier prophet, Jesus.

It also interest me that Arabic was the language of Islam from the beginning.  A devout Muslim views Arabic as the language of God. This adds an additional sacredness to the text of the Koran.  The Koran is to Muslims what Jesus, the Christ is to Christianity, the direct link to God.

I recently watched a wonderful PBS program on the Life of Muhammad. Keep an eye out for it.


At 7:02 p.m., Blogger troutbirder said...

I saw the program. It was very well done.

At 6:58 p.m., Blogger Ginnie said...

As always, Philip, you pique my interest in areas where I would not usually visit. I do know that I was shocked with the incident where the US soldiers had such little knowledge of the sacredness of the Koran. I couldn;t imagine that it was not drummed into them before they got there.

At 6:33 a.m., Blogger possum said...

Sadly most Americans judge Islam by the bad examples we have seen... likewise Americans have been judged by the atrocities they have committed.
I suggest you try reading some of Karen Armstrong's books. Check her out on amazon, quite a list.

At 9:56 a.m., Blogger Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

I meant to mention Karen Armstrong briefly in this article. She had written many book about a lot of religions. She is the inspiration for the Charter of Compassion. All religion have a common ethical core that can be understood as Compassion.

At 9:56 a.m., Blogger Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

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