In The Netherlands, a member of parliament, Wilders, has introduced a sticker with a text that insults the Islam, especially the prophet Muhammad and the Quran. After a period abroad, my tolerance level for Wilders may be a bit low. It makes me sad that someone can hurt believers in such a cruel way. I know that every word about this is one too much, so I would like to mention three things that have left a positive impression on me recently. Instead of a sticker this blog is about a book, a tv episode and a website.
The book is called Abraham’s children and I read it a while ago. It is edited by Kelly James Clark, with contributions from influential thinkers within the three Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. They make it clear that the theology of their religion offers enough space for co-existing with other religions.
We offer these theological defences of the mercy, respect, and humility necessary to both understand and respect those who hold fundamentally different beliefs and practices; this would, in turn, create safe space for practitioners of other religions. We are seeking within our own traditions precisely what is already there – a theology that motivates mercy and embraces both human dignity and human creatureliness.
The tv episode is from the tv programme 24 Uur Met (a presenter and a guest are locked up together for 24 hours) with Ali B as a guest. He is a Dutch rapper with a Moroccan background. He explains how he prays five times a day, asking God for forgiveness and expressing gratitude for his life. The couple talks about people like Assad, who are also Muslim, and determine much of the image of Islam because of all the attention they get. Ali cannot understand how someone who dedicates himself to God five times a day can give the order to kill children. It has crossed his mind to abandon his faith because of this, but in the end it is the ‘Assads’ who should quit.
The question is: Are you a Muslim if you don’t function as a Muslim? If Muslim means servant of the most Merciful, and at the moment you are not serving, are you… You know, can you be called a carpenter if you have a diploma but you only bake bread for the rest of your life, or does that make you just a baker?
The website I found this week: Nieuwemoskee, a Dutch platform for discussion about the Islam and society. It shows the diversity within the Muslim community in Holland, with a lot of contributions from young people.