About My Blog

I Spent six weeks in Egypt before spending a year in Germany. This blog covers the best summer of my life. If you are looking for my posts while I was in Germany ask me, and I'll be happy to share them but I have been asked not to share them publicly. Feel free to visit my brothers blog of his year in Germany or my new blog

Monday, July 19, 2010

Jan reflects on the day, religious thoughts ensue, blog post become incomprehensible to everyone, including himself. Oh well.

Today I decided that I want to study the middle east if I really go
into international relations. We had another lecture with sheikh
hamdallah today and it was really educational and thought provoking.
It was the same translator and he was again superb but I wish that I
could speak directly with sheikh hamdallah because I feel that
somethings are lost in translation. He lectured about prayer and the
steps of prayer which was interesting but the question and answer
session was by far the best.

We got into a discussion about Islam as a religion of peace as well as
it's role in politics. Hamdallah said that Islam can and should effect
politics. Not as a religion like christiantity in the united states
but as a lifestyle. He said that islam is morethan religion it's a way
of life and that is why they know when to pray, which way to face
during prayer, and what to do in the prayer because it is natural. He
said that he does not want Egypt or other nations to be ruled by Islam
but rather by secular governments which share the ideals of Islam.
This isn't hard because many of the guidelines of Islam are like the
guidelines in Christianity or Judaism. He didn't speak about
religions outside of the people of the book but I imagine that if they
were involved in the government he would disagree.

I realized today how similar most religions are and that the
differences lie in the way we worship. The conflict lies in the
lifestyle and the extremist radicals of each religion who feel that no
religion but their own should exist. Hamdallah explained that in Islam
as a rule, humans were created to serve humans and all other things on
the earth were created to serve us. I disagree with this but as far as
all humans serving one another I agree. He said that Muslims cannot do
what benefits themselves if it harms other people so I asked if Muslim
terrorists would be called Muslim by other Muslims. He gave me a
roundabout answer asking which terrorists I meant to which I responded
well what about 9/11. I felt bad as soon as it came out of my mouth
and wanted to give a general example about any Muslim who would
hypothetically strap a bomb to himself in a market. He asked why we
focus so much on muslim terrorists and not Jewish terrorists in gaza
or American terrorists in Afghanistan and Iraq. I didn't like that he
didn't answer my question but I loved that he asked me about the other
acts of terrorism by groups outside of Islam. I answered that I had no
idea why we don't pay attention to that and elaborated saying that I
am pro Palestine and against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and I
ask myself the same question every day. We are the terrorists in the
middle east, all violence stems from us. I know that that is a
generalization but for the most part I think it's true.

We are killing civillians in both Iraq and afganistan. Why? Freedom.
But he said, and I agree, that killing people does not bring them
freedom. The Taliban may be gone, but other groups will arise and we
will be "forced" to expell them as well but at what cost? Again the
answer is lives and ultimately the cost of freedom. In answering
another unrelated question he gave answers to many other questions.
The answer he gave to a question stated that there needs to be someone
who has no prophet who can bridge Islam to christiansity to Judaism
who has no idols and does not want to be idolized. Who is fair but
understanding of everyones needs. While he said this I was thinking
that he would eventually say that we only need to wait for this person
to come along but then he suggested that this person is Allah. I had a
tough time with this because I know the negative impact of that word
in the west. Allah ultimately is the word for god but the different
spelling and pronunciation throws many people off. As long as the
mediator between east and west goes by the name of Allah I doubt there
will ever be legitimate negotiations and settlements. I hope that
someday someone can be respected enough by both the Muslim world and
the western world. This will be nearly impossible but we are about
1200 years overdue for a holy figure who will unite the people.
Someday, if religions are true; there must be another prophet right?
God can't have given his people all the answers in the bible, qur'an
etc. This brings me to one thing which I love about Islam and find
dissapointing in christaianity, and that is additions to the holy
text. In islam ishtihad is the process of adding more to the Quran, I
have never heard of anything similar to this in the bible. To be fair
however, it is nearly impossible to add to the quran but there is a

I doubt religion and have trouble with faith in any religion that has
not been updated in hundreds of years. We have trouble in the US with
the language in our constitution because it is 300 years old how can
we say that we have the exact right interpretation of the bible or
Quran when the texts were written way before the constitution was even
considered. Especially since nothing has been added to either book
since their inception. I also find it hard to believe that in a span
of a few thousand years there were hundreds of people who were
important enough to be mentioned in the bible, bu in the last thousand
tears there have been none, if there is a god did he give up on us? Or
why have there been no more people worthy of addition to the bible.

I'm getting off track here but that's what happens when I think about
religion. It confuses me and I have thought about it everyday of my
life so i have a tough time with people who have such a strong faith
in their religion. Having faith in a religion is hard but trying
everyday to have faith in religion and failing to find any way to have
faith is much harder. I don't loom for reasons to not have faith in
religion or god, rather i look for a way to have faith in religion or
god but so far nobody has convinced me, I haven't convinced myself,
and god surely hasn't convinced me that he exists or that I should
have faith in his teachings. I have nothing against religious people
or any person of faith so please don't be offended, these are merely
questions I'm asking you and anyone else aloud and expressing my own
concerns. If you have any advice or anything you want to share please
feel free and I'll gladly share more of what I believe and the
thoughts I have about religion.

Anyway, I want to study the Issues in the middle east regarding
religious conflict. I know I'm not the mediator hamdallah was talking
about but without people trying to solve the issues now a mediator
will never be found and the strained relationships will only continue
to exist. If I can't do my part to help directly maybe I can help
find, educate, and inform the next generations who may be able to
bring about resolution. According to sheikh hamdallah all religions
must adapt to modernization just as nations and people must adapt as
well and I think that with the massive amounts of information around
the world that can be shared so easily today education and educating
people about the positives of Islam, the middle east, judaism, Israel,
Christianity, the united states, and every other religion and region
of the world is the best thing we can do to understand one another. So
if I don't make it as a big time person in foreign diplomacy Ill go
back to school as a teacher and recycle my knowledge and hopefully
someone I teach or share my knowledge with can do what needs to be done.

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