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Unformatted text preview: Paul Bowless novel, The Spiders House , offers the following musings of a long-time resident in Morocco: Stenham smiled: unaccountable behavior on the part of Moslems amused him, and he always forgave it, because, as he said, no non- Moslem knows enough about the Moslem mind to dare find fault with it. Theyre far, far away from us, he would say. We havent an inkling of the things that motivate them. There was a certain amount of hypocrisy in this attitude of his; the truth was that he hoped princi- pally to convince others of the existence of this almost unbridgeable gulf. . . . This pretending to know something that others could not know, it was a little indulgence he allowed himself, a bonus for senior- ity. Secretly he was convinced that the Moroccans were much like any other people, that the differences were largely those of ritual and ges- ture, that even the fine curtain of magic through which they obscured life was not a complex thing, and did not give their perceptions any profundity. 1 Bowles is right on target. There is a deep-rooted Western tendency to obscure Islam and Muslims through veils of esoterica andin extremis even to suggest that entirely different rules of logic and evidence are required to take the measure of Islam and Muslims. This is nonsense. Muslims can be understood, just like other people. They can also be misun- derstood, just like other people. Avoiding the assumption that Muslims are not like us, lets proceed comparatively. 2. Islam, Judaism, and Christianity in Comparative Perspective: An Overview Islam, Judaism, and Christianity: Some Comparative Generalizations Islam should not be all that strange to those who have grown up in a Jewish or Christian environment. It is a sister religion, the last of the three great monotheistic religions, all three of which share a common worldly home- landthe Middle East. Jews, Christians, and Muslims worship the same God, believe in revela- tion, holy scriptures, heaven and hell, and have similar attitudes toward his- tory and the role of humankind in fulfilling the divine purpose. If one is to think in global terms, which would seem to be the only acceptable norm in this age, then the most significant dividing line is not among any of the three Semitic monotheistic religions but between all of them and the other major world religions such as Hinduism or Buddhism. In earthbound historical terms Islam grew for the most part out of a Jewish and Christian heritage. If, from one perspective, Christianity started as a Jewish heresy, then from a similar way of viewing the matter Islam began as a Judeo-Christian amalgam. This much is even accepted theologicaly by Muslims, although of course the fact of Islams largely Judeo-Christian matrix is expressed differently. In theological terms Muslims view Muhammad as the last in a line of prophets beginning with Abraham and continuing through Jesus. Muslims believe that Muhammad brought Gods final revelation, the seal of prophecy.that Muhammad brought Gods final revelation, the seal of prophecy....
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This note was uploaded on 07/12/2008 for the course MC 441 taught by Professor Ayoob during the Spring '08 term at Michigan State University.
- Spring '08
- The Bible