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Comments

hedera

Points very well taken. Speaking as an interested layperson, not an expert anywhere, it strikes me that a great deal of what Americans classify as "Muslim" issues have nothing at all to do with Islam - they are cultural issues relating to the local society and are either not mentioned in Islam or are in fact handled differently in the Quran itself.

One example is the comic strip you mention, which I laughed out loud at. This kind of grudge-keeping has nothing to do with Islam; the Prophet never told his followers, go out and kill your neighbors for six generations if they offend you. This is a local culture which still practices the blood feud, just like the Hatfields and the McCoys - we encountered the same problems in Bosnia and for the same reason. I believe there are other Muslim cultures that don't react like this, in southeast Asia.

Another classic example is the treatment of women in various Islamic cultures - the two worst examples I call to mind are Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia. The Prophet in fact treated women rather more liberally than Christianity did at that time - he allowed them to own property and sue for divorce, if I recall correctly my discussions with my friend the scholar of Near East languages. The restrictions on women in Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan are due to the extremely patriarchal local culture, not to the tenets of Islam.

Americans' biggest problem with Islamic culture - with a lot of cultures - is that very few Americans will take the time to find out what someone from another culture actually believes. The individualism you mention in another post leads us to believe that our way is not only right but obvious; only it ain't necessarily so. This is compounded by the present administration which is so fixated on its own moral purity (yeah, right) that the idea of a valid, differing viewpoint simply never occurs to them...

Jeff

Nice thoughts, hedera. I especially agree with this sentence: "Americans' biggest problem with Islamic culture - with a lot of cultures - is that very few Americans will take the time to find out what someone from another culture actually believes."

This is a huge problem for a country -- and a people -- that wants to claim to be doing what's best for the world and for itself in the world. We expect everyone to understand us -- and they and and they don't -- but we don't understand them. Big problem. It's my point.
Jeff

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