One of my earliest memories of seeing my parents looking utterly confused by my behaviour was back when I was about 8 or 9. It was on a sunny Sunday and here they both were, all tarted up and trying to tolerate each other for the next couple of hours as I dragged them off to church.
With not a religious bone between them, I can still remember requesting their presence at the Uniting Church as I was going to be reading a verse from the bible in front of the congregation.
“How on earth did we end up with this religious kid?” Ironically it was the first thing they’d actually ever united on.
I started to lose the religious vibe by about the time I was 14. After a series of questions to my Religious Instructions teacher about how God ended with him lobbing a pair of scissors at my head thus finishing the interrogation, and pretty much my affiliation to his brand of God.
No awards for why the title Religious Instructions was the name of the class, as instructions, not discussions were clearly the curriculum.
The fact of the matter is that I am still interested in all sorts of religions and although I have am very strong in my particular beliefs, but I would never claim to know the whole truth, and would never heckle anyone on their interpretation of the meaning of life.
So I had a rather exhilarating and interesting little moment last weekend at
The Mind Body Spirit expo as I came across a stall that really stood out.
Two ladies in burqa’s standing there, my eyes initially landing on the lady that only had her eyes showing, and I admit there was an instant spark inside me that was almost like a nervous bell going off.
I then I looked at the lady standing to her right, but this lady had her face on show. She looked at me and gave me a huge warm grin.
I realised how sad it was that we humans seem so programmed to fear what we don’t know. And in this case, all the unknown was was the face behind one of the burqa’s. Yet, in actuality all there probably was was just another smiling lady like the one she stood beside.
And then I came across the four men also behind the stall, all with thick beards, shaved heads and wearing long shirt dresses. One of the men mentioned that everything they had on offer was absolutely free.
I stopped and asked what the free CDs were all about and this very polite and obliging Muslim man went through the range of topics designed to explain Islam.
And then another older Muslim gentleman sitting in the corner asked if I’d like my name written in Arabic script which I thought was rather fun.
I took away about 10 different CDs, a couple I’ve already watched. Of course I didn’t stop because I’m in the market for a new religion, I stopped because here they were, this religious group, who let’s face it, don’t always receive fair PR. Yet how many of us have ever taken the time to really find out what their beliefs are about?
I was actually really touched by what this group seemed to be about. A great strategy through presence at The Mind Body Spirit festival and clearly wanting to offer a chance to de-mystify what they believe in, and what is the Quran.
What I think so far of the information I’ve learnt from what I’ve watched so far is really not important, but I will say that there is a line in the Quran that reads that Allah says, “I created tribes so that you could get to know each other.”
There’s wisdom we could all take from that line. Just taking the time to see what’s behind the unknown of another may ease the fear, which so often turns to really unnecessary hate.