Last June I wrote of my experience at the Mind Body Spirit Festival where I had stumbled upon a group of nice Muslims people there promoting their Window of Islam series.
I wanted people to think about how terribly judgemental we as a society can be when it comes to people we don’t know, living their lives in a way we don’t understand.
There were three men in white robes there and two women in black burqas. I wanted to share my experience of my own feelings of judgement that happened and then passed all in the matter of seconds, when one of the women turned around to face me, her eyes peering above the niqāb I believe it’s called, which is the side-attached cloth that covers the face below the eyes.
It made me think how often human nature results in us freaking out about something purely because we can’t quite see the full picture, so we jump to a negative conclusion. Within seconds I diffused my own misguided fear pang of ‘who’s behind there?’ by noticing that the lady standing right next to her, also in a burqa didn’t have the nigab attached therefore her lovely smiling face was there for all to see.
I chatted and interacted with the Muslim gentleman manning the stand as I wrote back then, and came away with a feeling of having a nice, unexpected little moment with people I had not had such a chance to connect with thus far. The exact sort of thing my nature drives me to do so and gives me a lot of joy.
In the weeks that passed this event and well on from writing about what went on, I got to listen to a couple more of the audio CDs these people had given me, however this time, I did not like their tone.
I will be honest; I was starting to feel like Reese Witherspoon’s character in Legally Blonde. Just a little naïve and with a mug sign on my head visible from more than a mile or so away.
I want to point out that not all the listening material designed to educate me on all things regarding Islam and the Quran had raised my suspicion, there were a number of them about creation, our planet and the evolution of life that were very interesting to me.
Unfortunately there were also a couple that sounded an awful lot like attempted brainwashing to me and I believe should never been allowed to be on display at an event like the Mind Body Spirit Festival.
This is supposed to be a space that has a reputation for being all encompassing of all people’s beliefs and theories and never a place to cultivate judgment or anger.
After the information that has come out in the last weeks since the Boston bombing, I have decided to put my hand up and say that I might have been a little quick to gush about my Islamic experience because not all of it really did end up good. This makes me very cranky considering I went in with the idea of being open to understanding someone else’s beliefs.
But when those beliefs started to sound like I was being commanded to submit to the evidence of Islam, all words that were used over and over and over again, my inclination is to remind anyone living in this country, pushing others to deny another’s right of their religious choice, that the veil of suspicion placed over your choice is not likely to drop anytime soon if you go about things like this.
I took the time to listen to the ideals of Islam and to find out the spiritual guidelines that Muslim people in this country choose to live their life under, not just to be ear bashed about how everyone else has got their religious stories wrong.
The information that has been revealed in the wake of the Boston bombings has made my tolerance for a message with a tone that doesn’t feel right to me, all that much lower.