Ignorance is, well, ignorance

Русский: скромная одежда для muslims и non-muslims

Русский: скромная одежда для muslims и non-muslims (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I found this link today on Muslim beards, stereotyping, and proper hijab.  For those of you who don’t know (as I didn’t), hijab is the term used from dress and hair codes that help a Muslim maintain standards of modesty.  In the article, the author debates whether there is a standard for hijab and whether that standard is dictated by Allah or by a human agenda.

In our culture, we have been trained to believe one of two extremes.  The first is that all Muslims would just as soon slit our throats as look at us, that all they want is to force the whole world to be Muslim.  The other is that all Muslims are peace-loving people, and they just want to fit in and be left alone.

What I found interesting in the article is that devout Muslims suffer from the same problems as those of other devout believers in other faiths.  Whenever the fallible human injects his (or her) own agenda into the study of sacred writings, it is inevitable that divisions and contradictions will arise.  Religion becomes more about rules and less about motivation, which causes a whole host of misunderstanding.

In the Christian Bible, St. Paul tells us that women should have their heads covered in the church assembly, because “a woman’s hair is her glory.”  It took me years to understand what was actually being said by Paul.  But, what it boils down to is modesty.  A woman should not dress in a way that distracts attention from the worship.

I read a good article by a woman who felt very self-conscious as a teen because her family took this very seriously and imposed a rather strict dress code.  The upshot for her was that is caused her to feel ashamed of her body, and she found herself becoming anti-social.  All the pressure was put on her not to entice boys to lust after her.  In her article, she makes the valid point that, after a certain point, the lust of men is the issue of the men.  She concluded that modesty didn’t mean removing her femininity, it meant no sticking out in a way that would draw attention.

I assume that St. Paul didn’t tell men to cover their heads because they are not the cornerstone of male attractiveness.  I also assume that this is the reason that the Bible did say that it’s detestable for a man to have hair like a woman–because it would draw undo attention and distract people.  So, modesty is the issue.

The point is this:  it’s easy to take pot shots at people for how they dress or act without really understanding why they are doing it.  It’s also easy to look at rules and guidelines of religious codes and misunderstand the message that they convey.  With the inevitable collision of Muslim and Christian cultures around the world with the ever-growing ignorance of both cultures in the mainstream, we are bound to see an escalation of misunderstanding, mistrust and hatred.  Seems to me that the first step to solving our clashes is to at least understand something about which we talk.



Filed under Open Mind

8 responses to “Ignorance is, well, ignorance

  1. The Quran says that women should be modestly dressed, the wearing of the face veil or any headcovering is a cultural trait not a religious one.

    ps I don’t think the clash of cultures is ‘inevitable’.

    • The clash of cultures is the result of ignorance. Since ignorance rules the day, can this not be so? American schools have, but for a few exceptions, already lowered themselves to third-world status (sorry to denigrate non-superpowers). We only indoctrinate now. Although, I guess most kids have to learn about Islam, but Christianity is now a swear word and will get you detention.

      • America is not the only country in the world. Ignorance may well rule in America but it does not in other Western countries.

        France, for example has the highest penetration rate of Muslims but the fiercely Catholic France and Islam work OK together. Not to say that France doesn’t get upset from time to time (they banned the hijab).

        I do agree with you about the state of US schools though, and the news channels on television are so trivial they barely qualify as a news service.

        I also agree that the Christians seem to be on the back foot in schools – the UK has banned Nativity plays, a ridiculous situation in a secular country that is tolerant to all faiths.

      • http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/05/07/us-france-radicalisation-insight-idUSBRE9460OQ20130507


        Ignorance puts young impressionable men in a prison environment where they will be taught violence by other ignorant men of violence. Ignorance views two isolated attacks on Jews by “Arab-looking” women and men as a worldwide assault and persecution of Jews. Ignorance among American Christians sees the need for reverse jihad, “Do unto others before they do unto you (not the way the Bible says it at all).” The Christian/Islamic holy wars are not new and have never been that holy. Opportunists take advantage of ignorance for their own purposes. Since there are a lot of blink leaders, we have a lot of ignorant people. Coexist sounds nice, but it’s not possible when dealing with flawed human beings.

        Interestingly, we call people Jews regardless of their religion, whereas we call people Christians and Muslims regardless of their nationality. This says something about the Jews’ feelings of nationality–it is not defined by passport or stated residence. Jew first, whatever else second. For Muslims, Muslim first and whatever else second. For Christians, I would say, in most countries where they are persecuted, Christian first. In Europe, where they are mostly nominal, EU or nationalist. In America, very nationalist, but only in the sense that they believe this is (the Christian) God’s country, a rather ignorant thing for Christians to believe, since Christ himself told them that his kingdom is not of this world. Christians in America feel very persecuted, though they still have greater freedom here than anywhere else.

        Reading an interesting book about Abe Lincoln and his time, which I will blog on in the near future. Interesting that the same spirit that existed before the Civil War is currently rising in America. Very factious thinking these days.

      • ‘we call people Jews regardless of their religion’ – I don’t understand that statement. Only people of the Jewish faith are Jews?

        Bu on religion – I think religion is driven by two factors – 1. the lack of real education and 2. the feeling of powerlessness/ feeling that you cannot change events – there is a map of the world showing how these 2 things correlate. The map clusters round the Muslim countries although many states in America are similarly indicated.
        IMHO if you truly educate people (chanting slogans in schools is not education) and you give them a true voice in their life (let’s call it democracy) the incidence of religion reduces. Denmark is a good example.

        I have no problems with religion but I think the people who run them are selfish, arrogant, misogynistic louts.

        For background – I’ve lived in the Middle East now for 15 years, I’ve seen Islam up close and personal.
        I’ve seen the other side of the propaganda war on Israel. I’ve watched the Sunnis and Shias tear each other apart. I’ve watched the American support for the Zionists distort the region and cause the frustration of Arabs to turn to hatred.

        To me this is the face of religion – no love, no care, no following in the footsteps of Jesus or Mohammed. Just power plays masked by the words of long dead men.

        Was it ever thus.

      • I agree that Zionism is a huge problem. Unfortunately, though it stems not from true Christianity, it has long since infiltrated the ranks. The true Christian should not mix faith with politics, because they are of two different worlds. (I am guilty of the same at times.)

      • Zionism is ultimately a self-destruct mechanism. It’s not the solution, it’s the problem.

        Obviously Judaism is not Christianity, the Jews see themselves as more pure than others and they await their saviour.

        As you can infer I’m atheist, always have been. I look at religions and shake my head at the insanity inside.
        If the members of each religion followed their leader there would be few problems but how many Christians can be said to follow in the steps of their chosen God? I’ve met a few but not enough for them to change my view on the mass of Christians and the way they behave.

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