What Is Islam? Some Food for Thought

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Below are some witty comments and statements I received from a friend after a presentation I gave at Trinity Lutheran Church in St. Joseph, MI. Please feel free to comment or ask questions.
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It seems that our culture is too quick to ‘cut to the chase’. Most of the world is not like that. People can become defensive and offended if hit with the message.
This kind of fits the saying that people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.

As every one is different, I assume a person needs to go slow and kind of test the waters with each individual .

I am still processing the information you presented to us at Trinity last week, but there were several epiphanies.(feel free to correct or comment on these).

* The “issue” with Islam is more complex that I had imagined.
* The politics is multi-layered: geographical, historical & political machinations – and we in the US have very little knowledge of it.
* Some of the ‘twists’ on what muslims believe about Christianity add a barrier.
* Really understanding Islam is key.
* Relationships are a key – in a world full of bigotry, danger and intrigue, a person will not open up if they do not trust you.
* Since the muslim culture is very socially oriented it seems that any attempt to work in the Muslim Community would requite a new community to replace the old one.
* Separating the concept of Muslim vs. Islam is important. This is similar to the difference between what the church professes and what individual members actually believe. There can be a huge disconnect (and not for the good).
* Taking each person as an individual 1st (not a “muslim”, or any other ‘group’) is key. My own experience has been just as you said: as humans we are pretty much the same. Basically people all want the same thing: to prosper and for our children to prosper in safety.
* The comment about ‘guilt’ culture vs. ‘shame’ culture struck a cord. I my Non-Western World class at WMU our Prof.(Kim Do Young) noted that the non-western world was what he called ‘irrational’ – meaning that they didn’t believe in cause-effect. It seems this would fit being a ‘shame’ culture. Saving face – blaming others or ‘fate’ for occurrances.

As far as why Islam is so popular for some people I have my own theories
* Since Christianity has been on the downswing, many people have become seekers. It is human nature to seek an answer to why we are here. Theistic beliefs have been replaced by the religion of science and the religion of self.
* Islam as a ‘shame’ religion seems to put the fault in others, and ‘absolves’ people of the guilt they feel. I’m not bad – it’s someone else’s fault.
* The Islamic culture of community is attractive to many who feel disaffected socially. They become ‘accepted’. This is the same reason gangs are prevalent. The new ‘community’ replaces what was missing (or they felt was missing) in their life.
Stephen Shuler