The Women of Islam

I will be the first to admit that I know NOTHING about Islam. Nothing. When I went to Egypt I met some great moderate Muslims (yes, Fox News, they do exist) and learned a lot about their perspective on faith and religion. Since I’m obsessed with everything going on in Egypt, I’m constantly reading lots of articles and opinions, and tonight I read an article about two prominent women in Islamic history. The point of the article was to tell the history of two women for whom places in Egypt and Syria are named and are targets of violence.

Morsi’s supporters have created their own “Tahrir Square” at a mosque called Rabia el-Adawiya, named after a woman who lived in 7th century Iraq. The following is from the article in The Christian Science Monitor.

“At the time that Rabia el-Adawiya lived in Iraq, she was praised by women and men alike for her mystic devotion to God and her life of Sufi simplicity and sincerity. Carrying a torch in one hand and a bucket of water in the other – to set fire to heaven and put out the flames of hell – she famously proclaimed:

“O God! If I worship You for fear of Hell, burn me in Hell,

and if I worship You in hope of Paradise, exclude me from Paradise.

But if I worship You for Your Own sake alone,

withhold not from me Your everlasting Beauty.”

Rabia is considered by scholars to be the first proponent of the Sufi understanding of God/Allah as “the Beloved.” The past respect afforded to her as a pious believer and influential teacher of both men and women stands in stark contrast to the way women in Egypt today have been treated by both the Muslim Brotherhood and by predatory protesters in Tahrir Square, where sexual assault is rampant.”

That’s a pretty amazing prayer. Not unlike that of Julian of Norwich, the Christian mystic, who said, “God, of Your goodness give me Yourself, for you are enough for me. And only in You do I have everything. Amen.” Kinda similar.

The month-long religious observance of Ramadan started this week, and during this month, Muslims all over the world fast during the day and celebrate with a meal in the evening. Every evening. That’s a lot of partying. Part of the commemoration of this month is the celebration of when the Prophet received the Qu’ran from God. I’ve downloaded it on my Kindle but I haven’t read it yet. I’m going to at least start reading it this month and see what I can learn from it. Relax – I’m not converting. There’s no WAY I’d go a month without eating all day.

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