The dialogue between religions [Archives:2005/848/Letters to the Editor]

June 6 2005

Don Barrick
[email protected]

There are good Christians, and there are bad Christians. There are good Jews, and there are bad Jews. There are good Muslims, and there are bad Muslims. Can we agree on that much, so far?

When we, in the U.S., hear about Islam, all too frequently, what we hear about is the religion in relation to the World Trade Center. We hear about the beheading of Care workers, at the hands of Islamic “insurgents”. We hear about school children, killed by Moslem “terrorists”.

When Moslems hear about Westerners – whether Christian or Jew – you frequently hear about votes in the U.S. Government, seeming to link Governmental actions to support for Israel, to the detriment of Moslems. You hear about the invasion of Iraq, linked to oil. And you hear about the desecration of the Holy Koran, by U.S. soldiers.

We are all influenced by our own beliefs, the media and the teachers who instruct or preach to us. And the teachers are the product of their own beliefs, and what they see and hear around them. What is the truth? Is the truth black and white, or is there a great deal of gray, in every issue?

Newsweek, Mr. Hassan Al-Haifi states in his Opinion piece is last week's Yemen Times, backs away, but did not fully retract claims about the Koran. There are good media sources, and there are bad media sources.

Many times, a news organization will not fully retract its story because, in their eyes, to do so would be to have us, the readers, question anything else the magazine may report, in the future. There are good decisions made by good media sources, and there are bad decisions made by good media sources, and so forth.

What Mr. Al-Haifi did not report, is the contention that the U.S. military had issued orders to Guantanamo guards on how the Holy Koran was to be handled:

Only by Moslem guards and Chaplains, and only then while wearing gloves. The Holy Koran was, according to the reported orders, to be treated with extreme reverence and care.

On that same topic, it is not above suspicion that the entire story was false. The U.S. is not the only source of propaganda. The Middle East is rife with rubbish, false accusations and lies. It would be good for all to take a breath and look carefully into this story. On the surface, it appears that the initial report was untrue. We do not yet know, for certain. But here are good guards, and there are bad guards.

In that same issue, Mr. Hamood Al-Hashimi writes that only Islam supports women, in the question of spousal abuse. It is uncertain where Mr. Al-Hashimi obtains his information, but there is no Western Christian or Jewish ethic that would support wife beating.

Could it be that his view of Christian tolerance of such beating is more locally cultural, than religious? This writer knows of a Moslem wife who was beaten by her Moslem husband, and had a terrible time convincing her religious leaders about her suffering; it was only because of her status as an attorney that she appeared to have won the battle to obtain a divorce. Were reports of this incident to be generalized, one would be led to believe that Islam is incredibly tolerant of wife beating. Yet Mr. Al-Hashimi states that this is not the case.

The contention here may be that there are good husbands, and there are bad husbands. There are clerics that are tolerant, and there are clerics that fully, completely support any spouse who suffers at the hands of his or her abuser. And, yes: there are good wives, and there are bad wives.

Mr. Al-Haifi also states that Yahoo! has deleted references to the Yemen Times, in his view, due to a conspiracy on the part of Zionists. Perhaps he is correct. Or, perhaps the decision is made, as he also notes, because of the racist attitudes of the Yahoo staff. Or perhaps it is because, as he points out, that Yahoo does not like the politics of some of the Yemen Times writers. Perhaps; but perhaps there is another reason: It may be that the implied and overt violence that some of the Yemen Times Letters encourage, is particularly repugnant to Yahoo!

There are good Letters, and there are bad Letters

The danger is generalizing too much. Assuming too much. And acting violently, on such sad information.