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Good points in Israel (from a Muslim's view)

Not long time ago I watched an interview with rabbi Froman (http://live.globaloneness.org/videos/rabbifromancomplete), posted on Facebook by one of mepeace.org members. Rabbi said, briefly, that the Israeli- Palestinian conflict is of a religious nature and that it’s a manifestation of the conflict between the West and the Islamic world. According to him, the Muslims should know, that “Western civilization is not all dark. It’s not just the devil”.

Yes, he is right and fortunately there are Muslims, who tried to discover the Western culture and look for the positive things there- from an Islamic view. Take for example one of my favorite TV Muslim preachers- he made trips to Western countries and filmed the Western people while practicing habits, which are very positive from the view of Islam and at the same time being lacked by people in “Muslim countries” themselves. This project had a big success.

When we talk about Israel, most Muslims will imagine “Western-like state with all its immoralities"- drugs, alcohol, promiscuity or even idolatry plus war, killing of the Muslims, settlers’ violence, hatred…

I am trying to imagine: What will happen if we try to look for positive things there (as the Islamic preacher did in the Western countries)?

One of the goals of my second visit to the Holy land was to get rid of prejudices and to get to know the Israelis and the Jewish culture. I must say that my experience was mostly positive and I remember many things I noticed in Israel, which, I believe, would be considered positive by many religious Muslims- if they had the opportunity to see them. For example:

Modesty: I have visited some of the orthodox Jewish parts of Jerusalem. There is probably no place in the world more different from some Muslims’ imagination of “the materialist, atheist West”. The Jewish men wear modest clothes and are modest in their behavior as well. They never star at girls and women, never annoy them and if they have to deal with a woman, it is in the most polite way. Women wear simple long skirts and blouses and a head scarf. I befriended one orthodox Jewish woman on my way back from the Sulha (a pro-peace event) and had to admire her. She had modest clothes and was modest and shy also in her speech. Generally she was a very nice woman and I felt that she was happy and in peace with herself. The religious Jews also marry at young age to protect their dignity and to avoid frustration. Their houses are modest too- nobody dreams of luxury furniture, expensive clothes and cars, nobody is showing up with their expensive mobile phone ... They are happy with what they have and thank God for it.

Respect: I have no problems with talking to men or even having male friends- in case they respect me as religious Muslim woman. I must say that nobody from the Jews- secular or religious dealt with me in impolite way (from Islamic view) nor did they offend me in any way (if I don’t count the border police).

Praying everywhere to one God: Once I joined my friend in a trip- we took a bus to Ramot and walked to a place called Nabi Shmuel. More than half of the people in the bus had a prayer book and were reading prayers and blessings. Nobody smoked. Unfortunately, I met many Muslims who think that the Jews worship idols or “have no idea what the Jews pray to” or that they even pray. In reality, the Jews pray to God alone. For them God is One, The Creator, The Sustainer, The One who heals, The Almighty..Etc. Same as Muslims, the Jews recite prayers on almost every occasion and seek God’s counsel, even if they only want to buy a new pair of shoes.

Kosher bus: I saw Kosher bus only in a picture, as did some of my religious Muslim friends. We were very impressed by the idea of a bus, where men sit in the front part of the bus and women in back part so that they do not mix.

Kosher food: Kosher food is also Halal (permitted) for a Muslim. We can eat it with no worries.

Help without expecting anything: I visited many places while I was alone and many times I got lost. Many people helped me with smile despite I wear the hijab. I would expect them to look at me with hatred. Of course, not everyone was friendly but nobody refused to help me when I asked. Many even tried to talk to me in Arabic.

Smiling: In Islam we believe that smiling at our fellow is like if we gave him a charity. I have travelled to many places in Europe and in the Middle East, but I have never seen people smiling as much as do the people in Tel-Aviv.

Greetings of peace: The Jews use the greeting “Shalom” (Peace). Some greeted me in Arabic: “As-Salam alaikum”.

Cleanliness: People keep streets clean and don’t throw litter on the ground. They also know the word “Taharah”.

It’s upon every Muslim to help to the Palestinians any way he can and to oppose the oppression of the innocents. On the other hand, if we get rid of prejudices and get to know the common people, who seem to us as adversaries, we can find good in them and that there are many common points between us. Israel doesn’t only mean cruel soldiers, politicians, violent settlers etc. There are also people with nice character and people who honestly work for peace and justice.

I believe that people, who support war, violence, terror, hatred and injustice in order to achieve their greedy goals, are our real enemies- they are everywhere- hiding behind various religions or ideologies. In my opinion, peacemaking is the real resistance.

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Comment by Corey Gil-Shuster on July 27, 2010 at 1:19pm
Thanks Yara. It is welcome and appreciated to hear positive words. As a Jewish atheist, when I finally got to know Palestinians, I was impressed with their cultural ability for forgiveness which i assume comes from a closer connection to their religions. My secular Jewish culture is not very good at forgiveness which is a shame.

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