Namo amitabha Buddhaya, y'all.
This here's a religious establishment. Act respectable.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

A Buddhist Blogs About Muslims on a Pagan Holiday.

Playing in the background: Game 3 of the Series. Go Philly!

The first Muslim I ever met was a young woman at a hotel where I was working in college. It was a horrible job--making beds, scrubbing floors, cleaning up after the BYU basketball team (don't ask) after a tournament, stuff like that. She was a Western woman, grew up somewhere in Wisconsin, married a Muslim and decided to convert - not because he asked her to, although he did, but because she decided it would be easier on the kids to just have one religion in the house. I kind of beg to differ on that point - I think kids do better if they're exposed to lots of different religions - but hey, it wasn't my house and they weren't my kids. Anyway, she was nice. Shockingly normal. The only time I remember her religion coming up was that one day she got a hole in the knee of her pants (which she wore under her cute little regulation maid's dress) and insisted on going home to change, unlike moi who would have just shrugged and kept working.

The second Muslim I ever met was the accountant in a library office where I worked. He was from India. He was Muslim but his wife's people were Hindu so he also practiced the Hindu traditions, about which he said some Muslims have a problem, but no Hindus did (this doesn't surprise me; Hindus have about 3 million gods, and I have no idea how they keep them all straight.) Once I heard him talking to his wife on the phone in one of the 3 million languages they speak in India (one per god?) and he suddenly switched to Arabic halfway through the conversation. I turned my head because the transition from round vowels and consonants to sharp pointy Arabic was obvious even to moi, a rather unschooled (at this point) child of the world. When he got off the phone I asked him what all that was about and he said that there were some things it was simply not appropriate to discuss in certain languages. Serious eyebrow raise over that. Once I asked him once which religion he preferred and he said, "All roads lead to downtown Phoenix." I still remember that fondly because I've always thought the idea of an eternal paradise is basically incompatible with human nature, and if we go to downtown Phoenix when we die, it would make a lot more sense to me. If you're good, you can go to the ballpark. If you're really bad, you have to go to the kids' science museum.

The third Muslim I ever met was at a job I took in 2005 to help out Katrina survivors. She was from I think Qatar (might have been Kuwait; I remember a hard sound at the beginning - I suck at memorizing countries of the world). She invited me to mosque and I was actually on the verge of accepting before I weaseled out. She got after me as to why and I sheepishly admitted that the Muslims would never take me. She found this concept shocking and asked why. I finally told her I was a lesbian. After a couple of long blinks, she said, "Oh, that's no problem. In my country, both of you just marry same husband. No problem." I was kind of surprised because I'd been given to understand that Muslims were pretty strict about homosexual behavior. She laughed and said, "Well, if you were boys, big problem! But two girls, no problem."

I dunno why I'm bringing this up except that I've been thinking about it a lot lately. I hang out at Afrah! a lot (best pita bread EVER) and I was just thinking the other day, "If I'd been born in a Muslim household, would I be a good Muslim?" I think the answer is probably, if my third friend was right and I didn't live in Saudi Arabia. Way too conservative for me there. But then, I grew up in a Christian household and somehow still ended up being a Buddhist so what does that prove? You can be a Buddhist and a Christian at the same time (don't tell some of the Christians that though; they might not like it) so I imagine you could also be a Buddhist and a Muslim at the same time (probably same issue as with the Christians) but the Buddhists would not care if you were gay, straight, Lebanese, Sikh, Hindu or anything else. We'll pretty much take anybody who wants to let go of greed, anger and ignorance and cultivate peace, love and understanding. That doesn't make us the going faith, though. Just one among many. I'm a pretty good Buddhist when I'm not a bad one.

1 comment:

Marcia Wall said...

OMG! This was funny. I never knew you had thing about Muslims?!? I'd love to go to a mosque one day. Maybe I could sneak in like those party crashers did at the White House State dinner. hahah