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In the weeks after 911, I was attending college and saw that my Muslim sisters were noticeably absent from school. So I began to wear a head scarf in solidarity with them. But I learned quickly about how brave these women must be. The 2nd day while waiting for the bus, a car whizzed by with a group of people jeering at me. They went around the block and came back, shouting hateful words. I tried to ignore them, and pretend I did not hear what they were saying when a rock whizzed by my head, and I heard the whoooosh as it passed my ear, missing my head by inches. It made a loud thud as it hit the back of the bus shelter and the car sped away, echoing with the sound of their "triumphant" laughter.

In that instant I realized I could have been killed by strangers who did not even know who I was. The rock was about the size of an adult fist and it was a graphic lesson as to how courageous these women are wearing their head scarf while keeping down the fear hanging over the heads that they endured every day. This subtle fear that was occurring every day in my country where freedom of religion was one of the reasons it began. What the hell?  

More over the squiggly thingy ...

Right after 9/11, I had also joined a group of multi-faithed people to guard the local mosque, in case some nut bag would try to hurt the people or their place of faith. Out of these communities came the common people from their churches, synagogues, and temples that included a Holocaust survivor, a Hindu priest and his people, Buddhist monks, Catholic and Protestant ministers and priests with their congregation members, all in solidarity with our determination to keep our fellow Americans safe.

It was also the time of Ramadan that year. As I sat during the darkest time of the day in the mosque parking lot with that mosaic of people who also wanted to ensure that the precious Americans within that mosque came and went without harm. It was a time within our little group that flowed a deep love insulating us from a community that felt so ..."outside" of us. The Outside was bristling with hate boiling underneath the surface of my country. Practically every car had those ridiculous flags flapping as they whizzed by. We never knew which one might carry something that would harm everyone as a supposed sign of "patriotism" and "Christianity". Yet within that unified group standing guard in the mosque parking lot. those of us so different from one another all found a community where my name and their names for the same God, walked calmly among us.  

I could not help but notice the amazing faith of these people we were trying to protect. Every day during the times of prayer the men would walk from all parts of the neighborhood. Like those of us who stood guard, they also came from many places in the world. Most appreciated came some of the women who would bring us the delicious food they had prepared for their families after prayer time. All were getting ready for the sun to set when they could interrupt the fasting they endured. Not even a drop of water passed their lips until that sun sank below the Olympic mountain horizon. I could not imagine how difficult it must have been to prepare that food while being hungry and thirsty, but all they brought was beyond delicious.

I must admit, in the beginning I felt a little smug about my faith. After all we did not separate men from women who I perceived were considered "lower" than the men. But as time passed by an odd thing began to happen in my heart. God began to seem more ... how can I express this? He became more gentle, more loving, more nurturing ...there began to take shape a feminine side of God and partly a She just as my own faith ~ and those of the ones around me had taught; "...there is no male or female in heaven..."

Years before 9/11, as a woman who wrote a whole (still unpublished) book of poetry called Looking for a Familiar God, I spent at least a decade trying to find a new relationship with God, because I could not see Him as a "Him" in spite of those from many faiths using that gender for God. I had struggled for so many years with the image of a mighty man sitting on a throne with angels singing beneath His feet and I could not relate to such a Man.

Today there is no huge Man on a throne anymore. Much of it is thanks to that time that these women from the mosque who brought to us their time of Ramadan, resonating a deep reverence for everyone in the world. The best word I could use for what they have taught me is the Greek word agape (love for the world), even though it was also a time that was so ugly, there was so much ignorance that has caused so much suffering around the world ever since. But in spite of the huge suffering that ignorance and hatred has smeared all over the world, a flicker of hope has been kept alive in me. Because I know for a fact that underneath it all resides the love I saw in that parking lot. Love that was far more powerful than any gun, any bomb or any tank because it needed none of those things, indeed those things were abominations within a community spanning so many differences.

Now my faith has taken a radical and wonderful turn that grows every year when Ramadan comes. Ever since that time from 9/11, I learned something important from these women who came with food for us, bringing their laughing busy children, these women who had so much community within their own mosque. They were such an important part of the whole time of Ramadan. They worked long hours after working all day at other tasks while their stomachs must have been growling, inhaling the delicious smells while not letting a morsel pass their lips. Out of their own devotion to God, they were preparing for the time that was so anticipated where all their loved ones sat down together, the dusk coloring the sky in the east and they could finally eat and drink and laugh in community with their loved ones. The joy within that group of women, the generous sharing they so lovingly gave to us who were not of their faith, could not help but seep into the group, adding to the universal love we already all had for one another. I came to learn it was not just the time of Ramadan that these mothers, daughters, grandmothers, aunties, and sisters were so important, it was all year around because these women's part in the lives of their loved ones carried the promise of the love of Allah/God to all of us.

12 years have passed and each time Ramadan comes around I remember that time when there was so much ignorance and fear that was so unnecessary, so unfounded. Because violent act that had occurred had nothing to do with those who truly love God who live the love that surrounds us all. Sadly that hatred has died down a little but it is still among us and it is important to do all we can to speak against it. Now Ramadan is precious within my heart because it creates a much closer relationship with God for me, a Christian! You instilled with me along with all those other faiths that came together during that time that God is simply God, Allah is my God too. God Who also speaks to me during the time of the Passover, The Festival of Lights (Deepawali) within the Hindu faith, and during the gorgeous Buddhist chants I now put on my computer speakers in order to just bask and feel that feminine and masculine Presence inside my heart. While none of these are of my own faith, ALL of them speak to my own faith, they deepen it and make me see sides of God I could never have seen without them.

So Happy Ramadan all Kos members who are celebrating this month when the moon is a sickle and the bright star of Venus shine brightly beside it. Thank-you for being so loving and generous to trust me and share with me your amazing courage that comes out of your own love of Allah/God. You have taught me about how your own struggles and wrestling still inspires the gentleness, the community, the love that you bring to the rest of the world. I have learned that whether or not you believe in God, or what Name you use for God, and for each special strength each faith carries, your steadfast determination to keep those qualities within your heart in spite of the ignorance and fear that others have, your faith and courage surpasses my own and this is why the time of Ramadan inspires me to keep going.

Thank-you for all you give, after the other waves of culture influencing us that came before, you bring another rich and beautiful layer that is precious! Happy Ramadan to all Insha'Allah! May this Holy month of Ramadan brings Light and Faith to all Hearts!!

Love, Cat in Seattle

Originally posted to mntleo2 on Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 09:51 AM PDT.

Also republished by Muslims at Daily Kos, Street Prophets , and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I've celebrated Ramadan (7+ / 0-)

    many times with my Turkish kardeşlerimiz. I love the Turks, and respect their religion as they respected mine.

    Don’t argue with idiots because they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.—Greg King

    by Pinto Pony on Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 10:26:08 AM PDT

  •  Ramadan Mubarak (6+ / 0-)

    A blessed holiday to all who celebrate it.

    Quote of the week: "They call themselves bipartisan because they're able to buy members of both parties," (R. Eskow, Campaign for America's Future.)

    by mbayrob on Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 03:18:13 PM PDT

  •  Thank you, that is by very far the most humane (8+ / 0-)

    loving and religious essay I've read in a long time.  How people could hate people when all our Gods tell us to love is like, well,
    perverse and insane.  Knowing that you and other Christians and Jews were out there to defend innocent Muslims from the potential post 9/11 threat would have made me feel better at the time and definitely does now.  

  •  What is Ramadan? It seems that it is faith (4+ / 0-)

    and the Holy One in reverence.  Thank you for this post filled with the milk of human kindness.

  •  Thank you... (6+ / 0-)

    thank you for sharing this.

    All the suffering of this world arises from a wrong attitude.The world is neither good or bad. It is only the relation to our ego that makes it seem the one or the other - Lama Anagorika Govinda

    by kishik on Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 03:58:18 PM PDT

  •  Some thoughts on Ramadan (11+ / 0-)

    I teach at a regional comprehensive university.

    Whenever I have Muslim students in a class and it seems appropriate, I ask them about the purpose of Ramadan so that the non-Muslims might learn about it.  Almost all of them say one of the purposes is to feel the suffering of those who are poor and hungry.

    In other words, it is a practice to think about others.

    I then ask what the equivalent Christian practice is.  Lent, to the best of my knowledge, is not done to feel the suffering of others.

    In other words, Islam is not really a religion that commands people to fly planes into tall buildings.

    [Medicare, and Medicaid, and Social Security] do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great.

    by MoDem on Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 05:11:54 PM PDT

  •  The mosque you write about - (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JDsg, FarWestGirl

    Is it the one in north Seattle about halfway between I-5 and Lake City Way? We've been past there many times.

    A wonderful essay, and thank you, and Ramadan Mubarak.

    Steal a trillion, too big to fail. Steal a thousand, go to jail.

    by Omir the Storyteller on Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 05:57:59 PM PDT

    •  Yes it is! (3+ / 0-)

      My friends who I have met that attend there are all such an inspiration to me.  I just know that little mosque is a true House of God.

      Love, Cat

      First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they hurt you, then you win ~ Mahatma Gandhi

      by mntleo2 on Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 09:47:01 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I have some Muslim friends in the area (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JDsg, FarWestGirl

        but they live on the other side of Lake Washington so I'm sure they go to a different mosque.

        I get the impression that this is one of the best places in America to be a Muslim, the creeps you describe from 9/11 notwithstanding. I see women and girls wearing headscarves on the bus all the time, or families out for a walk or playing with the kids in the park. It's one of the things I like about Seattle.

        Steal a trillion, too big to fail. Steal a thousand, go to jail.

        by Omir the Storyteller on Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 10:05:28 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I did two tours in Turkey and two tours in (7+ / 0-)

    Saudi Arabia during my Air Force career. Although I am a devout Anglican, I came to admire and respect the Islamic faith. There are many differences, but Islam, Judaism and Christianity share many common tenets of faith that should unite us, rather than divide us.

    During my time in those countries I always tried to show respect for my Moslem co-workers by not eating or drinking in front of them during Ramadan, and never turned down the opportunity to break the fast with them once nightfall came. I also enjoyed learning from my Turkish and Saudi friends about their faith and sharing mine.

    I know I am richer for the experiences and the knowledge I gained from spending time in that part of the world, and I hope those whom I came in contact with of the Islamic faith are as well.  

    Thanks for sharing! Tipped and recced!

    Guns are never the principle in the commission of a crime, but they are usually an accomplice

    by MadGeorgiaDem on Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 06:10:02 PM PDT

  •  is it Ramadan already? (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JDsg, BvueDem, mythatsme, FarWestGirl

    i have a hard time following the holidays that move around :-D

    Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
    Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights for support in dealing with grief.

    by TrueBlueMajority on Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 06:23:13 PM PDT

  •  Thank you for this! (6+ / 0-)

    I spent the Christmas-New Year's holidays of 2001-2002 explaining the federal victim compensation program to the survivors of those killed on 9/11, and to a few injured survivors of that tragedy, including a couple of Muslims.  One Muslim man, from South Asia, seemed especially sad when he said that he didn't understand how someone could do this in the name of his religion to a country that had welcomed him, and where he could freely exercise his faith.  I told him that he wasn't alone, because as a Christian, I couldn't understand how Catholic and Protestant Christians could kill each other in Northern Ireland in the name of their respective parts of their common faith, and that there were evil people who did evil in the name of all religions, and of no religion.  I've often thought that our government could have accomplished far more if, instead of waging war in response to 9/11, we would have broadcast into the Muslim world the stories of Muslims who were killed or injured on 9/11 (and there were a number of them).

    I've been to several interfaith events at local mosques, and we've hosted them at both churches I've attended over the past 25 years or so.  One of those events at a local mosque featured an Islamic scholar, a Catholic priest, and a Jewish rabbi talking about the role of fasting in their respective faiths.  As a Protestant Christian, fasting had never been part of my devotions, but I decided to follow a modified Ramadan-style fast during the next Lenten season.  Between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday, I consumed nothing but water between sunrise and sunset, and nothing at all other than water between the communion service on Maundy Thursday and the service on Easter Sunday.  For the first time in my overfed, rich nation life, I learned what it was like to be hungry -- although I certainly didn't learn what it was like to be hungry with no fat stores and no idea how I would get my next meal, which is the reality millions of people live with every day.  But limited as it was, it was an eye-opening experience, and I will be forever grateful to my Muslim friends for suggesting it.

    Bin Laden is dead. GM and Chrysler are alive.

    by leevank on Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 10:33:37 PM PDT

  •  Sikhs & Hindus have been attacked (4+ / 0-)

    as Muslims because bigots are  also stupid. If Catholic women still wore head scarves to Mass, as many used to do, they'd be attacked, too. The only reason Orthodox Jewish women aren't attacked is because instead of head scarves, they wear a variety of head coverings.

    "There ain't no sanity clause." Chico Marx

    by DJ Rix on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 01:14:50 AM PDT

  •  I am always baffled by the claim (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Velvele

    that Yahweh, God and Allah are all the same entity. If that is so, then why would these all powerful beings/spirits/whatever create divisive systems of belief and messages to humans?  Yahweh did not send a son down to save humanity. God did send a son down to save humanity, and Allah only recognizes the "son" as a prophet and not the savior of mankind.  In my book, that makes them three separate gods.

    That being said, the strong sense of love and community that you feel/felt during this experience most likely stems from within your own brain and heart. You are a good person. No gods needed.

    •  Human Claims Fail At Times... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TheDuckManCometh, JDsg
      I am always baffled by the claim that Yahweh, God and Allah are all the same entity...In my book, that makes them three separate gods...
      In my book, that shows the flaws of human interpretation of the Creator of the Universe.

      "Treat others as you would like them to treat you." -St. Luke 6: 31 (NEB) Christians are given a tough assignment here: Love the people you don't even like...

      by paz3 on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 03:25:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  There is just as much evidence for (0+ / 0-)

        Yahweh, God and Allah as there is for a "Creator of the Universe". In other words... none.

        There are as many gods are there are human brains with imaginations, which pretty much puts them ALL in the category of 'Imaginary'.

        I was responding to that typical interfaith pap about everyone really worshipping the same deity only through "different paths".   In my book, it's all nonsense.

        •  asdf (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JDsg

          As if God, who IMO kicked off the creation of the Universe, needs you to believe for his validation.

          Does your POV reflect some imaginary evidence that there is no beginning; no beginning of time, no beginning of anything material? No God?

          If so, you have a vivid imagination...

          "Somehow, one of our nation’s two great parties has become infected by an almost pathological meanspiritedness..." -Paul Krugman

          by paz3 on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 08:03:18 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  If everyone were as willing as you (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JDsg, FarWestGirl, TheDuckManCometh

    to stand against bullies, in solidarity with victims, bullying would evaporate completely.

    Tipped and recommended, thanks.

    It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

    by karmsy on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 07:09:30 AM PDT

  •  Beautiful diary! Thank you for defending (4+ / 0-)

    the Mosque when you were needed. I see that you have been repaid a hundredfold in spiritual riches for that worthy act.

  •  Agape (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TheDuckManCometh, JDsg
    agape (love for the world)
    Agape  agape Gr. ægəpɪ - selfless love of one person for another without sexual implications (especially love that is spiritual in nature).

    It seems to weaken the impact of the word "agape" to state that it implies a love of the material.

    Ironically, what you are stating in this diary reinforces the generally understood definition of agape, e.g., being concerned with the spiritual growth and development of another, or the selfless love of Christ for humankind.

    Your diary is a good exposition of real and selfless love on your part.
     

    "Treat others as you would like them to treat you." -St. Luke 6: 31 (NEB) Christians are given a tough assignment here: Love the people you don't even like...

    by paz3 on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 03:20:14 PM PDT

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