The narrative of Inter-Faith; beyond the stereotype

A few years ago some airports in Nigeria were undergoing rehabilitation; this resulted in manual security check on the luggage of passengers. In one of my trips during the security check, a group of nuns were searched as well as their luggage; a young man said something really remarkable and I quote him “how can you search nuns like that, I would be scared to even touch them or their luggage”. He made the statement because he respects what they stand for but I wonder what he would have said if he witnessed the humiliation a pastor in his full regalia experienced at the airport when everything on him was searched even his BIBLE. He didn’t go through the ordeal for the reason he’s a pastor rather the country he represents. Nigeria was/has been on the news for stories like ‘419’, drug trafficking; hence any carrier of the green passport was a potential suspect. This stigma followed Nigerians everywhere they went and somehow Nigerians are trying to prove to the world that a minority doesn’t define the entire country.

We are experiencing a similar stereotype that isn’t just regional rather worldwide. I found myself introducing my friends or neighbours as Muslims but didn’t introduce others as Christians. While this may mean nothing on the surface but it has a deep implication. In a report written by the Cardiff School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies they found out that “Muslims are often identified simply as Muslims rather than as individuals or particular groups with distinct identities” (Moore et al., 2008). The world is experiencing a lot of radicalism and extremism; from Boko Haram, ISIS to the disappearance of teenage girls from the UK to Syria. There’s heightened tension and fear at the same time, Muslim parents are praying their kids don’t get radicalised, non-Muslims are becoming Islamophobic and Muslims are trying to prove to the world that their religion is peaceful and is against radicalism.

Muslims pray while Christians form a protective human chain around them during a protest against the elimination of a popular fuel subsidy that has doubled the price of petrol in Nigeria's capital Abuja, January 10, 2012. Nigerians took to the streets on Tuesday in growing numbers on the second day of protests against a sharp increase in petrol prices, piling pressure on President Goodluck Jonathan to reverse his removal of fuel subsidies.
Muslims pray while Christians form a protective human chain around them during a protest against the elimination of the fuel subsidy that had doubled the price of petrol in Nigeria January 10, 2012.

I attended a lecture yesterday organised by the Bradford Churches for Dialogue and Diversity on the theme ‘The Shaykh and Bishop: Faith and Creativity Bradford’. It was an enlightening session with a mixed crowd of Faith and Non-Faith participants with the Bishop and Shaykh chairing it. I took home a few points but the highlight was seeing the Bishop and the Shaykh coming together to discuss ways of promoting Inter-faith dialogue using creativity. The Bishop highlighted the following : –

  • We need to speak about justice regardless of religion, gender, sexual preference or skin colour. We shouldn’t be picky about it. The question is Who is justice?
  • When we choose who we speak up for as a result of the God we serve, we make Him (God) a ‘Local Tribal Deity’.

And the Shaykh who I found really interesting and funny highlighted the following : –

  • Most of the young people are not found in the mosque; hence he wonders where they get radicalised from? (In my Religion and Peacemaking class, I found out most young people can’t relate the teaching in the Mosque to contemporary issues hence they turn to the internet for answers which is popularly called Shaykh Google. Recent survey shows most of the young people get radicalised through the Internet). He cited the non-engagement of the younger generation in the Mosque as a challenge but said they are working on that but he doesn’t know when they will overcome it.
  • We need to speak about Religion not as victims or as perpetrators.

I think we all should be concerned about this situation. How can we have productive Inter-faith discussions? The truth is, we are all affected one way or the other. You are either at the sending (Non-Muslim) or receiving end (Muslim). Our various modes of worship, the way we communicate with God, the way we dress may be different but we all have the same colour of Blood. May this unite us even as we seek ways to resolve this issue.

 Loads of Love

JMAD

 Reference Titles

 Moore, K., P. Mason, and J. Lewis, 2008, Images of Islam in the UK: The Representation of British Muslims in the National Print News Media 2000-2008. Cardiff School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies.

Photo Credit : Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters

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#Imagine Egypt, through the lens of Hussein

Hussein

Hussein Salahaldin is a Development and Peace studies Bachelor student at Bradford University. Last week, the former President Hosni Mubarak was set free and becomes innocent of killing hundreds of peaceful demonstrators in Jan 2011 and the corruption accusations during his rule for 30 years. This adjudication represents a dramatic shock for the revolutionary dreams of better Egypt. It becomes hard to dream in such home that ignorance and corruption only dominate and control. However, I am a dreamer of a peaceful Egypt that I believe one day will become more than a dream. I dream of the revolution that changes everything. I do not mean a revolution that changes the political regime but I mean the revolution that radically changes people’s ideas, beliefs, behaviors and their representations to each others. I dream of revolution that occurs in all institutions and sectors of society. I dream of living in a society that practice Islam in the way of its prophet Muhammad and his companions did. We need the Islam that calls for tolerance as the basic pillar for change and dealing with our Christian partners, not the one that some trickily use and misinterpret to justify their authoritarian extreme policies. I dream of a peaceful society that supports its members without politically, economically or religiously categorizing each others, the society that concerns for its weakest part of it and tries to improve it. This society should represent all people as equal to get the chances to respectfully and humanly live. The society that equally shares the national resources and contribute in pushing the economic forward.

I dream of well-founded Egyptian families that represent the source of moral society. Moreover, I imagine that we need a cultural and educational uprising that liberate our children’s minds and that makes my brother to dream for being an astronaut without the others making fun of him for his innocent dream. Our kids need Egypt that cares and works on their hobbies and ambitions to make it real. The Egypt I dream is the land of science and arts. The Egypt I imagine that will be led by both youth’s fresh passion to produce new promising future and the help of old people with their wisdom and experience of the past.

We need Egypt that respects the right of its people to have their own ideas and decisions free of all kinds of misleading effects. I dream of freer Egypt, that freedom formulates the Law, which people will adopt because they were free to choose it. I dream of more ethical prisons system, in which the prisons mission is to reform the criminals and make them better citizens that can help their society that would equally accept them.  I dream of Egypt that has no human and animal rights organizations because the human beings’ and animals’ rights are fulfilled. I dream of the constitution of Utopian society. Finally, I dream with cultural and moral revolution that formulates a new society. I dream of a peaceful home for my children that make them proud to belong to it ^_^.

 ***

Hussein doesn’t just want a revolution that is political but one that radically changes people’s ideas and beliefs.

The journey to Pornville and the acts of Onanism

Censored

Growing up we were taught to keep quiet while eating but for some funny reason lunch has become a place for meetings or chats. A few weeks ago while having lunch with my colleagues a topic was brought up and we kind of had a divided house, some agreed it was ok to indulge while others disagreed. I hate ignorance and half-truths; I decided to do a little research on my own as well as a questionnaire to get different opinions. So let’s cut to the chase.

For the benefit of others I’ll explain the two terms; Masturbation is the manual stimulation of the genital organs of yourself or another for sexual pleasure while Pornography is the explicit depiction either in writing, pictures or films to stimulate sexual desire. Incidentally I came across the word Onanism as a synonym for masturbation, I’m sure the name rings a bell for Bible scholars Gen 38:9 (Tradition demanded Onan to bear children with Tamar his late brother’s wife and he didn’t like the idea, so he spilled his semen on the ground when he slept with her) while Pornography was derived from the Greek word porni (prostitute) and graphein (to write) was originally defined as any work of art or literature depicting the life of prostitutes.

But whose business is it if I choose to pleasure myself or view some magazines or see a movie. I decided to do an opinion Poll with a few friends; some married, single, male and female and these are some of the responses:

Akachi – So on the surface, absolutely nothing is wrong with masturbation and watching pornography, I mean, it’s just me giving myself some desired satisfaction just how I like it, when I like it no fuss! There is no blood transfusion involved, no semen and no exchange of saliva or whatever else is involved with having sex with a second, third or fourth party it’s just me, what could be wrong with that? Does the act of masturbation and watching porn come from a pure thought? When I’m done with the act, does my spirit leap within with shouts of praise to God?

Judith – Masturbation could be disgusting when one achieves sexual satisfactionby touching his/her self while on the other hand it’s a form of sexual stimulation for ladies who have different levels of sexual satisfaction. Pornography is ok if it’s viewed by couples to improve their sexual performances.

Tony – Masturbation brings about imbalanced emotions, inferiority complex towards the opposite sex and can lead to addiction. Many men are fighting it but will never divulge it except there’s real intimacy and trust between their partners to confess it.

Ogenna – They’re both wrong, porn is just a bus to masturbation or fornication.

Nnedinma – For any form of sexual satisfaction outside marriage is wrong, it shouldn’t be self-acquired either.

Ngozi – When one walks with God masturbation is a sin against one’s body. He didn’t intend for us to pleasure ourselves that way, that’s why He made male and female. It brings thoughts of sex and the urge to act upon it. We need to understand how God intends for us to enjoy sex, anything outside is a deviation.

Femmetotale – Masturbation makes people selfish about sex, more interested in getting pleasure while sex should be more about giving pleasure.

Adannaya – Porn has helped in sustaining marriages that lack good sex and it reduces the chances of cheating although it’s a sin cos people who engage are as good as fornicators.

Nnezi – They are demonic cos they are perverted and away from what sexuality means in the Biblical sense.

Now we’ve heard a few let’s look at it from another angle. Some religions have this to say, Islam The Qur’an 24:30 states “Tell the acknowledging men to lower their gaze and guard their private parts, for that is purer for them. God is fully aware of what you do” It is haram (forbidden) to expose your private parts. Christianity Matthew 5:27-28 ‘You have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looks on a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart’. When we are viewing porn or masturbating what thoughts are in your head? Judaism Traditional Jewish laws of modesty require Jewish women to be modestly dressed: so pornographic modeling and pornographic acting are forbidden for women. The (halakhah) states that sexually arousing images are normally to be avoided.

Psychologically during porn viewing, the brain releases a tidal wave of endorphins and other powerful neurochemicals like dopamine (which helps in the transmission of signals in the brain and other vital areas), norepinephrine and serotonin. These natural “drugs”� produce a tremendous rush or high. Someone said watching porn is like swallowing a pill that induces hunger after you have eaten. It traps the person in a vicious cycle of never ending desire, exhausting the person’s body and mind. It rewires the brain.

Medically I found out masturbation helps in relief through ejaculation, eases tension but I equally found out it lowers sperm count resulting in impotence.

As a kid I viewed some porn magazines but I had to hide to view it, in fact growing up it was a taboo if you were caught watching a “blue film” (wonder why it was given that name) but all that has changed now. We are all exposed to porn either through music videos, on magazine stands, adverts on web pages, chat rooms. The truth is everyone is stuck with this outbreak; the only dividing line is choice but what of our little ones. An interview with a former pornographer said he always had Viagra on hand for the extra assistance needed to perform as the scenes became more technical to shoot (and this broke me) ‘most of the female actresses are all damaged (e.g. histories of sexual or emotional abuse). In a 2004 testimony before the United States Senate, Dr. Jill Manning shared some interesting data regarding pornography and relationships. In her research she found that 56 percent of divorce cases involved one party having an obsessive interest in pornographic websites. A 2012 survey of porn actresses showed 79% of porn stars used marijuana, 50% have used ecstasy, 44% have used cocaine and 39% have used hallucinogens while an ex-porn star said men and women in pornography do drugs cos they can’t deal with the way they are being treated.

I could go on and on with the shocking information I got on this topic. I wouldn’t want to impose my opinion on you but let’s not forget the following –

  • Most porn stars have previous cases of abuse.
  • Sex was created to be enjoyed between couples within the confines of marriage, masturbation creates an illusion of personal satisfaction which may seem harmless but after a period of time guilt sets in after each act.
  • Porn has been attributed to the cause of 56% cases of divorce.
  • Porn stars are usually induced with drugs to enable them perform in such ways which isn’t normal, expecting your partner to act in such way without the drugs will leave you disappointed, besides you can’t look at two porn stars and think if you touch me the same way we’ll experience sexual fulfilment, we are all wired differently.
  • Wives who found out their husbands viewed porn felt betrayed.
  • Porn addiction isn’t easy to erase, if you are addicted to nicotine you can go through rehab or detox but with porn it’s different. The images are already registered and a thorough renewal has to take place. A lot of sexual violence has been attributed to exposure of porn.
  • Are you a man viewing porn? If the tables were turned would it be upsetting to see your daughter as one of the actresses? Some women think it’s dehumanising.
  • You may think viewing it is harmless but with each click you’re enriching the business, giving the producers more reasons to scout for more actresses and life’s a circle.

Guess this is the longest post I’ve written so far, I hope you got something out of it but above all, whatever we find ourselves doing, we should always remember to do it to the glory of God.

LOADS OF LOVE

JMAD