Sunday, August 22, 2010
Mormons and Mosques
Middle-easterners flock to London in the summer to escape the hottest months in their desert homelands. I have been somewhat surprised to see men in shorts and short-sleeved t-shirts be accompanied by women in traditional, black burquas covering head to toe, including faces. No matter how often I see them, I am always somewhat surprised to see the couple together, as I expect such a traditional wife to be accompanied by a father in similarly traditional robes. I am also surprised (and embarrassed) at my irrational, visceral fear of the black-clad woman. But perhaps I should forgive myself this: the only people I know who cover their faces are the criminals who hold up banks and gas station attendants in the movies.
Living in Mayfair and Shepherd Market gives me even greater reason to think on this, as middle-easterners own much of the real estate and provide the best food in the area. The influence is all around me. Include the building pictured above, taken from my bedroom window. It is of the front entrance to the Mayfair Islamic Centre.
This has given me much opportunity to think on the issues surrounding Islam, including the juncture of Shariah and common law, tolerance, and freedom of religious expression--for everyone.
My husband and I have discussed the controversy surrounding the building of a mosque near/on Ground Zero in New York City. Emotions are running high, as the extremists who killed so many in the towers were associated with the Muslim faith, and this is seen by many as a stick in the eye by those who killed so many Americans. Alternatively, there is an issue of religious tolerance at play - do we believe in protecting the rights of those with whom we disagree?
Being LDS, I see lumping the extremists with all other Muslims a little differently. I am tired of being associated with those extremists who practice polygamy, and who claim to believe in Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. These people have nothing to do with my faith. If they ever were practicing members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Satins, they have been excommunicated, and rightly so.
Islam does not have the same governing structure as my faith, and therefore I don't think it's possible for one to be excommunicated in quite the same way. Their faith, from what I understand, has localized leadership. But I can imagine that, similar to my reaction when I am grouped together with extremist polygamists, peace-loving Muslims look at those extremists who feel to kill others with horror and disdain, and grimace that the extremists are labeled and grouped together with themselves.
More thoughts on this to come...