Monday, January 30, 2006

It's hard work to be a Muslim: Why demonizing Islam is NOT a good idea

Being a Muslim is freakin' hard work! Those namby-pamby born-again so-called Christians -- who are always bragging about how holier-than-thou they are -- would wilt like prom flowers after only about a week of being a Muslim.

First of all, to be a Muslim you gotta get up at 5:30 in the morning every day. Then you gotta perform a ceremonial cleansing called "wudo" that consists of washing your face, ears, nose, mouth, fingers, arms up to the elbows, toes and feet up to the ankles. Then you gotta trudge across town before freaking SUNRISE in order to pray in the mosque. And, if you are a woman, you have to cover every part of your body while doing all the rest of this stuff.

And that's just the beginning. You gotta do this whole routine four more times every day. That means that if you are a merchant, you gotta close your shop five times a day. If you are a mom and want to pray at the mosque too, you gotta load up the stroller and trudge across town with the kiddies five times a day. And, in many Middle Eastern Islamic countries, you gotta do it dressed in black with only your eyes showing. Chasing toddlers dressed like Zorro in drag? That's work!

And if you are a Muslim in Baghdad, you gotta do all this while American occupying forces and resistance fighters are shooting at you!

Plus, if your are a Muslim, you gotta do a whole bunch of other stuff too. There are so many proscriptions and rules that even the most tight-assed "Christian" fundamentalist control freak in Dixie would get confused. I'm exhausted just thinking about it. Plus if you make any major mistakes and don't ask forgiveness, you get to go straight to Hell. Lots of Hell Fire. Not a pretty sight.

Plus, Islam stresses justice and equality and good manners. You cannot attack anyone unless you are attacked first. And you gotta be NICE to people. 24/7. Muslims are some of the nicest, most generous people in the world. How do they do it?

Yesterday I got thrown off a computer at an internet cafe run by Muslims. "Why?" I protested. "My time isn't up."

"We're closing," said the geek behind the desk and apologized profusely as he threw me out the door. And three blocks later (I'm a slow thinker) I realized why. It was time for the evening prayer.

Yesterday a friend of mine took me on a tour of the local mosques. We toured five mosques and prayed at every one. Combine that with the required five prayers a day and that's 10 (ten) prayer cycles in one day. There's only so much ritual prayer I can take and I was just about prayed out. I myself prefer the spontaneous, on-the-fly, wing-and-a-prayer approach to talking with God but this was like going to Mass ten times a day. That's a hecka lot of work. After all that, when would I even have TIME to sit down and chit-chat with the Almighty? Being a Muslim is freaking hard work!

Yet when I went off to the formal Friday prayers at a local mosque the other day, there were hundreds of people there. All of them were devoted. All of them were enthusiastic. All of them were really glad to be there -- not just for an occasional drop-in visit with God but five times a day for the rest of their lives. Year after year after year with no break. Voluntarily. They actually CHOSE not to sit the occasional day out or to stay home to watch Sunday afternoon football or nothing like that.

Any Methodist minister would give his eye teeth to have a congregation like that. And any "Christian" dictator plotting a theocracy would drool at all this enthusiasm.

None of these Muslims want to overthrow Islam and win the right to not have to close down the freaking shop five times a day or sleep in on Sunday morning. That's amazing.

Being a Muslim is hard work. And yet Muslims do it anyway. Over a billion Muslims do it daily.

It seems to me that after the collapse of the Soviet Union, arms manufacturers were looking around for another formidable enemy -- as an excuse to steal taxpayers' money by scaring us into parting with our hard-earned cash and claiming that there was a desperate need to keep us all safe from some post-USSR calamity or other. Osama bin Forgotten was not a big enough threat to justify spending trillions of weapons dollars just to go after one man -- so the idiots in the Bush bureaucracy looked around for another possible post-Communist villain and decided to make Islam the enemy. Big mistake.

Muslims are basically nice people. They are just Average Joes like you and me. And also, like you and I would do if we were in their same position and George Bush kept insisting on trying to blow us all up, Muslims will fight back.


Because Muslims LIKE being Muslims. Even despite the hard work.