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Archive for the ‘Islam’ Category

Sufi Music

Posted by spritzophrenia on July 2, 2010

We’re in music week here at spritzophrenia. I couldn’t find any Islamic music I liked for Friday (the Islamic day of worship). I tried Yousef Islam (formerly Cat Stevens) but the songs seemed too preachy. Do you have any suggestions? Sufi is a mystical tradition within Islam, so here’s Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

Unrelated quote I like:
“The post-Christian narrative is radically different; it offers spirituality without binding authority” R. Albert Mohler Jr.

Posted in Islam, music | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Should Society Tell Women What To Wear?

Posted by spritzophrenia on May 17, 2010

In the news recently some European countries seek to ban the full face veil worn by some Muslim women – two variations known as the burkha and the niqab. Religious freedom and the veil has become a sticky issue.

This BBC article contains a useful guide to the most common styles of veil Muslim women wear – there’s more than two! Full face veils are a minority custom and a national Italian Islamic council is among many who point out that it’s not a core requirement of the religion. The Dean of Al Azhar University calls full face veiling “a custom that has nothing to do with the Islamic faith“.

Cultural differences can be both enlightening and amusing. It’s possible that veiling women only sexualises them more. I know of two women who lived in a country (Malaysia?) where women generally cover most of their body. They used to joke about local men lusting after body parts that nobody cared about in New Zealand. Then one day they both wore sleeveless blouses on a bus, and the driver almost drove off the road staring at their arms. After that they were more careful about what they wore.

In discussing the European situation with a friend we both agreed the only reason to ban full veils would be for security reasons. We don’t allow motorcycle helmets or balaclavas to be worn in banks and it’s probably reasonable to ban full face veils for the same reason. An alternative would be to require the veil to be dropped in certain situations, for example when stopped by the police.

A woman wearing the Niqab protests in Tours, France, February 2010

However, some polititians have suggested that such veiling denigrates women and they propose a ban for feminist reasons. French President Nicolas Sarkozy said the full veils “threaten the dignity of women”. Regardless of whether this is the case, that’s no reason to try and suppress someone’s culture. Let me say at this point I believe that, like conservative Christianity, conservative Islam represses woman and I’m not a fan of full face veils. Regardless, we may not like it but we must allow these women the freedom to choose such dress.

Ironically, I wonder whether the desire to “free” these women would have exactly the opposite effect, forcing them to stay at home because they won’t be able to go out in public. (On further reading I see the Muslim Executive of Belgium has argued the same thing, warning it would lead to women who do wear the veil being trapped in their homes.)

There is also some talk along the lines of “these people have come to our country and they should integrate with us”. Stefaan van Heck, an MP with the Belgian Green Party, is one who argues that unveiling women is better for social integration. However, integration should not mean assimilation. Diversity of cultures enriches our countries, and minority groups should be encouraged to retain their languages and customs provided we don’t end up with ghettos. I think if you are in a foreign country it’s respectful and wise to learn the language and follow local customs. However, this does not mean one has to completely lose one’s own culture.

Ban the burkha for security reasons if that’s the best solution, but don’t try to justify it by appealing to women’s rights or the need for cultural assimilation.



What do you think?

Posted in Islam, Sociology | Tagged: , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

God Doesn’t Want You To Fly Into Buildings

Posted by spritzophrenia on March 6, 2010

I guess we needed some hope. Muhammad Tahir ul-Qadri, a Muslim scholar based in the UK has condemned terrorism and criticized Islamic extremists who cite their religion to justify violence.

Ul-Qadri’s 600-page fatwa is “arguably the most comprehensive theological refutation of Islamist terrorism to date,” according to the Quilliam Foundation, a London organization that describes itself as a counterterrorism think tank.

“Terrorism is terrorism,” ul-Qadri said at a news conference hosted by the foundation. “Violence is violence. It has no place in Islamic teaching, and no justification can be provided to it.

The foundation mentioned says ul-Qadri “is the founder of the Minhaj-ul-Quran, an organization with hundreds of thousands of followers in South Asia and the United Kingdom” and is a “mainstream Muslim scholar” who is a “widely recognized and respected authority on Islamic jurisprudence.” I hope that’s so, I’m a bit sceptical of most people who say they have a following of hundreds of thousands when that can’t be verified. [Edit: On further checking he does seem to have a large following]. Islam is a large and varied religion, and I don’t know if he will be listened to or even heard of by people easily swayed by extremists.

Still, here’s hoping someone listens to him.

Posted in Islam | Tagged: , , , , | Comments Off on God Doesn’t Want You To Fly Into Buildings

Five spiritual trends for the ’10s

Posted by spritzophrenia on January 15, 2010

The soundtrack for this post is Windowpane by Opeth. It should open in a new window and you can listen in the background as you read. Life’s been busy, and I thought this guest post by Douglas Todd of the Vancouver Sun was worth some comment:

Five spiritual trends for the ’10s

A year ago I wrote about five religious trends to watch for in 2009. I suggested what will happen to the religious right, the religious left, religion-based terrorism, Eastern spirituality and all those people who like to say they're spiritual but not religiousWith the dawn of our new decade, I'm coming to the conclusion the five trends have real staying power, which could see them sticking with us to 2020 and beyond.
Here are the five religious and spiritual shifts I predicted, plus my analysis of what's happened in the past year or more to indicate they could be long-lasting:

1. Eastern spirituality will flower
The days are gone when just a few intellectuals discussed the intersection of Eastern and Western thought. Now, instead of D.T. Suzuki, Alan Watts, Masao Abe and John Cobb taking part in East-West dialogues, Asian spirituality has gone mainstream in the West. Nova Scotia-based Buddhist monk Pema Chodron (left) is being profiled in mass circulation women's magazines, teaching the controversial idea of living with "no hope." And small spiritual armies of young Buddhists, calling themselves Dharma Punx, are spreading around North America. It's not only whites jumping on the Eastern spirituality train. Inspired by the Dalai Lama, Thich Nhat Hanh and Thailand's Sulak Sivaraksa, more Asians are transforming Eastern spiritual traditions–making them less quietistic. They're committed to "engaged Buddhism," which is putting them on the non-violent frontlines of justice.
The Taiwan-based Chu Tzi movement, which has millions of followers in 40 countries, including Canada, down-plays religious rites and zealously emphasizes international charity projects. Meanwhile, instead of having scholars highlight the atheistic philosophy of Buddhism, scholar Jeff Wilson has discovered, droves of North American converts and ethnic Buddhists (especially women)are increasingly being drawn to more supernatural reverence of the Chinese figure, Kuan Yin.

2. Religious terrorism will be the new normal
The recent failed attempts by extremist Muslims to kill a Danish cartoonist and blow up a plane to Detroit have broken a long quiet spell in terrorist activity on European and North American soil. A Pew Forum survey found in December that religion-rooted hostility is widespread around the world, though not necessarily growing. Nine per cent of countries are experiencing some form, however minor, of terrorism — not only from Muslims, but from Christians, Hindus, atheistic leaders and others.
With North Americans keeping their attention mostly on Muslim terrorism, global surveys are showing Islamic anger is based largely on a sense that brothers and sisters in the faith are being vilified and oppressed by Western financial, political and military powers. Unlike in the days of George W. Bush, virtually all Western observers, including U.S. President Barack Obama, maintain it takes more than military might to stop terrorism, as the dubious wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are proving. It takes intelligence-gathering, multilateralism, interfaith dialogue and negotiation. The anti-terror campaign, perhaps surprisingly, includes "terrorist rehabilitation," according to Religion Watch magazine. Government officials are offering psychological and spiritual counselling to thousands of jailed suspected terrorists to counter their militant ideology.

3. Religious liberals will build on advances
Momentum is rising among spiritual searchers yearning for an alternative to conservative versions of Western religion. They're finding it in progressive Christian, Jewish and Islamic writers. Marcus Borg, Diana Butler Bass (left), Jim Wallis, Michael Lerner, Tariq Ramadan and Canada's Ron Rolheiser have in recent years become major public intellectuals and hugely successful authors.
Polls are showing liberal religious people are not as partisan and aggressive as evangelicals, but they're making waves in public policy. Even though Obama didn't win any more white evangelical Christian supporters than previous Democrat presidential candidates, he is retaining solid support from black Protestants, mainline Protestants, white and Hispanic Catholics, Muslims, Jews and Buddhists, not to mention the religiously unaffiliated. Since achieving office, Obama also has been raising the profile of one of his favourite Christian theologians, the late Reinhold Niebuhr. If black civil rights, South African apartheid and the Vietnam War brought together religious progressives in the '60s and '70s, possible environmental disaster now galvanizes them. That was illustrated by the way Christians pressed government leaders to make a dramatic commitment against global warming at December's Copenhagen climate summit.

4. Religious right will regroup
The religious right has been hit with some body blows — particularly with the rise of Obama, the failure of the war they backed in Iraq and the defeat of Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin. In addition, more U.S. states have recently been legalizing same-sex unions. But the religious right retains its passion, anger, money, followers, political connections (including with Stephen Harper's Conservative party) and influence on major media outlets, particularly through hugely popular talk-show hosts such as Glenn Beck, a Mormon. Even though Palin is an embarrassment to many women and some of her fellow evangelicals (especially in Canada), she remains a bigger name than ever since resigning last year as Alaska's governor, promoting her autobiography and prodding the Republican party in her Pentecostal direction. The religious right was reinvigorated by last year's no-holds-barred crusade against Democrats' attempts to bring in universal health insurance. Zoning in on laws that ban federal funding of abortion, conservative religious activists mobilized against the U.S., adopting even a pale imitation of Canada's medicare system. They called Obama a "socialist" and likened him to Adolf Hitler. Palin called the health plan "downright evil."

5. Secular spirituality will strengthen
The populist mantra taking us into the next decade is: "I'm not religious, but I'm spiritual." It's commonplace for people now to oppose religious organizations, while embracing a host of spiritual practices and beliefs. This "secular spirituality" manifests itself in mainstream publishing, widespread nature reverence and pop culture figures such as Oprah, Eckhart Tolle and Deepak Chopra. "Secular spirituality" is also making a rare foray into academia. Hundreds of university based researchers are studying the scientific benefits of "mindfulness" and various forms of meditation and contemplation, which have been practised for centuries by Buddhists, Hindus, Christians and Jews, not to mention artists, musicians and poets. With polls showing more people are becoming "spiritual tinkerers" who mix and match an often dizzying variety of beliefs and practices, secular spirituality is also making its way into movies, including the newly released 2012 and Avatar. Filmed in Vancouver, apocalyptic 2012 warns of environmental cataclysm. The movie ties into a New Age belief that the ancient Mayan calendar predicts that the year 2012 marks either the end of the world or the beginning of a new and glorious spiritual era. Canadian director James Cameron's blockbuster movie, Avatar, also develops an eco-spiritual theme. The heroes are humanoids, known as Na'vi, who practise a powerful indigenous form of nature spirituality that holds the potential to heal the universe. In line with the current trend to treat global culture as if it were a vast spiritual smorgasbord, Cameron took the title of his movie from Indian religion. An "avatar" is an incarnation of a Hindu god.



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Posted in agnostic, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, New Age, Sociology, spirituality | 4 Comments »

10 Must-See Spiritual Movies

Posted by spritzophrenia on December 25, 2009

Given the holiday season, you’ll probably want something to do. Given I’m a movie buff I’m going to see Avatar [see my Avatar experience], and will probably watch a few others on my laptop when I can. If you’re hiring a DVD, here are my ten must-see movies to kick-start your spiritual journey [1], or provide sustenance along the way. Regardless of their spiritual subject matter (or not) these are good films in their own right. Note that some contain violence or sex; these aren’t the kind of films Pastor Bob shows to the youth group – no tacky evangelistic flicks here. Some films will inspire you, some will revolt you. All of them will make you think, and perhaps grow. In no particular order:

1. The Exorcist (1973, re-released 2000)
Evil. Some perspectives – Buddhist, atheist, Hindu – have no concept of it. Usually Hollywood portrays evil as somehow “cool”. Hell is a place where the fun people get to party for all eternity. Heaven is a boring place for wimps. Devils even have a sense of humour, a trait that C.S. Lewis rightly pointed out a devil could not have – humour is a good, not an evil. The Exorcist portrays hard, uncompromising, callous, hate-filled evil. Think of Sauron in the Lord of the Rings.

What’s truly scary about The Exorcist is the possibility that there could be malevolent entities as well as benign. I first encountered what may have been a demon when I was 16. Pentecostal christians like to talk a lot about demons, but this was the only encounter in 20 years I had where I truly believed it could be real. Comment if you’d like me to talk about this some time.

The New Age tends to ignore the dark side of spirituality. It’s perfectly possible if there are spirits that some could be the equivalent of the shark; hidden, unfeeling predators who will take opportunities to attack humans if given the chance. If this is so, it would pay us to find allies among the good spirits.

2. Breaking the Waves (1996)
This film blew me away. A ‘simple’ young woman from a strict christian group marries an oil rig worker who then suffers an accident. She believes g0d tells her to prostitute herself in order to heal her husband. Is she insane? Is God cruel? Why don’t her conservative church help her? Filmed by Lars von Trier, this is not an easy watch by any means, but is deeply thought-provoking and for me, ultimately rewarding.

Breaking The Waves is a movie about the protestant christian concept of grace – un-earned kindness. It’s about trust in g0d against impossible odds. Make sure you watch the final minute of the movie. It changes everything.

3. The Mission (1986)
Set in 18th Century South America, a warrior priest and a pacifist both try to save the people they love and care for. Who will succeed – just war priest, or tree-hugger priest? Another major plot concerns the conversion of a hard-living slaver to a devout Catholic. But can he truly give up his past? A provocative and powerful film.

4. Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter…and Spring (2003)

The dramatic portrayal of Buddhist lifestyles and spiritual truths is perhaps more difficult to accomplish in an exciting way than depictions of Western religious practices and stories, because the Dharma is geared to inner transformation. And while enlightenment may be one of the most profound experiences a human being can undergo, it doesn’t exactly translate easily into compelling cinema.

From greencin

While that may be true, this Korean film is a moving and powerful portrayal of a Buddhist “redepmtion”. The movie is slow and lyrical – meditative, which is surely intentional on the director’s part. An old monk educates a young man, who subsequently leaves the monastery and commits atrocious crimes. The subsequent story is well worth an evening’s viewing.

5. Koyaanisqatsi (1982)
Koyaanisqatsi is not an explicitly religious movie and in that respect one could call it an atheist meditation on life, technology and our interactions with them. Perhaps one could call this a humanist movie, the first of a trilogy. It’s more a documentary or a work of art yet has no spoken narrative, only a mesmerising soundtrack by Phillip Glass. For me, the film portrays a deep sense of the wonder and tragedy of human acheivement. Watching it is a meditation in itself.

6. Jesus of Montreal (1989)
This Canadian production is probably the best modern re-imaging of what Christians call the ‘gospels’ – the biographies of Jesus. Yet it’s a totally atheistic Jesus, one that could be believed without reference to a g0d. As one would expect from a movie that captures the ‘feel’ of Jesus, it’s brilliant and compassionate.

7. The Apostle (1997)
Robert Duvall portrays a Pentecostal preacher going through hard times. Exploring hypocrisy, belief and wrenching humanity this is one of the more challenging looks at the underbelly of US christianity.

8. The Rapture (1991)
Rapture (rap’chur) 1. ecstatic joy or delight. 2. a state of extreme sexual ecstasy. 3. the feeling of being transported to another sphere of existence. 4. the experience of being spirited away to Heaven just before the Apocalypse. You’ve possibly heard the fundies talking about being ‘raptured’ As far as I know the writer and director are not Christians, but chose to explore what it might be like if this really is true. A telephone operator living an empty, amoral life finds God and loses him again. What would it be like for a non-religious person addicted to sex to be ‘born again’?

9. The Message (1976)
I hesitated to include this in my list, but I think all non-Muslim Westerners would do well to acquaint themselves with the story of Muhummad. The film itself is well produced and acted, it won several awards. Bonus: It was announced just a couple of months ago that Oscar-winning producer Barrie M. Osborne, of ‘Matrix’ And ‘Lord of the Rings’ fame will make a movie about the founder of Islam. I will watch with great interest. Neo and Gandalf meet the last prophet?

10. Natural Born Killers (1994)
You’re probably wondering why I include this as a ‘religious’ movie. You’re right, it’s not – and that’s the whole point. To me it’s a movie about nihilism, one extreme form of atheism: Nothing means anything, there’s no right or wrong, only pleasure. If we want to kill, who cares? Other people have no value except as we choose to use them. Yet the love the two main characters share perhaps belies this point of view. Is this a redeeming factor? Or does it show that nihilism can’t be lived?

So there we are. It was hard culling down a large list to just ten. Perhaps we’ll have to do this again sometime. I hope you gain insight and connection through watching them. I’ve written part two of my pagan experience, I aim to get that online soon. In the meantime, have you seen any of the above films? What other movies did you find spiritually – or atheistically – enlightening?

Happy holidays

listening to Terra Nine and Aviatrix | Wonder, T9 + Aviatrix | Whisper (Pete Ardon and Helix drum n bass remix)
tful[2] Karen jokes about Santa Claus

[1] Again, I am including atheism as a spiritual journey for want of a better description. I mean no offence by this.
[2] Today’s Fun Unrelated Link

Posted in agnostic, atheism, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, New Age, Sociology | Tagged: , , , , , , | 18 Comments »

Tell Me What To Do!

Posted by spritzophrenia on December 23, 2009

Later today I’ll follow up the post on my pagan experience with something a little more chunky. Specifically, a look at integrity, hypocrisy and pagan ethics. But first, Please Tell Me What To Do.

Thanks for all the comments and interest. This blog, and the 21st Century Schizoid Project is here to help you. However, Spritzophrenia is new, and to do that effectively I need your help. Tell me what you’d like to read about. You already know a little of my story. What would help you? What would get the brain cells ticking over?

We’re about to start a new year – unless you’re Chinese or Muslim, but let’s not be pedantic. Here’s a list of topics which are exercising my heartbrain and I hope to cover in reasonable depth over the year.

Obviously there’s a big crossover between “feeling” and “thinking” topics. We are holistic beings, and I can’t do one very well without considering the other. As always I’ll keep throwing in humour and lighter stuff. My posts often include music and more general personal development tips.

Jonathan’s List for 2010

Feely Topics
(Personal experiences, and spiritual practice.)

* Would I go back to fundamentalist Christianity?

Thinky Topics
(Discussions, critical analysis, learning.)

* Islam – Peaceful or hateful religion?
* Psychoactive Drugs and the Spirit – Harmful or helpful?
* Celtic spirituality – What I can learn from my ancestors.
* Evil and our dark side – Anger, fear, hate and Barry Manilow
* Satanism – Just for heavy metal bands?


* Ismael – a Muslim friend
* Sally – an ex-Catholic atheist

Who else would you like me to talk to? (Does anyone have the Pope’s phone number?) Is anyone here offering? You may have some spiritual experiences and teachings you’d like to share with me.

What would you add to this list? What would you take away? What, out of topics I’ve already covered would you like me to re-visit from another angle? What should I talk about in the book? What would help you in your journey?

3…2….1… comment!

listening to Altered Images | I Could Be Happy, Spiderbait | Fucken Awesome, Lenny Kravitz | Believe
tful [1] Hilarious critique of the Star Wars movies

[1] Today’s Fun Unrelated Link

Posted in agnostic, Christianity, Islam, meta, pagan | Tagged: , , , , | 13 Comments »

First Jesus-Era House Discovered

Posted by spritzophrenia on December 22, 2009

Shalom. Here’s a quick news update. The first Jesus-era house has been found in Nazareth, Israel. This is significant archaeologically, and obviously for Christians, Jews and Muslims.

What do you know of “bible-era” archaeology? Would you like me to write more in this area? How would it affect your (non) faith if a significant discovery is made?

listening to ABC | The Look of Love, AC Slater | Party Girl

Posted in agnostic, Christianity, Islam, Judaism | 1 Comment »