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Entries in being muslim (2)


The Tim Tebow Thing

Don't know much about football.

I do know a little about religion in America, and these days a young man named Tim Tebow is center stage.  For those of you not in the U.S. or who have "irritation induced amnesia" from 2006, Tim Tebow is a quarterback who plays (American) football for the Denver Broncos.

He's very good. And he prays. Like, all the time.

They call it "the Tebow."  Tim will silently kneel on one knee at various points in the game and pray for a favorable outcome.  He prays when he's winning as well as when things aren't going well. He talks to God a lot.  Which is, let's admit, most Americans find sort of creepy.

I'm not phased in the least by Tim Tebow's praying because Muslims pray, like, all the time.  Technically, five times a day, but way more if you count little prayers.

If I see a Muslim friend, I say, "May the Peace of God be upon you." A prayer.

Than that Muslim friend says, "May the Peace of God be upon you as well as his mercy and his blessings." Another prayer.

When I ask that friend how they're doing they reply, "All praise is due to God" and continue with their sentence.  I mean, it hasn't been two minutes and we've already prayed three times.

Oops, I sneezed, so I say "Praise God." We're up to four times.

So the person I'm talking to says, "And may his Mercy be upon you." Five.

My friend gives me a tissue and I say, "May God reward you with goodness." Six.

They tell me they just god a new job and, I say, "As God Wills." Seven gets you to heaven, baby.

And before I do most anything, get in the car, start writing something, lose my temper, start cooking, I say, "I seek refuge from Satan and his evil, and begin in the name of God."  I don't know, that happens anywhere from ten to fifteen times a day?  And I will not even begin to count how many times I ask for forgiveness.

So, I pray a lot.  Which means I don't think Tim Tebow is off putting for praying. And before you go, "Well, you're not kneeling on the floor and..."  Yes.  Yes, I am, for at least five of those thirty or more times times, I am kneeling.

You know who is off putting these days?

Bill Maher.

Many of you know, Bill Maher does not pray because he's an atheist.  WHICH IS FINE. Great.  And good for him!

That's not the annoying part.  The annoying thing is that Bill Maher thinks ridiculing Tim Tebow and other religious people is some sort of activist thing. I know he has a right to say what he likes, but I have a right to dislike him for what he says and take his methodology to task, too.

I'm not even remotely suggesting laws be passed or boycotts or anything of the like.

Bill Maher is just oblivious to the fact that he employs the same kind of "blinders on" thinking that he suggests are the source of all of our problems in the first place. News flash, Mr. Maher, you can be a fundamentalist and not believe in God. god.  Whatever. Ridiculing Tim Tebow makes him look good.  In fact, the third most googled term last week was "Tim Tebow 3:16."

Maher and other people who think this is all so very hilarious actually take the focus off of a very important fact: Tim Tebow ascribes to a paradigm that promotes the meshing of public policy and conservative Christian values that seek to limit the civil rights of American citizens to marry and women's reproductive rights. Furthermore, his popularity is either rooted in implicit support for this paradigm or is aimed at garnering support for it.

Now that would be a cause for concern for me  if I weren't so annoyed with Bill Maher making fun of the fact the the kid prays so much.

Last week on on Hey! That's My Hummus!, Mike and I discussed Tim Tebow as well as how Jamaican nationalism is affecting a recent translation of the Bible. You can download from iTunes or listen at the main site.  We're on Facebook and Twitter, too.

And then there's the Lowe's "thing."

Have you heard of the Florida Family Association?

Not linking because I don't want to, as my Abrahamic brothers and sisters might say, 'get their schmutz' all over my blog.

When you hear about people writing letters or e-mails to a company (Disney, Mars) because they're "promoting" homosexuality or Islamic Sharia Law, you're most likely reading a campaign initiated by the Florida Family Association. Recently, the FFA succeeded in getting Lowe's to pull advertising from TLC's new show "All American Muslim," because:
Clearly this program is attempting to manipulate Americans into ignoring the threat of jihad and to influence them to believe that being concerned about the jihad threat would somehow victimize these nice people in this show.

I may be super sensitive, but here's what I read:
Clearly this program is trying to demonstrate that these people are real human beings like you and me and that kind of bullshit is going to seriously deter our plans of sending their children to gas chambers.

Dramatic?  Maybe. I'm not making light of the Holocaust here... I'm serious.  I see stuff like this and I get worried.

Humor me while I tell you something that you might know already.

Jihad doesn't mean "holy war."  It means "struggle."

I wear a headscarf, now.  Like a scarf.  On my head.  That other people can see. I do this only because I am Muslim. Okay, I also do it a tiny bit because I'm too tired to blow dry my hair, but too vain to own that. Shh, let's keep that to ourselves.

I walk outside into Memphis, Tennessee where quite often not a single other person is wearing anything remotely similar.  Most people stare at me. I look them right in the eye, hold my head up high, smile as warmly as possible and I say, "Hello, How are you doing?!"  But, like the song says, what I'm really saying is "I love you."

Wearing the scarf is not a jihad for me. Having compassion for the heart of the person that is staring at me is my jihad.

Getting offended is easy, engaging in an act of friendship when you see fear in another person's eyes is a struggle. This is why I didn't wear a hijab (that's Muslim for 'headscarf') for many years.  While I've always had the courage to be different, I've not always had the courage to be compassionate to those who were affronted by difference.

When people protested about the "ground zero" mosque, there were well reasoned rationalizations for why they protested.  I gave people a safe place to openly discuss that. I listened.

Then, when the guy in Florida threatened to burn a Quran, I said, oh come on, don't give that guy any attention, he's just a crazy seeking the limelight... look over here at all the goodness.

And then the French banned the wearing of face veils, and I patiently sided with my sisters and explained the veil in its proper context.

After that, Muslim families were asked to leave planes for looking too Muslim and, honestly,I kind of shut down after that. Because hi, home, hit too close to.

Now, a company will not advertise on a program called "All American Muslim" because  some fringey group in Florida thinks it's a bid for marketing Islamic Shariah and, oh, let's just tack on it does not meet the level of programming that "Sister Wives" does.

I don't like the show all that much and I've discussed that it's not entirely representative of Muslims. If Lowe's had decided to stop advertising because the show was stupid, that's okay. But that's not why they stopped.  And that is not okay.

It took me a while to write about this because I'm tired of writing about this.  I also feel that many will assume that I'm just speaking up for my own, when I'm speaking up for all of us.

For you and me... so that we don't become something terrible and tragic. I seem dramatic, because, well it is dramatic.

Still.  I have faith.

We're all going to do what we can.

I've e-mailed Lowe's, signed a petition, written this post and smiled at people.

Do you mind sharing with each other what you're going to do?