I was on my way to the supermarket feeling cold and sad and angry the dog would not stay alone when i saw some activity in the community cafe next to the supermarket. Always a curious seagull ,i walked in and saw a screen and a slideshow.
“Islam”was the topic.
I asked whether i could listen to the presentation and was welcomed with a smile.
I asked and was told this was a forum for tolerance.
AH!I said AT LAST!
The universe heard my suffering of Donald Trump and this was its answer:Tolerance!
The young Swiss lady presented a slideshow about Islam.
I learned about Islam at school but more history than i could recall. I always got confused between the various streams.
Surprising facts i knew but good to recall:
1)Most Moslems in the world are NOT Arabs.
2)in 1970 the Moslems were 0.3%
In 2013 nearly 5% of the population of Switzerland;400,000.
3)some practices are religious,others traditions.
I argued one point with the presenter and then she showed a stand up comedian from Saudi Arabia singing “No woman no car” written to Bob Marley’s song “no woman no cry”
“No woman no car.
I remember you in the back seat
Where you belong.”
I had to laugh but then i thought,hey,that is NOT funny!
I argued again.
“Hey”i said”this isn’t funny.women are suffering from oppression”
.the Swiss lady got upset.
“This is disresectful to our Moslem guests”
A woman who was wearing a headscarf sat in silence.
A young man with an intense bright eyes and a smile explained to me something but spoke too good German for me to.understand.”English?”i asked and he proceeded to ping pong with me ideas.He was vegeterian too. We were both in the middle east during the gulf war.He was playing on tanks,in kwait,as a child,i was walking around with a gas mask in Tel Aviv and running to shelters when a rocket via Saddam Hussein landed…
The lady with the scarf spoke first.
She explained how she first came to Switzerland from Morocco and thought to herself”here,i have everything i could possibly want but i am unhappy.why?”
Then she found ideas. If she is happy with herself,if she can not be angry at others,she can be happy if she follows the teachings of Islam she has love and more patience . She found strength and love in God.
I could relate to the feeling of love but i found that in yoga ideas and in poetry and sometimes on Friday nights at the family table on shabbath meals by the candles.
I asked her how she would feel if her daughter rejected her religious ways and she said that she does have a 19 year old daughter and that although her daughter first followed religion,with the years she stopped wearing a headscarf and that is alright with her.she accepts everything with love. She told a story of a person wandering the desert and quoted in Arabic.
At one point my dog walked up to the lady wearing a scarf and stretched up to her to be patted. My heart melted. My dog sensed the genuine love that radiated from that woman.
The young man,an engineer,spoke next,more rational,describing his life moving from kwait to France,Austria,across Germany,studying there and finally moving to Switzerland.
I asked about the Syrian refugees and why they are so alone though some Moslem countries have taken them in.
The Morrocian woman gave an emotional answer,she almost cried,she has not watches television in four years. It is too heart breaking but she can only speak for herself. She would always help anyone in need.
My dog too felt her words came straight from the heart .Animals sense when a person radiates love.
The young engineer explained that there is a conflict created by some countries in the region who are not interested in helping the Syrians .
I realize it is a complex situation.
The swiss are generally not fast at participating in a discussion or asking questions being introvert and shy and afraid to make a false move,but a middle aged woman in grey brown short masculine hairstyle remarked that she felt a similarity between the spiritual heart opening experience the Moroccian woman described.
An elderly man spoke of theology comparing Islam to Christianity,historically.
Another dark skinned man with an Indian accent spoke of Sufism i mentioned,Rumi,(one of my favorite poets)he went on to quote the prophet feeling encouraged and safe to express his happiness.
The Swiss ice melted. An elderly man sitting in front of me began a long long monolgue comparing the planets and cosmology to theology.He was not interrupted.He was on some sort of private trip. It was allowed.
The older man who spoke about comparative theology now asked the Morrocian lady about heaven and hell.what is the view of Islam?
The swiss lady in a grey and brown short haircut smiled saying as a protestant she did not believe in hell.
I was married to a protestant and
I was tempted to quote Sartre on that matter”hell is the other person”and he was..
The Morrocian lady spoke of a scale that measures your deeds.
I was reminded of Judaism and wondered whether i will have enough time to bake challa for the Friday night meal ..
By the end of the evening,the young engineer was Ahmed
and the woman in the scarf was kaoutar and i said my name too.
We were on first name basis ,something that takes months and years in Switzerland with the Swiss, took two hours with people of the middle east.
Someone should invite Donald Trump to such a forum teaching tolerance ,he might learn something new about being human in this world.
And it is never too late to teach an old dog new tricks.
There is an Arab saying
“Every dog has his day”
This was how dog and me went from a miserable cold gloomy day to be happy,smiling,warm amongst friends.
I came home began immediately preparing the Friday night’s meal.
All of the sudden i felt a surge of new energy.
The American presidential elections were not sucking my energy in a competition on who could be more nasty.
I tuned in to the words the Morrocian woman’s spoke earlier with a glowing smile:
“When i am happy with myself,i treat others well too.”
The Swiss forum
Organizes evenings discussing Islam,the Syrian refugees,cooking together with refugees,and trying on a headscarf and other getting to know the other experiences.
In Israel i saw a similar beautiful project where Jewish Russian immigrant women met Arab Israeli women to cook together ,put on head scarves,and discuss similarities in their seemingly different cultures.
Peace,light and love!
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