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Tea, Theology and Taliban

We have a moderate mullah working for us. With my lifelong obsession with religion I'd been dying to talk to him, but my shyness was working against me. Thing is, he's shy too because of his intermediate English skills.

Well, yesterday I was behind him in the lunch line so I screwed up my courage and started talking. When he found out about my degrees and wanted to know why I wasn't a chaplain, I answered the question and realized he didn't know the three major groupings of Christians. Since the Sunni/Shi'a division was an analogy I said how the Catholics and Orthodox split apart about a thousand years ago, then the Reformation took place about 500 years ago.

My question for him was, "Why did you become a mullah?" It was akin to the answer a priest would give. He had a high school diploma, but during high school he loved to spend time in the mosque praying and reading religious books. By the time he'd graduated he'd memorized the Koran.

When the Taliban came, he fled to Pakistan, as did many Afghans. He wanted to go to university, but didn't have the money, so he went to madrassa. Eventually he was able to get his BA in Islamic Studies and by then the Taliban were out of power, so he came back. Now he's hired full time to talk Common Sense into extremists. One of them punched him in the head recently.

I said I was a Miryam (Mary) specialist and we talked a little about that, but I had just as many Islamic questions as he did Christian.

Later, General Mohib was visiting and he and his entourage wanted tea. Since I make a very nice cup of Afghan tea, I made a pot. A couple of hours he wanted tea again, so I came in. The mullah was visiting the general too and as I walked in, the mullah was talking about me and my degrees. General Mohib was intrigued.

"Tell me what you think about Miryam," he said.

I told him that she was the greatest saint, the mother of Issa (Jesus) and the most perfect follower of the will of God because she could have been killed for obeying the will of God since she got pregnant out of wedlock. She did it anyway.

"How do you put her virtues into effect in your life?" he asked.

I said that I was very imperfect, but since Miryam did the will of God, the will of God is mercy and compassion and that I did these very badly.

The general further asked how this could be, since surely I must fight with my husband. I said yes, but since we have to make a lifetime of being married to each other, when fights did get ugly, I made sure to apologize. I further went on that he could ask SFC N about how I got mad and would yell at her, but that again, I apologized because we all have to live together. He seemed a bit nonplussed by this.

I thought his questions were absolutely marvelous and showed a great deal of thought. However I reflected that this showed me the principal trouble in Afghanistan, namely, that no one can picture resolving differences without it involving guns. It was like this during the days of Buddhism and I bet it was during Zoroastrianism too. While I believe that people can be swayed from violence even after thousands of years (Buddhism wasn't always so gentle, for instance) it's a massive endeavour that can only be achieved by grace.

Lord, make us channels of your peace!

Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
marphilly
May. 13th, 2010 11:35 am (UTC)
Sounds like a cool conversation.
reginaterrae
May. 13th, 2010 11:52 am (UTC)
God bless you, girl, you may have done some real good -- you may have planted a seed in his mind to begin imagining peaceful co-existence.
reginaterrae
May. 13th, 2010 11:56 am (UTC)
I should say, as you do, it's grace that may have worked some good using you as a channel :) But it's you who are open to being an instrument of His peace!
lucy_indisguise
May. 13th, 2010 12:27 pm (UTC)
Wow, what an incredible opportunity and I think you used it well. I have to believe that you were where you were meant to be at that exact moment, and you used all the knowledge that you collected over the years well. Good job!
khandreia
May. 13th, 2010 05:26 pm (UTC)
There's a big flap in my area because some Muslims in the county want to set up a mosque, and a whole bunch of very backwards people are outraged because they think it'll be a place to plot terrorism, among other gross misconceptions about Islam, and even think it's a blight on the "Christian culture" of the area (making me wonder what they must think of the synagogue in the area too). It really makes me wish there were more people like you around here--someone who's educated on world religions and has had experiences like what you've described here--who'd actually "get" these things and could make an effort to talk sense into these people.
letter_d
May. 13th, 2010 11:35 pm (UTC)
What a wonderful thing -- I am glad you have had this opportunity. Pax vobiscum, veritas!
elevengirl
May. 14th, 2010 01:43 am (UTC)
I'm glad you had the opportunity to do this.
vonjunzt
May. 14th, 2010 05:14 am (UTC)
Very interesting.

That's about all I have to say about that.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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