Several things began to come together in my thinking at the MLT Conference in Copenhagen. To be clear, it was not a result of the planning of the MLT, but a series of amorphous thoughts that started to click from meeting people at the conference. With the Progressive Faith Blog Con coming straight after, these ideas began gaining more clarity. Coincidentally, both the good folks at Progressive Islam (1, 2, 3) and Von Aurum published pieces that further moved my thoughts forward. I had been planning on this post for some time, but as the adage goes “Man proposes, God disposes.” After this rather long preamble, I'd like to explain to you why am a conservative-liberal Muslim (not progressive, as the correct antonym should be reactionary; and in my world view Islam by definition is progressive, it's just how we implement that message), and why I hope never have to use that label again.
Traditionally I have not commented on the Palestinian and Israeli conflict. As you can tell by Who You?'s and Ghost Dog's posts, it's not a site-wide reluctance. My reluctance has stemmed from the belief that the issue is too emotionally charged to have a meaningful conversation on the issue without having to spend a lot of time cleaning the mud off and fighting the fires from flames. I am not personally invested in the issue; to me, as I would argue to most Muslims, the fight is not between Muslims and Jews. It is between Israelis and Palestinians. I am invested in the issue as much as I am in issue of social justice; this is part of the faith. However, recognizing social injustice does not mean placing blame on only one party, but recognizing that injustice can be carried out by all parties.
So I have not written about Israel and Palestine. There will always be an assumption that as a Muslim, no matter what I say, it will always favor the Palestinians. The logic being that since Palestinians are Muslim, there is a herd mentality that forces us all to cheer each other on. Of course, the Palestinian people are also Christian, as witnessed by Hanan Ashrawi and Edward Said, two of the most well-known interlocutors of the Palestinian people. In addition, to suggest that Muslims have a herd mentality is part of the larger demonizing mentality against Muslims.
Qana changed my mind. The loss of human life, on both sides, came to me to in such a visceral way that I cannot explain. People like the Dove feel this in a way I do not. I cannot and will not claim to have that attachment to any of the lands at play. I have a strong religious affiliation with Jerusalem. I felt at a loss for words and a way when the images came forth.
I was speaking to the Xpatriated Texan about the situation. I told him that we had a generation who remembered that people of different faiths used to live together. That generation is now dying, so we have a generation that knows nothing but hate for each other and conflict with one another. Not everyone is willing to look for a lemon tree. But we need to avoid transmitting hate to a new generation.
My tag book for the coming week, as I reflect on war, and the role of religion – the conflict is not between religions, but I believe that religion can offer a way forward – will be the following: