About 60% of the reason I go to church at all is to attend adult ed lectures. This week Bethel Lutheran had an interfaith Powerpoint lecture about Islam. Seven things we learned:
1. Facing Mecca to Pray is Newer
Muslim's actually originally prayed facing Jerusalem.
2. Who's a Prophet:
Among the list of important prophets for Islam, Mary is important, Jesus is very important, and, I can't believe I haven't heard this before, Alexander the Great was a prophet.
...consider themselves Muslim but other Muslims don't.
4. Don't Worry About Your Fasting Muslim Friends:
Ramadan is not all downside or merely a hardship. Part of the point of Ramadan is that there is communal feasting every single night after sundown. ("In America you have Thanksgiving Day. During Ramadan, Muslim people have Thanksgiving every single night for a WEEK.") The Christian co-presenter noted that it part of the point is a show of extreme hospitality to all. This reminded me in some ways of the Jewish kosher diet, theorized by at least one source to be a valuable mechanism for bonding together Jewish people amidst their various captivities and diasporas. I certainly will stop worrying about my teens who hunger through class during this time, knowing now this significant upside to the fasting.
5. Imams Are Just Functional
The Imam has less authority than a Lutheran minister. Technically they are someone who leads prayer procedure and are no more vested in special authority than anyone else in the room. Any authority they can claim must derive from their level of study or knowledge.
6. It's not just me, the Quran really IS difficult read:
It was composed in two different places and time, but makes no mention of these two contexts. You have to read each section with the accompanying official Cliffs Notes ( called The Hadith ). This Cliffs Notes commentary is the actual thing a muslim studies formemost, not just the Quaran. Making the Koron more cryptic, the chapters are arranged in order by size only! What? What if Moby Dick were assembled by order of chapter length; unreadable!
7. No Evolution
The speaker, a Muslim woman, was a graduate student in the microbiology department at the U of Wisconsin here in Madison AND YET she out-of-hand denied the phenomenon of evolution. I was blown away. Bummer. After the talk my liberal Christians in the audience agreed this lack of belief in evolution was completely depressing.