Monday, April 28, 2008

A Different Way of Thinking

Today my Arabic instructor was complaining about French president Sarkozy's unwillingness to allow Turkey to enter the European Union. Sarkozy had apparently commented that it was inconceivable that Europe could border Iraq and Syria. My instructor noted that in the past Muslim rulers had been proud of the fact that the Islamic Empire extended from China to Morocco. He thought that Europe should equally take pride in the concept of Europe's becoming larger by the entry Turkey into the Union.

I replied that it was possible that one reason Europe was reluctant to allow Turkey into the European Union was that Europeans enjoy personal freedoms that Turks do not. Europeans, for example, have the freedom to choose whatever religion they want. A Christian European can choose to become a Muslim, Buddhist or atheist, and no-one cares. Turks do not have that freedom.

My instructor saw it differently. He said, "But we Muslims believe in all the prophets. We believe in the Jewish prophets, and we believe in Jesus. I am as Jewish as any Jew and as Christian as any Christian. So it is impossible that someone who believes in all the prophets would want to change or could be allowed to change."

"Wa hakatha kanat nihayat al-hawar" (And that was the end of the discussion).

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