Under African Skies…Understanding

Marrakech, Morocco

15-April-2019

We’ve been in the country of Morocco since April 9th and not for one single moment have I felt the slightest bit concerned. Contrary to the fundamentally flawed jingoist ignorance of many Americans, Muslims are not jihadist crazed zealots seeking the destruction of America.

As with most things, ignorance ignores truth.There is no such thing as one Islam. There are Sunni and Shia with major doctrinal differences always left aside when right wing zealots, led by an equally uninformed President, call for barring Muslims from the US or requiring them to be registered.

(From a BBC special on the historical split between the two sects)

Members of the two sects have co-existed for centuries and share many fundamental beliefs and practices. But they differ in doctrine, ritual, law, theology and religious organization.

Their leaders also often seem to be in competition. From Lebanon and Syria to Iraq and Pakistan, many recent conflicts have emphasized the sectarian divide, tearing communities apart.” (https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-16047709)

Most Muslims, like most people, seek nothing more than to enjoy life, raise their families, and live in a free and open world. I think we have more to fear from nationalist fervor than anything rising from the few terrorists who twist Islam for their own selish purpose, or any other misguided religion driven groups.

What is also true is the West bears some responsibility for creating an environment where radicalism rises. (A stage set by our British friends with their random drawing of borders with little regard for the history of the Middle East and Africa.) Our long history of overt support for totalitarian regimes (particularly in the fervor of post WWII anti-communism) and covert action when the government showed the slightest resistance to our policies contributed significantly to anti-American attitude which the terrorist turned to their advantage.

The best way to learn the truth is to seek it. And traveling to a country like Morocco can be a great opportunity. The best part, it works in two directions. We offer a kinder, gentler face of America, countering the rabid ignorance of the Tweeting President.

Our experience here has been nothing but incredible.

These are the faces of Morocco.

The last face is a Moroccan man who walked over to speak with me when we stopped for a break before heading into the desert. Like many Moroccans, he spoke Arabic and French with just a few words of English.

I, on the other hand, had a piece of paper with some English/Arabic and some vague memory of Bonjour and little else.

But by the simple gesture of a smile and a nod, we got our point across. Two men, raised under entirely different cultural backgrounds, could stand under an African sky and convey, without the benefit of words, Hello. How are you? Glad we could meet.

And that is what I see when I’ve encountered a Muslim.

Let’s hope the future is one embracing understanding rather than driving us back to the folly of the Crusades.

Inshalah. Salam

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