Saturday, December 10, 2011

a wide stance

some notes here. it's late. and my sleep has been off:
  • had to salvage a sinking lesson, Chemistry of Life, with Year 1 at GTTC. it's tough to teach that class. only 3 students in it! i just said forget it... let me lecture. almost lost my patience. kept cool, though. some parts were tough. i had to answer my own questions. but we moved on... gotta adapt. be flexible.
  • finally got my hands on that book in the Saudi fatwa series. the one with the section on the Tijani tariqa. those Wahhabis are merciless, i tell you! they seldom mention the tariqa by name without calling its people the staunchest of infidels, misguided polytheists (i.e. shirk). they say you cannot pray behind them, cannot marry from them, cannot pray on their departed, etc. while i can't deny that i still have some purist tendencies, leftover from ISA and especially on issues of shirk and the seal of prophecy, these fatwas are just too much. [see the following article, in French, on how this conflict plays out in Douala]. you can't just excommunicate people left and right. it takes much more حِلم [forbearance] than that... والله أعلم [and God knows best].
  • just back from taraweeh [ramadan evening prayers] at Buba's. they got into another heated conversation after prayer. it was about this same topic / same book above. but to go back to a point from last week. i really enjoy conversing with and hearing these shabab [young men] converse. reminds me of myself and the fellas [shabab] back home. academic debates with influences from Shakespeare to Plato to the Prophet. a foot in the West, and the other in the East. a wide stance, indeed. and, these days, as these worlds seem to drift apart, it feels like we're being forced to choose which side we're on. to lift one foot off one of these worlds or risk being torn in two. but is that right? is that the only way to conceive of this?
  • i had two points to make, based on these conversations with the shabab, in terms of education: 
    1. come to terms with our ambivalence between "Western secular" education and "Islamic religious" studies. i feel like most educated young mulsim men our age, at one time of their lives or another, feel torn between the two. wanting both, but too often seeing them in conflict, and feeling forced to compromise one for the other. and it makes no sense. i've had friends both here and in the US tell me they want to leave "western/secular" schooling and go off to study religion... be it nigeria or saudi arabia. again, it makes no sense. what is "secular" education, anyway? which brings me to my 2nd point... 
    2. come to terms with the fact that our faith does not ask us to choose between it and secular education. in fact, it questions the notion of "secular" knowledge and calls upon us to pursue knowledge in all fields. and so – for the sake of this "torn" generation, the generations to follow, and our faith itself – we need to find (or re-establish) a way to do both. to educate ourselves religiously, and for lack of a better word, "secularly." والله أعلم

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