Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A call to make it personal

Every March, the Ladies of the Pink Iftar commemorate Women’s History Month by opening their homes and inviting non-Muslim women to share conversation and dinner with them. There is no agenda other than getting to know one another. My post about last year’s dinner reflected on the remarkable array of women who gathered and found a common ground that was only enhanced by the many roads that led us to the table that night.

This year, while I felt the same awe at the women around me (pictured above), we delved deeper, passing the Kleenex while, paradoxically, laughing until our stomachs hurt. Between discussions of “must-see documentaries” and “gotta-read books” we shared stories of trips to Mecca, finding spirituality on our yoga mats, sending sons to war and finding strength to do things we didn’t think we could do.

When I look back at the tapestry of an evening, I see a golden thread woven through it—a call to make it personal. Several times, our conversation returned to the realization that to really have compassion for anyone or to deeply understand any issue, we must make it personal.

So often we tell each other, “Don’t take it personally,” that we forget there is value in perceiving the abstract in a personal way—suddenly concepts which we feel justified in judging at arm’s length have faces that we can’t ignore. Once we’ve looked into the eyes of a soldier who is also our child, we can no longer fuse militarism and patriotism. Once we’ve seen a woman standing right in front of us denied the right to leave a country because she had no “mahram” (male escort), we can’t deny the oppression of women all around us. Once we’ve taken the time to get to know people of other faiths, it becomes harder to believe that they’re damned for holding beliefs that differ from ours. Our arrogance breaks wide open, and we lose the ability to imagine that any one faith has a corner on the market, that any of us has all the answers to life’s big questions.

Through the women that night, I got a glimpse of a God that is so much bigger than any one religion could encompass. I only experienced that because I made the choice to see their faces and hear their stories. Because knowing is loving, I decided to make it personal. May we all have the courage to look deeper than punditry and beyond stereotypes to see the full beauty of humanity as God created it.
The Ladies of the Pink Iftar is a Houston-based group of Muslim women who are passionate about interfaith dialog and helping us understand that the images we see of repressed Muslim women in the media is a very small glimpse into the reality of their diversity. Read more about them in this article in Houston History Magazine by Pink Iftar founder Kafah Bachari Manna. Visit Brigid’s Place for many opportunities to connect with women of other faiths throughout the year.

Post by Monette Chilson, Author of Sophia Rising: Awakening Your Sacred Wisdom Through Yoga

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