Sunday, April 21, 2013

A Talk in The Tower About Terrorism

On Friday March 19th, 2013, my day began quite well considering it was the last day of the work week, and on Friday's I give my students a laid back, but educational day in the classroom.  For my 8th graders, we watched a movie pertaining to government and business.  The video showed the process from exploitation/extraction to the purchasing of goods and services.  In my 7th grade classes, I broke each class up into 2 groups, and we proceeded to play jeopardy as a review for their test on Monday.  One of my goals as a teacher is to educate my students in a way that makes them think critically as well as outside of the box, and I believe games and educational programs allow students to have a free and open mind to think. 
          Unfortunately, my great day was interrupted with the fact that my paycheck was incorrect.  As human beings, we all make mistakes from time to time, but  it gets frustrating when one contacts an individual in a prior engagement to eliminate any chance for a problem, but I guess it did not work.  As a result of my frustration, I headed up to the teacher's break room on the top floor known as the "tower" so that I could meditate for a while to bring myself back down, so that I could think more clearly and logically before I went any further in my life.  Here is my story:
Upon entering the room, I noticed a woman sitting at one of the computers, but she was not on the computer, but writing something on a piece of paper.  I sat down on the couch near the window because the cool breeze from the open windows is a soothing and cleansing feeling for my body and mind.  I began to close my eyes, and slowly cleared my mind of all the emotion of my paycheck, and focused my mind on getting to an even keel.  Slowly I felt all the emotion and anguish leave my spirit, and a feeling of awe overwhelmed my body as my mind began to vibrate like a ZZZZZZZ type noise in my brain.  As this calming feeling came over my body, a picture of Jesus popped up in the back of my mind, and my body started to tingle, as it always does when he appears in my brain.  As of recently he has appeared more and more in my mental picture within my brain.  Following this moment, I came back out of my meditation with no worries and a smile that was from ear to ear.  I looked over at the woman at the desk adjacent from the couch from which was sitting on.  I spoke to her although her back from turned away from me, "How are you doing today ma'am?" 

She replied, "I'm doing great, I just finished writing a poem."  She also went on to say that she was tired, and wished to nap when she made it home after work, but her children always come first in her life so she wasn't going to be able to nap after work. 

I went on to tell her that I was senior in college, and that I was a History major and a Business Minor, and that I was in a long term position for a teacher who was out on leave.  I told her I was teaching 7th and 8th grade history and civics.  I forget how it got brought up, but she asked me if I believed in God, and replied that I did, and that this man by the name of Dr. Yusuff changed my view on religion and life forever in just a month. I went on to tell her that he has opened my mind up to that fact that we are all children of the Lord or Creator, and regardless of your religious background and beliefs, one shall not pass judgment or sway some one's beliefs regardless of your own.  All that matters is that "you believe/think, therefore you are."(Descartes) 

She told me she had Dr. Yusuff at FDU as well, and that she loved him.  I told her that I was taking a Religion and Terrorism class, and that Dr. Yusuff had taught me a lot.  We went on for about a half hour about the things that i learned in the class, while she spoke about her own Islamic Faith and belief in God. 

I started off by speaking about two big misconceptions people have about Islam and religion in general.  A Muslim is simply a person who submits to the rule of God have it be a Jew, Christian, or Islamic, it does not pertain to any one religion, and we both agreed that society is quite ignorant to this fact.  I went on to say that jihad is by far the most misconstrued term in the United States and even those who use it as a means to inflict terror.  Jihad means a personal struggle, or one's path towards cleansing oneself, and it comes from the root word "Jahada."  Finally, when one cleanses oneself, one can reach out to cleanse society of oppression and injustice is what the prophet Muhammad preached from the word of God. A jihadist in the interpretation of Muhammad the Prophet from Allah was to: protect life, protect self, and fight against injustice. I went on to say that many people in society try to cleanse the unjust in society before they identify and work through the internal problems of themselves.  I ended my portion of the beginning of our conversation by saying that Islamic militants simply were ignorant to the true belief systems of their faith, but I also clarified that they are not alone in that false and ignorant sense of understanding of the word of the Creator because we in the U.S. use violence and oppression to force our way of life on people.

She smiled at the words that flowed out of my mouth like a gentle brook in a beautiful, spring day.  She soon replied, "What is a terrorist though?"  We both agreed that one who believes in a God or a Creator knows that one must live their life in peace and understanding of everyone regardless of how different they are from you.

I paused for a few moments to gather my thoughts, and replied, "a terrorist is simply a person or group that wishes to terrorize another person or group by use of violence, fear, and intimidation to achieve a means to an end."

She said, "so terrorists are only Islamic? There are a lot of terrorist groups in this world."

In my mind and out loud I said, "I love your use of the Socratic Method, you are making me think, and thinking is my favorite part of life."  I agreed with her that there are all types of terrorists groups of all races, nationalities, and religions, but simply because of the sweet oil found in the Middle East, we alienate those of the Islamic background.  We never seem to publicize the Klu Klux Clan as much as we do the so called "Islamic Terrorists." 

She nodded her head in agreement.  She also went on to say that people get so upset over religion or lack there of.  She expressed to me that Allah or God never wished to indoctrinate anyone on what religion they followed, but simply that they followed His word to live a life of religious tolerance and social justice toward all living creatures, but that mankind shall be head of the kingdom on Earth.

In my opinion, it does not take religion to live a life of virtue and tolerance towards others belief, but there are people in this world that simply just love to watch the world burn and people struggle.  I feel bad for those people for God never passed judgment on them, it was the human race or mankind that passed judgment on them which led to their oppression and hiding from the Church.  I will not call out who you are or what your called, but just think about that for a second, and if you can look in the mirror and say that it was not people that caused your sorrow, pain, and resentment, but God, then by all means show me, for I will acknowledge my ignorance to the matter.  If you want people to change their primitive ways, then use a moral and ethical path of teaching to the masses on understanding and appreciating diversity, instead of trying to tear mankind apart because the Church persecuted you.  "By saving one man or woman, God said it was like saving all of humanity, but when you take one innocent life, it is like killing all of humanity."(Quran Chapter 5 Verse 32)  Quran Chapter 6 Verse 151 speaks about the Sanctity of Life, "life is sacred. Don't take life, only by way of law or justice.  He command you, that ye may learn wisdom."  At the same time, God directed man to do as they please, for we all have free will to choice between good and evil. 

After, we briefly discussed intolerance of man on the beliefs of others, I began to discuss the history of Islamic militants, and how this idea of jihad originated centuries ago.  I told her it was a complicated story, but I would try my best to explain it to the best of my abilities.  Before we can look at the past, we must identify what these people are fighting for now: Western domination of Middle Eastern Land, and the Israeli occupation of Palestine.  Now I will first discuss one of the teachings of Prophet Muhammad.  Muhammad preached about the Ethics of War, and they stated:

1. If you kill someone, you cannot mutilate the body
2. Can't destroy any animals, elder, trees, and if enemy wants to make peace, then you must make peace.
3. Do not kill any person in the place of worship

4. Do not kill innocent woman and children

5. Do not kill/chase anyone that is not trying to harm you because a non-combatant has the freedom to live and not be harmed.

The original Quran references jihad three times, and they are: When attacked, Muslims may attack back, but one can never start the altercation nor can one continue to fight if the aggressor wishes to make peace or stops chasing one.  Muhammad speaks about the Pagans who came into Islamic places of worship to harm those who were in deep prayer, and had their back turned.  The Pagan's attacked on certain months when the Muslims were not allowed to fight, but Allah gave them permission to fight back in self-defense against non-believers.  Muhammad told the people to protect themselves against non-believers, but only chase them until they stop chasing you, but once the Pagans stop chasing you, you must stop.  Muhammad told his people that one can protect oneself from oppression and injustice.  Islamic militants of today forget that Muhammad was referring to the violence inflicted by the Pagan's, or non-believers.  One can speculate that it is the secret occult of non-believers who have caused the violence in Middle East, but, the killing of innocent non-combatants is a direct contradiction to the word of the Prophet Muhammad and the Holy Quran.  The Islamic militants simply see American occupation of their land as similar to the Pagan's attacking them in their place of worship, so in theory, if the U.S. government and military leave the Middle East, the violence and terror will stop on both sides and we can live in peace.  

Once again she smiled, for I made a deep impression on her because who would think a young, white man would know anything about the Quran and the Islamic Faith.  She insisted that I read her poem, and told me to tell her what I thought it meant, but her inspiration for it was her belief in God.  She first read it to me, than I proceeded to read it to myself a second time.  I instantly understood the message.  She spoke about Allah and light, and I answered her by saying, "God gave us light, and without light, we would be nothing."

A smile emerged from her face in a manner that I have never seen before.  She told me that that was the exact message she was getting across in her poem.  I told her I came up with an equation that says the same thing about light, for if light did not exist, the 3 dimensional world would just be 2 dimensional objects that vibrate and spin according to its mass.  It was that second that I knew that we were meant to meet, for I forgot about everything that had bothered me because it no longer mattered.  I ended that part of the conversation by telling her that I study General Theory of Relativity and Quantum Theory on my own, and that light is the most important part of both of these concepts because light transfers information and energy between objects of mass. She told me that she was always fascinated by nature and always found herself looking up into the heavens above, but never had a teacher to guide her thoughts into real education.  I ended the conversation by telling her that my Astrophysics and particle physics knowledge is all self-taught and that i only started taking interest in it 2 years ago, and only started teaching myself the math maybe a year ago.  The meaning and purpose of our individual existence isn't always clear in life, but there is always a moment in one's life when it becomes apparent what one is meant to do, but its unfortunate that for me it took my mother suffering of cancer, to find my true calling in life.

I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason.  Up until my time in the tower that day, I became frustrated with the negligence of man, but I know one must never dwell on the past mistakes of another for one should never pass judgment if one is guilty of the same issues that one is judging another about.  It has happened all to often lately that when I get anxious, there is always someone that shows themselves around me that i talk to that makes me see life in a different light, and makes my problems seem so minuscule.  Last week when I was getting an ultrasound at the hospital for my swollen calf, I was getting frustrated by the length of time I had to wait, until I initiated a conversation with a man that was once paralyzed from the neck down, but learn to walk again in two months because of determination and will power.  Life is full of challenges and obstacles, but one must always remember that without obstacles and challenges, the good things in life would not feel that much more special.  Life is sacred, and we must peacefully, preserve it from those who wish to inflict harm on life. 

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