Listening to Friday sermons, I often wonder why the Imams almost never talk about certain issues that I am dying to hear.Do you wonder the same when attending the Sunday Church service or the Shabbat service, or your place of worship?It seems certain topics are off-limit and considered taboos. This makes you feel disconnected (or feel the preachers are).
I am going to use ‘mosque’ or the ‘church’ here in a generic sense- it could be any of the places of worship- synagogues, temples and others.
Sometimes you feel that you enter a different world when you enter the mosque or the church-distinct from the “real” world you live in. You have many inner struggles but you are too afraid to share with other attendees or with the preachers as you may think they are unwilling to talk, and feel you are the odd man (or woman) out.
There are numerous issues that I would love the preachers to talk openly, including the basis for religious beliefs, practices and rituals. But I will limit these to 7 areas here, in no particular order.
What issues you would like your preacher, or place of worship to address?
1. Sexuality: Pornography, Dating, Premarital Sex
This is a topic that makes everyone uncomfortable, yet we are bombarded with sexual messages. We need more than “extra marital sex is a major sin and ‘haram’, or “just don’t do it”. How do you deal with sexual impulses, especially if you are a teenager or young single adult, struggling with your sexual feelings or sexuality?
The intense sexual images are all around us in the society. Hard core pornography is a click away on your laptop or mobile devices.
If you are looking for a life partner, and you are segregated at the mosque, how are you expected to find your partner from within your community?
Calling all this haram is one thing. Discussing ways to deal with these feelings in a healthy way is another. I am not expecting the preachers will take on the role of a counselor, but not discussing these issues don’t make them go away. We cannot afford to have our head in the sand as if these problems don’t exist.
Another “controversial” topic. Many preachers would simply say it is not controversial, because Islam, Christianity and Judaism all oppose it and consider it a sin. I am not saying the Scriptures support it or don’t call it sin, but the issue has to be debated openly.
Why is it considered a sin? What’s the religious background to support that view, and how do you reconcile the opposing views that being a gay is not a choice but rather “this is what/how they are”? If God made them this way, then why is it a sin? Once again I am not opposing the religious beliefs per se, but wondering why we don’t have an intelligent, open discussion on this issue. We face this issue all around us, except at (most of) the places of worship.
3. Domestic Abuse/Sexual Violence, Harassment
Very few preachers would take on this topic as if it does not exist in religious communities- a fallacy. In my community, there are a couple of bold Imams who address this issue regularly, but most are quiet on this topic. I addressed this difficult subject on couple of prior posts. #MeToo: Sexual Abuse In Muslim Communities-Fact or Fiction?
#MeToo And #Domestic Violence In The Muslim Communities
It is also inaccurate to assume that regular church-goers are somehow immune to such issues. We need to be asking these questions at the mosques and the churches: How do we identify if someone is a victim of domestic abuse, or sexual harassment or abuse? And what do we do if we identify it? What do we do to help?
4. Green Planet- Is It Our Religious Responsibility?
We have the responsibility to protect planet earth. I would argue it is our religious duty to do so. How do we protect our environment? What is our mosque, church, synagogue or the temple doing to help the green initiatives? Are we recycling or reusing? What’s the religious basis for it? The following hadith (sayings) of Prophet Muhammad clearly imply that we need to be kind to the planet earth- one of God’s creations: the one we know the best.
Those who are kind and considerate to God’s creatures, God bestows His kindness and affection on them. Show kindness to the creatures on the earth so that God may be kind to you.
During this past Lent, I posted on this very topic. A Muslim’s Take On The Lent Plastic Challenge By Church of England
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