Please read the essay and let me know what is needing deletion, too offensive. Readability. This essay is meant for discussion, education; and if some perceptions are in reality untrue please refute it as so. And if the essay is effective?
Perception of Muslims
Living in a Western culture, and with infrequent occasion to discourse with middle-easterners, their culture, it is merely a perception from those experiences that I arrived at through discussion, and my observations. I am sure that their perception of me, my culture is certainly attributed to television, a heresy machine of deception. Nevertheless, I have had discussions with Muslims from Israel in Jerusalem and in America, ranging from God, "peace in the middle east," Christians, Muslim complaints, and United States officials who "represent" this culture which has brought a detriment onto myself, and others in this country. Christianity is Not that western religion. Christianity still maintains a presence in the East: Ancient Orthodox, Syrian and Coptic churches.
Desire of American culture
Due to the perception of the lifestyle, American culture is sought after by foreigners. The brand names that appear on television commercials, the character association to the products persuade foreigners to buy these articles; they generally do not wear traditional garb. The relatively few Muslim students who attend our Universities have wealthy parents, who send their children to live in the United States under a student visa. Usually, their language is very proper English, and these students do not attend our universities as pious Muslims; they attend like the Americans, and they generally indulge in our culture, having more disposable resources, "dating" (easy) American women.
Without over-generalizing, there are various Muslims, as there are various Christians, and Americans. In the larger cities, foreigners wear traditional garbs and even the burke, the women (or man) concealed from ankles to the eyes, in a large black sack. For the Muslims, who desire to work in America, it is no different than others: living near friends, living the way they want to, and seeking opportunities for success.
American culture exists as a secular government with a greedy majority represented by the official system that becomes the imperialistic, colonialist government meant to conquer all cultures to submit to democracy, an elected system, the most efficient civilized government in the world; that its education, medical facilities, and legal system are far superior to any modern country in the world. At least, that is the perception. It is certainly true world markets: bankers and lenders have a hold of the western world in a credit system of usury, charging of interest, the cost of time that belongs to God Almighty. And that, citizens of this country pay their creditors in voluntary servitude.
The legal system does not operate on the principles of just governing, as the legal system is unfair and unjust, and legal cases against government, injustices against its people, routinely not heard. The corporations, which own the major media outlets, magazines, and book sellers (three main corporations control all aspects of American publishing, distribution of their creative labors), say little because they benefit. The corporations operate municipal governments and the majority of businesses in this country. They even incorporate religious groups submitting to state regulators. Abortions and family divorce courts wreak havoc on domestic life that brings a demise to the American Family. Most American families are poor, in debt to the creditors, that half of all married couples divorce and lose majority assets, especially with the high cost to defend in the legal system.
Just because they say it all the time, their perception is a free country within American culture. The amount of law enforcement asking for our papers would suggest that it is a police state. The ability to get literary works to distribution has almost been removed, and popular culture is controlled through corporations that only allow the works that affirm their American culture; and this includes religious culture as well.
Muslims in Israel
When I was in Israel, I had talked with several Muslims: Muslims or Arabs, the guys with the scarf's with small, black circular head piece to hold the scarf in place, generally black and white or red and white; I cannot tell the religious from the irreligious. One Muslim, who spoke perfect English, asked to be my tour guide for pay. I declined because I did not need a tour guide. We had no further discussion. The Taxi cab driver, who looked shifty, who drove me to Jericho for the afternoon, he had no discussion. Perhaps he did not speak English. The Muslim at the Jerusalem Market: I asked to trade clothing, I was wearing, a new leather jacket (about $150), because in January it is cold, for a $60 winter jacket he had for sale. I took mine off and let him look at it; in which he spoke to his relatives in Arabic, who wore it, and then ran off. I was assured he would return. I thought he might just steal it, but he didn't. He offered me a Tea, in the meanwhile, in which I declined.
He came back 5 minutes later. I said that I would trade the jacket for the winter jacket and $40. He said he would trade jackets, but he wanted an additional $40. I did not complete the sale; I think he thought I was wealthy; I was just cold. I did not trade or buy anything from him. I bought a disposable sweater at another market place for $20.
Although, I never watched this television movie, a young Arab boy tells me, "Hey, I make you look like Lawrence of Arabia." Later that day, I bought a traditional black and white scarf from a local at the market for $7.00, and when I returned to America, I drove in town to see the reactions. People looked, and looked again; it was dangerous I thought, but it was funny odd.
I went to the Dome of the Rock, a holy site for Muslims. I took off my shoes and started to enter this shrine. But I was told I would have to leave my back pack (with my belongings, my traveling items, being a visitor), to enter this Muslim holy site. I was not refused at the Christian sites. So, my perception I thought someone might steal it, that I declined to enter the Muslim shrine, the Dome of the Rock. I placed my shoes back on an continued my sojourn.
I walked up on top of the Mount of Olives, a holy site for Christians. I am not sure why anyone needs to own this place. Anyway, he was just leaning up against a stone rest area on the walk up, and I was enjoying the view; when the Arab guy and I talked. He said that it is not the American people but its government. I agreed with him on the evils of government. He offered me Hash; I declined. I had told him that I was just visiting and sight-seeing, and seeing this culture. I had told him that I was reading a book, that compares religions, and a Muslim section was within the book that I was reading. He requested that I read passages to him, and as I started to read to him, but I realized that he desired that I read from the Koran, and not technical interpretation of Muslim religious tenants for American audiences, where I abruptly stopped. I put the book away and continued my ascent alone.
Perceptions of Secular Israel
As I wandered aimlessly through Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Jericho and Capernaum, I saw the beautiful women of Israel, walking around town in military garb, holding an UZI machine gun, pointing to the ground, seeking a ride. They would ask me questions in Hebrew, and next they would rephrase their questions in perfect English. I suppose that being Caucasian I looked more Israeli than Arab.
My first night in Tel Aviv, I spent the night at a Youth Hostel, that had foreigners. I could here various languages but I do not remember any. I wandered around during the evening and thought I would wander to the Mediterranean, where I saw heaps of garbage on the boardwalk areas, and numerous large rats running around the heap. I thought that I should avoid the Mediterranean; even in the morning when it looked beautiful.
I made my way to Jerusalem, and spent the night in a cheap hotel. It was cold and the room only provided two sheets. When evening came, I was approached by a local at the doorway, asking me if I wanted a date. The establishment had an hourly rate, and it wasn't until after that incident that I realized what these rooms were intended. I spent the next two nights at a more expensive hotel.
The Hasidic Jews continued to make their way to the Wall, and once there, they would habitually rock back and forth, saying their prayers. And everywhere I saw them, they were stoic, never approached me; they seemed like they had someplace important to go with no time to chat with foreigners who didn't wear black garb and a thin brim hat.
The young local Israelis would go to popular night clubs, dancing and drinking--although I did not enter their establishments; it was not a pious activity.
I took a bus from Jerusalem to Capernaum, by way of Jericho. While waiting for a bus, a bomb-scare occurred. Someone left a blue bag alone, next to me. It turned out, after the bomb squad arrived and moved people to safety, after investigating, an authority opened the bag and threw out some sand in the air. Everything just went back to normal. I took the tour bus to Capernaum, on the Sea of Galilee, and as I was having lunch at an outdoor cafe, a young Arab man approached me, mainly to sell me Hashish. I politely declined and he walked away. I continued down to the Sea of Galilee.
It was January 1986, and I made it back to Tel Aviv. While sitting in the airport, I saw a post card stand, and left my back pack in visual range, some twenty yards(meters) away. Two or three Israeli soldiers stood around my back pack. I quickly went to obtain my belongings. I left Israel's Ben-Gurion airport for Greece.
The September 11, 2001 attack on world commerce.
I was asleep at the time of this incident, just waking up, I heard the radio of airplanes attacking the "Twin Towers." Later, when I learned that the twin towers held companies of world commerce, and that perhaps blocks away, the United Nations, a world organization for peace, that the shift of Muslim hostilities reached this country; that Jewish nationalities held occupations and vocations at the twin towers...
The perception of an attack by a few dozen rouge Muslim extremists on commercial centers, and on Jewish people working at the site, does not indicate every Muslim deserve blame, using American lives in their plot. Although, all Muslims benefited, as many cheered this attack, an assault, not on world commerce, but on the United States. I wondered who took the day off that day, who was forewarned of the imminent dangers. But this information will not be released. Because that would indicate who knew what was going to occur that fateful day, some 3000 miles from where I live.
Living in Oregon, USA
I seldom see a Muslim. I seldom see Christians. I generally see people living their lives according to their governments that have been assigned over them, despite being evil. They do not question the rationales, the decisions, the administrative decisions to remove freedom daily, and place more restrictions and laws against your being, and your children. Another generation lives a little less free.
My perception of Israel as a nation is with mixed feelings. I too live under a very oppressive regime of United States occupation. I too do not live in my homeland. The military keeps the international governments engaged in commerce, and international trade that selectively prohibits countries from free trade through the United Nations administrative process that is no authority at all, but a means to obtain a dialogue that will be used against you later. The results of September 11th effected all freedoms.
Perceptions of Religion
Muslims, Christians and Jews have a long literary history and trace their spiritual linage to Abraham. The Koran suggests that Jesus is a Prophet and a teacher, except Muslims reject His teachings, which influenced their prophet Muhammad. I think little can be said of the God, that all three worship. Because while they say they worship the same God, many see separate gods in the writings. Seldom to people change if they were shown the Truth. And that is, after all, what adherents to any religious system must confess: to be seekers of Truth. Instead of maintaining the status of their country or its elders. Jesus, Yashua, or the literal translation of the Name you select, should remember perceptions of Jesus, Yashua who rejected the elders of his country and sought something new, a spiritual Kingdom, on earth. I think if a person were to align their own religious beliefs with the availed belief systems, they would be closer to finding truth.
My thought on Edessa, the place of the Apostle Thomas, a Christian city
The ancient city of Edessa, a Syrian town, amidst the modern country of Turkey, is governed by Muslims. In the year 300, Christians were martyred during the Diocletian persecution in the town that still held apostolic documents from the Apostle Thomas; a town won by Christian virtues, yet seized by Muslim warriors throughout the centuries; that was regained during the Crusades, that was besieged again, that was ruled under Byzantine governments, and now remains a Muslim town that perhaps outlaws Christian beliefs. The town of Nicea, the ancient town that held together so many Christian Bishops for the historic Council of Nicene Fathers, however, this town remains a small Muslim town under similar conditions.
The Nation of Israel
The nation of Israel is a secular nation obtained over 60 years ago. It is not a religious government. The Muslims desire to obtain this land, not by peaceful means, but by wars and disruptions to daily living. I would not condone blowing up cafes, just to strike terror in your enemies. Muslims will not voluntarily return two ancient cities, they continue to maintain, won by conquest, by war, by killing the inhabitants from years of battles. Old wars foster new wars. One cannot get reasonable results from unreasonable opponents.
Muslims had a noble warrior who obtained respect from Christians in ancient times. Saladin had decision and diplomacy skills that brought Muslims respect. I don't see any Saladins in the modern Arab world. I do not see Muhammad in your Muslims. I don't see any literary geniuses, noble statesmen, in the Muslim community. And I suppose, that, like Gandhi, you do not see Jesus or Yashua in any of our Christians.
Perceptions of suicide bombers
The Arabs have not won the propaganda wars. The American perception of these suicide bombers: desperate, depressed, and hopeless; that virgins await them for killing infidels. Perhaps I could be viewed an Infidel by the Muslim extremists, and I don't think that killing me, they could obtain any blessing.
My personal perceptions on being a Muslim
When I was on the Mount of Olives, Jesus (Yashua) offers me the Beatitudes, a few Arabs offer me Hash. For the most part, Muslims remind me of Protestantism: They seek successful careers in the world of commerce, while a few monks live in the desert. A protestant acts no different than a Muslim despite wearing different hats, cloths, or other articles, and the book they read. Just as the Hasidic do not represent all of Jewish orthodoxy, neither do all Muslims believe the same.
If your book inspires you to kill people, perhaps it is time to buy a new book. Perhaps it is time to write your own religious beliefs, of what you believe. At least you cannot blame Muhammad for all of your wicked deeds. You can blame yourself, so your God is not to blame, whether Allah, Jehovah, or Yashua.
Muhammad wrote to you in the year 600, at a time when you needed to hear from your own people. He did not foresee satellites, television, cellular phones, large American forces occupying your countries, trying to destabilize your countries with tribal disputes. He wrote for that time. He wrote to your forefathers. If Jesus (Yashua) corrected the path for the Jewish person who believed in Moses exclusively, which Muslim can correct the path of Muhammad, and Muslims. Which Muslim is pure enough to go to the mountain and talk to God, your God, without dying on the Mountain? I think that if a Muslim were to experience God; he too would become a Christian, not like a Protestant Christian seeking wealth of the world, but seeking Truth to share. The people die for lack of knowledge.
I wrote my own beliefs within book form. I can only be a heretic or infidel if I transgress my own beliefs.
I have burned Christian bibles. Not to keep warm and not to offend anyone. I burned them because they were worn, dilapidated and well-used volumes. I buried the ashes. I do not worship books.
I would burn a Koran book if it needed to be burned, if it could keep me warm during a cold winter and I did not have a warm jacket. I wouldn't waste my time, otherwise. I would not feel offended if someone used bibles to keep warm in the deserts. Muslims come to this country to escape their dictators and religious sultans but find that this country is far more evil than their own country; that buying its products, going to universities continues the dominance of American culture.
Perceptions of my previous perception into adulthood
When I was a child, I was taught that the Bedouins would shampoo their hair in camel dung, to give it that brilliant black sheen; and that they drank the blood of camels to obtain nutrients in the desert. I was taught that Arabs were hard working peoples who were pious in their religious beliefs. I was taught that every town had a "chop chop" block in the middle of town, that the threat of cutting off hands or heads prevented thefts, adultery, and murder; that a wallet or purse, if dropped would remain where it had fallen, that the threat of the "chop chop" block in the market square prevented many crimes in Arab countries. In America, I dropped my wallet in the middle of a town, on a busy street, next to my dental office, and when I returned to my vehicle it was still there, with $400 in cash, where I promptly paid for my dental services.
I find that it is difficult to perceive that I may not take my belongings to a holy site, but it is perceptibly acceptable for a Muslim to enter an aircraft, or a country, with explosives and weapons, attempting to bring it down, for no other reason than to kill; and that a bag of sand from the desert, a few miles away from the Dome of the Rock, threatens to blow me up. At the Dome of the Rock, I was told to leave my belongings unattended: otherwise, one could accuse me of not being trustful, but not ignorant of my experiences. What contraband has made it inside the Dome of the Rock by Muslims?
I live in a place too that has perceptions of me. Not based upon experience, not based upon previous detriment to actions or inactions, but just because I wore a beard, that I had longer hair, that I ate second helpings, that sometimes I ate meats that others consider unclean; and when they judge me of my religious beliefs of my freedoms and what matters to me, outside of my written beliefs; they judge themselves. The perceptions of my behavior, comes before my written beliefs, and my actions.
Moreover, I help people who need it. I assist those whom I can. I try to do kind acts randomly. I try to correct things even though I might have immediate, personal reprisals. I don't worry about the small things of my beliefs. Experience contradicts written tenants, and quick decisions require immediate action, that does not allow us to read what to do next. I think in any sense of earnest discourse that one finds common ground, and one must overcome the derogatory terms, against spiritual beliefs: Infidel, which is in three syllables. Sometimes perceptions is how one spells, punctuates. The scripture teaches that the Lord will redeem those whom are worthy, not by written beliefs merely, but righteous acts. Acts of kindness are always in season.