Friday, 26 February 2016

Medieval Muslim Graves in France

BBC Radio Scotland - Thought for the Day
Friday 26th February 2016
Dr. Amanullah De Sondy
Senior Lecturer in Contemporary Islam
University College Cork, Republic of Ireland

Archaeologists working in southern France have found three graves that are said to represent the oldest Muslim burials ever found in Europe.  They date back to the 8th Century.  The skeletons seem to be facing Mecca and a genetic analysis has shown that their lineage was North African.  This discovery raises important questions to reflect upon as we aim to build societies of difference.  I believe, it should encourage us, both within and outside Islam, to reflect on how we welcome each other.   

There is a beautiful story of how Muslims were welcomed in the 7th century to the court of the Christian King of Abyssinia, which is in current day Ethiopia, who were asked a series of questions by the King and his bishops.  The early Muslims then read a passage from the Qur’an on Mary to which the King wept.  He then stated that what was read out and what Jesus brought was from the same light.  And there began a fruitful time of co-existence between Muslims and Christians – although of course, we know there have also been times in our religious history when scripture and tradition have been used to kill each other.      

Today when there is much debate on immigration to Europe and Muslim integration, these grave findings show that in some way Muslims have been welcomed in non-Muslim lands from the earliest of times.  But there is also a danger in unearthing historical connections.  This discovery connects Muslims to the west yet what does it say to those communities who may never have had a connection?  Does history mean we can create levels of hospitality and welcome to the other?   And on what foundations do we bridge our differences to each other?  These are questions of our time and we may need many sources of wisdom to find our answers.

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Ariel - Share the Load

~~~"For parents, watching their kids all grown up and handling their lives on their own bring mixed feelings. They are proud, sad, happy and hurt at the same time.

But regret is not something we, the grown-up children, imaging our parents to be feeling when they see us dealing with our adult lives.

Ariel has come up with an ad that says parents sometimes do feel that. This ad, made for their campaign #Sharetheload, focuses on a father watching his daughter juggling with her job and household chores while her husband sits on the couch, making laundry and dinner requests.

Instead of knocking some sense into his son-in-law, however, the father finds himself responsible for this set up. The father, in a letter, apologises to his daughter for making her grow up in an ambience where she watched her father never help her mother around the house.
He apologises for not stopping her when she played 'ghar-ghar' as a child, for not teaching her that taking care of the house and children isn't a woman's job alone.

He even sympathizes with his son-in-law, saying he probably saw the same ritual in his family as a kid, that perhaps he played 'ghar-ghar' too and portrayed the role of the TV-watching man-of-the-house, while some little girl made him make-believe tea.

In the end, however, the father promises his daughter to make a change in his own way. He promises to help her mother with the household chores from now on. That is when, well, the ad's sales pitch comes in.But disregard the commercial point of view, this ad does make one - man or woman - put on the thinking cap and reconsider what they do while someone else in their family is slogging away with the household chores"