Ideas From Across the Globe

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I don’t think I really realized what this class was going to consist of; read some, write some, learn some, and then what? My mind was more focused on learning about the logistics and details of our trip rather on the culture we’ll soon be immersed in. Little did I realize, I’d be jumping into a classroom of what were mostly new ideas, and foreign ideas at that. I’ve had my share of Islamic education through the Christian school I attended high school at, but there was never a focus on the depth and passion in the people of the religion. I guess I never pictured people having the same drive and enthusiasm for a foreign religion like Islam, as I have seen a lot of people in the States have for their Christian faith. Being able to witness the Islamic women not only speak about their beliefs, but also express their passion for Islam and their heart for Allah’s followers has been incredibly eye opening. Yet while I find myself receptive to learning their views, I also find weariness in the Christian lifestyle. How can people who believe in such a merciless god be so much more enthusiastic and joyful over their lives than a lot of Christians I see? While I probably won’t ever know the reasons behind my question from their standpoint, it drives me to strive to live a more joyful life because of what God has done and has in store for me. 

Being able to learn a bit more about Islam’s religious history has been intriguing just as much. I’ve heard Muhammad’s general story quite a few times, but hearing some various extra details is always interesting. I’m sure I learned that he was orphaned at a young age, but it was something I had forgotten. It’s crazy to think that the leading figure of Islam grew up as an orphaned boy, but at the same time it seems to say a lot about their views too. There’s a sense of having an open mind, but also continuing to stick to what you know and believe and stand upon as an individual, particularly as a follower of Allah. I don’t remember ever learning about Muhammad’s life as a merchant or that his wife was also a very well-off merchant herself. Nomads have always been people groups that have been interesting to learn about, but it’s so foreign to think there were tribes and people groups that lived in and traveled the desert. But this is what an entire culture is built around; surviving and working together to build an ongoing and successful tribe. 

While Islam and the lifestyles of the people of the desert were so interesting to learn about, I also learned so much through the film Ali Zoua: Prince of the Streets. For some reason I get so caught up in what my life has looked like growing up and even observing the culture around me, that I continually forget what a life for someone thousands of miles away might look like. I’ve been to downtown Seattle and seen the homeless, living on little and often in pain. I’ve been to Skid Row in Los Angeles and seen an entire community living on the streets; hungry, broken, and yet surviving. But when I have ever thought about Morocco, I can honestly say it has never crossed my mind that there might be pain, hunger, or violence just the same. It might be easy to understand the general ‘middle east’ as having these troubles within their communities, but Morocco was one place it never crossed my mind for. Ali Zoua was a beautiful film, but a heartbreaking one even more. It pains me to think of what the youngest of children have to struggle with on a daily basis, and often not by choice. But even more so realizing that there is entire community from, say the United States, that views Morocco strictly as a vacation destination rather than an actual living, existing, breathing community with struggles of their own. I’m sure countless visitors and tourists have easily passed by an ‘ali zoua’ and never taken a second thought as to where they were heading, what they were doing, or what their life might be filled with. I pray that as a group we will in some way be able to make a positive, godly, lasting impression on the individuals we come in contact with in Morocco. There’s a brokenness that may not ever be entirely mended, but no brokenness is too scattered for love to pull together. 

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