Faithful readers will know that prior to my coming to the Islamic faith I was an atheist. I was born and educated as a Protestant, was very active in the church as a child and young adult. However, as a student at the University of Alberta took a course, the Sociology of Religion.
It was fundamentally and logically obvious that ‘organized religion’ over the centuries and in all faiths was used to oppress the poor and enhance the rich. For that, and other personal reasons, I gave up on God, Jesus, the whole works. I remained in that stasis until October 20,2020.
Stasis is defined as a period or state of inactivity or equilibrium.
However, for some unknown reason, during my 2017-2019 Vancouver days the words of Psalm 23 would constantly echo in my mind. The Kings James version.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Yesterday, sitting in the cafe of the Royal Glenora Club, the following words from Psalm 23 came to me, almost forcefully. “Thou annointest my head with oil, my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
I was at the Royal Glenora Club for a tour of that facility, which is a place of sheer beauty. One would never believe that one was in Edmonton during winter. There are pools (indoor of course), hot tubs, a great restaurant with very good food, an extremely well equipped gym, indoor tennis courts etc. etc. The name of the restaurant is 1961 because that is when the Royal Glenora Club first opened. So it was there in some form when I left in 1966, but there have been many additions and renovations to the original structure. It offers everything, including daily water aerobics classes, which is my exercise of choice. It is a non profit organization, owned by its members. The wonderful women in charge of Membership gave me a thorough tour and introduced me to staff members, including the General Manager. I congratulated him on the facility and the fine staff, mentioning the woman in charge of membership in particular.
Me: She is fantastic! You must give her a raise.
He: She already makes more money than I do!
One can readily see that it is a place of great comfort, convenience and conviviality. Conviviality, a noun, has the greatest of synonyms: friendliness, geniality, affability, amiability, congeniality, good humor, cordiality, warmth, warm-heartedness, good nature, sociability, gregariousness, clubbability, companionability; cheerfulness, cheeriness, good cheer, joviality, jollity, gaiety, liveliness, festivity; bonhomie. My two favorites are clubbability and bonhomie.
Sitting at a table at the Club, it did seem that my cup did runneth over. My return to Edmonton was the best move I ever made, it doth seem. M.A.N. and I were discussing matters yesterday, both agreeing that Edmonton is full of such good people. Polite, friendly, industrious, happy to be here (although this is a bit restrained with the minus twenty temperatures.) He, born and educated in Nepal, came to Edmonton via Dubai. (I refer to my experiences in the UAE as my Edmonton Appreciation course) The Canadian job offer was blessed because it would allow his pregnant wife and one son to join him here, whereas in Dubai it was impossible. Therefore, the youngster who was in the tummy is called Lucky, as the family’s life and luck changed. Lucky is a handsome young fifteen year old, a computer genius who is my resident computer guru, a very part time job as he is busy with his studies.
But back to Psalm 23. The forward of my Quran explains the relationship between the Quran and the Bible – both the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) and the New Testament. “First of all. The Quran is the holy book of Islam, there is only one version , perfectly preserved and in written and oral records around the world for nearly 1400 years. All copies are perfect duplicates of the original The Quran was not copied from the Bible.” “The first Arabic translation of the Bible was done centuries after the Prophet’s death. From the Islamic point of view, similarities between Quran and the Bible (especially historical stories such as that of Joseph, Moses and Jesus) stem from the fact that both scriptures came originally from the same source—divine revelation. Because of differences in transmission and interpretation of the Bible over time the stories changed.”
As a graduate student at Dominican University in San Rafael, I was required to take classes on Christianity. It was there I learned that the New Testament was not authored until at least one hundred years after Jesus’ death.
“The Quramic narratives now appear slightly different, for example, unlike the Quran (20:120-122) in the book of Genesis, Eve was tempted to eat from the tree and therefore she is to blame for the fall.” As has been discussed on this blog, this has had terrible repercussions for women in the Jewish and Christian faiths. The Islamic faith puts the responsibility on both Adam and Eve. The Bible and the Quran emphasize global ethics (dignity, kindness and charity) but both revolve around a different theology. There are contrasting views on the perception of God, Jesus, cruxifixction and the original sin.”
But onto a new technology – neither oral or written in the same manner. It is Instagram and with the help of a template I made a reel, which I find inspiring. Here is the link:
The images came from photographs on my iPhone beginning with a photo of me taken in the Grand Mosque. Then photos taken in the Grand Mosque, one of clouds with sun meaning, black and white of Alexis taken when she left Edmonton 55 years ago, a photo of a man on Air Emeritus, the airline that brought me to Abu Dhabi to live. Finally a black and white sculpture in the Edmonton Art Gallery.
It is all very eerie. I randomly and quickly picked out photos to put them in a template – the order and inclusion accidentally so meaningful.
Another reel, sent directly to me, the link:
Me: Here on this world on a tourist visa is such a great way to see one’s life on this earth. Very understandable. The only peace one can find in this craziness is the peace one has with Allah. Thank you for this!
The photo is the one that begins my reel, taken in the Grand Mosque. The reel begins with these words: I am a new Muslim woman. I was properly attired in a hijab, abaya and face mask. I no longer wear a hijab, an abaya nor a face mask. Discussions emerging that face masks should be mandated again. I, of course, shall comply. More about that in a subsequent blog.