Saturday, April 23, 2011

Things I Like About Arab Culture

A missionary friend of mine often tells Christians of a conversation he had with a Muslim in Morocco. The man said, "Some missionaries hate Islam and some missionaries love Muslims. You are a good man. You love Muslims." The point is a pretty simple one: Don't get caught up in attacking Islam when you should be loving Muslims and winning them to Christ. Even though I get it and I'm all for winning Muslims to Christ, I have to say that I hate Islam and love Muslims.

I hate the religion that denies the truth of Christian Scripture and turns the Gospel of Love into a message of violence and hate.
I hate any religion that encourages men to beat women or otherwise demean them.
I hate the religion that is responsible for killing more of my brothers and sisters than any other ideology in the world.
I hate the religion that is the world's leading promoter of slavery.
I hate the religion that encourages sex with children.
I hate the religion that hates dogs.

But I don't hate Arabs or everything Arab.

I love Arab hospitality. Arabs can be some of the most personally welcoming people in the world. If you've never been around Arabs, you'll never fully get the story of the Levite and his concubine in Judges. Arabs are so welcoming they can trap you with hospitality.

I love Arab food. Arabs, Persians and Turks are the masters of the world when it comes to meat. They make Westerners look like barbarians with their meat skills. You've never had truly tender meat unless you've eaten Middle Eastern food. And the rice! The rice is to die for. I've read that it takes Persian women years to cook rice well. I believe it because I've tried it. It's hard to reproduce.

I love Arab music, at least the music that hasn't been stomped out by Islam.

I love the desert. There is something intoxicating about the desert. Especially at night. The desert comes alive at night. I love how sound travels at night in the desert. I have a dry land farm in West Texas. The desert reminds me of my farm.

I love smoking. I can leave the cigarettes, but hookahs are the bomb (not in the terrorist sense). Any culture that has hookahs has something big going for it.

Antiquity. I love that Middle Eastern cultures are old. I love that people stop at oases that have been used for hundreds of years. I love that Damascus has streets which are named in the Bible, and still exist. I love that old is measured in thousands of years.

I love the Arab sense of time. I love the lack of hurriedness that I find in most Arab places. Arabs have the ability to just be when westerners get caught up in doing.

It's not Arabs I hate, it's just Islam.

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