Last Updated: Wednesday - 01/05/2011
November 19, 2001
Goa points to value of Islam
Islam is a source for Western values, he tells crowd
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
EDMONTON — Christianity, Judaism, Islam and other world religions are oceans of meaning for the modern world, U of A professor David Goa told more than 50 people at Expressionz Caf‚ during a Nov. 8 lunch-hour talk.
"Religious worlds - Christian, Muslim and Jewish - are extraordinary sources of meaning for the human struggle, for the gifts of our lives, for our relationships to each other," Goa told the WCR.
"It is the religious traditions which have spoken most eloquently about human dignity, about the challenge of our aspirations, about competing virtues," added Goa.
Goa, who teaches religious studies at the university as well as serving as curator of folk art at the Provincial Museum, says modern ideologies have little ability to speak about meaning-giving in our world today.
He values the great secular ideas embodied in the United Nations' human rights advocacy and other humanitarian efforts, but those have sources in the religious worlds.
"It is in the religious worlds, where we can find what we need in order to speak meaningfully with our Muslim brothers and sisters."
He emphasized that the 20th century was a century not of religious wars but of secular wars.
One thing that has troubled Goa "about the way in which Islam, but also Christianity, is handled in the last half of the 20th century is that we tend to beat up on religious people and religious perspectives."
"We tend to choose as spokespersons for the religious perspective only the people who are at the far end of the spectrum."
For Goa, this reduces religious perspective in the public discourse as "some kind of narrow fanaticism."
"The notion that the Western world has only two taproots, Jerusalem and Athens, is blind to the third taproot, that is Mecca."
Islam is at the centre and source of values for the West, said Goa.
The professor pointed out that like other religions, Islam teaches about the unity of God and the unity of life.
"Islam teaches that you cannot put economic life and national interests at the centre because that is idolatrous," Goa emphasized.
He also said Islam contributes the Koran, to go with the Jewish and Christian Bibles, as the holy books that humanity uses to turn to for meaning.
Even in the development of sciences and our understanding of law, Islam contributed significantly, Goa said.
Goa then criticized the bombings of Afghanistan and past atrocities against other Islamic countries.
"The purpose by which these acts are done are unbelievably cruel . . . and deeply unpluralistic," said Goa.
"I stand on what the pope said that 'Osama bin Laden needs to be healed and if not, we would have millions of them,'" said Goa.
Goa, gave a presentation with Larry Shaben, Alberta's first Muslim cabinet minister, on Islam and the West: reflections on faith, religion and community.
Shaben explained to the crowd some of the misconceptions about Islam and the major pillars of his religion.
Often, Muslim fundamentalism is equated to terrorism, said Shaben.
"Jihad for example means someone who strives in the way of the Creator and not necessarily holy war," said Shaben.
People misconstrue that Muslim women are mandated to wear the veil and that such practice is a form of oppression. "It is not mandatory for women to wear that," Shaben emphasized. Such pieces of clothing are worn for the sake of modesty in worship, he said.
"I love this country but at the same time I have a passion for my religion. And during this difficult time, Islam is often misunderstood by most people," he said.
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