We are all longing to go home to some place we have never been — a place half-remembered and half-envisioned we can only catch glimpses of from time to time. Community. Somewhere, there are people to whom we can speak with passion without having the words catch in our throats. Somewhere a circle of hands will open to receive us, eyes will light up as we enter, voices will celebrate with us whenever we come into our own power. Community means strength that joins our strength to do the work that needs to be done. Arms to hold us when we falter. A circle of healing. A circle of friends. Someplace where we can be free. – Starhawk
IN TODAY’S SESSION…
This week we focused on the story Muhammad and the creation of Islam, and made the connection between the way Muhammad’s view of religion changed and the way people, in their religious lives and in other ways, may have a shift of vision that causes them to see things in a new way. We also talked about the Sufi poet Rumi and experienced his poems through music and movement.
EXPLORE THE TOPIC TOGETHER. Talk about…
Muhammad had a shift of religious perspective that led to his founding the Muslim religion. If you came to Unitarian Universalism from another faith home, you could share that story with your child, including the reasons your beliefs and/or your worship needs changed. If your child was part of that shift, they may be able to share with you what they liked and disliked about the change.
It’s also great fun to share “used to thinks.” If you have some examples of misconceptions that you had when you were young (“I used to think that ‘he had a change of heart’ meant that someone took his heart out and gave him a different one.”), you will likely inspire your child to share “used to thinks” of his/her own. Remember to model respect for all beliefs that others in your family share, even if your child currently holds beliefs that differ from your own.
EXTEND THE TOPIC TOGETHER. Try…
A Family Game
In our Creating Home group this week the children played a game that they might enjoy trying at home as well. Place seven household items on a plate or tray. Ask family members to get ready to look at the items on the plate when you remove the cloth. Then, remove the cloth for ten seconds. Cover the plate again, and ask if anyone can name all seven objects on the plate. If people can’t name the items, let them look for another ten seconds. Then replace the cover and see how many objects the teams or individuals can name.
To make the game easier, expose the items for longer than ten seconds, use fewer items on the plate, or use items that are related (such as seven animal figurines or seven writing or drawing instruments). If the children work together as a group, they will more quickly name all of the objects. To make it harder, expose the items for a shorter time, add items to the plate, or require that participants also recall the color as well as the name of each object (such as red pencil or black stone).
If different people remember things on the plate differently, or describe them differently, you can take advantage of the opportunity to point out that very often in religious life as well people come up with different understandings and different descriptions of concepts like “God.”
A Family Adventure
Do you have Muslim friends who live locally? Your family could ask to join them in a visit to a local mosque. Make sure, however, that you ask first about customs (such as removing your shoes) which you will need to observe. If you don’t have access to a mosque, a trip to a Middle Eastern restaurant can provide a fun taste (pun intended) of the culture to which Mohammed belonged.
Some people who find their way to Unitarian Universalism do so because they did not feel the faith they were raised in was a good fit for them. These same feelings were experienced by the prophet Muhammad. Today’s story, “Muhammad of Makkah,” talked about his changing feelings for his faith home.
If you would like to read a few books about Islam with your child, try Muhammad by Demi (Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2003), and I am Muslim by Jessica Chalfont (Rosen Publishing Group's PowerKids Press, 1996).
A collection of Islamic wisdom tales you might enjoy reading to your child is Ayat Jamilah: Beautiful Signs, by Sarah Conover and Freda Crane (Skinner House Books, 2010).
Additional resources on Islam include:
The Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance website
The Islamic Year by Noorah Al-Gailani and Chris Smith (Hawthorn Press, 2002)
Muhammad: Legacy of a Prophet, a DVD of a KQED presentation (2001) created and produced by Alexander Kronemer and Michael Wolfe and directed by Michael Schwarz, available along with other DVDs and videos on Islam and its expression in the U.S. from the Unity Productions Foundation, Alexandria, VA.
Islam, Empire of Faith, a PBS presentation (2001) produced by Gardner Films in association with PBS and Devillier Donegan Enterprises, distributed by Warner Home Video. Find related educational resources and purchase DVDs on the PBS website.
Rumi and Sufism
To hear or purchase Sufi music online, visit a website dedicated to Rumi. This site offers many additional links to poetry and music of the Sufi dervishes.
On the website of poet and Rumi translator, Coleman Barks, find more Rumi poetry and further web links that can expand your knowledge and understanding of Sufism, especially in its modern expression. This site also offers books and recordings of poetry and music for purchase.