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I will take a shot at it

Reader comment on item: Islam Drives the Social and Legal Agenda in the West
in response to reader comment: What is wrong with this?

Submitted by Prashant (United States), Jun 19, 2013 at 00:46

Dear Dr Pipes,

Your reader Fifi asks if someone could explain to her what could be wrong in a school-child going to an empty room and praying during the lunch hour. I will take a shot. Many books can be written on this topic and none of us has too much time, so I will be brief. Let me write the first two or three points that come to my mind: Question: What can be wrong in a person withdrawing to an isolated place to pray in a shared facility?

Answer:

1) At a certain level we all agree that religion is a matter of belief. Different people choose to believe different things and none can/should challenge others' beliefs. To protect our beliefs from others' scrutiny --specially when we know that those beliefs are not provably correct-- most of us try to keep them in private. Withdrawing from a shared space for prayers on a regular basis makes a private behavior public.

2) If this is a case of one single girl student, it might appear to be harmless. But imagine these kids are in an Islamic country and 98 of them go to a private place to pray but two non-muslims do not. Wont these two feel the pressure to join the practice? How will Fifi feel if the Christian pupils of this school go and pray together and leave this poor non-christian girl alone? That will not be too nice. We value the golden rule and keep it simple and leave praying to the privacy of homes.

3) Most religious people pray to God not five but about 100 times a day. We pray whenever we feel weak, thankful, hurt, angry, whatever. We pray quietly. We pray through meditative thoughts. Prayers can and should be done without making a statement. But when you do a different behavior five times a day, 365 days a year, you make a statement whether you like it or not.

4) I am sorry to say and I am not being mean, when some Muslims stop everything and go to pray in the middle of the day, it indeed hurts productivity. This girl uses this room every single lunch hour during the school days. How many days it will take before others will start feeling obligated not to a) organize anything else during lunch hour and b) stop using that room for anything else.

5) Schools are designed to unite. If a school has 20 muslims, 20 Christians, 20 Hindu, 20 Jews and 20 Buddist students and they all recede to different rooms to pray at different times, what will happen to the school?

So Fifi, we non-Muslims are not intolerants. We are also not discriminatory. We just are a bit more logical and a bit more sensitive to other people's convenience. That is also probably why we do not ask for special places to wash our feet at airports, we do not insist that no liquor be sold in our cities, we do not issue our calls for prayer on loudspeakers at odd hours, we do not claim city streets for prayers every single Friday every single year, and we do not ask our girl children not to sing or dance. This, Fifi, is a statement of facts with no malice in heart. I hope you understand.

Submitting....

Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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