Well, finding a pair of donkeys was proving to be more difficult than I had imagined. But I was not discouraged. Samya, Joudia and I decided to push the cart out ourselves. After finding a shady spot to rest it was time to serve tea.
In no time we had company.
The group was small, about 5, for most of 2 hours and as the tea and problems were passed around people began to give their opinions which quickly turned to advice. Over and over again people would say things like, “We don’t have this problem in Morocco because Islam tells us what to do.” Or, “This would never happen here because the Qur’an forbids it.” More specifically, for example, while discussing the problem about neighboring communities that do not interact with each other, one man informed me that according to the Qur’an you must maintain good relations with your neighbor. However, a “neighbor” is not just the person next door. The Qur’an stipulates that a “neighbor” includes all those up to forty houses in all directions.
Later, while discussing the problem about the elderly being treated like a burden to society a young man stated, “ I can’t imagine this, I love my mother like I love myself.” Another woman interjected, “That is because she took care of you.” As the conversation rolled through personal anecdotes and snarky jokes the group seemed to decide that breastfeeding was the key to a good relationship with your children and the security that they would care for you in your golden years. One woman went on to add that the Qur’an stipulates that children must be breastfed no less than 2 years. After a brief interrogation about the rearing of you my own child (I passed) we moved on. But the Qur’an and the practice of Islam remained a central topic.
Being in Morocco with the think tank as they worked gave me the rare opportunity to ask follow up questions and really clarify the advice that was being given. When it was clear that what this think tank was saying was that Islam is the solution I asked, “But what can Americans do with this. We are such a diverse group, we have our own cultures, languages, and belief systems. We cannot all convert to Islam. I don´t think this solution can work for us.” Without hesitation one man responded, “Islam is not just a religion it is a discipline.”
Another woman asked me if I had ever read the Qur’an. I admitted that I had not. Then a man suggested “You could start there. Just read our book and see what you will learn.”
What a great idea, doable, gentle and sure to enlighten.