Winner of the Wilbur Award describes his motivations for accepting Islam

Wednesday, October 30, 2013
MICHAEL WOLFE , journalist, U.S. motivations
Quoting Michael Wolfe winner

In 2003 Wilbur Award for best book of the year on a religious theme , writer and poet , and appears in the document Ted Koppel 's "Nightline" the Hajj , Michael Wolfe describes his reasons for accepting Islam .

After twenty-five years as a writer in America, I wanted something to soften my cynicism . I was searching for new terms by which to see .Islam How one rises establishes certain needs in this department. From a pluralistic environment , I naturally places great emphasis on the problems of racism and freedom.winner Then in my twenties , I went to live in Africa for three years. During this time, which was formative for me , I rubbed the black of various tribes , with Arabs , Berbers , and even Europeans, who were Muslims.Islam In general , these people do not share the Western obsession with race as a social category . In our encounters being oddly colored rarely important. I was welcomed at first judged on merit later. By contrast , Europeans and Americans , including those who are free of racist ideas , automatically class people racially .winner Muslims classified people by their faith and their actions.Islam I thought transcendent and refreshing. Malcolm X has seen the salvation of his people in him. "America needs to understand Islam ," he wrote , "because it is the one religion that erases from its society the race problem ."motivations

I was looking for an escape route , too, the conditions of detention of a materialistic culture . Islam winner I wanted access to a spiritual dimension , but the conventional paths I had known as a child were closed.Islam My father was a Jew , Christian mother . Because of my experience bastard , I had a foot in both religious camps . Both religions are undoubtedly profound . However, that emphasizes a chosen people I found insupportable , while the other , on the basis of a mystery , repelled me .winner A century before, I am great-great - grandmother had been stained with the Church of Christ Main Street in Hamilton , Ohio. When I was twenty , this meant nothing to me.motivations
Such were the conditions of my early life provided .Islam The more I thought about it now , the more I went back to my experiences in Muslim Africa .winner After two return trips to Morocco in 1981 and 1985 , I thought that Africa, the continent , had little to do with the balanced life I found there. It was not , is a continent he sought, nor an institution , either.Islam I was looking for a piece that could live with a vocabulary of spiritual concepts applicable to the life I was living now . I do not want to "share" my culture. I wanted access to new meanings. motivations

After mid-Atlantic dinner , I went to wash in the bathroom. During my absence a quorum of Hasidim lined up to pray in front of the door.Islam At the time it was over, they were too immersed to notice me . Leaving the bathroom , I could barely function handle. Upon entering the alley was out of the question .winner

I could not stay with his head pushed into the hallway , looking at the back of the congregation. Pocket prayer Accounting , cut an impressive figure , using texts on your sternum , as supposed. Gradually, the movement grew erratic , like a mild form of the rock jump.Islam I looked out the bathroom door until they have completed, then slid down the aisle to my seat.winner

We landed together that night in Brussels. Reboarding found a Yiddish newspaper left on a tray of food . When the plane took off for Morocco , they were gone.motivations Islam

Not that my life during this period in accordance with any large project. At first , around 1981 , I was taken by curiosity and appetite for travel. My favorite place to go when I had no money , was Morocco. When I could not travel, there were books . This fascination has contacted me with the writers taken to handle exotic, authors capable of sentences like this, by Freya Stark :winner Islam

" The perpetual charm of Arabia is that the traveler finds his level not simply as a human being, the franchise of the people, deadly to the sentimental or the pedantic , like the less complicated virtues and the sweetness of being loved for yourself might add, I think , five reasons for travel given me by Sayyid Abdulla , the watchmaker , " leave your troubles behind , to save his life , to acquire learning, practicing good manners and meet men of honor". motivations Islam

I would not have a list of demands , but had no clear idea of ​​what he wanted. Religion wanted should be to metaphysics as metaphysics is the science . Not limited by a narrow rationalism or traffic in mystery to please its priests . There would be no priests , no separation between nature and things sacred . There would be no war against the flesh , if he could help . Sex is natural, it is the seat of a curse of the species. Finally , I wanted a ritual component , daily routine to sharpen the senses and discipline the mind . Above all , I wanted clarity and freedom. I do not want to sell should just be fighting a dogma. motivations Islam
The more I learned about Islam , the more it seemed to fit what I wanted .winner

More educated western knew at the time regarded any strong religious climate with suspicion. They classified religion as political manipulation, or discarded as a medieval concept , projecting upon it notions from their European past .winner Islam

It was difficult to find a source for their opinions. A thousand years of Western history left us many beautiful reasons to regret a path that led through so much ignorance and slaughter . The Children's Crusade and the Inquisition transform Nazism and communism during our century, whole countries religions have been exhausted by belief. Islam Nietzsche Fear that the modern nation-state would become a substitute for religion , proved tragically accurate. Our century , it seemed , ended in an age beyond belief , which believers inhabited as much as agnostics.winner

Regardless of religious affiliation , secular humanism is that Western breathe air, we look through the lens . Like any world view, this perspective is ubiquitous and transparent. It is the basis of our extensive identification with democracy and with the pursuit of freedom in all its myriad forms and attractive.Islam}}} Immersed in our shared concerns , we can easily forget that there are other life forms on the same planet . motivations

At the time of my trip, for example, 650 million Muslims with a majority representation in forty -four countries have signed the formal teachings of Islam. In addition , about 400 million people were living as minorities in Europe , Asia and the Americas. With the help of post -colonial economy , Islam has become the last Thirty years a major religion in Western Europe .Islam The world's major religions , Islam only add to its fold .winner

My politicized friends were dismayed by my new interest . They almost universally confused Islam with the machinations of a half dozen Middle Eastern tyrants . The books they read, the new issues they considered describes faith as a set of political functions .Islam Almost nothing has been said of its spiritual practice . I liked quote Mae West to them: " Every time you take religion for a joke , the laugh is on you." winner

Historically a Muslim sees Islam as the final expression of matured original religion dates back to Adam. It is also resolutely monotheistic as Judaism , whose major Prophets Islam reveres as links in a progressive chain , culminating in Jesus and Muhammad .Islam Essentially a message of renewal , Islam has done its role on the world stage to return the forgotten taste of sweetness killed millions of people. His book , the Quran , did Goethe said : "You see , this teaching never fails, with all our systems , we can not go, and generally no one can go further.winner

Traditional Islam is expressed through the practice of the five pillars .Islam Expressing faith , prayer , charity , fasting and activities repeatedly throughout life. The conditions permit, every Muslim has the mandate to carry out a pilgrimage to Mecca once in life. The Arabic term for this fifth rite of Hajj . Researchers associate it with the concept of " qasd " , "aspiration" , and the notion of men and women as world travelers .Islam In Western religions pilgrimage is a residual tradition , a concept often shortened to popular scenic metaphor. Among Muslims , on the other hand, the Hajj embodies a vital experience for millions of new pilgrims every year. in spite of the modern content of their lives , not an act of obedience , a profession of faith and spiritual community visible expression . For most Muslims the pilgrimage is an ultimate goal , the trip of a lifetime .Islam

As a convert , I felt compelled to go to Mecca . As an addict to travel , I could not imagine a more binding target .winner

The annual month of fasting , Ramadan precedes the Hajj in one hundred days . Both rites were a period of intensified awareness in Muslim society .Islam I wanted to put that time to use. I had read about Islam , I [ attended ] a mosque near my home in California , I started a practice. Now , I wanted to elaborate on what he had learned by immersing myself in a religion where Islam permeates all aspects of life.winner

I thought to start in Morocco , and who knew the country and because traditional Islam was still quite stable. The last place I wanted to start was in a corner full of sectarian fury . I wanted to paddle the mainstream, the wide and calm waters. winner

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