from Shane's Muslim Connect
Many of our Texan friends might echo the “Gimme Power!” sentiment. Days of rolling blackouts have caused monumental stress and challenge. They have also highlighted the thin line between normal life and desperation.
Throughout history we’ve tried to control that line, pushing desperation back while guarding our safety and increasing our security and comfort. To that end, many Muslims engage in extra-Quranic practices designed to get good things in their lives and hold off bad things. These practices collectively can be called "folk," or "popular," Islam. If you were a Muslim, rather than a Christian looking in from the outside, you’d simply call it Islam.
Such practices include praying to dead saints and seeking power at their graves, marking children to ward off evil spirits, and wearing or even eating passages of the Qur'an to gain power or avoid illness.
Considering this brings up three thoughts:
- I might understand my Muslim friends better if I knew more about popular Islam, how it’s practiced, by whom, and why.
- I’m reminded there is much we cannot control and that reality exists beyond my five-sense perception of it. That being true, I might have something to learn from people who live with deeper awareness of that reality.
- I’m grateful for the deal we get with Jesus. Although I suspect there are aspects of my faith that could be called “folk Christianity,” I take comfort and hope in Paul’s vivid word picture in Colossians 2.13: “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. . . . 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.”
To learn more, I recommend this winsome, first-hand account of a westerner in Indonesia. I’d also love to hear what you’d like to know further about folk Islam. Email thoughts, questions ,or experiences here. Thank you.