March 24

Islam and the Jews

March 24, 2007

Anger Management

As I write these thoughts, I’m traveling on a bus that’s winding its way along the mountain roads descending from the tomb of the Old Testament prophet Job, the tomb being located near the town of Salalah in the state of Dhofar in the Sultanate of Oman on the Arabian peninsula.

While visiting the tomb, I made some observations that I thought were most revealing. This tomb has long been a very sacred site — a temple, actually — for Muslims, visited by adherents of Islam from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, the Middle East, Africa, and other countries and continents. Women who enter this temple — regardless of their faith — are required to cover their heads as a token of reverence. Men speak in whispers. Muslims stand at the grave and pray or read a chapter from the Quran. People of all faiths speak in hushed, respectful tones as the ancient fumes of burning frankincense — grown and harvested locally — fill the air.

The irony is that Muslims regard this site as most holy even though it contains the remains of a man Muslims openly acknowledge to be a Jewish prophet. Every Muslim prophet is buried with his head facing Mecca, but in this sacred Muslim shrine, the Jewish prophet Job is buried with his head facing Jerusalem, thus honoring his Jewish heritage.

How could this be? How could the Muslims bestow such great honor on a Jewish prophet? In this far place of Dhofar, somewhat isolated from the rest of the world, have they forgotten the intense and storied conflict between Islam and the Jews? No, they haven’t forgotten. Instead, they prove with their behavior at the tomb of Job what we who are experienced in Real Love have understood for a long time.

There is no conflict at Job’s tomb because conflict is not about differences of opinion. It’s not about differences in ideologies or religion. Specifically, the longstanding conflict between Muslims and Jews isn’t about religion or land or traditions.

Conflict is about emptiness and fear. Conflict exists between people who lack what they need more than anything else — Real Love — and who desperately and addictively use Getting and Protecting Behaviors in the vain hope that they can protect themselves and fill the emptiness in their souls with Imitation Love. Conflict is about Real Love. When we remember that, we can begin to address the real cause of conflict, and then we can entertain a glimmer of hope that we can begin to eliminate conflict: in our marriages, with our children, in our businesses, in our schools, and even between nations.

This is no pie-in-the-sky fairy tale. I have seen Real Love eliminate conflict in countless situations, just as I saw love eliminate conflict at the tomb of Job. As people of all faiths gathered there to honor the memory of that loving prophet, the love they felt toward him somehow spread to everyone in attendance. That love united them and eliminated any conflict that might have existed. It was a miracle that we can learn to duplicate wherever we are. Let us make it our goal to do just that.

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