19th century terms in PowerPoint - Henry Adams and pat Buchanan colonial reenactment community - creature from the black lagoon, water basin, outhouse, corn cob, soddy, game, (judaic, christian, and muslim female dress), The Herald Tribune.
Summary - Sophia wakes up in the Sampson home finding the confines to be primitively even by her perception of Amish standards. Really starting to wonder what her surroundings are her anxiety increases and she finds a newspaper dated 1857 and puts together enough from the family's talk of wagons and trains to determine that she actually has been transported back in time. We also meet the Sampson family in this chapter including the pivotal characters of Eleanor (Mrs. Sampson) and Abbey, whose character will serve a central literary role as a vehicle for Sophia to express religious reflection. Sophia has to begin sorting out her religious identity with the Sampson family during their first meal together, a part in the book where some deep inter-religious issues are alluded to that are unpacked in the points of connection below.
Points of connection for Muslim students
"La hawla wa la quwwata illa bi lah" - This is a very common invocation used by Muslims and it's meaning is translated in the book. There is certain point during the call to prayer where Muslims who are listening to it are suppose to say this invocation quietly to themselves. It is also commonly used in times of duress, as Sophia is experiencing here, as a reminder that every thing is decreed by God.
“how to decline the bacon without seeming rude” - Pork, of course, is not permissible to consume for Muslims. Most Muslims in the west have had at least one time, most likely numerous, where they have been offered something or to go consume something (such as pork or alcohol) that is forbidden to consume by their religion, but this fact did not enter the realm of consideration of the person making the offer. This type of situation, while ultimately and typically not too difficult to deal with, can leave a person feeling conflicted and uncomfortable internally. As Sophia says in the book, one does not want to seem rude when these situations arise; furthermore, if one has to explain that they cannot do something for a religious reason then what more will that have to entail explaining to the person, will that person now wonder all the time whether or not you can or cannot do something because of your religion? Will the person find in strange because in the 21st century of the Western world people typically restrict themselves from very little for the reasons of religion (at least compared to latter times and I would say compared to Muslims). The reality is that typically when Muslims interact with non-Muslims they keep their Muslim identity under the table and take small measures to avoid externalizing it, such as code-switching as was previously discussed, and they tend to remain silent with people about their Muslim identity so there is much to be brought up and empathized with this in this regard and that could potentially be discussed in classrooms. What other type of people have to deal with similar phenomena like this? What type of people do not? What type of problems does this create for people? What are reasons that Muslims might have more so than other groups of people to feel compelled to generally stay silent about their religious identity? (such as the over association in the media between Muslims and terrorism - consider this article).
“Eeeewww. She had see her grandparents eat pepperoni” - This line further suggests that Sophia’s mother is a native-Kansan convert to Islam, it does not suggest that her grandparents are non-practicing Muslims; even amongst Muslims who stop or do not practice Islam, it is rare for them to eat pork. Her disgust with seeing them eat pork and thought that “she still couldn’t get used to the idea that people actually ate pigs” touches on a narrative that exists amongst Muslims that the pig is a filthy animal that is indulgent and lavishes the sensual experience of its own filth. Pig meat has been scientifically shown to be more susceptible to carry diseases such as trichinosis than other meats, and of all the animal meats that are common staples of diets worldwide pig meat is the only meat that contains a larger percentage of fat than it does protein. Therefore its consumption is unhealthy and in all-advised on numerous levels. So while Muslims ultimately follow the edicts of their religion because they believe they are commandments from God, they also develop within their own internal reasons secular justifications for why the edicts have worldly benefits, and it is not uncommon at all that Muslim youth are introduced or familiar with these narratives to some degree and an internal disgust for things forbidden in Islam is thereby instilled in them. This link demonstrates an example of such a narrative being espoused about the consumption of pork.
“The family took hands, including Sophia’s” - it is not elaborated upon in the book here but this is another uncomfortable situation that Muslims in the West can find themselves in. It was mentioned before that group praying and holding of hands before eating is not an Islamic practice. Further, praying and making invocations is a form of worship in Islam and doing an act of worship that Islam has not prescribed is actually a very major sin in the religion because it is in essence in violation of Islam’s first pillar and it goes against many explicit edicts within the religion. So this type of situation is difficult for Sophia, it is even worse if a Muslim is in this situation and the person saying the prayer insists on invoking Jesus, because praying to or invoking the name of anyone or anything other than Allah or His names is strictly forbidden in Islam, to invoke the name of Jesus and pray to him is an act of idolatry in Islam and, again, is strictly forbidden. Joshua here says, “Dear Father…” and that may not be as bad as saying the name of Jesus, however the idea that God has sons or any offspring is explicitly rebuked in the Qur’an as Islam asserts that the Creator is distinct and not like the creation and to assign paternity or sonship to God is patently false. However, there is some likeness in the Hebrew word abba (אַבָּא) and av (אַב), which mean father but are used for God in the Bible, and the Arabic word Rab which means Lord, and we saw Sophia use that word when she said “Ya Rabbi” when she was in the river. Hebrew and Arabic are both semitic languages and many, if not most, of their words share origins and cognate to one another. It has been an a viewpoint by Muslim analysts of the Bible that the Biblical use of the word Father is misconstrued when it is used by Christian doctrine to assign corporal paternity to God, that the word’s true meaning is one of a paternal-like Lordship over the creation. Now, the part where Joshua says, “bless…our bodies to thy service. Amen” - nothing wrong with that part Islamically as the concept of service to God in Islam is blatant. “Amen” in Arabic is “Ameen” and Muslims say “Ameen” at the end of their invocations also. So you can see how this author has cleverly packed major and complex issues into seemingly small affairs within this book. The more one knows about these matters the more intriguing the book as, and brining them to light can make the book more engaging to all students.
“Miss Sophia…are you Jewish?” - Ah! How clever is this author? Some Muslims in the West have the experience of being asked this question. Those of us who are ethnically of Levantine origin and happen to have the last name Abraham have been asked it our entire lives. If your students are Somali it is much less likely. Nevertheless, some commonalities between Judaism and Islam are on display in the book here. It is not necessarily common knowledge amongst both Muslim and Christian students that Judaism, like Islam, also prohibits the consumption of pork. Eating the pig is explicitly forbidden in the old testament in the book in Leviticus 11:7-8 and the book of Deuteronomy 14:8. Two books of the canonical Torah wherein much, but not all, is in agreement with Islam. It is part of Islamic belief that the Torah was a revelation from God given to Moses, except the books of it were altered by humans after the time of Moses. Moses himself is also the most mentioned Prophet in the Qur’an, and Sophia’s Journal will show some of his Qur’anic story later on. The dress of women that is prescribed by Judaism is another similarity with Islam. This is something that, similar to the dress of Christian women, is not so widely observed by Jewish women in the modern world outside of very orthodox realms. Search “Jewish orthodox women dress” and see what comes up, and there is a slide in the powerpoint that illustrates the point. However not too long ago it was much more commonplace as this book is illustrating to us later on this page when Mrs. Sampson mentions that Sophia’s headscarf made her think she was Jewish. It is also not totally uncommon for Muslim women in the west of paler complexions to be asked if they are nuns.
“tayamum - emergency dry ablution” - “ablution” in Islam is called “wudu” and it refers to the ritual washing that is obligatory to be done before the daily prayers - more on that here if clean water is unable to be found there is an alternate process that can be done which is called “tayamum” where the worshipper rubs their hands in dirt on the ground, then rubs the dirt on their face (a light amount) and then on the hands and wrists. Making taymamum may be generally said to be less commonly done as civilizations and irrigation/plumbing systems have advanced over time making clean water more regularly available generally on earth. This leads to an interesting point about Muslim civilizations which were foremost in the development of irrigation and plumbing technology in the middle ages, which in turn led to many agricultural advances - more on that here and here.
“Mrs. Sampson do you mind if I pray here?” - This is an interesting part. For Muslims in the west trying to get appropriate prayer accommodations - including the space to do it in is a constant struggle and having to ask people for different accommodations in a variety of settings, including the homes of others, all brings an array of anxieties along with it. Muslims of course differ in their discomfort with this type of thing. It could stimulate some conversation to ask Muslims students if they have ever been in a place where they found it difficult or impossible to pray. or if they ever felt that some people (non-Muslims) were easier to ask for places to pray (or to wait on something they were doing together) than other. Another interesting question then is, could it maybe be in easier in the 19th century for Sophia to ask Mrs. Sampson than to ask people in the 20th century for a place to pray? To me, it seems that it may be easier in the 19th century just in the sense that religion and religious practice was less strange back then. On the other hand you might ask, to what extent was religious diversity really respected?
“she found the Qibla” - The “qibla” is the closest direction to the city of Mecca based on aerial trajectory, wherever one is on earth. Thus it is the direction that a Muslim faces to pray. In the continent of North America the qibla is always the direction of northeast.
“Sophia was exhausted by the time she sad ‘Amin’” - here you see Sophia saying “Amen” in the Arabic form, which is said by the Muslim in each prayer after they recite the first seven verses (which is also the first chapter) of the Qur’an.
“She recited from the Qur’an the verses Muslims say before going to bed” - These verses are actually the last three chapters (surahs) of the Qur’an. They are called surat al-iklas, surat al-falaq, and surat an-nas. They amount to only 15 verses total (the Qur’an is loosely organized by the length of the chapters with the exception of the first chapter), and they can be recited in less than a minute. These three verses are typically the first verses and chapters of the Qur’an than children learn how to recite, after the fist chapter (surat al-fatihah) and your Muslim students will almost definitely know them. You could maybe ask them to recite them and demonstrate their multi-lingual skills? Thought it is likely that they would be too shy to do it. I would skip asking them to translate it as they may not be able to and that would make the whole ordeal more cumbersome.
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