Belly dance and religion

chryssanthi sahar

New member
This notion of dialogical pluralism has failed to reach out to the Muslim community in recent years. This has allowed a 'hard reading' of Islam to attempt to fill that void.[/SIZE]
I agree. I wonder though, why this is happening. Does it have to do with the economical situation in most Islamic countries, are the reasons rather political (reaction of the Muslim community to the absolute world dominance of the "christian" West), is there a fear among Moslems of loosing their moral and religious values, or maybe a fear of the "modern" world (especially since the modern world is also mainly an invention of the West)?
I'm giving the question to the whole group:)
 
I agree. I wonder though, why this is happening. Does it have to do with the economical situation in most Islamic countries, are the reasons rather political (reaction of the Muslim community to the absolute world dominance of the "christian" West), is there a fear among Moslems of loosing their moral and religious values, or maybe a fear of the "modern" world (especially since the modern world is also mainly an invention of the West)?
I'm giving the question to the whole group:)
Although I don't live in a Muslim society, I think Islamic extremists find their "soldiers" from among the poorer citizens of their countries. The lack of basic food, shelter, medicine and education leads to deep psychological trauma on a social scale.Why else would someone feel angry and desolate about their circumstances. It would be easier to blame sources outside your own society than look for reasons within it. Also from a historical perspective(Crusades, post-WWII carving of Middle East etc.) there isn't a valid reason to trust anyone from outside of their own society.
I also don't believe that in general Muslims fear the "modern" world, there is evidence that the 21st century is widely embraced by those who an afford it. What I do believe is that the power-mongers in the form of clerics, hereditary and elected officials fear the change in their power base. Though once again this concept has been illustrated throughout human history.
Yasmine
 

Aisha Azar

New member
Religion, etc.

Dear Yasmine,
I agree with that assessment of the situation. One time I had a conversation with a Muslim who was attending a Roman Catholic university here in spokane (Gonzaga, in fact, for those of you who might follow college basketball for any reason!). He was taking one of the required religion classes and we began to discuss exactly who it is that is attracted to religous leaders in any historic era and time.
It is usually either those who are physically or emotionally suffering and vulnerable and who are looking for some kind of answer in order to have a better life on some level, either physically or spiritually. This makes it easy to find followers/victims. We discussed Jesus and his role as a "rescuer", but it could have been any religious/political/medical/rock star or any leader type of figure in any time or place. It could have been anyone who promises something better to those who are in any kind of need.
The important thing is to be able to tell the difference between Charles Manson and Joan of Arc.
Regards,
A'isha
 
The important thing is to be able to tell the difference between Charles Manson and Joan of Arc.
Regards,
A'isha
Education is the key. Not just facts and figures but learning to develop the intellectual skills to determine trash from treasure. How does this relate to the topic? If someone told me that Oriental Dance was the sinful path to Hell, my first response would be to question why that statement was made. Does that person care or my eternal salvation? Does that person want torepress my self-expression? Has this person ever seen me dance?
Why does fundamentalist religionists(add your favorite) find Oriental Dance sinful? In my opinion it is to repress the the question of "why".
Yasmine
 
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Lydia

New member
belly dance and religion

Hi Chrisanty,thank you for understanding and i do agree completly in what you are saying, again i was just beeing selfish ...have a great day my regards to Lydia.....do you know that it was a country?? Lydia
 

chryssanthi sahar

New member
...do you know that it was a country?? Lydia
Yes:D And it's people were called Lydians. So actually "Lydia" means the girl from country Lydia. But for me and my husband it had also another meaning, when our daughter was born (20 years ago). Lydia was the name of the woman who became the first Christian in Europe (she was from Northern Greece). At that time we were still very involved in that church I was talking about in my previous posting and the Christian religion meant a lot to us. But nevertheless, it is a very beautiful name and I'm glad, I called my daughter so:D
 

Rebecca_

New member
Education is the key. Not just facts and figures but learning to develop the intellectual skills to determine trash from treasure. How does this relate to the topic? If someone told me that Oriental Dance was the sinful path to Hell, my first response would be to question why that statement was made. Does that person care or my eternal salvation? Does that person want torepress my self-expression? Has this person ever seen me dance?
Why does fundamentalist religionists(add your favorite) find Oriental Dance sinful? In my opinion it is to repress the the question of "why".
Yasmine
Perhaps I am making too much of a jump, but it seems like a lot of fundamentalist religions tend to actually narrow the scope of religion. I know here, that christian fundamentalists are against the teaching of darwininian evolution. This makes me wonder what they aren't teaching in other countries. I am a big supporter of a full education for all, as I believe that education is the key to avoiding and escaping poverty where fundamentalist religions thrive.
 
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Aisha Azar

New member
Religion

Dear Rebecca and Yasmine,
While I am not sure education is the key to stopping repression, getting out of poverty, etc. ( I know a of LOT of people with good educations who repress others... in fact most worl leaders of repression are well educated...), I do know that with the right kind of personality and a wider education of some sort, not necessarily academic, then people have the tools to see a bigger picture. I think, in some ways, that is what religion is all about when people are not busy using it as a weapon against their fellow human beings. I think what men like Zarathustra, Guatama, Jesus and Mohammed (Peace be on all of them) brought to the table were not a set of rules, but a unique perspective in their time and place.
Regards,
A'isha
 

belly_dancer

New member
yes I agree A'isha.... NOT a set of rules.... perhaps a set of values/ethics that maybe did not really exist previously???
also I think the MASSES need to be educated or at least gain knowledge of OTHER ways... for instance.. if I was a member of a fundamental church... & became a hell raising BELLY DANCE sinner.... most clerics in charge would NOT educate the masses (other people in the church) as to what belly dancing REALLY was... only that they must NEVER talk to me again (god forbid I would convert them over to the "church of perpetual undulations"!) but shun me until I mend my evil ways!!... thereby the masses would be cut off from possible education (expansion of horizons??) from me as well..
yes! ALL world leaders are educated... & they know they want to keep their subjects in the dark... or else someone may start thinking.... "Hey.. maybe there is a better way".... if you look at Hitler for instance... one of the 1st things he did was change the educational systems in Germany (to his way of thinking) BEFORE he began invading OTHER countries... he started controllong/converting the "masses" in his own!!!
also we could look at birth control... the catholic church does not want it's subjects to be even AWARE of the IDEA (hard to control in Western world.... am talking now of 3rd world countries)... because then some of them (the masses) might think it was a good idea!!! & look what the gov't here is US has been trying to with sex ed in high schools.. (NO education is a good education!)...
so yeah... seems most all "religions" are trying to repress "us"!
eeekkkkk ... instead of running.... what can WE do ????
 

Sara

New member
I think what is important to acknowledge is that what we know about God is what another human has experienced and recorded. I don't know if God exists or not, but what we know of him/her is the result of another persons experience from centuries ago.

This leaves raw religion susceptable to change, for good and bad. Here are two examples. Much of the biblical scrolls were hidden away in a desert in Egypt. They were banished by the early church as they empowered women and challenged idea's about Jesus' ascention. This has obviously influenced much of what we read in the bible.

Another example is from 12/13th Century France-Languedoc. A new 'heritcal' movement was developing, Catharism, which basically was just a simplified version of Catholicism. They believed in family life, women were more equal therefore, poverty, and two Gods. They claimed the Catholic Church was too rich and the way to Heaven was through poverty etc. They were eventually killed, but their idea's drew in great interest and opened up religion to more people in that area.

These example show that religion is controlled by man. It applies to any religion. God may exist, but how we understand him/her and praise him/her is the product of humans. It can change over time by the will of people or by the will of one person. Look at Henry VIII. He created a whole new version of the Church, and became a Protestant, just so he could divorce his wife! :dance:

In relation to belly dancing, it is easy to see how it can be viewed as 'sinful' due to the image it has in society. Religion influences peoples view of things. If you've grown up in a very strict religious environment where you are taught traditional values, and celibacy it must be hard to appreciate how belly dance could be unsinful. People moving their body in a sensual way must be intimidating. It's like if I was landed in a stripper bar. I wunt know what to do, or where to put myself. :lol:

Well that turned out longer than I'd planned. Hope it made sense, and I haven't offended anyone.
Cyas
Sara
 
Excellent replies! I've had the opportunity to read both the Koran and the Mormon Bible. Just curious about what as written in each since they lay claim to receiving God's True Word. It opened my eyes to the beliefs of others while maintaining my own belief system.
However, ideas are dangerous only when they challenge the staus quo, Aisha provided a good example of how great ideas, concepts and philosophies can change the world. But hey I'm a dancer what do I know;)
Yasmine
 

chryssanthi sahar

New member
Dear group.
I would like to ask something different:
Do you think that belly dance is a spiritual dance? And if yes, in what way? Has anyone of you made spiritual experiences through the dance? Has anyone experienced big changes in her/his life through the dance?
 

Dev

New member
i am often labeled as an atheist . But i do question some very basic things about religion.
I have never felt God , But i do not condemn Religion either, But i do condemn any kind of extremism. Religions have been altered by the vested interests of professional priests of all religions. In all countries, it should be accepted by all that the spread & propaganda of extreme thoughts is only an excuse for the bread & butter of some people which they want to earn on the name of religion. If we are to advance in any field for welfare of humanity, we shall have to free ourselves from the bonds of conservative & extreme thoughts. Not only this, we shall have to firmly oppose & stand against the people who thrust upon us the Anti-Humanity thoughts. We shall have to accept that the people, who in the guise of priests, give sugar coated pills against humanity in the name of religion, with the lessons of religions are the real & the greatest foes of humanity.

Perhaps I am making too much of a jump, but it seems like a lot of fundamentalist religions tend to actually narrow the scope of religion. I know here, that christian fundamentalists are against the teaching of darwininian evolution. This makes me wonder what they aren't teaching in other countries. I am a big supporter of a full education for all, as I believe that education is the key to avoiding and escaping poverty where fundamentalist religions thrive.
 
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Dev

New member
Dear group.
I would like to ask something different:
Do you think that belly dance is a spiritual dance? And if yes, in what way? Has anyone of you made spiritual experiences through the dance? Has anyone experienced big changes in her/his life through the dance?
Dear Chryssanthi, I think Its up to the individual dancers how they feel about the dance. I am not very knowledgeable about Egyptian culture but in India we have dances that perform for god or superior. Bharat natyam which is a classical dance which often has a spiritual ceremony before the dance.And its a highly regarded dance form which is quite complex. I have seen many personal interviews of dancers and other performers where they relate their art to their life, They live for it and they feel it when they perform, I believe thats their spirituality.And i am sure many Belly dancers feel the same way, its their life , its their spirituality.


kind regards

..
 
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Sara

New member
I don't really know. :think: I think any dancer gets that feeling at some point where you get carried away by the dance, like during a performance, and you're completely hooked in that moment, but I also think it applies to other things as well, like singing, and acting. They can make you feel wonderful and exhilerated.

I guess if you make it spiritual then it is. For me, I don't see it as a spiritual thing so much. It has brought out a change in me though, and I'm a lot more confident and bubblier. When I think of bellydancing I think of it more as mysterious than anything else. :think:
 

Aisha Azar

New member
Religion, etc.

Dear Cryssanthi,
Do I consider belly dance to be a spiritual dance? Yes. I consider it to be exactly as spiritual and sacred as any other deed, word, thought or any other manifestation of God. In other words, belly dance is part of God's experience of Itself and is therefore a sacred activity, as much as any other thing that ever happens. I think that for me, I understand that each moment and thought and activity has its own spirituality.
Some activities resonate as more "spritual" for some people. I was rasied as a Roman Catholic, but aside from its archaic music, there is not much in Holy Mother Church that has spiritual appeal for me, although I appreciate that they do respect some metaphysical ideals. My mother and sister ( and, by the way, the converted Aziz) all find great spirituality in this religion, and I would not negate that.
I guess I would not separate out belly dance as a necessarily "more spiritual" activity than any other, but then, for me, the breath of God is in everything that exists in any form, and if I take the time to listen/ watch/feel, then I can somtimes have some small understanding, and connect with it. This can happen while dancing or while listening to my husband breath when he is asleep, or at any time when I am willing to be aware.
I think my life is very different from what it might have been through dance. I have anxiety disorder and often it is easy to get hung up in monitoring my body and responding to it in very negative ways. Dance has let me put that obsessive body monitoring into creating beautiful movement and positive emotional response to the ways that my body feels. Because of this dance, I have in some ways been able to turn a terrible liablility into a tool for becoming adept in teaching people about their own body awareness. In this way, the dance is very spiritual for me as it has done what religion is supposed to do.... and it has uplifted me.
Regards,
A'isha



Dear group.
I would like to ask something different:
Do you think that belly dance is a spiritual dance? And if yes, in what way? Has anyone of you made spiritual experiences through the dance? Has anyone experienced big changes in her/his life through the dance?
 

Shanazel

Super Moderator
To paraphrase a story from Joseph Campbell, I don't think I have a religion, but sometimes I dance...

I'm no expert, but it seems to me that it is as hard to generalize about Islam as it is to generalize about any other religion that claims several million followers. I know if I put my Southern Baptist uncle in the same room with a Morman missionary, a Unitarian, and a Russian Orthodox priest, there'd be quite a disagreement on the basic concepts of True Christianity. As to what any of the aforementioned individuals might think of belly dance- hmmm. I might leave the room at that point and go somewhere to dance myself back into a better frame of mind.
 

Aniseteph

New member
I agree with Shanazel. Belly dance is going to push too many :naghty: buttons for hard line religious types of whatever persuasion.

Me, I'll be wherever Shanazel went to dance herself better, emitting zaghareets and dancing along.
 
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