This week on Set and Setting, Madison Margolin and Maytha Alhassen canvass the ways that colonization has affected religion.
Maytha Alhassen, Ph.D. is a historian, journalist, social justice artist, and mending practitioner. Her work bridges the worlds of organizing, academic research, media engagement, artistic expression and spiritually-guided healing practices. Her newest horizon has been work in TV/film writing and consulting. Keep up with Maytha on Instagram and Twitter.
Maytha Alhassen’s father taught her ‘girl-power’ and that she could be anything and learn everything. Sometimes, the pressure of that made her feel that her value was based on success. Maytha was raised Muslim, but she describes her childhood experience of religion as mechanical and somewhat soulless. After resorting to atheism in her college years, she made her way back to her roots. She found a more soulful connection to Islam and Arab culture. Maytha describes this as studying a practice rather than fixating on rules.
Halal/Haram Mindset (9:50)
In Islam, things are either Halal or Haram (permissible or forbidden). Other religions like Christianity and Judaism also typically place a heavy weight on laws that dictate what is allowed and what is not. Maytha believes that part of the reason Islam is stuck in the Halal Haram mindset is due to westernization and that if we trace back far enough before colonization, religion was once more practice-based.
“We actually have to empty ourselves from a colonial framework for us to fill back in with spirit.” – Maytha Alhassen
To learn more about decolonization, check out Ep. 22 of ReRooted: Decolonizing From The Inside Out with Dr. Michael Yellow Bird
Stepping Out of Westernization (22:20)
In order to get back to the roots of spirituality and find a more soulful connection to our religion, we need to remove the westernization imposed upon religious sects. Madison Margolin ties in a discussion of psychedelics as a way to break out of frameworks and get into the deepest parts of ourselves, reality, and religion. Psychedelics were used in ancient practices for years and they can help us see our connection to a more ritual, traditional side of religion.