Belly dance and religion

chryssanthi sahar

New member
Hello everybody.

We had a very interesting discussion about the relation of the image of belly dance to religion in the thread "national attitudes to belly dance and belly dancers". That discussion unfortunately started going out of hand, so the moderators of this forum had to stop it. I think though that it is worth to continue it, this time in a more objective and less emotional way. Is anybody else interested in continuing this discussion? And do you think, that this is the right forum for such a discussion, or should we move it to "off topic"?
 

Tarik Sultan

New member
Hello everybody.

We had a very interesting discussion about the relation of the image of belly dance to religion in the thread "national attitudes to belly dance and belly dancers". That discussion unfortunately started going out of hand, so the moderators of this forum had to stop it. I think though that it is worth to continue it, this time in a more objective and less emotional way. Is anybody else interested in continuing this discussion? And do you think, that this is the right forum for such a discussion, or should we move it to "off topic"?
:( Okay I'll behave...but she started it....
 

Tarik Sultan

New member
:lol: :lol:

I think it's an excellent idea for a topic chryssanthi. And perhaps one that should be here since it's likely to be quite passionate ;)
Okay, on the serious tip. The negative reaction in the Middle East is not just against dancers, but female performers of any kind in general. Likewise, it isn't just Muslims who object to public dancers, but christians too.

A few weeks ago, my my student and I were going home after our regular gig in an Egyptian club. By coinsidence, one of the girls who saw our show was on our train. She even lives in my student's neighborhood, so they walked home together after we got out the train. Once I was gone the girl, who claimed that she believed the dance was an art, started asking her when she was going to quit. She told her that she had no plans to do so any time soon. What about when you have kids? What about your husband how can he like this and on and on she went.

I have also done shows for Coptic organizations where the archbiushop was present. while no one had a problem with me, the girls had to wait till the Bishop left the room before they danced. He could not watch them.

I have also done shows where there were Hasidic men in the audience. Once again, they were fine when I danced, but when the lady came out, they turned their heads and didn't even steal a glance in her direction. They didn't even so much as look at her feet, so that pretty much tells you what they think about dancers.

This attitude has existed in this part of the world long before Islam, or christianity, or before most people knew what a Jew was. During the Roman era, entertainers although admired, were considered the scum of the earth and it was a disgrace to be one let alone marry one.

In Ancient Egypt, dancers were part of the servant class. and lathough they were enjoyed, they were not respected or highly regarded.
 

Gabi

New member
:( Okay I'll behave...but she started it....
HEY!!!! That was my line Mr. T. Sultan :mad: :lol:

I'm actually interested in seeing it continue, ya can get a lot out of these type of discussions and they keep forums lively :pray:

I'm not much good in the cultural/religious aspects of it except what I observe. My own "labeled, offended and designated" meter is set absurdly high. Basically I figure if people have stupid attitudes that I don't like it's their problem unless they are in a position to mess with me or mine. Of course, dancers are "mine". So there is still a dilema because I find that I don't fall in line with most of the dancers concerns regarding belly dance.

I am lock stock and barrel Pagan - that means I get to admire and respect all other religions but I don't have to follow their rules :lol: most convenient at times. I have found that there are a LOT of Pagans of all types in BD and actually Pagans also can fall into the fundamentalist tight arse crud. I do not like any fundamentalist religions :mad: .

To me the whole "whore/guys shouldn't/women shouldn't" stuff is kind of *meh*. That doesn't mean I'm not sympathic to those that are hurt by the stereotypes.

I do think that in life, how we handle one thing is often basically how we handle many things, therefore all things can provide a venue for handling stuff better :cool: and worrying about whether someone thinks you are a stripper a whore or a guy doing something they think is distastful is a collossal waste of time. Any of us who live in a culture and with a religion that at least can only have opinions but not actually control our actions are very lucky.

As the sewage treatment plant engineers are fond of saying "one man's shit is another's bread and butter". Believing that, I don't care (well not that much) if someone is doing something I think is awful or if they think totally wrong of something I'm doing

Basically when you go out with total conviction in what you are doing you do more to represent your point of view than any other way. That's not to say we shouldn't "educate" others when the mood strikes us - just don't get yourself in an unpleasant state when the "educating" doesn't take.

I feel that in restrictive religions belly dancing is frankly the least of the problems in that environment, how it is viewed is merely a part of a whole set of beliefs and restrictions.

I hope there is an automatic profanity filter or I could be in trouble :pray:
 

Lydia

New member
belly dance and religion

Hi all,do we realy have to have this threat?? religion is between you and god and nobody else business ......if everybody in the world just practise it this way the world would be a much nicer place ......it is nobody,s business if you pray standing up ,bending or sitting down.......and a private matter.....please lets go back talking about bellydancing and make people happy when performing and please our selves when dancing....there are to many problems and wars over religions...let us try to make a differance and let religion be everybodys own choice it wil make this world a better place........happy holidays Lydia
 

Aisha Azar

New member
Belly dance/religion

Dear Group,
Being a Panthiest, I believe that God is manifested in everything. I may or may not have an understanding of the purpose of all of God's countless manifestations of itself, but I am just a small molecule who knows my own place. As such, belly dance is just as sacred an activity as any other.
(HHMMM.... Do I smell fire and brimstone...???).
Regards,
A'isha
 

TribalDancer

New member
Dear Group,
Being a Panthiest, I believe that God is manifested in everything. I may or may not have an understanding of the purpose of all of God's countless manifestations of itself, but I am just a small molecule who knows my own place. As such, belly dance is just as sacred an activity as any other.
(HHMMM.... Do I smell fire and brimstone...???).
Regards,
A'isha
What a lovely sentiment, Aisha.

There isn't a religious category which could define me yet, but this description sounds somewhat like my leanings, but with a Christian slant.
 

Aisha Azar

New member
Religion, etc.

Dear Tribaldancer,
It's my religious philosophy. I belive that there is not one thought, word, deed or any other kind of manifestation that is not God experiencing Itself. Though my understanding might be limited, my faith is boundless! ( This philosophy also means that all religions are "right" in that they are manifestations of God, too.)
Regards,
A'isha
 

Rebecca_

New member
This is an interesting topic for two reasons: 1) It seems like a lot of religions are not tolerant of bellydance 2) Bellydance is part of religion and/or religious worship for some. So here's my perspective: I was raised Roman Catholic, went to catholic school, and was an altar server in the church up until I went off to college. Nonetheless, I would never let it be known in church that I bellydance. Although there are notable exceptions, I've found that people in my religion tend to be closed minded. Sure, lots of people have all these misconceptions about bellydance, but I'd never get a chance to defend myself to members of my parish.
Everyone has a right to believe or not believe what they feel is right, and I wish more people would respect that. Additionally, I find it upsetting how many closed minded and generally unaccepting people exist in the world today.
And as for bellydance as part of religion itself, I had a friend who is pagan, and saw bellydance as a sacred(like A'isha said) form of worship of the goddess. So in some cases when people scorn bellydancers on a religious basis they are in fact attempting to suppress other religions.
 

Gabi

New member
In keeping with the theme of all being a part of one and one a part of all - this is why I say the way one handles one thing is often the way one handles most everything.

As case in point with religions - those religions that do not approve Belly Dance often also do not approve any kind of dance nor many other things that can be found within belly dance, hello Evangelical Christians who don't approve of Yoga either - big time. What is found offensive in dancing is a microcosme or macrocosme of what is found offensive in other aspects of those religions i.e., exhuberant displays especially by women, independence by women, exposure of the body and movement that can be construed as sexual is self explanatory.
 

chryssanthi sahar

New member
As case in point with religions - those religions that do not approve Belly Dance often also do not approve any kind of dance nor many other things that can be found within belly dance, hello Evangelical Christians who don't approve of Yoga either - big time. What is found offensive in dancing is a microcosme or macrocosme of what is found offensive in other aspects of those religions i.e., exhuberant displays especially by women, independence by women, exposure of the body and movement that can be construed as sexual is self explanatory.
Very well said Gabi:clap: This is also my opinion about the matter. The more suppressive against sexuality and sensuality a religion is, the more it abuses any form of dance and generally physical expression (especially non verbal physical expression). This is relevant not only for female physical expression, but also for male. If the body is an enemy (and it is in most religions and not only the monotheistic ones), then people feel obliged to fight against it.
There had been a time in my own life, when I had to choose between a religion and the Oriental Dance. I was (similar like Tarik. Hey brother:D ) a member of a protestant fundamentalist church (rare for a Greek. Actually I am Greek Orthodox, but at that time I got involved in protestant fundamentalism) many years ago and it happened, that I started dealing with belly dancing at that time. At first nobody said anything, because nobody knew anything about this dance. But when the pastor got "informed", he spoke very directly to me and told me, that he considers it a big sin to deal with such a dance and that I had to stop immediately. We had a big debate, where I recited different verses of the Bible which prove, that God has nothing against dancing, but he just didn't want to change his mind. When he saw, that he cannot win the argumentative battle he just used his power as a preacher and told me, that either I stop dancing immediately, or I'll get kicked out of the church:mad: Guess what I did?:lol: Fortunately I had started getting very critical about that church and it's beliefs also before the problem with the belly dance popped up, so that stupid debate just gave me the final conformation, that it was time to leave that fundamentalist bastion. And I am really happy I did:D
 

chryssanthi sahar

New member
Hi all,do we realy have to have this threat?? religion is between you and god and nobody else business ......if everybody in the world just practise it this way the world would be a much nicer place ......it is nobody,s business if you pray standing up ,bending or sitting down.......and a private matter.....please lets go back talking about bellydancing and make people happy when performing and please our selves when dancing....there are to many problems and wars over religions...let us try to make a differance and let religion be everybodys own choice it wil make this world a better place........happy holidays Lydia
Dear Lydia.
The title of this thread is not "personal religious practice", but "belly dance and religion". So nobody has to tell what religion he is practicing. Maybe you are lucky and you haven't ever experienced any problems related to your profession as a dancer, caused by religious fanatics. But there are some people in this forum who did (like myself) and these people are interesting in talking about the subject. This doesn't make our world worse, it just makes us more realistic about the world:)
 

Dev

New member
Dear Chryssanthi and Gabi
Excellent post.

This is what Ramin Jahanbegloo an Iranian philosopher said when he was asked about multiculturalism in Islamic Society ....

Islam, so often seen as the West's 'other' and depicted as a mono-cultural and intolerant religion, itself has centuries of experience of hosting and regulating a diverse cultural mosaic. But in today's world we are not only concerned with the concept of multiculturalism but also with the idea of dialogical pluralism which is something much more. It's something that makes democracy truly unique among all other political systems. That is, dialogical pluralism is a platform for people to speak about the ways in which they view the world and try to make it more decent. It's an environment of dialogue and mutual respect. 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.


Very well said Gabi:clap: This is also my opinion about the matter. The more suppressive against sexuality and sensuality a religion is, the more it abuses any form of dance and generally physical expression (especially non verbal physical expression). This is relevant not only for female physical expression, but also for male. If the body is an enemy (and it is in most religions and not only the monotheistic ones), then people feel obliged to fight against it.
There had been a time in my own life, when I had to choose between a religion and the Oriental Dance. I was (similar like Tarik. Hey brother:D ) a member of a protestant fundamentalist church (rare for a Greek. Actually I am Greek Orthodox, but at that time I got involved in protestant fundamentalism) many years ago and it happened, that I started dealing with belly dancing at that time. At first nobody said anything, because nobody knew anything about this dance. But when the pastor got "informed", he spoke very directly to me and told me, that he considers it a big sin to deal with such a dance and that I had to stop immediately. We had a big debate, where I recited different verses of the Bible which prove, that God has nothing against dancing, but he just didn't want to change his mind. When he saw, that he cannot win the argumentative battle he just used his power as a preacher and told me, that either I stop dancing immediately, or I'll get kicked out of the church:mad: Guess what I did?:lol: Fortunately I had started getting very critical about that church and it's beliefs also before the problem with the belly dance popped up, so that stupid debate just gave me the final conformation, that it was time to leave that fundamentalist bastion. And I am really happy I did:D
 

Lydia

New member
Hi Chrissanty,i am verry much aware of fanatics and religions,and how people think towardts beiing a bellydancer because i live and perform now for more than 25 years in the middle east and hade my share of disapprovel from people around me,so that is not realy it......i dont know how to explain it ,perhaps it,s just me, i feel somehow its taking the passion out of dancing or fun,when you have to think about or connect it with religion...i dont know how to explain it,.....??? sorry i am not very clear on expressing meself on this topic.But perhaps it because i am living in the middle east and so tired from constant beeing confronted with war and religion on a daily base around me ,....So my dancing is realy something so dear to me and a window out of this constant repeating conversations that everybody has around you when you live here,.....Most people dont even have hobby,s here and talking war and religion and it is a daily habbit for most people,from the man in the bakery till the waiters in the restaurant ,my musicians in the dressingroom, enz....So perhaps it,s a personal thing for me,and i was thinking its so cool to have a place where i can escape from it ,a place where people discussing dancing what is our passion....sorry i was just selfish.....i hope you have a great day....and happy dancing hope you are performing newyears eve?? best regards Lydia
 

Salome

Administrator
Greetings,

several members told me that the national attitudes toward belly dance topic had been locked. I thought they were mistaken as I just moved it from one forum to another. But it indeed got locked. I'm not sure if I mistakenly did that or another moderator did. Sorry, that was not intentional. In any event This thread topic is a continuence of the previous so it all worked out.
 

Tarik Sultan

New member
Greetings,

several members told me that the national attitudes toward belly dance topic had been locked. I thought they were mistaken as I just moved it from one forum to another. But it indeed got locked. I'm not sure if I mistakenly did that or another moderator did. Sorry, that was not intentional. In any event This thread topic is a continuence of the previous so it all worked out.
The moderator locked it because the discussion was getting not only hot but toxic and I ended up telling someone he needed to seek therapy because he was emotionally......well you know. Turns out it was a good decision because it gave us a chance to pull back and get back to normal.
 

chryssanthi sahar

New member
Dear Lydia.

I understand what you are talking about. Probably if I would live under similar circumstances, I would also not feel the need to talk about religious matters:) But here in Europe things are different. People talk rather too few than too much about religion and I find it great, that this forum is so multifaceted, so that people who are interested in a topic such as religion have the opportunity to discuss about it. I find the big variety of sub forums really wonderful, it is something for everybody here and that's why I love this forum:D
I wish you a wonderful New Year's Eve and a very happy New Year (and hopefully you'll get to know some people who don't talk only about religion and war:) ).
By the way, my daughter's name is also Lydia:D
 
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