"Not to know is bad, not to wish to know is much worse."
A couple of years ago, I was in a training session in Edina. The instructor, who was from Texas, went out of his way to be nice to me during the session. Every now and then, he would pause as though he wanted to ask me a question that wasn’t training-related, but he would change his mind.
Toward the end of the session, he found the courage and came to where I was sitting to ask me what was on his mind. I pointed to my hijab, as I thought he was going to ask why I wear the hijab. So I prepared myself to answer that question. I was a bit surprised when he blurted out: "Are Muslims trying to take over America?"
I discussed the matter with him, but he kept mentioning Qur'anic teachings he’d heard that tell Muslims to dominate non Muslims wherever they are.
Later, I exchanged emails with him and promised to email him with information to help clarify his concerns, particularly his belief that the Qur'an teaches hatred and violence.
Below are the email exchanges between us. Information that might point to his identity has been removed, and I also changed his name to John.
"Hi John, I am the Muslim woman in one of the ...training...You asked regarding Muslims and coexistence and I told you then I would send you an article regarding the issue.
I got busy as my father recently passed away and I just saw the note regarding emailing you the document.
It is attached and may answer questions you have. I am also a board member for the Islamic Resource Group.
If you are ever in need of a speaker for a group locally - we can send a speaker or we can refer you to someone in Texas to answer questions. Coexistence requires dialogue.
You can also check out www.zaytuna.org for further information."
He then responded to me ...
"Please accept my sympathies for the passing of your father.
Thank you so much for remembering me and the information.
It might be interesting for you to read a paperback by Mark Steyn (I think) called America Alone. Lots of statistics and his prediction of the growth of Islam in Europe. He has received a lot of negative press, but there is probably some truth in everything.
Thanks again, and I hope to see you in another class some day. --John"
Thanks for your kind words regarding my father.
If you check Steyn's website - it is very self-promoting. In times like these, a lot of people rise up and pretend to be heroes wanting to save the world or their group from whoever. They throw some truths here and there and voila - they prophecy doom and destruction and incite fear and hatred - and they are superman, if only people will listen.
My faith teaches me, that if the day of judgment arrives, the believers are building trees.
Because truth is not bits there and here, but a light that allows us to listen and understand reality one layer at a time when we are emotionally and mentally centered and not incited.
Why not stop at a Muslim center and engage Muslims instead face to face and drink some tea and coffee and discuss your fears or concerns if you have any?"
That was my suggestion to John, and this is my suggestion to anyone who has fears or concerns about Islam taking over the world.
I have been informally studying and reading on Islam for 19 years. I am not an expert or a scholar and I intend to continue to study Islam. I am not qualified to give fatwas or refute them. Some verses are clear to every Muslim to understand on his or her own. Yet, some verses require me to go to scholars to understand and get clarifications. Some verses require intensive study and research to understand. Some verses are not within my scope of knowledge to understand, but I intend to learn and study when the time permits.
I take classes at Qibla, formerly known as Sunnipath. There are a few classes that would be very good for people to attend to better understand Islam. The classes just started for this semester.
One interesting class is Understanding Islam. This short course will provide an overview of the major concepts and fundamental questions answered by Islam. Non-Muslims and recent converts (within the last year) are eligible for a 75% discount.
The first course I took at Qibla was Journey to Allah. That was my first encounter with the teachings of Habib Ali al Jifri, the author of the lessons in this course. Since then, I have been researching his teachings every chance I get. I learned that most of my journey to understand Islam did not still prepare me to understand how to relate to the Divine or how to understand His signs.
Throughout my journey and independent study, I assumed that we can arrive at faith through thinking and reasoning, and processing data as I am a programmer/analyst and analysis is my field. I read independently hundreds of books if not more, yet as a holistic researcher, I came at more questions than answers. I couldn't figure out why my research wasn't reconciling with each other. Some authors were quoting Prophet Muhammad, upon him peace and blessings, but with the thought processes of Pharoah or the emotional intelligence of Satan. Although the argument raised was intelligent, the argument was not reconciling within itself. I continued to research as I felt something was not right.
However, I finally came to understand that the first step to understanding faith is first to be sincere and true, and not to analyze and debate. Reasoning and analysis have their place, but they are tools for the sincere and true and not an end. Faith is not a list of facts or data, but understanding that grows the more an individual calls him/herself to account, to be sincere, to be true, to repent and repair the harm. No individual or group is immune from doing evil.
Like myself and many Muslims, people are familiar with the laws of Islam, and not the spiritual view of the world. Respecting my previous journey but deciding to take a new direction, I advise that it is essential to first understand the spiritual dimension, to truly begin to understand Islam. I encourage people to study and seek knowledge on Islam and their fears and concerns will be clarified, layer by layer, over time.