Insulting Muhammad in downtown Chicago!

It was a Friday. I was walking to the downtown mosque for the weekly collective prayer. As I was waiting for the light to cross the street, the man standing beside me started talking, or preaching. He was nicely dressed and looked decent, I looked at him and smiled, may be one of those smiles that try to say, thank you, I respect what you have to say, but I am not interested! Then I thought hearing him say: “Muhammad is down”. Then it was clear, he came closer and enthusiastically acted as if he was crushing something under his shoe, repeating: “Muhammad is down, Allah is going down”. It was a little surprise. I came across many well-meaning preachers before who stand in the streets and talk about Jesus, but I knew that none of them would publicly insult another religion; even if they believed that Allah and Muhammad are going down, they still wouldn’t say it out loud in the street.

For a while I thought the man wasn’t in his right mind. And for some other reason I didn’t feel at all offended, even though I believe in Allah/God and believe that Muhammad is a messenger, and a role model for all humans. I even thought it was funny! And to make it even funnier, I turned to him as he was insulting Muhammad and said: “Well, I am Muhammad” Then I looked at him again, smiled and repeated louder: “My name is Muhammad!” As I was now crossing the street and leaving him behind I looked at his face, trying to see the effect of my words. I thought, the guy is either not very normal, or he judged by my look that I was Muslim, and he was deliberately saying those words to me.

I have no intention whatsoever to use this little incident to play victim and give a proof that Muslims are not well liked in America. Even though they are, by some people. It’s just a human nature. I know it. I don’t think it’s right, but it’s a fact of life. The same stupidity can also be found in some of my people (Arabs, Muslims, Egyptians). People are all the same, everywhere. They have the same choices to make, no matter what color they wear or what country and culture they grew in. For an Arab, the choice can be whether or not to hate all Americans, because they hate Bush and the American foreign policy. For an American of today, the choice can be whether or not to think that all Muslims are violent, beat their wives and hate Americans for no reason. Well, a few decades ago a white American had a different choice: whether or not to go with the flow and disrespect a black human being because of the color of his or her skin! People are really the same, and the choices are the same, just with different circumstances and different names.

The Quran says that God made people different, and had He wanted to make them all into one nation, He could, but He is testing them with one another. I strongly believe in this concept. I don’t hold a grudge against this guy for insulting Allah and Muhammad, gosh I believe he deserves pity. I also believe that there is a lot of good in this country and its people, and I am confident that more and more of them will respect my religion if they just got a chance to “know better”. Knowledge. It’s a true savior! However some people will remain ignorant, no matter how much information they accumulate. Knowledge is a quality of the heart and the mind, hand in hand. I remember how the prophet Muhammad used to pray God to protect him from knowledge that would remain useless and from which he wouldn’t benefit. People need education. But nowadays we tend to forget that there is education of the mind, and yet there is one education that is the real base; it’s the one that makes education of the mind ever useful and good. We need education of the heart. It’s why God sent all those Messengers and revealed His Books.

Like learning a language, or studying for a degree, we don’t expect it to happen overnight, nor do we think that we will learn Spanish the moment we are told the rules of grammar and meaning of words. It will take time, and it will take practice. The same applies to educating our hearts and building our character. It starts with a conviction that, for example, being mean to others is no good, that we really should treat others the way we like to be treated. Once we know that, we will start a journey of falling and getting up, practicing, making a mistake then realizing that we made a mistake and committing not to make it again, etc. It’s the best education we will give ourselves, and it will get us the highest “degree” of closeness to Truth and Good/God!

Typical Western stereotypes

I used to think and say that one of the biggest failures of the Western civilization is its inability or unwillingness to understand and appreciate Islam. I wonder how did such a civilization so fond of knowledge and scientific (meaning, among other things, objective) research misunderstand this religion when the resources are this easily accessible. Of course there are too many honest westerners who didn’t just listen to the bad press about Islam and they did their homework and declared their appreciation of the religion and the culture, and many even converted to Islam and accepted it as a universal truth, but this still seems to be the exception.

The reason I am mentioning this issue today is a recent online experience that I had with the very common accusations that Islam is so used to get in this culture. I was reading a post by Donald Trump in Trump University blog (it’s really good, check it out), and in one of the comments, a reader says things about how Muslims are involved in wars and killing Christians, etc. Frankly, I was irritated and decided to comment on the comment, and I am copying here what I have said. I was somewhat overwhelmed and wasn’t sure how to give a brief but good answer. I just wrote what came to my mind, without planning. You can see the post written by Trump and the comments, including mine and the one I was replying to, here.


“how you explain the 1000 years of war in Middle East you*re part of?”

“So the question is who what envy as long that as far as Pakistan the christians are killed?”

I know this was not a post about religions. But reading the comment written by our friend Daniela and approved by the moderators of the blog made me think of commenting on her comment.

First, I did my best to understand the comment. English is not my first language and I cannot know if this is what caused the difficulty I had in understanding the comment. So hopefully I didn’t misunderstand what Daniela exactly meant.

I am a Muslim and I know exactly why I have chosen to be Muslim.

Daniela is talking about the 1000 years of war in the Middle East Muslims have been part of. The question gives me the impression that our friend is implying that Muslims loves war. Then the second question is implying the same, it’s talking about Christians being killed in Pakistan.

It can take a book to reply to these questions. I will try to use my “right to answer” as a Muslim in the most brief of ways.

I suggest that our friend be open minded to the truth and the truth only. We all have been raised up believing certain things about “the Others”. We should read and learn and find out for ourselves how true is anything we believe in by listening to the media or whoever.

I suggest our friend read a translation of the Quran itself, the holy book of Muslims, which we have in the original language of the book, Arabic, and of which we have only ONE version, and see what it says about war and other values. The Quran states, for one example, that killing ONE SOUL is like killing all of humanity. We as Muslims are not allowed to go war UNLESS WE ARE BEING ATTACKED.

Now here is something else that can be a pleasant surprise. Muslims are ordered, if going to war, not to kill a woman, a child, an elderly, a person retired to worship God, no matter what religion they follow, and not even to destroy a tree or destroy a house. They are only allowed to kill those in direct war with them.

Muslims were killed, by thousands, in Bosnia and in Kosovo. Sometimes up to 8000 Muslims were killed at once by Christians. We, Muslims, never said that Christians killed us. We are ordered in the Quran never to accuse one person of what another person did, even if they belonged to the same group.

Muslims paved the way for the civilization that we are living today. All that is found in history books for whoever wants to read and learn. I will briefly mention that sciences like Algebra and Chemistry take their names from Arabic, they were born in the time of the Islamic civilization. The Islamic rule in Spain, which lasted 800 years, is known as the Golden Age for Jews and Christians. Arabs and Muslims were the first in history to invent hospitals, the first was established in Baghdad.

I can’t really go on, it takes books. I would just like to remind Daniela and others who think that Muslims are the only terrorists that in Hiroshima and Nagasaki alone more than a quarter of a million CIVILIANS were killed. This was not done by Muslims. In the dark ages of Europe, scientists were BURNT alive if they said something that the priests didn’t approve!!!!

I would love that everyone will consider carefully what they believe about whose who are different from them, especially what they believe about Islam. They are keeping themselves from knowing and understanding a treasure.

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