These days on the news I hear the word Muslim and Islam in the worst possible contexts one can imagine, associated with bombings, death, terrorism and hatred. I worry about my children mostly and what to tell them about their place as Muslims in this world.
This is what I tell them:
I believe that Islam is peaceful religion and that most Muslims are peaceful people very respectful of other religions. I was born to a Muslim family that practiced Islam moderately with great awareness and respect for others who were not Muslims. We celebrated Christian, Jewish and Gypsy holidays together with our neighbors. I was never thought to hate someone because they pray in different language or call their God something else. My father thought me that learning about other religions was to help me find the similarities not differences. I learned very early on that words “Esselam Aleykum”, used by Muslims to greet each other and others, are words of peace and hope for peace directed at each other. Never was I forced to study Islam above what I wanted to know. My parents thought me that there is no compulsion in Islam and wish to learn and practice must come from your heart. When I was forced to leave my country because I was shot at, deprived of normal life and labeled as unworthy of living because of being a Muslim, I could not find hatred in my heart for those who did it since they were my Christian neighbors who played with me, thought me at school and worked with me before war started. My prayer for them was to come to senses and realize what they have done and never repeat this again.
So when I see that some bad people in Islam are using Islam to promote their own little agendas and when I see others that use those bad people to rage hatred towards Muslims, it makes me really sad. I talk to my children often and tell them that it is ok that they are Muslims living in this country and that there is nothing to be ashamed of. I am not sure what is future bearing for us but I have to live my life according to what I believe and as long my children know and believe that Islam is peaceful religion that promotes life and friendships, good deeds and love for each other I am confident that their children will live to pass on the same to new generations.
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