Mom, dad, I could’ve been a Muslim.

Every once in a while the fact that we’re all human slaps you in the face.

Recently I shared a Facebook post about the fears of American Muslims now that Donald Trump is in power. (You can see the video here)

Someone commented: “While all Muslims may not be violent, if they follow the teachings of their religion that potential is always there. They are not just like everyone else on the street.”

And down the rabbit hole of religious intolerance we go.

There are many counter-arguments to that simplistic viewpoint, but the fact that so many people in North America embrace that reductionist meme is troubling. Why do they do it? The short answer is that we all see things from our own  viewpoints.

I grew up in a Christian household. I went to Sunday school. The people I knew – my mother, father, neighbours and family – were good people. The lessons I learned about life from my stern but loving father (who I was always a little bit scared of) and from my caring and compassionate mother were wrapped in the warm cloak of family, church and social rituals like Easter and Christmas.

When I grew older I questioned some of the claims of Christianity. I stopped believing everything in the bible, but Christianity was still there in the faces of family, in the holidays we all shared together. When I read about the bombings and killings in Northern Ireland and about sexual abuse of children by Roman Catholic priests, I distanced myself and my family from those people. What they did was not Christian.

We live in a primarily Christian country, and almost everyone, including the media, agreed that what those people did was their personal action, and that Christianity itself was not violent and was not a religion of sexual deviance…

—-

WAIT A MINUTE!!!!

I apologize. Let me start over from the beginning.

—-

I grew up in a Muslim household. I went to the mosque every week. The people I knew – my mother, father, neighbours and family – were good people. The lessons I learned about life from my stern but loving father (who I was always a little bit scared of) and from my caring and compassionate mother were wrapped in the warm cloak of family, worship and social rituals like Ramadan and Eid.

When I grew older I questioned some of the claims of Islam. I stopped believing everything in the Koran, but Islam was still there in the faces of family, in the holidays we all shared together. When I learned about the killings of Christians in Egypt, and the beheadings of reporters by ISIS,  I distanced myself and my family from those people. What they did was not Muslim.

We live in a largely non-Muslim country, and almost everyone, even the media, agreed that what those people did was a religious action, and that Islam itself is a violent religion…


In today’s North America many supposedly good people unquestioningly believe and distribute material that promotes hatred and misunderstanding about Islam.

They’re not all vicious or political opportunists. Sometimes they’re just people who are so steeped in their own religion or viewpoint that they cannot open their minds and hearts to other perspectives.

The only way that we will ever understand other people and cultures is to understand them first as human beings. Just as importantly, we have to understand that we as human beings are primarily shaped by our own culture.

Mom, dad, I could’ve been a Muslim. 

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s