Sunday, December 2, 2007
Partner in peace
Now, for the even more important news that came about on Friday. I visited the mosque in San Francisco and was warmly welcomed. The best way to sum it up would be to say that it was a truly amazing experience. I got the opportunity to observe Friday prayers and see just what Islam is all about. At 12:30, an hour long sermon is delivered in Arabic. Seeing as I can only say a few basic phrases in Arabic, I listened to the Arabic to English translation generously provided in the back. Afterwards, I got to sit down in the center of the mosque and talk with the Muslim community about how they felt about some of the things happening in the world today. Just as I have always believed, they reaffirmed to me that Islam is a religion of peace and that true Muslims reject religious violence, whether it be against westerners or their own people. I brought up the subject of Iraq and the religious violence that is happening over there, and they exlained that there really is no difference between Sunni and Shia. My hosts were Sunni, but they said that Shia families come in to pray on a regular basis, something the you're not going to hear about in the media too often. I also talked about terrorism and their thoughts on groups like Al-Qaeda, Hamas, and Hezbollah. There answer was simple: It's political, meaning that many of these groups have a political ideology that has developed over the years. Its important to point out that there is nothing in the Koran that encourages religious violence, hatred, or attacking innocent people. My hosts also voiced their concerns about how many ignorant people, such as some conservative commentators, have stated that Islam is not a religion of peace and calls for the use of violence to bring about conversions. When I was there, I would like to make absolutely clear that nowhere in the Masjid did I hear about anything like that. Muslims are indeed peaceful people and want what we all want: peace and prosperity throughout the world. I shared with them my plans for becoming a writer and how I want to help make the world a better place, and they told me that they fully support my plans and believe it is a noble cause. They encouraged me to write an op-ed about my experience and I plan to do just that. Islam is truly a beautiful and peaceful religion and I encourage anyone who wants to learn more about it to contact the local Muslim community. It is by understanding each other we can all work together to help make the world a better place.