It was only a few days ago that I posted on the importance of maintaining good manners when discussing religion with others. The following day, I was resoundingly put to the test on this very issue! Alhamdilulah, fortunately I have thought about this issue a great deal (long before posting on it) and was thankfully fully conscious of myself and the situation as it was taking place, which prevented me from reacting in the wrong way. Indeed, it was clear to me that God was putting me to the test – I understood the concept in theory, now how about in practice? In the midst of the situation, I was reminded of one of the first verses of Quran I have memorized:
“Ahasiba an nas an yutraku an yakulu amana wa hum la yuftanoon?”
“Do people think they will be left alone after saying, “We believe,” and not be tested? (29:2)
Islam is not merely a philosophy that we can spend all our time pondering and use its wisdom to analyze situations and circumstances – it is much more than that. After a great deal of thought, reflection, and understanding, we must then put our knowledge to the test by living it out and practicing it in real life.
The specific situation in which I was put to the test involved a friend of mine from undergrad on Facebook, of all places. My friend had made a comment in opposition of the NYC mosque on his status, and some of his friends commented with supportive, ignorant remarks. Normally I don’t get involved in debates on Facebook because the opportunity for misunderstanding and hurt feelings is quite high (the most important communication tool is nonverbal communication, which is nonexistent online!). However, because I knew my friend as a reasonable and open-minded person, I decided to provide some facts. Here is the exchange below:
My friend: They could’ve chosen any other site in the country to build the super mosque and I wouldn’t have a problem with it. Does it really have to be in Manhattan? At Ground Zero? Is that not a thinly-disguised middle finger/victory sign? If it’s acceptance they want, this would seem to be the wrong way to go.
Person A: I posted something similar on my status as well. I think it’s crazy!
Person B: yikessss!
Person C (another friend of mine whom I thought was reasonable): I agree with you (name of friend)!
Person D: Amen, yo.
Person E: Do the classy thing?
Person F: Revenge, American style… Chuck E Cheese’s of Mecca
Person F: Thinly-disguised middle finger? I think it’s the spike of the football in the endzone followed by the Ickey Shuffle.
Person G: nah…. we need a hooters in Mecca, and strip clubs in every Saudi village, and a Bob Jones University in Ryiadh..
1. Extremist terrorists are responsible for 9/11. The 90% + of the rest of 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide CONDEMN acts of terrorism and 9/11 in particular.
2. The Quran expressly prohibits the murder of innocent life (chp 5 v32)….
3. Those building the mosque also condemn the 9/11 attacks (see their website: http://www.cordobainitiative.org/).
4. Several Muslims also died as victims in the 9/11 attacks, and a mosque inside the towers was destroyed as well.
5. bin Laden and other terrorists would happily murder the leadership of this mosque as imam Feisal Abdul Rauf is Sufi, not Wahabi.
6. They are not building it on ground zero itself.
7. This mosque is nothing new; there are other mosques in the area: the imam for the new mosque has been at another mosque 12 blocks from ground zero for the past 20+ years.
8. Muslims have had a strong presence in NYC for over 100 years.
9. In sum, these Muslims have nothing to do with 9/11. Building a mosque in NYC is just like building anything else there.
Hope that helps clear up any confusion, misunderstandings, or disinformation. 🙂
Person F: Yea! A wacky liberal has been drawn out of the bushes. (like a moth to a flame) I’m grabbing the popcorn. This is about to get real entertaining. Ladies and Gentlemen….herrrrrrreeeeeeeee’s (Person G)!
Person G: (My name), it is blatently, clearly, obvious, that YOU, are the one furthering that which you CLAIM, to discourage..
When do we get the David Duke Museum in Selma, or the Julian Stryker hall of remembrance near Auschwitz?
Or the Conference on ho…w Eicmann and Mengele were just misunderstood, to be held in Tel Aviv?
Person G: of course….right on cue…..
Person G: I’ll be okay with it, when and only when, this is allowed first….
Person G: 1. Muslims…. were responsible
2. Wrong….. I know it too, your quote reference doesn’t mention it ….
3. What about the founder not condemning Hezzbollah….
4. What about the Jews and Christians murdered by Muslims on 9/11, including many of personal Colleagues?
5. Not murder, praise…. That’s Usama and the other goat fuckers would do.
6. Like that matters.. and yes, you know it… deep down, you do…. You can pretend and be hypocritical otherwise, but deep deep deep down, you know.. its a slap to our nation, which is, JUDEO….CHRISTIAN….. SORRY, ITS TRUE….. DEAL WITH IT!!!!!!!!
7. YES…. IT IS NEW… YOU TWIT!!
8. That doesn’t make it right..
9. Trust but verify….. Since they have proven beyond any shadow that they can’t be trusted, why should we bother…
HERE’S THE DIRTY LITTLE SECRET.THAT NNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! IS TALKING ABOUT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
if…………….. they can’t build a mosque there, then the same people can tell those who made this country, our fellow Christian and Jewish brothers, when and where they , can and can’t hold worship, pray, etc…..
That’s what anti american, Muslim apologizing, jew and christian hating, intellectual liberal progressive types want and desire….
We have nothing to apologize for and everything to be proud of and why not??????????????
Born and living in the greatest country founded on principles founded by god, not………….. a used carpet salesman.
My friend: (My name) — You don’t find it to be in any way distasteful? You don’t see how it would be perceived as such?
Me: Goodness. 😀
(My friend’s name): I really don’t, just like I wouldn’t find it distasteful for a church to be built next to any of the number of bombed abortion clinics or sites where abortion clinic providers were murdered. There is a stark difference between marginal, extremist Christians and mainstream Christians. The same is the case with this mosque. It is important to differentiate between extremists, who exist in all ideologies, and the majority of everyone else.
The real issue here is simply ignorance. Ignorance is the true enemy, as it causes a great deal of harm to others and most of all, to yourself.
Person G: Precisely, please recognize yours….
Ok so a lot of issues can be deduced from this exchange. First, I should mention that when I read the exchange before commenting, I felt so shocked that two of my friends would participate in such ignorance; people who are college educated and open-minded. In fact, as I was trying to write my initial response, I had a hard time even typing because I was shaking from the anxiety (I HATE HATE conflict and often start having serious panic attacks). Nevertheless, I wanted to present the facts from the original sources (i.e. the Quran, the website of the proposed mosque, and so on), since it was clear all the commentators are using secondary sources (which are often ripe with bias, misinformation, or omission of facts) as a basis to form their opinions. I also tried to end on a positive note, as God has said that we should wish others peace, and to always give excuses for their behavior (by attempting to frame my remarks as being offered for the purpose of clearing up confusion or disinformation through no fault of their own – the problem is the information they have, not them personally).
Yet, you can see for yourselves what sort of derogatory attacks I received in response. Surprisingly, when I read the responses later, I wasn’t breaking out in a panic attack, I was amused and calm. The truth reveals itself every time. The facts that I provided were not in dispute; instead, attacks on my personal character were rampant. There were gross assumptions made with no basis whatsoever. I just hoped that my friends would read that and feel very uncomfortable because they know who I am. I was probably the most uptight, conservative person they knew when we were in school together (they all went to bars and parties while I refused to even be in a place that served alcohol – and most definitely never touched alcohol! This was all when I was still a strictly practicing Christian). My friends know very well that I am none of those things I was accused of.
Nevertheless, I refrained from responding to Person G, as he had revealed himself as being close-minded, foolish, and uninterested in an intellectual discussion of the truth. Imam Jafar as-Sadiq has said that arguing with a fool is like putting wood on a fire, and the Quran tells us to deal with these types of people by simply wishing them peace and walking away. Further, any response to Person G would have simply been a repeat of all the points I made in my original comment, so I had nothing more to add. Addressing his personal attacks would only deviate the discussion from the main point, and since I don’t know him, I have no interest in or need for defending myself.
Instead, I chose to address my friend, since it was for his sake that I posted my comment in the first place, and because he was the only one who responded respectfully.
Of course, Person G had to respond yet again, in an attempt to jab at me once more to get me to respond to him. I was also a bit disappointed that my friend didn’t respond again, especially since I felt he should have spoken up against the accusations being made against me as he is the one who actually knows me personally.
But, in the end, I walked away from the incident feeling very positive about the experience, and happy that God had enabled me to carry out His injunction to discuss faith with the best of manners. I knew that I had spoken the truth and nothing of my own. I also felt confident that there were many others on Facebook, my friends, my friends’ friends, and the friends of the other commentators, could see our exchange via the news feed. The spectators and people on the periphery should be the ones we always keep in mind in any debate we have. There may be no hope whatsoever for the person we are talking to, but for those on the edges, listening in, those are the ones who may very well be seriously considering what you have said. It becomes even more important to remain in control and refrain from getting angry and firing back insults, as once we do that, the spectators will conclude that we are just like the one we’re discussing with, we’re both wrong, and may stop listening. But, if you keep yourself at a higher level, stand by your own code of ethics and standards, you will absolutely attract attention and respect.
It was a really good lesson for me, and I thank God for giving me this opportunity to put my words to action. I am also grateful that it took place in a written format, as in verbal conflict I typically get too anxious to respond very well!