The Long History of Arabs and Muslims in America

I recently came across a short documentary by Al Jazeera on the history of the largest Arab community in the US, located in Dearborn, Michigan:

The viewer gets a glimpse of what life was like for Arab immigrants during the Industrial Revolution, and what life is like now for present-day Arab Americans.  One thought that came to mind after watching the video was how odd it is that our media focuses so much attention on all the issues Europe is facing with Arab and Muslim immigrants while completely ignoring the large communities of immigrant Arabs and Muslims here in the US that have been living fully integrated and peacefully here alongside the rest of us for generations.  But of course, this huge oversight shouldn’t surprise anyone; after all, it’s only the shocking and horrific news that rakes in viewership and optimum profit.  And of course, good news about Muslims and Arabs certainly doesn’t fit the imperialistic agenda of our government’s foreign policy.

Muslims have also been in the US since the country’s inception.  An interesting journey undertaken by two Muslims during this Ramadhan (visiting mosques all across America) revealed the rich history of many of the mosques and Muslim communities all over the US.  Read their story here:

As the Muslim duo discovered, Muslim Americans are deeply rooted in their country and communities, and are proud, integral components of American society –  a society built by immigrants with big dreams and hopes for a better life and a better future.


Eid Mubarak!

Eid Mubarak to all my Muslim readers!  May God bless you and keep you in His protection.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Eid holiday:  Eid marks the end of the month of Ramadhan, during which Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset.  Eid for Muslims is like Christmas for Christians – it is a joyous and festive occasion in which families get together and celebrate.  It is common for extended family members and neighbors to visit each other, and it is Islamically highly recommended that one wear new clothes and perfume on Eid, and one should clean the house and burn bakhoor (incense) for barakah (blessings).  Children are often given money from their adult relatives, and malls in Muslim countries are open 24 hours in order to accommodate the overwhelming crowds.

Understandably, many Muslim students studying here in the US feel down, lonely, and homesick during Eid as they are alone in a new country in which hardly anyone even knows what Eid is, much less celebrates it!  Just imagine if you were in another country over the Christmas season yet no one celebrated Christmas!  I certainly know that I, as a former Christian, would find it difficult to spend Christmas without seeing my family, or not seeing all the bustling activity, excitement, and festiveness of the Christmas season.

Alhamdilulah, the Muslim Student Association and the Saudi Club here at my university are very active and have arranged an Eid dinner for the Muslims associated with the university.  Several of my students actually invited me to go, but I decided not to as I don’t really want to put myself in the spotlight for potential gheeba (gossip) and rumors.  I’ve experienced more than enough of that from students to last a lifetime, and would prefer to keep a low profile.  I also heard that some of the mosques around here organized a banquet for tonight and were expecting close to 2,000 people!  I was nearly speechless!!  I had NO idea there were even 200 Muslims here, let alone 2,000!  Indeed, Eid is certainly just like Christmas, as during Christmas the churches are usually packed with huge numbers of people that the regular attendees have never seen before!

InshAllah, everyone is having beautiful and blessed Eid night, and I hope that the lessons learned and improvements made during the month of Ramadhan will not be forgotten, but will instead be strengthened and built upon in the coming days and months.


After visiting sister Jnana’s blog site, I realized that I forgot to add a very important element of Eid – reflecting on the close of the month of Ramadhan through a dua (given to us from Prophet’s Muhammad’s great-grandson) bidding farewell to the holy month:!  I would strongly encourage everyone to read it as you reflect on the lessons learned and the purifying struggles and hardships faced this past Ramadhan.

Staying the Moderate Course

One of the challenges of living a balanced and healthy life is to constantly stay in the middle in all things – to not fall into the extremes of too much or too little.  Sometimes I find myself feeling satisfaction that I’m staying balanced in one area, but then have to remind myself to look at everything else in my life as inevitably something else is slipping into extremes!  It’s a constant struggle, which is what jihad is all about.  Prophet Muhammad (saws) told us that the struggle with the self is the greater jihad (jihad al akbar), as it is a constantly, daily condition that every single human being, rich or poor, powerful or insignificant, young or old, must face.  No one is immune and no one can escape it.

The Quran also reminds us to stay away from extremes:

“O you who have faith!  Do not prohibit the good things that Allah has made lawful to you, and do not transgress.” (5:87).

This is something incredibly important to remember as we look at the state of the world around us, particularly in so-called ‘Islamic’ countries and even in certain Muslim groups.  When I was a non-Muslim, I often wondered why on earth people in some of these countries would follow Islam after all the numerous oppressive restrictions it places on its adherents.  What I know now is that this severe restriction is not from Islam, but is from those who transgress the bounds of Islam by prohibiting the good things God has allowed for us!  In fact, the things that actually are prohibited have been expressly articulated in the Quran and by the Prophet, and constitute the exceptions, not the rule.  Everything is allowed except what has been specifically addressed.

Too often we make our lives too difficult in our zeal to please God, in an attempt to forsake everything for the hereafter.  Yet, God did not ask us to live a life of asceticism or extreme denial and hardship.  Rather, the true test lies in fully participating in life while balancing the very difficult tightrope of moderation.  Anyone who has tried to lose weight will know that it is much more difficult to stay away from sweets when you have cookies and cake in your kitchen as opposed to when you have no food in the house whatsoever!  Likewise, forcing yourself to have restraint and live life by partaking in only what you need and not going to excess is much harder than getting rid of everything altogether!  For instance, it’s hard to balance having a spouse and children with your relationship with God – it’s much easier to reject marriage and lock yourself up in a convent in order to devote your life to God.  Some people may not go to such extremes as committing themselves to celibacy, and may get married and have families – yet will devote all their time to furthering the cause of Islam while neglecting their relationships with their families at home!

Rather, our challenge is to avoid going too far as some groups have done by banning things altogether, or by giving up and going off the edge and doing things too much!  Instead, we must strive to enjoy the wonderful life God has given us by staying within the healthy parameters of moderation.

In the Midst of Ramadhan

Salaam alaykum, peace and blessings to all, and my sincere apologies for not updating my blog in so long!  I’ve been buried at my job with the start of a new semester and am barely keeping up with all of my obligations as it is!  When I come home in the evening, usually right around iftar, I’ve got about 2ish hours to figure out what to eat, make it, eat it, and then do everything else I need to do before the next day begins.  So yes, I’m a bit frazzled!  On the weekends I just want to do NOTHING, and most certainly nothing that has to do with my computer!

Nevertheless, some of my Ramadhan goals are going smoothly, alhamdilulah.  I’ve been fairly successful at reading Quran almost every day during my lunch break, and on the days when I have to work through my lunch break, I just try to read more on the weekends to compensate for it.  I’m learning so much – I feel like I’m reading a completely different book than what I read before!  SubhanAllah, the Quran is truly an amazing book.  InshAllah I hope to begin sharing some of the passages that have really resonated with me with you all.

My goal of being more present-focused is working somewhat.  Mostly I’m just trying to survive my incredibly busy day, trying to get an impossible amount of work done in a short period of time, but I have been stopping myself every now and then to just be still, both physically and mentally, and carefully take in my whole environment and find something positive and uplifting.  I love nature, so mostly all it takes is looking out any nearby window. 🙂

Exercising while fasting has been a challenge, but I’m getting through it, day in and day out.  It’s hard to push myself as much as I’d like to when I have a parched, dry throat from a full day of teaching and from having an intense headache… But I am resolved to take the challenge and fight through it with whatever energy I have left, and I’m making it, alhamdilulah, with the strength of God.

My goal of focusing on akhlaq with students and colleagues is going semi-well – with students, I think I’m doing very well with remaining patient and kind, alhamdilulah (no matter how many times I’ve told them something and someone will inevitably STILL ask me cluelessly about what I just finished explaining).  With my colleagues, I’m not doing such a great job of going out of my way to be kind and helpful though, as I’m usually really tired (and incredibly parched) after teaching and just want to go to my office and focus on prepping for upcoming classes as furiously as possible.  I think fasting is also sapping all of my energy, because sometimes I can barely put two sentences together!  So, with my colleagues I’m being pleasant but pretty quiet.  Alhamdilulah, there are still two weeks left, so all is not lost – I still have time to step up my game somehow!

On to the more exciting part of the post (for me anyway): a verse of Quran that I’d like to share!

Those who spend their wealth in the way of Allah and then do not follow up what they have spent with reproaches and affronts, they shall have their reward near their Lord, and they will have fear, nor will they grieve.  An honorable word with pardon is better than a charity followed by affront.

(Quran 2: 262-263)

When I read this, I see wealth as meaning not only our money, but also anything that we can give.  So anytime we do anything for anyone else, it can be termed as charity.  What we are being told to avoid, however, is following up an act of charity with grumbling or reminding the other person of what we did for them and making them feel indebted or obligated in any way.

It sounds obvious, but in practical application it is not always so easy.  How many times in our lives have we gone out of our way to do something nice for someone, and they didn’t seem to appreciate it or even acknowledge it?  We then may feel compelled to point out what we’ve done in an annoyed or angry manner (or at least silently hold a grudge against them!) – yet in doing so, we’ve lost the benefit of performing the charity in the first place.  Other times we may do something so great for someone else that we (sometimes unwittingly) like to remind them of what we did, making them feel bad or as if we want them to pay us back for it.

God tells us to avoid all of this – once you perform an act of charity, it’s done.  We have to always bear in mind that we give charity for God’s sake, not for any particular person’s sake.  Our reward lies with God, and not with that person.  With this mindset, even if the other person responds negatively, it shouldn’t affect us as we didn’t do it solely for them in the first place!

I think this type of bad habit occurs frequently with family members or those closest to us.  Perhaps a husband seems to be unhappy with his wife for no apparent reason, and she decides to be charitable and let it go and respond positively instead of negatively.  Yet when he continues to berate her, she explodes and, as a weapon against him, points out each specific circumstance in which she was nice even though he was treating her so badly.  In doing so (becoming angry and using her acts of charity against him), her kind acts no longer hold any reward, because she was doing it in search of the reward and recognition of her husband, and not for God.  Further, any good that might have occurred from her initial charity would be completely undone (if not worsened) now that she has blown up in anger and used her charity as a weapon against him – and the situation will inevitably continue to spiral downward.

SubhanAllah, the meaning in this last phrase (an honorable word with pardon is better than charity with affront) is incredibly profound: it is not only referring generally to any situation in which someone has usurped our rights, but also specifically to a situation in which someone reacts negatively to our charity: to pardon them kindly – to simply let it go.

Ramadhan Kareem!


Ramadhan kareem to all of you who begin fasting today, Thursday, or Friday! (there are numerous start dates as per one’s particular school of thought and geographic location).  I pray God will make it easy for you and will make this a time of spiritual purification and renewal. 

In the spirit of Ramadhan, I’ve decided to list my goals that I’d like to work toward this month. 

-Read the entire Quran this month

This seems to be a common practice among Muslims, and is aided by the fact that the Quran is divided up into 30 sections already (by the wisdom of God, subhanAllah).  I decided I would put myself to the challenge and see if I could do it too.  I’ve decided to use my lunch break to go down to the prayer room (yes, there actually IS one at my university, and it just so happens to be located in my very building, alhamdilulah!) and spend the hour reading Quran, reading some supplications, and then finishing it off with the afternoon prayer before heading back upstairs. 

-Give action-based charity

Regretfully I’m completely broke and will be for the majority of the month, so my plans of giving charity have been completely ruined, but I have decided instead to give charity through my actions.  I may not be able to give money, but I can give my time, abilities, and manpower.  As such, I’ll try to help others whenever the opportunity crosses my path.  And of course, I can always smile (as the Prophet (saws) said, “A smile is charity”)! 

-Continue to work on having good akhlaq (manners) with everyone around me

Making continued effort to be kind and patient with those around me, be willing to help and go the extra mile even when the other person is not being considerate.  I also want to exert extra effort to be very patient with my students in particular, as sometimes they do their best to push buttons and frustrate to no end! 

-Challenge myself instead of trying to simply survive

I want to take the added strain of fasting and use it as a way to challenge myself.  Having a busy schedule and pushing myself through a strenuous workout every day is nothing compared to what many of the early Muslims endured.  Fatimah tu-Zahra (the daughter of Prophet Muhammad, saws), her husband Imam Ali and their children Hasan and Hussein (as) once went three days straight of not breaking their fast, as each night when they sat down to eat the meal, beggars came to the door to ask for food.  Instead of turning them away, they gave them their food instead.  And they lived in the hot desert with no AC – and then didn’t eat or drink for three full days!  So certainly if they could do that, I can surely manage this.  I don’t want to simply try to ‘get through’ the month by surviving the minimal requirements, but instead use it as a challenge to work harder and be actively engaged (as opposed to simply being reactive and passive).   

-Focus on living more in the present and not solely in the future

The main rationale as to why I’ve begun the series on cultural concepts of time is because of something I’ve recently discovered about myself: that I am incredibly future-driven, to the extent that I fail to often even notice or enjoy the present.  Typically, I’m not actively engaged or ‘present’ in the present time; I’m usually thinking about what I need to do next or making plans for what’s ahead, or tailoring my current activity to suit the future.  Of course, doing all this is important for success in life, but I do it to the extent that I often completely neglect the present time and rarely feel content or satisfied as a result.  SO – my goal is to really focus on the present moment and live each second to the fullest, and enjoy the blessings of what God has given me that surround me at any given moment.  I need to really remind myself that I need to fully live what I’ve been given (the present), and not neglect it for the sake of the unknown, uncertain future, which I may never even see! 

Well… I could think of more, and I may likely develop more as time goes on, but I’ll leave it at that for now.  I think this is quite a lot to focus on as it is!     

The Coming of Ramadhan

I have been thinking about Ramadhan for the past two months, reflecting on it, remembering it as I eat or drink throughout the day, and recalling its importance and the lessons learned through it. Now, as the final weekend before its arrival is upon us, it is of utmost importance that we begin to prepare ourselves mentally for this holy and trying month, and ask God for the strength to rely solely on Him and to remove our dependence on worldly things.

Imam Zain al-Abideen (Ali bin Hussain bin Ali bin Abi Talib) provided us with a wonderful supplication (prayer) for the coming of Ramadhan. It is a bit lengthy, but it is well worth reading – and using in prayer yourself.

Supplication for the Coming of the Month of Ramadan

Praise belongs to God who guided us to His praise
and placed us among the people of praise,
that we might be among the thankful for His beneficence
and that He might recompense us for that
with the recompense of the good-doers!

And praise belongs to God who
showed favour to us through His religion,
singled us out for His creed,
and directed us onto the roads of His beneficence,
in order that through His kindness we might travel upon them
to His good pleasure,
a praise which He will accept from us
and through which He will be pleased with us!

And praise belongs to God who appointed among those roads His month,
the month of Ramadan,
the month of fasting,
the month of submission,
the month of purity,
the month of putting to test,
the month of standing in prayer,
in which the Qur’an was sent down as guidance to the people,
and as clear signs of the Guidance and the Separator!175

He clarified its excellence over other months
by the many sacred things and well-known excellencies
which He placed therein,
for He made unlawful in it what He declared lawful in others
to magnify it,
He prohibited foods and drinks in it
to honour it,
and He appointed for it a clear time which He
(majestic and mighty is He)
allows not to be set forward
and accepts not to be placed behind.

Then He made one of its nights surpass the nights
of a thousand months
and named it the Night of Decree;
in it the angels and the Spirit descend
by the leave of their Lord upon every command,
a peace constant in blessings
until the rising of the dawn
upon whomsoever He will of His servants
according to the decision He has made firm.

O God,
bless Muhammad and his Household,
inspire us
with knowledge of its excellence,
veneration of its inviolability,
and caution against what Thou hast forbidden within it,
and help us to fast in it
by our restraining our limbs
from acts of disobedience toward Thee
and our employing them
in that which pleases Thee,
so that we lend not our ears to idle talk
and hurry not with our eyes to diversion,

we stretch not our hands toward the forbidden
and stride not with our feet toward the prohibited,
our bellies hold only what Thou hast made lawful
and our tongues speak only what Thou
hast exemplified,
we undertake nothing but what brings close to
Thy reward
and pursue nothing but what protects from
Thy punishment!
Then rid all of that from the false show of the false showers
and the fame seeking of the fame seekers,
lest we associate therein anything with Thee
or seek therein any object of desire but Thee!

O God,
bless Muhammad and his Household,
in it make us attend
to the appointed moments of the five prayers within
the bounds Thou hast set,
the obligations Thou hast decreed,
the duties Thou hast assigned,
and the times Thou hast specified;

and in the prayers make us alight in the station of
the keepers of their stations,
the guardians of their pillars,
their performers in their times,
as Thy servant and Thy messenger set down in his Sunna
(Thy blessings be upon him and his Household)
in their bowings, their prostrations, and all their
excellent acts,
with the most complete and ample ritual purity
and the most evident and intense humility!

Give us success in this month to
tighten our bonds of kin with devotion and gifts,
attend to our neighbours with bestowal and giving,
rid our possessions from claims,
purify them through paying the alms,
go back to him who has gone far from us,
treat justly him who has wronged us,
make peace with him who shows enmity toward us
(except him who is regarded as an enemy
in Thee and for Thee,
for he is the enemy whom we will not befriend,
the party whom we will not hold dear),

and seek nearness to Thee through blameless works
which will purify us from sins
and preserve us from renewing faults,
so that none of Thy angels will bring for Thee
the kinds of obedience and sorts of
unless they be less than what we bring!177

O God,
I ask Thee by the right of this month
and by the right of him who worships Thee within it
from its beginning to the time of its passing,
whether angel Thou hast brought nigh to Thee,
prophet Thou hast sent,
or righteous servant Thou hast singled out,
that Thou bless Muhammad and his Household,
make us worthy of the generosity Thou hast promised
Thy friends,
make incumbent for us
what Thou hast made incumbent
for those who go to great lengths in obeying Thee,
and place us in the ranks of those
who deserve through Thy mercy the highest elevation!

O God,
bless Muhammad and his Household,
turn us aside from
deviation in professing Thy Unity,
falling short in magnifying Thee,
in Thy religion,
blindness toward Thy path,
heedlessness of Thy inviolability,
and being deceived by Thy enemy, the accursed Satan!

O God,
bless Muhammad and his Household,
and when in every night of this month’s nights
Thou hast necks
which Thy pardon will release
and Thy forgiveness disregard,
place our necks among those necks
and place us among the best folk and companions
of this our month!

O God,
bless Muhammad and his Household,
efface our sins
along with the effacing of its crescent moon,
and make us pass forth from the ill effects of our acts
with the passing of its days,
until it leaves us behind,
while within it Thou hast purified us of offenses
and rid us of evil deeds!

O God,
bless Muhammad and his Household,
and should we go off to one side in this month,
set us aright;
should we swerve,
point us straight;
and should Thy enemy Satan enwrap us,
rescue us from him!

O God,
fill this month with our worship of Thee,
adorn its times with our obedience toward Thee,
help us during its daytime with its fast,
and in its night with prayer and pleading toward Thee,
humility toward Thee,
and lowliness before Thee,
so that its daytime may not bear witness
against our heedlessness,
nor its night against our neglect!

O God,
make us like this in the other months and days
as long as Thou givest us life,
and place us among Thy righteous servants,
those who shall inherit Paradise,
therein dwelling forever,178
those who give what they give,
while their hearts quake,
that they are returning to their Lord,179
those who vie in good works,
outracing to them!180

O God,
bless Muhammad and his Household
in every time, in all moments, and in every state,
to the number that Thou hast blessed whomsoever
Thou hast blessed
and to multiples of all that, through multiples
which none can count but Thee!
Surely Thou art Accomplisher of what Thou desirest.

May God give us the strength to pass through this time of trial, test, and purification.  May God help us to focus on Him and to cut the chains of bondage of the world that we have allowed to grip us.  May God help us to exert extra effort to be cheerful, kind, patient, and charitable toward others during this time, may God use our hunger to remind us of those less fortunate than us, and to reach out to them, and may God help us to refrain from not only the haram, but also the makrooh, and to engage in more wajib and mustahab acts.

The supplication, along with an audio clip of it, can be found here:

Other supplications of Imam Zain al-Abideen can be found here:

Good Manners in Debate Put to the Test

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..

Me: ‎(sigh)…
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:
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….!/photo.php?pid=24518&o=all&op=1&view=all&subj=136441216391250&aid=-1&id=100001450896448

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!!!!!!!!
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…


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??????????????

…………..BECAUSE………………………WE….are Americans………

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!