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How to Narrow the Gap Between Muslims and Non-Muslims?

Questioner

Stephanie

Reply Date

May 05, 2017

Question

I am an Iraq veteran. I was in the medical field in the Army, and had the honor of working with the Iraqi people. I truly loved the people I came into contact with. I honestly want non-Muslim and Muslims in America to better understand each other. I am about to write a sociology paper. I want to write about what Muslims in America have to face daily, contributions to American society, and dispelling myths. However, I am very intimidated to walk up to any of the Muslims here and randomly ask if they would like to participate. I also am hesitant to contact the Mosque as there is a large divide between the Muslim community and non-Muslims here. I feel if you could possibly guide me as to how to approach this subject I could make huge strides in bringing understanding to both sides. I also am very intimidated by my lack of knowledge of social customs as I would NEVER want to offend another person or cause more tension between the two groups. Any suggestions?

Consultant

Answer


How to Narrow the Gap Between Muslims and Non-Muslims?

Salam Dear Stephanie,

Thank you for your question and for contacting Ask About Islam.

Having served in Iraq, you obviously had the opportunity to meet Muslims in their home country. Your experiences have shown you a side of Islam and Muslims that you probably could not have imagined, both positive and negative, had you not been part of the US Armed Forces there.

The presence of the US Army in Iraq is a very controversial issue, and a very sensitive one to most Muslims, but even through the tremendous adversities experienced by Iraqis over the past 20 years, you were able to see a side of them that is not typically known to most Americans, or other non-Muslims in the West.

Muslims are hospitable, generous, and forgiving. They are as Allah describes them in the Quran what is translated as:

{Those who spend (freely), whether in prosperity, or in adversity; who restrain anger, and pardon (all) men; for Allah loves those who do good} (Aal-Imran, Chapter “The Family of ‘Imran”, 3:134)

{Those who patiently persevere, seeking the countenance of their Lord; Establish regular prayers; spend, out of (the gifts) We have bestowed for their sustenance, secretly and openly; and turn off Evil with good: for such there is the final attainment of the (eternal) home} (Al-Raad, Chapter “Thunder”, 13:22)

Muslims have a tremendous capacity for bravery, self-sacrifice, generosity, to fight for justice, but also to be forgiving.

I cannot speak for American Muslims, but in my experience, even though Muslims in my community are well aware of, and sympathize with, the trials and tribulations of their brothers and sisters at the hands of foreigners in their lands, they never forget their responsibilities to convey the Message of peace and understanding to whomever may reach out their hands towards them.

I think you will find the same generosity of spirit you witnessed among the Muslims in Iraq is alive and well in the United States, and will remain so even during the most difficult trials Muslims face in America today and in the future.

If you found your experiences with Muslims in Iraq to be positive ones, it is because Islam has made them the way they are, and because Allah has commanded them to work toward peace and understanding with anyone who is so inclined:

{But if they incline to peace, incline you to it as well, and place your trust in Allah: verily, He alone is all-hearing, all-knowing!} (Al-Anfaal, Chapter “The Spoils of War”, 8:61)

Brother Maan, a member of Ask About Islam staff, adds:

I suggest that you contact your local Mosque and request to attend one of their Friday prayers. It is very common to find non-Muslims doing so to get an idea about Islam; I can assure you that no one will object.

To prepare for this visit and observe Islamic tradition, make sure that you are dressed in loose clothes that cover your legs all the way to the ankles, such as pants and a long shirt. Also remember to bring along a head scarf.

I am sure you became familiar with the Islamic dress code during your trip to Iraq.

During your visit or even later over the phone, please take that initiative to contact the Mosque’s imam explaining that you are conducting a social study and would like to learn about Islam in general and would also like to talk to some Muslims from different backgrounds to understand what the social difficulties that they face are.

You will find that they will be welcoming and more than willing to cooperate.

Understanding our differences and cooperating on matters that concern both Muslims and non-Muslims alike is a step forward towards narrowing that gap.

If you face any difficulty during your Mosque visit, please feel free to contact us again for additional questions or explanation.

I wish you success in your efforts in bridging the gap between your Muslim and non-Muslim countrymen and hope that this article helps you in reaching out to the Muslim community.

May Allah guide us all to what pleases Him.

Salam and please keep in touch.

This response is from About Islam’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.

Please continue feeding your curiosity, and find more info in the following links:

Muslims, Jews Unite to Help Detroit School

Ohio Group Connects Faiths, Fights Islamophobia

The Prophet’s Kindness Towards People of the Book




About Waleed Najmeddine

Waleed Ahmed Najmeddine is a Canadian born Muslim and public school administrator. He is an active member of the Muslim community and enjoys educating Muslims and non-Muslims about Islam. He currently holds a Master of Education degree in leadership and school improvement.

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