My family and I moved into this quiet neighborhood several years ago.
I’d say I’m generally an outgoing and friendly person, but when we first moved in, I was actually a little afraid to cross paths with my neighbors.
Naturally, I would be inclined to go knock on their doors and introduce myself; but subconsciously I wondered if they would gasp…
What if they were in there talking about the horror of Muslims moving into their neighborhood?
That fear, that shyness, prevented me from being myself.
Thankfully a lady, who is now my closest friend in the neighborhood, walked over while I was out in the yard with my children. She introduced herself and struck up a friendly chat.
She put me at ease.
She removed my fear of not being welcome, or worse; of being hated.
Since then I’ve established great relationships with all of my immediate neighbors.
I am telling this story because I still do have fears. I fear that if a Muslim moves into your neighborhood that they might give the impression of being unfriendly.
They might keep to themselves.
Looking at them from a distance, they might seem strange to you. You might feel compelled to ignore them.
To just pretend they aren’t there.
But they might just feel the same way I did. They might be afraid they aren’t welcome.
Lets face it, we know what they are saying about us on TV…
and in the papers…
and all over the Internet.
And sometimes it’s hard to imagine that you haven’t been affected by it.
That you are exposed to those negative caricatures of Muslims so readily, yet somehow it doesn’t determine your opinion of us.
But my own experience proves that not everyone is so impressionable.
I have valuable relationships,
people in my life;
caring and reliable people around me
that are proof.
The Quran teaches us that God has created all the variation in humanity so that we can know each other.
The variation creates interest. It gives us something to talk about.
We all have something to learn from one another because we are different.
If we look at it that way- then life with each other becomes beautiful and rich.
Filled with curiosity and learning…
Which leads to understanding and compassion.