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NYC Today!

Today I’ll be joining Why Islam and the Foundation for Knowledge and Development in Time Square Manhattan. We’ll have a table set up and will be offering free translations of the Quran and free literature.

Myself and others will be available to answer your questions and help people understand Islam. What better way than to find out directly from the sources and those who practice it every day?

So if you haven’t met Your American Muslim Neighbor yet, now’s your chance, come on down! I look forward to meeting you and sharing with you the familiarity of Islam!!

We will be in Time Square from 1-5pm today Sunday, November 23rd 2014.

It’s Not All Bad

Yesterday, a woman I was talking to on the street looked into my eyes, hers were sparkling in the sunlight.

Sweet, blue pools nestled into her weathered and weary face.

Her eyebrows arched toward the center, questioning… “You look like a saint – you must be a saint.”

She looked me over and repeated it.

There are those who hate to see a Muslim, people who may be suspicious of my smile- people who mock the cloth on my head, or pity the fact I’m not showing the world how very fashionable I can be.

There are people who lump Islam along with fascism and Muslims with madmen.

I feel so often this negativity is the focus of our discussions.

But it’s not all bad.

Some perceptions are negative, but some are positive.

Very positive.

In fact, some people have such a favorable reaction to my dress and my manners- both of which are not really mine, they are just my feeble attempts at implementing Islam-

They don’t even know what to make of it other than comparing me to an angel.

I’m surprised at how often I get that.

“You look like an angel.”

Someone who helped me choose the right PVC pipes in a hardware store once, after our brief experience together asked if I was.

An angel in disguise, shopping for PVC

It was as if he was sure I must be…

I’m usually dumbfounded when this happens- at a loss for words.

What I would like to say is, “No, I’m just a Muslim.”

Like I said before, Muslims don’t fly. Not even close. We are very human, with all the variation and fallibility that goes along with it.

But this reaction, this comparison, I get it.

Because I’m trying, a little bit, to be like a human who was the best of mankind.

The person closest to being an angel a human could get.

His name was Muhammad.

Is that how you think of Muhammad?

What do you think when you see or meet a Muslim?

If you are a Muslim, please share your positive experiences in the comments section!

Is That an Arab?

Last night, while walking from my car to a shopping center, I passed by a vehicle with its windows open.

I heard someone say loudly,

“What’s that? Is that an ARAB?”

Who… me?

Sorry, “Muslim” and “Arab” are not synonymous.

Actually Muslims are found all over the world. From China, Russia, and Indonesia to many parts of Africa and Europe, to both North and South America.

Muhammad, the prophet who was given the Quran was a descendent of the prophet Ishmael who was the son of Abraham – he was an Arab.

Jesus and many of the prophets we know of, were from what we now call the Middle East as well… And nobody seems to think all Christians are Semitic or Middle Eastern… Go figure!

The Quran makes it very clear that it is a message for mankind:

This (Quran) is but a reminder for all people. (38:87)

Muhammad is addressed in the Quran: And We (God) have not sent you except comprehensively to mankind as a bringer of good tidings and a warner. But most of the people do not know. (Quran 34:28)

That’s why people from all over have accepted it as their life’s guidance.

I learned about Islam independent of any people. I didn’t know any Muslims.

For me, it was clearly a universal message.

It not only speaks to individuals regardless of their background but it is also timeless. I didn’t get the feeling that it was irrelevant or outdated.

Aspects of the quran describe our modern world and it provides comforting advice that is perfectly on point.

So for me and many other Americans like me, it was a natural choice.

And when we chose to be Muslims, we didn’t change our ethnicity, or race, or nationality, or culture. Just like the first Indonesians who embraced Islam, or the first Bosnians.

In America, the Muslims are the most diverse faith group. When I go to a mosque I sit amongst people of many shades and diverse backgrounds.

Islam, in practice, eliminates racism and nationalism. It teaches us to focus on our humanity and to rejoice in our differences.

To get to know one another.

So one doesn’t need to be Arab to be Muslim, and no one should assume that every Muslim they see is an immigrant either!

I’ll leave you with the following verse:

O humankind! Surely We have created you from a single (pair of) male and female, and made you into nations and families so that you may know one another (and so build mutuality and co-operative relationships, not so that you may take pride in your differences of race or social rank, and breed enmities). Surely the noblest, most honorable of you in God’s sight is the one best in piety, righteousness, and reverence for God. Surely God is All-Knowing, All-Aware. (Quran 49:13)

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