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?”
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 I didn’t get the feeling that it was irrelevant or outdated.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)