Friday, September 16, 2011

Christ's love softened Muslim heart

I work in a large corporation in which we have a United Nations of people.  Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, aetheists.  We all work together every day, and it's very good for us all.  One day in April, 2011, the news carried a story that an oddball named 'Pastor' Terry Jones from Florida was planning on visiting Dearborn, Michigan (a city with a large Arabic and Muslim population).  He was infamous for having burnt a Koran. I felt very angry thinking he might try that again here in our city (I am Catholic).

Because of Jesus' influence on me, I believe that we should treat our neighbor as ourselves.  I know that I would be very upset if somebody burnt my holy book -- an outrage! 
I was planning on protesting Jones' arrival, and so I had a browser open on my computer where the title "Terry Jones Koran Burning" was visible when my colleague Houssam (a Muslim) happened to come to my desk to work with me.  He confronted me about what was on my computer, wondering whether I was sympathetic to Jones.  I told him 'not at all', but instead I was planning to protest and said that I'm sure a large number of Christians would be there besides me.  I said that Jones was the anomoly, not the norm among Christians.  Houssam expressed his suspicion about that, saying that most Christians secretly agree with Jones.  I could tell he felt pretty certain about that, the way he said it.

I urged Houssam and another colleague, Hassan, to go with me to the protest after work that day, along with four members of my family who drove in for the event.  What Houssam saw changed his mind, he later told me.  He saw that more than half of the people in attendance at the protest at the Islamic Center of America (largest mosque in the city) were white people, and that four prominent Christian leaders, including the Archbishop of the Detroit Catholic Archdiocese, were speaking. 

photo by William Archie, Detroit Free Press.
Leaders and supporters from various faiths in front of the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn, MI April 21, 2011. I was also in this crowd with my friend Houssam, but you can't see us.

He said he never would have believed it unless he saw it with his own eyes.  He said that he feels very differently about who the average Christian is because so many people spontaneously had a reaction to show support for our neighbors.

While Houssam was far from being a Muslim terrorist (unless you consider a software guy to be scary), it might be true to say that if this type of positive interaction between cultures happened more often, I would venture that there would be less animosity between the cultures throughout the world, and perhaps less desire to hurt each other.

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