By Dave - An American member from The Revival Forums
A little while ago somebody on The Revival Forum asked me what I had learned about Islam since I had begun posting nearly a year ago.
I hadn’t really thought about it in a while, but the truth is I no longer come to the forums to learn about Islam. That may seem a little strange; why else would an American and a Christian be on an Islamic forum if not to learn about Islam?
It’s because of the people. There is a harmony of individuals which brings me back to the forum – and I would be lying if I did not say I think I am a part of that harmony, and if I am not, I want to be.
If you were to talk to even a few of these people for a little while you would understand what I mean. I do not know if they admit it to themselves privately, but they are friends. They have derived respect from their friendship, and an honesty I am not quite used to – brutal at times, but constant.
They have become my definition of Islam. I cannot name the five pillars of Islam, I do not know what Eid Al-Adha is, and I cannot think of even one Caliph. However none of those things went into the definition I sent back to my friend when she asked me what I had learned about Islam. I simply told her that now I know what Islam is – my friends.
From the qualities of these people I have constructed a new perception of Islam, which has nothing to do with Osama bin Laden, President Bush, Micheal Moore, Iraq, Yusuf Islam, Afghanistan – or any of the other things that are for better or worse attached to the word “Muslim.”
I rather think about one of my friends interest in teaching, another’s unrivaled knowledge of boxing, a few of my friends reserved and thoughtful natures – or a few of my friends loud and boisterous personalities, and of course their shared unyielding belief that there is a kind God looking down on a troubled world.
As you can see my definition of a Muslim is not a “hard” definition – but to me it is a true definition, and is worth far more than any value which can be measured scientifically or taught in a class.
I think my perceptions of Muslims before I went on The Revival forum were that they were violent, irrational and unlawful, treated women like property, and if they weren't actually terrorists – they sympathised with them. Basically I think that is the typical stereotype after 911 and all of the media coverage.
After the forum, I really think I can challenge each of those stereotypes word for word. For example to violence I could say that true, genuine Muslims are just as appalled by terrorism as anybody else, and that I have met people who not only hate those acts of terrorism but have been victims of that level of violence.
And of course who could accuse Muslims of being irrational after meeting ‘Muslim sister’!(an active member on The Revival Forums). She is probably the most logical person I have ever met and one of the very best listeners.
Treating women like property is another myth I really think I can dispel, pointing out that even in the way Muslims talk to each other there is a bond, they aren't "bitches or hoes" they are sisters, and everyone men and women are required to treat each other with respect and kindness.
I suppose overall I take the very best qualities of everyone from The Revival forums and that is what I think Islam is - which is a complete contradiction from 4 years ago.
Dave is an active member on The Revival Discussion forum. You can share your views with him by visiting the forums on: http://www.therevival.co.uk