Recent Udhiya/Qurbani Orders at IslamiCity
  Active TopicsActive Topics  Display List of Forum MembersMemberlist  CalendarCalendar  Search The ForumSearch  HelpHelp
  RegisterRegister  LoginLogin  Old ForumOld Forum  Twitter  Facebook
Advertisement:
         

General Discussion
 IslamiCity Forum - Islamic Discussion Forum : General : General Discussion
Message Icon Topic: How first impressions can be hurtful.... Post Reply Post New Topic
Page  of 3 Next >>
Author Message
Angela
 Christian
Senior Member
Senior  Member
Avatar

Joined: 11 July 2005
Online Status: Offline
Posts: 2555
Quote Angela Replybullet Topic: How first impressions can be hurtful....
    Posted: 19 June 2007 at 8:33pm
I have been a member of this board for nearly two years and I'm not sure if I've ever told the story of my first introduction to Islam and how that clouded my view of Muslims for over 11 years.

In 1995, I had a chance to travel to Washington, DC with several students from various ethnic and religious backgrounds who were studying at the prestigeous Pennsylvania Govenor's School of International Studies, a summer program for high school students.  We had representatives from every ethnic background, asian, european, jewish, muslim, black, white, rich and poor.  

During our one week trip to DC, we had the honor of going to the Islamic Mosque and Cultural Center on Massachusetts Ave.  Now, there was a boy with us named Aziz (for his sake I will not give his last name) and I point this out for one reason.  The girls were not properly informed of what to wear that day.  However, we were all dressed nicely as we were also visiting several Embassies that same day.

Upon arriving, we entered the Mosque.  They had mentioned headscarves and I brought my babushka (russian headscarf) that I wore to church.  I covered my head, but my skirt only came below the knees, not all the way to the ankle.  Needless to say, after getting inside and seeing the Muslim women coming and going, several of us realized that we were improperly dressed but it was too late.  We were not offered overskirts but just ushered through and then given time with a Muslim man to ask questions.  Aziz had not even warned us girls and he was Muslim.

Now, here is a group of 17 year old girls who have suddenly found themselves underdressed trying to cover our legs with purses and whatever we had on hand.  We really tried and we tried to be very respectful and ask questions.

Thinking back, the man who was our "guide" was probably Indonesian or possibly one of the other Southeast Asian countries.  He was not Arab.  That was cool because it let us know how far spread Islam has become.  Now, here is where things really got bad.

You had about 30-40 students, of all of those, only ONE, knew anything about Islam.  When the question of the status of women in Islam came up from one of us girls, the man became very rude towards the girl.  Her question was very typical of girls who know nothing about Islam.  As I remember it, she asked why women wore the headscarf.  Again, his answer was very rude and did not explain anything about why the veil is an important protection for a woman.

It was not only his explaination of the veil but it was also his treatment of the young girls in the group.  It was if we were beneath his efforts to explain things to us and to teach us.  And sadly, we all left thinking how much of a jerk he was and how we felt bad for the poor muslim women being forced to wear scarves because they might go out and have sex if they didn't wear it.

This is the view I had of Islam for 11 years.  Reinforced by images of the Taliban after the Embassy bombings in Africa.  It only got worse 6 years later on September 11th, 2001 and again on July 7, 2004.  It was only after the London Bombings that I decided once again to
learn about Islam.  But, instead of looking at Islam as a spiritual option, I came here to Islamicity to find out why Muslims hated us so much.  Why men like I had met 9 years earlier wanted to lock women in the house and kill all non muslims? 

I was a very lost 17 year old girl.  Only a year later I became severely disillusioned with Christianity and began a search for something else.  I looked into Buddhism, Wicca, Hinduism, Taoism and many other faiths.  Because of that experience in the mosque, I never once even considered Islam a possibility.  I already new it was an evil religion.  And so, I dwindled in unbelief for many years before returning to the Russian Orthodox Church and then later converting to Mormonism because traditional christianity was still not the place for me. 

So, where would I be today if that man in that Mosque had been respectful and kind to the young girls who knew nothing of his faith?  There is a strong possibility I would have looked towards Islam when I did my soul searching, perhaps even reading the Quran and going to another Mosque in search of more answers.  Its possible, today, I would be Muslim.

Now, after all that, what is my purpose for telling this story.  There are several new members to this site who have been continually insulting all western teenage girls, western women or just in general anyone who isn't Muslim.  I ask all of you (especially the Moderators) to read over this story again.  There are other Angela's out there who are right now lost, they are looking for faith, for God and for stability.  They may have suffered molestation as a child or had fallen into sin.  They may have never had religion in their life, or had too much religion and found a distaste for the faith of their parents.  But, they are out there and they are searching. 

If you search on Google for Islam, Islamicity is the 5th site down.  That is how I found you.  This site has been instrumental in my learning about Islam.  How do you want people who come here to see your religion?  Do you want them to see the beautiful faith that was brought to us by the Prophet Muhammed (pbuh)?  Do you want them to see that God is there for those who repent and turn from sin?  Do you want them to see that there is a better way?  Or do you want them to close off to it because they've been called bastards and sluts?  Do you want them to see posts indicating that its okay to kill someone who insults the Prophet Muhammmed (pbuh) even if that person is uneducated and doesn't know anything about the man?

Believe it or not, this site is a very, very, very important site for Dawah.  Those members you tolerate with their illmannered posts are keeping people from Islam and they are sowing the seeds of contention.  They are in effect creating more people like me, who in a time when they needed Islam the most, were robbed of what Islam really is and only see what perversion of Islam is in their sick minds.

Please, when one of these men or women show up.  Don't let it go 400 posts before you act.  And for those who are not Moderators, taking time to be patient.  Don't suffer the evangelists but please don't treat every question as an insult.  If a religion can withstand scrutiny, it will prevail.  Don't be afraid to be challenged.  If you are right, you will eventually get through to the person.  It might not be now, but it might be years from now. 

" Verily, you will not guide everyone whom you love, but Allah guides whom He wills and He knows best those who Will guided" (Qur'an 28:56)
IP IP Logged
Israfil
 
Senior Member
Senior  Member
Avatar

Joined: 08 September 2003
Online Status: Offline
Posts: 3984
Quote Israfil Replybullet Posted: 20 June 2007 at 1:03am

Interesting post Angela.

You seem to have a well rounded view of religions. Without getting too personal and off track, how much in depth did your religious search take you in the other faiths you encountered?

IP IP Logged
Hayfa
Female  Islam
Senior Member
Senior  Member
Avatar

Joined: 07 June 2005
Location: United States
Online Status: Offline
Posts: 2370
Quote Hayfa Replybullet Posted: 20 June 2007 at 7:48am

Thanks Angela,

You are completely right!  

When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy. Rumi
IP IP Logged
crasss
 
Senior Member
Senior  Member


Joined: 01 April 2007
Online Status: Offline
Posts: 516
Quote crasss Replybullet Posted: 20 June 2007 at 6:09pm
Originally posted by Angela

Now, here is where things really got bad...And sadly, we all left thinking how much of a jerk he was and how we felt bad for the poor muslim women being forced to wear scarves because they might go out and have sex if they didn't wear it...I came here to Islamicity to find out why Muslims hated us so much.  Why men like I had met 9 years earlier wanted to lock women in the house and kill all non muslims? ...I never once even considered Islam a possibility.  I already new it was an evil religion. ...How do you want people who come here to see your religion? ...Those members you tolerate with their illmannered posts are keeping people from Islam and they are sowing the seeds of contention ... only see what perversion of Islam is in their sick minds.

Let's rephrase this:

"If Islam were more flexible and could be reformed to something more compatible with western practices, more people would join it. People who don't agree with this, have a sick mind. They are the ones who are perverting Islam, not the reformers. Muslims oppress women, lock them up in the house, and prevent them from having sex and so on. That is sowing the seeds of contention!"

You are not interested in joining Islam but in reforming it, and it is frustrating that the Muslims are not interested in reform. For a starters, they should cut you some slack in terms of dress code. That would be the very least.

Very interesting.

IP IP Logged
Israfil
 
Senior Member
Senior  Member
Avatar

Joined: 08 September 2003
Online Status: Offline
Posts: 3984
Quote Israfil Replybullet Posted: 20 June 2007 at 10:48pm

Crass,

Since you are utterly hopeless in comprehending simple english let me break it down. Angela is saying how her first impression can have an adverse effect on the opinions of those who have little to no knowledge of Islam. the muslim man she encountered with a bad attitude was a prime example. It's clear that if a Muslim gets defensive when someone asks a simple, unintrusive, non-disrespectful question then there is an obvious problem with the individual him/herself.

Basically what it boils down to is if you want people to have a positive understanding of your religion the encounter itself must be positive. I'm sure the prophet didn't go around spreading the word of Islam and got annoyed if someone asked him a question. I'm sure he spread the word of Islam with patience, intelligence and kindness and that is something we as Muslims should immulate. One of the aspects of Islam is dialogue and actually this is one notable element we can say that has spreaded the word of Islam to vast European and Asian countries.

 



Edited by fatima
IP IP Logged
crasss
 
Senior Member
Senior  Member


Joined: 01 April 2007
Online Status: Offline
Posts: 516
Quote crasss Replybullet Posted: 21 June 2007 at 4:38am
Originally posted by Israfil

Since you are utterly hopeless in comprehending simple english let me break it down.

Thanks, Israfil, please break it down for me.

IP IP Logged
fatima
 
Moderator Group
Moderator Group
Avatar

Joined: 04 August 2005
Online Status: Offline
Posts: 979
Quote fatima Replybullet Posted: 21 June 2007 at 5:26am

Bismillah irrahman irrahim

Assalamu alaykum

You know angela so many times reading your posts i prayed to Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala that He opens up the ways for you and i know you wont take it wrong thats why i am saying this.

I tell you an incident in the life time of Sayyidina Muhammad sallallahu alayhi wassalam. Once Sayyidina Muhammad sallallahu alayhi wassalam was in the mosque with his companions radhiAllah anhuma and a non muslim came and urinated in the area of mosque. Few companion wanted to go and behead him, Sayyidina Muhammad sallallahu alayhi wassalam told them to put some dust on the place and explain to the person not to do it again as we put our foreheads on the ground.

He was a different man, he forgave people who chewed his uncle's liver. Don't get me wrong when it came to enforcement of laws of our dear Lord, there was no leniency in that. I wish muslim would understand that it is one of those times when their individual acts and their behaviour is taken as representative of islam.

Wassalam

Say: (O Muhammad) If you love Allah, then follow me, Allah will love you and forgive you your faults, and Allah is Forgiving, MercifuL
IP IP Logged
hat2010
 
Senior Member
Senior  Member


Joined: 10 October 2006
Location: Neutral Zone
Online Status: Offline
Posts: 562
Quote hat2010 Replybullet Posted: 21 June 2007 at 8:07am
Peace Bros and Sisters,

Sister Angela, thank you for your soulful post. It has reminded
something of my own experiences (even a Muslim amongst Muslims,
non-muslims)

I would, perhaps, think of the 'first impressions' like this...
A recent example:
A brother calls those of us with western mothers the children of 'sluts',
the 'whorehouse' America, etc. because they are Christian, American, etc.

In some sites, that's it. It's that viewpoint and nothing else.

But then, in half a jiffy, (if our impressionable reader continues down the
page) there is the community response. And often, the good guys show
up.

See, Angela. what I think you will find useful is, rather than the
immediate censor or dismissal of him, is that all sorts of others jump on
in the social tajine and protest; that this is rather poor behavior for a
muslim, and/or that citing traditional islamic sources should be done
while judging, etc.   

Though it is painful sometimes to hold back when having your loved
one's attacked, it is the follow-up responses (including our own) that give
the forum it's currency.

So, instead of there being some violent post
(that then is deleted, or disappears of mod removal) there is something of
a Islamicity consensus, which lets others see how this muslim community
deals with it's problems.

It's lovely in a sort of modern primitive way. And it is free, honest public
relations for the intentions of the Muslim community -

Some thoughts you have inspired, Sis Angela.

Bless y'all,
Jam

p.s I fleshed out this first response a bit based on Bro aka2x2's response
below.





Edited by Jamal Morelli
IP IP Logged
Page  of 3 Next >>
Post Reply Post New Topic
Printable version Printable version

Forum Jump
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot create polls in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum

Disclaimer:
The opinions expressed herein contain positions and viewpoints that are not necessarily those of IslamiCity. This forum is offered to stimulate dialogue and discussion in our continuing mission of being an educational organization.
If there is any issue with any of the postings please email to icforum at islamicity.com or if you are a forum's member you can use the report button.

Note: The 99 names of Allah avatars are courtesy of www.arthafez.com

Advertisement:



Sponsored by:
Islamicity Membership Program:
IslamiCity Donation Program  http://www.islamicity.com/Donate
IslamiCity Arabic eLearning http://www.islamiCity.com/ArabAcademy
Complete Domain & Hosting Solutions www.icDomain.com
Home for Muslim Tunes www.icTunes.com
Islamic Video Collections www.islamiTV.com
IslamiCity Marriage Site www.icMarriage.com