One of the most common questions put to me is, “so what was it about Islam that made you convert?” It is interesting on how the demographics of this inquiry break down. Overwhelmingly, the vast majority of those who seem [and this is putting it “politically correct”] puzzled are of a Whiteamerican background. Today’s interlocutor was a white woman, raised in Minnesota, who has had very little to no real world experience with Muslims. Instead, as admitted by her, she’s only informed by popular media.
Our conversation started out on another track but ended up on her realization that I was a Muslim [a fact, that she stated, she “never knew about me before”]. She followed up her new found view of me by asking why I became a Muslim. It was phrased as, “what was it about Islam that made you want to be a Muslim?” I replied that it was not a mere single item but yet the amalgamation of my 19 years as a human being, my rearing from my parents, who being moral people, led me to be attracted to the moral teachings of Islam and so and so forth. She became irked, stating that I was “dodging the question”, which I in turn asking what that question was. Instead of clarifying her point, she instead asked why so many Muslims adhere to extremist views! I asked her what she meant by this, where she added that in the Middle East, so many Muslims are willing to blow themselves up with innumerable innocent people. She found that a “curious morality”. I asked her, keeping in line with her apparent way of thinking, what she thought of the Ku Klux Klan, David Duke, or Timothy McVeigh? She quipped that despite these groups or these individuals partaking in violent behavior or association with violent groups, “it didn’t measure with the numbers of peoples hailing from the Muslims world”. She pointed to Iraq as well as the 9/11 attacks on New York City. When I then questioned her about the atrocities committed by Christians against the indigenous peoples of the Americans [North, Central, South and the Carribean] as well as the countless millions who were slaughtered in the Atlantic slave trade as well as the numbers of Germans [who were not all Nazis], who were white and of Christian backgrounds, who supported the extermination of millions of Jews, she again appealed that the still didn’t compare the barbarity of the Muslim world.
Our conversation took a turn toward the heated as I fed her back her words, leaving her perplexed, that essentially, whenever someone white or European, who was also a Christian, performed some heinous act, that it was an unfortunate event, somewhere far off in History, that was made “alright” by the kindly efforts of the Europeans to accommodate these groups in the aftermath [Civil Rights, Black History Month, Latino Heritage Month, etc.]. That it is somehow valid for millions of brown-skinned people to be murdered, subjugated and wiped out, all in the name of Progress – that their actions were accidental, unfortunate but somehow justifiable and ultimately redeemable. Yet, when similar actions [even if they were to a far lesser extent or intensity] on the part of Muslims, it was precisely their Islam that informed them, with no chance of being just “fallibly human”.
I am sharing this because these conversations are becoming more frequent, at least as far as me being the target/participant. Muslims are going to have to find a way to not simply counter these attacks or measures but find a way to “deal with them”. This will prove to be extremely difficult when the other half of the conversation believes they never evolved out a history.
And God knows best