It’s a tough time to be a Muslim. All over the world, Islam is getting a lot of bad press, and Muslims are viewed with suspicion. I’m not happy with that and I’m prepared to say it publicly.
My interaction with Islam is quite limited. I don’t know a whole lot about the religion. However, I do have Muslim colleagues and friends. I do read the news a little bit, where I come across the statements of some Muslim leaders.
And my impression of Muslims from this limited exposure? Muslims are people, just like non-Muslims. Most of the Muslims I know are kind, generous, modest people. I enjoy working with them, talking to them and being around them. Not specifically because they are Muslim, but because they are human beings. A Muslim is so much more than just a member of a religion.
And my impression of the religion? I don’t have a particularly strong impression, because I don’t know much about it. But everything I’ve seen and heard points to Islam being a religion of peace, honesty and sincerity.
Are there Muslims who are bad people? Of course there are. I can’t muster any sympathy for members of organisations like IS (who claim to follow Islam). But does that mean all Muslims are bad people? Of course not. The idea is ridiculous.
So, to my Muslim friends and colleagues, and any other Muslims who may read this, I say:
I don’t support the blanket criticism of Islam and Muslims that is so prevalent, particularly in Western media. I don’t assume you are good or bad based on your religious beliefs. I disagree very strongly with the assumption (that seems to be widely held) that Muslims are more likely to be terrorists than non-Muslims.
In a world that judges you in advance for your religious beliefs, I abstain from judgement. I commit to encountering you honestly, not with prejudice. I will like you (or not, as I am free to do) based on the person you are, not the person your critics expect you to be. I hope you will do the same for me.