----- Original Message -----
Sent: Saturday, October 12, 2002 1:09 PM
Subject: Thank you for your ad!
Dear Mainstream Baptists,
I am a Muslim and I am writing to thank you for your ad in the Norman Transcript today. I almost cried when I saw it.
I am an American who converted to Islam over 10 years ago and recently the sheer ignorance and intolerance of my fellow Americans towards my religion has deeply disturbed me. The statements of Graham, Falwell, and others in the Southern Baptist Convention have angered me time and time again not only for their lack of factual accuracy but also for the offensive premise that THEY can decide for us Muslims what our religion is all about, and that, to add insult to injury, they have decided that the interpretation of extremists like Osama Bin Ladin is actually correct! They let the terrorists win when they do this! In fact the extremists, both Muslim and Christian, are guilty of the same ignorance and make the same exact mistakes in reading of Islamic texts when they come up with these ludicrious opinions.
I am also grateful for your statement in support of a peaceful life for the Palestinians. I have never understood how Christianity's teachings of "the love and grace that God revealed in Jesus Christ" can be reconciled with the view of the supporters of the "end-times" prophecies that the Palestianians essentially deserve what they get and that the actions of the Israeli government, no matter how brutal, are justifiable because they somehow "help" Jesus. Furthermore, many Palestinians are themselves Christians. The Syrian city of Qunaitra in the Golan Heights which was destroyed by the Israeli army in 1974, was reportedly 50% Muslim and 50% Christian. The city's three mosques and three churches (including a Catholic church, a Greek Orthodox church, and a Baptist church run by missionaries) were all indiscriminately destroyed. Mike Wallace even reported this on "60 Minutes" at the time but nobody talks about that anymore. I just spent the summer in a suburb of Damascus, Syria where Muslims, Christians, and Druze (members of a minority religion based in Lebanon and Syria) live together peacefully. Muslim-Christian peaceful co-existence is a normal part of life in modern Syria and has been for all of history.
I had a negative idea about Baptists because of the statements of the Southern Baptist Convention and the "end-times" prophecies, as did many of my non-Muslim friends and family members. Your advertisement has allowed us to see that there are people within the Baptist community that are interested in fairness and accuracy. When I read your ad to my non-Muslim mother in California she said "woah, my opinion of them just went up about 1000%!"
As you stated in your ad, you naturally do not believe in the tenets of the Islamic faith, but I am happy to see that you are interested in having an accurate picture of it. I can't imagine that evangelism based on false premises ultimately does Christians any good. If you're Christian you likely don't agree with Buddhism but you probably don't believe it is inherently violent either. All I ask is the same thing for Islam. We will probably always disagree with each other on the nature of Jesus and his message, there is no need to invent conflict between us with "finger-pointing" that creates mutual bad feelings which cause Muslims to doubt the sincerity of many Christians. Our own Holy Book says to dialogue with people of other faiths respectfully, live with them respectfully, that there is "no compulsion in religion", and that "You have your religion and I have mine". I believe that you are an example enough for your religion if you represent all religions including your own accurately, stick to the facts, and are personal examples of kindness.
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