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From: Julia Hathaway <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: April 12, 2013 4:50:08 PM EDT
In my early teens I went to a friend's Sunday school. The teacher started talking about converting the heathens in the Middle East. I tried to explain that they had their own perfectly good monotheistic religion. It did not go over well. I was labelled Satan Spawn and my friend's family was told that if she was allowed to associate with me they'd be kicked out of the church. (They chose me. In case you wanted to know.)
Sadly since then things seem to have worsened or at least not improved. So many people think "terrorist" or "suicide bomber" or "they hate us" when they hear the words "Islam" or "Muslim." This is a truly sad state of affairs. Islam, Christianity, and Judaism have so much in common such as roots and ethics. Most adherents of these and other world faiths are saddened and horrified by acts of wanton violence justified in the name of religion.
Nothing beats fear and prejudice like knowledge. I've been looking through books to recommend to readers who want to understand this major world religion.
The Idiot's Guide to Islam (an oxymoron if I ever heard one--if you're seeking this information out you are NOT AN IDIOT) is a wonderful adult book. Beliefs, history, daily practices...all are covered in succinct, informative chapters. Controversial topics are not avoided. I would advise taking it a chapter at a time to not be overwhelmed with information.
Growing Up Muslim: Understanding the Beliefs and Practices of Islam is perfect for younger readers. Growing up in California, the author fielded lots of questions from curious classmates. She covers topics young people might notice (dietary restrictions, holiday observations, dating) as well as basic beliefs. She is quite candid, even revealing conflicts she has had with her faith.
If you don't know what Islam is about I'd advise you to check out one of these fine books.
On a personal note, in my adult Sunday school class we're having spirited discussions about the Old Testament. Since Christianity, Judaism, and Islam share the same roots we will have a Muslim come in and talk to us.
A great big shout out goes out to Pastor Steve, our teacher, and my fellow classates who make the study of religion anything but dull and boring.
Julia Emily Hathaway
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