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Community Commentary: A devout Christian learns about Islam from Shadia

January 07, 2012|By Paterik Tobias

I have always prided myself on being open-minded and fair, so it was with both surprise and shock that I read Mona Shadia's weekly column, "Unveiled: A Muslim Girl in O.C."

I almost couldn't believe what I was reading: A Muslim telling me, a Christian, that she and people of her religion give some credence to Jesus.

Shadia refers to passages within the Koran regarding Jesus that reflect the very same beliefs that I hold.

Because, like most Americans, I hold deep-seeded preconceptions and prejudices, I first read the column with more than a little skepticism. I couldn't help but think, "Is she putting me on? What's her game?" I couldn't help but remember Muslims scoffing at my Bible, and now one of them says they include Jesus Christ in theirs?

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As I read, I remembered an imam I saw on TV who told his flock, not only before him, but to the whole Muslim world, not to tell the truth to the infidels, we Christians, because we are not worthy, that in fact it is the Muslims' duty to mislead and lie to the infidel.

When I read the column again, I thought, "This couldn't be what that imam meant. Shadia couldn't/wouldn't be putting this in print for all the world to see it she didn't believe it, if it didn't have some level of truth to it, knowing she could and perhaps would, by those Islamic radical terrorists, be killed for saying such things that go against Muslims and their/her religion and their sacred bible, the Koran."

You might want to know that I have been one of those individuals who since 9/11 felt justified in believing that Muslims are a people never to be trusted, especially after hearing that imam. I have seen and heard things that has reinforced and ingrained this belief very deeply.

While still fighting the urge to read something hidden between the lines, Shadia's column makes me think, and perhaps informs me that, first, I am very likely not as open and fair as I've always prided and purported myself to be.

The column also tells me that I may not have all the right facts, and that perhaps I've misunderstood some of the things I've seen and heard.

I guess more than anything else, the column exposed some of the depth of my own ignorance.

So before I could respond, I had to sort things out in my mind, something I am only able to do when I sit quietly and separate mixed emotions from logical analysis.

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