He calls it “A Sacred Conversation”: Dr. Hesham A. Hassaballa, a Chicago physician and writer, recounts this conversation at AltMuslim.com, with thanks to Nicolei and RB.
[An American woman writes]: “I won’t deny that I have hostility towards Islam. I think you should know, however, that before I knew anything about Islam I used to regard Muslims as nice, intelligent, good people and I thought Islam wasn’t very different from Christianity. However, after the attacks of 9/11 which took America and myself by surprise, I began to research just what Islam is all about. So far, I don’t like what I see. Both in theory and in practice it seems bloody and barbaric.”
[Hassaballa responds:] I sincerely appreciated her refreshing honesty. The attacks of 9/11 poisoned the view of Islam for many fellow Americans, and it should not be surprising. The level of the Muslim community’s insulation from the greater American society, coupled with the widespread ignorance of the basics of Islam on the part of most Americans, should have set up an enormous backlash against American Muslims after September 11. Yes, there were attacks and some were even killed. Yet, September 11 did not spell the end of Islam in America. It speaks to the fundamental goodness of the people of our country.
Still, it is important for me to point out that Islam is neither bloody nor barbaric in theory. Here, however, is the problem: unfortunately, Islam has been used by a tiny minority as an instrument of bloodthirsty barbarism. I am so angry for that.
Angry, eh? All right, Dr. Hassaballa. What are you going to do about it?
[The woman continues]: “I want to know that somewhere out there are Muslims that won’t condone the acts perpetrated by Islamic terrorists all over the world and that Islam is not a threat to everything I hold dear. In other words, I’m looking for some sign that the ‘clash of cultures’ between Islam and the West is not inevitable. I know I’m asking a lot, but all I’m looking for is some middle ground.”
[Hassaballa]: This is a very legitimate concern for many, many non-Muslim fellow Americans. So let me say again what I initially told this fellow American: I do not, never have, and never will condone acts of murder and mayhem in the name of Islam. I reject it, I hate it, I despise it, and I condemn it with every cell in my body. The terrorists who act in the name of Islam are as much my enemy as they are yours. What you hold dear, I hold dear. Islam is not a threat to that. My whole purpose in writing is to be a bridge between America and the Muslim world. I am trying with all my keystrokes to avert a “clash of civilizations.” Islam and the West live in harmony in me, and it can do so around the world. Again, please don’t confuse Islam for the ugliness you see done by Muslims. Please. It is the same as judging Christianity by the Spanish Inquisition or the Crusades, or judging America by “Baywatch.” Both are fallacious.
I am so very grateful to God that I had this conversation, and hence I called it a “sacred” one. I am confident that these very same thoughts and feelings dwell within the minds and hearts of a good number of non-Muslim fellow Americans. I am so grateful to God that this fellow American had the courage to tell me about them.
I would like to invite Dr. Hassaballa to visit us at Jihad Watch, and to explain the specific Islamic grounds on which he condemns terrorism. I hope he will also explain the distinction between jihad and terrorism, and show how the explanations of jihad put forth by Osama bin Laden and his ilk are fallacious on Islamic grounds. Dr. Hassaballa, I’ll be right here waiting for you.