My parents are from Asia and I was born in Europe, but I grew up here in America since a very young age. I think it's a great country overall. I know this might cause hate towards me right away, but I'm a Muslim. I like to think my beliefs are relatively simple. I believe in one God, the same God that created Heaven and Hell and everything in between; the same God that created Adam and Eve; and the same God who will judge us on Judgement Day. By the way, "Allah" is Arabic for "God." Sometimes I wonder if getting into Heaven is as simple as believing in God and living a decent life (i.e. being honest, trustworthy, giving, etc.). I don't know for sure. Different people have various beliefs and views. I try to be understanding and I don't want to hate anyone.
Growing up, I got picked on for a lot of things, many of which weren't completely in my control (i.e. my skin color and my name), and things weren't that great at home. I guess it was kind of hard growing up being different. I was shy and mostly kept to myself. Even still, I didn't just decide to hate a whole group of people for what some people did to me. Although I didn't have many friends, I did have friends from various cultures and religions, and we always got along just fine.
Things are different now, or I guess I'm just exposed to more, but life hasn't really gotten much less scary now that I've grown up. There's a lot of crazy stuff going on in the world. I don't know if there really is a "War Against Islam" going on or what. I don't know the solutions to the world's problems (although I've heard some racist people's idea of a solution), but I wish there would be peace. I admit that if this is any sort of "holy war" whatsoever, things are definitely in the Christians' and Jews' favors. I pretty much give up. I can't argue or try to make things right. I'll continue to believe in one God, but I have no choice but to accept whatever abhorrence might come my way.
Things will never be the same for people of Middle Eastern descent. There are the typical stereotypes, and some old and new slurs such as "towel-head" or "sand ni**er." Some people even make fun of the language, and might mock Middle Eastern people by talking in funny accents or coming up with silly-sounding words to mimic Arabic words or names. I don't think that's right because the Bible that so many people follow also has many names that aren't common in everyday English, such as Melchisedec (Hebrews 7:1-3).
There is one possibly anti-Islamic web site on which Samuel Green states that the Quran (Islamic holy book) and Bible both teach that there is only one God. Another anti-Islamic web site claims that the concept of Trinity is true, meaning that God is comprised of three (i.e. The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit). I don't know who's right. Some might simply believe that The Father is God, one supreme being that created everyone and everything. There is a lot of variation in religion. There are even people, Christian or not, who might try to prove that Jehovah's Witnesses are wrong.
By the way, I thought it would be interesting to point out that there are a number of other religions that people seemingly haven't really talked about too much in recent times, like Buddhism and Hinduism. The interesting thing is that there are a variety of religions, and some that are further divided with sects, so there is something for everyone. Perhaps unfortunately, I think some people might grow up to be not so religious because of this, and therefore they can't or don't want to decide which religion or group is best for them. Complication and disputes of sorts might draw some people away from religion in general, while some people are content with just having a basic belief in God.
Some religious people might differ slightly in their views, but there is sure to be a certain group they can fit into. I'm not entirely sure if Christians believe in one God, that Jesus is God, that Jesus is son of God, or if Jesus is 1/3rd of God (i.e. Trinity), but the majority of Christians I've been around in life are good people. Although I haven't known many Jewish people, the ones I've known are also seemingly good people. Christianity has done well spreading its teachings throughout the world. It has to be the most widespread religion in the world. The idea of having someone die for your sins is appealing, especially if someone does something really bad, like Timothy McVeigh (i.e. Oklahoma City bombings). There are modern-day Jehova's Witnesses who may opt to go door-to-door to spread the Word. There are also Bibles available in countless languages, translated from the original Hebrew and Greek/Latin/Aramaic, so everyone can enjoy. Although Samuel Green said on his web site that Christians are taught through the Gospel not to fight for their religion, the Christians did fairly well with The Crusades of 1096-1291 AD in which they pretty much eliminated non-Christians from Europe. I've heard something about The Inquisition, and also about women being accused of witchcraft and tortured during the 15th-17th centuries. I've also heard something about anti-Semitism.
Either way, the majority of us don't know 100% for sure what happened in the past because we weren't there. Of course history books and such should be pretty accurate, but it's hard to say if they're completely accurate. Even with translations of holy books, it's possible that one translator will translate something one way, and another will translate the same thing in another way. People vary in their perception and have different interpretations of things. Whatever the truth is, it will come out eventually. If there is a life after death (which atheists might not believe), we'll find out soon enough. In the meantime, perhaps people should just accept one another and be patient.
Something people should keep in mind when studying holy books is that different people have varying interpretations and perceptions, and all translations won't be the same. Some holy book translations available for purchase here today might be in more modern English so they're easier to comprehend. I also noticed that there are different versions of the Bible (i.e. NIV, RSV, King James version, Roman Catholic version), but I don't really know the difference between them. With Islam, the Quran is supposedly unchanged from its original Arabic, but I guess it's hard to confirm this for sure. Although there are people who have preserved the text by memorizing it in its entirety, and I assume this can pass on from generation to generation. I'm sure there are also plenty of people who have memorized majority of the Bible. There are plenty of smart people out there.
As for different people's versions of what actually happened during any particular past event, some people get caught up in the details. One history book might say this happened, while another history book might have a slightly different account of the event. Well, were you there to see what actually happened? Probably not. What matters is that we understand the moral, or point, of the story. For instance, some might say that the immoral inhabitants of Lot's town were turned to stone or salt, while some might say there was a downpour of rocks that destroyed the village and its people. I'm not going to waste time trying to prove what actually happened. I feel, however, that I understand the point of the story.
I think when people who don't know much about Islam start learning about it, they are surprised to see that the Quran teaches about many of the same servants of God that are mentioned in the Bible, and that it's not some completely different and mystifying religion. I like to think of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam as the three Abrahamic religions. I believe a number of people, past and present, have made arguments trying to prove that Muhammad (Messenger of Islam) was not really a prophet. To my knowledge, he couldn't perform any miracles. I believe the Bible teaches that a false prophet who was to come after Jesus' time would be able to perform miracles and deceive people (Revelation 19:20). Like the Quran says, Muhammad was just a messenger, or warner (35:23). The funny thing is that if he was fake, a lot of people still follow Islam. Another peculiar thing is that Muhammad would be saying nice things about Mary, Mother of Jesus, but he could have said nice things about his own mother (based on the idea that if he was the last messenger, his mother gave birth to the last messenger). Besides trying to prove Muhammad false, another thing I noticed on anti-Islamic sites is that people often try to find the most negative-sounding verses in the Quran to help prove their point.
It's too bad that some people read another faith's holy book with their only intention being to find something to use against them. There are smart people who can make good arguments by using quotes from the Quran to prove how bad Islam is. If one translator's interpretation doesn't sound bad enough, then the anti-Islam person will use another translator's version if it sounds more negative. One thing you probably won't see on anti-Islam sites are any good quotes from the Quran. Then again, there might be Jews who use quotes from the Old Testament to try and prove that Jesus wasn't the true Messiah, and Muslims who may try to prove inconsistencies in Christianity. There are also those who may try to prove the non-existence of God. People are always going to argue and debate about who's right and who's wrong. I wonder why, though. Why do people spend so much time trying to prove another religion wrong? Why can't people just get along? Overall, it seems to be a hateful world.
Anyway, I was trying to get to a point. I think that despite the notion that one person will read another faith's holy book to find something negative, the holy books from each of the major religions have good quotes in them. I think we should focus on the good. Here are some I like:
"...The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might." (Deuteronomy 6:4-5)
"For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you." (Matthew 6:14)
"Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins." (Proverbs 10:12)
"Religion with God is peace." (3:19)
"...anyone who kills any person without another soul being involved or for causing mischief in the land, acts as if he had killed all mankind. Anyone who spares life acts as if he had granted life to all mankind..." (5:32)
"Act patiently; God does not let the wages of those who act kindly be wasted." (11:115)
"Thunder hymns His praise while angels stand in awe of Him." (13:13)
"God stands alongside those who fulfil their duty and who act kindly." (16:128)
"'If the sea were an inkwell for the words of my Lord, the sea would be drained before my Lord's words would be spent even though we brought the same again to replenish it.'" (18:109)
"God is the Light of Heaven and Earth." (24:35)
I read on one anti-Islamic web site that Islam is incompatible with the American way of life. I also read someone ridiculing some Islam-related television program on which they had an American flag in the background; the writer was apparently saying that it was a fake attempt by the Muslims hosts to pretend being American and trying to fit in. Those things sounded weird to me. I thought nationality and religion were two different things, and I thought people could believe what they wanted here in America.
One thing that kind of bothers me is that people seem to have tied religion very closely with other things, like nationality and politics. Some might consider the 9/11 attacks on America to be anti-American, while some might believe they were anti-Christian. I don't know, but I think I shed more tears than a few people who were actually born here in America, but who happen despise the government. No matter who did the attack and what the motives were, I still don't like to hear about all these people dying so unexpectedly and tragically. After the 9/11 attacks, I was watching the news a lot, but I eventually stopped, partly because I actually didn't have much access to television for a while, and also because I was worried about feeling hate towards one group or another if I watched too much news. This is a perfect opportunity for anti-Islamic people to prove the evilness of Islam. Then again, some atheists might talk about the mayhem going on within Catholicism with child sex abuse scandals. There's another odd thing I thought of. If someone tells me to go back to my own country (which is also predominantly made up of a white Christian population), someone there might also tell me to go back to my own country. I don't know where to go, although some anti-Islamic people might be happy to tell me where to go, if you know what I mean.
Although some will disagree with me, I think that religion is a good thing overall because it gives a sense of belonging to people, encourages doing good things, and may help something think twice about doing something immoral. Spending time in prayer can keep one out of trouble, quite frankly. However, in some cases religion is taken to the extreme, and that's where it might be considered dangerous. Some people might try to force their religion onto another, and some people might blame a higher power for their indecent actions. In any case, religion has had plenty of media coverage lately. Much focus is on the Middle Eastern region, and that made me think of something. From a religious point-of-view, that's the area of the world where religion basically started, where it all began. Well, I was thinking that events in that part of the world might also be integral to the end of it all.
Even though some bad things have happened to me here in America, I don't know if I'd have much of a better life elsewhere. No country is perfect, I suppose, but there's a lot of opportunity here. There are several places in America that I'd like to explore, and there are also other parts of the world I'd like to visit, but now even getting on a plane is a difficulty because I'm a potential victim of terrorism and a potential victim of discrimination.
Another point I wanted to make is that I don't know if it's accurate to label America as a Christian country because we have such a variety of people here. America is sometimes referred to as "the salad bowl." Furthermore, there are certain things that have occurred in this country that do not represent the ideologies of one group, or that do not fit the profile of what the whole country is like. For example, racism (i.e. Ku Klux Klan), past inequity towards women in the workplace (i.e. glass ceiling), child abuse (in various forms), spousal abuse, drug/alcohol abuse, abortion clinics and abortion clinic bombings (touchy subject), homosexual couples (which some religious people disagree with), domestic anti-government terrorism (i.e. Timothy McVeigh, maybe the Unabomber), school shootings (i.e. Littleton), and political corruption. Bad things happen all over the world. I suppose no country, culture, or religion is free from blemishes in its history.
A day or two after 9/11, my supervisor at work asked me if anyone had said anything (bad) to me. I told her that no one did, and she told me to let her know if someone does. I really appreciate her concern. She and her husband are devout Christians, and they regularly do church activities for kids in their community. Also, the weekend after 9/11, I went to the grocery store early Sunday morning because there are typically less people shopping during that time. I saw a man in uniform, so I asked politely if I could ask him something. I first thought he was a police officer, but he ended up to be a fireman who was there with a colleague doing grocery shopping for their fire station. Anyway, I asked him if he knew of a lot of hate crimes that were going on. He said that they get briefings from the police station, but that he hadn't heard of such crimes. I explained briefly why I was concerned when he inquired, and he told me that I should report it to the police if something did happen. The fireman apparently told his colleague what I had asked him about, as later in the store both of them came up to me and the colleague talked to me. I explained in more detail now about my concerns for safety, not only for my family but other innocent people. I mentioned to them that the previous night I had gone into several Yahoo chat rooms and how people were saying many bad things and making plain old death threats. They both mentioned how some people are ignorant and again mentioned proper procedures in case something happened. I really appreciate their consideration also and I have a lot of respect, more than in the past, for police and firefighters.
I guess what I'm getting at with this whole thing is that there will always be differences among us, but maybe we shouldn't waste our lives in hate. That's probably not what Jesus or any other religious figure taught. Even if we don't completely love one another, we should at least respect one another.
Honestly, I just wish I knew a way to please everyone. What can I do so everyone will be happy? I don't know. If it helps any, I do apologize for who or what I am.