In response to Brian Van Mols’ letter (Herald, June 16), Islam is not bent on Western destruction, nor is it an aggressive religion. It is a religion of peace, and it coexists with other religions around the world. I recently returned from living in the Middle East for six months, living in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates as well as traveling to Jordan and Oman for extended periods. Christians and Muslims live peacefully in these countries, and do so throughout most of the Muslim world. For those who think the opposite, you may be surprised that I went to church with no problems.
Islam is not the enemy of freedom; it grants more freedom than people think, even toward women. Throughout my travels, I always saw empowered women, especially in the UAE, and they had nearly as many rights as women in the West. The Middle East, like America, has infrastructure and industry, and is developed. Dubai itself is a global, cosmopolitan city with residents from every country. Muslims are kind and just as tolerant as people in the West – if not more so. Islamic culture has contributed so much to Western civilization, from its earliest contact all the way through the Renaissance and beyond.
I implore all who are questioning the validity of Islam to talk to a Muslim, or pick up the Quran, or travel to the Middle East yourself. In general, it is a safe place, and you will be welcomed. In Jordan, for example, the Jordanians were so excited to meet Americans that they took pictures with us and always greeted us with, “Welcome to Jordan.” Also, if you can, pay a visit to a mosque near you. Most mosques in America are welcoming to visitors as they want to teach about the peaceful religion Islam is.
I will even personally meet with people who are curious, if you want. No, I am not Muslim, and I do not know everything about Islam. I do know, however, that it is peaceful, and I have nothing to fear from my Muslim friends.