twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,

Or watch the things you gave your live to,


And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

This stanza of the poem If by Rudyard Kipling, always reminds me of the Prophet (peace be upon him)

Sometimes I wonder what he would say if he saw what people do in his name today.

Or Jesus (peace be upon him). What would he say?

Over the years I’ve discussed a lot of issues on the internet. Mostly on this political writing forum I often frequent.

It’s funny how it works. I have a lot of friends on that forum.

We’ve ‘known’ each other for many years.

I’ve spent countless hours arguing and explaining my perspective as a Muslim to them.

Some people are respectful, others less so.

They all start out with lots of assumptions.

Having grown up here, I can safely say that I understand their perspectives a lot better than they understand mine. I’ve been bombarded with them all my life.

I had to actively choose my faith.

There are some people who belong to the religion they do by default.

They were born into it, so they accept it as a culture.

Others, like me, while not ‘converts’ have come to a point where they actually accept the religion.

It’s a kind of conversion of sorts.

For me it happened when I was very young. Eighth grade. Under the trees that surrounded the soccer field of my middle school.

It was another recess spent alone, in contemplation during a particularly rough week of my life. 

Canada is a less religious than America. When I was growing up, science reigned supreme, and I found it very compelling.

On the one hand I loved the way it explained so many fascinating natural phenomenon, on the other hand, I found it apalling that it seemed determined to prove the absence of God.

I’ve never found the two to be incompatible.

But that day, on the field, beneath that maple tree, I felt like I had to make a choice.

It’s taken a long time for me to reconcile the two, and feel at peace with my scientific training and religious training.

It’s taken me a long time to learn to use the one to complement the other, and vice versa.

And as a result of this arguing, discussing and yes, even defending my beliefs, I learned to distinguish between the actions of Muslims and what the Prophet (peace be upon him) himself dictated.

Unfortunately many Muslims are not very good examples of the Islamic teachings. And growing up in Pakistani culture, there were so many aspects to what I thought Islam taught that I found apalling and even barbaric.

The first instinct is to blame the messenger. It’s what so many people on that politics forum would do. They’d point at crazy things some Muslims were doing and blame them on all of us, and on Islam and the Prophet (peace be upon him).

Despite the proof I provided that these were things that the Prophet (peace be upon him) clearly condemned.

Instead of blaming the messenger, I studied the messenger, found out what he really taught by going back to the original sayings, and in doing so, I tried to purge all the cultural corruption from my practice of Islam.

Today, on CNN, Wolf Blitzer was making a big deal about some Muslim scholar who issued a fatwa categorically denouncing suicide bombing and terrorism.

My response: “Duh!”

Armed struggle against an occupying force is certainly legitimate. Blowing yourself up to kill anyone, even your enemies, is not.

Anyone who wants to blame that on the Prophet (peace be upon him) when he categorically forbade suicide and the killing of innocents, is operating on the basis of their own prejudice, and not on anything he taught.

But you cannot control your words once they’ve left you. People will quote you and misquote you, twisting your words to set a trap for fools.

And those fools will be responsible for what they do, and so will the knaves who trapped them. Each according to various degrees of culpability.

Sometimes it just seems so overwhelming.

I don’t know if I could stand it were it not for the belief, the certainty that there is God, who is impartial, who can see into our hearts and judge us from our true intentions.

Otherwise, with all the wickedness in the world, and with all the times that evil seems to prevail, there would be no hope.

Only despair.

And yet, I have hope. Lots of hope.