Today, brother Eray and I were at the Süleymaniye Mosque to tell tourists about Islam. What we did was greet the visitors with a smile, challenge their prejudices about Muslims, correct their misconceptions, and properly explain our religion. In fact, many people convert to Islam this way. By the way, don’t mind me saying “we did this” “we did that”. I was mostly an observer. Eray was the one doing the talk. Although he is a full-time engineer, he has been trained on this subject in numerous countries and actively inviting tourists to Islam for 10 years. He sincerely performs dawah and expects nothing in return. Anyway, I was just there taking notes. I wanted to make the most of it since he was an exceptional man.
Anyway, let’s get to the story. We were observing the visitors to figure out whom we could talk with. You can immediately spot the ones who are eager to learn somehow. After that, all we did was show up and simply ask: “Do you have any questions?”. One question leads to another and the next thing you know, it’s been hours.
Likewise, there were many people/groups that we got in touch with today. We talked to people from countries such as Denmark, Argentina, Chile, and France. Each one has a story of its own, but I would especially like to mention one. It’s the French family who was all ears to what we had to tell. A family of three: young parents and their 7-year-old son, Robin.
“Mom, look, I came in first!”
It was almost time for the afternoon prayer. We moved on to a convenient place to sit and talk. The discussion was about mosques and how salat is done. First they asked if prayers had to be performed at mosques, then the prayer times. The questions kept coming. In the meantime, I was trying to read their expressions. Their son Robin seemed more focused on children running through the mosque while his parents were listening with interest. After a while, I signed him that we could go run. So Robin and I started playing while brother Eray kept on doing dawah.
We played cat and mouse, raced, did basically anything you can do at the mosque. We had a great time after all. Since he won the race, I ripped a page out of my notebook and made him a first-place certificate. He was so happy. He ran to his mother with excitement and showed the certificate: “Look! I came in first and here’s my name on the bottom.”
The truth is, Robin and I haven’t had a single word because our languages are different. We communicated completely in body language. But alhamdulillah, I’d say we got along much better than any two people would. Anyway, Eray’s talk was over. So both Robin and I wiped out, we ended the games. We finally said goodbye to the family. Gestured them with a few French pamphlets about Islam and a translated copy of the Quran.
Why am I telling you this?
Now let’s evaluate the day to see my point in writing the whole article. Well, we keep whining about how the media spreads Islamaphobia in the west. However, in a way, we are part of the reason why things are the way they are. I mean, if we’d done enough to reach people, we wouldn’t be suffering to such an extent. The silver lining is, so much can be done with very little effort. Let’s contemplate together, for instance, the case of little Robin and his family.
These people were willing to listen. All we had to do was properly explain Islam and make sure to create an intimate atmosphere. When the conversation was finally over, here’s what it looked like:
How lovely people you are and what a beautiful religion you have!
Once they turn back to their countries and see Muslims being stereotyped on TV, maybe now they will just laugh. When a friend says “Muslims are such thugs and terrorists.”, they will be able to say “No, my dear, not at all.” And the best part is, all it takes is just 30 minutes of sincere conversation to defeat Islamophobia.
“What about little Robin?” you may ask. Well, we all have those unforgettable childhood memories. Especially of the times we experienced something new or had a lot of o fun. I’m hoping I gave Robin one today. Imagine him in the future. He will associate Islam and Muslims with a lovely memory, let alone turning out islamophobic. What could be better?