Last year, in response to the “Burn the Quran Day” Florida pastor, I thought I’d promote at this blog a counter day; a have-a-meal-with-a-Muslim-day. The idea was to initiate dialogues, not bonfires.
And that day in September of 2010 went well. People from all over the world participated. And, for me personally, it led, not just to a nice meal with a couple of Muslims in my community, but to an interview with a Southern California imam, and a tour of his mosque. You can see that tour and interview at YouTube here.
And it’s September again, and that means that the third Friday in September (the annual date for the day) is coming up. So, this year, won’t you ask a Muslim to a meal or coffee sometime on or around September 16th?
Ask a Muslim out to talk. About anything. Honestly. No big whoop. And, of course, if you’re a Muslim, ask a non-Muslim to have a meal or coffee with you.
Am I promoting this because I’m a stupid liberal turning a blind eye to the evils of Islam? I certainly hope not. I’m ambivalent about religion in general (I’m an agnostic), and of Islam in particular. But it’s precisely this ambivalence that suggests to me that I need to talk to believers, and to Muslims specifically.
My own philosophical premise is that loving people practice their religion or atheism lovingly and hateful people practice their religion or atheism hatefully. I’m thus looking to have a meal with Muslims who practice their religion with love. I want to make alliance with them against all haters (of whatever religious or irreligious persuasion).
But, you might ask, what about the Quran? Doesn’t it, in various passages, promote intolerance, violence, and sexism?
Well, yes, it does.
But since Muslims—like Jews and Christians—pick and choose what they will activate in their sacred texts, it gives all human beings an opening to influence one another toward adopting loving (as opposed to hateful) activations.
At least, that’s my theory.
If you think this is a sensible spirit in which to approach an attempt at breaking down walls between people, won’t you join me?
Friday, September 16th: HMMD 2011. Ask a Muslim out for a meal or cup of coffee. See what happens. And, if you’re so inclined, return to this blog and let me know how it went.
I’ve already contacted a Muslim coworker to have lunch with him that day. He said yes. And I’ve got some other Muslims in my community in mind, to invite them as well.