I wasn't really introduced to Islam until I moved from Illinois to Minneapolis at the age of 19. I always loved languages and cultures, but grew up in a small city where the options were very limited. There were a few muslims there, but more of them were African-American rather than foreign-born. There was also very little in the way of dawah, and I would say that most of them didn't know their religion very well.
I went to Minneapolis to study Biblical Languages at a Christian school, and ended up falling in love with the Muslim Somalis who lived in my neighborhood. I really started to understand and appreciate the beauty of Islam when I got a job where most of my co-workers were Muslim. Many of them were Somali, but there were also Moroccans, Egyptians, Ethiopians and Algerians. I am still friends with many of these people, and my husband and I also stayed with Sherif and his family when we visited Egypt.
For me, I really began to appreciate the religion as it is lived out in community. I saw this in action when visiting my friends houses in the city, and also when I stayed with my friends after they moved back to San Diego. The Omar family has basically adopted me as their 10th daughter. I even have some of them as my relatives on facebook. (Hi Khadija and Amina!) They showed my family true hospitality and what it means to have your religion affect every aspect of life.
I definitely don't feel like I have a complete grasp on Islam, but I have seen things that I like about the religion, and also some things that I have problems with. My reason for this post is to create discussion so that Muslims and non-Muslims can share knowledge.
Seven things I love about Islam:
1. Tawheed=Simple monotheism
2. Timed prayers= As Christians we say that we can remember God at any time, but how easy is it to get busy with life. The tradition of Judaism before the time of Jesus was timed prayer, but the church fell away from this as it was Romanized. See Acts 1:14. In the Greek it says the the apostles devoted themselves to "the prayers." Prayer was done in the Temple at 3 set times per day.
3. The concept of haya, or modesty.=This applies to the whole of society. European society used to have more of a sense of decorum and modesty in both dress and behavior, which has now been lost. I wish more people would learn to cover and to lower their gaze.
4. Beautiful Quran=Some passages that come to mind are Ayat al kursi, Al fatiha, 2:115, 2:163. They are even more beautiful in Arabic MashaAllah.
5. Memorization of Quran=I like that this is a focus. I have memorized Al fatiha, al ikhlas, and an-naas myself. I wish that a tradition like this to memorize that Bible in Greek and Hebrew and been kept alive. Some Jewish sects do chant Torah in Hebrew, but the tradition is not as melodic and beautiful as the Arabic in my opinion
6. Arabic language=I love the way things are expressed in Arabic. It is a language that is simple yet profound. Hebrew is similar in that the language is built upon a system of common roots that make it easier to learn. I also love that salah is done in Arabic so that a Muslim can pray with others anywhere in the world.
7. Concept of Ummah=The brotherhood of Muslims still amazes me at times. Unfortunately, I have also seen that the ummah is far from its ideal. There's still a lot of work to do guys.
I would love to have some comments here discussing how these topics have influenced some who did decide to revert to Islam, and how they may be affecting other followers of Messiah who have been blessed by Muslim friends.
My next post will be on some of the problems I have with Islam. I just have to look through my resources again and clarify some of them so that I can get some answers on them.