By Thehil Russelliah Singh
One of the greatest things about being a Learning Partner at the Language Resource Writing Center (LRWC) is that you get to read and proofread other people’s papers. In my case, I have the privilege of assisting a fellow master’s student at LSTC who is a person with disabilities and so I also serve as her scribe. This term my Learning Partner is taking a course offered by LSTC called Muslims in America. The class spends very little time in the classroom and instead makes visits to mosques and Islamic centers in and around the city. To my great excitement, I was asked to accompany my learning partner on visits to these places.
Over the past few weeks, we have visited the MECCA center and the IMAN (Inner-City Muslim Action Network) center. At both places, I was blown away by the generosity and camaraderie of our Muslim brothers and sisters. They welcomed us, showered us with love, food and information. I remember at the end of the day of our visit to the MECCA center, one man expressed his delight that so many Christians were interested in meeting and learning about Islam and Muslims in America. Then he asked us, “Are all Christians like that?” We fumbled for words and then answered vaguely that it depended on who you were asking.
Unfortunately, not all Christians are like that. Islamophobia has only intensified after the recent travel ban. Islamic stereotypes associating all Muslims with violence and terror are too ingrained in our culture for us to honestly say that all people really do want to meet and greet our Muslim neighbors. But to label is to judge. To separate is to segregate. We need to stop demonizing people that are different from us. We need to stop and listen and try to understand their stories, their histories and their cultures. My recent visits have helped me to understand Islamic culture and its people. And what I have realized is that we are really not all that different. All of us hope for similar things – kindness, peace and love. For we are all human, all children of God and all made in God’s image.
Love doesn’t do anything wrong to a neighbor; therefore,
Love is what fulfills the Law.