I Was Once A Muslim

I am not sure if you knew I was once a Muslim. Yeah, it’s a long story. Perhaps one day I’ll write about it. But for now, I want to focus on tolerance or the lack thereof.

Courtesy of Creative Commons

I went to Egypt, in June following 9/11. I was there for about three weeks. I went alone and rented a spacious loft, overlooking central Egypt.

I thought Bombay had a lot of traffic, but Egypt took it to another level.

I’ve always been a seeker of truth. I had been a Christian and decided to explore Islam. I was in contact with a young, intelligent Muslim zealot, who convinced me to come to Egypt. I’m always down for an adventure. So I booked a flight and head over there. I didn’t even know what the dude looked like. I know, I was crazy, but what else is new.

I arrived to a crowded, hot, and busy Cairo airport. I didn’t speak the language. I stood in what looked like the center of chaos. It was overwhelming. I had to pull myself together and figure things out quickly.

When I exited the airport, he was waiting there with his mother. The first thing I noticed was how tall he was. Egyptians are tall.

We introduced ourselves. I fell in love with his mother immediately. She was by far the sweetest woman on earth. They drove me to where I would be staying for the next three weeks. Then the fun began.

I was driven here and there, meeting with so many powerful leaders. Yeah, little ole me. I was able to ask all sorts of questions and I learned a lot. The one thing I loved was their sense of community. I never saw that in Christian circles. They all helped one another and they showed me nothing but love.

I wept when I had to return to New York City. I didn’t want to leave. For the first time in my life, I felt like I was part of something meaningful. They demonstrated unconditional love that I didn’t experience. They will always hold a dear and special place in my heart until the day I die.

When I returned to New York City, I wore a hijab, which resulted in my getting spit at, cursed at, and accused of being a suicide bomber.

For the short duration, I experienced what it is like to be a Muslim in America. In a city, which is a known for its tolerance, or so I thought. I learned otherwise.

I learned more than I thought I would ever learn. I was able to identify what Muslim women go through and what they continue to go through today.

It saddens me, between the racism and religious intolerance in this country, we haven’t gotten very far at all. Jesus said, we must love our neighbor. This means, even if they believe differently than you.

Have you been the victim of intolerance? What did you do? How did you handle it?