In the years since the September 11 terrorist attacks on America, there is a lot of attention on Islam. Does Islam permit or condone such acts? (For the answer, read My Condemnation of the Terrorist Attacks, Some Quranic Verses on Jihad, What Islam Really Says about Killing the Innocent, and Muslims Condemn Terrorism) If it doesn't, why are Muslims doing these things? (Read Controversial Issues Regarding Islam: Terrorism and Western Journalists on the Terrorist Attacks). What is Islam about? Why do 1.2 billion people around the world and 6-7 million Americans find it so fulfilling? How can we reconcile these two visions of Islam?
Perhaps you are already looking to learn more about Islam to find the answers to these questions. If not, maybe you should consider it. Read and learn and make your own judgment, don't just rely on what other people tell you.
For a month this year, Muslims around the world will be fasting. This is the great fast of Ramadan, an annual event that is one of the five obligatory worship practices of Islam. It is a time for thinking about those who are so poor and needy they never have enough to eat, a time for learning to do without and for learning to put other things before our own desires. It is a time to increase our awareness of God, to remember that we must act in the best manner at all times because He is always watching us. And it is also a time of family and of community, of knowing that our brothers and sisters in faith around the world are sharing our experiences. Perhaps nothing could be further from war and violence and hatred than a month of self-denial.
Wouldn't you like to learn more about this side of Islam? I invite and encourage you to take some time this upcoming Ramadan to increase your knowledge about Islam. Read about it in books or on the web. If you have a Muslim neighbor, co-worker, friend or relative, talk to him or her this month. See how ordinary Muslims think and feel and why they have chosen Islam as their path to God.