Wake up! [Archives:2008/1169/Community]

July 3 2008

By: Noorin Mohammed Hassan
One of my favorite channels is Al- Resala TV and although it usually displays a lot of interesting programs, only one has really caught my attention and certainly influenced my life forever.

A kid who couldn't have been older than 6 years old was reciting Qura'an on Al- Manar TV. Watching that kid struck me, I was embarrassed and even ashamed. The kid was not reading, but actually reciting verses. Verses I had no clue about. Not only did I not know the verses, but neither did I understand the precise meaning of them. I knew it was talking about the afterlife, something about hell and heaven. Yet I did not know the precise meanings of the words.

Yes, I am an Arabic native speaker who was born in a Middle Eastern country, who was raised on Arabic and Islamic traditions, but somehow the words made no sense to me.

At that moment, a memory of a similar feeling flew into my head. Years back, when I was in secondary school, I had the exact same feeling, the feeling of ignorance, and I was similarly embarrassed. It was the last day of exams and the school had arranged a trip for us to Aden. As the bus sped toward the paved road through the mountains, the students began to hit drums and they all started to sing and even dance. They were singing the lyrics of an English song, a really popular one, at least among youth. But I had no clue as I was never interested in music and although I spoke English very well, I couldn't understand the words they were saying. As the fast rhythm continued to vibrate the bus all along the road to Aden, I had made a promise to myself. I promised myself to start following the latest songs, the trends. I was simply promising to myself to be cool.

To my detriment, I thought it would be a good idea to listen to all hip-hop songs and download their lyrics. Deep down something was telling me that this was a really bad way to waste my holiday, but I fooled myself by convincing thinking that this was indeed the one and only one way to improve my English.

The holiday passed and I was extremely proud of my accomplishments, I had studied the lyrics, the rhythms and was feeling perfectly confident to step into high school.

Trying to wipe away these memories, I switched the channel and I have always been fond of debates. I decided to watch a debate held on a news show. The debate was between a Muslim scholar and the host.

It was mainly about the link people have created between Islam and terrorism. The scholar was complaining about how people in Britain and the western world in general have created a stereotype against Muslims, and that is when he was interrupted by the host who retorted that Muslims should indeed face trials and tribulations. The host continued to accuse Muslims of extremism, terrorism and fundamentalism.

The scholar was surprisingly calm and waited for the host to finish his comments. He then simply replied with part of a verse from the Qura'an: “O People of the Book! Commit no extremism in your religion, nor say of Allah aught but the truth. …” (Surah al-Nisa, V: 171)

He also explained that the above verse was in reference to the “People of the Book”” being extreme in their religion to the point that they considered Jesus (peace be upon him) to be the son of God