So before you speak about Islam, before you make a remark about Muslims, before you even post something on Facebook, I ask you to consider that you are speaking about my friends. Before you come to any conclusions about Islam and/or the Arab world, I will happily connect you to any of these friends, who I know would be love to talk to you and get to know you. I know you will be shocked by the depth of their genuine spirits and I also know that these friendships are exactly what is required to heal the horrible divisions we find ourselves in. Before you say something else that will further division, consider friendship instead.
*Update* - I recently came across this beautiful piece from the On Being blog and would love to share it with you:
"We live in a world in which there is often much heat, and all too little light, in our public discourse. How do we bring a sense of sanity and humanity to these conversations about difficult issues?
But here is the one thing I do know works: face-to-face, human-to-human interactions — getting to know people on a personal level, getting to know each others’ families and breaking bread together. There is a beautiful transformation that happens when we sit down across a table from one other and share a meal. Lo and behold, we find that we all love our children, that we all want the best for them, that we all share many of the same fears about our kids.
I think about that woman in the Amsterdam hotel and wonder what would happen to her if she had some Muslim friends, and how she might have treated the next set of Muslim hotel guests.
I think it would make a difference. There is a grace, a magic, that happens in that face-to-face encounter."
- Omid Safi, in "Is There a Bomb in Your Suitcase?"