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Dialogue with a Neighbor

I have received a very promising email from Ashraf in Egypt, a 29-year-old programming instructor who was once involved with “one of those groups whom the Egyptian government considered Islamic fanatics for a while,” but has now “broken free from their belief system.”

 

Ashraf contacted me with the following email concerning my FAQs:

“Do you hate Islam?”
“I do not know enough about Islam to hate it.”

 

A very intelligent answer. Your answers to your last 2 FAQ questions are very intelligent indeed.

 

Ashraf
Cairo, Egypt

I must admit to being unsure as to whether or not Ashraf was being sarcastic, but decided to find out for myself:

Hi Ashraf,
 
Thanks for your email.  

 

As you can tell, I HATE terrorism, and will never apologoze for being harsh on terrorists and their supporters and apologists. And I am flabbergasted that more moderate Muslims are not speaking out (at least the ones in western countries who needn’t fear reprisals if they condemn terrorism)

 

But I am not convinced, like many others, that Islam as a religion is to blame. I think people try to justify their actions by finding a random quote in the Quran. But I find it hard to believe that the Quran itself promotes hate and killing.
 
I would be interested in your thoughts on this issue.
 
Regards,
David

Thankfully, Ashraf was not being sarcastic:

Your email is very interesting.

 

I believe an open stream of communication should be held between both parties. I think if we would summarize the whole issue in one point, it would be lack of understanding of each party to the other and holding strongly to misconceptions on both sides. At least on my side as a Muslim I know that many here if not most hold strongly to many misconceptions about the other side.

 

One step to solving the issue is to promote better mutual understanding. I believe this is the way and only way to resolving such issues.

 

I have also now came to believe that a great part of the misconceptions, at least here on my side, are promoted by political forces to reach their goals. I believe that even if their goals were ‘valid’ ones, they should not by any means use such twisted methods as pushing forward misconceptions to get what they want.

 

What interested me also is that you studied the Torah. Though one year is not a lot [I have since reminded Ashraf that I studied for one year in seminary, but my study is ongoing – ed.], but still you probably went more deeply into that later on.This is interesting because you will be a better source for clarifying some misconceptions.

 

Your being “flabbergasted” by Muslims not blaming terrorism got my attention and thought.

 

As for my “thoughts on this issue,” I believe that politics has colored many an interpretation of Quranic texts thus breaking away from it’s whole and true meaning. Quranic texts cannot be interpreted in isolation and taken out of context. They must be interpreted in context and using a holistic approach.

 

Ashraf
Cairo, Egypt

Ashraf has since agreed to be in contact with me, providing me (and you, my readers) with a better understanding of Islam and the perspective of a moderate Muslim.

 

We look forward to hearing more from Ashraf.

About the author

Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
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