When I was younger, maybe around 6 years old, I have developed this fear and hate for Muslims. Why? Because everytime there is a Muslim-related news on TV, it’s usually about terrorist attack or something related to violence. I was young at that time and didn’t knew any better and so I have generalized that all Muslims must be bad and war-loving people.
This view of mine changed when I met my uncle. My uncle was originally baptized as a Catholic. But when he went to work at Saudi Arabia, he changed his religion to Islam. Before, I didn’t know he was a Muslim. I love being with him because he’s kind and never punished me everytime I do something wrong. He just talks to me straight to the eye which works better than physical punishment.
One thing that made curious about him is that everynight, I would see him spread the carpet (is that how you call them?), the one they used when they pray, in always the same position and then he would start praying using a language that I don’t understand. I used to imitate him because I thought it was weird and unusual. I asked my mom about this and asked why we didn’t pray the same way as he did. She told me that that’s because he’s a Muslim and we’re Catholics.
After that time, I got curious more about the Islam faith that my uncle explained to me lots of things about it and even shared to me, “La Ilaha illalla”. This phrase just stuck to me and never forgot it. I have also read lots of books about Islam that he brought from Saudi Arabia and enjoyed reading about it. I was also able to see the Qur’an and browse it (but I can’t read Arabic so yeah, I just looked at it).
I guess you can say that the media has influenced me with my view of the Muslims. Have you ever heard of a news saying, “2 Roman Catholics part of the terrorist attack” or “2 Baptists suspected to be drug pushers” (PLEASE, no offense to any Catholics or Baptists). I have never heard of such news but news such as “Muslim terrorists” are pretty much common. Double standard? I think so.
I live in Mindanao were majority of Muslims in the Philippines live. I have experienced first hand how peace-loving these people are and how friendly they are. I have Muslim friends and they’re really loyal. You can count on them when in times of need and really fun to hang out with. Some people are afraid to go to a Muslim’s house but I’m not. I have gone to a part of a Barangay were most people were Muslims and they were really nice. I have never experience any hostility from them and they welcomed us with much hospitality. They knew we were Catholics but I didn’t really think that was much of a problem. Religion was never a problem. The problem is about how people act.
I have gotten over my hate and fear for Muslims. I now think it was silly but I also realize the power of media to manipulate people and influence the people’s views especially to those who are naive, innocent and doesn’t know any better.
Terrorism has no religion. I really hope that this stigma about Muslims being war-loving people should be erased and should not be generalized. The fault of one is not the fault of all. Let the sinner suffer and spare those who are innocent.
Now I say, I don’t fear and hate Muslims anymore.