Islam

My Adara

This isn’t really a complete story, but more of an exploration of either a book, or a completed short story. Would love some feedback. 🙂

“Wow, the rain is really picking up,” I whisper to myself. I can’t believe how hard it is raining outside. I have been in Mosul for almost 2 months and I have barely seen it even sprinkle, now it is nearing the status of a “torrential downpour”.
I had traveled to Iraq to assist in the building of schools. Right after seminary, I knew that staying stateside just wasn’t for me. I wanted to get involved, and truly reach out to those who haven’t yet had the full opportunity to hear the Word of God. I knew it would be a challenge, but I knew in my heart it was what God wanted me to do.
I don’t remember a time not knowing God. I grew up in church. My father was a Pastor, and his father before him. I respected so much what they did, but I needed something different. I needed something more exciting, something less safe.
The thought of going in to a predominately Muslim nation was both thrilling as well as frightening. I knew the environment might be hostile, but we were given the okay by all of the authorities, so I figured we would be fine. We went to help build schools, and pass out food, but were told specifically we were not allowed to proselytize the people. This was to be a humanitarian mission only. I wasn’t sure how I would respond, staying quiet about my faith was never easy for me, but I figured if I couldn’t spread the Word by mouth, perhaps I could spread it with my actions.
I could never have imagined what my actions would be, or where they would lead.

The workers and I had just begun working on our first school. The temperatures were unrealistically hot. Two of the workers fell sick on the first day. Most of the people seemed very appreciative of our help. Of course there were a few who were not happy to see Christians in their city, but they were not aggressive. You could just tell by the expressions on their faces they would be happy when the mission was finished, and we would be on our way.
Normally those people who seemed less than thrilled to be hosting us didn’t stand around too long. They were content to cast a quick glance, perhaps mutter something under their breaths and keep moving.
A few days in however I couldn’t help but notice a group of girls standing around watching us work. I expected them all to move along as most of the people did, and a few of the girls did leave, but there were a couple that stayed around much longer than normal. I tried not to let them distract me, but it was hard. I felt as if they were looking over my shoulder, analyzing everything I was doing, perhaps even doubting my workmanship. It didn’t help that a couple of times I could hear them giggle.
Every now and then I would look up to see if they were still there. When I did, I would give a polite smile and keep working. The first few times I did this, I didn’t really take notice of either of the girls, I thought it would be rude, and even perhaps inappropriate to make eye contact. Muslim men are very protective of the women, and I didn’t want to let anything get misconstrued. After all, we were not exactly welcomed by everyone with open arms, and I didn’t want to cause any trouble for myself or the mission.
If only I had continued this tact.

The last time I looked up, I looked into the most beautiful brown eyes I had ever seen. Her face looked so soft, her skin so smooth. Every feature on her face was perfect. I could see only a bit of her hair under her hijab just above her forehead, but I couldn’t help but imagine how soft and beautiful her black hair was underneath. I’m still not sure how long I stood there staring at her, but I caught myself when I gazed down at her lips, and noticed them curl into an innocent, yet intoxicating smile. I began to feel uncomfortable, and turned away quickly. I tried to remember what it was I was doing before I had gotten distracted, but my mind was blank.
I almost frantically began stumbling around, looking for some tools. When I looked back to see if she was still there, she was gone.
Over the next few days I found myself wondering if she would be back. I knew I shouldn’t. Even if she did come back, what would it mean? What would I do? I didn’t know, and honestly I wish I still didn’t.

It was the hottest day since we had been in Mosul. It was just after Noon, and we decided it would be a good idea to knock off for a bit and rest. As we were gathering our tools, I walked around to the other side of the building to grab my water bottle. I bent down, to pick up my bottle when I heard the sweetest voice that has ever touched my ears.
“Hello…”
I don’t know how, but I knew it was her.
“Hello,” I responded. I looked up and smiled. “Can I help you?” I asked.
I realized I sounded a bit rude, but she didn’t seem to notice.
“I…I was just wondering. Why are you here?” She asked in a very thick Arabic accent.
I was expecting her to smile back at me, but she didn’t. She was looking at me very intently, almost as if she were sizing me up. I knew I needed to choose my words carefully.
“I’m just here to help. We are building a school.” I pointed to the building.
Finally she smiled, “Yes, I can see you are building a school…” she paused, “but why are YOU here.”
Her question caught me a bit off guard. I had to stop and think. Finally the words came, “I believe I’m suppose to be here.”
She smiled, “You believe many things, but I wonder how much you really KNOW.”
I wasn’t sure what to say. I wanted to say something, but no words came. She just kept smiling, and finally nodded her head. She turned and walked away.

Her words turned out to be prophetic. As I stand here tonight, looking out my window waiting for Adara and praying that she will show up soon, I now realize how little I do know. I know I love her. I know I want her more than I have ever wanted anything in this world, and I know it is wrong.
What I don’t know is what I will do when she arrives. I don’t know what will happen if her family finds out. What will happen if the authorities find out she is here? I don’t know what will happen to the mission. I don’t know what will happen to me. I don’t know what will happen with us. I don’t even know what I expect to happen with us. How can we ever be together? Will we ever be together? Why did I even tell her to meet me tonight? Why am I ignoring the real reason I came to Mosul in the first place. What is God thinking of me right now?
I finally realize how little I know. It worries me. But then again, maybe it worries me even more what I do know. I still believe I am supposed to be here, but now my reasons for being here are completely different….

Take a look..

I was driving home yesterday after picking up my kids at their grandmothers and stumbled onto National Public Radio. They we’re airing an interview with Ingrid Mattson. Well, if you’re like me you probably have never heard of this woman. I was struck with curiosity though when I heard that she was the president of the Islamic Society of North America. She was Canadian born and raised Catholic. She is the first woman, and the first convert to Islam elected to the position.

 

I was struck by how intelligent she was, and how articulate she was in her statements. I was struck by how passionate she was about her religion and the calling that she felt she had on her life. She definitely gave a different view of Islam than what I had held in the past. Don’t get me wrong, I have always felt that there we’re many “good” people who were Islamic. But unfortunately that isn’t the picture we get today when we watch our televisions and read our papers. Also, here was an Islamic woman. I think here in America we believe that all Muslim women are oppressed. We definitely have a stereotype when we think of these women with their heads covered. I suppose we think that this is a form of submission, maybe even a way to keep women in their place. Like I say we all have our stereotypes. Here in America we probably have more, it is hard for many Americans to think outside of their own culture.

 

All of this being said, my point is this; Here was an obviously intelligent woman. She was very educated, and well traveled. Here was a woman who was so passionate about her religion and her calling. What was it that converted her to Islam?

 

I am a Christian, and I have many reasons that I believe Islam to be a false religion. I don’t want to get into that, it is for another time and place. But what was it that brought such an intelligent lady to this false religion?

 

Well, during this interview she told of her conversion experience. She told the story of how she met some South Africans who were Muslim and she was struck by how dignified they were. She said they were people who were treated very badly by many people yet they treated everyone with kindness. Even those who didn’t treat them well. She said she was very taken by how they composed themselves, and how they had such self confidence, without being haughty or conceded. I am paraphrasing here, as I can’t remember her exact words. But I think you get the point.

 

So I began thinking. What would have happened if she had of met some Christians who composed themselves in this same way? What would happen if more Christians composed themselves in this way? Isn’t it what we ought to be doing? We are told in the Bible to love our neighbors as ourselves. Jesus tells us to love our enemies and pray for those that persecute us. And shouldn’t we too have a bit of self assuredness about ourselves? We have been given eternal life, and forgiven of our sins. We have nothing at all to fear in this life if we have been saved. Now again, I am not saying that we ought to be prideful or boastful. We deserved none of this. Everything we have comes from God. So our confidence ought not be in ourselves, but in the God that saved us, and He who bore our sins upon Himself on the cross. So let us always have the proper perspective.

 

So many times Christians are either walking around looking gloomy and sad. That should never be. We ought to have the greatest joy of anyone else walking on the planet. By that same token, way too many times Christians walk around with this holier than thou attitude as if they were better than everyone else they came in contact with. They act as if they had done something to deserve this wonderful gift that they had been given. Neither of these are ways in which a Christian should act.

 

Many of us could take a lesson from these Muslims that Ingrid met. We need to be dignified, treat EVERYONE with kindness, even those that don’t treat us so well. If we did this, how many more people would we see become Christians. I once heard a quote from Ghandi that said the problem with Christianity isn’t Christ, or His teachings. But it is Christians. I think we all can look at what he said and understand what he means. I’ve also heard it said that we may be the only Bible that some people read, so we ought to be living in a way that glorifies God, and point people to Him. How many of us truly do this? I think we all need to take a look in the mirror and evaluate ourselves.

 

You know the main thing that really got to me as I listened to this interview was a since of sadness. Like I said earlier this lady was very passionate about her religion and her God. She felt a real calling on her life to give a voice to Muslim women all over the world. And to paint a picture of what she felt Islam was really about. She wanted to show that Islam isn’t the religion of violence we see on T.V. and read about in the papers.

 

These are all noble things. But the fact is, she is still worshipping a false God. From all indications she is a wonderful woman. But it saddens me that unless she finds the true God, and unless she seeks Jesus, and accepts the salvation that only comes through Him, she will never see the Kingdom of God. It saddens me that there are many people like this in our world. It saddens me also that so many Christians are doing so little about it.

 

I was reading a sermon by Charles Finney, a great revivalist from the 19th century, and he was talking about many people and churches, and how they profess to have a love for the lost, and a love for the heathen, but never do anything to reach those people. I think many churches and Christians today are in that same boat. We talk a good game about preaching the message of Christ, and bringing salvation to the world, and helping those in need. But where is the action? Is that really a love for the lost? If you aren’t doing anything to bring the message of Christ to people, do you really care about telling people about Jesus? It is time for all of us who call ourselves Christians to have our actions line up with our words. Stop talking about what we are going to do, and do it. This is a lost and dying world. People are dying and going to hell every minute of every hour. Many “good people” are dying without Jesus. Many people who are very sincere about their “religion” are going to hell. If this doesn’t sadden you, then maybe you need to ask yourself if you really are what you claim to be. God bless…