FIFTEEN YEARS AGO while attending pharmacy school in Big Rapids, Michigan, I was asked to give a short talk about Islam to a small group of students during the month of Ramadan. I was not what you would consider a religious person at the time. My adherence to faith then was at a basic level of simple compliance with standards I grew up with, had some understanding of and had some ability to express in a manner that others can understand. Yet I went, stood up in front of the small crowd and shared what the five foundational pillars of Islam are to the best of my abilities.
Fast forward eight years later, I get an email from an old classmate who happened to stumble upon my faculty profile and thought to shoot me an email to reconnect. We were at best acquaintances during school and I remember him as a nice, quite, socially awkward and somewhat introverted person. We exchanged a few emails and decided that the next time I was to visit Michigan, I lived in Maine at the time, we were going to go out to dinner and catch up. Within a few months he came to pick me up from my sister's place in Michigan and we went out for dinner and conversations.
During our conversations he shared with me that a couple of years back he had a Muslim colleague with whom he used to discuss religion, and that through such discussions he grew fond of and converted to the religion of Islam. He'd been working on his faith since and was growing his relationship with God through Islam. I was fascinated and excited by his story but then he told me that the original reason why he started looking into Islam was because he heard what I shared about Islam when we were in school.
My words intrigued him,
piqued his interest in something he was unfamiliar with,
and stayed with him until he met that person who embodied them for him.
MY simple words, during a time when I was not the best representative of my religion, led to such a significant impact on a person's life.
Why do I share this story with you now? Especially when I have this nagging feeling that I have shared it before?
I share it because I don't want you to underestimate the power of what you say, whether in person or on social media. Your words have an impact. That impact is certainly more magnified if what you say is a reflection of what you do but if all you can do is share a status, retweet something you found meaningful or post something that made you see things differently then that is still meaningful and impactful.
Especially during these times.
Go ahead, make your beautiful voice of justice, peace and mercy heard. Drown out the voices of bigotry and hate.
Palestinian, Muslim, American, Husband, Father, Academic, Pharmacist, Coffee Addict, Nutella phene, Pseudo writer, Soccer player, former Canadian, Community servant, Pinch hitter imam, interfaith ninja, Intellectual vigilante, and the undisputed KING of snark