Wednesday, November 11, 2009
I should have jet lag. I've traveled from Pakistan to different parts of America including Alabama and Las Vegas. "Children of Dust" is a memoir about a Pakistani Muslim, Ali Eteraz, his family and friends.
I liked this book because "Children of Dust" is a religious memoir. It's a young man's search for the purest and truest form of Islam. Throughout the entire book he is on the brink of changing from a caterpillar to a butterfly. His search, Ali's questions make this book throb with life. Early in his life Ali looked at the life of Muslim women. He also thought about the way Muslim men were taught to treat an attractive woman.
This part of the book gave me a chuckle or two because Ali truly loved a beautiful girl. It is very hard for him to look down, look away, don't touch. Like all young guys, his testosterone is very healthy.
Anyway, it's clear that Ali is a reformist. The spirit of reform led him to observe and not leap. He observed himself and other men. He studied the Qu'ran. Really, at one point, he became an intellectual scholar. In the end, he walked away from militant behavior while continuing to love Islam.
I really was impacted by his feelings during 9/11. I think it is at this point that I began to see Muslims as individuals. There are Muslims who would never kill Americans, who would never blow their bodies up in order to do Jihad and kill innocent people. There are Muslims, like Ali Eteraz, who cried for the losses of 9/11.
"Now, having seen their vision of justice....I felt only anger. What made their actions even more reprehensible was that they had carried out their murders in the name of Islam."
This book gently pounded in my head the fact that all Muslims are individuals. When I choose to look at one and think there goes another suicide bomber, another one who would call me, an American, a devil, then, I'm terribly wrong. I've become racial profiler and I am stereotyping other people. I am labeling people and putting people in tight cubbyholes to fit what I believe or have heard from someone else.
It's true. There are Muslims who fight with other Americans because they believe in our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution. The Fort Hood experience made many Muslims ashamed and heartbroken. I must remember to look at the one man lying in the Army hospital bed not at a nation of people.
Ali Eteraz is an example of a man who believes in a pure religion. Pure religion is one that won't do harm to a fellow human being. Because he chose to observe, think and study Ali Eteraz is still a Muslim. He is a Muslim with a heart.
"The feeling softened me somehow. It melted away my skin and sinew and made me a part of the men around me. These men who were raised from dust, lived in dust, and would eventually rest in dust."
Ali Eteraz is who he is a lover of Muhammed and the Qu'ran and his people and other people too. He deserves respect not misappropriated judgment.