I was talking to a Muslim the other day. In fact, I’d travelled several hundred miles, not to visit his home specifically, but his home-land at least, and to walk the same streets that he walked every day. To shop in the same shops. Eat the same food.
We spent all morning together, walking and talking and sharing views on architecture, history and culture, current affairs. He didn’t have a beard. I have a beard. He wasn’t a terrorist. Neither am I. He was a Sunni – he said.
I confessed that I had read about a third of the Quran. So you are more open minded than most British people, he said. I was both complimented and disappointed. Maybe you’ll finish the book after today, he smiled.
We do have Sharia law here, he said. And then grinning, – but if someone steals something we don’t cut off their hands – we’re more tolerant than that.
We follow the teachings of the Prophet, he went on, there are five tenets to Islam.
And he stressed each one with embellishment – Submission – Supplication – Sincerity – Obedience – and Peace.
You see, he held my gaze as I listened intently, there is Real Islam, and there is Fake Islam. This is real Islam.
At the end of our morning we shook hands and smiled our farewells. I had been grateful for his company and his knowledge.
Perhaps we were both grateful that we accepted each other.