Seeing our neighbors spiritually

During the invasion of Kuwait by Saddam Hussein, I served in the United States Army in Iraq, and when my US National Guard infantry unit was deployed in 2003, I fully expected to return. During that time, I began to read the Quran to better understand how Muslims think. Fast forward to 2010: I was in an Arabic language program in the United States and met several men who were very anti-American and aggressive about their Islamic faith.

The two years or so that I was around them gave me a helpful perspective because many of the other Muslim men I was studying with were not impressed by such narrow-mindedness. When these extremists became too aggressive in their statements about politics or religious issues, the other men would tell them to cool down. From what I could tell, those who espoused these views marginalized themselves. Being exposed to this more balanced perspective helped me to overcome negative feelings I had long shared with many Americans about Muslims.

More and more though, as a Christian Scientist, I wished to mentally embrace my Muslim neighbors and recognize their true nature as the children of God—what I call “Love made visible.” I went to Amman, Jordan, with two goals: Beyond practicing the Arabic language, I also wanted to prove to myself that Love rules and crosses all boundaries. As I spiritualized my thinking, I became certain I would see proof of that spiritual harmony in this place where Islam was dominant.

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The great art of listening
February 24, 2014

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