Letter to Lady Curious about Islam

I wear a traditional Islamic hat/headcovering pretty much wherever I go. Last week, I went to a Subway on campus, and a lady called me “brother”. I figured she was a Muslim, but she said she wasn’t, but was interested in Islam. She asked me for literature, then asked again to emphasize the point. I went out and bought her a Qur’an, a book on the biography of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, and a pamphlet. I also wrote her the following note:

As-salaam ‘alaykum Sister!

Was good meeting you the other day. You made my day by identifying me as a Muslim by my appearance alone. I felt honored.

You requested Islamic litreature, so I enclosed 3 books. The first is the Qur’an. The entirety of the Qur’an has one central message that is repeated again and again in different ways and forms: There is only one God, direct your life, worship and very existance to him alone. Keep this in mind throughout your reading of it. If you have questions, take them to a  reputable authority for answers.

The second book is “Muhammad, His life and times based on the earliest sources” by Martin Lings, who was a Muslim. It is a biography of the life of our Prophet. The recently deceased author at times employs a Shakespearean classical English style, I hope you enjoy it. I must admit, it moved even dry-eyed me to tears a few times. — The last book is a pamphlet of basic information you probably already know but is good to have and read.

While books are great, Islam is primarily conveyed from heart-to-heart. Its best to find a community and become a part of it. Thats the only way a person can truly come closer to God, going on your own has its merits but can confuse a person. Social company is important for support and companionship.

I feel it necessary to say, within the Muslim community, as with all communities, there are peopel with destructive ideas and questionable character. In general, with such people, be polite and respectful, but avoid mixing too much. It will be pretty obvious who they are, but a few problems stand out above the rest. Be weary of people who use and abuse women, but use the pretext of religion to defend their behavior. Outwardly they seem to know their stuff, but in reality they are deeply ignorant of Islam. A common sign of such people is rapid, rushed marriage followed by even quicker divorces. Also, avoid peopel who constantly criticize others and argue and debate. Islam should make pople critical of themselves and blind to the faults of others. A common characteristic to avoid is calling other Muslims “deviant” or “innovators” over small issues.

In terms of practice, I would suggest learning about being in a state of ritual purity. This is called wudu, which is a washing of the limbs and head, or ghusl which is essentially a bathe — Both done with a present mind, heart and proper intentions to seek purity before GOd. The outward act is a window into what you are doing to your spiritual heart. To learn it, consult your local community. Its pretty simple and easy to learn.

The purpose of Islam is to bring you closer to God through submission. If you decide to accept it, and the choice is entirely yours, no forcing you, know that the path is not always easy or smooth. No road has more potholes. But the trials and tribulations thta come our way serve only to raise our ranks and honor in the sight of God. As Allah says in the Qur’an, “With every hardship is an easy (Again for emphasis) With every hardship is an ease.” And in the end, the fruits of the struggles of life are worth it — both in this life and the next.

I hope this helps and apologize for my bad handwriting!

[My real name and email address]