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My Experiences Dealing with Muslims

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I have lived in Hudson for 12 years, and am puzzled by the exchange of letters over the past couple of years regarding Muslims. In the time I have lived here I have not encountered asingle Muslim in Hudson. I lived for many years on the East Coast, and have family and friends who live in predominantly Muslim countries. These are a few of my experiences:

In Bangladesh, my granddaughter became seriously ill. Her father was out of town, and a Muslim friend of her parents rushed her to the hospital with my daughter, picked the rather heavy child up from the car and carried her in his arms, running into the emergency room tosave time. In Bangladesh I was at my daughter’s home while she and her husband were at work. I turnedon the television as rescuers were pulling the Chilean miners out of the mine after several days. I called the Muslim cook and driver to come over and watch with me. Together, and with tearsin our eyes, we watched and clapped as each miner was brought to the surface. We barelyunderstood each other’s language, but we certainly understood the human drama that wasunfolding before us, and we were very happy to share it together.

In Turkey, friends wanted to show us the house that, according to legend, Mary, the mother ofJesus, lived with John the apostle in Ephesus until her death. There was a forest fire raging thatday in the area and we were not able to go. The following day, fire extinguished, we proceededup the mountain, and our Muslim friend gave thanks to Allah for having spared this sacredshrine to the woman honored by both of our religions. In Turkey we visited a mosque with our friends. As we were leaving, we noticed the poor box atthe exit, and everyone seemed to be putting in his hand. I questioned what that was about, and it was explained to me that alms-giving is one of the five pillars of Islam. The reason everyone puts their hand in is so that those who can give will give and those who need can take and nobody will know which is which, maintaining everyone’s dignity.

In New York I was director of a summer program for mothers and their young children. One ofthe Muslim mothers, a recently arrived immigrant from Egypt, seriously questioned some ofour rules. We discussed our cultural differences and the reasons we were so strict about safety. We sometimes argued fiercely, but I consistently enforced the rules, and over the course of thesummer, we had garnered enough respect and affection for one another that I was invited to afamily wedding.

I understand that radical Muslim extremists are a danger to all those they would wish todestroy. But not all Muslims are radical extremists. We cannot paint everybody with the samebrush, especially when we do not know them. These have been some of my real humanexperiences with real Muslims I have known. I would be pleased to have similar experiences here in Hudson.

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