Two days after 18 shots rang out in the night to shatter a Muslim family’s home in Charlotte, a team of highly trained Muslims descended upon downtown Charlotte to confront the citizens. The highly skilled team was from American Islamic Outreach Foundation (AIOF) and the confrontation was a presentation of truth.
Without violence, without harsh words and without aggression, they talked to every passer-by that would listen and presented Islam to all who gave them a moment. In spite of the chilly breeze cutting down the intersection of Trade and Tryon in downtown Charlotte, these seven men bravely stood against the cold and against the occasional insults to enact Allah’s command.
“Call to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good teaching. Argue with them in the most courteous way, for your Lord knows best who has strayed from His way and who is rightly guided.” – Noble Quran 16:125
For several hours Charlotte residents were able to hear calls of “Learn about Jesus in the Qur’an!” and “Learn about Muslims for yourself!” along with a very direct “Get your free Qur’an now!” Those individuals who chose to stop were able to simply get a Qur’an and pamphlets or were able to answer any questions they wanted. Muslim American was there to get feedback from a few people who stopped to get information. One older African American gentleman (who asked not to be named) said that he “…just wanted to learn a little bit more about Islam. I heard a lot and I’m not really sure about it so I wanna hear more. I’m kinda interested in it.” We asked if he’d ever encountered Muslims before and he said “No, not ever. Just when I got a Qur’an from them last time they were up here about six months ago. I read it every day, just trying to learn a little bit.”
Another lady in her 30s (also declined to give her name) got the Qur’an “Because there are oh so many thing out there that people believe. I mean, I know there is a creator out there and I was raised Catholic but there are things there that I don’t agree with. So I just want to know what everyone else believes in.” When asked if she’d ever encountered Muslims before today she said “You know, the first time I’ve met Muslims is here. I’m not originally from here, I’m from California and everyone is Christian or Catholic out there.” This was such a surprising statement since California boasts over 300 documented Mosques (according to Salat-o-Matic) while North Carolina only has a little over 50. Could it be that some Muslim communities in the country have become so well hidden from post-9/11 fear that non-Muslims who are curious about Islam don’t even know when they are next door to a mosque?
We uncovered another surprise when speaking with Desmond, a young Caucasian guy who talked with the representative from AIOF for some time. He disclosed that he had “good friends in high school that were Muslim. One was from Iraq, one from Israel or something, I dunno for sure.” Yet in spite of this friendship, the street dawah was the first opportunity he’d had to get a copy of the Qur’an. When we asked about his knowledge of Islam he admitted that he didn’t know much “Just the whole ‘be peaceful with one another’ concept and I know it’s got dark points just like Christianity with the whole Old Testament there.” Desmond was satisfied with the explanations he received from AIOF’s team and happily went on his way with a new Qur’an and other literature.
A middle aged man with an intense expression engaged one of the men from AIOF for nearly 20 minutes before walking off. In catching up to him, we were able to learn more about the work that Muslims have to do in order to share Islam. Why did he talk for so long? Michael answers “I have an inquisitive mind. I seek to understand the turmoil that is going on in the world right now with a lot of animosity between religions. Being a person of peace, I wanted to try and understand.” He further explained “I didn’t realize there was so much common ground between Christianity and Islam. I didn’t know that they were monotheistic as well, that they do believe in God. I thought they worshipped Muhammad or something.”
On this cold and breezy Thursday morning in the last week of winter, seven men shared their love of Islam with the City of Charlotte. What were the fruits of their labor? A little illumination from the Lamp of Truth into the lives of over 250 people who received Qur’an and one new brother who took his shahadah right on the city streets. Allahuakbar.