Genesis 11:5

The Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which mortals had built. Genesis 11:5


I get a lot of questions about why I would consider converting to Islam, living in a Muslim country, and raising a Muslim family. Today, I am assessing the condition of my family, as it spreads all over the east coast of the United States, and is also concentrated in Athens, Greece. First, when I consider my mother, who left her family in Athens at the all too young age of 18 for marriage and dreams of a better future in the US, I am saddened at the physical distance preventing her from seeing her family. This was a beginning of the breaking down of the family as community, I believe.

She was in the US, married, and raising children without the support of family and relatives nearby or in the same home. Without a tightly knit family, which is bound together emotionally, spiritually, and by physical proximity, children can struggle to feel rooted, to develop a clear sense of identity, and to mature with an affective moral compass. Intimate details of how my American family has dispersed about east coast are not necessary--to put it simply, my mother has five children, and now lives alone, feeling just like many Western mothers who are abandoned and forgotten by their children. Of course, even though I call her every day, my mother spent an hour of our Skype call today insisting that I should live in her house until I get married.

My family is plagued by financial irresponsibility, inconvenient physical distance that prevents us from seeing, hugging and holding each other, health problems, debt, failed relationships, guilt-trips, raised voices, bankruptcy, overeating, loneliness, and resentment. I want my children to be raised in a supportive community that practices religion reverently. I want faith, ethics and a sense of morality to be instilled in my children at home and at school. I want my children to be raised in an appropriate environment, where I will not worry about what billboards they will pass on the highway, what images they will see on magazine covers at the store, or what programs or commercials they could happen upon on television. I want to escape from the curses that I have described above, by trying to return to family-oriented environment and faith.

Christmas Carols in Colchester

On Sunday I walked in the cold to Colchester town, determined to find the perfect Get Well Soon card for my adopted grandmother. I could not find a card with the type of expressive and Christian message that she would appreciate, although I did find a card with an ornate floral design, featuring purple and gold--her favourite colours.

I spent hours between several card shops, and enjoyed the Christmas carols pouring from the speakers overhead, as I read through greeting card after greeting card. Eventually I wandered over to boxed sets, and found the cards were dominated by Santa Clause, snowmen, penguins, wintry scenes, reindeer, and Christmas trees. Only a few designs featured Baby Jesus, the Nativity Scene, or Mary the Mother of Jesus. I was surprised to notice that although my beliefs about Jesus have drifted far from Jesus being deity or the Son of God, I still found most meaning in Christmas being the opportunity to celebrate the birth of a most influential prophet of God.

I have yet to grow in my knowledge of what words are attributed to Jesus in Islam, but I have grown to appreciate the basic premise in Islam that Jesus is a Prophet to be honoured and respected with other prophets in Islam, such as Ibrahim, Moses, and Muhammad (Peace be upon him صـلى الله علـيه و سـلم). From the first time I heard of the Islamic belief that Jesus was not crucified, I found comfort in the thought that Allah spared the Prophet Jesus suffering by sending another to take Jesus' place on the cross. Jesus was raised directly to heaven, and will return sometime in the future--even to raise a family, I hear!

The thought that Jesus was not crucified seemed to obliterate the need for debate after debate I participated in with pacifists and Messiah College and Goshen College, as we tried to answer whether or not a Father God who allows and even requires his Son to be crucified is violent. Forgiveness, in Islam, does not require the birth or death of a Son / offspring of God. Islam requires the believer to submit their life entirely to Allah. Allah is "the forgiver of sin, acceptor of repentance, severe in punishment, owner of abundance. There is no deity except Him; to Him is the destination" (Surah Ghafir 40:3).