I hadn't planned to write about Islam; it's just that certain events come along to change the habitual flow of events.
As an intructor for the community colleges, I'm exposed to a wide, often conflicting array of religious, political, and cultural ideas. In fact, my students represent so many different beliefs that I can hardly keep track. Occasionally students talk to me about religion with just a hint of conversion motives. Usually they preach some variety of Christianity, but tonight was different. My student spoke to me about Islam.
The conversation began simply enough. He had taken a practice test for the GED and asked me to review his mistakes. As I explained some of the basic principles of American democracy, he began to talk about his home country of Saudi Arabia. Maybe he sensed my desire to be a good listener, but the floodgates opened and he began a 30-40 minute impassionaed monologue extolling the virtues of Islam. We had never spoken like this before, but he became strangely urgent in his manner, leaping from his chair and pacing the room in a flurry as he recounted the revelation of Muhammad.
I was stunned.
By the end, I learned more than I ever imagined possible about the prophet, scripture, sin, salvation, judgment, and the end of times. The conversation ended when I had to close my classroom for the end of my shift. My young student followed me to my car and urged me to study Islam.
Again, I was simply stunned.