February 17, 2016

As part of my connection to the group encorepreneur! I traveled with more than 120 colleagues to tour a Mosque outside of Richmond earlier this month. I saw this as an important opportunity to educate myself on a faith that is often demonized and a group of people that is harshly judged, and which I knew very little about.

The Myths and Misconceptions

Two leaders from the congregation, both religious scholars, led a presentation debunking the myths that surround Islam and Muslims. We examined common misconceptions and our Muslim hosts helped us understand Islam as they value it: Muslims do have Christians and Jews as friends, and Muslims and Jews were once peaceful toward each other. Our hosts explained how Islam respects women and other religions.  They  instructed that Jihad does not mean to kill for God, that the Qur’an does not teach Muslims to kill Christians and Jews, and it does not teach that suicide bombings are the way to heaven, despite what has been proclaimed by a small, dangerous few.

Our hosts demonstrated that Muslims – American and overseas – condemn 9/11 and other heinous crimes, and that Muslims, as a whole, do not hate the West. And while many assume most Muslims are Arab or Middle Eastern, the majority of Muslims (62%) live in South and Southeast Asia, and the world’s largest population of Muslims live in Indonesia.

Truth and Candor

I was reminded that every religion, nationality, ethnic group, and race has its own radicals and fanatics – and that no one wants their extremists to be seen as representatives of their collective whole.

I was very proud of my encorepreneur! colleagues who were real listeners and learners in an environment of open, honest conversation. If we, as humans and regardless of race, religion or nationality can cause more candid, authentic dialogue, such as encorepreneur! and our Muslim hosts did, we recognize that despite skin color, geography, or place of worship, we are so alike.  Perhaps we would no longer be so quick to judge and condemn.

It is said that “knowledge is power.” Knowledge – an understanding and a commitment to the truth – is a powerful tool for removing bias based on fear, misinformation, or the perception that others are different. Candor allows us to grow our knowledge through clarity and respect, and provides us with a means toward understanding and acceptance.

Click here if you’d like learn more about encorepreneur! and to read additional information from the group’s recent outing to the Mosque.