Understanding a billion Muslims: Ten days, ten deeds
By: Dr. Faheem Younus
Who can decipher the mind of a terrorist? In the post 9/11 America, there is a dollar-spending, ink-spilling, competition between the government and the academia to answer this question.
The faith of the terrorist in the above question is typically implied while the magnitude of the problem — less than 0.1 percent of the world’s Muslims have committed acts of terror against the western world — is typically denied.
Which brings me to the consequential next question: How much effort has gone into decoding the minds of the 99.9 percent of, yes, Muslims?
Zilch. Nada. None.
So if you would like to know what the 99 percent of Muslims secretly believe in, man, do I have an absolutely great idea for you: perform ten deeds in ten days as the Muslim Holy month of Ramadan winds down. For Muslims — over 90 percent of whom observe fasting during the month of Ramadan according to a recent Pew poll — these ten deeds are prescribed for the whole month.
Each day, just act upon one deed. And forget about the rituals; this is not stealth evangelism. The idea is not to convert anyone to Islam but to convert a mindset based on media one-liners and sensational images. At the end of this “ten days, ten deeds” project, you would know exactly what is in the heart of an average Muslim.
So here we go:
Day 1, keep a fast: Give up all food and drinks from dawn to dusk. This year, the average duration of a fast is approximately 16 hours in America. For the first 8-hours, you will experience a degree of self discovery that will shatter the I-could-never-do-it mindset and the last 8-hours will enhance your empathy for the hungry — whether they are in Afghanistan or in your downtown.
Day 2, control your anger: Whether someone parked in your spot or your spouse started the age old argument — walk away from the situation saying “I am fasting, therefore, I will not respond in kind.”
Day 3, forgive: Especially someone who, you believe, does not deserve forgiveness. Strip all malice from your heart. Muslims believe that if we forgive fellow human beings, then God in turn forgives us.
Day 4, do charity: Write a check, as big as you can, to your favorite charity. A recent survey reported that UK Muslims gave more money to charities, annually, than Christians, Jews, Hindus and Sikhs.
Day 5, be hospitable: Invite your neighbors, your children’s friends or your coworkers and have a meal with them. Sort of what Greg Mortenson describes in his book, “Three cups of tea.” Hospitality is deeply ingrained in every Muslim culture.
Day 6, be kind: After writing nearly 100 op-ed pieces, I can see a reader, who is itching to write a scathing comment along the lines of, “go tell the “Mozlems” to do these ten deeds. Go back to your “Mozlem” country.” Be kind. Don’t write such a comment during these ten days. Fasting is an exercise of comprehensive self control. Giving up food is just a part of it.
Day 7, visit the sick: There’s got to be an uncle, aunt, grandparent, someone who will be elated to see you unexpectedly. Spend some time with them on day 7.
Day 8, forgive a debt: That $100 or $1000 which a friend or a relative owes you but does not have the capacity to pay it — consider forgiving it. Muslims are urged to follow the practice of easing the hardships of other humans and Ramadan is considered the best time for such acts.
Day 9: stay up all night and pray. Pray in your own words, according to your belief. But don’t miss these off-peak hours. Muslims believe there is a night of destiny during the last ten days of Ramadan when every prayer is accepted. Global median of 63 percent of Muslim pray five times a day and they intensely search for the night of destiny.
Day 10, enjoy solitude: Turn off your phones, iPads, laptops, TVs and genuinely think. Analyze. What would make a people who globally practice empathy, sacrifice, charity, prayer, kindness, and a comprehensive self control hate us?