A few weeks ago, Baybers and I had a discussion about whether there was any organisation or mosque to which one could bring one of their non-Muslim work colleagues and know, with some certainty, that their colleague wouldn’t be accosted, bothered or experience something that would be the source of embarrassment for his host. Or a mosque where a visit to the bathroom wouldn’t be a sort of cultural TARDIS for your colleague; transporting him to an earlier time and place where basic standards of hygiene were yet to be discovered.
I’ve taken non-Muslims to mosques and Islamic organisations on two or three occasions after they expressed an interest in learning about Muslims — possibly more but post-traumatic stress syndrome has blocked them out — and it has always been an uncomfortable and difficult situation. On the first occasion, I left my guest to get something from the car and returned to find him being aggressively interrogated by an Australian-born Muslim about his religious beliefs; and, on the second occasion, my guest was asked whether he believed the “lies” about September 11 having been carried out by Muslims.
The experience with the so-called da’wah organisations hasn’t been much better: a friend of mine contacted one of them here in Melbourne and requested a copy of the Qu’ran — just the Qu’ran — to be sent to a colleague of his from work who had requested a copy. The organisation sent a copy of the Qu’ran but also a torrent of Harun Yahya literature and the usual aggressively evangelical material. Likewise, I remember visiting my doctor and being told that he had been sent — unsolicited — a bunch of Islamic literature outlining various “miracles” such as Allah’s name inside fruit and vegetables and so on; all of this in the apparent expectation that a man who has spent many years studying medicine might be convinced to embrace Islam after seeing what appears to be Arabic writing on the insides of a water melon.
So here’s the question: is there any mosque or Islamic organisation where you could take a normal, educated middle class non-Muslim colleague and be confident that your co-religionists won’t embarrass you or make your colleague feel uncomfortable?