The Reach Out Highway: Ways to Break Ground With Muslim Perspectives, Part 6

The final part of "Who Speaks for Islam" ends this brief series and what I had hoped would become a dialogue of thought and opinions expressed on the topic. You can watch the replay of the talk I attended on IPTV on July 17th.
What do the masses of Muslims think about the West? How can each of us turnaround our own thinking to create a passageway for global understanding and peace?
Peter Gottschalk and Gabriel Greenberg in their book "Islamophobia: Making Muslims the Enemy," say that Islamophobia reflects the largely unexamined and deeply ingrained anxiety many Americans experience when considering Islam and Muslim cultures.
If unexamined, or even unknown as I previously mentioned, then, we must take action to stem the tide of more Islamophobia and Muslim-bashing.
According to the book, "Who Speaks for Islam: What a Billion Muslims Really Think," Muslims believe the West can improve relations in these ways:
1. Demonstrate more respect and show more understanding of Islam as a religion.
2. Don't denigrate what Islam stands for to Muslims.
3. Support economic development in their countries.
Interestingly, radicals want less discrimination against Muslims and for the West to quit interfering so much in internal affairs of Muslim countries. Actually, I don't think this asks for too much.
I say let's spend our time supporting the thousands of organizations around the world working on this divide among nations. As I earlier mentioned, the US Center for Citizen Diplomacy is one such organization to stand behind.
We can expand our realm of thinking by communing with people from different cultures, countries, religions and races to attain a clear understanding.
What else could we do in our own towns with Muslim friends around the globe?
1. Visit your local Islamic Cultural Center, if there is one.
2. Work with local organizations that sponsor people from Muslim countries.
3. Interfaith dialogues abound in America and long for your participation.
4. Try to engage someone daily who is different from you.
5. Read an array of literature online or off about Muslim nations and their people.
6. If you've lived as an expat Westerner in a Muslim country, share your observations, friendships and realities of your host nation with your local community.
7. Start discussion about issues that Muslims and Westerners wholeheartedly agree on, such as gender issues or morality or political corruption.
8. Visit schools where Muslim children attend and observe how young people communicate with each other and where different is appreciated.
9. Invite foreign visitors into your home to share hospitality practices from one another's countries and create friendships.
Foremost, try to understand—understand that no matter where we come from or what religion we practice, we are more similar than different. Every country and peoples have different customs and cultures than we do. That's okay. We practice even the same religion in many ways depending on where we come from.
Take today to give thought on how you as an individual can support the need for everyone to have respect for one another and not judge based merely on myths and fiction; instead explore for yourself and find out the facts.
Arabisto welcomes your viewpoint and comments, and we hope that you'll share your thoughts with us about this burning issue of the day.
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