You said we could speak about it if I ever needed to, but I knew we never could and never would.

I know your hate for Islam; I have seen it in your face when watching television or when it comes up in a conversation. In the summer, Katharine was trying to think of the intellectual force at the time of the last millenium. There, there was utter silence, and I kept silent too, through fear, though I could have spoken for hours.

When you read my Tanzanian report, where I said I didn’t have the faith of my family, and then you gave me advice by speaking to mum so that I would overhear.

I find myself in the worst position I could imagine. I am scared.

Every night praying that I’ll wake up in the morning.

I believe in a despised religion

The Ego had Landed

Is it that you try to steal my identity? You take my name, and thinking yourself Italian, you mould it and morph it, and make it your own. But, oh, my dear friend, I am the original egotist. The Neurocentric, centred on himself; on his own wants and desires, and on his complaints about the life that never went to plan. For a closet exhibitionist am I, and on fame and fortune, I have my eye. My thoughts appear in words in print, yet of my intentions I give no hint. In silent thought, alone I sit. Would you ever know I’m a hypocrite?

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Honest dialogue

The starting point of any dialogue must be that the parties involved are committed to honesty. This may seem like a statement of the obvious, but it is a point which seems to have escaped many. To illustrate, we may refer to an article which appeared in the Church Times during the Lambeth Conference in 1998, entitled, ‘When the chips are down’ (Margaret Duggan, 31 July 1998, p.4). In this article, the author summarises a speach given at the conference by Bishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon of Kaduna diocese in northern Nigeria, on dialogue between Muslims and Christians. Duggan makes no attempt in her article to verify the Bishops’s statements; it is a report of his speech, but it is clearly also more than that. Although statements about Muslims, the Qur’an or Islam are all attributed only to the Bishop, the causal reader will finish the article with an idea that he or she has an accurate representation of these matters. This is especially true since the source is said to have degrees in Islamic Studies.

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The Afrocentric

His Afrocentric lifestyle was all very nice. His collections of pottery was extraordinary. But from his lips, words of ignorance slipped. “Nike-ear, nice-eya,” he struggled to pronounce, “Nice-what? I’ve never heard of it.”

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Paul, in his letter to the Romans (Revised English Bible, Romans 3:7), wrote, “…if the truth of God is displayed to his greater glory through my falsehood, why should I any longer be condemned as a sinner?” And therefore, on these grounds that saint Paul says lying is alright, I will announce to you all a new religion and you will all follow me because I say it is true and you will not question me. Actually, I won’t announce anything of the sort; that was a wee lie; but there is a point to my incoherent meanderings.

Whatever makes you happy

According to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the meaning of life is 42. By some people’s definition, I could take that as my faith and I wouldn’t be any worse for ware. Choose another stance, and nothing will ever seem quite right again: “God? Why bring ‘that’ up?” I suppose if you want people to respect you, you don’t. “It’s something private” at the very least. But mid-term I did what nobody expected; it shocked some, offended a few and upset one or two. “I’ve got something to tell you,” I said to my partner in crime of the first year, as I stood on the steps outside, warm in the summer heat. “I became a Muslim.”

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Losing faith

They say, “Travel broadens your mind.” My question is, “What do you do with that mind once it’s broadened?” An open mind, at least, will bring you nothing but problems. My problem is, I’m told, that I question everything. But when it comes to faith, I won’t follow blindly; I have to know, understand and believe.

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Meaning in being? Or no meaning, just being?

Born of a rather religious family, there came a time when I stopped and thought. The music was beautiful, it made me emotional, then I stepped back and rejected the idea of God. I was an immature fifteen year old, selfishly denying a world that cared, searching for pity while claiming victimisation. Since then, I grew up, rekindled a belief in God, though it falters now and then, but I never really managed the same with my religion. At fifteen I was writing letters to a Christian friend, asking question after question, choosing to reject a faith more than retrieve it; but, after the fourth letter, it must have got too much, for he politely asked me to stop: I was a “threat” to his faith. I don’t remember my questions too well, but I imagine they weren’t that harsh. I was fifteen, he was thirty something, and, if I recall my intelligence, my enquiries could hardly have been advanced.

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