But it also reminds me of how I used to be. I used to be "crazy about conversion." Once, someone told me that if I had brought someone to the religion of Islam, it would be "better than the world and all it has." Thus, I made it one of my life goals to try to convert someone to Islam. I voraciously read books that chronicled Christian-Muslim debates. I watched videotaped debates between various Muslim and Christian religious leaders time and again, and I attended them in person whenever I could. I studied numerous Biblical passages for hours on end. I argued with quite a few of my Christian friends about such things as the Bible, Christ, the Trinity, and other aspects of Christian theology. At Marquette University (a Jesuit institution), where I attended college, I even offered to debate one of my dorm-mates in front of the rest of the dorm, but it never materialized.
And then I grew up. As I left college for medical school and passed through the various stages of my medical training, my zeal for conversion abated dramatically: I had since gotten married and between my studies and my family, I had no time to debate. More importantly, however, I came to the realization that this passion for conversion was misguided. True, Islam does encourage its adherents to "invite to the path of their Lord." Indeed, Islam does advocate sharing the faith with others. I took that encouragement, however, to the extreme. And frankly, it did little good; it made the people I was arguing with defensive, and the result was not a mutual sharing of faith experiences, but an argument over whose faith was "better" than the other. In addition, it eroded my respect for the other's faith. That was wrong, and I deeply regret my past behavior.
When Muslims are doing those things, it is my hope, in fact, for them to share Islam with non-Muslims.Not to convert them to Islam, but to teach them, to get rid of the pervasive ignorance of Islam in America. Save for a few intractable cases, the overwhelming majority of Americans who fear Islam do so out of ignorance. If they come into contact with Muslims in everyday life, they will realize that American Muslims are not that much different than any other American, and once the ignorance of Islam is eradicated, then the bricks and bullets that fly through the windows of mosques and the hateful barrages against American Muslims will hopefully all melt away.
Yep, I used to be crazy about conversion, but I am no longer so, and I thank God voraciously for it. My job as a Muslim (and as an American) is to strive to make my country a better place for all, Muslim or otherwise. If someone gets to learn more about Islam from me, cool. If, through our interaction, that person eventually becomes Muslim, cool. If that person, after learning about Islam, does not even think about converting to Islam, cool. My focus is on my life and my actions; I leave what happens in someone's heart up to God.