What Kind of Ad Are You?

For long years, I have resisted the idea of hanging anything on my car indicating religion.  This isn’t because I worry for the safety of my car.  Rather, I know that when I drive, I find it very hard to embody the Christian values in which I believe.  I try, don’t get me wrong.  Every day I try.  Rarely do I succeed.  Many, it seems don’t think about what kind of ad they may be for their religion.  I was thinking about that the other day.

For many Americans, a trip to the Middle East marks the first time they’ve come in contact with Muslims.  They likely don’t have good friends showing them the beauty of what Islam can be.  So, they come to Jordan and find… what?  What kind of ads do they find for Islam?  Set aside the vendors who will give them the ever-present “American discount” which doubles or triples the price (although if I were Muslim this would really tick me off).

If they find themselves at the Dead Sea, the American is likely to find a man with his niqabi wife (or wives if they are as lucky as I have been, more than once) ogling them.  What an exceptional ad for Islam this man is.  Or they may find themselves on the wrong end of Ramadan road rage and have their lives threatened for allowing themselves to be hit.

Each of these circumstances saddens me.  They showcase that side of Islam that the US media continually tries to display.  For many Americans, it is the only Islam they see.  I’m actually quite fortunate.  The first Muslim I met in America was a wonderful ad for Islam.  She always smiled, even while wearing hijab and jilbab in the excruciating Alabama heat.  She was happy to be Muslim and it showed.  Here in Jordan, I’ve found a fabulous group of ladies who are practicing Muslims.  They represent everything that I believe can (and should) be.  But they are outside of the norm of my experience.  And that is what saddens me.  Equally, Christians who are poor advertisements for my religion sadden me.

The evangelical Christians, like our former President, who talk such a good game about loving life and yet feel no qualms at signing death sentences sadden me.  Those who would use Hurricane Katrina and the World Trade Center as opportunities to berate others for sin rather than demonstrate love.  Because, after all, faith, hope, and love… the greatest of these is love.  And Christians who forget this, who advocate for Israel out of a misplaced desire to hasten the second coming of Christ, represent the worst of what Christianity can be.  You see, we have bad advertisements on both sides.

So, really, what I’m saying is… we should try to be a good advertisement every day – in every thing that we do.  Whether it’s giving a foreigner a realistic price on goods or showing what love and compassion your religion is really about, each of us needs to show what we want to be.  Our call to faith needs to be aspirational.  We need to find the best in ourselves to show others because after all, God wants us to be good ads, don’t you think? So, I’ll try to be a nicer driver (I said TRY, okay…).

Happy Advertisements!

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7 thoughts on “What Kind of Ad Are You?

  1. I agree! We all are walking ads for our respective religions, sometimes good ones and sometimes bad! I have found that people who know me are more likely to defend Islam to someone who tries to bash it. It makes me smile 🙂

    • Winter, exactly. When we’re a good ad, we can change people’s view of our entire faith system. Keep on smiling! Kinzi, without a doubt that is the worst of the worst. If you have that kind of monetary wherewithal, I am absolutely certain that the Bible can show you better places to use it. Sigh. Talk about bad ads…

  2. Well said indeed ya ukhti. Hey, what about that guy who paid a fortune to advertise his erroneous doomsday prophecy when people are starving? How’s that for Christ-like love in action?

    Happy Aspiring!

  3. You might be able to find some of the answers in the city of Benghazi, the rebels capital of Libya, according Rod Norland in an article published in the NY Times,. Americans are treated with warmth and gratitude rarely seen in any Muslim country, the people go out of their way to say hello to the Americans, they are shokingly courteous, it is that oddest of oddities. A foreign jogger is not treated with hostility or sympathatic puzzlement but with a friendly wave or a toot on the horn. Even the Taxi driver don’t rip off foreign visitors, translators from Arabic into English work for free, can you imagine that in Jordan. In some Arab capitals American flags are only stomped upon and set a blaze, in Benghazi they are flown along their national flag. Many Libyans are naming their new born Susan in honor of Susan E. Rice, isn’t that wonderful. I remember in one of your old posts you were amazed by what you have seen in Dubai, I would say forget Dubai let us move to Benghazi if all of this good stuff really exists over there- then- we might say that the Americans have indeed finally put a nice dent in one one Muslim Middle Eastern city. I wish that whatever it is that made the Benghazi people love the Americans spreads throughout the ME so we can breath the sigh of relief. As an Arab American Muslim individual, I’m really proud of the Benghazi people, it gives me a great deal of pleasure to read something like that, I wish that many more Muslim Arabs and non Arabs start seeing America for what it is and not just for its stalwart support for the State of Israel. I think that there is still hope, I’m praying for that.

    • Max, interesting. Clearly, I’ve never been to Libya ;). I suspect now wouldn’t be the best time to change that. It would be interesting to better understand what has influenced their views of the rest of the world. I’m trying to imagine what I posted about being amazed by in Dubai, unless it’s the artificial nature… Sigh. Not a huge fan, myself. Abu Dhabi is somewhat more my speed, but even that… well, I’ll stick with Amman.

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