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Thursday, September 9, 2010

Education Not Ignorance Encouraged By Muslim In Mississippi In Light of Recent Controversy

by Cyrus Webb for Conversations Magazine (

The brewing controversy over the proposed mosque near the site of Ground Zero in New York and the scheduled burning of the Koran in Florida on September 11, 2010 has sparked conversation worldwide among Muslims and Non-Muslims alike. In Mississippi, Jackson native, author and Muslim Joseph Henderson is concerned about the message that is being sent about his religion.

"I was not exposed to any other faith or religion growing up," says Henderson, 42. "The Muslim faith appealed to me because of the tolerence it taught, its messages about how to live and even on how we ought to treat each other." He has been practicing his faith for over 20 years. In his autobiographer I DON'T WANT TO DIE ALL ALONE, he chronicles his journey in life, his road to redemption and the role faith played in his making a transformation.

Ironically, the very teachings that Henderson praises in the Muslim faith seem to be lacking among detractors and those with growing animosity towards Islam. Who does Joseph look to for guidance? It's Jesus. "We all look at Jesus as being the greatest figure, teacher and role model to walk the earth," he says. "Jesus embodied how we ought to live. That is what real Muslims believe."

When hearing about what is going on right now in America concerning Muslims, Joseph says this: "People truly have a lack of understanding of what Islam is really about and what Islam really means. If they wish to look at the trueness in contrast to what so-called extremeist are representing, that will help them to best understand what is the truth." Joseph also warns against painting an entire religion by a broad brush. "They see what a few people are doing that is negative and makes Muslims as a whole look bad. That's unfair. If we applied that standard to all religions, no one would be able to get along."

Probably one of the most troubling acts is yet to come: the threatening of the burning of the Muslim's holy book the Koran. "I see that as an insult not just to Muslims, but an insult to mankind," says Henderson. "When God sends scripture, he sends it for mankind to live by. To burn something that He has establishehd for humanity is like disrepecting him. This is why you have to respect all scripture: the Bible and the Koran."

One of the great things that is happening as a result of all of the controversy and uproars across the United States is the dialogue that seems to be taking place. Joseph says that could be a plus if the opportunity is not missed. "If people would do their own studying or their own inquiring on Islam and not listen to the negative, they will be able to form their own opinions about what is true and false. Then they will see that we all serve the same God."

For additional information about Joseph Henderson, visit Cyrus Webb can be reached via email at or at 601.896.5616.

1 comment:

  1. I start by quoting the Koran:" No disaster strikes except by permission of Allah." Juz 28, Surah 64, Verse 11.
    The burning of the Koran will not destroy it. Muslims believe that God gave us the Koran and God will protect it.
    Instead of viewing the burning of the Koran as an insult or a disaster. Let us Muslims consider it a chance to reevaluate what we have done with the teachings of the koran.

    As followers of a tolerant religion, we should accept that others need to show their anger and frustration with Islamists and terrorists.

    As followers of a tolerant religion, we should have never suggested the location of this mosque/ islamic center ( whatever you want to call it).

    As followers of a tolerant religion, we should have studied the life of Muhammad and ask ourselves would our prophet have chosen this location for the mosque? ( I think not...)

    Maybe this Koran burning is a warning sign given by God to Muslims to ask us to update Islam and reevaluate what some of us have done.