I am very sorry but I may have inadvertently insulted your great religion. Please allow me to explain. I know being omniscient you already know this but I would just feel a bit better about it if I put it into words, if you don’t mind.
Ever since George Bush decided that Islam was a bad thing I have sought to better understand your religion, after all I wasn’t going to take that dimwit’s word for it was I. Having travelled to many countries where your followers live and been treated with much kindness and respect it was no surprise to meet so many nice people in the small town of Dinguiraye in Guinea, a largely Muslim country. One such young man was Ibrahim, who when I mentioned the renowned local mosque he offered to take me to the Friday service. Despite his suggestion that I only need to copy him when It came to all the bowing and praying stuff I did say that this wasn’t quite the respect that the religion merits, hence I would be happy to be an observer only.
So, friday morning 15 mins before the service started I asked if we were leaving soon, “oh no, it will go on for ages and be really boring then we will all fall asleep, so no hurry”.
Now I know this is probably not the kind of dedicated attitude that you particularly approve of but please don’t punish him as he is obviously a good kid and he does get up at 5 30am everyday to pray to you. If you are going to punish anyone you might like to consider the man who, in the guise of showing me around the town took me to a dodgy back street bar at 9am that morning. As you can imagine, the kind of characters you find in a bar at that time of the morning, on the most holy day of the week, in a Muslim country tend not to be the finest example of what the country has to offer. Besides, the lady selling drinks gave the distinct impression that she would be prepared to give you a lot more than just drinks if your wallet would run to it. I bought the man a drink but when he offered to procure “little girls” for me I suddenly remembered an urgent appointment.
My first sin, albeit a minor one was an inappropriate choice of footwear for the day, which of course had to be removed before entering the mosque. So upon seating myself cross-legged on the upper gallery with a fine view down onto the proceedings I realised I was the source of the cheesy pong. The fallout may have been limited had not the gallery continued to fill up and a man knelt down beside me to pray, so each time his head touched the floor his nose was only inches away from the offending reek. Truly had the man embraced the Islamic values of compassion that he was merciful enough to not mention the odour. While I have got you here Allah and we are on the subject could I talk about some of your other alleged followers in the region.
As you well know the first line of the Qur’an is, “In the name of Allah the compassionate, the merciful”, so I think we can both agree that indiscriminately killing innocent people in Mali and Nigeria, most of whom are decent Muslims anyway, is not what you had in mind when you reveled these words to Mohammed. I could just about understand it if Boko Haram and Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb concentrated on making life a misery for Christians, atheists and the French but the majority who die and suffer at their hands are the kind a decent Muslims who have made my travels such a pleasure on so many occasions. Take the inhabitants of Dinguiraye. Ok, they may have a relaxed attitude to time keeping when it comes to prayer times but at least it’s not the kind of mindset that fosters extremism. You can hardly have imagined Osama bin Laden turning up late for prayers saying, “sorry lads, bit late, had to pick up a tasty shwarma from Abdul’s on the way over”. Would you mind having a word with these tossers and get them to direct their energies to something more useful like eradicating polio or feeding the hungry please.
Anyway, back to the mosque, entirely free of hellfire and brimstone sermons on the evils of all things Western I realise I am now completely surrounded by worshippers and everyone has to enact the final prayers together. Faced with a split second decision and knowing if I remain seated or standing I am going to look like a complete prat I take the coward’s option and copy the actions of the others.
Sheepishly I shuffle out behind Ibrahim, avoiding eye contact in case any sincere and happy voice says, “we don’t see many white Muslims around here”. Actually I doubt if they have ever seen any white Muslims given the absence of foreigners in the area.
I did give some money to some disabled poor people outside which I hope goes some way to demonstrating penance for my sins. So I am truly sorry and promise not to do it again. You will tell me if it’s a problem, won’t you?
All the best Graham