When I began the first draft of my second novel, Forbidden, I was unprepared for a shocking journey. In 2011 when my research began, my ideas about Islam and Muslims fell pretty much in the same cloud of confusion and distrust as was prevalent among my friends. I now enjoy a greater clarity. In fact, it is my mission to encourage relationships with Muslims – moderate Muslims.
When I read the history of the Middle East going back thousands of years, my comprehension was challenged given the complexity and continuous shifting of powers from one ethnic group to another. Ongoing conflicts and instability appears to have been a daily threat. When the prophet Muhammad graced the lands in the region, the seeds of peace began to take root. Stability began to flourish as the Middle East became a center of academic studies and a higher standard of living. Then as Europe was determined to divide the territory according to their vision and need for control over the rich resources, tribal conflicts and hatred for outsiders festered. The invasions escalated by force (Russia) and by the false pretext of offering benevolent protection. The horror that resides within the borders of Arabic lands today is a result of the Western government’s greed and bigotry, arrogance in claiming to believe in the significance and protection of the local culture.
It’s shameful that non Arabs have the delusion that their ancestors are free of any guilt. Genocide was not just a crime committed by Nazi Germany. It had started hundreds of years prior by the Crusaders, by the vile acts during the Inquisition. How many African people suffered and died at the hands of those who believed enslaving an entire ethnic group was there God given right? What about the attempt to destroy indigenous peoples of America? It sickens me to think my ancestors have blood on their hands.
That narrow mindedness and bigotry stops with me now. I’m so grateful for Forbidden. Forbidden opened my eyes and my heart. Thankfully, I already had an open mind.