Terrorism and Missouri and Kansas
Before fatwas, before 9/11, before the Danish cartoons, before the war in Syria; before terror in France, Australia, Belgium, before ISIS, I met a terrorist.
Really, I am not kidding!
Early on in my career, at my last teaching position, a handsome man from the Middle East walked into my office one day. He said that he had heard about my programs on Women in Islam, and wanted to borrow some of my books. I had worked hard to bring different voices and different points of view about religions to campus, and this gentleman, who was attending KU in Lawrence, had heard about my work.
In programs on Islam we had addressed the touchy issue of the status of women in the Quran and in Islamic cultures. We had discussed the veil and the phrases in the Quran that seem to justify beating your wife (wives) if they do not fulfill your needs as a male. But at the same time we wondered about the Mothers of Believers who may have c0pied/written the words of Muhammad, and Khadijah, Muhammad’s first wife. She hired him in her business, fell in love with him, and married him. Was she twenty years his senior? Anyway, these females were foundational to the beginnings of Islam, but somehow their stories and voices seem to be less important than the stories of the males.
I talked with this man and would only loan him my books if he gave me his name and phone number. He did. I asked him what he did for a living and how he heard about me?
Apparently Muslims in Lawrence were talking about the points of view I was taking regarding females within Islam.
He told me that he was a student but his real job was to be a terrorist. I laughed at him. This made him angry. I said there are no terrorists in Lawrence, and he said that I was wrong. He told me that he was considered to be a “cell” and that he was just waiting to be activated. I was so naive at that time. He eventually returned the books to me, and I never heard from him again.
At that time, I kept a log of all phone calls because I had been harassed by people who did not like pluralism on campus. After the shock of 9/11 I went back to my old log of phone calls and found his number. I called him. He answered. I told him who I was, and asked him how he was doing. He told me that his wife was dying of cancer. And that was it! I never called the police. I never called anyone or told anyone about this man. I did not have evidence that he was a terrorist, only his word.
After I retired, I threw away all of my logs and all of the numbers in them. And only yesterday, I began wondering, whatever happened to this man?
As always, this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge