Him: In your post "The Struggle to Reach People," you said that you'd like to hear from readers about the circumstances that led to an awakening.
For me, it occurred when I started reading comments left by people on Al-Jazeera English Facebook updates, in particular updates about news items related to homosexuality.
Whenever a news item from Al-Jazeera English related to homosexuality is posted to Facebook, hordes of people leave comments to the effect of "kill them (homosexuals), burn them, behead them, stone them, imprison them," etc. The majority of these comments appear to be left by Muslims, judging by their names and Facebook profiles.
This is what made me pull my head out of the sand.
In a hadith, Muhammad is reported as saying this about homosexuals: "Kill the one that is doing it, and also kill the one that it is being done to."
When talking to people, it might be worth considering approaching the subject of Islam from the angle of homosexuality, highlighting the treatment of homosexuals and how the founder of Islam called for their destruction.
Me: Thank you very much. That's interesting. Did you have your suspicions already, but felt skeptical? And then those comments were the final awakening? Or did it jolt you out of the blue?
Him: I was an apologist for Islam. I kept saying to myself that people with extreme views had taken over the religion.
That said, I knew that Islam condemned homosexuals. Because I knew this, I did already have suspicions, yes, but I always wrote them off telling myself that Islam's texts had been misinterpreted and only "radicals" would actually go to the extreme of wanting homosexuals dead.
When I began reading the comments on Facebook, it struck me just how widespread the hatred for homosexuals really is, and how unashamed the people were in calling openly for their deaths using their Facebook profiles.
That's when I began reading the Sira, Hadith and Quran. Islam's condemnation of homosexuality is unequivocal. There really isn't any room for misinterpretation, as I had believed.
I've begun talking to friends about Islam. I approached the subject of Islam with one of my friends from the angle of homosexuality. Before talking to her, I feared she'd think I'd become a bigot for taking a negative stance on Islam. In fact, the opposite was true. She completely sided with me because Islam's treatment of homosexuals sickened her. She even began researching Islam on her own (yes, really!) and came to the same conclusions. I was amazed.
In the West, there is widespread condemnation of groups that work towards the marginalisation of homosexuals. I think homosexuality makes a good starting point for a conversation with people who care about the well-being of homosexuals. It might just help plant that seed like it did for my friend (and me).
Me: That's very interesting. Would you mind if I sent your two letters to someone who might be interested in publishing them? I also might want to publish them on Inquiry Into Islam. It's a good story. I think it could help people reach their friends and family who are still not sure about Islam.
Him: Yes, of course, you can use them (anonymously, without the email address published online).
I think it might also be useful to provide an example of a hadith that condemns homosexuality so that people can memorise and quote it, if they want to. The one I mentioned in my first email is particularly striking and uses few words.
Hadith - The Book on Legal Punishments (Al-Hudud) - Jami` at-Tirmidhi - Sunnah.com - Sayings and Teachings of Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه و سلم): http://sunnah.com/tirmidhi/17/40
This is also posted on Inquiry Into Islam here.