An eye-opening look into the abyss: the great yawning gulf that lies between the true believer and the infidel.
Padnos (My Life Had Stood a Loaded Gun: Adolescents at the Apocalypse: A Teacher’s Notes, 2004) quit teaching for journalism—as a writer for a Yemeni newspaper, a venue that allowed him ample opportunity to study Islam and examine its effects on those around him. Many of the Yemenis he met in the madrassas and on the streets were ill-informed, bigoted, pious prudes. One naïve young man he encountered in an Internet café insisted, for instance, that America is a country of “corruption and Jews.” A teacher assured him that Jews mispronounce the Arabic greeting salaam aleikum so that it does not mean “peace upon you”: “It may sound that way, sort of, but it means poison upon you . . . and you won’t hear the difference.” Most seemed sure of a Muslim ascendancy, a world under the crescent and the veil, and if they tended to treat Padnos indulgently as a Muslim convert, he is less patient with them. Considering what he has learned toward the end of his adventures and misadventures in the backwaters where al-Qaeda trains and Wahhabism reigns, he thinks, “In Yemen you will learn how to hate the Jews and how to control women. If you come back [to the West] five years from now . . . with your head stuffed with Koran, and hadith . . . you’ll be a person stranded in the modern world.” Anyone who wishes to understand why they hate us will realize that one major component is ignorance. Yet, as Padnos also writes, there are surely reasons to complain—even if it’s not strictly true, as one sheikh insists, that “the Americans came into Iraq with crosses on their tanks.”
Solid reading for comparative religions, current events and the clash of civilizations.