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Travel helps in understanding

Travel is a great teacher. Had I not been able to travel to other countries, I might have believed the comments being made about Muslims today.

Egyptian man and childI've been privileged to travel to two strongly Muslim countries...Egypt and Turkey...and the memories of the people I met on those trips come to the front whenever criticism is hurled at Muslims. Like all religions (remember Jim Jones) every religion has its fanatics whose activities make the front page or the six o'clock news.

The Muslims that I have come in contact with are very gentle and friendly people who are committed to their religious beliefs with a fervor unmatched by many Christians. The majority regularly follow the five principles of Islam every day.

My experiences include a Turkish family, school children and guide who became a friend; and Egyptian store keeper and his family, a cab driver and Sinai Desert camel herders. Never once did I feel afraid but always welcome.

Take a look at some of the Muslims I have had contact with and remember these images for future reference. We are all passengers on this planet Earth and should make every effort to better understand and hopefully accept our fellow travelers.

The Muslims I have known . . .
Turkish hospitality Turkish woman and grandson

This Muslim woman at right, like any grandmother, is very proud of the new grandson. He was introduced to a group of American tourists who she had invited into her home in a small Turkish village to share a simple but very delicious meal.

Children in the village elementary school (below) welcomed their new American friends with lots of hugs and a special performance about Turkish history.

Turkish students Turkish student
Donut making Serif Yenen
One of the five principles of Islam is to help those in need. The way the Muslims in Izmir, Turkey did this (at left) was to set up an operation making donuts to be given away to the poor. A very well educated and personable tour guide in Turkey is Serif Yenen (at right). He assembled an excellent guidebook to his country entitled "Turkish Odyssey".
A Luxor guide Cairo men in prayer
Muslims pray religiously five times a day, stopping all activity when it is prayer time. These men in Cairo (at right) are saying their prayers at Noon time. Local guides (like the one at left in Luxor) are very well versed in their country's history and are very patient with curious tourists.
Cairo merchant Cairo merchant's family
The owner of a small shop across from the quiet neighborhood hotel in which we stayed welcomed us in like old friends. It became a family affair as his wife and three children posed for photos and seemed delighted to have new American friends.
In the Cairo Bazaar Fun times in Sharm el Shiekh
All merchants, such as the fabric artist in the Cairo Bazaar (at left) were happy to take time to discuss their work with foreign visitors. The clerk in a small store in Sharm el Shiekh (at right) went overboard to make his American customer feel right at home and share some laughs.
A cab ride through the Sinai Camel riding on Mt. Sinai
One learns to trust in his Muslim hosts. We had no trepidation in heading off into the Sinai Desert with a Bedouin cab driver who spoke little English even when he pulled off the road during the trip...to pray. We felt safe two in heading up Mount Sinai with two Egyptian handlers even though we appeared to be the only foreigners around. We felt secure in this Muslim world with these Muslim people and we would do it again.

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