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How a Bosnian Muslim Changed My Perception of Islam and of Muslims in General

Updated on April 7, 2015
Missing Link profile image

Missing Link is originally from rural Ohio. He currently lives in Hillsboro, OR. with his Wife and two Sons.

Awhile back, a new person was assigned to the cubicle across from me. He was young, strapping, polite and just seemed to carry himself well. He is white but had a foreign look to him. By interacting with him, I was to find out he was from Bosnia and to my surprise a Muslim.

I never would have guessed he was Muslim. How can he be a Muslim? He is as white as me and is clean shaven. Here in the USA when we think of Islam we typically think of the Middle East. I sensed no anger or hatred on his behalf. He didn't seem intolerant, irrational or violent. He was not making a scene by praying 12 times a day in his cubicle towards Mecca. I actually would not mind if he did do this as long as he was not too loud :)

No, I'm not uneducated; in fact, I have a college degree. Stereotypes are very powerful things and this Muslim/Islam one I had never quite left behind. I was born in the late 60s and brought up in the rural Midwest. As a young boy, Western stereotypes of Islam and of Muslims were fed to me and often reinforced through the media. I'm middle aged now and of course realize there are millions of Muslims in Indonesia and elsewhere around the world---not just in the Middle East.

Becoming friends with this individual has changed my views of Islam and of Muslims for the better. I'm glad my belief system in this regard has been challenged and shaken. I never really wanted to believe all Muslims were that horrendously bad anyway. We human beings tend to generalize don't we? Bad, bad, bad!

He and I are now friends. He is in his late twenties now but lived through all the horrible stuff that took place in the Balkans a few years ago i.e. Milosevich, Nato Bombing under President Clinton, Nationalistic/Ethnic/Religious turmoil...remember? He found himself in a Serb concentration camp and has shared many stories with me from that time.

His life is very different now. He comes across as rock solid in every way i.e. talent, intellect, decency, is well liked and on and on. I trust no one more than he in the entire office and there are many employees. I'm not worried about him beheading me or blowing himself up as a martyr :) He is married to a beautiful, Bosnian, Muslim woman and has, in general, a very bright future. I am much older than he and make sure I am good to him and look out for him. I don't go far out of my way for many in the work place but do for him because I admire and respect him so much.


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    • Missing Link profile image

      Missing Link 4 years ago from Oregon

      Thanks Ranzi!

      I see. Very educational and interesting!

      The non extremist Arabs need to do more to prevent the extremist Arabs from taking my opinion.

      I've seen pics from Dubai and it seems very modern and impressive, etc.

      I really like old ruins---I'd like to see the great pyramids in Egypt and Petra in Jordan.

      I have to admit though----as a white American I would be afraid to be in most parts of the Middle East---I'd be afraid something bad would happen to me just because I'm Western, White or American.

      I know a Palestinian man and he assured me with full confidence I'd be safe in the Palestinian territories but still I would be afraid given what I've seen my entire life per our American media i.e. hijackings, bombings, kidnappings, beheadings, etc. I realize the media has deceived me somewhat but still---it's mostly what I've seen my entire life and that is powerful

      Thanks much again!

    • Ranzi profile image

      Cut The Bullshit 4 years ago from All Over

      I was born in Lebanon and grew up in Australia. I'm talking about the western media will never show you how modern some places are in ME or that there are fair people as it will ruin the image of what a terrorist should look like. They paint a picture of people are living in the dark ages. As you noticed from your Emo's in Iraq article that there different sub groups like goth/emo/ hipsters/ rock/ fashionable/ metro-sexual and even many women dress revealing skimpy clothes and have tattoos and piercings. In syria under Assad government it was like this, until the foreign rebels called a jihad by saudi and qatar, trying to take the country into the dark ages.

    • Missing Link profile image

      Missing Link 4 years ago from Oregon

      Hi Ranzi and thanks for visiting the hub and for commenting!

      What is your birth country? Why would they not be shown on tv? Why would they have limited opportunities?

      I read the article you inserted as a link. Of course I already knew there were many successful Arab Americans--but many other Americans may not be aware of this---I'm not sure.

      My most influential college professor was Iranian American---he was incredible. He was way smarter than me though and may have pushed me too much though or been too hard on me or something like that. I love him though and am eternally grateful for all he did for me.

      A bit later, I intend to read your hub about Syria, Asaad, etc.

      Thanks again!

    • Ranzi profile image

      Cut The Bullshit 4 years ago from All Over

      Just to inform you that there are many Arabs with blue eyes and white skin. I grew up with many in my birth country. They will never be shown on TV. Sadly many live in Societies that don't give them the opportunities you may have had. These are some successful arabs in America.

      Nice hub btw

    • Missing Link profile image

      Missing Link 4 years ago from Oregon


      I really don't know what to say about your comments or how to respond to them.

    • profile image

      Shumlina 4 years ago

      So, basically, you're saying you are a racist. You didn't think that someone brown and Muslim from the Middle East or North Africa could be a caring, intelligent, talented, friendly person? All of them must be "intolerant, irrational or violent" in your view? And once you met a white Muslim, it changed for you? Methinks you still are afraid or/dislike Arabs though.

    • Missing Link profile image

      Missing Link 4 years ago from Oregon


      Thanks much for visiting this hub and for your comments! Your comments are a nice addition!

    • profile image

      Tauba Istighfaar 4 years ago

      People go by people rather than Truth. Interesting. Truth is how we exist. None else is. Come to the truth not cause of people. Nor leave the Truth cause of people. Otherwise, such a person is vain and untrue. No one is bad as that. Come to Islam cause you love the Truth. Never leave Islam cause you love the Truth. Allah (G-d) is the Truth. Allah (G-d) is always Great and thus we must submit to the Truth. That's it.

    • KenWu profile image

      KenWu 5 years ago from Malaysia

      There are all types of people regardless of origin, race, belief and so on. It just that we tend to focus on the majority group and missing the some good minority group.

    • Missing Link profile image

      Missing Link 5 years ago from Oregon


      Thanks so much for your comments and adding valuable info to the hub. Hope you enjoyed your Mexican telenovela!

    • profile image

      Bosniak 5 years ago

      Bosnians are culturally similar to Turks, and both are very different then Arabs, Persians (Iranians), Afghans, Pakistanis etc. Each of those "nations" have different wiews on Islam and none should be called "relaxed" or "anormal". Its just different.

      Tv shows only some crazy muslims that scare the hell out of other muslims too. The truth is that muslims are really really nice and kind people:) OK..with some crazy individuals..loud and explosive individuals:S

      The thing is that different muslim nations take different sources of islam.

      Bosnians and Turks are focused on Quran and Quranic values. Arabs search knowledge mostly in Hadith-stories about what someone said that someone said that someone said that Prophet said 300 years ago (those books were written 300 years after Prophets death and are collections of narrations that were orally transmitted by beduins. I made it sound like a disease, but my english is not perfect,what can I do:))So here's an example of how that makes a difference: head covering is not mentioned in the Quran,its mentioned in Hadith. Stoning people is not mention in Quran,its in Hadith. Etc..

      Personally I think the Hadith are full of arab tradition and not really words of Prophet. Quran is word of God and should be the source of Islam.

      Another thing I would like to say is-word Allah is simply an arab word for God. Same like God in english, dios in spanish, Bog in slavic. In bosnia we call God Bog most of the times. But we also call him Allah. So Allah is not some new God-its same God, one an only God, that Christians believe in.

      Also the Quran is not some book of totally different ideas. It is like newest part of Bible where some misunderstandings are cleared (for example we believe Jesus was a prophet and not God). But most of things are totally the same-biblical stories, prophets, religious values,rules etc.

      I am late for my favorite mexican telenovela now, must run!

    • Missing Link profile image

      Missing Link 7 years ago from Oregon


      Wow thanks for your informative and educational input! Your comments add nicely to the article. Thanks again and best wishes!!

    • profile image

      7 years ago

      Yeah, Bosnia is a predominantly (48%) muslim country.

      During the Ottoman Empire the Turks conquered the former Yugoslavia; Bosnia was the most culturally affected by this as a lot of people converted to Islam.

      Bosnians are a Slavic race, more specifically South Slavs (as are Slovenes, Croats, Serbs, Macedonians and Bulgarians).

      Russians and Ukranians are East Slavs and Poles and Czech are West Slavs.

      This is why they are white. They are not Middle-Eastern; they are Eastern European.

      Culturally they are also Eastern-European... on the whole they are very relaxed when it comes to religion. Many of them drink, bars are easy to find and the average woman doesn't cover up... unless you go to little rural villages you won't see many of them wearing headscarves.

      The government in Bosnia is secular, as is the culture to a great extent... fundamentalism/extremism isn't tolerated, people will laugh at you.

      Compared to other Muslim countries, Bosnia is a bit of an anomale.