[Prayer in Cairo, 1865,By Jean-Léon Gérôme]
- 1% of Worldwide Muslims live in Russia (11% of Russia's population) figuring for roughly 16.5 million Russian Muslims
- There are roughly 1000 Muslims living in Puerto Rico where my father was born.
- .2% of Worldwide Muslims live in the U.S. (.8% of U.S. population) just under 2.5 million Muslims in America.
- 2/3rds of Worldwide Muslims live in the following 10 country with the largest percentage of Muslims per country: Indonesia, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Egypt, Nigeria, Iran, Turkey, Algeria, Morocco.
- Indonesia is the world's largest Muslim country at 13% of world wide Muslims around 203 million.
These numbers may mean little to most people out there but to those seeking to connect with a spiritual community this might mean a lot. A year ago I even considered converting to Islam myself. The first thing people ask me is "what kept you from converting?" as if I had learned some dark secret in my studies that kept me from joining. I tell them that I could not find any skeletons in Islam's closet that are any more horrifying than the skeletons in the closet of any other religion. The only thing that keeps me from joining a religion is exclusivity. Although I yearn to find a community to connect with, it would be devastating to my spirituality if I shunned all others. I may one day find myself (when I have free time and strike up the nerve) praying at a Hindu temple or Muslim Mosque but more as a way to connect with and learn more from my fellow man.
There is a LOT I love about Islam (which most of my knowledge of Islam comes from boring history books) but there is also a lot I love about Christianity. Judaism currently has my attention and I also admire the teachings in Buddhism and Hinduism (I tried meditating for a couple weeks straight during the summer and fell out of the habit). Some have said that I am creating a new religion by picking and choosing what I want from each, and that I'm doing this to cover my own rear end (fire insurance). The core idea that causes this line of thinking is the assumption that ONE AND ONLY ONE religion has it right. I do not believe that any one faith owns a monopoly on the divine and even if one did, it would be impossible to figure out the right combination of beliefs. Life in this world is not about right beliefs but about right actions (not to confuse that with works). I pull from multiple religions that help me on my spiritual journey towards acting justly and loving. All religions (that I'm aware of) teach that in the end it is all about love, including Islam. We need to reach out to the Muslim quarter of the world not because Jesus instructed us Christians to love our neighbors, but because they're human, and all humans yearn to be loved.