Saturday, December 17, 2011

Omar Ghraieb

Hello and Happy Saturday!

I wish to thank Navjeet Singh Sandhu for his wonderful interview last week. Thanks so much for sharing with us Navjeet!

Today we have a new interview so please welcome Omar Ghraieb. Omar is a Muslim and I know you'll enjoy his interview as well!

Here Is Omar Ghraieb's Introduction:

I am a Journalist\Blogger\Translator from Palestine. I was born and raised in Cyprus Island, I wrote for many important international media venues and I have numerous friends around the world which all helped me to be liberal, understanding and accepting to all kinds of human beings.


1) What religion do you practice?

2) Are you a convert/revert or were you raised within this religion? If you converted, what did you need to do to convert? And what did you practice prior to converting?
I was raised as a Muslim.

3)Within your religion are there degrees of observance (ie. Orthodox,conservative, moderate, liberal)? What are the defining differences between the degrees of observance?
Of course, just like every other religion, Islam has degrees of observance. I am not an expert to name them or explain them but from my understanding and point of view I would say that there are 3 basic degrees:

1- Conservative: A person that includes religion in all aspects of life, practices religion in a literal way and makes sure he isn’t missing any detail.

2- Moderate: A person who finds the balance between being religious yet modern.

3- Liberal: A person who is Muslim yet very open minded and manages to balance between religion and his own thoughts

4)Within your religion what degree of observance are you ((ie. Orthodox,conservative, moderate, liberal) ? Why did you choose this degree of observance?
I consider myself liberal. My European background, personal thoughts and level of tolerance all played a role of turning myself into a liberal person that values religion and owns a broader idea of god.

5)What is the Afterlife within your religion? For example: what happens when a person dies? Are there places for reward/punishment? (such as a Heaven/Hell concept)
Islam revolves around the basic human idea of good and bad. Just like everything in life, you do good you are rewarded but if you do bad you are punished. So its heaven for good people and hell for bad people but of course with exceptions because god is all about mercy, love, compassion and tolerance.

6) In your opinion, does everyone make it into heaven/paradise? If they do not, why?
I do believe that in the end everyone will make it eventually into heaven even bad people will make it to heaven after paying their dues.

7) What makes your religion a good fit for you?
I solemnly believe that if I wasn’t Muslim I will end up being one, from my point of view Islam is a perfect fit for me because my ideas, beliefs and values match with the concept of Islam.

8) What are your holy days and what do you do to celebrate them?
We have many holy days of worship, eids and celebrations. Every holy day has its own rituals.

9) Do you consider people of other faiths to be your friends?
Of course, not just because Islam asked us to accept everyone and that there is no difference between anyone except for their level of faith but because I also have a great amount of tolerance in me. Islam asked us not to be racists and I was born to be against racism anyway.

10) Would you ever join people of another faith to celebrate one of their holy days? Please explain why?
Of course, and I already did. I lived for so many years in a European country and 90% of my friends were Christia. I always celebrated their holy days with them and they always fasted Ramadan with me.

11) What are your thoughts on the burka, and Shariah Law?
Burka isn’t obligatory in Islam, it’s a personal choice. Since I am very open minded and I accept all kinds of people I don’t mind accepting women who choose to wear burka, life is all about personal choices and if we seek respect we have to give it back.

Shariah law is something that I value and believe in, but it can't be implemented in a literal way. Yes Islam covered everything in life in the Shariah law and foresaw many stuff yet we are in 2011, and many laws have to be amended and more liberal.

12) Are women allowed to hold religious office (priest, minister, rabbi, iman etc) in your religion and how do you feel about it?
Women can play a role in spreading Islam and offer a more understanding of it but I don’t think Women can hold religious office. I trust Islam on this one.

13) Does your place of worship segregate? If yes, how does this make you feel?
We all know that you can worship god anywhere but just like every other faith we do have a place of worship, the mosque. If you don’t go to the mosque that doesn’t mean you are not a believer or a not a worshiper, it only means you are missing a spiritual experience that you can share with others but only god can judge for that because you can have good solid reasons like work or other reasons.

14) How much does your religion affect your daily life and how much thought do you give it when making a decision? Does it affect in any way your decision on abortion, gay marriage, etc?
I think we are driven by our own personal choices, beliefs and thoughts which of course have religion as a part of it. In Islam, abortion can be wrong for some reasons and regulations and accepted for others while gay marriage is wrong. But that doesn’t mean I have to judge people who get abortions or who are gay or be a racist towards them. I am not god to judge. I accept them. Their relationship with god and right and wrong is their business. I accept them if they accept me, I respect them if they respect me.

15) How would you react/feel if your child wished to marry outside your religion?
Honestly, I don’t know. I never thought about it and I don’t know how I will react then. I believe feelings can't be controlled yet religion should be put in consideration of course.

16) In your opinion, if someone is not of your faith, will they go to hell?
Of course not, only god can decide that. How would I know?

17) Who do you think is not a practicing ----- in your religion and why? ie who in the public domain claims to speak for your religion? Do you agree with them or not?
I don’t necessarily agree with all of them. Yes, we might be all Muslims but we are all entitled to have our own thoughts and approaches so I might agree with some and disagree with some others.

18) Have you ever been the target of a hate crime? Please explain.
It didn’t get serious or harmful but yes I have been judged for being Muslim, judged for being Liberal and judged for a few other reasons which makes me even more determined to be opened and tolerant.

19) Do you ever feel like your religion devalues you?
Of course not. Islam honors human beings.

20) Does your religion give you peace of mind?
Yes it does. Maybe I don’t give myself peace of mind, but my religion does.

21) Do you believe in reincarnation? Why or why not?
No, I don’t. I think every individual is created and born to live his own life and fulfill his own destiny. I don’t believe that anyone can be reincarnated. Maybe people who know me will meet people who have many similarities with me after I pass away but that doesn’t mean I got reincarnated. I know so many people that are similar to me already and I am alive.

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