I had delayed getting my Saturn Vue smog checked for a very long time; I paid the registration fee, but the vehicle needed to have the brakes replaced and getting a smog check costs money too, and so I put it off until we could afford it.
The nice man who did the smog test was very friendly and gregarious.
“What you do?” He asked as he hooked my car up to the smog check equipment.
“I’m an author.”
“Oh, that’s good. I used to be university professor. Before I come to United States before six years ago.” He explained how he had taught computer science—and how he’s hoping to move to Seattle soon. He’s got family up there who work for Microsoft.
There followed a bunch of questions about writing. He told me how he always got off on bunny trails when he was teaching. “I like to talk a lot. Everybody says I talk a lot.” He explained that he has the same trouble staying focused whenever he tries to write about something.
I gave him some pointers on writing and rewriting.
“So what sort of books you write?”
“Science fiction and religion.”
“Have you written about Islam?”
“No, not yet. But I have read the Quran in translation a couple of times.”
“Can I tell you about Islam? I make it brief—just an introduction. Brief summary.”
“Okay,” I said.
His “brief summary” was much longer than anyone’s definition of brief, but I was not surprised. I’d already realized he wasn’t exaggerating about how much he enjoyed talking.
So he explained the differences between Islam and Christianity. He told me that he thinks that Islam is logical, but Christianity is not. He spent a lot of time on the trinity and the various analogies he’d heard about how to explain it—such as the egg and the shamrock.
He didn’t think that the concept of God “resting” on the seventh day after creating the universe made any sense.
“How could God be tired? He’s God!”
And he didn’t think it was reasonable that God would wrestle with Jacob. “How could God come down and be a man and allow a man to challenge him?”
In Islam, God is entirely transcendent and completely above and separate from humanity. He’s way up there, we’re way down here. “He does as he pleases and who are we to challenge him?”
It made no sense to him how God could have a son. “Why he need a companion or someone to rely on?” Why would God exist in all eternity and then suddenly decide to make the Son, and then to make the Holy Spirit?
He was convinced that most Christians, “they do not think.” And he criticized them because they don’t ever read the Bible—unlike Moslems who have to read the Quran every day.
He also found it peculiar that the names of God and Jesus change from place to place in the world—that in Spanish the name of Jesus is pronounced entirely differently than it is in English, or that God is sometimes called God, or Jehovah, or Yahweh—but then in Spanish it is something else entirely.
He thought it much better the way it was done in Islam. In Islam, he explained, they pray to God only in Arabic. “And you must carefully learn how to pronounce the words.” So no matter where you go, US, Saudi Arabia, Germany, China—it is always Alahu Akhbar. “That is why,” he said, “Quran is studied only in Arabic, and read only in Arabic.”
“Those Shiites, they are not Muslim at all—because they venerate a man. Only Suni are Muslim.”
Then he moved on to current events. “In Islam the men who go to war, to fight jihad, they expect to either be victorious or to die trying—and either way, it is a win for them. Not like American soldiers who have a house and a car, and they only want to go home to their families and houses and cars. A Muslim, he leaves his family, he leaves everything, and he is happy. He will either win or he will die and that’s all he wants.”
“Under Islam,” he explained, “there is only the rule of Islam, no democracy. If you fight against Islam, then you will die. If you don’t fight, then you are free to believe what you will. But if you don’t accept Islam, then you must preach only in your churches—and you cannot build new ones—and you can worship only at home. And you must pay a tax then.”
He extolled the advantages of punishing wrongdoers. “It must be done in public. If you steal, we cut off your left hand. Do it again, your right. And how many people will steal when they see that sort of swift justice? Have a long trial, put them in prison—how does that keep them from doing wrong? If you hang adulterers in downtown, let everyone see—then no one will ever do that sort of thing. Same with homosexuality.”
“These wars, the fighting in Egypt and Syria and Libya—all that has happened in the last few years. It is the beginning of the end. There is a great battle coming, and when it is all over, Islam will be triumphant. You will see. Same in Israel, Islam will rule.”
After I had paid for the smog check—he told me, “Pick out a drink from the cooler—all my customers. I let them get a beverage. Anything you like!”
As I left, he told me “You have any questions, or want to talk more, you tell me. I like to talk.” We shook hands repeatedly and he kept chattering on, but eventually he let me go.