Hands up everyone who knew that the webs most prominent Muslim blogger is Robert Scoble. A few people found out this week when Scoble mentioned it in passing in his "I'm not an American" post. It turns out that Scoble converted to Islam so he could marry his wife under Islamic law.
Scoble noted that he's an "agnostic Muslim" and by no means a faithful follower of the faith he now holds, but none the less, legally he is a Muslim.
But what does Robert Scoble teach us about Islam?
I could jokingly suggest that all Muslims must be fat, loud and regularly wrong, but that wouldn't be fair given that description could fit a 100% committed atheist like me...well, maybe not the fat part as much.
What it does teach us all is that Muslims are normal people as well.
I don't want to preach religious tolerance too much because this isn't really the right forum for it, but in an age where "Muslim" has become a dirty word, used by supporters of the McCain campaign as a tool to denigrate Obama, it's important to note the lesson.
The reality is, as it is with any person, that there are good and bad people, and that their religion, race, nationality or sexuality should never be used as the determining factor.
Black people commit crimes, but that doesn't make all black people criminals. An Australian recently killed a funded startup and failed to communicate with his stakeholders, but that doesn't make all Australians inept. Germany likes to invade other countries, but not all Germans are Nazis. Some Asian people eat dogs, but that doesn't mean that your local Chinese restaurant is stealing pets and passing them off as chicken.
Some Muslims are awful, commit crimes, and a smaller number again have declared a jihad on the Western world, but that doesn't mean all Muslims are terrorists or bad.
In the big scheme of things Scoble's religion really means nothing; very few people if any will change their minds about Scoble based on him being "one of them," and nor should they. But that same generosity extended to Scoble through familiarity should be extended to any Muslim person in your community unless there is evidence of wrong doing, in the same way it should be with anyone. We'll all be better off if people thought this way first, and not in the xenophobic way that seems to be growing through certain parts of the United States.