First Hand Experience Living and Working in a Muslim Country


By John Alexander

Like many Westerners brought up in a democratic, liberal culture, I was taught to respect other cultures and their value systems. Through schooling, I was taught to treat all faiths with reverence even if I do not share such beliefs. Many Western countries are now “multi-cultural” in the sense that because they are generally economically, politically and socially successful, they have drawn migrants from most countries of the world, including Islamic countries.

So it was with a great sense of anticipation and delight that I was given a two year contract and a chance to experience an Islamic country. I thought I would meet the real Muslims, not the ones branded as terrorists by our biased media, get to know them, thoroughly enjoy myself and enrich my “inter-cultural” experiences.

Needless to say, in the two years I have lived in the Gulf, I have found, to my dismay (believe me, I get no pleasure from writing this) that many of the articles I have read on Faith-freedom and and others, I have found to be generally accurate for the following reasons:
*]1. Muslims are generally narrow-minded and bigoted.
2. Muslims are fanatical haters of Israel and the United States.
3. Muslims truly believe they have the best religion in the world and that the rest of the world should be Islamic.
4. Muslims really do believe that adulterers should be stoned and apostates killed.
5. Muslims have a peculiar sense of right and wrong. A thing is right if it is done privately but wrong if the transgression is made public[/LIST][LIST=1]
*]I can probably add more to the list. When you talk and interact with Muslims on a daily basis, they seem on the surface to be quite reasonable people. I have had delightful discussions with my colleagues over coffee many times. Gulf Arabs generally are courteous hosts and behave well in public. For example, I have never seen any graffiti or gratuitous violence on the streets at all. I feel confident about leaving my car door unlocked as I know the likelihood of being robbed is very small. Of course, every Muslim country is different depending on their economic and social level, but in the oil-rich Gulf states, crime appears to be at a minimum when compared with some Western countries, and law and order prevail. Perhaps this has something to do with the immense oil wealth so that real grinding poverty has become much less prevalent here than in other poorer Muslim countries.[/LIST]cont.



With time though, I began to discern a darker side to Islam and what it has done to the rationality or thinking of the people. For example, when talking to a well-educated Muslim, one who has more often than not been educated in the West, it is easy to be lead into a false sense of security; that is, they are rational people like yourself. Not at all. I know PhD professors who have lived in Western countries for many years,who still insist that their wives must wear the niqab (ninja face veil) and hijab (head scarf) in public. They insist that adulterers should be publicly stoned and hands and feet chopped off and that apostates should either be killed or at the very least, deported. When hearing such primitive ideas and beliefs held by supposedly “educated” Muslim professors, my heart sank a thousand feet and my head started to swirl. I began to ask myself: WHAT THE HELL AM I DOING IN THIS COUNTRY WITH SUCH PEOPLE! I even started to doubt myself (being trained in the Western tradition of self-doubting). I wondered if I was being too sensitive, that I didn’t understand the culture enough and that I didn’t have the right to judge them! I was confused but held my tongue and kept working quietly away. But something was gnawing away inside of me; something just wasn’t right. I felt less and less comfortable living amongst these people with such callous, medieval religious beliefs. I even started to feel less safe and more fearful. I began to sense that fear and control seem to pervade Muslim society and that Muslims did actually live in fear and mistrust of each other, living in some Orwellian world of self-censorship and over-regulation that stifled thought and creativity There appeared to be a great schism between the private and the public spheres; that you could do anything you wanted in private as long as it was not revealed in public. It was, to my mind, a hypocritical morality and way to live. Right and wrong was only judged by whether or not it became a “public” crime; this is, if others found out about it outside the immediate closed family circle. One of my Muslim colleagues explained it thus: If a man or woman commits adultery, then as long as it is not revealed in public, the adulterer can be forgive by Allah if the offender asks for forgiveness. But if the adultery or crime becomes public, then he or she has to be publicly punished. What hypocrisy and double standards I thought! Why can’t forgiveness be done in public as well? If Allah can forgive a “sin” in private, why not public? Another learned professor told me that if a woman is raped, then her family cannot tolerate it as it has brought shame and disgrace upon them and so, she must be killed. What a mentality! The poor girl has been raped through no fault of her own and so she must be killed because the family feels disgraced! What if the poor girl wanted to live? What right has her family to kill her thus in cold-blood?

Then I realised that even though these “educated” Muslims, my colleagues, are friendly and courteous on the exterior, they are able to kill their own sister or niece if the rape is made public for the sake of their family’s honour. What rubbish is this? The conclusion I came to is that their religion, invented by a madman, a thug and terrorist like Mohammad, has twisted their minds, distorted their rationality and squeezed humanity out of them. This was the only logical conclusion I could reach. There is nothing wrong with the Arab per se; they truly are courteous and hospitable people, but that is only half of who they are: the other half, the flip side, is their sinister religion Islam, which has made what appear to be “nice” rational people, potential irrational killers.

Islam is a fallacious religion that has produced misguided people over many centuries. I have no doubt now that the reason why many Muslim countries are so backward, poor and reactionary, is precisely because of Islam. Islam is no friend to rationality, morality and humane progress, but is rather their antithesis. Another 'learned” lecturer, when discussing this point, even agreed with me about the backwardness of Islamic countries and lack of scientific and technological progress. At last, I thought, here is a Muslim who is starting to see reason. However, my initial delight was short-lived. He then proceeded to turn my argument on its head entirely by suggesting that Muslim countries are NOT following true Islam and if they were, then they would be even more successful than Western countries today! When I heard this I almost fell off my seat. I wanted to run away and cry. What is wrong with these people? Can they not see that it is Islam that is holding them back? It is so obvious to everyone else. But talking to Muslims about the deficiencies of Islam in a logical and positivistic way is like trying to convince a drug-addict that what he or she is doing is harmful. The addict answers back: So therefore we need MORE of the drug, not less! We just haven’t applied it correctly!




To conclude, I just want to say to the readers out there that I used to think Islam was just like any other region, even believing the nonsense that Islam was “beneficial” and worthwhile and deserved respect. After all, we have heard so much about the great Islamic past and the glory of the Islamic civilisation while Europe was still a barbaric land. Oh how the tables have turned now! There is no doubt in my mind that if it wasn’t for the fortuitous discovery of oil and the influx of billions of petro-dollars of investment, foreign companies and foreign workers into the Gulf, countries like Saudi Arabia, the UAE and others would have the economic development and stability of a Yemen or Somalia today.

So next time when you meet a so-called “rational” educated Muslim studying at a Western university, befriend him or her. Don’t be shy. Offer him or her a coffee in the local cafeteria and while chattering away amiably, ask him or her some incisive questions like: what are your views on adultery or on those who wish to change their religion or have no religion at all? on polygamy and women’s rights? on wearing the niqab and hijab? and on the Israeli-Palestinian question? etc. You may find, if he or she is honest with you and doesn’t try to duck your questions, some very disturbing and reactionary answers.


Hi BookLover

I guess only pple who have spend sometime staying in a muslim country will really understand and demonstrate religion tolerance. Else it is quite difficult for some extreminist to stop building their anger towards the muslim…Coz they only know how to see the bad side of others and not the good side of others…so sad…I wonder does God really teach us to fight back strongly and aggressive against our opponents (muslim) in order to keep our believes and in order to prove that their practise are full of violent and incorrect…blar…blar…isn’t it gonna to promote more hates then resolving it in a peaceful manner!!!


Isn’t it up to them to resolve their own problems? Whenever we step in and try to fix other countries’ problems, it only arouses their anger. Not all Muslim countries are like Saudi Arabia or Iran. Maybe if the Muslim countries would get together and help each other step into the 21st century, those problems (which are undeniable) would be resolved. There are plenty of problems in this country which need fixing, IMHO.


Great post booklover.

Jerusha, they could help each other, but if you read what booklover has said you will see why they don’t.


That’s weird… I never knew that. Although it would explain why this Muslim guy I know cannot understand the sacrament of Reconciliation. He seemed to view it as taking some unnecessary risk, and wondered why anyone would do it because “what if other people found out”.


Maybe, but I don’t think you see what the issue of priority is right now. One is ill-equipped to handle his enemies in either a peaceful or non-peaceful way alike if they DO NOT KNOW their enemy in the first place. Do you realize that most people in America are totally ignorant of what Muslims really believe? They actually fall for all the false cliched selling points you see Muslims trying to spout everywhere… “Islam means peace”, “We respect other religions”, etc…


We in America have become so wrapped up in “tolerance”, “diversity” and “political correctness” that we are unwilling or unable to recognize the danger that threatens us. We think that everyone else thinks just like us, has the same wants, needs and values as us. They, in particular moslems, do not. We hope that if we just “love everybody” everything will be just fine and we will all sit around and sing “Kumbaya.” If you try to explain the real moslem agenda, you are labeled “unloving”, “intolerant” or (horrors) “racist.” Many people do not realize the full import of 9-11. Any form of war is permissible against the “infidel.” We hear nothing from the so-called “moderate” moslems who are the real backbone supporters of jihad, by their financial and moral support of radical Islam, Saudi Arabia being in the forefront. People forget that moslem armies got as far west as Vienna, only the death of Suleiman prevented them from taking all of Europe.
Now the takeover is being accomplished by immigration and reproduction. Only now are some countries in Europe beginning to recognize their deadly peril.


Hey hosemonkey,

I’m interested, since you’re claiming that Muslims are silent on terrorism…

Can you name a single Muslim organization that has not condemned terrorism?


Lip service don’t count,Pro. I’m talking about denying funds, and turning in terrorists, exposing their networks and repudiating jihad.
They all talk a good game, but at the end of the day, nothing changes. I already know where your head is at.


Okay, well, regardless…are we agreeing that all major Muslim organizations have verbally condemned terrorism?

Do you agree with that? They’ve all said they condemn it…


Ah, but they hedge on what “terrorism” means. Sure they say it’s wrong, BUT if you ask them to condemn Hamas or Hezbullah, which are terrorist groups, they won’t do it. Also many feel we deserve it since we are infidels. Add to that the fact that in English they say it’s wrong, but then in Arabic among fellow Muslims they support terrorism. There are few Muslim groups that absolutely condemn terrorism and they are attacked by other Muslims.

So pro here is being deceptive. Ask him to condemn Hamas and Hezbullah. See what he says. We do NOT agree that Muslim organizations have really condemn terrorism.


So do we. For example, the Israeli cluster bomb use in South Lebanon violated the law and targeted civilians (this is not disputed-even in Israeli papers)…but we don’t brand that terrorism. Every nation/people that engage in any kind of war hedges on what terrorism means.

Sure they say it’s wrong, BUT if you ask them to condemn Hamas or Hezbullah, which are terrorist groups, they won’t do it.

Condemning a group and condemning acts are two different things. The United States government has supported acts of terrorism in South America…but that doesn’t mean “the US is a terrorist state!” Likewise, individual acts of terrorism have been committed by Israel…that doesn’t make Israel a terrorist state, does it?

Also many feel we deserve it since we are infidels. Add to that the fact that in English they say it’s wrong, but then in Arabic among fellow Muslims they support terrorism.

Do you speak Arabic?

There are few Muslim groups that absolutely condemn terrorism and they are attacked by other Muslims.

Please provide a single example of a Muslim group being attacked for its condemnation of terrorism.

So pro here is being deceptive. Ask him to condemn Hamas and Hezbullah. See what he says. We do NOT agree that Muslim organizations have really condemn terrorism.

Hamas and Hizbullah have both committed acts of terrorism. But I do not think it’s fair, under the same principle which leads me to refrain from calling the US government or Israeli government terrorist organizations, to brand the organizations as a whole terrorist.


This is VERY true. Next time you talk to a Muslim don’t become satisfied with blanket statements that they “condemn terrorism”… Start asking about specific acts of terror and support for the agendas of specific radical Islamist groups and you’ll be shocked at just how far the lip service really goes.


Hi All

All religion promotes peace not violent!!! Get my points…who ignite wars/violents?? God himself?? of course not, is human ourselves. A thinker to everyone of us, if we are to fight back aggressively to keep our faith and condemn the so called evil pple, then do you think we can have peace on earth?? Do you think this is what God wanted you to do?? Understand it with our mindset and understand it with God’s mindset are different!!!

Ok my question is , if, i’m just asking if , muslim will do launch a military wars against America, what would American do?? Kills to the end in order to proclaim our faith and righteous…Can i say that??




The moderate “Muslim” countries are generally liberally salted with Catholics of the Eastern varieties. I think there are two factors in moderation-- they have learned to get along, and the Muslims have greater respect for Jesus’s teachings.


We live in a university town and my husband works with many international students. We were invited to dinner by a man from Jordan. It was a wonderful time, good food, good conversation, until someone mentioned Israel. This seemingly mild-mannered, courteous man became enraged! It was like he became possessed, yelling, pointing his finger at people, slamming the table with his hand etc. I’m sorry but he scared me.

Before that we lived in another university town in an apartment below two muslim brothers, also from Jordan. One was very westernized, had an american girlfriend, wore western clothes etc. The other was very a traditional muslim. We heard many many fights, mostly about the American girlfriend (they told us that’s what they fought about) and about the western lifestyle (mainly sex and the absence of morality). Eventually he and his girlfriend broke up and he started to be more of a traditional muslim and there was no fighting then.

They were extremely nice to us. Brought us gifts form Morocco when we watched their apartment for them. When their family (all 10 of them!) came to visit for a month each year their mother would cook the most wonderful meals and send them down to us. I don’t think I ever talked politics/religion etc with them so I can’t say how they would have reacted. Once AJ broke up with his girlfriend they stopped talking to/acknowledging me when we ran into each other. I found that strange. AJ would still talk to my husband but as soon as I turned up he would leave. We were both pretty liberal back then (pro-choice etc) so maybe that pushed them away.


Many of their problems are projected onto the west - such as ‘jihad’

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit