Summary: Before being deployed to Iraq, I studied Islam, and determined that Islam and Mormonism have similiarities. After visiting in detail with Muslims, I have come to the conclusion that there are a lot more similarities than I first thought.
A couple of basic teachings of my church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, are:
- The family is the fundamental unit of society
- All people, at some time following their death, are resurrected to live in Heaven (in God's presence if we have lived on earth according to His will)
Prior to my being deployed to Iraq, I knew that early leaders of my church had some very favorable things to say about Muhammad and Islam. My impending deployment, and desire to serve and relate to the Iraqi people, caused me to study more about Islam, and in this process, I found several similarities between the two religions. I list just a few below:
- Both Adam and Eve were tempted in the Garden of Eden to partake of the forbidden fruit
- The concepts of charity, fasting, justice, and mercy exist in both religions
- Both teach that such men as Moses, Abraham, and Jesus were great prophets
From my study, I came to expect that I would meet many great people here, and that I could learn to love them equally as God's children.
Today, I had a very enlightening conversation with a new friend of mine, an Iraqi Shi'a (whose name I withhold for his protection). We talked about the family unit as well as what life is like after we die.
I explained to him that the body (jism) can be compared to a glove (chfaaf), and the spirit (ruh) can be compared to a hand (eid) that goes in the glove. After we die, the ruh is separated from the jism, much like the eid can be taken out of the chfaaf. The jism is then buried. Sometime later on, the ruh comes back and reunites with the jism and returns to live with Allah if we have been good. After my explanation of this concept, my friend said "Oh, yes, this is exactly what we believe."
So I then asked him what Islam teaches about families after they die, and he explained to me what my church teaches, to wit that families are the most important unit in God's eyes and if we live according to Allah's teachings, we can live together forever as families in Allah's presence.
Wow! The first time I met my new friend, I was prompted strongly to talk with him. This morning I was nearly awestruck when it began to make greater sense to me why my friend and I had become such good friends in such a short amount of time. We are motivated and taught, despite our different religions, by the same spirit, the spirit of God/Allah.
I will dearly miss my friend when I go home in 3 or 4 months, but I have hope that my family (a'ilati) and his family (a'ilatahu) might someday live together forever as families and friends (azdiqaa) in Allah's presence.