The comparison between books and people is the same as the difference between physically being in a place (whatever city or place you can imagine) and seeing it on TV only. Yes, books give you knowledge but they don’t provide you with experience. I like reading a lot but my best learning moments are always when I mingle and chat with people. Here are two of my recent conversations with THE PEOPLE.
Following is a conversation I had with a new international Muslim student who was registered in an English course at one of those English Language Centers in the U.S. to prepare for the TOEFL. He was complaining to me about his English teacher:
He: She hates Muslims.
I: How did you know that?
He: You can tell from the way she treats Muslim students.
I: Give me an example.
He: One time when we were waiting in the bus preparing for departure to our destination, she said “Where is Muhammad? He always make us wait for him. Muhammad is naughty!”
He: Yes, she said “Muhammad is naughty” and she meant something.
I: [speechless because my mind was so busy trying to push away what “something” means.]
Another conversation took place during one of our Muslim Students Organization (MSO) board meetings. Every year the MSO invites a speaker to talk about Islam for the general audience on our campus:
Female 1: Yes, last year the event was very successful, the auditorium was full. The speaker was very good; he knows a lot about Islamic science history.
Male student: What is his name?
Female student: George [something]. [I and the male student never heard of this person before]
Male student: Is he a Muslim?
I [very confident of my answer]: No. He has a Christian name.
Male student: Not necessarily. My name is Phillip and I am a Muslim!
I: [Speechless out of embarrassment. Also while being speechless, I reminded myself for the millionth time to think before I talk and to assume NOTHING.]