A Muslim Marine is striving to spread the word about Islam in an effort to fight nationwide misconceptions.
Mansoor Shams is traveling around the country offering to answer questions people may have about Islam, seeking to dispel preconceived fears and prejudice, according to NPR news.
“Somehow I need to counter some of these things, and the only way for me to do it is to get out of my comfort zone and go full speed ahead,” Shams said.
After serving in the Marine Corps from 2000-2004, Shams felt impressed to become an advocate for his faith, according to NPR news.
As a member of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Shams said he found a way to personally start making a difference.
“They were running a campaign called “Meet a Muslim,” Shams said. “From that I … thought, why not add my twist to it by adding my U.S. Marine component because … that’s who I am. I’m not only a Muslim, I’m also a U.S. Marine. I thought that was something that would further resonate with people across the country.”
He said he began publicly offering open conversations while on a business trip in Houston in January.
“When I landed in Houston, as soon as the religious conference ended, I just went to downtown Houston and I went at it full speed,” Shams said.
He said he has gone to downtown Houston, Denver, Portland, Seattle and Baltimore, holding a hand-written sign that reads, “I’m Muslim and a U.S. Marine. Ask anything.”
Shams said while traveling through the Seattle airport with his sign he was involved in a conversation with a random stranger about his message. She contacted him later and told him she had made her own sign, “Muslims welcome”.
Shams said he is willing to talk about everything from Sharia law to ISIS with anyone willing to ask, according to NPR news.
“Time is of the essence,” he said. “We are living in a time where there’s a lot of division, there’s a lot of fear, there’s a lot of concerns and … I need to just jump on board and start knocking this out.”
Shams said his upcoming trips include New York, Virginia and New Jersey.