Having had a few days to calm down, I sent a peace offering email to my Islamic convert friend (let's call her Mary) in her Islamic warzone (let's call it Jihadistan). I suggested that she might have had the opportunity to see things differently and meditated on the meaning of tolerance, with a hint that maybe tolerance should be extended to those with whom we don't necessarily agree. I wrote that I have friends who are Muslim, Buddhist, Asatru, athiest, Christian, socialist, nationalist etc. and that since only the Western Muslim convert has actually turned her back on me, it hardly presents an image of tolerance from within her new faith.
All fell on deaf ears, of course, but at least I tried. But Mary's repeated statements that she is a UN aid worker, with the implicit claim that she is a good humanitarian while I am not, including her need to get back to her risky life in Jihadistan, got me thinking. While I may initially have thought it brave for her to be in Jihadistan, and even 'humanitarian', her status as a Muslim convert changes that view entirely.
What is "humanitarian" about a Muslim in a Muslim country helping Muslims?
Particularly when it is the UN that is paying for it - an organisation largely funded by Western countries.
The Muslim concept of charity and helping others is based around Zakat. Zakat is charity that cannot be used to help non-Muslims (although this article seems to disagree). A feature of Zakat is that is must be earned legally, but it says nothing about being donated by non-Muslims, as most of the UN's wealth is.
The article in parenthesis also explains the concept of Sadaqah, another view of Islamic charity. Both are essentially based around alms-giving and are noble concepts but neither really involves international peacekeeping in the manner of the UN.