Hanna Rosin's Nov. 9 front-page article "In Search for Identity, Weighing Arab and American" was insightful in explaining how Muslims are coping with the values and mores of their adopted homeland.

I am not an Arab, but I am a Muslim. Only 20 percent of Muslims are Arabs; the rest come from South and Southeast Asia and Africa, with some pockets in Europe and the Americas.

The only troubling aspect about this otherwise balanced human interest piece was the rather skewed interpretation of Islam as practiced by Mansour Alfallah.

It is said that while the prophet Muhammad was prostrate -- in sajda (i.e., when a Muslim touches his forehead to the ground while sitting on his knees during prayers) -- his grandson jumped on his back. Tradition has it that Muhammad remained in sajda until his grandson got off and ran to play with his brother.

This is the true spirit of Islam -- tolerance and indulgence of children, especially when they show their love for you and want to spend time with you. The discipline of Islam is in observing the five daily prayers, fasting during Ramadan, giving alms to the poor and parting with a share of your wealth, being tolerant and compassionate despite provocations from others, giving women and orphans their rightful share, and fighting for the rights of the underdog despite heavy odds.

It is unfortunate that despite the universal Muslim belief that "Allah is compassionate, beneficent and merciful," some elements with a rigid and narrow view of Islam have anthropomorphized the Divine Entity into a fire-and-brimstone version to be feared.

LUBNA GHANI

Fairfax