I remember the first time I began to build a real, authentic relationship with a Muslim family. It moved me.
This was during our time in Belgium. Adjoined to the building where our church met was a Moroccan restaurant owned by a Moroccan Muslim family. They would normally communicate in French, but thankfully the husband/father spoken decent English. So we were able to speak quite often.
First off, the food was EXCELLENT! I miss it dearly – the couscous, vegetables, chicken, lamb, and the olives. Listen, I am no fan of olives. But these olives had some herbs and spices added to them that brought me to my knees. I could feast upon these olives all day long.
As I began to converse with this family, listen to them, eat at their restaurant, I was moved. I had never had any real relationship with a Muslim. I actually had the general perspective that Muslims were bad (or worse). I wanted Muslims to be seen for who they really are – demonic and terrorists at heart.
But this family caused me to rethink my understanding of Muslims. Working at the church office most days allowed us to have a little more than a “Hey-nice-to-see-you” relationship. They were decent, caring, kind, law-abiding Muslims. I loved this family. When the husband fell ill, he even let me pray for him, to which I did pray in Jesus’s name.
Ah, he must have been a nominal Muslim, right?
I do not concern myself with such speculation. I simply know they were Muslims and the exact opposite I would have imagined a Muslim to be.
I was sad when they had to move back to Morocco. The husbands illness was too much and they wanted to move back to be nearer family. They left, the restaurant closed, and we missed good company.
Today I read this article hosted at Fuller Seminary’s website. The author, Martin Accad, offers what he believes are a few mistakes that we often make in our thinking about Islam and Muslims. Those are:
1. We have a tendency to view Islam from a “World Religions” perspective.
2. We have a tendency to define Islam based on the behavior of the more media-sensational groups of Muslims.
3. As Christians, we have a tendency to relate to Muslims out of our instinctive fears rather than out of our core biblical values.
4. As Christians, it is easy to forget the rich common ground that we have for conversation with Muslims and we focus instead on our differences.
Read the article for more details.
While many may brush this aside as, perhaps, a water-downed Christian perspective on Muslims, I concur with Accad’s reflections. Again, the story above started me on a path to reconsider some things. I also read Miroslav Volf’s, Allah: A Christian Response (which I review here) and other resources.
With my change in perspective, I now take my Missiology students to a Muslim prayer service each semester. It is a highly enriching experience for them always.
I am thankful God lead me on a path of building peaceful relationships with Muslims, all that Isa (Jesus) may be truly made known to them.
As I end, let me point you to a few more articles of interest:
France church attack: Muslims attend Mass: This followed the death of the French priest, killed by two men pledging allegiance to ISIS.
The World’s Biggest Muslim Organization Wants to Protect Christians: Hundreds of Muslims leaders released the Marrakesh Declaration, a 750-word document calling for majority-Muslim countries to protect the freedom of religious minorities, including Christians.
Muslims Scholars Make the Theological Case Against the Islamic State: More than a hundred Muslim scholars and leaders from around the world released an open letter to the Islamic State leader.