How many Christians think they understand Islam? How many of them even know a Muslim? How many Muslims think they understand Christianity? How many of them know Christians?
My friend Hakim was a Ph.D. student at the University of Minnesota. He noticed that some of the students in the Muslim Student Association were speaking negatively about Evangelicals. At first he thought he would defend the evangelicals he knew because they weren’t like what the others were saying. (How many of us Christians do this when Muslims are spoken against?) Then he decided to act. He called me and asked whether I would be willing to speak to the Muslim Student Association and answer the question, “Who Are Evangelicals?” Though I don’t particularly like labels (because they are so prone to negative stereotypes) I told him I would be happy to do it.
So one evening after their Qur’anic study the MSA of the University of Minnesota warmly welcomed me and gave me the opportunity to speak to them (I’ll post later what I said). I really appreciated this and think it is a great example of building understanding between Muslims and Christians. Hakim took action rather than just let misunderstandings continue. The Muslim Student Association showed kindness in giving me an opportunity to speak with them and the Muslims who were present were kind as they listened.
This was so good because I am convinced that in order to love one another we must understand one another and in order to understand one another we must listen to one another. I am a follower of Jesus Christ and I want to obey all that he commanded. He commands that I love my neighbor as myself. I can’t obey this command if I don’t know my neighbor and I would be a fool if I thought my others neighbors could simply tell me about him. You can learn about Islam from Christians. And you can learn about Christianity from Muslims. But it is much better if we learn from one another.
For those of you who regularly interact with someone of another faith (perhaps at work or school) have you ever asked them to tell you about what they believe? Have you ever read a book about that faith by someone who believes it?