An editor at a well-known Christian magazine once told me, in a rejection response to an article I submitted about the things I had learned about prayer from Muslims, that “there isn’t anything we can learn from Islam.”


That is a dangerous attitude that can only lead to division and arrogance and ignorance and a me vs. you mentality.

Here is a clear and insightful article, Fifty Shades of Meh, steering Muslim women clear of the pornographic and mega best-selling book Fifty Shades of Grey (haven’t read it, am not recommending it). What struck me as I read the article was that these are the same things I would say about the book.

Women (and men), we are not so different. Women (and men) who read the Quran and women (and men) who read the Bible, whatever you choose as a label for your faith and identity, there is common ground between us. There are things we can learn from each other, ways we can be exhorted by each other to live better lives, to reject garbage.

Yes, there are fundamental things we each cherish that are different, I’m not being relativistic or unitarian. But this should not drive us apart, it shouldn’t create fear, it shouldn’t promote cruelty.

Because there are also deep things we each cherish that are the same. Like family, sexual purity, awe before a holy and perfect God, modesty, prayer, fasting, beliefs in some of the same prophets, and a shared faith history. Our methods and externals might look different and the verses in our Books that guide our faith sound different, but if we only emphasize our differences, we will never realize that we are the people turning away from trashy books. We are the people teaching our children to pray. We are the people developing habits of worship as families. We are the people working for peace. We are the people pursuing justice.

Here is an American Christian wearing a Somali dress and headscarf with a Djiboutian Muslim wearing pants and no scarf. Can we stop pretending we have everyone tied up in neat little boxes?

We are women of faith. Women who want to know God. Women who want to live the way we believe God intended. Women who know the difference between literature and pornography.

Fifty Shades of Grey, as described in the article Fifty Shades of Meh, should be the kind of thing that unites us.

What are other issues that you think should bring people of faith together?