Are you Afraid of Muslims?
Pillars: How Muslims Led Me Closer to Jesus is launching tomorrow, April 6! I don’t have a copy yet so if you get yours, will you post a photo and tag me so I can see it out in the world? I should get my shipment this week, insha Allah.
And, will you leave a review on Amazon please? That really helps with visibility. Thanks and you’re amazing!
I wrote the book with several things in mind, one of which is that I hope to de-mystify Islam. I’m not teaching about Islam, per se, as I’m not a Muslim. But I write about things I’ve learned and how I’ve experienced it as an outsider. I hope this will inspire others to not be afraid but to see potential for growing in faith, building peace, and creating a beautiful community.
Buy Pillars here!
Are you afraid of your toddler? Are you afraid of your dog?
Are you afraid of Muslims? Terrorists? I say “Muslims” and “terrorists” because media outlets, some politicians, and some religious leaders want us to believe the two words are synonymous.
Franklin Graham and other American Evangelicals seem to believe we should be afraid of Muslims and that we are at war with Muslims both in the US and abroad. We all know about the so-called Muslim ban former President Trump instituted. Graham also said, several years ago, that immigration needs to be closed to Muslims, that we are under attack. He isn’t alone in this kind of ignorant fear-mongering. Over 160,000 people liked his Facebook post.
In Jesus and John Wayne, Kristin Du Mez noted that evangelical Christians are the most likely Christian group to see Islam as a threat. Jordan Denari Duffner has a book coming out in May called Islamophobia: What Christians Should Know (and do) about Anti-Muslim Discrimination. One of the reasons she wrote the book is that this is all too real and serious.
In the United States in 2013, three people were killed by terrorists (who were Muslim), all three at the Boston Marathon. That same year, five people were shot by gun-wielding toddlers, and about 34 died of dog bites.
Why didn’t Graham insist we prohibit toddlers inside our borders? Why hasn’t anyone called for a moratorium on dog ownership?
I think I know, partly, why. Americans are comfortable with toddlers and dogs, many of us know a toddler or a dog. But how many American Christians know Muslims? I mean really know them not just point to them on the street.
I have visited churches in Minnesota and people say, “Aren’t you afraid to live there? Aren’t all those Muslims trying to kill you all the time?”
No. No, I am not afraid and no, they are not trying to kill me. My daughter’s teachers? The man who pumps my gas? The running coach? It would be laughable if these American Christians weren’t so earnest.
They say, “I’m afraid to go to Target because Muslims have taken over, working at all the cash registers.” How is it that a person of a different religion working at a cash register can strike fear into hearts? How have we become so divided that we will turn a stranger into an enemy?
I think right there is the problem. We have become so divided that Muslims are strangers rather than friends, neighbors, and coworkers. We isolate and segregate and so we don’t know each other on a human level. We fear the unknown. We fear the unfamiliar and we fear difference. We’re threatened by it and so we hunker down, build barriers, throw stones.
But Christian faith calls us to not be afraid and to live a life of love, which casts out fear. We are to welcome the stranger, care for the outcast, bless the foreigner or alien.
Carl Medearis wrote to Graham: If “Muslims” are your enemies, it’s clear what Jesus calls us to do with enemies. And if these “Muslims” are your neighbors (and many of them are), it’s clear what Jesus asks us to do with neighbors. Either way I think you’re stuck. You gotta love em.
And Marilyn Gardner wrote: To build relationships with people of other faiths is not compromising our faith. Rather, it’s living out a faith that is not threatened but firm.
I think as Christians get to know Muslims on an individual basis they will discover Muslims also grieve when people are shot, they also are horrified when marathoners are bombed, they reject violence.
Inflammatory words and religious-based immigration bans only increase fear and divisions. This is not the way of Jesus or the Kingdom.
- How can we help each other move from fear to faith?
- How do we speak up about the fear-mongering about Islam? How do we prepare ourselves to speak truth and love in the face of fear?
- How can you grow in building a cross-religious friendship?
Carl Medearis: An Open Letter to Franklin Graham
Marilyn Gardner: Dear Mr. Graham, Let Me Introduce You to Some Friends
For more about building relationships across religious boundaries, check out Pillars.