“So you’re Christian?” I nodded in agreement. “O, that’s so interesting! I just took a class on Christianity” said the middle-aged Muslim lady, ready to start engaging me in conversation about what she’d learned about my faith. “No way! How cool! Where did you take the class?” “At my mosque… it ended just last week” she happily responded. I was surprised. “Interesting! Who was teaching it?” She mentioned the name of the teacher. It wasn’t someone I knew, but it was clear that the teacher was a Muslim who had read up on Christianity and was teaching other Muslims about it.
I wasn’t sure how to respond and felt a little uncomfortable about that conversation. I was wondering why I felt this way and had all these questions running through my head: “What was she taught about my faith? My scriptures? Would the teacher have confirmed some of the misunderstandings that many Muslims have of Christian teachings or would he have worked to take those away? What was a mosque doing holding a class about Christianity? What was the purpose? And, most importantly: why did they not ask a Christian to teach about their faith? Wouldn’t we be far better equipped to tell about our faith since we are the ones living and loving it?”
Then it dawned on me: Churches do exactly the same thing. They host seminars and classes about Islam taught by other Christians. In fact, I was doing that. When people find out that I have a heart for Muslim-Christian Peacemaking, they ask me to come teach them about Islam. In fact, just this past week, I’ve spoke at two different churches and a Christian school.
I decided back then that this needed to change. Treat others the same way you want to be treated, Jesus taught us. If I was uncomfortable with non-Christians teaching about Christianity, I should not be doing the same thing. I could, of course, share about my (Christian) perspective on Islam and share about my interactions with Muslims, but I felt that if people really wanted to learn about Islam– they needed to ask those that are living and loving their faith.
So I went to the local mosque and recorded a conversation with a Muslim about her faith and I started showing the video in each class I taught. I would say: “We need to let Muslims speak for themselves. Since we do not have any Muslims here today, I went to the mosque for you and interviewed one of them to share her story.” People loved it! It always stirs up all kinds of questions and dialogue.
But I wanted to do more. So one day, I texted some of my Muslim friends: “I’ve been asked to teach a group of Christians about Muslims and Islam, what would you want this group to know about you?” They loved it! The responses started pouring in and so I built in a section in my presentations called “What my Muslim friends want you to know” in which I read their text messages to the audience as if they were there.
Lastly, my goal with each presentation to a Christian audience is to warm them up to the idea to actually meet a Muslim. And most times that leads to them inviting me to come back with one of my Muslim friends to speak, or we arrange for a Meet Your Neighbor event.
I have made it a personal goal to treat Muslims the way I want to be treated: for them to speak for themselves, because no one likes others to speak for them.
– 2F1F Team Member