Love Your (Muslim) Neighbor
by Dina Sleiman
You have heard that it was said, "Love your neighbor and hate your enemy." But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. Matthew 5:43-45
My church has been on a 40 day prayer vigil leading up to Pentecost Sunday. Each day, my pastor has assigned us something to pray for. Saturday is pray for your enemies day. My first thought was, I really don't have many enemies. But the truth is, the recent bombings in Boston served to remind us that our country is facing a rabid enemy called Islamic terrorism. At the same time, many of us have friends, co-workers, and neighbors who are Muslims. How do we even tell difference between these two groups? It can be quite confusing, but in light of the scripture above, it seems like love and prayer are a safe way to approach either one.
I have much love and respect for the Muslim people, especially the women. But I also have serious concerns about the fundamental teachings of the religion. There are many beautiful parts of Muslim culture, and there are many troubling aspects as well. Not to mention that, of course, there are as many different types of Muslims as there are different types of Christians, and there is no easy way to compartmentalize them and put them in a box.
So for me, art is the best way to explore this subject. This October, my novel Dance from Deep Within will release with WhiteFire Publishing. The book takes a three dimensional look at the Islamic belief system and culture, while also exploring Christianity and typical non-Christian American beliefs. This is not a rah, rah, Christians are great and everyone else is bad book. Rather, the three young women from varying backgrounds learn from each other's strengths. My Muslim, Layla, is a fictional character, but she is also a conglomerate of the many former Muslim women I have met who have turned to Christ, and her decision reflects their searching and reasoning.
I think this book will be a great starting place for many Christians to learn how to better love and pray for their Muslim neighbors, and I can't wait for it to release!
In the meantime, I was also the primary writer on a CD project with songs and prayers about the Islamic people. These songs provide another great way to learn about Muslim culture, and if you don't know how to pray, you can just pray along. This one is available right now. Click here to order. You can also learn more about the album, including lyrics and videos, here.
Over the next few months I'll be back to share more about this subject.
Do you have any Muslims in your life? What have you found is the best way to show love to them? Who are your enemies, and how do you feel God wants you to respond to them?