Those who have been following my posts are most likely surprised by this title and would anticipate a hearty ‘no’ as the answer but read on. I, like many other Americans, celebrated the death of the evil leader of al Qaeda. He was a man who brought death and destruction to our homeland. In addition to the immediate devastation, the nineteen men who hijacked the four airplanes have changed our lives forever. These men followed the leadership of Osama bin Laden. His capture and death marked a psychological victory in our fight against radical Islam and most of us were happy.
Now tell me something that I don’t know, Rod!
The reason I initially became interested in Islam was that I wanted to dig into a religion that would honor the suicide of their people in support of their radical cause. What motivates people to commit such drastic measures? Out of this research came the idea that spawned Deadly Beliefs – my first novel. As I researched, a dislike of their ideology grew to hatred. I also considered my study of the Bible and the teachings of Jesus and I found myself in a bit of a fog – a dilemma even. Jesus taught love and mingled with people that the ‘religious’ people of His day stayed away from. How are we dealing with Muslims we encounter?
My marketing company just completed a tour of twenty-five college campuses to raise awareness of a cause. I accompanied the tour on ten campuses talking with students about our cause. I was energized just being on the campuses and enjoyed numerous conversations with students and faculty. I tended to gravitate to conversations with Middle Eastern looking students. What I discovered was that not all Muslims are radicals. I knew this intellectually but held onto the stereotype along with the images etched in my mind of the 9/11 attacks. Most of the students were conversational and enjoyed talking about Islam when I asked. They asked me what I knew about their religion. The depth of my knowledge surprised them. They were also delighted to hear me say that I have an interest in their religion. Eventually, if I had enough time, I would ask them what they knew about Christianity. I was shocked by the answers but the bottom-line was that they knew very little. In other words, we Christians are not good at communicating the Gospel stories to them.
My theory is that many Christians share my misunderstanding of Islam and are, in fact, concerned about or even frightened to reach out to Muslims. Where is this rant headed? It dawned on me that as Christ followers who truly believe God’s word we should be grieving the loss of any Muslim. Grieving that they will be spending eternity void of God. I have been convicted to reach out to Muslims that I see around town and open up discussions to build relationships. In addition, I have vowed to add Muslims in general and radical Muslims specifically to my prayers. I pray that they find Jesus – Isa in their Quran. Please join me in my prayer endeavor.