Four Tips on Engaging with Muslims
Logan Hagoort, Pastor from Covenant, provides us with some practical tips on how to engage with Muslims. We all know evangelism is important, but sometimes it can be hard to get past some barriers. Hopefully these tips will get you on your way.
In the last month we have had a new neighbour move in, they are Muslims, for many this can be a little scary. What should I do? How can I bridge the gap? What if I do it wrong? After all there are cultural, religious and personal differences which scare me. Regardless of all of this however, I must recognise that they need the gospel. So how can I bridge those gaps? In this brief article I would like to provide four tips for engaging with Muslims so hopefully we can all get better at bringing them the gospel.
Christians must offer genuine, unconditional friendship to Muslims that extends beyond only witnessing. Sharing meals, birthdays, or other significant events offers common ground that is important to expressing love and gain a hearing among Muslim people. It will take a good amount of time expressing genuine love before trust will be built. As trust is built you will be able to share at a heart level and talk openly about your differing beliefs. Particularly in this time of grief visiting your Muslim neighbour or friend regularly with offers of help and support will express genuine love.
There are certain social norms of which to be aware if you visit a Muslim in their home. For example, clothing must be modest and inoffensive. Women should not show clevage and all clothing must come off the shoulders. Men should wear pants. Pointing feet (as may occur when a person sits with his or her legs crossed) is considered offensive. Passing food with the left hand is considered unclean. Since ritual cleanliness is of vital importance, washing hands often is considered important. Some even suggest not using the restroom in a Muslim's home whenever possible to avoid suspicions of uncleanliness. Asking about a Muslim man's wife or children may also be taken as an offense. Further, placing a Qur'an or Bible on the floor is inappropriate in a Muslim home, as is placing any book higher than a Qur'an. Interestingly, a Bible that has been marked up or written in is seen as disrespectful. Speaking maliciously about the Muslim prophet Muhammad or Allah in a Muslim's home would be taken as an affront. Initially contact is most comfortable for a Muslim in there own home. As a relationship grows and you have have an opportunity to show hospitality in your own home be careful to prepare Halal food and when saying grace focus on a prayer of thanks to God, in time you will be able to talk of Jesus as Lord.
Men should not attempt to build close relationships with Muslim women in order to share the gospel, nor women with Muslim men. This is considered highly inappropriate in traditional Muslim culture. Men would do well to focus on building relationships with Muslim men and women with Muslim women in order to avoid being seen as developing inappropriate relationships. When greeting men should never seek to shake a Muslim ladies hand.
Learning as much as possible about Muslim beliefs and practices will help Christians be more effective in communicating Christ to those of Muslim background. For example, the Qur'an speaks of the Injils (Gospels) as being an important book. An appeal to this teaching opens the opportunity to speak about the content of the Gospels and what they teach about Jesus. Jesus is mentioned as a prophet in the Qur'an, yet the Gospels offer much more information about Him that Muslims might find of special importance. Further, understanding the Muslim's concern of Christians allegedly worshiping three gods can allow a Christian to address the topic to show that the Bible teaches there is only one God, yet He is three persons in Christianity. When a opportunity does come to share the Gospel, it is most helpful to focus on who Christ is in the Gospels as He is key to salvation.
Loving and witnessing to Muslims is an important endeavor and biblical command. To effectively love and witness to those of Muslim background, we can build genuine friendships, learn about Muslim cultural practices, focus on same-gender evangelism, and learn about Muslim teachings in ways that help to communicate the true gospel found only in Jesus Christ (John 3:16; 14:6; Acts 4:12).