I sat down for an interview with a Muslim friend recently that went something like this…
Q: I’m curious to understand more about your faith.
A: Feel free to ask me anything.
Q: Tell me your thoughts about God.
A: We should start with that he is eternal, he is spirit, and he created all things for his glory. He’s holy and just, but also merciful and loving. He is the only God and apart from him there are no others. He’s revealed himself to us through creation, through prophets, and through holy scripture. He desires our whole hearts in surrendered worship to him.
Q: Tell me your thoughts about heaven & hell.
A: At the end of our time on earth, we will all face God at the judgment day. It’s God’s mercy that saves the believers and takes them to eternal bliss in his presence in heaven, while those who reject God will be sent away from his presence to hell.
Q: Tell me your thoughts about angels & demons.
A: God created these spirit-creatures. The angels are loyal to God and serve him in many ways, including delivering messages to men and taking note of what men do. The demons have turned against God and look to cause trouble in the world, especially for the believers.
Q: Tell me about your religious activities.
A: It’s important that our faith is both personal and communal. At home I take time to read the scriptures and pray every day. Once a week I join my community at our house of worship to worship God together. I recite our creed to remind me of our faith’s timeless truths. I give to the poor. I fast regularly. If I’m able, I hope to journey to the Holy Land one day.
At this point in the interview, have you figured out which of us is asking the questions, and which is answering? So far, my Muslim friend’s answers to my questions are all similar enough to what I might have said as a Christian to have this interview go either way.
This illustrates how much in common both religions have! There are plenty of places for us to start conversations and find connection points.
Q: Tell me some of the modern socio-cultural issues that are important to you.
A: One of my biggest concerns is the increasing secularization of society. Our culture—often led by our entertainment, media, and government—seems to be drifting away from strong morals. Sex outside of marriage is becoming more common even for people of faith. I feel that gender confusion is being pushed on our children at a young age. I’m concerned that our youth too easily accept abortion as the best solution to unwanted pregnancy. The rise of legalized drugs and addiction to social media bothers me. I’m concerned about the government closing down houses of worship. Religious hate crimes seem to be on the rise. In the face of all this, I think it’s important for the believers to demonstrate to our culture by our holy lives a more noble way. And we need to be engaged in the political arena to keep these issues before the public.
Again, when discussing social issues, many of the things my Muslim friend is concerned about also are issues I’m concerned about. More common ground for dialogue and for working together.
Q: Finally, tell me your thoughts on peacemaking.
A: Our God is a God of peace. It’s time for people of various faiths to come together in mutual respect and work together for the common good. We can be exclusive in our faith while being inclusive in relationships. If we believe in our hearts that our faith is right, okay. But if we believe that means that God loves us more than others, we have become arrogant. We can’t limit God’s limitless love if he chooses to love all the other people too that we think are lost.
Well said, my Muslim friend!
Are there topics this interview could have included where our beliefs would diverge? Sure. The divine nature of the Messiah, and his role in man’s redemption, are two key areas that my Muslim friend and I would look at from different perspectives.
But from this short interview, I hope you can see that the gap between Christians and Muslims both theologically and culturally is not a huge one. If you know a Muslim at your school, workplace, or neighborhood, why not put this to the test and genuinely ask them their thoughts on these issues? You might find someone who thinks a lot like you.
And just maybe, if you’re lucky like me, in time you’ll call each other “friend.”