Wednesday, February 1, 2017


“For the law was given through Moses; God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ.” John 1: 17

Fourteen year old Amira was angry and self-conscious about her eyebrows. They were fuller and wider than she desired. They met in the middle of her forehead. Her classmates made fun of her eyebrows and couldn’t understand why she didn’t pluck them. Her parents, especially her dad, wouldn’t allow her to pluck them. The subject of eyebrows caused considerable tension in her home. Amira’s mother felt sorry for her daughter. She desperately wanted her to fit into her new western environment and to have friends at school. One day Amira’s mother disclosed to me that in her culture plucking eyebrows meant a virgin state was over and one had embarked upon marriage. The eyebrow war waged on for months. A few months later I  was surprised to see a new Amira, eyebrows all neatly plucked and self image greatly improved. She was happy to go to school now.

Fadia was absolutely sure that Allah would not punish anyone for plucking eyebrows. She herself had beautiful eyebrows giving her a royal feminine appearance. Eyebrow threading or plucking is a big subject of discussion and debate among Muslim women if you look up “Hadith on plucking eyebrows” on Google. It was talking about eyebrow plucking that really opened the door to sharing the difference between living by law and living by grace with Fadia.

I was visiting with Shazia when the subject of plucking eyebrows came up. “I don’t pluck them anymore,” she stated. “Why?” I asked inquisitively. “It’s haram,” she replied. “Allah doesn’t want us to alter our appearance in any way. If we do, we’ll be punished.” Wow, I thought. That is amazing. She went on to say, “One day I went to the salon to have my eyebrows plucked and exactly when I was there my relative was killed in an accident. Ever since then I stopped plucking my eyebrows.” I asked her if she was afraid she would go to hell for plucking her eyebrows or felt guilty. She had when it happened, she admitted, but now she felt okay since many years had passed. That led to a wonderful opportunity to share the Good News how we can be spared from going to hell and from punishment. What may be inconsequential to me may loom very large and fearful for someone else. I am learning to hear a Muslim woman’s unspoken fears and weave the Good News in with any subject being discussed. We should not make fun of her belief, debate about Islamic scholars’ interpretations or whether it is even in the Qur’an or Hadith but rather to use it as an opportunity to bring in the Good News of Jesus Christ. The same could be said about using haram or halal vanilla, perfume, yeast, yogurt, meat or marshmallows. It is their fear of punishment by Allah or some bad luck to follow that I want to speak into. We have good news!

Dear heavenly Father, help me to be able to hear my friend’s unspoken fears. Please give me wisdom and compassion to know how to speak into them. In Jesus’ name, Amen.