Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Asking Questions

"What do you mean?" exclaimed Nicodemus. "How can an old man go back into his mother's womb and be born again?" John 3:4

“I ask Amal questions about her faith but she never asks me any questions about my faith. She loves answering my questions but I wish she would ask me something,” Linda bemoaned. She always waited for Amal to have questions which never came. “She thinks you are interested in knowing more about Islam,” I replied. “And furthermore she does not see any reason to ask you questions because she feels she has the best religion. Do not worry if she does not ask you questions about your faith. Just go ahead and share what you believe when it is fitting,” I urged her. Sometimes starting a conversation will produce questions, like Jesus did with Nicodemus.

Asking religious questions in our culture is permissible and encouraged. However, Muslims are brought up to believe that they have the last, best, and most correct religion and asking questions about Christianity would imply Amal might have some doubts or be entertaining criticism. They are taught to accept and obey whatever Allah says or is written in the Qur’an whether it is understood or not. Ultimately if something is not understood a Muslim woman will say the scholars will know the answer and leave it at that. Some are brought up to believe that asking questions is a bad thing so they bury their questions.

Layla is an inquisitive woman. She has been disillusioned. She asked her teachers at school many questions and they tolerated them but there was one question she could not seem to find the answer for. She was told to ask the clerics. She wanted to know why she was created. Her life seemed to be a disaster and she could not make sense of anything of why she was on this earth. She could not find a satisfactory answer. And so she journeyed on always wondering.

One of the first questions which will be asked often revolves around the Islamic dietary laws of foods that are either halal or haram. There have been numerous Muslim women who have come to settle here in the West who have questions about eating meat which has not been butchered the Islamic way or whether there is gelatin in some food product. We invited Zari and her husband for a meal. She wasn’t sure whether she could trust our meat. When she finally revealed her questions about the validity of what she was taught I commended her for having the courage to ask such questions. I told her she could feel safe in our home asking any question and that God would not punish her. He would not send her to jahannam(hell)for asking a question. The time will come when the scariest questions of all are courageously voiced: Do you believe the Qur’an or Mohammed are from God? Will God punish me and send me to hell if I become a Christian? I don’t understand why God said Muslim men can have four wives. Do you believe that is from God or from man? It’s important to take them to Scriptures for the answers – not just give an opinion. Commend them for asking questions.

Dear heavenly Father, thank You for giving me freedom to ask any question. In Jesus’ name, Amen.