Wednesday, February 29, 2012


“….and this is what he requires: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 4:8b

On any given day I could visit:

Halima, an illiterate Muslim woman, who does not drive or go to the bank and seems totally disempowered - Amal, a feminist, who has two degrees, a good job, and lives in an upscale neighborhood - Maryam, a PhD student who has aspirations of working with the United Nations  - Sahar, a doctor, who dresses  conservatively  - Afsana, a feisty woman who is a survivor of Taliban cruelty.

There are so many different kinds of Muslim women! They dress different, eat different cuisine, and have different levels of education and lifestyles. Some are knowledgeable about their faith while others hardly know anything about the Qur’an. She is a Sunni, Shi'a, Sufi, or from an offshoot group of Islam, like a Druze, Ahmadiyya, or Ismaili.  She may be a refugee fleeing political instability, an international university student, or a professional immigrant. Some believe in superstitions and have gone through cultural rites practiced by their particular tribal group. They could be poor, middle class, or affluent.

It has been humbling to realize that I really don’t know very much about Islam or Muslim culture. The longer I have engaged with Muslims the more I have discovered that there are variations of interpretations of the Qur’an and cultural traditions. Muslims born in the west can be quite different than Muslims immigrating from an Islamic country. I'm ashamed to say so but three decades ago when I embarked upon ministry among Muslims, I thought I knew quite a bit. Today I have been humbled over and over at the smallness of my knowledge. Recently an Iranian woman assumed I knew all about a certain Muslim practice. I had never heard about it. How had I missed knowing about that, I wondered? When I was being interviewed by a radio host I was asked a question about black American Muslims. It was embarrassing to have to say over the air waves that I didn’t know the answer for I didn’t have experience with them. Islam and Muslim culture are vast subjects. I can never be an expert. Yes, I have been humbled. But that is a blessing! Better to be a forever learner than engage with Muslims acting like I know everything about their religion and culture. One of the most necessary virtues we can exhibit among our Muslim friends is humility. 

Dear heavenly Father, help me to walk humbly with You and among my Muslim friends. In Jesus’ name, Amen.