Monday, June 17, 2013

Feeling Vexed?

“He(Jesus)looked around at them angrily, because he was deeply disturbed by their hard hearts…” Mark 3:5

We gave Ibrahim a bottle of pomegranate juice. He looked at it suspiciously and put it aside. I took note of his hesitation and realized later that he probably assumed it was alcohol which is haram(forbidden) for Muslims. I was vexed.

When I asked Maryam if she could send me her photo which she showed me on her iPhone she made no response. I wondered why there were no family photos displayed anywhere in her home. She explained, “That would be haram. The angels would disappear.” The photo on the wall is haram but looking at it on the iPhone repeatedly was somehow okay.

I came home from Sara’s vexed again. Repeatedly she informed me of Christians’ sins and bad Muslims’ sins, too.

Mohammed is abusive towards Layla, his second wife, and threatens her with divorce. “Muslim women are all insecure because our husbands threaten us with divorce,” she explained. I asked Layla why she puts up with the abuse and doesn’t leave? “Because I will receive a reward from Allah in the afterlife,” she replied. I got vexed.

Five year old Fatima wears the hijab. Eleven year old Ahmed has to keep the fast. Thirteen year old Amina wants to play soccer but her parents don’t consider it proper for a girl to play. Habiba won’t touch a dog.

As we minister among Muslims we will encounter many incidents which may vex us. Frequently it has to do with their conviction of whether something is haram(forbidden according to Islam)) or halal(permitted). Jesus got vexed at the Pharisees’ conviction about some of the same issues. Often when Muslims first settle in the west they can be excessively vigilant about haram food, behavior, people, fashions, activities, etc. It’s hard for them to suddenly live in a free secular society where there are no religious police and it is not against the law to drink alcohol or have a girlfriend. It is frightening for them and they wonder how they can bring up children, especially girls, where there aren’t tight restrictions and consequences. It can get oppressive for us to constantly hear about things being 'haram'. We feel angry and then guilty about being angry or turned off. Help! How should we deal with this? It helps to realize Muslims go on a journey getting established in a non-Islamic country. The children’s journey may go faster than their parents because they are being exposed daily to pluralism and multi-culturalism in their schools. We don’t have to respond to(correct) everything they say is haram. Pick the haram issue carefully you want to talk about or you could frequently be talking about haram/halal things. The issue I pick is about the hijab but not always about vanilla, shaking the opposite gender’s hand, eating jelly beans, or having a pet dog inside the house. Understand their deeper issues of fear of going to hell or bad luck. Pray for your Muslim friends. Don’t let your vexation turn into condemnation. We need daily grace and patience.

Dear heavenly Father, I treasure my freedom in Christ! Help me to not get bogged down with my Muslim friend’s preoccupation about haram and halal things. In Jesus’ name, Amen.