Our Muslim Neighbors

by Rachel Stella. Originally published in Mennonite World Review, republished with permission.

When we talk about living in peace with Muslims, some Christians become uneasy. They reason that because Islam and Christianity have such differences, true peace isn’t possible.

Yet a call to live in peace is not the same as a call to harmonize the two faiths. Indeed, it would be impossible to harmonize them without fundamentally changing one or both. Although they share a few beliefs in common, Islam and Christianity have major theological differences that are irreconcilable.

It is still entirely possible to live well with Muslim neighbors in our communities. Sure, you and your Muslim friend might enjoy a theological debate once in a while. (Depending on one’s personality, such an activity might or might not seem like a good time.) But it doesn’t have to keep us from getting along with each other as neighbors.

An important part of loving our Muslim neighbors is to have a concern for how others are treating them. As minorities in North American communities, Muslims are targets for people who associate them with terrorist threats.

Christians should be the first to object when Muslims are subjected to prejudice, harassment or violence. Opposing Islamophobia does not compromise Christian beliefs. People of both faiths uphold the best teachings of their own traditions when they stand for peace and against religious or ethnic bigotry.

When al-Shabab militants attacked a bus in Kenya this past December, they told the Muslim passengers to separate from the Christians. But the Muslim passengers refused.

“We asked them to kill all of us or leave us alone,” Muslim schoolteacher Salah Farah told Kenya’s The Daily Nation. He was shot and died in the hospital three weeks later.

He didn’t have to agree with Christianity to stand by his Christian neighbors when they were threatened. If he could give his life, Christians should show the same kind of love.

16388012_10100744091942557_4404594511140678276_n.jpgRachel Stella of Tiskilwa, IL., Mennonite World Review’s assistant editor and Web editor. Stella has a bachelor’s degree in mass communication, with a concentration in journalism, from Lewis University in Romeoville, IL. She is part of Plow Creek Mennonite Church in Tiskilwa.

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