Bridges Between Christians and Muslims Begin with Friendship

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Muslim and Christian students at the College of Wooster (Ohio) have always been friends in classes and dorms and on the sports fields; 9/11 did nothing to stop that. As I began dialoguing that year with a Pakistani alumna who had approached me “because you are pro-life and because you would make a good Muslim,” I developed a Bible and Qur’an study for the students to do together. 

Their friendship was the foundation and the key to trust and curiosity and, yes, frankness. Today, I, a grandma, am still Facebook friends with all of these students, as they are with each other. My friendships with Muslims in retirement are not peer-to-peer as was true of the students, but friendship is still crucial in the ESL/refugee setting.  

Today a woman from Iran, twenty years younger than I am, is a new believer first through friendship and then Bible study. A young mom from another Middle Eastern country is walking towards Jesus and is finding him faithful in all of her many family challenges. A university student  from an African Muslim setting who has many questions about faith texts me weekly about the challenges of her life—romance, classes, calling—and I pray that she will soon open Scripture with me. 

In contrast, my relationship with the imam of a nearby mosque is cordial but hardly more, and it isn't surprising to me that he has not responded to an invitation to do Scriptural Reasoning with folks from my church and his mosque.    

Friendship, friendship, friendship. Loving friendship covers a multitude of “sins” (for example, sins of cultural or Qur’anic ignorance). With friendship can come trust and curiosity and, yes, frankness. What are you doing to build friendships with Muslim neighbors?  

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Participant

Can you give a little background on what “Scriptural Reasoning” with a Christian/Muslim group looks like for you – how gets started, what exactly you do, structure, allowance for expression, questions, etc.? I find that, the more we know about how things are supposed to “work” we can be less intimidated in starting the process. Thanks.

I sure can, Michael.  Scriptural Reasoning (I will find the link and send it) is a model of dialogue that involves a passage from the Qur'an, Hebrew Bible (if Jews are involved as well) and New Testament on an agreed upon topic that is supposed to allow for comments/insights from the participants that not only shed light on the passage but on the faith stance of the other participants (or yourself).  It usually has a facilitator and a time limit.  In my one experience with it (in Oman, at the RCA's Al Amana Centre), I found it to be very much like the beginnings of an inductive Bible study, with observations and questions but not necessarily anything in depth re meanings and application.  I am still hoping to do this with a small group of Muslims from a nearby mosque and our church on the first chapter of the Qur'an and the Lord's Prayer as they are similar in length and are both the primary Scriptural prayer expressions of the two faiths.  I'll post this and then find the link to the academic-based Scriptural Reasoning website.  

http://www.scripturalreasoning.org

 

Community Builder

Hi Barbara. Thanks for sharing. Relationships and love are so important. Can you share with me the link also for the academic based site? I want to do a report on Scriptural Reasoning for our Christian Interfaith Reference Group.

www.scripturalreasoning.org.  If you wanted to talk with someone who has done this often, contact Doug Leonard of the RCA,who is part of the two-denomination group planning the pastoral trips to Oman,or else Justin Myers.  They can tell you a lot more than I can.

 

Participant

Thanks, Barbara!