What continues to amaze me in the West, and particularly in the United States is that people are either misinformed or do not know anything about Islam. In many cases, they do not want to understand what is happening in the world today because it is stressful and more importantly they do not know how to respond. Recently, I had the privilege to speak to some 300 Christians including pastors, missionaries, heads of some mission agencies, and Christian workers in Greece. The topic that I discussed with them was an encouraging step forward towards understanding the changing cultural dynamics in the West. Following the conference, I spoke on the same topic in a Ramadan prayer event that my church hosted to allow among many adults, 120 young men and women who had little or no knowledge about Islam.
There is currently an obvious fear of ISIS, and other Islamic terrorist organizations that has held the American mind hostage since 9/11. What amazes me the most is the reality that most of these 120 young men and women were very young at the time of the attack on the twin towers. They grew up in a climate where the electronic and printed media, and almost all kind of outlets are sharing a mutual fear of terrorists. It is no surprise that since all the terrorists involved in 9/11 attack and many other terrorist attacks around the world since 9/11 were Muslims, word terrorist are linked to Muslims.
Here are a few things that we must learn in order to love the Muslim next door:
- 1. What the West does not understand is that over one billion Muslim in the world are struggling with terrorism too. In Pakistan alone, terrorist attacks have claimed more lives than the attack on twin towers.
- 2. I grew up in Pakistan and most of my friends were Muslims. They loved me as their brother and defended me when I was attacked for my faith.
- 3. In every society you have good and bad people, extreme and moderate people, therefore labeling all Muslims as extreme makes such people (who label) extreme in their ideology and actions.
- 4. The Muslim world does not need more blame, criticism and hatred from the West. It is counter productive and only feeds into anti-western agendas of extremists.
- 5. If we do not want our children and future to be held hostage to fear of terrorists any longer we must learn to love the Muslim next door.