Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.” This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: “Love others as well as you love yourself.” These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.” Matthew 22: 37-40. THE MESSAGE
Did you know that there are four mosques in the greater New Orleans area, and three more in Baton Rouge? Our neighbors now include many Muslims, and yet we really don’t know much about these neighbors. Why should we learn more? Jesus commands us to love God and our neighbors. Fear is one of the barriers keeping us away from befriending Muslims next door to us. We may fear them, and they probably fear us because of the terrorist activities of some Muslim extremists. We have the perception, or stereotype, that Muslims are violent people, and they are out to kill us. That is true of Muslim extremists and terrorists, but not most Muslims. There are now 1.7 billion Muslims and 2.1 billion Christians in the world’s population. Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world. It is important that we gain more intelligent understanding and knowledge.
I just bought a Qur’an at Barnes and Nobles this week to use in our study of MUSLIMS, CHRISTIANS, AND JESUS. Did you know that Jesus is mentioned over 100 times in the Qur’an? There are five pillars of Islam: Faith or Testimony, Prayer, The Fast, Giving, and the Pilgrimage to Mecca. They worship one God of Abraham. The Arabic word for God is Allah, so the Arab Muslims refer to God as Allah. They consider Mohammed to be the last and final Prophet of Allah, and they consider Jesus to be a prophet sent from God. They pray five times per day, facing Mecca. Most of them want what most families want, to have a good, quality life with moral values, a good future for their children, and peace and security. We have much in common with our Muslim neighbors.
Living in Kenner, four out of five families on my block are Muslims. We have a great diversity in our community. There is a Mosque less than two miles from my house. They are indeed our neighbors, but doing this study, I realized how very little I know my neighbors. This study has encouraged me to try harder to build friendships with them, and to be more educated so that I can converse intelligently about their faith in God. Obviously, this is a global issue, not just a neighborhood one. Around the world, people are fighting over religious beliefs as well as political ones. To strive for peace in the world, it must begin at home. Can we have peace and friendship with our neighbors when they are Muslims? I believe Jesus would answer yes to that question, and that is God’s desire for all of us, to live peacefully together in this beautiful world. One of the points in our current study is that God loves Muslims, too, and so can we.
Grace and peace,