Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Islam and Christianity

I found the following passage on luck really intriguing. (The grammar might sound a bit awkward in places, but that's simply because it was written by a non-native English speaker.)

The concept of luck takes it roots from cultural superstitious and it holds no basis in Christianity.  The word luck means chance, and we as a Christian know that nothing happens by chance but it is ordained by the Creator Most High.

Did the world come to existence by a chance?  Did we come to existence by a chance? No!  It was all planned by the great planner of all.

We as humans because of our limited knowledge of the unseen perceive dramatic events in our life as being fortuned by luck or coincident.  But it should be clear that all things in the universe are destined by God Who knows the Unseen and what happened and what will happen prior to its occurrence.

I love what he says about God's omniscience. Nothing comes to pass without God knowing before hand. Kind of crazy that someone from a different cultural background believes what I do.

Thing is, this isn't a Christian post: it's Islamic. I changed the words Islam/Muslim/Allah to Christianity/Christian/God, and that made it sound exactly the same as what Christians say.

I found the passage in a forum while researching the nuances of qismat, "fate." The religious similarities struck me rather forcefully.

We tend to forget how similar we are. We're all unique, but we're all made off the same mold, too. The more people I meet and the more cultures I study, the more our similarities outweigh our differences.

Including in religion.

When I was twelve, I took a class at church with my mother on the topic of Islam. I had already been attending the adult service instead of the children's program for 6 years and was becoming an assiduous note-taker. (I also drew maps and building sketches in the margins because cartographer and architect were on the massive list of what I wanted to be when I grew up.)

I learned a lot in that class about the basics of Islamic belief, ways in which Islam is practiced in America, and the meaning of various acts. But the number one thing that stood out to me was this:

When evangelizing to or getting to know a Muslim friend, ask questions and do lots of listening. You don't have to talk about Christianity: you can just learn, and let them ask about Christianity if they want to. When you do talk about Christianity, focus on the similarities, not the differences.

We have so much in common. Both of us consider the Jewish Tanakh (Torah, Nevi'im, and Khetuvim, which Christians call the Old Testament) to be holy, God-inspired Scripture. We believe the story of Abraham and that our following God makes us his children. We both believe in one God. We believe that loving God means action, not just emotion.

We believe in the efficacy of prayer. We believe in an afterlife which has an effect on how we live. We believe in similar definitions of holiness, both believe in a code of modesty for men and women, both regret (usually) all the atrocities committed in the name of our religion. We both believe in tithing/alms.

It's not just us two. With any religion or belief you can always find the crossovers, the interstitial bridges, to your own place of conviction.

Those sameness-bridges are vital.

We tend to go into evangelism with a focus on explaining our faith and how it's different. The occasional person even goes in with a defensive mentality of, "how can I counter any arguments I come up against?"

But few people change their beliefs because of argument. Few people change their beliefs as a result of signs and posters, or a Bible in the hotel drawer. Not that these things don't have their place, but they are not a catalyst.

People change their beliefs on their own time as a result of their own experiences. Those experiences include lots of things you have no control over, and only one thing you do: how you're in their life.

Being a friend, without an agenda, is evangelism, and it is all of evangelism. It is simply knowing and loving and living with and laughing with and helping out and getting help from someone else.

People become friends over their similarities, not their differences. We become friends because we can relate with one another. Important as it is to become friends with people who are different, even those friendships will be fueled by a degree of similarity. You're different races, backgrounds, religions, and whatever else, but you geek out over the same computer game, book, sport, or community project.

It isn't about knowing all the ways their beliefs differ from mine and figuring out all the things I need to tell/teach them. It's about how close we are already--the piece of the divine in every human being.

Word count: 833.