Fear, misguided patriotism, and racism, are biblical themes that kept Israel from bringing God’s light to the nations. Is the American Church making the same mistakes?
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Here starts the auto-generated transcription of Islamophobia in the Church: The Jonah Syndrome:

Once again, Muslim terrorists A terrorist communist and illegal extremists. These is not irrelevant. It is a warning. Welcome to the truth about Muslims podcast, the official podcast of the Swimmer Center For Muslim Studies, where we help to educate you beyond the media. Here are your hosts, Howard and Trevor.

Okay. Welcome to episode 4 of The Truth About Muslims, and this is part 2, of Islamophobia. We’re gonna be discussing Phil Parshall’s lecture that was given at Columbia International University. I really love that guy. That that, that particular lecture was I thought it was really provoking and and intelligent and exciting.

But there was another time that you’ve heard well, I’ve of course, you’ve probably worked with Phil Partials a lot and and, lectured with him. But you you were you had a story about another time that you’d heard him speak. That same topic, actually. The exact same topic. And and, actually, when he came to CIU, we encouraged him to give that lecture from the chapel and Right.

He kinda thought, are you sure you remember what happened last time I gave this lecture? And I thought different audience. Different audience. But yeah. He’s a he’s kinda wary from the get go.

Yeah. Understandably so. The first time that that I heard that lecture given was in a church setting, and it did not go over well. Alright. So what was that?

What happened? There was a church. I won’t say the denomination or name, but we were asked to give, a lecture series, and, there was 3 of us. It was myself, doctor Warren Larson, and doctor Phil Parshall. Right.

We went and they said, could you give us a lecture series starting on Friday? We’ll do a Friday, Saturday, Sunday, all the way through, helping the church to understand, Muslims so that we might reach out to them with the gospel. Right. And that’s kinda what you do at churches on the weekends sometimes, right, when they invite you. Right.

Yeah. It was a it was kind of a it wasn’t quite a missions conference, but more of a missional focus. And it was their their annual missional focus, and they wanted to focus on reaching Muslims. And so they they, hired the Zwimmer Center to take that over, and that’s what we did. We went, all of our families actually.

My wife and kids, Warren and Carol and Phil and Julie, we all met there and we put together this, what we thought was a dynamic program. Wow. And I’ve heard and I’ve heard all of you speak and you guys are all very, very good. And so we, I think, if I remember correctly, Warren went first and talked a little bit about diversity in Islam. I went second, talked about basic belief and practice and evangelism.

And then, Phil Parshall went 3rd with, the lecture that you just heard, in part 1 of this podcast. Okay. So? Well, on the let’s see. It was Sunday evening, actually, I believe, we did a panel panel discussion.

Oh, right. And so I was the moderator, and, we we kinda felt like, you know, it’s not a huge huge church. Why don’t we just do kind of an open discussion? People can ask questions. And, the the pastor insisted that we write down the questions.

Yeah. I can see where this is building. Okay. Go ahead. You know, I was naive.

I think I probably should have known better, but the pastor said, you know, let’s write down the questions. Wouldn’t be an appropriate question? Well, you’ve done this before, though. Right? Yeah.

I mean, I could understand moderating for a huge crowd because you never know who’s in the crowd, but this is a pretty, you know, less than a 100 people. It’s a smaller church. Right. But, anyway, nevertheless, we we took the pastor’s advice. We moderated, and I’m glad that we did.

So Okay. So what? I got What what was the question? Well, you know, the it was the the question. There was only one, that was bad.

Most of them were pretty basic. You know? Phil Parchel mentioned something about Islamic contributions to the West. What are some of those contributions? And so Phil answers, give some different things about the, sort of golden age of Islam.

You know, Warren Larson mentions this about diversity, share a little bit more about women in Islam and give that perspective. And then all of a sudden, I have this question and I skip over it. And I didn’t think anybody saw me, but but Phil saw that I skipped over it. And so as the time came to an end, he came over to me and he said, hey. Can I see that stack of cards?

And I said, why? You’re trying to slip 1 in the back pocket? I was. I was. And he said, what what was that question that you skipped?

And I said, oh, you saw that? And he said, yeah. Why why would you skip a question? I said, I just didn’t think it was appropriate. And he said, what was it?

And I said, don’t worry about it. And he said, I would like to see the question. And, so I I pulled it out and I showed it to him. And the the question basically was are does everybody who works with Muslims, are they all as, anti American as Phil Parcel? Wow.

Wow. Yeah. Yeah. So you can imagine why I skipped over it. And Phil, actually, was he wished I had asked the question because he felt like, I don’t see how they could have brought together anti American with what he he had said.

So when we asked him to give this lecture a second time, we felt different audience, different perspectives, and, fortunately, we did have a different response. This particular church that we did this program for and this particular lecture for, we ended up getting a letter actually later from the pastor. Wow. That yeah. You shared some of that with me before, and, it’s heartbreaking.

I was really kind of sad saddened, by the response. Well Go ahead. So so was the pastor. I mean, he was he was crushed. And one of the reasons that he was as disappointed as he was was leading up to our presentation about reaching Muslims.

He had been preaching out of the book of Jonah. Right. Which is, man, that you could see all these parallels and the themes in in Jonah, especially with how Jonah’s response to the Ninevites. Like, he was not interested in reaching out to those people. No.

And when you ask, people in church, so what was the reason that Jonah didn’t wanna reach the Ninevites? Why did he flee from the Lord when the Lord called him to go and preach to the Ninevites? Everybody sort of has this Sunday school answer of, well, he was afraid. Right. Yeah.

I mean, I I can see that. Like, if you’re considered, a prophet at that time and and needing to go to a city and proclaim, the word of the Lord and, you know, you know that these are not good people. No. And by all means, if we want to think of ancient near eastern terrorist, you would think of the city of Nineveh. I mean Right.

Another podcast that I really appreciate is is hardcore history. He has, an excellent, series on the Ninevites of all people, the Assyrians. Yes. I gotta listen to them. Yeah.

It’s excellent. And he talks about the in in the, writings of the Assyrian kings, you can see some of the things that they would do. They would fillet people alive. Wow. They would fillet them and then they would put them on pillars of stone and they would be head people and put that on a pillar of stone and then they would do just modern day what we would consider acts of terrorism to inflict terror and fear of all the people that might see the kingdom of Nineveh and the city of Nineveh and the kingdom of Assyria.

That’s what they were doing. So I could understand why somebody might think, well, Jonah didn’t wanna go because he was afraid, but I think they’re wrong. Right. You know, something else that just kinda popped into my mind as you were kinda telling that is that, the Ninevites weren’t Jews, you know? And so this is a totally different group of people that God commands Jonah to go speak to.

That’s interesting. Well, that’s the that’s the beauty of it. Right? I mean, in the very end when he says, you know, you’ve you’re so upset about the destruction of this plant, which, by the way, is a caster bean plant. I just wanna point out that the name casters in the bible.

That’s right. It’s biblical. So anything like a chair caster where you roll around and cast it. But anyway anyway, sorry sorry for the side note. But, you know, you’re you’re so disappointed about this destruction of this plant.

And, what about the people of Nineveh, and how long have they been on the mind of God? Right. And, and and that bean plant that that you so mentioned, that that was basically just, you know, covering Jonah. Actually, you know, doing a doing a work as far as, you know, shading him, helping him. Right?

And then it and it dies and and that’s not even a life of a person. Right? And so I I don’t know. I get I think I guess what you’re getting at is that it does give us a really good illustration of just how, Jonah’s priorities were completely out of whack. He didn’t care about souls, didn’t care about people at that time.

Well, the Ninevites specifically, he cared more about a a plant. Yeah. Right. And so somebody might say, well, when are when are the Ninevites mentioned in scripture other than Jonah? And, well, moving forward, we see that eventually the the kingdom of Assyria is used as the rod of God’s judgment against the Israelites.

So that’s a bit bizarre, and I’m sure, you know, there’s the potential there where somebody might say, well, what was God doing with the Ninevites and then later gonna use them as a rod of his judgment? But if you look back, Nineveh is mentioned in Genesis chapter 10 in the table of nations. Nineveh has never not been on God’s heart. Wow. I never knew that.

I never I never, looked at in the in those kind of details. That’s that’s interesting. So thinking about it in a term of the lens of the mission of God, you have to recognize that, 1, when God calls us to do something, it might not be about us. You know what I mean? God might God might be wanting to do something among the Ninevites so that they might know him.

Right. And I think partial hits that in the nail on the head. Like, it’s really really hard to love people that are just so different than us. I mean, I just find that, with with Muslims especially here we’re taught that’s what we’re talking about. I mean, you’re talking about a group that we don’t understand as a general population of of Americans, that aren’t Muslim, you know, because obviously we have many Americans that are Muslims.

But, not understanding them, you know, I love the word, that, partial uses was, demonize. We demonize people. It’s it’s almost like propaganda. You know, these old war machines, like, in World War 2, World War 1, and, we would, character, character character characterize people. There it is.

Yeah. Yeah. Just stumbled across that one. But, you know, like, you you know, we’re we’re making a mockery of people that didn’t that aren’t really true images of of who these people are, what they’re like. And so with that misunderstanding, we demonize people.

And, and it’s hard to it’s an you know, Phil Parcel says it’s impossible to love, you know, someone that you demonize. Who wants to embrace a demon? Embrace a demon? I love when he Right. When he says that.

Who wants to embrace a demon? No one. But that’s why I say that even this idea of Jonah and I think why that pastor was so disappointed that his own flock responded so negatively to this message. And and I’m not saying they responded negatively because of that one question. After we left, the pastor had sent around a, a survey.

Yeah. A questionnaire about the weekend. What did you think about the weekend? You know, we would like to the pastor had a heart to be able to support the Zweimer Center’s ministry. And the questionnaire came back and he said there was an overwhelmingly negative response to our presentation.

Now is that common in in these things that you’ve you’ve done in the past? I mean, is that It’s it’s mixed. I mean Was that a shock to you? Was that a blow to you? Well, that that’s when I was very new in doing, doing this.

I had just finished my degree, my graduate degree in Islamics, and that was one of the first weekend seminars that I had participated in. And so it was a shock, and it was a blow to me, and it was, very discouraging. But when I looked at these older mentors and the way that they responded, I recognized that this is just par for the course and we have to keep going forward and and challenging people to love and reach out to Muslims regardless of the response. Wow. I mean, I think that’s that’s pretty courageous.

I don’t know if I you know, every time I went to a church, it was a 5050, and I’d I’d get beat down or or, you know, abused or or, you know, what was, yelled at or what whatnot. Like, I don’t know how long I could keep doing that, but, you know, you guys are doing this tremendous work just trying to open people’s eyes. When I think it’s it’s recognizing that the this Jonah syndrome that’s what we’re gonna call it, the Jonah syndrome. This idea that, Jonah, it wasn’t that he was afraid. And I and I get I get why some people may be afraid to reach out in a love in love towards Muslims.

Maybe they are afraid, and I understand where that’s coming from. I could see where the fear, why it would be there. However, there are those that it’s not that they’re afraid of Muslims. They actually just don’t like Muslims. Right.

And that’s why I say it’s a little bit of a different thing with the Jonah syndrome. I think people are wrong when they say that, well, Jonah was afraid to go to Nineveh. He was he was fearful of what they might do to him. And so, of course, he fled from the Lord. Nineveh was so wicked, but that’s not what the text says.

Right. And I think that gives off the wrong impression. I mean, I think that, all of a sudden, Jonah doesn’t become applicable to our situation When I think God was really just giving us an image of our own heart. You know, just this this lack of love that needed to be there. Especially aligning ourselves with the Lord’s heart as we call ourselves Christians.

Exactly. And we have the same issue today, and I say we, that Jonah had. And that was, when the lord is merciful to the city of Nineveh after, well, what might be the the, you know, worst evangelistic message ever, you know, turn turn or burn message of Jonah. Right? The Lord makes it factual.

He did not care. Right. But he he’s angry with the Lord. And what does he say in the text? I mean, it’s not that, you know, I didn’t wanna come here because I was afraid.

Mhmm. He says, this is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you would be gracious and compassionate. Right? That’s the truth.

He knew that the Lord would be slow in anger. He knew that the grace of God would come down for the Ninevites and he is angry about it. And you know what? I understand why he would be so angry. I understand why sometimes Christians get angry because they think that person doesn’t deserve the mercy of God.

I can get that. That. I can resonate with that. Right. Jonah, you know, as a prophet, he would be considered, you know, a lover of the law, a lover of righteousness.

Right? And then he sees such a wicked people, and he knows that when God commands them to go that, you know, if they respond, if they repent, all of a sudden they’re gonna receive the mercy. And and so for us, I mean, like, as as Americans that that watch in horror as they look at ISIS and and, maybe some of these other terrorist acts that we’ve seen that that have been done in the name of Islam, I think it’s really hard for us to receive the idea that God would save them. Like, do we want them to be saved? Well, I mean, here’s the shift.

This is the shift that we all have to make. You are absolutely right when you question whether or not a person deserves the mercy of God. They don’t. Right. There is not a single person on the planet that deserves it.

However, how much worship does God deserve? Right. That has to be the shift. You have to look at a person and say, do they deserve the mercy of God? No.

Does God deserve that person’s worship? Most certainly. Right. And so we have to have a shift where we look at it and that’s what God is basically bringing to Jonah’s attention by saying, you know, how long have you cared for this plant? You did nothing to bring it about.

It’s not even yours. Not really. But yet, how many people are there in this city, in this city that’s been on the heart of God since Genesis chapter 10? Yeah. I think it’s so it’s so, such a trap, a common trap for us as human beings, not just, you know, Muslims, Christians, whatnot, but to be man centric.

And I think that scripture is consistently reminding us that it’s really about God. And then once we realize that, we look at scripture differently. We read it differently. We respond to it differently. And I think that’s, you know, kind of what Phil Parshaal is saying.

I mean, like, in his in his lecture, you know, he he challenges us to look beyond, you know, our politics or look beyond our our our upbringing or what we’ve been taught in school that doesn’t line up with scripture. I mean, our enemies. We’re supposed to love our enemies. Turn turn the cheek. And and, in practice, it seems like it’s much, much more difficult.

We can say it in Sunday school and have our little flanographs and stuff, but to really, really live that out day in and day out, I think, is, is the difficulty. Well, I think it we’re we’re much more comfortable with the idea of, well, lord, so should we call down hellfire upon these people? Right. I love the disciples’ response to Jesus whenever they’re they’re not welcomed into a town. Like, I got an idea, guys.

Right? Gather around. We’re gonna burn this thing down. They’re looking at the Lord’s say when? Yeah.

That’s right. I can call this down. I’m your huckleberry. Right. That’s Peter right there.

I love that guy. Yeah. I mean, that’s the that’s the challenge. That’s where we all get stuck. We we want to see, the justice of God so long as it’s working for us.

And we want to see the mercy of God so long as it’s working for us. And when God wants to be merciful to somebody that we might not think deserve it deserves it, we forget how quickly when God was merciful to us, how much we didn’t deserve it as well. Right. I wanna apologize beforehand, but, you know, I just wanna talk about the politics a little bit. Just a just a smidge.

Okay? I mean, this is not a political show, but I just feel like Christians are kind of trapped. They’re trapped in their political parties and mix Jesus in and it becomes a pretty lethal, dose of of, spite, anger, vehemence, and every and both sides have it. I mean, just watch Fox News and CNN. And you got Christians that are, like, right wing, you know, Republicans and and, of course, you mix Jesus in there and all of a sudden, you know, you speak out against Muslims and and, and tend to be on the bigot line, you know, and and on the left wing Christians are are calling the the right wing Christians bigots and and, they tend to be, kind of on the on the soft side where they don’t, they don’t deal with the real issues at hand, kinda like the Ben Affleck, debate.

And I just kinda feel like, you know, God’s calling us to be far above all of that stuff. You know? And I, you know, I don’t know. Maybe from the pulpit, people are saying it, but in in the in the in the media, it just seems like, man, the Christians are just we’re pushed into these parties and feel like we have to be stuck there. But I think God’s calling us higher than that.

You know, the the the real biblical mandate, you know, which is, you know, trying to reach these these Muslims for Christ, for Jesus. Right? Well, I I think that we we can easily be we could have our vision clouded by maybe even a misguided sense of of patriotism or a misguided sense of political activity. Those things are not in and of themselves wrong. But when those things trump what we know that we’re called to, which is the love of God and the love of neighbor.

I mean, that is the the 2 commandments on which the entire law of the of the prophets hang. Right. So if we allow anything, whether it be political involvement or patriotic, involvement or anything really, to trump our love of God and our love of neighbor and, of course, who is my neighbor? When Jesus has asked the question, who is my neighbor? We end up with a pretty radical view of who the neighbor is.

I mean, we’re supposed to love our enemy. And so to the person who wants to argue that, well, you just don’t really understand Islam and I’ve heard it from people. I mean, I’m looking at them, and they’re saying, you don’t really understand Islam. And I asked them, well, teach me help me to understand what is the real nature of Islam, and they go on about what true Islam is. And they explain to me how all Muslims really are, these wicked people.

And then I think to myself, okay. Even if you’re right, and I don’t think you are, even if you’re right, let’s say that all Muslims are what you think they are, they’re the enemy, what should our Christian response be? Right. It doesn’t change. And you’d mentioned before the show about behavior not having to do with our response.

I mean, people’s behavior, like the Ninevites, they were evil. They were wicked people. It doesn’t change Jonah’s responsibility, what God had called him to do. Right? No.

Not at all. And I love the fact that even as he flees, and we often forget about this part of the story of Jonah. We think it’s, I don’t know why, but we we tend to make all of our old testament narrative stories about, you know, kind of children’s stories. Right. Fisher Price, Noah’s Ark.

Ark. You know, people the the world’s being destroyed, but all of a sudden, it’s a bathtub toy. There you go. A big whale. This is a story about a big whale and a man living in a fish for 3 days.

I mean, granted that’s a pretty amazing part of the story, but what about the ship that he’s fleeing on? Yeah. How quickly do we forget that as he’s on this ship and the ship is getting ready to go down in this, horrific storm, Jonah’s responses and this is why I say I don’t think he was afraid. Jonah’s response is just throw me overboard. Yeah.

Because it’s not death that he’s really concerned about. Right? And they’re they’re also trying to figure out which god have we offended? What’s going on? And they recognize it is the God of Jonah.

Right. And as they throw him overboard, what do they recognize? This is the one true God. Right. This is a missional text.

Yeah. I mean, even in the story, like, Jonah’s not interested in seeing people come to Lord, obviously, but it’s happening because of his life. It’s happening despite him. Right. Because God’s like, no.

No. No. I’m still doing thing, man. It’s it’s never changed. That’s what I love is that despite us, God’s still able to accomplish what he wants to accomplish despite us.

And so so sometimes I think, we we miss it, but we still have a chance to stop, turn around, and look at it, and say, okay. What is God’s view here? How would God want me to respond? If I’m overwhelmed with fear because of what I see in the media, I don’t know that that’s the motivation you want to begin to draw your theology on how you wanna respond to Right. 1,500,000,000 people.

And it doesn’t fill you with faith. You know, like, when you look in scripture, anytime these men, these godly men, these examples that we have, that have, you know, had tumultuous times, a war, the army coming in invading. What they do, like, I’m reminded of Hezekiah in the temple. He just lays out the letters that he’s receiving, that he’s about to be annihilated. Him and and his, his country is about to be annihilated.

And he lays it before the Lord and he, you know, just lays out the letter and says, God, see? But then he starts to do this thing where he just starts to talk about who god is and the character, of god and how he’s faithful and and how he, is going to save. And, and I don’t know. I I just feel like we, as Christians, need to be constantly putting in front of us, who God is and not about our plight and the issues that that we’re dealing with, without God. You know, just trying to do it on our own strength, like, trying to solve this ISIS issue.

Obviously, this is a spiritual thing, man. You know, there there’s some wicked things being done. And I think our response needs to be, Christ centered, as opposed to just the way the world kind of deals with everything. Let’s bomb them. Just like Obama when he’s he just aided some of the rebels by giving them arms to fight against, ISIS.

I mean, that’s that’s a world’s response. Yeah. It’s a tough thing. It’s a tough thing to kinda look at what’s going on in the world and not be discouraged. But I think it’s because with the media now, we can see what’s happening in the world, and some of these things are just so far beyond our control that we’re left in a very deep sense of despair.

But there really is something we can do. Right? I mean, we can pray. Right. We can pray for Christians that are suffering at the hands of radicals, and we can pray for the persecutors.

We can pray for world leaders, and we know that God uses governments to, bring justice and that God sets up kings and God deposes kings and that God is, you know, has the the king’s heart. He can turn as a river as the scripture says. So, I mean, I don’t think we have to have total despair. I don’t think we have to be discouraged, but we do have to recognize, that we do have a role in praying. We have a we have a role to pray for our leaders, to pray for other world leaders, to pray for, people who are persecuted and to pray for the persecutor.

Right. And I think that, in turn, gives us a heart for the people that we’re we’re praying for. Yeah. It Absolutely. Even if they’re enemies.

Right? So hey. But, let’s parse out that question a little bit. What what do you think? And I know this is just your perspective, but what do you think that, partial was saying or you or or Larson was saying that, would come across as anti American?

Well, I mean, when I’m just in when I was listening to, this lecture again, This was given 4 years ago, and I think we had about 5 years ago is when we spoke in that church together. And, I I think the comment about the war in Iraq was probably not received well because he does mention that we’re fighting a war, that he didn’t think we would win. Right. And anytime we come and call into question our victories. Right?

Then that would be, Anti American. Yeah. Exactly. Anti patriot. But on the other hand, here we are 5 years later and we have Iraq and we have ISIS and it is a disaster and it is, one of those things where it’s very discouraging.

I’m I’m certain. I mean, I have family members that are in the military, and I’m sure that those who have served and given, all their time and maybe even some of their lives, it’s difficult when you see things not go the way that you thought they would and you don’t see, an opportunity for justice and you don’t see a place better than when you when you came in. Yeah. Yeah. And so I think what Phil Parshel was just sort of getting at is people have a difficult time hearing the Muslim perspective.

Do you know what I mean? I mean, at the very beginning, he says, I’m gonna help you understand their worldview. Right. And, something I was thinking about as I was listening to partial, it was like if you come into this thinking, you know what, he’s just putting blame on us or or me or, our heritage. I think we’re kinda missing the point.

I don’t think partial is trying to say, you know what? It’s your fault. It’s your fault because, you know, our natural response will be like, well, well, they did this. And that still keeps us in that that tumultuous, place. Not really of coming to understanding, but just, just clarifying, you know, dividing lines.

But I think what partial was really wanting to get at is like, hey, let’s understand where they’re coming from, what they what they’ve been through, what they think, and that’ll help us in our response to them in a good way, not in a not in a negative way. Yeah. And and also, any any reference whatsoever that would suggest that we’ve had any role in in perpetuating sort of the the the radicalism of Islam would be seen as, has been responded to very negatively. Right. Understandably so.

Right. And so It’s like we’re creating this monster that, we have to deal with now. Exactly. And so I think people have a hard time viewing things in light of history. For us.

As Westerners, we don’t tend to think in historical terms about something that might have happened so many years ago. Right. We are a little bit more forward thinking towards the future maybe than some other parts of the world. Right. But the Muslim world does tend to take a full account of history when they, decide things.

And so even hearkening back to the crusades, I think some people are are probably frustrated. What does the crusades have to do with anything? And so Right. But as far as the Muslim world is concerned, you know, after 911, our president, George w Bush, came off of a helicopter at Camp David and you can go, check it out on YouTube if you want. It’s become propaganda these days for, recruitment.

But he did step off the helicopter and say that this, this crusade is going to take a while. Wow. So that’s a that’s a loaded term. Now I’m certain movement. Right?

Yeah. I’m certain that he didn’t have any agenda there with using that term. Right. He was just using it as a term just, you know, just something off the top of his head or or whatnot and then all of a sudden it could be skewed in any any direction. Right.

And it wouldn’t be hard to turn that into propaganda. And so when you look at it from the Muslim world view, how are these things being perceived? Well, that’s important. It’s important to see how they’re perceiving things, and then maybe that would give us some more compassion, and see that they’re also just people that are trapped and and being told something by their own, media outlets. And I hope that that would produce some understanding and some compassion.

I think that understanding people, understanding their perspective does, or at least it should, reduce fear. Right. And that demonization that we talked about earlier with partial. I really think that people have a hard time, understanding or even the attempt to understand these people whenever they are demonized. And and we need to start recognizing that, that ISIS is not all Muslims.

Right? And we, of course, we’ve talked about that a bunch. But, but it’s still a reoccurring thing that people have to deal with in their hearts that, radical Islam is not the same as, maybe your Muslim neighbor. And and something that I wanted to bring up is, Relevant Magazine. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen it, but you can look up Oh, I know Relevant.

Yeah. Right. Relevant Magazine just put out this article about why we need to have more Muslim friends. There you go. And it was really neat.

It it was basically about what partial was saying about, reducing that that demonization of of Muslims. Just like, you know, reducing fear just like Trevor had like you just said. And, and just being able to understand and and see them as real people. And I thought that was pretty cool. I think that that’s the the best advice, and that is to go visit your local mosque.

Mhmm. Get to know the imam, get to know, some Muslims in your community. Ask your kids, especially if you’ve got kids that are in high school. I don’t find that, because I teach undergraduate students a lot, and I don’t find that these 18 19 year olds are as stuck as some of the, the the previous generation is. Right.

Because they know kids. They’ve they’ve grown up with Muslims. They’ve played soccer with Muslims. They’ve, gone to, you know, high school parties and and hung out with Muslims. And so they they they’ve it sounds really bad, but, I mean, they’ve humanized Muslims as if they needed to be humanized.

I even feel bad saying it. But for them, it’s not as big of an issue because there hasn’t been sort of this, this world view of what does a Muslim look like been given to them by the media. They’ve actually they have personal experience that would combat some of the things they’ve been told. Right. So can we do that as a as a kind of a challenge on our podcast?

Just like I think so. Hey, you know, make some Muslim friends and and expect backlash. I mean, that’s not from the Muslims. No. No.

I don’t think you’re gonna get it from the Muslims. I tell people all the time, the most the the place I’m most comfortable talking about God is actually around Muslims because they like to talk about God. Right. And you had said something about, how we need to understand, the the religion of Islam. Right?

To be able to relate more to to Muslims. No. That was Samuel Zwemer was saying that. But the chief difficulty of reaching Muslims is, a lack of understanding of their religion. So their beliefs, their practices, the the hadith, the sunnah, the way of the prophet, the the things that Mohammed said or did or gave approval of by, in the hadith, and then also the, the the life of Mohammed and then also finally the social aspects of their religion.

Oh, and, of course, their beliefs in Jesus and so the Muslim conception of Christ. And he said in order to really have an effectual ministry with, reaching out to Muslims, you have to understand the full breadth of these things so that you can, 1, build bridges, but, 2, also understand where they’re coming from and their own beliefs. Right. And, and that’s because they’re so their faith is so integrated, right, in who they are, their worldview, their perspective. It it can be for sure.

And which makes it easier for us to speak about God because that’s generally what they’re gonna be talking about or thinking about or dealing with. Right? I think so. I mean, we we’ll do a whole another podcast talking about the the the Muslim conception of God and the Christian conception of God. I think that’s something that we we need more time to talk about.

But, definitely, it’s it’s a whole lot easier to talk to a person about God when you know where they’re coming from about God. And so and that is not to say that go read a book on Islam and then go tell a Muslim what they believe. Right. Right. I’m I’m of the mindset that the best strategy that you can have is not telling somebody, what they believe, but rather sitting across from them and asking them, so what do you believe?

Right. Become a student. Right. Exactly. Ask good questions.

Ask them. It doesn’t matter what you know about Mohammed. Right. It matters what the person sitting across from you knows about Mohammed. Right.

And, of course, you know, be a friend. Yeah. I mean, sometimes people get kinda crazy with evangelism where they think they just have to beat them in a debate. And that that’s not what we’re saying here. No.

I think, really good open door is just basically to say, especially for Muslims in America, just to say, you know, I’ve heard so much about Islam from so many different people. I would really love to hear about Islam from a Muslim. Would you take some time and just kinda help me understand a little bit about your life, a little bit about your beliefs? That would really be a great service to me. And you know what?

I think that would just make the day of most of the Muslims I’ve known. Right. Because how many times have they just just seen the media represent them Exactly. Incorrectly. Right.

And, them just being, you know, just like Ben Affleck says. Just wants to go to school, never punches women, just wants to eat some sandwiches. You know? Like, come on. Gonna be one of my favorite quotes from now on.

I just wanna eat some sandwiches. I just wanna eat some sandwiches. I mean, that’s it, you know? And, and yeah. So that that’s kind of our challenge.

So we’re gonna put that out there, like, make some Muslim friends and expect backlash from family and and just kinda let that open your eyes too. Don’t be surprised. Yeah. Visit visit your local mosque. I think you’ll find that most of the moms are very open to having guests.

I’ve never, had a negative experience at a mosque, and I’ve visited most of the times I go to a town, the first thing I do is go to the local mosque, and I’ve had positive receptions at just about all of them. I can’t think of a place I’ve ever had a negative reception in a mosque. Right. And I’ve been to mosques all over, the world actually. Southeast Asia, especially.

And I’ve never had a bad reception. I’ve actually always been offered tea or food There you go. Or Really good food. Right. And we just hang out and talk.

And they’re they’re they’re, well, they’re not they’re not mean or any of that. I mean, they’re just we just talk and hang out, and it’s actually great. So let me give some instructions for those of you that are thinking about, well, I guess I’ll try it. Let’s see. Let’s see how that goes.

Yeah. So what I would encourage you to do is look up online, visit your local mosque website, And, you’re gonna see on Friday is the Jummah prayer time. It’s probably gonna be around 1:30 on a Friday. That would be the equivalent to a Christian Sunday morning service. I would encourage you to go to that particular time just because that’s when you’re gonna meet the most Muslims.

The Sunday morning worship service, the Friday afternoon service around 1:30. Check the the website. And then if if it were me, and this is what I tend to do, if I’m gonna be in a place for a couple days, I’ll visit the mosque on a Wednesday or Thursday afternoon, on my own. If somebody’s with me, the 2 of us, and we’ll go to the mosque, and I’ll just ask the imam. Would you know, I’m new to the area.

I’m not a Muslim. I’m a Christian, but I just really wanted to get to know some people here. I have, studied some about Islam. You can even use this podcast as an excuse. Say, I was listening to a podcast.

They encourage us to visit a mosque, and then ask the imam, would it be okay if I come this Friday? And then, you know, just to receive permission. Now if you’re a female, I would encourage you and I think the imam is probably gonna encourage this as well for you to wear, a head covering. Don’t don’t don’t get all upset about wearing a head covering. And Right.

In reality, it’s just a it’s a head covering. Right. It’s a piece of cloth. Yeah. Just be okay with it.

Go to the the mosque and ask them and you can ask the imam, should I wear a head covering? And if he says he would appreciate it, if I were you, I wouldn’t I would do what would be appreciated because you are a visitor. Right? So, ask if you can visit the mosque. Typically, the women are gonna have their own room.

Ladies, I would encourage you to, go to that area. Obviously, don’t don’t try to push an agenda that you wanna sit with the men. Be respectful of the way in which the the service happens. And so women will go to one side, men will to another. Dress appropriately.

Men, you need to wear, I’d say just a pair of khaki pants. Button up shirt would be good. You don’t have to wear anything in particular. You’re gonna remove your shoes when you get to the mosque. You don’t have to perform any of the ritual washing.

I would guess the imam will help you understand this, but you don’t have to perform any ritual washing. You just go into the mosque. You sit in the back. The reason that you sit in the back is that after the imam does the call to prayer, somebody will give the call to prayer. That will be, the the Friday sermon, will be preached.

And it’s very interesting. People will continue to come and go as the Friday sermon is being preached and just sit in the back because after the sermon is preached, then they’re gonna have their prayer time. And when they form their prayer lines, it would be inappropriate for you to be included in the prayer lines because that is a time for just the Muslims to be in solidarity with one another lined up. Right. So sit in the back and just, you can stay and watch if you like.

I’ve never I don’t believe it’s ever been communicated to me that it’s offensive to stay and watch. Actually, I think the Muslims have asked me several times, just come join in. You know, join in the prayer line, but I wouldn’t wanna do that. I feel like that would be deceptive. I would be communicating to them that I’m Muslim and Right.

I’m not. And so afterwards, that’s usually a conversation. Why didn’t you pray? And I say, I’m a Christian. And then that usually turns into a very interesting discussion.

Right. And then what about the, call to prayer? Some people might have some reservations about, being there, when they are speaking, in in the call to prayer or singing actually. What are they actually singing there? Oh, yeah.

Shall I give a call to prayer? You’re just gonna hear God is Please. No. No. No.

No. No. Please. Please. Just a little little snippet.

I can’t do it. Just for the audience. So you’ll hear Allahu Akbar Allahu Akbar Allahu Akbar Allahu Akbar and it’s sung. It sounds like they’re saying a bunch of different things, but they’re really just saying Allahu Akbar 4 times. God is great, God is great, God is great, God is great.

Let’s see if I can remember all this. There is no god, but god. Muhammad is the messenger of god. God is calling you to pray. God is calling you to success.

Missing a line here. And then, again, it closes with Allahu Akbar Allahu Akbar. So, yeah, obviously, it’s, you know, there’s gonna be something that would be a troubling for for Christians, of course, right, recognizing Mohammed as a messenger of God. But other than other than that, there’s nothing going on there that I’ve never, got the sense that it should make you uncomfortable. They don’t believe everything that we believe, of course.

That’s that’s a given, but I think it’s okay to at least hear where they’re coming from. Now here’s I’ll I’ll make this caveat. If you have a sensitive conscience and I think if you feel like I don’t want to visit another place of worship that would make me uncomfortable, I think you should listen to your your own conscience on that one. Don’t don’t feel like we’re saying that you need to go and do this. Right.

But on the other hand, I don’t think going to a mosque and just hearing what they believe and and hearing a sermon and getting to know Muslims is somehow a compromise of your own faith. Right. So, anyway, we we take students to the mosque every semester. And, on the rarest of occasion, I’ll have a student say, I’m just uncomfortable reading the Quran. I can’t really write this paper, or I’m uncomfortable visiting the mosque.

And my immediate response is I completely understand, and, let me come up with an alternative assignment. And, usually, what I’ll do is find a, a Muslim hosted dinner or something at the university that they could attend instead. Right. Which is another option too. Absolutely.

I’ve I’ve there’s plenty of, opportunities to get to know, Muslims and I think it’s until you’ve done that, until you can say I have met a couple different Muslims and I’ve got some good Muslim friends, I think it would be, a snap judgment to begin making decisions about what you think of Muslims. Right. And even if you’re a college student, a lot of universities, I think most actually, would have, like, a, a Muslim program. Yeah. Muslim Muslim Student Association would probably be there.

Where they would have, like, dinners and There you go. And and, actually, they, from what I understand, they encourage, people that are not of the Islamic faith to come and and see what they’re all about. Yeah. Every every university is gonna have something like that. It may not be an a Muslim student association but probably an international student association which would have inevitably some Muslims.

So Right. I think here at USC, we have, let me think. We have a Turkish student association. We have an Omani student association. We have a Saudi student association.

We have a Muslim Student Association, and they all have events. And so our students from the CIU, they’re always connected. I mean, we’ve had actually a couple Muslims say they wish they could come to CIU as students. It’s a Christian college, but they just they’ve appreciated the student body at CIU so much. Right.

Because the response, right, has always been loving and encouraging. Absolutely. Yeah. Great. And that I think that’s I think that’s the greatest witness for Christ, when you’re first meeting, someone of a different faith because it it shows a lot, I think, about their character and their worldview.

Yeah. And for for females listening, there is a website I would encourage you to visit. This will be our resource of the week. It’s a website called say hello. Howard, can you pull that up and see what the exact web address is?

There’s this concept within Islam. You know, you hear Muslims when they greet one another. Everybody kinda wonders what are they saying. Right. And, they say, Assalamu alaykum.

And if you could just learn to say Assalamu alaykum, even if you say it incorrectly, it’s okay. I’ve heard people say it kinda funny. You get a southern choir. Salaam alaikum, you know. If you could just give a give an effort by saying hello, you’re wishing, peace upon them and, they’re they’re obligated actually to respond and, walaikum salaam will be the response of the the Muslim that you, say that to.

So there’s a website called, say hello. It’s it’s it’s specifically designed for reaching out to Muslim women. And so let me, did you find it, Howard? No. I’m not I’m not sure.

Hold on. Do you say hello and then type in Muslim women? But this website was designed specifically on encouraging, Christians how to reach out to Muslim women. What is the website address? Say hello info.com.

Sayhelloinfo.com. That’s an excellent resource, and it encourages females in particular to just go a Muslim woman and say hello. Now you might be thinking, this sounds like a strange strategy. It is, in my opinion, one of the most effective strategies out there. It’s too simple.

Right? But oftentimes, the simple things, they do work. Yeah. They’re they’re one thing that actually kinda sticks. Well, I think that that, women have it a little bit easier because you can pretty much identify a Muslim woman as opposed to, you know, if Howard and I go out into the streets and we’re trying to identify a Muslim man Right.

It’s a little tougher. Right. Because he may be Hindu. Just because he looks like he’s from Pakistan doesn’t mean that he’s gonna be a Muslim. Right.

And even Africans. Right? Nigeria There you go. There’s a lot of it is, Muslims in Africa and There you go. Other areas.

So but with Muslim women, you have this sort of international calling card. Right? This, head covering. Right. And so if you see a woman in the store with a head covering and you walk up and you say assalamu alaikum, you’re going to have her, have a really surprised look on her face and then a big smile, and she’s gonna say back, and then she’s probably gonna ask, how did you know to say that?

That has been the continued response that I’ve heard from students. They just go up to Muslim women and they say, response that I’ve heard from students. They just go up to Muslim women and they say hello. They say hello back and the next thing they say is, where are you from? And then after the woman shares either, you know, I’m American or I’ve just come here from this country, if they’re immigrants or they’re refugees, that gives you the opportunity to say welcome.

Right. And that gives them a totally different feel than probably what they’re feeling right now. Well, yeah. I mean, think about it. If you come from a society that’s incredibly communal, Right?

Women don’t go anywhere alone. They tend to go out in groups, mother sisters, maybe, 3 or 4 people. No one goes shopping alone. And then suddenly now you’re a refugee or an immigrant and you’re here and you’re by yourself and you can imagine you’re looking at 70 different types of shampoo. Right.

You’re alone. It seems like everybody’s staring at you and inevitably some people are staring at you. Right. And probably not with pleasant looks. There you go.

Right. But all of a sudden, a person walks over and this is just for the ladies. Men, don’t approach Muslim women. A female comes up to a Muslim woman and just says, hello. And, she says, you know, thank you, and and you could just start the conversation.

Where are you from? I’m so glad you’re here. How can I help? This must be overwhelming seeing this this crazy store. Is there anything I can do to help?

And you will have so many opportunities, ladies. I don’t think you’re ever gonna find a negative response. And if you do, write us, tell us because we wanna be able to say, with integrity that we haven’t had any negative responses from this. But so far, all the students in the years that I’ve been teaching that I’ve challenged to do this have always come back with very positive feedback. Right.

And, if you’re a foodie and you enjoy food, that’s part of it. I mean, you’re gonna meet these people and they’re gonna you’re probably gonna get invited to their house and you’re gonna get fed well and it’s gonna be amazing. So that’s another, you know, perk of that. I know that’s not the primary reason, but I’m just saying, I mean Howard’s all about the food. Right.

Friend friendships have benefits, and so, I love communal societies where, man, you just get invited and you just come in and eat. I remember I was in Mumbai. Same thing happened. I just walked down the street, came out of my hotel. It was like at a w YWCA hotel.

I don’t I don’t know if we have those here. But, I I just saw all these, men dressed in white all over the street. And I asked him what was going on. And he said it was Eid. Yeah.

Yeah. And so I was like, oh, that’s interesting. So we just struck up a conversation and all of a sudden I find myself in his house, eating dinner, celebrating Eid with these guys. And I just met them, you know, like, 5 minutes before. Just said, ask them a question, what is going on?

And I had a great time. Met with his family. Spent, like, the whole day with his family. And I had not expected that. But that’s just kind of the hospitality.

What you know, that’s just the way it was. And then it’s one of my fondest memories of, Mumbai and India. It’s pretty cool. Do you know what’s amazing? Is I’m I’m thinking of the the story with the the apostles and Jesus tells them to go out 2 by 2 and look for a house and give them peace and when peace is given back to stay a while.

Right. This this would work in Muslim societies. Yeah. To just go out and and share peace and when the peace is received and somebody receives you to stay and when and they don’t receive you to knock the dust off your shoes and move on. Right.

You could actually do this in a lot of Muslim societies. I don’t know that you could do that here in the United States. Right. Because then they’d be like, when are you leaving? Someone comes to my door, I’m like, oh, man.

What’s this guy want? What’s he selling? Yeah. Right? I’m not interested.

Yeah. Yeah. So anyway, that’s the resource of the week. Say hello, say hello info Sorry. Dot, did I say dot dot com?

Say hello info dot com. Right. So we need to find out who’s running that website and see if we can get them on the podcast. Oh, that would be awesome. So That would be awesome.

Anyway, we’ll, in a episode coming up here soon, we’re gonna get Phil Parshall to join us, on the phone. He’s, retired these days. He and his wife, Julie, are down in, Florida, retired missionaries, and, they’re they’re still active in a sense of loving and caring and reaching out to Muslims. And, I’ve I’ve been impressed. Like you said, they’ve been 44 years in the Muslim world.

But even beyond their 44 years of experience in the Muslim world, they continue to reach out to Muslims here in the United States when they were in Charlotte. And now down in in Florida, I’m certain they’re continuing to make connections with Muslims. So That’s awesome. Yeah. Just hearing him, I’m encouraged.

I’m challenged, and, I hope you guys are as well. Right. And that’s it for this week. We hope you guys enjoy the truth about Muslims podcast. Yeah.

And if you didn’t listen to part 1, go back and listen to part 1 and this will make more sense because this is part 2. That’s what I was gonna say. It’s probably pretty confusing, this part 2. But anyway, yeah. So we’ll see you next time.

Thank you guys for listening. And as always Yeah. Be sure to write in, ask questions, share, spread the word, Truth About Muslims podcast. We’ll see you later.