We recently passed along a list of do’s and don’ts for sharing with our Muslim neighbors with our team members. This list does not just apply to the Arab world, but to wherever followers of Jesus among Muslim neighbors.
DO: Approach your Muslim neighbor right away and initiate contact with him/her (men with men, women with women).
Jesus taught us to love our neighbor as ourselves—emphasizing the point by telling Jews to love and serve their despised Samaritan neighbors (e.g., Parable of the Good Samaritan); and God sent Jonah to barbaric Assyrian Ninevites and spared no effort to give them the chance to repent.
DO NOT: Be afraid of your bearded or veiled Muslim neighbor.
“Man looks at the outside, but God looks on the heart.” External conformity doesn’t always mean internal contentment, nor does it indicate if someone is radicalized or not (many radicalized Muslims don’t adhere to conservative dress). Very few Muslims in the world agree with terrorists, and the truth is the terrorists kill far more other Muslims than they do “infidels.”
DO: Establish your identity as a follower of Christ right away in a culturally appropriate way.
“I’m so glad to meet you and am glad you live in my neighborhood. You know, the Bible teaches that there are three types of uniquely loved people by God, and we are constantly instructed to help them and love them: widows, orphans, and sojourners/foreigners…”
DO NOT: Be ashamed to talk about religion and your Christian convictions in the very first interaction.
Islam is a “missionary religion” and frequently Muslims will robustly invite you as a Westerner to become a Muslim (known as Islamic dawa). We should proudly present our identity as “People of the Book” and that we follow God by obeying Christ’s teachings with all of our heart, mind, soul and strength.
DO: Listen to their reasons for living in your country.
Some have come for studies; some have escaped war in the homelands; some were born and raised in your country; and some have converted from other religions.
DO NOT: Despise the fact that they live in your country.
God has established the times and places for all persons: “And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him” (Acts 17:26–27).
DO: Be careful to “give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all” (Rom. 12:17).
This includes abstaining from alcohol and pork consumption in their company or cleaning your house of both if they eat with you. It also includes dressing more modestly and not posting pictures of revealing dress of yourselves or others on social media if your Muslim friends look at it.
DO NOT: “Use your freedom [in Christ] as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another” (Gal. 5:13).
If we really want to see Muslims reached by God’s grace, we need to be ready to pay the price of casual comfort (attire, gender interaction, etc.). They often associate Western behavior as hedonistic, sensual, perverse and wicked. We need to show them that is not the case, and we have to earn their trust.
DO: Pray fervently for them to discover and acknowledge who Christ is and trust Him for their salvation (Eph. 1:18).
DO NOT: Lose hope when Muslims are more resistant to the gospel than some other people (Heb. 3:6).
DO: Pray with your Muslim neighbor for their needs and concerns.
DO NOT: Complicate prayer with “Christianese” but pray like a child with him or her. We are not heard based on the amount of words we speak, but based on our relationship in secret with our Father in Heaven.
DO: Study to show yourself approved by God:
Know what Muslims believe about “Son of God,” sin, salvation, forgiveness, atonement, etc.
DO NOT: Do not get mired in theological debate—including the issue of Israel and Palestine.
Jesus shared stories and described the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven. He was a proclaimer—not a polemicist. Rarely—if ever—is a non-believer argued into the Kingdom. Rather, they are wooed by the light, love and kindness of the Savior and His servants.
DO: Talk about Jesus: His life, teachings and the impact He has had on your life.
DO NOT: Denigrate their revered messenger, Mohammad.
Jesus is the incarnate eternal Word of God, Emmanuel, Savior, Creator, image of the Everlasting God, Prince of Peace, et al. There is no comparison between Jesus and Mohammad—so let’s glorify Jesus who is worthy of our breath, rather than put down the mere human who currently has their affections. We shine His light without trying to blow theirs out. Understanding people who the Holy Spirit is touching can perceive the difference, without us trying to be so blunt and brash.
DO: Be ready to invite them into your home and also visit them in their home.
The gospel message spread from home to home in primitive Christianity—and that is how it’s spreading in a majority of the world. Follow the biblical model and pray for open homes and hearts. Follow Jesus’ model of 2-by-2 and involve other brothers and sisters in Christ when visiting and hosting.
DO NOT: Visit opposite genders alone or accept charms or gifts with Quranic verses and other common Muslim amulets and charms.
Most Islamic cultures are steeped in pagan tradition and practices cloaked in a veneer of Islamic monotheism. However, they use these means to manipulate spiritual “power.”
DO: Believe God’s promises in Scripture to transform the nations that are currently Muslim (Isa. 19).
DO NOT: Let secularists and bigoted “Christians” poison your mind and attitude towards these needy and deceived people.