Relate: to understand and like or have sympathy for someone or something
As a Christian, it is my belief that the only treasures we can take with us to Heaven are our relationships with fellow believers; our relationship with Christ colors everything we do or say; and in order to share our faith with non-believers we must first establish a relationship with them.
According to Webster (above), in order to have a relationship with someone we must first be able to relate to them. We must find some sort of commonality.
In the Christian community there is currently a wide-range of thoughts on how we should be relating to Muslims. From the extreme of considering every Muslim a potential terrorist to the opposite end of the spectrum which refuses to accept that the current reign of terror is rooted in the fundamentalist sect of Islam.
I don’t know the answer to our immigrant/national security issues surrounding this issue, but I do think I know a piece of the puzzle of dealing one-on-one with the Muslim people in our neighborhoods and workplaces. We need to relate to them, to find a point of commonality with which we can empathize.
I was listening to a former Muslim talking about this issue on the radio. He explained that it is unusual for most Muslims to actually read their holy book, the Koran. They mostly get their guidance from the Imam of their local mosque, or from their family and friends. He equated this with the Catholic Church of past centuries, where the believers counted upon their priest or church tradition to guide them, rather than reading the Bible for themselves.
When the Protestant Reformation happened, believers began to read and interpret the Scriptures for themselves rather than relying solely upon the church leaders. Today we have a variety of takes on the inerrancy of the Bible, from liberal progressives to the fundamentalists adhering to strict Old Testament teachings. The followers of ISIS are part of an extreme fundamentalist sect who give a literal interpretation to the Muslim holy texts.
It occurred to me as I listened that, just as I don’t like it when people lump all Christians in with those who pervert our faith by bombing abortion clinics or performing other extreme acts, the majority of Muslims may feel the same about being lumped in with the terrorists.
This idea gives me that elusive point of commonality to begin a relationship with my neighbor who happens to be Muslim.
There are many sides to the politics of the war on terrorism, but when it comes to individuals, Christ was very clear. We are to do unto those we meet as we would want them to do unto us.
Politics is complicated.
Relationships, not so much.