Monthly Archives: September 2019

Are Muslim Women Oppressed?

I’ve been wondering about this. Are Muslim women oppressed? Is the oppression of women intrinsic to an orthodox understanding of the Quran? Do the supplemental texts, the Hadith and Sunnah endorse it? Is this yet another way in which backward Muslims are inferior to enlightened Westerners? (Sorry, got a little snarky there.)

Is the assumption that Muslim women are oppressed part of a broader tendency to lump all Muslims together? There are certainly situations in which oppression seems too light a word for what women in some Muslim majority nations face. Other women in other times and places have enjoyed what would appear to be great freedom of conscience and practice.

Three friends of mine, each with years lived abroad and current deep relationships with Muslim women weigh in:

Jami: “There is no way to say “Muslim women are….” about anything! No stereotype holds true for every story. Most of my current Muslim friends, both here in the U.S. and in various countries around the world, live lifestyles very similar to mine. The Truth Collective aspires to prove to women that the absence of Truth is the most violent oppression as it deprives women of security, identity and hope.

Emily: “Some interpretations of Islam are terrible to women. Others are not so terrible. It really depends so much on ethnicity and level of education”

Gayle: “Muslim women’s lives have different parameters of normal from the average western woman. What seems normal to them, doesn’t seem normal to us. But then what is normal in the western world today was not normal 150 years ago. Some differences are improvements, some not so much.”

My concern is that we use “oppression of women” as a reason to not just dislike Islam, but Muslims as well, to put them further away from us, to use a trendy term, “other-ize” them. The challenge is to love all Muslims and continue to learn, while not endorsing what is wrong.

Help me understand this more. Please comment here or email me.


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“Ours is a Religion of Peace.”

News is news because it’s unusual, spectacular or scary. It follows that the news we get and remember about Muslims will probably be one or more of those three. Since most of us don’t know a bunch of Muslims (yet!), we’re apt to assume the events making up the news accurately reflect who they are.

And maybe they do. But only for a slice of the Muslim world, not the whole enchilada.

The Muslims making a splash in the headlines and in our psyches today are not a small bit of a single, homogenous whole. They are all Muslims, but they are not “all Muslims.” They are indicative of the whole only in the same way a box of crackers is part of a grocery store. Are crackers groceries? Certainly. But the store also has cheese, bacon, Tic Tacs and yams.

We’d be wise to get more sophisticated in our understanding and help our buds to as well.

Case in point: The 16 million Malay people of Malaysia. 99.9% of them are Muslim, most are faithful and orthodox, but very few are taking up arms to enforce their chosen style of Islam. Whatever is behind it, culture, ethnicity, living in a winsome and generous land, Malay people show a kinder, gentler face of Islam.

I know from personal experience that they are willing, even fervent, in their desire that others should know the hope they’ve found in their faith. But violence and belligerence are not part of their approach.

You know as well as me, no news anchor is going to look into the camera, brow furrowed and declare, “A Malay family had a nice, relaxed evening yesterday. This follows what appears to have been a tasty and more or less healthy dinner. More after the break.”

Here’s the point: What we hear most about Muslims, doesn’t accurately describe most Muslims. The fuller picture, and the nature of Jesus, indicate hopeful engagement, rather than fear and isolation is our best bet. (Tweet this.)

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Remember. . . and Hope

I began hearing the news, sitting at my home office desk in Hilversum, Netherlands. Maybe you remember where you were when so much changed for the U.S. and beyond.

September 11, 2001. 

Yesterday we commemorated the 18th anniversary of the tragedy. Again we mourned both the ending of life and the beginning of 18 years of war. I watched this news compilation, reliving the staggering amazement and horror.

If you have suffered as a result of 9/11, if you lost someone on that day or since, as the ripples of this evil expanded through the years, I’m sorry. I don’t know nor understand your suffering, but I pray for you. I pray for us. May God lead us forward to hope and peace.

In what may be a small, preliminary, spark of an answer to that prayer, a group of evangelical Christians has been meeting with leaders in Saudi Arabia this week, including Mohammed bin Salman, Crown Prince of the country.

According to leader Joel Rosenberg, “The group discussed the Kingdom’s sweeping reforms and encouraging battles against terrorism and violent extremism. The group also discussed. . .matters of religious freedom, human rights, Iran, Israel and the peace process.”

Rosenberg pre-empted critics, adding, “While it may surprise some that we would choose the week of September 11 to visit the Kingdom, we actually feel there is no more appropriate time to focus on where the Kingdom must go, can go, and where we believe it is going.”

I don’t know Rosenberg nor his full agenda. But I think we all want God’s kingdom to come to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, so I’m happy for efforts like this and pray for their success.

To paraphrase Churchill, it’s better to talk than shoot.


Thank you to the many people who generously responded to my giving campaign over the past three weeks. Together you all donated nearly $2000 to keep Muslim Connect moving forward and to support the work God has given me to help Christians love Muslims and Muslims love Jesus.

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“Yes, I’m Hot in This”

Please see the special note at the bottom of today’s email regarding the end of this summer’s giving campaign.

Do you ever open Muslim Connect, make a face and wonder, “What’s he gonna ask me to do this week?” I’m sorry, but I sort of hope you do! Last week I asked you to trade away your whole life, move to Pakistan and take some friends with you. This week is a little easier.

I want you to laugh. Although you may also wince a bit, hopefully, you’ll laugh.

My new favorite comic is called “Yes, I’m Hot in This.” It’s created by Huda Fahmy, a Muslim woman from Houston who grew up in Detroit. Huda describes it as, “A webcomic about the musings of a slightly sweaty Muslim-American woman.”

Yes, it’s culturally instructive. Surprisingly, it’s also hilarious. Huda draws the comics for both Muslims and non-Muslims, poking fun at both sets of people. Of course, humor is very personal, but Huda’s works for me. Both in the laughing and the stinging.

She shares more than once her displeasure at being asked where she’s from. I’ve challenged you and anyone who’ll slow down to listen to ask that very question. I still have much to learn.

If you’ve got a moment and either a Facebook or Instagram account, take a look. Maybe even share it with your people. Check out Huda’s book here.

We need to hear from Muslims what it’s like to be a Muslim. All the better when you can do that with a smile or a bit of a wince. If you have two moments, share a favorite in the comments.

Special Request:
For three weeks each summer, I invite the Muslim Connect tribe to help this effort go forward by giving a financial gift. Many have already taken this chance to say both “Thanks” and “Go get ‘em!”  I’m very grateful for each gift.

If you’ve found value in Muslim Connect, I’d be grateful if you’d join them. When you do, you’ll get a copy of the brand new, “Ten Things Christians Should Know About Muslims” pdf. I’m crazy excited about the content and layout of this new piece. It’s designed to shake things up a bit and would look great in your church bulletin.

Click here to help Muslim Connect go forward and get the new “Ten Things” pdf. Thank you.


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What Would It Take For You to Trade It All Away?

Please see the special note at the end of today’s email

Much of what I ask you to do in Muslim Connect can be done from your couch: Think differently, pray, advocate for biblical behavior toward Muslims. Other things require getting up, facing a little discomfort, maybe expending some social capital.

Because I want everyone to get on board, the challenge usually comes in the form of short hops and doable steps. But not today. This challenge is a one-way ticket.

Today I want to team up with my mentor, Greg Livingstone, and invite you to trade your whole life where you are to go live as an ambassador of Jesus among Muslims in a place where there are few or maybe even none yet.

Greg says, “God is asking me to spend the rest of my days finding team leaders for places like Pakistan and Eritrea, cities like Aleppo, Grozny and Bagdad.”

Let your imagination run for a moment: You gather a cadre of intrepid friends and relocate for a decade to Faroffistan. What pain and joy would attend this life? What sacrifice and work would it take? What would success look like? What would have to be acquired and what would be left behind?

“Could my family do it?”

“Would I ever find a husband, a wife?”

“If I raise my hand and say, ‘I’ll lead,’ would anyone follow me?”

“Would it be worth the cost?”

Jesus responds, “Peace to you. Just as the Father sent me, I send you.”

This role is not for everyone. So I’m wondering, is this me? Is it you? Is it someone you know? Can Greg and I help?


Special Request

Once a year I invite the Muslim Connect tribe to help this effort go forward by giving a financial gift. Muslim Connect has always been free and always will be. But this is your chance to say both “Thanks” and “Go get ‘em!” If you’ve found value in Muslim Connect, I’d be grateful if you’d give. When you do, you’ll get a copy of the brand new, “Ten Things Christians Should Know About Muslims” pdf. I’m crazy excited about the content and layout of this new piece. It’s designed to shake things up a bit and would look great in your church bulletin. 

Click here to help Muslim Connect go forward and get the new “Ten Things” pdf. Thank you.

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