Monthly Archives: July 2020

Pain That Begs for Meaning

Please see the special note below. 

I have suffered loss in life. You have too. We all have. My pain may pale in comparison to what you’ve endured.

Is there any acute agony as severe as losing a child? Is there chronic pain that compares to fear of loss and loss of hope?

I wonder how much of each of these Abraham and Sarah felt as dad and son, but no animal for sacrifice, set off into the wilderness.

Somehow they held on. Abraham became the father of all who believe what God says. Sarah became the poster child for people who are honest with God, even when it means laughing at how crazy something seems, yet still get his promised gift.

As you read this, Muslims around the world are celebrating Eid Al Adha, a feast commemorating Abraham’s obedience to offer his son and God’s provision of the ram. This Eid lasts through the weekend and includes special prayers for forgiveness, family visits and feasting.

Under COVID constrictions many Muslims will celebrate at home. I assume if you don’t have to make small talk with scary Aunt Fatima, you might have more time to think; to wonder at the current challenges facing the planet; to seek deeper meaning in your life and faith.

Viktor E. Frankl, doctor, Holocaust survivor and author observed, “In times of crisis, people reach for meaning. Meaning is strength. Our survival may depend on our seeking and finding it.”

Would you join me in two things this Eid? 

1. Ask God to give Muslims searching hearts. Pray that many would take the unusual time afforded by this strange Eid to think, pray, wonder and seek.

2. The graphic at the top of this email is designed to be copied and pasted onto your Facebook page. You are welcome to join me in doing so. Right-click (Or Control-click if you’re in the tribe!), then paste as your status. I had to put a couple spaces in before pasting for it to work!

This is the last week I’ll ask you to consider donating to keep Muslim Connect flowing and growing. Thank you to those who’ve done so. If you’d still love to give, I’d be terribly grateful. Do so here. If you’d like to, but COVID’s all over your funds, I get that. Maybe you could simply forward this email to a friend and recommend they sign up. That would be helpful as well. Thank you. 

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Who Gets Hurt by a Hajj on Hold?

Please see the special note below from a Muslim Connect reader. 

Major League Baseball starts tonight (July 23rd) in the U.S. and to be honest I’m a little excited about it. My anticipation is tempered though by empathy for the many who have lost their income as baseball hasn’t been played and will continue to lose it to fan-less stadiums.

A similar dynamic is unfolding with Saudi Arabia’s announcement that this year’s Hajj (the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca) will be limited to 1000 people. For comparison’s sake, 2.5 million showed up last year.

My heart goes out to travel operators around the Muslim world whose businesses have collapsed, to the barbers in Mecca who won’t get paid to help pilgrims with the required head shave, and to the dads and husbands who planned to get ahead just a little bit this summer but now are in debt to boxes full of souvenirs, trinkets and gum nobody’s going to buy.

The gut-punch is not just financial, but spiritual as well. If your religion asks you to do something just once in your life, something which promises to result in all your sins forgiven, you do your best to make it happen. It takes savings, planning, banking vacation days, likely a little bit of conniving and cashing in favors. You’re all prepped and pumped up when the whole thing goes up in smoke. Devastating.

I believe this about God: He doesn’t want bad news, loss and pain for Muslims.

I know this about God: He has stunning capacity to bring good out of bad, beauty out of loss.

With that in mind, please pray with me for God’s redemption, in every good way, of the loss so many Muslims are experiencing right now. Email me for a brief, insightful guide to praying through the Hajj (July 29-31).


Tom L, a loyal reader from Indiana shares his thoughts about donating to help Muslim Connect to impact more people with hope and practical tools to engage Muslims:

Hey Muslim Connect readers. I’m one of you. I look forward to seeing Shane’s name in my email box every week. His words always encourage, often humor and regularly challenge me to love Muslims like Jesus does. Because I value Muslim Connect, I gave to support it. Maybe you could give as well.  –Tom

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Bad Girls of Islam

Please consider donating to keep Muslim Connect going and growing. Together we can help more and more people think about Muslims the way God does and love them like Jesus.

History can be murky, eh? Few of us have as much time as we’d like to dig into what actually happened, when and why. As a result, we tend to have a generalized, though hopefully generally accurate, broad stroke understanding of life.

This is true about Muslims. One of the key “outsider looking in” characteristics of Islam is that the religion and it’s adherents oppress women. My purpose here isn’t to challenge that idea. The evidence is ample. But it might help to remember that that’s not the whole story.

In a fun article, Azad Essa talks about a couple of key books shedding light on this.

“In her book, Women’s Rebellion and Islamic Memory, Fatima Mernissi tries to account for the contradiction between a history of scholarship that did include women and the ‘lowly image attributed to Muslim women in their own society today.’

“Mernissi says the memory of women ‘as active, full participants in the making of culture’ exists. [But] she argues that these histories have been mediated by conservative (men) who have played the role of gatekeepers to the existing annals of knowledge.”

Bringing some of that memory to life, Hossein Kamaly’s new book, “A History of Islam in 21 Women,” profiles women who worshipped, studied, taught and ruled throughout Islam’s history. It’s only slightly exaggerating to say these women didn’t take nothing from nobody!

For example, Safiye Sultan (1550–1619) started her career as a concubine during the Ottoman Empire. She went on to give birth to a future sultan and guide matters of state from both behind the scenes and before. Rich and powerful, by some accounts pure and merciful, Safiy was not without deep faults. But she was a force to be reckoned with in Ottoman Constantinople.

While not withholding concern and prayer, let’s also give respect where it’s due. Throughout history, Muslim women have done much with little. Most still do.

Muslim Connect is always free, but a couple of times a year I ask you to consider donating to keep it going and growing. Together we can reach a ton of people with the hope-filled message that God loves Muslims and we can equip many with the tools they need to connect. Donate today and I’ll send you some cool “Jesus Loves Muslims” stickers

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Check Out the New “Jesus Loves Muslims” Stickers

In ascending order of importance! (winky face!)

A. I’ve made some fun stickers that I’d love to send your way as a thank you for helping Muslim Connect survive and thrive. Muslim Connect is free, but if you’ve found value in it, please consider donating to keep it going. This summer I’m specifically raising funds to launch into video.

B. Last week we briefly looked at the case for seeing God and Allah as the same entity. Nabeel Qureshi makes the case against that assertion.

I deeply appreciate his emphasis on our attitudes as we consider this: “Like all good questions, the answer is more complex than most want, but I am confident of my position: Muslims and Christians do not worship the same God, but given the complexity of the matter we all ought to stop demonizing those who disagree with us.”

Qureshi argues, “For Christians, Jesus is certainly God, and for Muslims Jesus is certainly not God. . . . This fact alone is enough to settle the matter. . .” He sums up, “the Christian God, both in terms of what he is (Triune) and who he is (Father, Son, and Spirit) is not just different from the Muslim God; He is fundamentally incompatible. According to Islam, worshiping the Christian God is not just wrong; it sends you to Hell. They are not the same God.”

Like the master apologist he was, Nabeel sticks the landing! Keeping his starting point in mind, “the answer is more complex than most want,” may the true God give us grace and courage to love both Muslims and each other like Jesus.

C. Finally, I mentioned my Mom’s COVID test last week. Thank you for praying. It came back negative and she is already feeling much better! I am relieved and happy. This fallen world is better with her kicking around in it!

Thank you for reading Muslim Connect. I’m honored that you do. Now go check out those stickers. When you make a gift, I’ll drop some in the mail to you. Thank you to the faithful readers who’ve already donated!

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My Mom and COVID 19

Please see the important, special note at the bottom of today’s post.

As I write today, my mom is awaiting the results of her recent COVID test. She’s one of millions who’ve been tested this week, but her results matter to me more than all the rest. She’s my mom.

I wonder if there’s a similar dynamic lighting up the question of whether or not the God of the Bible and the Allah of Islam are the same person. This matters to us because something very close to our hearts seems to be at stake.

Three things I think:

  1. The question gets deep in a hurry. The emotion intrinsic to the debate is equaled by its complexity. As such, I’m hesitant to embrace short, “It’s obvious, you dumb dumb!” sorts of answers.
  2. There are places where the question is dealt with kindly and respectfully. I particularly appreciate this short video from Croatian theologian Miroslav Volf and this blog post from the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary.
  3. This matters to me because I so want Muslims to live. I believe I’m driven by practicality that says, “If Muslims simply have an incomplete view of the God we all serve, the leap of faith is less.”

While I ultimately want us all, including me, to walk in line with truth, to see things as they really are and live accordingly, I’ll admit I’m biased. I want the leap of faith to be as small as possible so that as many as possible will find life in Jesus.

Tune in next week for the basic arguments against God and Allah being the same entity.

If this question is important to you, if it stirs emotion and nudges you to engage, I’d love to hear from you. Why is this question important and what’s your thinking? Please comment here.

Muslim Connect is always free, however twice a year I reach out and ask faithful readers to donate to keep it thriving. This year I’m specifically raising funds to make a jump into video development. Muslim Connect will remain a text-based, quick read email, but I’d like to reach more people through the use of brief, punchy videos. Please donate here or check out the budget and equipment list here. Thank you.


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