Monthly Archives: May 2022

Simple Tip in a Tough Week

It’s been a hard week, hasn’t it? Ongoing war in Ukraine, new evidence of Uyghur genocide, the Uvalde shooting, the Southern Baptist sex abuse report. Dang.

Even though all over cookouts are being planned, smart kids are graduating, and last-minute wedding details are falling into place, the sad gapmight be large for you right now. It is for me.

If you need to sit in the sadness for awhile, I’m not going to scold you. Wise women and men of God have done so over the years. If you tend to want to do something about something, I get that too. I sure do. Here’s my possibly crazy idea in response to the Uvalde tragedy.

If you’d just like one sort of normal thing to do, here’s a question you can use to connect with a Muslim immigrant you hear speaking. With a kind and slightly quizzical look on your face, ask, “Where’s that accent from?” You can practice this on non-Muslim people if that helps!

Depending on the answer, here are some follow ups:

“It’s from Africa.” “Really, what country, what city?” (Some immigrants assume, not without reason, that Americans might not be geography rock stars!)

“It’s from Irbil, Kurdistan.” “Wow, is it beautiful there?”

“From Cairo.” “Fascinating. Have you lived here long?”

One caveat: Some people don’t like to be noticed for what makes them different. (Of course, some don’t like to be noticed at all!) If you’ve got a better way to initiate a conversation with someone, maybe a comment relative to the immediate context, use it. But we’ve got to find ways to bridge gaps somehow, and this one often works.

Given kind hearts and pure motives, God is honored by our efforts. And I’ve found most immigrants are as well.

If you haven’t seen this special announcement, I’d be grateful if you took a look. I’m rallying interest in a challenging, upcoming project.

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Dr. Oz Goes to Washington?

As this Muslim Connect email goes out, Dr. Mehmut Oz is leading the Pennsylvania Republican senate primary race by one tenth of a percent, with around 17,000 votes still to be counted. Should he win the primary, he’ll become the first Muslim to run for the U.S. Senate.

This is a fascinating story on several levels. For starters, Dr. Oz has an amazing medical pedigree. Although he’s been roundly excoriated for some of his views, he’s well credentialed, extensively published, and he’s operated on a lot of hearts.

If you know him, it’s probably through his appearances on the Oprah show or his own tv Emmy winning show. He’s America’s doctor!

He’s also the American born son of Turkish parents with a dual citizenship he’s pledged to surrender if elected. He grew up with a dad who followed a rather traditional Islam, while his mom favored the secular Turkish identity of Kemal Ataturk. Dr. Oz has said he’s drawn to the more mystical, Sufi form of the faith.

If he wins his primary, it will owe in part to Donald Trump’s late game endorsement. Therein lies another amazing layer: Dr. Oz is a Muslim and a Republican, pushed forward by the most anti-Muslim U.S. president in history! Strange days indeed.

What do you think? Could a moderate Muslim, a first generation Turkish senator be a good thing for Pennsylvania, for the U.S.? Is it possible in the role, Dr. Oz could help us navigate an increasingly tenuous relationship with Turkey and a feisty President Erdogan? Would he serve as inspiration and representation for other American Muslims?

I’d love hear your thoughts and opinions here.

If Dr. Oz were to follow Obama’s path, serve a term in the Senate then jump to the White House, I would both eat my hat and chuckle at the irony!


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Tim Keller Strikes Again!

When I grow up, I want to be a wise, old dude. You know, sort of like Kevin Kelly or even better, Tim Keller. Although I am wise enough already to think that may be setting the bar a little high!

Tim (@timkellernyc) recently advised on Twitter, “Never describe the view of an opponent in a way he or she will not own. Rather describe their view so they say, “I couldn’t have put it better myself.” Only then should you proceed to refute the view. If instead you caricature your opponent– you persuade no one.”

My wife just jumped into a seminary apologetics class. Her first assignment requires making a statement contrasting a key point of worldview from another religion to its counterpoint in Christianity.

She quickly realized she could easily, though for a less than stellar grade, simply cite what other Christians said about the Islamic idea she chose. But to really begin to understand, she’d need to read what Muslims say about it. One of her first landing places was “The Quran, With References to the Bible,” by Kaskas and Hungerford.

Doing this will help us get to the starting line Keller advocates. It might also discourage us from passing along statements, statistics and other back stabs that paint Muslims in the worst light possible and create an artificially big and easy target. The results of which Keller claims, “persuade no one.”

If Jesus is who he says he is, he can handle the best Islam has to bring, presented in the best light. Our speech and posture are important in this regard, though they may sometimes be misread as endorsing Islam.

Perhaps it helps if we train ourselves to want Muslims to find fullness of life in Jesus more than desiring to prove Islam wrong. The two choices are not necessarily opposites, but without hesitation, I want to want the first one more.

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Muslims and the Unborn

The Supreme Court of the United States intends to overturn Roe v. Wade, giving back the opportunity to legislate abortion to individual states. There’s no bigger story in the news this week.

This landmark possibility gives us opportunity to consider again some of the challenging questions on which this debate hinges: When does life begin? Whose rights come first, the mom’s or baby’s? And how do we love people who answer the questions differently from us, both those who love Jesus and those who don’t?

Since this is Muslim Connect, I’m also wondering how abortion is viewed in Islam.

Like we see with Christians, Muslims think differently about abortion and each group or school or jurist thinks their view is the right one. Muslims living all over wrestle with allegiance to their faith, the forces of modernization and shifting social mores.

The closest I can find to a general understanding of Muslim thought regarding abortion is this:

  1. Islam values life. 
  2. The Quran doesn’t speak about abortion, but condemns the practice of burying of female babies. 
  3. In a Hadith, Muhammad is recorded to have said, “Every one of you is collected in the womb of his mother for the first 40 days, and then he becomes a clot for another 40 days, and then a piece of flesh for another 40 days. Then Allah sends an angel to breathe the soul into his body.” This leads scholars to say that “ensoulment” happens 120 days after conception. While abortion before that is generally viewed as wrong, it’s much worse after. 

Given the enormity of this possible decision, we have a wonderful opportunity to talk about real stuff. Not just with our Christian sisters and brothers, but Muslims as well. Let’s keep our eyes (and hearts) open.

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