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Embrace Muslim neighbors; they are not the enemy

28 May 2011 General 10 Comments Email This Post Email This Post
By Mark Pfeiffer/Special to the Express-News

A Saudi engineering student shed a tear, but it took three long years.

He was excited when he arrived in the United States, having observed the country from afar through television and movies. But his excitement faded. He had been studying here for three years, and during all that time had hoped to befriend a typical American family.

He wondered whether life here is really like what he sees on television. Now, after all these years, he has finally received a dinner invitation from an American family.

A woman in flowing robes and head scarf quietly moves up and down the aisles at the local grocery store. She misses her parents, brothers and sisters, and her aunts and uncles back home.

She has come to this country, along with her husband, in order to give her young children a quality education and better life. But she is painfully lonely — accustomed to either stares, looks of suspicion, or worst of all, being ignored.

But today, she beams with joy, as a non-Muslim woman looks her in the eye, smiles warmly, and greets her in a way that reminds her of home and touches her heart: “ Salaam.” Could this be the day she makes her first non-Muslim friend?

Your Muslim neighbor may be a recent immigrant who has left his home and family, the comfortable and familiar, and is now struggling in a confusing and complex new culture. Or she might have lived here 20 years, but while appearing to fit in, has never felt accepted and a part of her neighborhood and community.

A Muslim doctor never experiences this. In fact, she feels like no one truly knows her.

She enjoys the interactions with her patients in the examining room and hallways of her office. Her patients seem nice enough; no one is deliberately rude. Yet when she returns home, she feels isolated and ostracized by her neighbors.

Sometimes she wishes she could shout from the rooftops, “I hate terrorism as much as you do!” She knows the hallmark of Christianity is love. Why does she so seldom experience it?

Although these are composite experiences of real Muslims who live and work all around us, these Muslims are “us.” They are a part of “we the people.” They are not “the enemy.”

If Christians are to love, bless and pray for those who persecute them, a Christian can never really consider anyone his or her enemy. Further, we are taught to love our neighbors, and Jesus scolds us for only loving those who love us. Thus, there is no group of people that falls outside the category of “neighbor.”

Loving our neighbors does not mean simply bringing no harm to them. It is not a passive matter, but a command to act. If we are to obey Jesus’ teaching, we must embrace Muslims and through our lives minister to them God’s love, acceptance, encouragement, compassion and comfort.

If we do not befriend Muslims for the sake of loving them, then why not at least for the sake of enjoying the experience of learning about someone who might come from an ancient and fascinating culture? Why not befriend a Muslim for the sake of enjoying the company of someone who might prepare food in delicious and unique ways, who views God through a different lens, and who exhibits hospitality, genuine friendship and loyalty in ways that might surprise you?

We have nothing to fear from the vast majority of Muslims. Rather, let us acknowledge and welcome the contributions they make to our communities, befriend them, and enjoy the mutual enrichment we can bring to each others’ lives.

Mark Pfeiffer is adjunct professor of Islamic studies at Baptist University of the Americas and director of the Christian Institute of Islamic Studies ( Muslim neighbors; they are not the enemy

Original post: Embrace Muslim neighbors; they are not the enemy


  1. If you trust these people you fool!! Just take a look at what they do and that violent religion, Do you think they care about this country? Can’t trust them in the military cant trust them at all i have fought against them do not not trust these people at all! When the time come and it will they start blowing thing up in this contry trying to spread fr they going kill kid’s this what they coward asses do! I don’t trust the dirty bastards and if any body country do you stupid.

  2. I’ve been been those country off and on for years they not the enemy keep thinking that! I will never let guard down around them or stop thinking they not the enemy i know better crap than that, A lot of people better wake the enemey my be next door and if it’s a true die hard muslim they are your enemy cause to them you are.

  3. I have to agree. The muslim people are not our enemies. I have had the privilege to have muslim friends for more then 31 years and they have been nothing but compassionate , loyal and beautiful people to me and my wife. As well as other neighbors that we have become friends with. They have shown more then what I have expected towards their disgust towards terrorism and only logic and hope for the world. They respect our home and our choice in life as do we with them.
    Blind hatred is nothing but ignorance.

  4. Thank you for this wonderful article! I am sick and tired of people talking about our Islamic brothers and sister as “them.” They want the same things for their children, their families and their lives. We are fortunate to have them come here and share their gifts and insights. The first two comments made me so sad – when will we ever learn?


  5. I agree with you; you have given me a challenge to invite a Moslem (I’ll try to find one in this very conservative community) to my home. I only object to your inference that it is only the Christians who can show love. I don’t profess to be a Christian; I embrace all those women and men who defy logic by loving the unloved. Don

  6. Loving our neighbor is also about being truthful and honest with them. We must all study the ideology of Islam, know its history, its teachings and the historical example of its founders. We must be willing to tell our Muslim neighbors that there our many things in Islam that a person of good will cannot accept and as Christians, where we agree and disagree. As citizens of a free world we must proclaim universal human rights for all, to all and above any religion and or ideology. Barbarism will not be tolerated. The murderously intolerant will be exposed for the human evil that they do and for the havoc that they wreck upon our one common humanity. Truth always, filled with compassion, but cunning as snakes in our disernment of human evil and our battle against it. Loving our neighbor and the protection of innocents should be our two highest goals. Keep Yesuha of Nazareth always in the forefront and let our light shine before our neighbors so that they might know the Prince of Peace. Peace of the Universe to all creation with good will in their hearts.

  7. @Melvin
    Your racial view of the world as “us vs them”. All what you said about Muslims is simply spectacular that has no real bases.

  8. why does this little girl’s flag only have 30 stars on it? is she some sort of mexican muslim subversive trying to take us back to 1830’s borders? that might be why she’s hidding her face!!!

  9. Dear Mark,

    There is an elephant in the room called ‘jihad’.

    We are all afraid. There have been 18,000 deadly jihad attacks since 9-11. When we go to the airport, we are aware that this is real, not an drill.

    Islamic apartheid is an essential of the faith (usul deen). It is very difficult to befriend someone whose religion makes it a fundamental doctrine not to befriend you!

    You are asking Muslims to pretend that al-walaa wal-baraa is not essential.

    Every time we go to the airport, we are reminded that this is real and not just a drill!

    Islam is at war with modernity. It is absurd to pretend otherwise,even though individual luke-warm Muslims may be ignoring the essential tenets
    of their religion. They are ‘hypocrites’ according to Islam’s great teachers and Mohammed.

  10. […] is a link to an article he wrote “Embrace Muslim neighbors; they are not the enemy.” On May 1, 2012   /   Front Page   /   Leave a […]

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