Stereotypes and prejudices are amazingly debilitating.
We avoid things based on what we have heard. What we think we know. We fear the unknown…
Today at my high school I observed the Muslim Student Association prayer as part of an assignment.
I was beyond nervous to do so. For various reasons. My idea of ‘Muslim’ is plagued with pictures of 9/11, Al Qaeda and various other terrorist propaganda.
I was in for a rude awakening.
Despite the obvious differences from Christianity I was blown away by the knowledge these students possessed of their holy text.. Most of which have completely memorized the Qur’an.. I am no genius but I have FAR from memorized the Bible…
Upon the closure of the prayer I conducted an interview with a young Muslim student.
My first question being: What are the major beliefs of your culture or religion?
His response being: A belief in one God, patience, honest, and mercy….
Now, I have been in church for MANY years but boy, did this sound similar to what I have learned. Through this 10 minute interview I learned more about myself, Christianity and Islam than I ever could have hoped to learn. This high school student was able to clearly and distinctly share with me his religion, the similarities to Christianity as well as the difference in beliefs.
I was blown away.
It is funny, many Christians are so wrapped up in themselves that they rarely reach out to truly understand those with different beliefs. Why are we so hesitant to reach out? I think the answer is very clear.. We are hesitant because not only do we fear the unknown but some of us lack some of the basic knowledge concerning our own religion that we fear showing our own ignorance.
Today changed my entire view of the Muslim population. I have a new found respect and appreciation for a population that I held strong stereotypes and prejudices about. I have a new found interest in learning more about the similarities and differences to Christianity. I have a new found respect for the students at my school who were willing to sit down and take the time to explain these things to me.
I encourage you to step outside of your comfort zone and have a deep conversation with someone with differing beliefs. Not an argument. A conversation. How are you alike? Where do you differ? Where did those differences erupt from?
You will truly be surprised..