Muslims often come to Christ in the context of friendship, and friendship can begin with a simple greeting:
"May peace be upon you."
It can be muttered in passing or proclaimed loudly. Accompanying this blessing of peace can be a glance, a head nod, or just a cautious smile. Then a light grip between my pale right hand and her darker one. That handshake can lead to a kiss where cheeks touch, where a veil is shifted to welcome me into her personal space.
In my years of relating with Muslim women, I have found that with some women, it stops there. Pleasantries are exchanged and we move on. It is run-of-the-mill politeness, and I have come to expect nothing less – and sometimes, nothing more.
But there are other women with whom the conversation moves on. Starting with, "What is your news?" it can deepen to "What is your faith?" They may open their homes and, after some time, even their hearts.
Amina was one such open woman I met at a park not long ago. With a quiet "Salaamu alaikum (peace be upon you)," she sat next to me under an awning covered with flowering vines.
We were past formalities when she shared, "I come here to pray, to recite verses from the Quran as I walk." She showed me a little book of surahs and the prayer beads she carried.
Then Amina startled me with her confession: "When I walked into the garden today, I saw you and a voice inside me said, She will be your friend. This is why I came over to talk with you."
My eyebrows raised. A voice inside you? Clearly, this was no chance meeting. This was what I call a divine appointment. And it all started with a simple greeting.
Jesus used a greeting similar to the Muslim "Salaamu alaikum" when appearing to his disciples after his resurrection. His words "Peace be with you," are recorded twice in John 20. His greeting made his friends aware of his presence, resulting in their joy and belief in Him (see John 20:19-29).
"Peace I leave with you," Jesus said (John 14:27). He encouraged his friends who believed in God to "believe also in Me" (John 14:1). With Jesus as our Lord, we can be ambassadors of peace to Muslims who may in turn believe in Him.
It is true that some Muslims persecute Christians. But it is also true that many, many Muslim individuals are peace-loving. Like Amina, they are curious about Jesus, and may even desire a Christian friend.
In the coming year, I hope to share a realistic picture of Muslims and explore ways God is working among them. One of the primary ways Muslims come to faith in Jesus is through the consistent witness of a Christian friend (source).
Although God alone orchestrates "divine encounters," I believe Christians must take the initiative to befriend and reach out to Muslims. That could mean shopping where they shop, sitting down beside someone new on the bus, or greeting your Muslim professor or classmate.
Muslims often come to Christ in the context of friendship, and friendship can begin with a simple greeting. What's more, when the children of God speak those peace-filled words, they are backed by the authority of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace. May His peace be upon us all.
"Anna" blogs about friendship, culture, and Kingdom-living from her home in the Middle East. She loves Jesus and wants to see Him cherished by her neighbors and people everywhere. Anna will be posting on the Persecution Blog each month. Feel free to ask questions or suggest future topics in the comments section for this post. Anna is a pseudonym, and all names in her posts are changed for security reasons.
Join the Discussion: Have you ever tried to befriend a Muslim? What are the obstacles to meeting Muslims in your city?