I didn’t plan to write this post until last night when I found out that someone tried to set the mosque in my city on fire because the 19-year old Somali immigrant who tried to detonate a bomb during the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony at Pioneer Square in Portland, Oregon occasionally worshiped there.
As soon as my wife and I heard about this we called our Muslim friends to tell them we were praying for them and ask if there was anything we could do. I ended up going to the mosque to talk and eat with the leaders as a sign of my friendship and support.
I arrived right before evening prayers began so after chatting briefly with a few of my Muslim friends, they took their place in line to pray and I sat in the back and waited for them to finish.
After the prayers ended we went downstairs to eat and talk more about what had happened at Pioneer Square and why someone would try to burn down the mosque.
Everyone I talked with shared the same thing; they didn’t want people to think that this terrorist represented them, their mosque or the global system of Islam. Having spent a lot of time with these guys as well as with Muslims around the world, I knew what they were saying is true. We must not believe the major media that makes it seem that terrorism is a foundational part of Islam. The reality is that only about 4% of Muslims world wide are the fanatical types behind acts of terrorism like what happened in Portland.
So I just want to end with this. Please don’t let fear stop you from taking the steps to reach out to Muslims you know. In our post 9/11 world we must not let fear drive up to believe stereotypes and biases about people that are not true. Yes there are people in the world who call themselves Muslims and are doing horrible things. But the reality is there are people from every religion in the world doing things that dishonor God and perpetuate hateful stereotypes, biases and prejudice that divides peoples and cultures. Let’s not let our lives be ruled by fear.