1. Remember, Muslims are people. Sounds obvious, but is it? Because of the frequent reports we see on TV about Muslim extremists, it is easy for some to “dehumanize” Muslims, forgetting that they are people, too. Muslims, like everyone else in the world, have personal needs. They need a friend, sympathy, help, advice, comfort, and in many cases, the physical necessities of life. The whole atmosphere of your relationship with a Muslim can be changed by ministering to them at their point of need, just as Christ did with people in His day.
2. Don’t fall for stereotypes or perpetuate them. Muslims are not all alike. Just because someone says they are Muslim does not mean they fit into a certain profile or mold. There are many divisions and sects of Islam, including:
• Sunnis – Follow the Quran and Hadith (written traditions about Muhammad)
• Shias – Follow the Quran and the present day Ayatollahs. For a Shia, the word of a living Ayatollah is law.
• Sufis – Mystics who desire direct contact with God. They are not opposed to the law but cannot live with the dryness of sterile laws.
• Folk Muslims – A broad category that includes people who practice local forms of spiritualistic and animistic religions under an Islamic cover. These people acknowledge spirits and seek to appease them, contain them, or employ them either to keep evil away or bring it about.
• Nominal Muslims – They are Muslim in name but not in devout practice and can be found in any of the groups mentioned above. They may have adopted the Muslim label because their parents were Muslim or just to fit in with the culture in a country.
The key here is to get to know the person and don’t assume you know everything about them when you find out they are “Muslim.” You would not want someone to label you a particular way when they find out you are Christian (think about military Crusades from the past or some forms of “Christianity” you see on TV). Treat others the way you would want to be treated, with respect and a desire to get to know them rather than label them.
3. Make Christ the issue. When sharing our faith, it is important to remember that we are sharing Jesus Christ, not a political philosophy, lifestyle, cultural mandate, or anything else above Him. Much good and bad has come from both “Christian” and Islamic cultures throughout the centuries. We are not comparing the two; we are pointing to Christ alone who transcends both.
4. Don’t base your relationship with them on whether or not they trust Christ. Do you like for someone to pursue a friendship with you and then abandon you if you don’t agree with something they believe or don’t comply with their wishes? We are not called to be salespeople. We are called to engage and love people while at the same time pointing them to Christ.
For further reading on this subject, we recommend the book Healing the Broken Family of Abraham: New Life for Muslims.