Building bridges with Muslims

An event popped up on my Facebook feed last night:

“Learn Islam” Classes for New Muslims and Others
These classes are designed for new Muslims and others who want to learn the basics of Islam.
When: Saturdays, 9:45AM – 1:00PM
Where: Fischer Middle School Room 107 (during Al Falah Academy classes)
1305 Long Grove Dr.
Aurora, IL 60504
(this is an ongoing series, so if you’re interested you should come)

I fall in the Others category, but as a lover of learning and a believer that all truth is God’s truth, I went. It was very rewarding to go because I to alter Thomas Aquinas’ quote of “beware the man of one book” I go by “beware the man of only one set of friends”.

I have always been a fan of diversity, and when it comes to people who are diverse, I love them and what they bring to the table. I have a limited knowledge of Islam based on what I have learned and my few Muslim friends who have graciously let me into their lives, their stories.

The reason why I have entitled this post as “building bridges with Muslims” is because there’s a symbiotic relationship in the development; sure I could easily be the one building a bridge to, but this is life, to build bridges there needs to be people on both ends willing to venture out into the sometimes unknown. Unknown isn’t a word that offers up much hope, it is unnerving and it is radical, but my hope isn’t tied up in the unknown. My hope is tied up into something…someone bigger than all my fears, concerns, and ultimately the unknown.

Before I write out a tangent about bridges I am building, have built with others I will say this; if I let fears, concerns, the unknown grasp me and strangle me I would not be the person who I am today. Hope keeps me afloat when I am drowning in my own thoughts. God sustains me and my hope even in times when I am utterly and dreadfully hopeless.

Back to the entry at hand… I was encouraged by today’s get together, because it was a classroom setting of both men and women, taught by both men and women. There was a lot of discussion, interaction, dialogue, and listening. Sure it took some interesting twists and turns, but I can handle that, I in fact like that at times. 🙂 The men whom I talked to were very kind and answered my questions. I did ask them about their stories, where they came from and where they are now today, both from an Islamic standpoint but also their life stories. I won’t disclose them, but one thing I will say is this pertaining to stories and people; people have stories, and people want to be heard, it is healthy and a good thing to get there with people from all walks of life.

This is a weekly get together and I intend to go back next Saturday. I like the group already because they too want to build bridges, they too want to dialogue about commonalities instead of differences. There is no us versus them, there is only we. It is my desire to build that bridge with Muslims as a follower of Isa, there won’t be any converting on my part, only listening and dialoguing and ultimately loving.

“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: “What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . .”” – C.S. Lewis