7 Ways to Love Your (Muslim) Neighbor
BY NF STUDIO
Every Christian is familiar with Matthew 22:39, in which Jesus teaches that the commandment to “love thy neighbor as thyself” is second only to the one to “love the Lord thy God.” Where social conventions and etiquette are concerned, showing people of your own faith or culture that you care about them is fairly straightforward: you might pray for them, hug them, or leave some homemade cooking on their porch. However, you may be wondering how to best show love for Muslims in your community in culturally appropriate ways.
If so, you’re already on the right track: having humility, self-awareness, and a willingness to learn are a great foundation for making thoughtful friendships. Your Muslim neighbors may have endured everything from hate crimes and racist or misogynist slurs to daily microaggressions in their lives, all of which are deeply wearying at best. That’s why it’s especially important to be kind, humble, and considerate toward those who feel vulnerable because of their faith. Here are some ways to do this:
Invest in understanding the essentials of Islam and Muslim cultures. Educate yourself about major elements of Islam and differences between various Muslim subcultures. Eliminating as many misconceptions about both as you can through cultural education is a great way to show that you care. An easy way to get started is to subscribe to one or more newsletters that report on topics impacting Muslims in the US. You can find more information about etiquette for in-person interactions here.
Send a greeting card or letter to a local mosque expressing your appreciation and support of its role in the community. You can send good wishes on an Islamic holiday (do a little research on etiquette first; see some common greetings here). You can also send a general message of goodwill at any other time of year. Offer your support, but avoid placing demands on the time or effort of mosque leaders in terms of responding to your message. Never leave an unattended package of any kind at a mosque.
Volunteer with or donate to an organization to help welcome Muslim refugees to your community. Welcoming and supporting Muslim refugees is a great way to show neighborly love. It’s best to volunteer with or donate to a humanitarian organization with the expertise to serve such populations effectively. Unless you know otherwise, however, never assume that Muslims in your community are new US residents, illegal US residents, or refugees. Many have decades or generations of history in America.
Invite a Muslim neighbor on your street to dinner or ask your church to organize a meal for Muslims in your community. First, do a little research on halal (permitted) foods and haram (prohibited) foods for appropriate menu options. Consider asking your intended companion if they have a favorite meal or restaurant to recommend. When you invite them, clarify that you simply want to get to know them better and that there will be no proselytizing at the meal.
Prevent bullying by teaching kids about Islamophobia. If you have children of your own, are a teacher, or otherwise have a leadership or caregiver role with children, teach them that bullying is wrong. Explain what Islamophobia looks like at school and elsewhere and equip them with strategies for dealing with it. You can find more resources on this here.
Follow a Muslim artist, performer, entrepreneur, or influencer on social media. One of the best ways to show love to people who are Muslim is to appreciate them for their talent as a whole human being, not just as a member of a religion. Discovering someone’s talent or vision is fun and inspiring, and you can learn a lot about how their faith intersects with their interests and lifestyle. You can support them by leaving positive comments and likes, purchasing their products, and recommending their work to others.
Read and learn about other effective ways to become an ally to Muslims. Sometimes just being open to others’ experiences and advice—what’s working in current efforts toward allyship and what’s not—can be a great way to show love for Muslim neighbors and communities. You can ask your Muslim neighbors, acquaintances, and friends about this too. Just be sure to do so in a context where they seem comfortable or eager to talk about the subject, not in a way that taxes their time, energy, or emotions.
"EDUCATE YOURSELF ABOUT MAJOR ELEMENTS OF ISLAM AND DIFFERENCES BETWEEN VARIOUS MUSLIM SUBCULTURES."
Make New Muslim Friends with Neighborly Faith
Neighborly Faith is a student-led organization committed to bringing Christians and Muslims together and creating real friendships with neighbors of all faiths. We share the expertise of Evangelical scholars and practitioners to train a generation of leaders to love and lead like Jesus in a diverse world.
Our Boundless Program connects Christian students with influential Muslims in their field in online and in-person learning and networking opportunities. Our Fellows Program is a competitive fellowship that will equip a cohort of Evangelical college students to lead initiatives that seek justice for and build friendships with people of other faiths in their communities.
If you’re interested in leading with a neighborly faith, contact us today!