Millions of innocent Muslims are suffering simply because they exist in contexts where Islam is widely loathed and targeted, as I discussed previously
The role of statelessness as a weapon of persecution and dehumanization is a very disturbing trend. These problems warrant the attention of the entire global community, but I believe the Christian community should be especially mindful of the plight of persecuted Muslims.
Within this discourse, I propose the following points for consideration:
- Grave injustices demand responses of great compassion.
Biblical faith is built on the pillars of love and justice, and Scripture is adamant that injustice in all of its forms is intolerable regardless of whom it victimizes.
Christianity possesses a rich heritage crusading causes to magnify human dignity and defend rights; the church must draw from this tradition in her efforts to minister to the persecuted today.
What a testimony it would be to Islam (and the world) if the loudest voices calling for the just, humane treatment of Muslim individuals and communities were Christian voices.
Indeed Christianity has not been silent about the persecution of Muslims as organizations, such as the World Evangelical Alliance, voice an outcry against these blatant injustices.
- Christians must recognize that the persecution of Muslims and the persecution of Christians are dual parts of a single struggle.
Here I invoke words written by U.S. theologian and social reformer Martin Luther King Jr. as he sat in a jail cell, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
Persecuted Christians and persecuted Muslims are jointly suffering at the hands of oppressive powers, and their miseries do not exist in a vacuum.
Numerous contexts where Muslims are persecuted, such as China and India, are places where Christians’ rights are likewise undermined.
All injustices are linked within our shared human context. Christians must care about the persecution of Muslims precisely because they must care about the persecution of Christians.
The world we desire to see is one where all people live free to embrace appropriately their faith without fear of persecution. Christians must be careful not to be exclusive at their own expense; The fight for another’s rights is effectively a fight for one’s own rights.
- The reality of the persecuted Muslim must inform nuanced narratives of Islam.
Narratives are essential to constructing our understandings and shaping our attitudes.
This is particularly important when developing a Christian posture toward Islam (a topic that will receive the Institute of Middle East Studies treatment this June at the Middle East Consultation).
The ways in which we comprehend Islam will invariably impact the ways in which we engage with (or disengage from) the billions of Muslims with whom we share our world, and it is imperative that our paradigms be honest, truthful and well-conceived.
We certainly cannot dismiss the role of conquest, subjection and oppression in the story of Islam.
There are painful facts that must never be ignored or diminished, but to turn these facts into the complete story of contemporary Islam is simply not fair.
Our narratives of Islam must recognize it as a religion that both inflicts persecution and bears it – just as can be said of Christianity or any other major religion.
To pretend that millions of Muslims are not suffering extreme persecution is to be uninformed about Islam and out of touch with our world.
The reality that Islam is under attack in different contexts must contribute to our understanding of Islam’s lived experience today.
A major pitfall when discussing any issue is to focus on the nature of the problem more than the nature of the people affected.
Religious persecution is foremost a matter of individual human lives, and we must never let our view of religions corrupt our view of people.
Christian concern needs to extend to all. As millions of Muslims suffer the misery of persecution, let us actively care in a way that honors all individuals as image-bearers of God worthy of every measure of human dignity. This is the way of Christ.
Editor’s note: This is the second of a two-part series. Part one is available here. A version of this article first appeared on the Institute of Middle East Studies’ blog. It is used with permission. IMES is holding its “Middle East Consultation 2019 – Thinking Biblically about Muslims, Muhamad and the Quran: Practical Implications for the Church Today” on June 17-21 at the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary in Beirut.