How to Start a Conversation with a Muslim Woman
Suppose you’re walking past the frozen foods in the supermarket. Suddenly, you see the form of a woman, her face hidden completely or wrapped tightly in a black scarf. What do you do? Do you look away and pretend you didn’t notice? Do you stare? Of course not.
Start with Hello and a Smile
You smile, nod, and perhaps say hello. Really, that’s just good manners.
Muslims are strangers, foreigners in our midst. Many of them are actually Americans. Some were born here. Some came as children or adults and later received citizenship. Some have converted to Islam for the sake of marriage or out of conviction. Regardless, all are strangers, outsiders in our country, and they know it.
Our responsibility as Christians is to welcome them. The Bible is clear,
“You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God” (Lev. 19:34).
When we greet our Muslim neighbor, we show them the heart of God.
Take an Interest in Who they Are
Often, God brings Muslims right into our lives. Recently, I spent six hours seated beside an Iraqi Muslim woman on a flight from Europe to the US. During the dinner service I said hello. Later, I began to talk with her.
The easiest and most respectful way to get to know a Muslim woman is to ask her about her family. The questions are simple: Do you have children? Boys or girls? How old are they? What are they doing? Is your husband with you? What does he do?
After you’ve asked about your new companion’s immediate family, ask about her parents. Are they alive? Where are they? Most Muslim women are delighted to talk about their family and honored when you show an interest in knowing who they are.
The next step is hospitality. Invite your new friend for tea or coffee. Welcome her to your home, or, if there’s a coffee shop nearby, you can invite her there. Hospitality is central to most Muslim cultures and your invitation will be appreciated. Beware though. Many cultures require a person to wait until the third invitation before accepting. Don’t be shy. Insist upon your invitation until your new friend says yes.
Respect Her Culture
You may not understand your new friend’s culture and that’s okay. You can ask her to teach you what’s appropriate for her and what isn’t. There are some general things you should remember. Most Muslim cultures segregate men and women to at least some degree. You should respect that segregation. That is, men develop friendships with men and women develop friendships with women. Don’t try to develop a friendship with a Muslim of the opposite sex. They will likely misunderstand your intent to the shame of you both.
Also, remember that Muslims do not eat pork and observant Muslims do not drink alcohol. If you invite someone to your home, you may do well to promise that you will not serve pork or alcohol.
Be Open About Who You Are
Whenever you’re interacting with a neighbor, Muslim, non-Christian or Christian, be open about who you are. If Christ is important to you, say so. If your new Muslim friend respects God, she will respect your faith and will probably want to talk about God with you. Let the conversation flow naturally and trust God to lead. You will undoubtedly find yourself richer for the experience.
Have you had any interaction with a Muslim woman? If not, would you ask God to send one your way?
This post was written by Kate McCord.
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