When I made the choice to embrace Islam I thought it was one of the best decisions I had ever made. However my friends and family couldn’t understand why I did it. Why did I reject the “family religion” and choose to follow an “Asian” religion? I believe that deep down some of them don’t agree with my decision but they haven’t rejected me. Unfortunately there are new Muslims who have suffered rejection due to their choice. Their friends and family don’t understand how someone can change the religion they were born in to as many simply stay with the family religion.
Before I became a Muslim I was a born-again Christian. Like many I was told that Islam was an Asian religion with a different god among other things and I believed it. I was born into a Christian family (Church of England) and brought up to believe that being a Christian was the only way to heaven. What finally convinced me to accept Islam was when I found out it was not an “Asian Religion” with a different god but something that was very similar to some of the teachings in Christianity.
After years of seeking knowledge from the Bible and the Quran I came to the conclusion that there is no reason whatsoever for Christians and Muslims to reject each other, that they can enjoy a peaceful relationship despite their differences. Both religions teach love, peace and kindness and not to force their beliefs onto each other. I believe both religions need to focus on the things they agree with rather than what they disagree with. Then they will understand that they are not too different.
Unfortunately there are some videos on YouTube that are anti-Islamic which say things that are simply not true or just misunderstood. Some of these videos are made by well-known Christian Apologetics such as Jay Smith and David Wood who can come across as convincing as they quote from the Quran and Hadith. Although some of their accusations have been proven wrong by Muslim preachers such as Shabir Ally there are Christians who tend to believe what the Christian Apologetics have said.
It is unfortunate that certain people allow different beliefs to stop them having relationships with others. But I would ask the question ‘How does my belief in something affect our relationship? What problems does it cause that actually affects you?’ Maybe your Christian friend has heard something bad about Islam. Therefore it is good that you explain that there are many misconceptions about Islam and there are also good and bad Muslims like there are good and bad Christians.
A major difference between Muslims and Christians is the status of Jesus Christ. To the Christians he is the Son of God, part of a Trinity and that people can only go to heaven if they believe he died for their sins. Muslims believe in Jesus as a prophet of God, not a son, no trinity and that God forgives without a blood sacrifice. Countless debates have covered this subject over the years with many people still accepting their own beliefs. Over the years I have talked to Christians about their beliefs and they seem to panic, like I am going to prove them wrong and make them convert to Islam. This kind of fear can affect any form of relationship between Muslims and Christians.
To establish a friendly relationship I believe it is important for both Christians and Muslims, as I said before, to focus on the things that they agree with rather than what they disagree with. To understand that there are differences in beliefs and practises between each other and to respect each other’s right to have an opinion. To ask people how your lifestyle changes actually affects them and why… should your decision not to eat pork actually cause them issues?
As a Muslim my life hasn’t changed to a point where it causes problems for my family and friends. We still enjoy conversations on non-religious topics and I still see them at Christmas. I don’t eat pork but I eat halal turkey. I don’t see the harm of celebrating the birth of Jesus on Christmas day as he is one of our prophets. I enjoy a chocolate egg at Easter although I don’t believe Jesus died and was resurrected. I don’t drink alcohol but I can enjoy other drinks.
If Muslims and Christians accept each other as people and they have their own personal beliefs and practices then there should be no reason why they can’t enjoy a peaceful relationship with each other.