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The Muslim Next Door

How to better understand and befriend women who follow Allah
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Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and our continued military presence in the Middle East, curiosity and confusion among Americans about the religion of Islam has reached an all-time high.

Yet for Muslim-turned-Christian brothers Ergun and Emir Caner, this challenging period comes with treasured opportunities. For more than ten years, these American-raised Turkish brothers, who teach at separate Baptist seminaries and have coauthored two books on Islam, have spoken at churches, conferences, and universities nationwide about their Muslim upbringing and conversion to Christianity. Their hope is to win Muslims to Christ and to share how Christians can lovingly yet courageously present the gospel to their Muslim coworkers, neighbors, and friends.

"We've seen Muslims reconsider their faith in ways we've never experienced before," Emir says. "They're confused with what the Qur'an says about jihad, and how they're supposed to interpret it, for instance. Because of this, I truly believe this is the most open opportunity we've had to share Christ with Muslims in the past century."

According to Emir, more than 34,000 Americans convert to Islam each year. "Because many are marrying Muslim men, 80 percent of these converts are women."

… more than 34,000 Americans convert to Islam each year. "Because many are marrying Muslim men, 80 percent of these converts are women."

Yet because traditional Muslim beliefs about the separation of men and women still influence many Muslim families, the Caners believe Christian women hold the exclusive opportunity of reaching Muslim women with the gospel.

We spoke with Emir and Ergun to find out how we can reach out to the growing number of Muslim women in our communities.

What misconceptions do we have about Muslim women?

Emir: One is that a Muslim woman isn't approachable. A Christian sees a Muslim woman wearing her traditional attire and thinks, I can't speak to her; she's too different. Some Christians also believe that since Islam traditionally is a male-dominated religion, a woman either won't want to speak about her religion or isn't knowledgeable about Islam. But the reality is, a Muslim may be quite open to sharing what her faith means to her.

Ergun: Muslim women also can have misconceptions about American women. Some feel Americans hate them or believe all Muslims desire war. They're cautious of Christianity because they associate it closely with Western culture. They see women on television wearing revealing clothes or sleeping around, and believe all Christians act this way. It's important for Christian women to establish friendships to break down these stereotypes.

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January 22, 2014  4:55pm

I have to agree with Carol here. This article started out promising and then failed so profoundly. Why is it so impossible to consider befriending people of other faiths based on genuine tolerance and respect without having any kind of agenda? How sad and disappointing. Even these former Muslims turned Christians make erroneous statements about Muslim women that reinforce stereotypes and generalizations, particularly assuming that all Muslim women are foreign and submissive to their husbands, and that women convert to Islam solely for men. This denies these women their agency and intelligence.This article clearly demonstrates a LACK of understanding about a faith and people whose experiences are not monolithic. If you're trying to understand Muslim women, then why did you not consult actual practicing Muslim women? Instead the author consults two men who left Islam and, from the sound of it, have no connection to their former faith community. Very little credibility here if you ask me.

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Nancy Stouter

September 10, 2013  11:06am

From my year of reaching out to Muslims in the US I find this article very sound and helpful. Thank you! I need to encourage any woman reading this to try reaching out to Muslim women. Ask God to lead you. Here in Albuquerque there are ways to befriend newly arrived internationals. They need assistance and are so grateful for a true friend. In return, if you truly experience Jesus as your holy Lord (1 Peter 3:15) it will show, and your friend will ask the reason for your hope. This article helps us to see what is involved in answering with "gentleness and respect." That more believers would move from fearing Muslims to extending Jesus' love! If you're afraid to go it alone, you might get help from Crescent Project or other organizations. Look for others in your area reaching out, like our Abq Oasis Team does. We learn together.

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March 27, 2012  3:09pm

@ Safiyyah - Muslims, Christians, and Jews do not basically believe the same thing. Christian believe Jesus is deity and the only way to heaven is through Jesus. Please read the book of John in the New Testament. I pray you will read it with an open heart and hear the Truth. I hope to meet you in heaven in our next life with our Lord Jesus. Blessings to you!

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