…So a Pastor, businessman and youth leader went to a Mosque one day…

It’s not a joke – that’s what happened last Friday.  My wife and I and 27 of our friends attended the Friday prayers and sermon at the local Denver mosque with about a 1000 Muslims.  Several things were interesting about this experience.

Not sure if you’ve ever attended a Friday service at a mosque, but here’s what happens.  (It’s a lot like church).  About 10% of the people arrive early. They are the committed ones. They help set up chairs. They arrange for the lunch which is served afterwards in the fellowship hall.  They chat, talk about their week. I heard one fellow telling another that he had a fight with his wife on the way…I’m not kidding.

About 20% show up late. Rush in at the last minute only to find their are no places left inside so they have to go to the overflow room where they watch on the big screen.

The women come inside and go upstairs.  Some of the kids go with them.  Some children stay with the men in the main area.  Some run around. Some sit quietly. Chris had a nice talk with a mom and her 11 year old girls upstairs. The girl liked what Chris said so much that she grabbed her, wrapped her arms around her and wouldn’t let go. Chris has that affect on kids.

It started with prayers. The formal kind.  Then the Imam preached for about 25 minutes.  Talked about the adversity of others hurting us, the devil tempting us and even having abundance. And how we deal with each of them through forgiveness, patience and humility. It was a good talk. Take out the references to the Quran and a little Arabic sprinkled throughout – and you could download it on your podcast, listen and be encouraged.  (They do have them all on podcasts).

Then they closed in some more corporate worship prayers. Everyone filed out. Some left in a hurry – trying to get back to work on time.  Others lingered and chatted. And some joined us in the fellowship hall for Q and A. It was quite pleasant. Everyone was over-the-top hospitable.

Sounds a lot like church.

BUT…..not so fast Mr.-I-love-Muslims-Guy!  Lots of our Christian friends were upset.  For sure they voted against this idea with their feet. They were no-shows.  I invited about 500 of my friends through an email, Twitter, Facebook and my blog.  And then we invited 5 million people through radio. Okay, so the potential listening audience is 5 million. The actual one may have been 5.  But we told all of Denver and the far surrounding regions about this event for two weeks.  EVERYONE should come we kept saying. And 27 showed up? Really?  That’s it?

So some were busy and others forgot. Fair enough. It’s in the middle of the day on a Friday – not exactly a conducive time to take an hour and a half off work or our busy lives. I understand.  But 27 people? I told the Imam to prepare for 200.  I know, I’m always the overly-optimistic one thinking that everybody will love this idea – and I’m usually wrong about that.

The common push-backs have been:

1. Why would a Christian go to a Mosque in the first place?
2. What if they try to convert us?
3. I’m afraid.

And I’d say the last one is fair and honest. But the best way to get over fear is to step into it. It’s love that drives fear out.  Which leads me to answering the first concern.

WHY would we go?  Oh so many reasons.  Mainly because the greatest of all commandments is to love God and love our neighbors.  These Muslims are our neighbors.  We can’t love someone we don’t know. And what a cool opportunity that we can show up at a place on any Friday and just meet a bunch of them. Perhaps we’ll actually start loving some of the ones we meet.  But we for sure won’t love them if we don’t meet them.

And will they try to convert you?  Some might. They think it’s good thing for you to become Muslim. So they’re loving you the way they know how. I didn’t experience that but one person from Friday said that someone (very nicely) asked if he’d ever considered becoming Muslim. The guy said “No” and the conversation continued on. Not too scary.  And…are you afraid they MIGHT convert you?   I wouldn’t think you’d be afraid of that, but….?

Actually the one tough question that the Imam couldn’t answer clearly was when I asked him who his favorite basketball team was. He stumbled around a bit on that one. I KNEW something fishy was going on there, and I found it. He doesn’t have a favorite team. Don’t worry, I called him on it!
We’ll do this again. You should go to a mosque in your city and take some friends. Here’s how you do it. Step by step.

Step #1. Call your local Islamic Center and ask to talk to someone. Say your name.  (Not mine).  Tell them your an ignorant Christian who wants to learn about Muslims and meet some real live ones.

Step #2.  Set up a time to go meet with someone there and arrange the time to bring your friends to the Friday Service.

Step #3.  Go to the Friday service.

(Optional Step #4).  Write a blog about it.

Get out a little and have some fun!

Comments

  1. mikesoderstrom says:

    Awesome! Just a few weeks ago I went to our local mosque. I missed out on the main service in the afternoon but caught a couple people as they were leaving and they invited me back that night for the evening prayers. Besides my wife, I don’t know anyone else that would want to go so it was just me since our kids were in bed by their evening prayer time.
    It was great, and there were just 4 other guys. It was my first time to go to a mosque but I wasn’t that nervous…I think because it wasn’t the main service and I didn’t feel as much out of place. We talked for a while and joked about the Middle East, they told me how much I would love the Middle East once I moved there and how nice the people are. No converting talk, but they were very friendly to help answer any of my questions and explain why they do certain things. I enjoyed every part of it and I hope I can meet with those guys again and take some other friends next time.

  2. Craig says:

    Dare I say I ” felt better ” ( not that feelings should matter regards doctrine ) cominhg out of that Mosque that with Carl and the few Xtians that showed up. MY FIRST TIME IN A MOSQUE apart from foreign sightseeing trips . Perhaps a burden I was unaware of was lifted in this experience.

    I realized, in experiencing the reflective vibe of sincerity and genuine warmth, in a gathering of Muslims that greatly outnumbered we Xtians – that I had held unwarranted inner fear of the “Muslim collective”. I imagine, the same way many of them must fear Xtians collectively…..those flames have been well fanned in history. In the media today a certain focus on certain facts provides a story .There is ” no story ” without a protagonist and an antagonist. I listen to and watch stories, and they can eclipse my ability to see and enter relationships of love, which should come easy because because He loved me first.

    I want to go back, despite differences, a very ” freeing ” experience. Less likely now, to look with “fear of the unknown ” when I see someone in Muslim “uniform ” on the streets of anytown U.S.A. Perfect love casts out fear, and shame on me that 9/11, in particular, increased my fear toward Muslims in general…though I have many precious relationships with friends who are Muslims…. dear, fun friends of integrity. Yet I admit to past fear of the ” Muslim collective ” ?

    Not a dichotomy….who/what we don’t know we often fear – you can’t know a “group ” by definition -you can know and love a person….I am not afraid that my faith in Jesus will be shaken by this experience of ” a collective group of Muslims worshiping Allah ” ….I am glad that I had this experience and will be better able to share the love of Jesus.

    So thanks Carl, I was set free of a fear I thought I did not have- because of my great individual Muslim friends . To hear a religious leader speak frankly of differences of belief, yet speak the name Jesus with such respect,
    and to be treated, and not just upon entering the Mosque , with heartfelt hospitality and warmth from ” a Muslim collective ” was very freeing for me and has equipped me to be more obedient to the command of Jesus.

  3. ricksharp7 says:

    Hey Carl, first off, thanks for setting this up and inviting us last Friday. It was really a great experience. I was blown away by the hospitality that was shown to us, which was better than many churches that I have visited. While there were a few people who seemed unsure of our presence, I think most were very friendly. It was easy to strike up conversations with several of the Muslim men.

    I’ll admit that the Imam took a few pot shots at our faith. But that’s nothing to fear if you are secure in your own faith. Not to mention that I would expect nothing less from “our side.” However, I didn’t find the Imam’s comments to be disrespectful or condescending in any way.

    I brought my wife Jenn, who knows even less about Muslim culture than I do (if that’s possible). She really felt welcomed, and connected with some of the women there. Even though I was more interested in going than she was, I think she left more excited than I did.

    I am looking forward to my next opportunity to get to know Muslims. And going as a part of a group like this will make it easier for me to contact my local Mosque. So, thanks for making this happen!

  4. Col says:

    Would you say the same about visiting a Hindu temple?

  5. Carl Medearis says:

    Regarding a Hindu temple – not sure. I’ve never been. And never been around Hindus. But my guess is that I would not feel the same. Every people, religious grouping and nationality is quite different. But it’s a good question.

    I’d say that visiting a mosque is more like going to a Jewish Synagogue or a Catholic church. But awkward for me as I grew up Protestant. But both monotheistic and much in common. (Not everything in common….). While Hinduism is very different and doesn’t even claim to be worshipping the one true God.

  6. travist81 says:

    Carl,

    I agree with you. The only religious group I’ve been learning about and living amongst are Muslims. In SE Asia there’s a Hindu population and I thought I could interact with them the same way I did with Muslims. I went into a temple, went to a Hindu festival, and talked to a few Hindus, but it wasn’t the same. I feel more comfortable being in a Mosque compared to a Hindu temple due to the fact Muslims claim to worship the God of Abraham.

  7. sq says:

    Have visited many a jummah service myself. I agree that it’s a good thing to do.

    Any plans to have a group of Muslims visit your church? Would you anticipate any similar push-backs from Muslims?