I am a Christian. At many times in my life I have been blessed by Muslims and by Islam. I would like to share that blessing. The full series of reflections may be found here.
The first blessing, and in many ways the most important, is friendship.
I once shared an apartment with three men for a year, all of us of different ethnicities and religious commitments: an orthodox Muslim of Pakistani descent, a progressive Jew of European ancestry, a black Evangelical Christian, and I, a white mainline Protestant. We came from all different regions of the United States, and we are all US citizens.
It was a good year.
My Muslim roommate was the peacemaker among us, often counseling us individually and together when conflicts arose.
His mother came to cook for us. The apartment never smelled so good as when she was there. Trust me.
He and I stood in his room watching on TV, solemnly and with great dread, for a long time, the US Shock & Awe campaign launched in Baghdad. We did not sit down.
Each day, throughout the day at appointed times, he would discreetly close his door to pray. Every day.
He taught us Arabic and Urdu phrases.
We watched him stoically progress through the Ramadan fast, and celebrate the breaking of the fast.
He listened to me talk about Jesus.
He laughed with me.
A year later, he traveled a great distance to be in my wedding. Despite religious and cultural norms that would discourage his participation in a Christian wedding, he fully participated.
Today he is a lawyer who upholds the US Constitution, advocates for justice under our nation’s laws, and lives a devout, orthodox life in submission to God.
He is my friend. His spirit and our life together made it so.
There is a branch of Islam, Sufism, that speaks of God as the Friend.
My roommate is not a Sufi. But when I think of my friend, who believes in the revelation of God differently than I do and yet as I also do, I think: I see that Friend in him.
And I give thanks.