What happens when an anthropologist who happens to be a Pakistani, a former diplomat and a member of the Incident Management Team of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security shows up at 100 American mosques armed with questionnaires and a few white student research assistants? For the most part, nothing very controversial.
What do Christians mean when they say that God is love? How do we answer that question in a dialogue between Muslims and Christians, which is to say, in a tension-filled intellectual space of wrestling to understand and articulate our similarities and differences with regard to what it means to love God and neighbor?
I travel to the Middle East at least once each year, often visiting
multiple countries. I belong to an evangelical-Muslim discussion group
which meets annually, and the participants include pious, brilliant,
generous Muslim scholars whom I count as my friends. When a topic like
"Islamophobic America" comes up, I share intense personal e-mails with
them. But I came away from my trip to the Middle East this past summer with some new concerns.
Amy Frykholm posted yesterday about Muhammad Musri, the
Muslim leader who met with Terry Jones and helped defuse last week's
Qur'an-burning situation. If more Christians and Muslims knew one another
personally, the whole furor may not have occurred in the first place.
Outrage is pouring in from all sides — as
it should. Terry Jones is the kind of ”pastor” who gives clergy a bad
name; the kind of ”Christian” who affirms the worst suspicions of
skeptics and cynics. His plan to burn copies of the Qur’an on Saturday (September 11) is a stunt both feeble and horrifying.