By Ashleigh Morgan
One of my first encounters with Muslims was when I visited a mosque in New York City with a group from the International Mission Board during the month of Ramadan. We entered the mosque with the purpose of taking a tour and learning more about Islam. However, we were soon invited to join the members of the mosque in breaking fast. The imam took us to a gathering place for prayer and a meal. The women were in one room, and the men in another. After the prayer, we sat down and talked with the ladies. They treated us like family. I was overwhelmed by the amount of hospitality that was shown to us–complete strangers. This shattered all my false assumptions of Muslims that I had gathered from the media, which often times portrays them in an unpleasant light. I have since realized that Muslims are some of the most hospitable and welcoming people. I have also been convicted by how often we as Christians neglect to show hospitality to Muslims. Through the refugee crisis, the American church has a unique opportunity—unlike any other generation before—to engage and learn from their Muslim neighbors, specifically their practice of hospitality.
One of the major problems the American church faces when welcoming refugees is fear of the unknown. Many evangelical Christians have had little to no interaction with Muslims, and their view of Muslims is often created by the media. Unfortunately, many times the media emphasizes the work of radical Muslims and the dangers of allowing refugees into the country. With this image of Muslims being depicted, people often subconsciously develop a fear of welcoming Muslims into their homes. However, experiencing the hospitality from Muslims can break this assumption. The hospitality displayed by many Muslims makes a guest feel like royalty. It is centered around generosity and a people-oriented mindset. Many Muslims are willing to give whatever they have to make a guest feel welcomed and comfortable, even if they do not have much. Muslims tend to be people-oriented as well, which means that they are not overly consumed with time. This makes a guest feel relaxed and not like a burden. Both of these aspects of hospitality make a guest feel welcomed and appreciated.
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