Christians Responding to Islam

Over the past week or so, we have seen new violence erupt in the Middle East against Americans and Western nations. U.S. Consulates in Egypt, Libya and India and the U.S. Embassy in Tunis have been attacked causing high levels of damage, injury and the deaths of at least four people including the ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens. There is speculation that the attack in Lybia was the action of al Qaeda, but most of the other protests around the world are in response to a low-budget film produced here in the U.S. that portrays Mohammed as a womanizer, child molester and ruthless killer.

Let’s be clear: the actions of these protestors is inexcusable and we mourn the loss of lives—Americans and nationals. It grieves us to see our flag being burned and our sovereign territory being invaded. Our government is exploring options for retaliation against the people who murdered our ambassador. Even as we grieve and ponder these tragic events, Christians must step back and take a good hard look at our response to Islam.

The 14-minute video that has seemingly triggered the anger of Muslims around the world is intended as an exposé of Islam and Muhammed. I suspect that the director and producer thought that this film would discredit Islam. It isn’t turning out as intended.

Besides reliable sources telling us that the film “contains unproven theories and historical errors about the life of Muhammed,”[1] my question is their intended audience. Do they think that Muslims are going to watch this film and change their mind about what they believe? Do they think that people who have no knowledge of Islam are going to watch the film and now hate Islam? If it’s intended for Christians, what are they expecting Christians to do—rise up against Muslims, murder Muslims, condemn Muslims, hate Muslims, verbally assault Muslims?

I cannot speak for the first two potential target audiences though I would be very surprised if any Muslim responded to the film with a change of heart but rather with feelings of anger and defensiveness (just as many Christians would if the roles were reversed). If the target audience is people who have no knowledge of Islam, I would guess that some will get angry, even potentially violent, but most will probably feel sympathy for Muslims and confirm their perception of Christians as angry and hateful. If the target audience is Christians, then this is most disturbing of all.

If the film maker’s goal is to incite Christians against Islam, then it is evident that the film maker has absolutely no understanding of what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. Can you imagine Jesus, whose response to opposition is the cross, making a film like this? Can you imagine Jesus, who speaks truthfully yet kindly to a Samaritan woman, condoning a film like this? Can you imagine Jesus, who teaches his disciples to love their enemies and to do good to those who persecute them, being pleased with a film like this?

Former Muslim Samer Abraham says of this video: “I personally think that the makers of this movie, didn’t produce it because they love the truth or love Muslims, but because they are carrying out a personal vendetta by trashing its prophet.”[2] Let me quote more of his insightful article:

A true Christian is commanded not to hate anyone; we have to love Muslims. If you do not love them, please leave them alone. Do not shout truth with the breath of hate. If you cannot avoid the breath of hate, please sit down and let those who can tell Muslims the truth with the breath of compassionate love stand up and share it with them. As Ephesians 4:15 reminds us, “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.”

Finally, I personally sympathize with all Muslims (since you remain my people and my family) for the hurt feelings and the insult they suffered. I reject this movie and I testify that it does not truly represent the real Muhammad, the prophet of Islam. In the same time I condemn the violence carried against the US diplomatic missions because violence is a choice among a wide array of possible responses. May God lead us all to genuine repentance over our wrong actions.[3]

This video and all that it has incited has proven to me once again that too many Christians have no idea what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. Far too often we are more concerned with winning than with loving, even though Jesus reminds us that we are called to love—a calling that applies not only to Muslims but to anyone and everyone who looks or thinks or dresses or believes or talks differently from us.

Only the love of Christ will change the world. May God help us love.

[1] Abraham, Samar. “What Just Happened? A Former Muslim’s Thoughts on the ‘Muhammad Video’”.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.