Muslims and Mennonites

There is often misunderstanding between Christians and Muslims to the point of hatred, threats and killing. Mennonites believe that we need to try and understand each other in order to live side by side in the 21st century and relate to those of other faiths. Calvin Shenk, a Mennonite religion scholar with much experience living in Muslim countries, writes (see note below), “In order to ease misunderstandings and promote dialogue, we need to learn about what Islam actually teaches and also seek relationships with Muslims as people.” He notes that our actions and a life of love modeled on Jesus’ example speak more than any words we might say. While there are many similarities between the two religions, there are also many differences, and many different kinds of Muslims, just as there are Christians (or Mennonites!). Many Muslims feel that modern terrorists have “hijacked” the Islam religion for their cause (just as some religious persons try to hijack Christianity and make it serve their needs and biases.) By trying to understand Islam more fully and relating in love to persons of other religions, we offer a faithful Christlike witness to our Muslim brothers and sisters around the world and next door.

There have been four dialogues between Shi’i Muslim and Mennonite Christian academics, the most recent in 2011. Some papers from these conversations have appeared in academic journals and books.

Note: For a more thorough treatment, Understanding Islam: A Christian Reflection on the Faith of our Muslim Neighbors by Calvin E. Shenk, go here for a free PDF of the booklet.

Also see: Anabaptists Meeting Muslims: A Calling for Presence in the Way of Christ, edited by James R. Krabill, David W. Shenk, Linford Stutzman. Available from Herald Press.

Another prolific author with many years experience in Muslim countries is David W. Shenk, with four books (Herald Press): Christian. Muslim. Friend: Twelve Paths to Real Relationship; A Muslim and Christian in Dialogue; Journeys of the Muslim Nation and the Christian Church; and Teatime in Mogadishu, written with Ahmed Ali Haile.