Muslims are certainly prominent in the news recently. The plan of building a mosque two blocks from Ground Zero has triggered all kinds of feelings and opinions. Then, there is the mistaken idea that President Obama is Muslim.
There is a large Muslim community where I live in Fishers, Indiana, which is about two miles from Indianapolis. The Muslim community built a school in Fishers a few years ago, which is accredited for preschool children through eighth grade.
I also participate with Muslim women in classes at the Y. I am sympathetic toward them, as their heads are always covered, which in high impact aerobic classes can mean a lot of sweat. They also wear long pants and long sleeve blouses where others wear shorts and tank-tops.
One day I was waiting for a class to start at the Y. I noticed a Muslim woman sitting on a bench, outside the exercise room, reading out loud from a book. She was completely oblivious to the crowd that was standing around her. I sat down next to her, where I could see book more closely. The letters were Arabic, so I assumed she was reading the Koran. When she paused, I asked what she was reading. She told me about goodness, peace, and love, which were described in the passages. I commented that those ideas were also in the Bible. She smiled and we continued talking, realizing that we had many similar ideas despite our faith differences. She told me about her family, her move to the United States, and her adjustment to a different culture.
I felt God's presence deeply between us as we talked. Too quickly, my class began, for I really wanted to talk further. However, every time we see each other at the Y, we shake hands. Each time, I feel God's presence deeply between us, and I thank God for the interaction we share that truly was a mutual bridge of acceptance.
God, I thank you for the differences that exist among your people. I also thank you for the way that in differences we can, with desire, find common ground. Help us to view all of your children with love and acceptance.
Jacquie Reed,Fishers, Indiana