I could tell you many stories of the Muslim women I know. I could tell of their compassion, kindness and hospitality, of hard work, perseverance and intelligence. Today I heard this expression from a news interview: Let the Muslim Women Speak.
Can we do that? Instead of telling their stories, let them speak and let us really listen. Ask the questions you have from an honest heart, instead of repeating stereotypes you have heard.
“Who are you and what do you want me to know about yourself?”
“Tell me about your faith and what you believe.”
“What have been your experiences of living in America?”
I work together with my husband with Peace Catalyst International in the Northwest region of the U.S.. We seek to build bridges between communities of Muslims and communities of Christians as well as any other communities who would like to join this movement. We sponsor events bringing communities together. Sometimes we have small peace feasts – dinners where we can all get to know each other better. At a recent gathering we asked the question, “What does your name mean?” We went around the table and told the stories we knew about our names. It was a lively discussion, and we all learned so much about each other.
I attended a photo exhibition a few weeks ago by Courtney Christianson. “Redefining We” was all about focusing on our similarities rather than our differences. It is a beautiful exhibit of Muslim women and other American women participating in the same event, whether it was a sport, dance, pouring tea or just being with family or friends. Many different kinds of women came to view these photos and discuss questions about our lives and our faiths.
Building harmony between people of different religions is a vital cause. Can we let the Muslim women speak and listen with an open heart? We perhaps will be surprised about how many hopes and dreams we have in common. Can we move beyond our fears and reach out to one another, and in so doing build bridges of peace, love and understanding? I know we can! Join the many women who are already doing this (and don’t forget to mark & visit #muslimwomansday on Twitter – the very first Muslim Woman’s Day was March 27, 2017!) and invite your neighbor, co-worker or another mother at school who is Muslim to coffee or dinner and let friendship begin.