As a practicing Christian who believes that following Christ entails loving all people without judgement and condemnation, I thought I was a voice crying out in the wilderness until, unintentionally, I came across Lee Weisseman’s @JihadiJew twitter page (Lee wrote a chapter in Qasim’s book) with his posts on acceptance of Muslims as well as Qasim’s retweeted posts regarding increasing understanding and dialogue among all religions. Qasim’s book, Talk to Me, Changing the Narrative of Race, Religion and Education, was displayed on his twitter page for pre-order, so I promptly ordered his book and tweeted on his page that I was looking forward to reading his book. Qasim has 19.5 K twitter followers so I didn’t expect a reply. However, very quickly he tweeted me back and told me he hoped I enjoyed reading his book as much as he enjoyed writing the book.
While reading his book, I perceived the same gentle, open spirit in his interactions with people of all races and religions (except when he was a teenager in which he can be forgiven for) including those who are vehemently opposed to Islam. Qasim intersperses his stories with those of other writers of various races and religions. His book is serious and humorous, but with the single thread of intent allowing us to see we are all interconnected, we all suffer when treated unjustly, and by dialoguing with each other we can reach God’s beautiful purpose of peace. We can alleviate suffering instead of causing suffering by increasing our understanding of each other, thereby opening our hearts to loving.
The Muslim and Jewish God is the same God Christians worship. Qasim has a heart for God, evident from the very first page in his acknowledgments, “Above all, it is by the sheer Grace of Almighty that this book was possible. I thank Him for removing all difficulties, and praise Him for His strength, His protection, and His knowledge.” I sobbed reading this very first sentence because of the struggles I’ve faced with my brothers and sisters in Christ who focus on the differences between the People of the Book oftentimes based on stereotypes, propaganda, and prejudice, and not on that which binds our hearts together; our love of God.
Reading Qasim’s book encouraged my heart, and I know my struggles in promoting love and acceptance through the guidance of God’s Holy Spirit, are minimal compared to the struggles Qasim has faced including death threats. I challenge Christians to read his book, pray for wisdom and discernment, pray for the leading of the Spirit to take courageous action to fulfill God’s will in allowing His light to open our eyes. I find when I “love God with all my heart, all my soul, and all my mind,” He gives me the capability to “love my neighbor as myself.” Jesus aptly demonstrated in the parable of the Good Samaritan that our neighbor isn’t that person who is in our church who looks like us, and acts like us, but it is the foreigner, the person of another religion that you’ve never spoken to, and perhaps even avoid because in your understanding they have not received salvation like you have. But, because you refuse to interact with Muslims or Jews, you never quite understand they have the same love for God and their neighbor that we are to demonstrate in our actions. It was the despised Samaritan who displayed the most love and compassion for the injured man, and not the men who knew the law forwards and backwards. Jesus teaches in this parable that it is the heart of love and compassion, and not whether a person is following the letter of the law perfectly that fulfills the two most important commandments. Qasim clearly demonstrates his love of God, and how to love our neighbors.