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Muslims Next Door

June 6, 2016

MUSLIMS NEXT DOOR: Uncovering Myths and Creating Friendships by Shirin Taber (2004, Zondervan) is an easy to use volume of personal stories of the author, an introduction to Muslim history and culture along with specific steps to build bridges of hospitality to the increasing populations of Muslim families integrating North America. Sharin Taber writes from the perspective of having an Iranian father who was Muslim and a mother who was Roman Catholic but who was impacted by evangelical youth ministry as a teenager this combined with extensive travel around the world and especially the Middle East gives her a unique position to correct misconceptions and stereotypes. The 135 page book is divided into 11 chapters and a helpful glossary. Each chapter closes discussion and reflection questions which are a valuable addition. The book is focused on ease of use so it presents a lot of the “whats” of Muslim culture rather than focusing on explaining the “whys” for example we learn, “Unlike Westerners, many Muslims are “event-oriented” rather than “time oriented”(p. 97). This insight in and of itself is helpful in providing culturally sensitive hospitality but no where do we explore or understand why and where the different perspectives  originated or were developed. The sections dealing specifically with areas of interaction   like, in the neighborhood, at work, at school and spiritual conversations were very practical and useful.The case study focusing on hospitality on pages 91-95 was convicting because before reading this book I would have behaved just like the youth pastor featured in the story, I hope now I would be more intentionally sensitive. This is an important topic and one I have not read a great deal about. This book is a solid starting point for real help and as a spring board for further more in depth study..

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