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Relating to Muslim Women

(Ministry to Muslim Women)


Hi! My name is Krista and I work for a campus ministry that seeks to serve Muslim international students studying in colleges and universities around North America.


Connecting with Muslim international women in particular is so important. Not only are Muslim women systematically less reached than men, but they can often be the decision-makers in a family. 


It’s important to understand who these women are and who they are not as we seek to connect with them. 


First of all, Muslim women are diverse! They come from a variety of countries, neighborhoods, educational backgrounds, and tribes. They each have a unique understanding of Islam and the Qur’an as well as individualized dreams for their futures. Some will choose to cover their head with a hijab or their bodies with a niqab or a burqa and others will choose to not to cover at all. However, one sad commonality is that, under the surface, many women feel hopeless about eternity, are ashamed of being a woman, feel unloved by God, are insecure, or experience loneliness.

I believe there are three common ways to connect with Muslim women: Friendship, hospitality, and sharing Jesus.

First, friendship.


Being genuine from the start is so important. Showing interest in your friend as a person, a woman, and an international is key. Asking good questions and listening well will progress your friendship. Also, feel free to express an openness about your genuine relationship to Jesus. And it will serve you in your friendship if you establish yourself as a person of faith from the start.. your friends will most likely be interested in hearing that you are a person of faith and may raise some great questions or spiritual conversations!


To maintain friendship, you need to understand that your friend’s family members will be more important than anyone else – even extended family. The role of family carries more value in international countries than it tends to in America. Hosting family from back home for lengthy visits, being in contact with family back home on a daily basis, and living abroad with a male relative is normal. In fact, in some countries like Saudi Arabia, it’s a requirement that a woman lives with and is supervised by a male relative while abroad. For married women, this would be her husband. For a single woman, this would most likely be her father or brother – even a younger brother! As good friends, we can make it a priority to ask about family members, show concern when a need is mentioned, and dress modestly when and if we get the opportunity to meet a family member.


Building trust with your new friend is vital in maintaining your friendship. It helps to show interest in your friend’s life by asking about her likes and dislikes, hopes and dreams, views and experiences of God, as well as her purpose in life. Also, helping to meet a practical need such as teaching her to drive, advocating for her needs, or interpreting American culture are tangible ways to give of yourself. Don’t forget to allow this friendship to be two-ways by opening up about yourself and letting your friend help YOU when possible! 


When I met my Muslim friend from China, we immediately clicked. We found we could talk easily and laugh often together. Right away, I knew she had a consistent need – rides. At first, I felt like a taxi service for her and her friends, but over time, our friendship grew. We met over coffee and bubble tea countless times, talked about everything, cooked together, celebrated each other’s big news (like her engagement and wedding), cried together when her marriage fell apart, laughed as we threw parties for each other, and joyfully introduced each other to our various visiting family members. I even ended up having the harrowing experience of showing her how to drive. Still, though we live in different cities, we remain friends and continue to text and send photos. She told me she hopes we will keep having coffee dates when we are old ladies. She knows I’m a follower of Jesus and, though our conversations about spiritual things have been few, I do believe that many seeds have been planted.


Another interesting thing to know is that often, as you build trust with your new friend, you are indirectly building trust with her whole community of family and friends. If she trusts you, her whole community will trust you. To maintain trust, it’s important to speak respectfully of Islam and the Prophet Muhammad, dress modestly, and stay true to your word. This might feel like a big weight, but ultimately, it’s a great opportunity.


Another way to connect is offering good hospitality.


Hospitality in the west pales in comparison to the hospitality my Muslim friends have extended to me. When visiting my friend Mariam’s home in the Emirates, I was lavished on with food and drink over and over, even though she was a poor woman and didn’t know me very well. She served me each food and drink item herself and didn’t eat or drink until she was sure the rest of us were full. The night concluded with her dousing me in several kinds of perfumes. I was blown away by her hospitality, but also realized that this was probably the normal, expected way to host friends. I came home and immediately upped my hospitality practices after that experience!


Hospitality can be shown in your own home, but also in other places, like a coffee shop. A few tips include paying for food or drink when you invite a friend out and to share what you order. If your friend is coming over to your home, go out of your way to guess what she might need before she asks and get it for her. And don’t forget to send home any leftovers to her family! If you go to your friend’s home, bring a gift of food or flowers to show your friendship and don’t decline the leftovers she will send home with YOU. Please know that making plenty of time to spend with your friend will be appreciated. First of all, it’s possible your friend will not show up on time and be even an hour late. Secondly, don’t plan something immediately after your time with your friend. It’s possible she will want to linger for several hours!


Finally, sharing Jesus is a great way to connect with your friend. 


Pray for opportunities to pray with your friend, tell stories of what Jesus has done for you and for others in the past (a Bible story), and to read the Bible (and Qur’an if necessary).

As bonds of trust grow, a friend may share about a trial she is experiencing in life. Show concern by listening deeply and offering to pray for her.  This may open doors to discuss your spiritual beliefs, prayer, the Bible, and Jesus.  Ask her if it is OK to pray in the way you are accustomed.  If she says yes, feel free to pray in the name of Jesus. Many times I have prayed with a friend and she is moved to tears because of the touch she received from the Lord. One friend in particular likes to call me and ask me to pray for her over the phone from time to time.


It’s also impactful to connect stories from the Bible to situations in your life.  Open up about your own relationship with Jesus and experiences of Christianity by weaving spirituality into conversations.  Consider stories about women such as the Woman at the Well, Mary and Martha, or the Woman Caught in Adultery. Praying that the Lord would specifically give you a story to share before you spend time with your friend can be so fruitful. One time, my 5 year old son felt prompted to share the story of Jesus feeding the crowd of 5000 hungry people to explain how God can provide! 


Another campus missionary shared with me about a time that she befriended a Muslim art student named Sara. Since this missionary was an illustrator, they began doing things together that involved art. They went to museums and collaborated on art projects. Sara helped this missionary write her favorite Bible verses in Arabic calligraphy and then asked her questions about the verses.  When they painted together, they talked about the character of God and His creation. These short ‘Bible studies’ grew in consistency and length until Sara shared with the missionary that she had had a dream about Jesus coming to her and asking her to walk through His door to become a follower!

Sometimes it helps to offer to look at stories from the Bible and Qur’an together. One day during a chat with my conversation partner from a M country, I found myself praying in my heart that God would give us something deeper to talk about. Suddenly, we began to talk about the topic of dreams. When I shared about Joseph, my friend gasped and said she knew the same story from the Q! On the spot we pulled out our scriptures and compared the details of the stories from the two Holy Books. Please know that if you are unfamiliar with the Qur’an, that’s ok! There are two things you can do – use your ignorance to ask great questions to learn more about the Q and Islam. Or, take time to learn more. There are great resources out there like books and videos to help you understand the Qur’an and learn helpful surahs, or “verses”. 


Remember to begin your friendship with the end in mind. You may be the only Christian your Muslim friend ever meets. This friendship may seem costly at times, but loving her with thoughtfulness, care, and perseverance could change her life.  Muslims can be in a relationship with a Christian friend for many years before they begin to study God’s word or become a believer. Continue loving your friend, even if she seems to not be interested in a Bible study.  It is important to realize that the Holy Spirit is in control of the timeline with your friend. 

Maybe you’re wondering where you can meet a Muslim woman? Practically, that might depend on your city and context. In the campus context, it’s common to find them at the local coffee shops, restaurants that serve halal foods, the malls, certain housing complexes, and of course at cultural centers where they are involved. Keep your eye out for student events that groups like the Muslim Student Association or the Arab Student Union put together! 

Who might you be looking for? This is a great question because it’s important to know that a friendship with a Muslim woman can take a LOT of time. I’ve found that the best spiritual conversations often come up after three hours of talking about a lot of more mundane things. Clocking time together speaks volumes to your friend, so you need to make time for this! Keeping this in mind, it’s important to understand that you may not be able to have many M friends. Ask the Lord for a discerning heart and that he would lead you to the right person or two, instead of pursuing a friendship with any M woman you meet. Ultimately, if your time is limited, you are hoping to find someone who is a “person of peace”, meaning that she is open to spiritual conversations. Or perhaps God will lead you to a gate-keeper who can open the door to a wider community where you can meet other persons of peace.

Some great starter conversations for a spontaneous greeting might be “Excuse me, are you Muslim?” or “Excuse me, may I ask what language you are speaking?” or “I’m a Christian, and I’ve been wanting to get to know a Muslim personally. There’s so much tension and anger in America today, but God is not like that. I just want to say ‘Hi, and I’m glad to meet you.’” Or “Are you from [this city/state]?” If your conversation seems amiable, you could ask, “Would you like to get coffee/tea and talk more sometime? I’d love to hear more about your faith, and what it’s like being Muslim in America, if you’d be willing to talk about it.” If they say yes, offer to go right then or soon! Spontaneity and being available for relationships are high values in most Muslim cultures. 

One thing we talk about a lot in our campus ministry teams is “The 5 Thresholds of Evangelism”. This is so helpful in remembering that most people will not jump from meeting and trusting a Christian for the first time to becoming a follower of Jesus immediately afterwards, though this has happened occasionally when someone experiences a dream or a vision of Jesus. Usually, several important thresholds need to be crossed in the journey toward Jesus. The thresholds are: Trusting a Christian, being Curious about how other people see and experience the world, being Open to seeing what Jesus can do with her life, begin Searching for deeper meaning and wondering if Jesus could be worth following, and being ready to Follow Jesus with her whole life.

As we get to know our M friends, we need to be sensitive to the fact that they might be anywhere on this timeline of thresholds and the kinds of questions we ask need to be appropriate for the right threshold. 

Regardless of threshold, remember that, Lord-willing, our M friends will follow Jesus one day, so love your friend well at all times and do your best to display the Shema Lifestyle and follow the Lord’s promptings. It’s possible you won’t know the day you could lose touch with your friend, so make your moments count and pray regularly for your connections with M women.


Relating to Muslim Women


Are you intimatated to share your faith with or to even befriend a Muslim? Are you unsure of how to take the first step? No matter your experience with Muslims, Krista can help you grow in confidence and knowledge so that you can build meaningful relationships with Muslim women.

Are you intimatated to share your faith with or to even befriend a Muslim? Are you unsure of how to take the first step? No matter your experience with Muslims, Krista can help you grow in confidence and knowledge so that you can build meaningful relationships with Muslim women.