I see you!
February 14, 2022
It has been over 20 years since 911 when Islam grabbed the world spotlight in a most brutal and terrifying way. People immediately began educating themselves about militant Islam. Books and courses by Western experts proliferated as the world was forced out of complacency into catching up with a new reality, and media was saturated with news focussing on Islamic terrorism.
Twenty years later, much has changed. Today's media is salted with Muslim millennials (age 26-41) and Gen Zs (age 10-25) very skilled in telling their own stories. I hear a regular protest from them: "Islam is not a monolith". They don't want to be seen the way Muslims were stereotyped in the wake of 911. They want to be seen for who they are.
Do you see them?
Omar Mouallem is an award-winning writer, filmmaker and journalist. Tired of being seen as a stereotype, he "felt compelled to reclaim the thing [Muslim identity] that makes him a target." His 2021 book, Praying to the West: How Muslims Shaped the Americas, explores his own relationship to Islamic faith and culture as he visits 13 mosques across the Americas, searching out the role Islam has played in shaping the West. He describes and critiques the mosque communities—probably chosen for their uniqueness, and he is disarmingly genuine about his personal journey. While he fails to embrace Islamic faith, as he identifies with the culture, his spirituality somehow grows and helps him deal with being a son, then a husband and father, and a community member. His book opened my eyes in ways that only hearing his story could do.
How will Christians relate to young Muslims who want to be seen and heard?
Are our mindsets about Muslims already formed and solidified?
Do we see them through filters that are unhelpful?
Or will we see them through the eyes of Jesus, who sees each person's heart?
As I was choosing a title, "I see you!" insisted itself on me. Then it changed to ICU. As we begin to see these young Muslims as Jesus sees them, will our sight become activated into intensive caring? Will we intensively care about their faith, their families, their futures enough to pray for them and even meet and encourage them?
Forgive us for seeing people as stereotypes and for being complacent about getting to know them as individuals.
Help us see the young Muslims whom You have placed in front of us in the media. Help us pay close attention to what they are saying.
Help us interpret what we see and hear, not through fixed mindsets and filters, but from Your perspective of love, understanding, insight and wisdom.
As we are increasingly able to say, "I see you!", about them, we pray for the veils to be lifted so they would some day be able to say, "Jesus, I see You!"