Loving Our Muslim Neighbours - Salvation Army Canada


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  • Jan20Tue

    Loving Our Muslim Neighbours

    Do we stand up for people of different faiths? January 20, 2015 by Major Kathie Chiu
    Filed Under:
    Opinion & Critical Thought
    Make coffee and boiled egg. Put on shoes and jacket. Grab keys, purse and cellphone. Out the door. Start the car, turn out of the driveway, drive to work. The car seems to know the way. Arrive at work, greet people, take off your coat and put your purse away. Sit at your desk.

    If you're like me, you like the stability of the rituals we make for ourselves. We go about our daily routines, safe in the knowledge that life is peaceful and predictable.

    Then shots are fired. A soldier is dead. Our careful routines are disrupted and we join with the rest of the country, eyes transfixed on the screen, waiting to find out what happened.

    When we're shaken by events like the tragic death of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, we are filled with questions that don't seem to have any answers.

    Are we still safe? Can we trust our Muslim neighbours? Is the world going crazy?

    It's easy to climb on board with all the knee-jerk reactions on TV and in the blogosphere: “We need to stop immigration from these countries.” “There's something wrong with a religion that inspires terrorists.” “They're going to come here and impose their way of life on us!”

    My son noticed a conversation I had on Facebook about this. Someone posted a verse from the Quran about killing infidels and used it to argue that the problem was Islam itself. I tried to explain that blaming an entire religion because some distort it for their own selfish and evil gains is counterproductive. However, sometimes people are stuck in ignorance. This person called himself a Christian and he and his wife were arguing with me that I was wrong and Islam is not a peaceful religion.

    I knew it was going downhill when the wife started saying that I should know it was completely out of God's will for me, a woman, to be ordained, and that I didn't seem to be able to read Scripture clearly.

    That's when my son started to do his research. He looked up the verse from the Quran and posted a comment, explaining it was a call to arms at the battle of Badr, encouraging 300 Muslim fighters facing an impossible situation. Then he compared it to verses in our Bible where God instructs the Israelites to kill every man, woman and child while taking a city.

    “How are they different?” he asked.

    He knows the answer. He knows they're both ancient books, telling stories from ancient times and distant cultures, and so easily taken out of context to justify all kinds of evil deeds by people thirsting for power and control.

    Then he posted a definition of the word Islam, noting that the root word means peace. They ignored that and became condescending, citing his youthful ignorance. One day, they said, he'll figure it out.

    Not to be swept aside, he posted: “Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12).

    I am so proud of him.

    I'm thankful my son has this attitude. He stood up for people of a different faith. He was shouted down, but he knows the truth. He will stand up for his Muslim neighbours and friends at school. He won't resort to knee-jerk reactions. He won't let fear lead him to act differently.

    I love Canada. I love our unique and diverse communities that welcome people from around the world. They represent different countries, cultures and religions, and they are all welcome here.

    Our Christian faith teaches us to live in peace, be humble before God, to love mercy and justice. Above all, the unmerited grace of God we receive inspires us to offer that grace to others, no matter what faith they practise. Let's remember that, not just in our daily lives, but on social media as well.

    Major Kathie Chiu grew up in The Salvation Army and has been an officer for 22 years. She has five children, including two teenaged boys still living at home, and eight grandchildren. She is the corps officer in Richmond, B.C.


    On Friday, August 14, 2020, Sevinj said:

    Allah, God, Creator bless us all and guide us all to seek and find the truth. To find the truth you need sincerely look for it, educate yourself, ask critical questions, not be afraid of learning, not be stuck with believes implanted in you and be open minded. My search and learning brought me to Islam, I am happy to every opportunity to dig deeper and learn more. The questions do not offend me but rather make me to research more and find the answer. To those who instead of asking questions blame Islam, i say “you go your way, I will go my way”. There is no point of arguing with them, because they are not looking for answer, they are looking for dehumanizing, othering, degrading people that have own way.


    On Tuesday, April 28, 2015, Christina said:

    To Marcelle G's first post....

    Very simple. All meat products tell you if they are halal certified. If you don't want them, don't buy them.

    And I believe myself that there is only one reason why so many muslims are coming to Canada, the U.S and Western Europe. God is LEADING them here, to US, to Christians because we cannot go over there, to Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, or whatever. God is leading them to US to be saved in Jesus, to us, to lead them away from Islam

    To Sharon..

    "Lest we forget a certain group of “Christians” (ahem) who massacred millions of people…hope I don’t get painted with that same brush!"

    Umm if you are thinking of the Roman Catholic church of the Inquisition, they were not Christians

    On Friday, February 6, 2015, April said:

    Thank you, Kathie, for that perspective. We often let fear get the better of us! Its a dangerous trap we fall into by generalizing one extremist group to the whole. When we actually get to know our Muslim neighbours, we learn that they are a group of people who are seeking the same thing as us: a connection to God, our purpose on earth, and belonging. Well said!

    On Friday, February 6, 2015, Sharon said:

    Thank you for writing this article! I too have noticed on social media how criticle, harsh and quick to judge people can be. It's sad to hear- especially with Christians. We should definitely not paint the same brush with the majority of Muslims with the on-going issues with terrorism. Terrorism. Not Muslims. Extremists. Lest we forget a certain group of "Christians" (ahem) who massacred millions of people...hope I don't get painted with that same brush!

    I have friends that are Muslim and they show so much kindness, love and care to their friends and community. On the food note, my husband and I along with our family, are changing our lifestyle and trying to eat healthy. I want to eat Halal food now! Thank you for enlightening us Samantha.

    Good on your son for speaking up and doing his homework. Someone's gotta do it!

    I end with Micah 6:8 "...What does the Lord require of you, but to ACT justly, and to LOVE mercy and to WALK humbly with your God."

    On Thursday, February 5, 2015, Larry Sampson said:

    I really appreciate your last paragraph.

    (Our Christian faith teaches us to live in peace, be humble before God, to love mercy and justice. Above all, the unmerited grace of God we receive inspires us to offer that grace to others, no matter what faith they practise. Let’s remember that, not just in our daily lives, but on social media as well.)

    Those words express what I as a Christian was taught to believe way back in Sunday School. Thanks for this article and these wise words in your summary.

    On Thursday, February 5, 2015, Martin Ketteringham said:

    Thanks Kathie for sharing. Your son is an insightful young man and you have taught him to think and express himself well. May the Army be filled with God-honouring, people-loving individuals such as yourselves.

    On Thursday, February 5, 2015, Kathie Chiu said:

    Thanks Samantha! I did not know all those details about Halal. I appreciate you sharing that. We have friends who are teaching school in Kuwait and I know they are having a great time living as Christians in a Muslim country. When we lived in London, Ontario, our son played basketball. One of the moms was Ethiopian and a Muslim. I would sit with her and cheer on the boys even though we couldn't understand each other. She was such a nice person to me, so respectful. I was the only other parent to make friends with her. There is so much we don't know. As more people share their stories, we can possibly help people see their neighbours differently.

    On Thursday, February 5, 2015, Samantha AlKadi said:

    Thanks for the insightful article. Canada's overwhelming response of love, rather than hate, in the aftermath of the devastating shooting of Cprl. Cirillo was very encouraging, and I hope that one of these days voices of reason like yours (and other friends I've recently witnessed defending their Muslim friends in the face of ISIS) drown out media reporting that makes it seem like these extremists represent the majority of Muslims, while they do not. I had the opportunity to live in the Arabian Gulf for a year a little over a decade ago, so I have first hand experience being a non-Muslim in a 99% Muslim country. My experience was phenomenal. The people were amazing and I was treated with utmost respect. The mothers of many of my students specifically came and visited me, gave me little presents, and hugged me on Christmas Day and Easter because they knew those would be hard days for me to be away from my family.

    I would like to share a little bit of my knowledge about 'halal' as it relates to food, as there seems to be urban myth style misinformation going around. The word Halal means 'permissible' in Arabic. Regarding meat, the kind of meat that is permissible is that where the animals throat is slit and blood drained so that the animal suffers as little as possible and so all of the blood can be properly drained, making the meat healthier to eat. Halal meat is also that which is not infected by tumors or known to have diseases, or a carcass that has been found dead, and 'by-product' type parts of the animal are not used (such as a lot of the gunk we all pretend isn't in hotdogs). The animal is also to be treated humanely during their life. The words 'Bismillah', which means 'In the Name of God' (similar to Christians saying grace before eating a meal), are said as the animals throat is slit. Other items throughout the grocery store that are marked 'halal' - 'permissible' indicate to Muslims that there is no pork, alcohol, or other restricted item hidden within the item (these items are VERY similar to items marked kosher). An example here is products with gelatin, such as jello or marshmallows, are commonly pork derived gelatin, so these products are hard to know whether they are permissible by reading the ingredient list because gelatin would not state 'pork gelatin'. So for these products, having 'halal' or 'kosher' marked makes it easy to know whether those products are there or not.

    Anyway, thanks again for the article, and sharing your son's experience as well. You have much to be proud of!

    On Thursday, February 5, 2015, Kathie Chiu said:

    Thanks, John. I know there are many Christians out there, especially in our own churches, reaching out in love to our neighbours from different cultures and religions. Thanks for sharing what's happening at Living Hope.

    On Monday, February 2, 2015, John Stephenson said:

    Our Corps known as Living Hope Community Church of The Salvation Army is located in an area in St. Vital, Winnipeg which is home to a lot of immigrants. Many of these are of the Islamic Faith. Operating out of Barbara Mitchell Family Centre our Corps as part of an Integrated Ministry Unit reaches out to the community with BMFRC and we strive to honor ethnic traditions or practices when we have community events ensuring that there is Halal food for those who come from the Muslim Tradition as well as foods that our other ethnic population eat such as our Indian and Pakistani and African attenders and neighbours. In the year and a half we have been operating from that location we have become a multicultural Corps with new members from the immigrant groups in the area. Those who have become part of the Community Church are also active by taking part in services as members of singing groups and youth band as well as providing a look into their unique styles with one African lady teaching us choruses in her native language and English so that we can sing both. One family from South Eastern India sing from SA songbook in their language and then sing same song in English as special music. What was originally a very white Corps is now 25% nonwhite. One of the employees of BFMC who is the janitor-caretaker for the facility has become a friend whom I respect. He is originally from Afghanistan , educated in Moscow in agriculture and had worked in Tajikistan where he met the woman who is his wife. He is still l a Muslim but is open to Christianity. His wife is a member of the Corps. These are wonderful people. On Saturday I met one of his other friends who was at the building helping him set up for Sunday service. His friend who is still a Muslim said he does this to help his friend and that we are a place of prayer and he wants to help people who pray. Yes Kathie we must try to understand and accept those who are in the majority a peace loving people not terrorists. The press and the terrorists do a lot to color our opinion but we must resist that and see the individuals as people who God sends His prevenient grace to. We must show all our ethnic Canadians that our God is a God of Love.

    On Tuesday, January 20, 2015, Marcelle Garner said:

    I agree to a certain extent to the above but I am not happy about the Halal Cerification on the majority of our food.We are paying for the costs of this whenever we shop for groceries etc.There are Questions about where much of this money, raised by certification, goes.I also do not like the method of Halal killing of animals it goes against my belief as a christian,I no longer eat any meats.There is a hidden agenda within Islam.We have to be aware. God Bless.

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