Today I went out run some errands and I stopped at a nice, new cafe and to pick up an early lunch (grilled cheese and tomato, how's that for fancy?) I was reading my book and as I was the only one there the young lady there and I started chatting as she was sweeping and didn't have much to do. Then the manager got there, a young man around 30 I'd guess, and we started chatting.
I was in a hurry to leave because my car was by the parking meter which I new was going to run out and I live in probably the only Arab city in the world where police give tickets for this stuff (seriously). But I told him that I am a scholar and that I study things like religion and politics and history, and he got interested. He then asked me a very interesting question:
"Are violence and terrorism taught in the Qur'an?"
I thought for a moment, and answered that the Qur'an is a mixed bag. That during the Meccan period it was not the case, but that during the Medinan period violence was indeed used, and I cited the example of Muhammad's call for the assassination of Asma bint Marwan. So I said, sometimes yes, sometimes no. And then I said that I found the example of Jesus more attractive, who said his kingdom was not of this world, and refused earthly power and the use of violence.
Anyway, I left and sure enough I had a parking ticket which will cost me some $30 USD or so. Ugh. But then later that day I returned (as he had asked me to do), and brought a little NT (injiil) of mine. I told him, this is my Gospel and I will lend it to you for a week, but read Jn 18-20 (I gave him page numbers actually, for obvious reasons), on the question of power and politics and violence. I will come by next week and we can talk about it more.
Will you please pray for this man, whom we will call Bashiir? Pray that he reads the NT. Pray that he will seriously think about it. And also pray for the young lady at the cafe, who overheard all of this and is also Muslim.