I’ll never forget sitting across from a dear friend who tried to communicate what life was like for Muslim women. She held up two fingers and said, “You don’t understand. Women are number two—we’re number two!” She recognized that in my youth and naïveté, I simply didn’t understand some of the things she experienced. She felt my confusion, so she tried to communicate more gently, “This is just how things will be here.”
Our family had moved to a country with a population that was 99 percent Muslim. I was trying to learn a new language, adapt to a different culture, and somehow show these beautiful women that, by God’s design, they were most certainly not number two. Yet I realized their greatest need wasn’t for me or anyone else to convince them—they needed to see Jesus. They needed to truly see the Messiah who loves them unconditionally and offers them the abundant life for which they were created.
Over the next decade of walking through life with these women, I learned that they longed to hear four important truths.
1. Jesus sees and honors women.
When women covered by a burka or hijab first hear the story of the bleeding woman in the Gospels, they often immediately relate to her. She was a woman who felt unseen, unclean, and alone. Then they hear that Jesus saw her, reached out to her, and called her “daughter” (Luke 8:43–48).
Someone once told me that in the country where we lived, 9 out of 10 husbands were cheating on their spouses. While I can’t verify that statistic, I do know infidelity was rampant. Many of my friends felt alone and unloved. So we would introduce them to the story of Hagar in the book of Genesis. Their hearts would soften when they read that Hagar, alone, mistreated, and afraid, was never truly alone. God saw Hagar. In fact, God sent an angel to deliver his hope-filled words directly to this husbandless woman in need.
Muslim women long to be known and loved by a God who sees them deeply and understands them intimately.
Muslims are taught God is transcendent but many never learn he’s also personal and near. Muslim women long to be known and loved by a God who sees them deeply and understands them intimately. Their hearts find hope when they learn that Jesus not only sees women—he looks upon them with dignity and honor.
2. Jesus offers women the good portion.
In some parts of the world, Muslim girls and women aren’t offered the same opportunities as boys and men in their communities. One of my dearest friends was a trained engineer, yet she still had to receive signed permission from her husband or father to work in the field in which she’d been granted a degree. She felt discouraged and unvalued.
On Fridays, many of the men in our city would crowd into the local mosque. Women either weren’t included or would be invited into a small, separate room away from the main community of worshipers so they wouldn’t be a distraction to the men’s ritual prayers. In Islam, even “paradise” for the Muslim woman is husband-centered; it’s a place for Muslim men to enjoy their many wives for eternity.
By contrast, Jesus’s relationship with women isn’t mediated by a husband or father. Muslim women are offered direct access to the Lord, and he invites them into a personal relationship with him. Jesus told a distracted Martha that when her sister Mary wanted to sit and hear his teaching, Mary had “chosen the good portion” (Luke 10:38–42). Every Muslim woman is offered this good portion. Not only is she welcomed to the teaching of Jesus, but she’s also offered fellowship with Jesus himself.
3. Jesus provides women purpose and meaning.
Muslim women desire purpose and meaningful work. Their work inside the home is valued, but life can be difficult for those who don’t marry or who aren’t able to have children. They long to hear that God has a plan and purpose for their lives—that they were created to do good work.
Jesus’s relationship with women isn’t mediated by a husband or father.
In God’s design and through Christ, women have indispensable roles in both the church and the world (Eph. 2:10). In Jesus’s final words to his disciples, he calls them to make disciples of all nations and to teach others to do the same. This means Christ-following women play a vital part in the most important work given to God’s people. They’re commissioned to be fruitful and multiply—even if they don’t have children.
The Holy Spirit empowers women who follow Jesus to be witnesses; he equips them with spiritual gifts to build up and serve the church (Acts 1:8; 1 Cor. 12). They use their gifts, as spiritual sisters and spiritual mothers, to share the gospel, disciple others, and help raise up mighty multitudes of Christ followers. Muslim women were created for important, meaningful work.
4. Jesus gives women eternal hope.
According to tradition, Muhammad taught that the vast majority of those who end up in hell will be women. But the Bible teaches that God loves the world and sent his Son to die for all people—people of every sex, age, ethnicity, and culture. Whoever believes in Jesus will have eternal life (John 3:16). Jesus offers women hope, a future, and their own inheritance kept in heaven (1 Pet. 1:4).
In fact, Jesus is attractive to Muslim women—often more than to Muslim men—because he uniquely offers them honor, worth, dignity, and hope. They were created to be seen and known: to love him with their whole heart. They were created to learn from Jesus and to know him: to love him with all their mind. They were created for meaningful work: to love him with all their strength.
In Christ, women are freed and unleashed to glorify God just as he designed them. Muslim women are drawn to Jesus because knowing him and making him known is the abundant life for which they were created.
Get a FREE eBook to strengthen your family discipleship!
The back-to-school season is stressful for moms and dads. New rhythms of school, sports, and other extracurricular activities can quickly fill up a family’s already busy calendar. Where do busy parents look for resources on discipling their family well? Aside from prioritizing church, what else can Christian parents do to instill healthy spiritual habits in their household?
Matt Chandler and Adam Griffin cover these questions and more in Family Discipleship: Leading Your Home through Time, Moments, and Milestones. And we’re excited to offer this book to you for FREE as an eBook today.
Click on the link below to get instant access to your FREE Family Discipleship eBook now!