What is respect? How do I show someone respect - especially when that person is other from me or holds divergent beliefs?
When I'm called to respect Muslims, it's easy for me to hear that as a suggestion to accept or even endorse beliefs I don't hold. Learners in our course often notice that it's not just about engaging with Muslim beliefs but even more so about historical and cultural realities and values. As followers of Christ, we respect Muslims as people, if for no other reason than we are commanded to love them. Respect is certainly part of loving someone as Jesus does.
One way to understand this kind of respect is described in an article called “What Does it Mean to Respect Islam?: The Witness of Soraya M.,” published by Public Discourse: Ethics, Law and the Common Good, from the Witherspoon Institute. For more depth, you can read the full article. It suggests that there are two kinds of respect: recognition respect and appraisal respect.
“Recognition respect” of Muslims recognizes and respects their humanity. This should not be confused with “appraisal respect,” which involves evaluation of the normative claims of another. With “recognition respect” we can agree to disagree while remaining civil and also leave open a space for the possibility of agreement and collaborative efforts. This does not compromise our own convictions.
Encountering Muslims is designed on the belief that by learning about Muslims. their lives and values, we can respect them, acknowledging their humanity and our common human experience. This is the first step to sharing life with Muslims - or, in other words, loving them!