USA (MNN) — Many Muslims worldwide have experienced an array of emotions since the death of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. Some are joyful that the terrorist is gone; others are livid.
Crescent Project president and founder Fouad Masri was in Beirut, Lebanon when he heard the news. Masri says some mosques were rejoicing, and others were mourning. When he arrived back in the States, he discovered a lot of the same thing.
"Some Muslims try to distance themselves from Osama and company, and then you have other Muslims saying, ‘No, let's continue this jihad against the West,'" explains Masri. "So we're seeing that as a dichotomy in the minds of Muslims."
Despite President Barack Obama's reminder to the nation that America is not at war with Islam, some Muslims in the U.S. may feel otherwise. A group of Californian businessmen reported an upswing in chastisement toward Muslims following bin Laden's death to the Chico News & Review. The men said bin Laden did not adhere to the true teachings of Muhammad, and they believed he ought to be punished.
Masri says there are those, however, who would say that Islam is at war against the States, even if America is not at war against Islam. Even in America, there are those who want Islam to revert back to the jihadist standards they believe Muhammad set centuries ago.
With varying opinions from Muslims in the U.S. and outside of it, for Muslim youth in the country, confusion is setting in. And it's opening doors for the Gospel.
"What's happening today is you're going to find that Muslim young people are struggling with identity for their religion. Is their religion a peaceful religion? If that's the case, where do we see the peacefulness of Islam? Do we see it in Algeria, in Libya, in Morocco? Do we see it in Pakistan? Do we see it in Yemen? In Syria? So this is what's going on in their minds," says Masri.
"At the same time they're saying, ‘I want a new Islam.'" Masri adds, "That's where the strife is happening in many Muslim minds, and we're seeing an openness that's never been there before."
Crescent Project trains believers across the nation to better understand Islam and Muslims, and to know how to approach them with the Gospel. Masri says believers have been more hesitant to share their faith with Muslims since bin Laden was killed, but he urges believers to trust the Lord in reaching out to Muslims around them–especially at this crucial time.
"We are challenging people not only to get equipped, but to take the next step in welcoming Muslim neighbors, even by just speaking to them, welcoming them, asking questions, and listening. This all adds to building those bridges and breaking down walls."
To go one step further with outreach, Crescent Project invites you to join the Sahara Challenge in Chicago from May 28 to June 4. The week-long, intensive training will teach believers how to minister to Muslims in the States and across the globe. Learn more about the Sahara Challenge at crescentproject.org/sahara.