Sometimes when we say we want to respect Muslims, people hear us suggesting that we have to accept or even endorse their beliefs. Encountering the World of Islam (EWI) students often notice that the class is not just about beliefs, but also about historical and cultural realities and values. EWI desires that we respect Muslims as people, if for no other reason than we are commanded to love them. So respect is certainly a part of loving someone as Jesus did.
One way to understand and explain 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. The article 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.
EWI is put together with the belief that by learning about Muslims and their life and values that we can respect them: acknowledge their humanity, and even the human experience that we share with them. This is the first step to sharing our life with a Muslim, or, in other words, loving them.