For most of us, we do not have to go far to meet Muslims with whom we can share the Gospel message– the gym, school, the grocery store, and yes, also our job! But how can you start those relationships and have meaningful conversations in a way that is “workplace appropriate”?
How to start a friendship with a Muslim coworker
Depending on what type of job you have, you might not have enough time to socialize with coworkers during work hours. This doesn’t mean that you can’t make meaningful connections with them!
Lunch breaks are great opportunities to talk to your Muslim coworker. If they pack their own lunch, start simply by asking about their meal and whether it is a special dish from their culture (they often love to share about their culture and if they only eat Halal food!). This may open them up to talk about their traditions and family. This kind of conversation will give you a glimpse of how devout they are to their faith and if they have a strong local community. Your Muslim friend may not come from a wildly different culture than yours. They may have even grown up in America! In place of trying to learn about your differences, build upon what you have in common. No matter what, be sure to be encouraging, kind, and loving during every interaction..
To move from being work friends into friends outside of the workplace, you can start by connecting with them digitally, such as texting or talking over social media. Once this relationship has started, you can meet up for coffee and get to know them more!
If you work remotely, sometimes all it takes to start a connection is a simple message or email thanking them for how hard they work or complimenting something they did on a project! Pay attention to how they work and if there is something they do that goes above and beyond, tell them and thank them for it. Regularly check in with them, ask how they are doing, and soon you’ll start to converse more often and form a friendship!
Point to Jesus when they ask
Whether working remotely or in person, you may be the only coworker who is paying attention and showing care to your Muslim coworker. This alone may cause him or her to start wondering why you are different, kind, and caring. The Lord will give you a chance to talk about what sets you apart, and when the time comes be sure to point to your loving Savior who taught you how to love. Don’t let the opportunity to give glory to God pass you by!
"Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven." Matthew 5:16
Questions you can ask your Muslim coworker to grow your friendship
There are certain topics that can really help a friendship grow quickly: family, passions, pain, and stories. If you ask your Muslim friend a question around one of these topics, then you’ll probably learn a lot about them and get the opportunity to share something too!
- Family- In Islam, family is a cornerstone of everything they do. Their culture is extremely collectivistic, meaning, they take their family and community into consideration whenever making decisions. Often, Muslims are told to do what is in the best interest of the family and religious community as a whole instead of their own best interest.
- Passions- We all have things that we can talk about forever. Find out what your new friend is passionate about and keep asking them questions about it! This may give you a window into their deep social or spiritual needs which you can start to pray for.
- Pain- Suffering is a shared experience in all humans no matter what background they have. If you see that your Muslim friend is struggling with something, be compassionate and check on them. As your friendship grows, you can take a step and tell them something that you have been struggling with, which will often allow them more comfort to share a similar struggle. Offer to pray for them, and make sure you follow up with them in the future.
- Stories- Asking questions about how someone was raised, what school was like for them, or even just asking how their weekend was opens up the door for them to share a story. Storytelling shows us the world through our friend’s eyes and gives us a glimpse into their life. It is also one of the fastest ways we can bond with another person. On the other hand, when you share a personal story, you will indirectly share your values and ethics, which will reflect Christ!
More resources for starting a friendship with your Muslim coworker
As your friendship grows and you begin to have deeper conversations, it helps to have knowledge about Islam and how your Muslim friend understands life, God, sin, and much more. We have an entire library of blog posts to help you learn! Here are some blogs to start with:
- How to start a spiritual conversation with your Muslim friend
- Reaching Muslim women through friendship
- The Guide for Christian Men who want to share the gospel with a Muslim
- Top 5 Questions your Muslim friends will ask you (+ how to answer them!)
Prayer over your new friendship
Dear Lord, thank you for giving me this opportunity to make a new friend! May Your love shine through me and make a difference in their life. Show me when to listen and when to speak Truth. Please open up the door for this friendship to grow and honor you! In Jesus’ name, Amen.