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My neighbour is Muslim and from the Middle East

Islam is the second largest religion in the world and followed by 1.9 billion people globally. Islam has a long history in the Middle East. 

In some Middle Eastern countries such as Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Iran, Islamic law defines every area of government and civil life. Other Middle Eastern countries are modern secular states where religious law is separate from civil law, yet even in these countries Islam is the dominant religion.

Learn about Islam

Islam means, “submission to God.” There are two major sects of Islam, Shia and Sunni. The difference between these sects relates to a split that occurred after the Prophet Mohammed died. His followers disagreed about who should succeed him, and as a result the two sects emerged. 85 per cent of Muslims worldwide are Sunni.

Sunnis believe there are five duties that every Muslim must follow in order to live a good and responsible life: the saying of The Shahada- a creed expressing God’s oneness and identifying Mohammed as a prophet, praying 5 daily ritual prayers, giving alms to the poor, fasting during the month of Ramadan, and completing pilgrimage to Mecca during their life. 

Shia also uphold these five duties but have an additional five duties they must also observe.

The Islamic calendar is based on the lunar calendar and as a result the timing of important dates, such as Ramadan, change from year to year. Major Islamic festivals include Eid-ul-Adha and Eid-ul-Fitr.

Eid-ul-Adha is a festival which Muslims associate with the story of the Prophet Ibrahim who was prepared to sacrifice his son in obedience to God. Eid-ul-Fitr is celebrated at the end of the month of Ramadan.

Muslims in Sydney

The last Census indicated that there were over 254,000 Muslims in Sydney. This figure includes a large number of people from diverse Middle Eastern nations. They may speak Arabic, French, English, Turkish, Kurdish or Farsi. Their practice of religion and culture vary from individual to individual and family to family. Men and women engage with their faith in different ways. 

It is helpful to understand the basics of Islam, however, don’t assume that your friend believes everything you come across in your research. Ask them what they think and how they personally practice their religion.

Reaching your Muslim friend

Building a relationship is a good place to begin sharing the Gospel with your Muslim friend. Many Muslims from the Middle East may have practical needs as migrants or refugees. Meeting these needs may be an opportunity to share the love of Jesus.

Muslims are often much more willing to talk about God and spiritual things than people from other faith backgrounds. In the context of friendships, you may have the opportunity to share stories about Jesus or pray for people.

The Quran, Muslim’s holy book, contains accounts of many of the shared prophets form the Old Testament such as Adam, Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Jonah and Job. The accounts of these stories differ significantly from the Bible. However, Muslims’ familiarity with them may mean they are a non-confrontational way to begin conversations about God.

Muslims will say that they believe in Jesus, however they do not believe he is the Son of God or that he really died. The concept of the Trinity is also deeply offensive and misunderstood.

The Quran tells Muslims they should read the Bible. However, most Muslims believe that the Christian Bible has been corrupted and do not read it.

Muslims who come to faith in Jesus may face significant persecution from their family and doing so may be dangerous for family remaining in their home country. Women particularly can be quite vulnerable. This means coming to faith may take a long time and requires much prayer.


Urdu is both the official and national language of Pakistan. English is also an official language - most government ministries use English, and it is spoken by the country’s elite. Punjabi is the most widely spoken of the native languages (48 per cent of the population), but it does not have an official status in law. Pashto and Sindhi also have a significant number of speakers.

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Inspired by the gospel of reconciliation in Jesus Christ, Anglicare's vision for reconciliation is a nation in which Australia's First Peoples are restored in dignity, respect, empowerment and opportunity.