Must a Muslim Also Present When a Christian Teaches on Islam?

I’ve taught on Islam for over a decade and am often asked a couple of question by non-Christians: “Was a Muslim invited to your event to provide a counterpoint to your presentation? Did you allow them to attend, present, and clarify what you taught?” People seem to think it’s not fair if a Muslim is not present. Here are my quick thoughts about these questions.

Frist, I agree there are a few reasons to invite a Muslim to an event where Islam is being discussed. For example, it makes sense if there is a debate, panel, or open discussion so that there can be an exchange of ideas. I’ve also invited Muslims to simply present their view and allow Christians to ask them questions. It often adds an interesting and exciting element, but it’s not mandatory that I, or the event host, always invite one.

Second, in many of my talks to Christian audiences, the purpose is to have an in-house discussion about Islam and present strategies to reach out to Muslims with the Truth. In these cases, I don’t believe it’s appropriate to have a Muslim present. It might even be detrimental to the purpose of the training as they would be constantly interjecting (or at least wanting to).

Third, many times I’ve been told that a Muslim will correct my mistakes about Islam. This, though, assumes that my teaching has errors and a Muslim will always be correct. I’ll admit I’ve sometimes made mistakes when teaching. When I’ve discovered a mistake, however, I’ve corrected it. I’ve even made mistakes when teaching on Christianity! The fact that I’m not a Muslim, though, doesn’t mean I’ll necessarily give incorrect information about Islam.

Fourth, does anyone demand Muslims follow the same rule? Are Christians invited to attend, present, and clarify every time an Imam speaks about Christianity at a mosque in Saudi Arabia? It’s highly improbable. I’m not bothered by that, though. They are free to invite or never invite a Christian to their mosque.

There are a lot of events where Muslims are invited to participate. It’s not mandatory, though. Christians can have in-house discussions about a whole host of topics, people groups, and religions without inviting a representative from that group to speak. Sometimes we’re even justified in excluding those people for the sake of a private discussion. It all depends on the type of event, the purpose of the presentation, the audience demographic, and possibly several other factors.

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Alan Shlemon

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