The topic of Islam never fails to deliver passion from those who attack it, as well as fierce support from those which practice Islam. This passion results in dogmatism within the Muslim community and fear from those that do not understand its teachings. Unfortunately most Americans and Christians only associate beheadings and burka clad women with Islam. This paper will go beyond these stereo types and provide an objective summary of this worldview, review the flaws inherent in its practice and how to most effectively share the gospel with a Muslim.
While the religion of Islam is a direct result of Abraham’s lack of faith by conceiving Ishmael through Hagar, after Jehovah had promised a son to he and Sarah, the history of Islam is not nearly as old as the Abrahamic covenant. Ron Carlson writes in Fast Facts on False Teachings that, “According to Muslim tradition, the angel Gabriel came to Muhammad. And they take this as a sign that Muhammad was a prophet to the Arabs.” Muhammad lived in the 6th century and most people, Muslims included, are unaware that according to Carlson, Muhammad was a camel driver until he was 25 years old and that he was illiterate. The significance of this lies in the fact that he was not educated yet the founder of a worldview religion. Information like this does not put a good light on the final prophet, according to Islam, and tends to be lost in obscurity. Islam’s influence on the world, goes beyond religion and can be seen on the news daily.
John Ankerberg identifies that it is important to follow because of its nearly one billion followers comprised of two schools, Sunni and Shi’ite. The world economy, along with the financial influence, outside of countries considered to be Muslim, are two other reasons Ankerberg believes Islam deserves to be watched closely. The belief still exists, in spite of the facts above, that Islam poses no threat to Western countries. This is dangerous and all would be wise to consider what Muslims are on record as stating. In January of 2010, the Hizb ut Tahrir, an Islamic apologetic periodical, stated that Muslims have enjoyed financial blessings from oil in the Middle East as a result of Allah providing these resources. It also pushed the belief that the influence it provides would be used by the Khilafah, heads of Islamic states, to begin the transformation of a brave and creative people into a leading world power. This thirst for power is veiled in a passionate practice of religion.
Ergun Caner identifies that Islam is based on five pillars; the creed, prayers, alms, fasting and a pilgrimage to Mecca. In the creed the new convert confesses that there is no God but Allah. The prayers are to be made five times daily while facing Mecca. The alms amounted to one fourtieth of the believer’s income. Fasting is accomplished throughout the year some lasting as long as 30 days. The pilgrimage to Mecca, termed hajj, has resulted in military service members calling Muslim members of the opposing force “hajis”. This pilgrimage is only required once in the believers lifetime and are described as follows. “As traveling four camels abreast, which are all tied one after the other, like as in teams. The whole body is called a caravan, which is divided into several cottors, or companies, each of which has its name, and consists, it may be, of several thousand camels; and they move, one cottor after another, like distinct troops.”
Manners & Customs of the Bible
These five pillars seem harmless enough on the surface, but a closer look into Islamic teaches reveals a flaw the Christian cannot afford to ignore.
THE MAJOR ISLAMIC FLAW
Working the pillars in reverse reveals that the pilgrimage to Mecca is harmless in and of itself. The fasting taught in Islam is a physical demonstration of an inward belief practiced by many religions. The alms collected are used to help many people in need and are a worthwhile religious practice and the prayers are to be commended and the practice is common in many religions. What makes Islam dangerous is found in their creed. Richard Jansen does a great job of identifying the similarity yet distinction when he wrote, “Muhammed claimed to be the latest and indeed the last, prophet of the covenant God made with Abraham and, in addition, claimed that Abraham was Muslim as indeed were all the Jewish patriarchs and Jesus as well. Muhammed gave the name Allah to God and claimed that Allah was the Muslim God before he was the Jewish and Christian God because, in Islamic belief, the Koran existed since the beginning of the world, i.e. predated the Bible. ”
G Richard Jansen It is an error with eternal consequences to try and align the god Muslims pray to, Allah, with the God of Christianity Jehovah. In an effort to be accepted it is not uncommon for an apologist to yield this ground ignorantly. After speaking with a Muslim, a Christian apologist may be led to believe that Muslims are praying to the same God of Christianity. This is an error on the part of the Islamic believer and unrecognized due to ignorance on the Christian’s part.
SHARING THE GOSPEL WITH THE ISLAMIST
When evangelizing a Muslim the Christian must be careful. Religious discussions are acceptable on both parties accounts and discussing the similarities between the two are a great starting point. It is critical that the apologist understands that Ergun Caner got it right when he stated that “Islam didn’t get it partially right but completely wrong” The terminology between Christianity and Islam can be eerily similar when using English as the common language. If God is discussed, the Muslim will be in agreement, all the while understanding god to be Allah.
The division between the two apologists always occurs when Jesus is brought up. Muslim’s concede that Jesus was a prophet but refuse to acknowledge Him as God incarnate as well as part of the Trinity. Jesus Christ as the Messiah is the mountain that needs to be scaled to evangelize a Muslim. Most Muslims are ignorant of their own faith, but are unwilling to hear this criticism. Instead of pointing out the failure of Islam the Christian should approach the Muslim in such a manner that they are accepted personally in order for them to be open to reading the Christian’s Bible. After all, relying on Scripture is the best weapon to accomplish salvation for anyone.
Using a non-traditional approach, this paper identified Islam in its most basic form as a religion practiced by many and abused by some in a quest for power. Without over simplifying Islam in its summation it also identified the major flaw found, specifically that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Recognizing the principle that Jesus is the narrow gate, this paper advocated exposing the Islamic believer to scripture and relying on the Power of the Holy Spirit to reveal Jesus Christ as He truly is. The author successfully implemented this strategy in leading his personal translator to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. The reader would do well going forward to interact and have religious discussions with those of the Islamic faith, using this exposure as a personal laboratory to understand that they are people and without Jesus will spend an eternity in Hell.
Ankerberg, John, and John Weldon. Fast Facts on Islam. Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 2001. 1-3. Print.
Carlson, Ron, and Ed Decker. Fast Facts on False Teaching. [S.l.]: Harvest House Pub, 2003. 93. Print.
Freeman, James M. ; Chadwick, Harold J.: Manners & Customs of the Bible. Rev. . North Brunswick, NJ : Bridge-Logos Publishers, 1998, S. 72
Hindson, Edward E., and Ergun Mehmet. Caner. The Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics. Eugene, Or.: Harvest House, 2008. 277-81. Print.
Jansen, G. Richard. “Abraham, Jesus, Muhammed.” Lamar.ColoState.EDU. 1 Aug. 2006. Web. 28 Apr. 2011. <http://lamar.colostate.edu>.
Unknown. “If It Is Not Now Time for Khilafah, Then When?” Hizb Ut Tahrir. Web. 21 Apr. 2011. <http://hizb-ut-tahrir.org/EN/>.
[ 1 ]. Carlson, Ron , and Decker, Ed. Fast Facts on False Teachings. [S.1>]: Harvest House Pub, 2003. 93. Print [ 2 ]. Ibid, 94
[ 3 ]. Ankerberg, John, and John Weldon. Fast Facts on Islam. Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 2001. 1-3. Print. [ 4 ]. Unknown. “If It Is Not Now Time for Khilafah, Then When?” Hizb Ut Tahrir. Web. 21 Apr. 2011. . [ 5 ]. Hindson, Edward E., and Ergun Mehmet. Caner. The Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics. Eugene, Or.: Harvest House, 2008. 277-81. Print. [ 6 ]. Freeman, James M. ; Chadwick, Harold J.: Manners & Customs of the Bible. Rev. ed.]. North Brunswick, NJ : Bridge-Logos Publishers, 1998, S. 72 [ 7 ]. Jansen, G. Richard. “Abraham, Jesus, Muhammed.” Lamar.ColoState.EDU. 1 Aug. 2006. Web. 28 Apr. 2011. . [ 8 ]. Caner, The Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics, 280
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