Islam


Introduction to Islam


Posted By on Sep 9, 2010

Introduction

Islam is one of the fastest growing religions in the world with a growing membership of about one-billion-one-hundred worldwide and about five million in the United States. The growth of Islam within the United States is challenging the way many evangelicals witness to people. The growing complexity of relationships between the United States and the Arab world after the events of 9/11 and the growing tide of terrorism warrant an exploration into what true Islam is. Even within the United States leadership there is confusion regarding what true Islam really is, and isn’t. The best example of this is in President George W. Bush’s speech when he said, “Islam is a religion of peace.”[1] Another example of this would be President Obama’s desire to reach out to Muslims in order to build relationships with them.[2]Islam does not mean “peace in Arabic in the classic sense of the term. Islam means “surrender”. To the Muslim, it evidences his position in the religion- he is willingly surrendered to the rites, rituals and practices of the religion.”[3]

Summary of Islam

Islam is irrevocably linked to Muhammad the founder of Islam. On his fortieth birthday, in A.D. 610, his life took a marked turn. On that day, Muhammad received what he believed was a vision where the angel Gabriel visited him and brought him a message that the world has abandoned true worship, and that he was chosen by God, as a prophet to bring the final message to the world.[4] The Five Pillars ofIslam summarize the worldview of Islam: 1) The creed (called kalmia) must be recited by the convert, “There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is his final prophet.” 2) Prayers (salat) must be offered five times a day in a strictly prescribed fashion while facing Mecca. 3) Alms (zakat) equivalent to one-fortieth of one’s income must be given to the cause. 4) Regular fasting (sawn) must take place, especially during the month of Ramadan. And 5) a pilgrimage to Mecca (hajj) must be made once during the life of a Muslim. This surrender compromises the first meaning of the term jihad, intimating an “inner struggle.”[5]

Critique of Islam

One of the major objections Muslims have to Christianity is that they view Jesus as only a prophet. They do so by citing Deuteronomy 18:15-18 which they believe means the one greater than Moses is Muhammad. Deuteronomy 18 makes it clear however in its context when it speaking about the one greater than Moses that it is speaking of Jesus. The evidence of the New Testament regarding Jesus is that He came from his Jewish brethren (Galatians 4:4), 2) Deuteronomy 18:18 says, “He shall speak to them all that God commanded him.” Jesus Himself says, “I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things (John 8:28).” Finally Jesus called himself a “prophet” (Luke 13:33) and people considered him to be a prophet. (Matthew 21:11; Luke 6:16; 24:19; John 4:19; 6:14; 7:40; 9:17). It is impossible then that Muhammad fulfilled the prophecy of Deuteronomy 18, and only possible that Jesus fulfilled it.

The final objection Islam has to Christianity states that Jesus is only a prophet and that He could never be God in the flesh. The Bible teaches the incarnation of Jesus and teaches that those who deny that Jesus came in the flesh are false teachers (1 John 4:1-3). At the heart of this objection is the belief that the teachings of Jesus have been corrupted by the subsequent teachings of the apostle Paul, therefore to mention using the Pauline epistles to Muslims is futile. Muslims believe the apostle John was infected by Greek philosophy.[6]

Muslims affirm that the Torah, the Psalms and the Gospels are all given from God. The Koran teaches, “We gave Moses the Book and followed him up with a succession of messengers,” (Sura 2:87)[7]Regarding the Psalms, Muslims teach, “We have sent thee inspiration, as We sent it to Noah and the Messengers after him: we sent inspiration to Abraham, Isma’il, Isaac, Jacob and the Tribes, to Jesus, Job, Jonah, Aaron, and solomon, and to David We gave the Psalms,” (4:163).[8] Regarding the Gospels Muslims teach, “It is He Who sent down to thee (step by step), in truth, the Book, confirming what went before it; and He sent down the Law (of Moses) and the Gospel (of Jesus) before this, as a guide to mankind, and He sent down the criterion (of judgment between right and wrong),” (3:3).[9] Also, “And in their footsteps We sent Jesus the son of Mary, confirming the Law that had come before him: We sent him the Gospel: therein was guidance and light, and confirmation of the Law that had come before him: a guidance and an admonition to those who fear Allah,” (5:46).[10]

The Muslims while saying the books of Moses, Psalms and the Gospels are given by God then claim that the Bible is corrupted and full of contradictions. If that is so, then it would seem they do not believe the Qu’ran since the Qu’ran says that the Word of God cannot be altered.[11] The Koran teaches that, “Rejected were the messengers before thee: with patience and constancy they bore their rejection and their wrongs, until Our aid did reach them: there is none that can alter the words (and decrees) of Allah. Already hast thou received some account of those messengers,” (6:34).[12] It also teaches, “The word of thy Lord doth find its fulfillment in truth and in justice: None can change His words: for He is the one who heareth and knoweth all,” (6:115).[13] “For them are glad tidings, in the life of the present and in the Hereafter; no change can there be in the words of Allah. This is indeed the supreme felicity,” (10:64).[14] Muhammad claimed to have received the revelation of Qur’an from Allah. The argument that the Muslims have regarding who Jesus is and what Jesus did, as well as the nature of the Bible holds no water. If the Bible was around before the Qur’an as it was and Muhammad was received revelation from Allah during that time, God’s Word could not have been corrupted.

Plan for Sharing Christ with people within Islam

The theological and political conflicts discussed in the previous parts of this essay between Islam and Christianity highlight the reasons for difficulty in witnessing to Muslims. The Muslim does not understand the concept of grace (undeserved forgiveness through the blood of Christ).[15] Islam is opposed to grace; that is, the faith believes in self-attainment, in being good, in merit, to reach heaven.[16] The Christians intent in witnessing to a Muslim must be to show the Muslim 1) What the realities of the cross and salvation are and 2) that the realities are graciously provided by God to give us salvation.[17]

Witnessing to a Muslim can be a frustrating experience. Muslims often shift arguments when challenged and rarely want to stay on the topic for any length of time. The best way to witness to a Muslim is to explain the Scriptural prophecies. By highlighting the context and explaining how the prophecy relates to Jesus, the Muslim can come to learn about who Jesus is and what He has done.

The Gospel of Luke was written for the purpose of people knowing for certain who Jesus is and what He has done. The first nine chapters of the Gospel of Luke are written so the readers of Luke will understand who Jesus is. Chapters ten through twenty four are answers to the question, “What has Jesus done?” The answer the book of Luke gives is that “Jesus has come to die, be buried and rise again” (Luke 24:19-27). The Muslim while having difficulties with the Bible needs to understand why Jesus came to die for sin, was buried and rose again.

Witnessing to Muslims can present difficulties that the Christian may not have experienced before. Christians should study the arguments from Scripture that Muslims use to oppose Christianity. By studying the Scripture, Christians will be ready to engage the worldview of Muslims, and alleviate some of the difficulty by being prepared to give an answer to for the hope in Christ one has (1Peter 3:15). In conclusion, in witnessing to Muslims it is vital to highlight the unity of the Bible because this emphasizes what Jesus has done throughout redemptive history. By doing this, one will deal with the main objections Muslims have about the Bible and Jesus.

Bibliography

Bush, George, “Islam is Peace” says President: Remarks by the President as Islamic Center of Washington, D.C.,” September 17, 2002, accessed February 24th, 2009.http://www.whitehouse.gov/

Corduan, Winfried, A Christian Introduction to World Religions Neighboring Faiths, (Illinois: Intervarsity press, 1998), 108-109.

Hindson, Ed, Caner, Ergun, The Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics (Oregon: Harvest House, 2008), 279.

Obama, Barack,“Remarks by the President at Cairo University”, June 4, 2009, accessed February 24th, 2010. http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/Remarks-by-the-President-at-Cairo-University-6-04-09/

Slick, Matt, “Qur’an says the Bible not corrupt,” http://www.carm.org/religious-movements/islam/quran-says-bible-not-corrupt.

The Koran, translated by M.H. Shakir, Online Searchable Koran found at Humanities Text Initiative, published by Tahrike Tarsile Qur’an, Inc., in 1983.

Wright, John, The Difference the Facts of Christianity with comments added on Cults, Islam and Eastern Thought (Self Published), 29.

In Christ Alone,

Dave

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[1] George Bush, “Islam is Peace” says President: Remarks by the President as Islamic Center of Washington, D.C.,” September 17, 2002, accessed February 24th, 2009. http://www.whitehouse.gov/

[2] Barack Obama, “Remarks by the President at Cairo University”, June 4, 2009, accessed February 24th, 2010. http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/Remarks-by-the-President-at-Cairo-University-6-04-09/

[3] Ed Hindson, Ergun Caner, The Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics (Oregon: Harvest House, 2008), 279.

[4] Ed Hindson, Ergun Caner, The Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics (Oregon: Harvest House, 2008), 279.

[5] Ed Hindson, Ergun Caner, The Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics (Oregon: Harvest House, 2008), 279.

[6] Ed Hindson, Ergun Caner, The Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics (Oregon: Harvest House, 2008), 281.

[7] The Koran, translated by M.H. Shakir, Online Searchable Koran found at Humanities Text Initiative, published by Tahrike Tarsile Qur’an, Inc., in 1983.

[8] The Koran, translated by M.H. Shakir, Online Searchable Koran found at Humanities Text Initiative, published by Tahrike Tarsile Qur’an, Inc., in 1983.

[9] The Koran, translated by M.H. Shakir, Online Searchable Koran found at Humanities Text Initiative, published by Tahrike Tarsile Qur’an, Inc., in 1983.

[10] The Koran, translated by M.H. Shakir, Online Searchable Koran found at Humanities Text Initiative, published by Tahrike Tarsile Qur’an, Inc., in 1983.

[11] Matt Slick, “Qur’an says the Bible not corrupt,” http://www.carm.org/religious-movements/islam/quran-says-bible-not-corrupt.

[12] The Koran, translated by M.H. Shakir, Online Searchable Koran found at Humanities Text Initiative, published by Tahrike Tarsile Qur’an, Inc., in 1983.

[13] The Koran, translated by M.H. Shakir, Online Searchable Koran found at Humanities Text Initiative, published by Tahrike Tarsile Qur’an, Inc., in 1983.

[14] The Koran, translated by M.H. Shakir, Online Searchable Koran found at Humanities Text Initiative, published by Tahrike Tarsile Qur’an, Inc., in 1983.

[15] Ed Hindson, Ergun Caner, The Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics (Oregon: Harvest House, 2008), 281.

[16] John Wright, The Difference the Facts of Christianity with comments added on Cults, Islam and Eastern Thought (Self Published), 29.

[17] Winfried Corduan, A Christian Introduction to World Religions Neighboring Faiths, (Illinois: Intervarsity press, 1998), 108-109.

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