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Why should we buy out the time from our busy, hectic Christian lives to have a basic understanding of Islam? Our world, whether we like it or not, has become a melting pot of people from different cultures and backgrounds, including their religions, be it Taoism and Confucianism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Shintoism, or Islamism. We need to know something about the history of the world’s religions, especially Islam, since it is the world’s second-largest religion and the fastest-growing, with its 1.8 billion followers.
There are four main reasons to know more about Islam. (1) We need to know what normal Islamic behavior is so that we can know when any Muslim has escalated beyond the moderate into the radical. (2) Islam has dominated the news and minds of the world for the past 30+ years because of radical Islamic terrorism, and the news media are distorting the truth. Many times, we see Muslims on the news quoting the Quran when, in fact, they are not quoting the Quran. (3) As was mentioned in the first paragraph, the world is a melting pot of other religious groups. This means that in your child’s grade school, junior high, and high school, there are Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim children, and many other children of different religions, as well as atheists. (4) It is the job of every Christian to evangelize and make disciples. It is crucial to our obedience to the Great Commission. – Matthew. 24:14; 28:19-20; Acts 1:8.
Christianity is only the largest religion because it had a 600-year head start on Islam. Moreover, the Spirit-driven first-century Christians evangelized as a whole like no other generation since. There were but 120 Christians in 33 C.E., which became over one million disciples of Jesus Christ by 125 C.E., less than one hundred years later. The only two things that have kept Christianity at number one is the head start that they received and childbirth. Yes, for many decades, 80 percent of all new Christians have not come by evangelism but instead being born into Christianity. The objective of this book, IS THE QURAN THE WORD OF GOD, is to offer its readers an introduction into what Muslims believe, as well as a foundational knowledge of the Quran itself.
Evangelism is the work of a Christian evangelist, of which all true Christians are obligated to partake to some extent, which seeks to persuade other people to become Christian, especially by sharing the basics of the Gospel, but also the more profound message of biblical truths. Today the Gospel is almost an unknown, so what does the Christian evangelist do? Preevangelism is laying a foundation for those who do not know the Gospel, giving them background information so that they can grasp what they are hearing. The Christian evangelist is preparing their mind and heart so that they will be receptive to the biblical truths. In many ways, this is known as apologetics.
Christian apologetics [Greek: apologia, “verbal defense, speech in defense”] is a field of Christian theology which endeavors to offer a reasonable and sensible basis for the Christian faith, defending the faith against objections. It is reasoning from the Scriptures, explaining and proving, as one instructs in sound doctrine, many times having to overturn false reasoning before he can plant the seeds of truth. It can also be earnestly contending for the faith and saving one from losing their faith, as they have begun to doubt. Moreover, it can involve rebuking those who contradict the truth. It is being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks the Christian evangelist for a reason for the hope that is in him or her. – Jude 1.3, 21-23; 1 Pet 3.15; Acts 17:2-3; Titus 1:9.
An evangelist is a proclaimer of the gospel or good news, as well as all biblical truths. There are levels of evangelism, which is pictured in first-century Christianity. All Christians evangelized in the first century, but a select few fit the role of a full-time evangelist (Ephesians 4:8, 11-12), as was true of Philip and Timothy. Both Philip and Timothy are specifically mentioned as evangelizers. (Ac 21:8; 2 Tim. 4:5) Philip was a full-time evangelist after Pentecost, who was sent to the city of Samaria, having great success. An angel even directed Philip to an Ethiopian Eunuch, to share the good news of Christ with him. Because of the Eunuch’s already having knowledge of God by way of the Old Testament, Philip was able to help him understand that the Hebrew Scriptures pointed to Christ as the long-awaited Messiah. In the end, Philip baptized the Eunuch. After that, the Spirit again sent Philip on a mission, this time to Azotus and all the cities on the way to Caesarea. (Ac 8:5, 12, 14, 26-40) Paul evangelized in many lands, setting up one congregation after another. (2 Cor. 10:13-16) Timothy was an evangelizer or missionary, and Paul placed distinct importance on evangelizing when he gave his parting encouragement to Timothy. (2 Tim. 4:5; 1 Tim. 1:3) In the broadest sense of the term for evangelizer, all Christians are obligated to play some role as an evangelist, and this does not require going overseas as a missionary.
Different Levels of Evangelism
Basic Evangelism is planting seeds of truth and watering any seeds that have been planted. [In the basic sense of this word (euaggelistes), this would involve all Christians.] In some cases, it may be that one Christian planted the seed, which was initially rejected, so he was left in a good way because the planter did not try to force the truth down his throat. However, later he faces something in life that moves him to reconsider those seeds and another Christian waters what had already been planted by the first Christian. This evangelism can be carried out in all of the methods that are available: informal, house-to-house, street, phone, the internet, and the like. What amount of time that is invested in the evangelism work is up to each Christian to decide for themselves.
- Making Disciples is having any role in the process of getting an unbeliever from his unbelief state to the point of accepting Christ as his Savior and being baptized. Once the unbeliever has become a believer, he is still developed until he has become strong. Any Christian could potentially carry this one person through all of the developmental stages.
On the other hand, it may be that several have some part. It is like a person that specializes in a specific aspect of a job, but all are aware of the other elements, in case they are called on to carry out that phase. Again, each Christian must decide for themselves what role they are to have, and how much of a part, but should be prepared to fill any part if needed.
- Part-Time or Full-Time Evangelist is one who sees this as their calling and chooses to be very involved as an evangelist in their local church and community. They may work part-time to supplement their work as an evangelist. They may be married with children, but they realize their gift is in the field of evangelism. If it were the wife, the husband would work toward supporting her work as an evangelist and vice-versa. If it were a single person, he or she would supplement their work by being employed part-time, but also the church would help as well. This person is well trained in every aspect of bringing one to Christ.
- Congregation Evangelists should be very involved in evangelizing their communities and helping the church members play their role at the basic levels of evangelism. There is no reason why a church could not have many within, who take on part-time or full-time evangelism within the congregation, which would and should be cultivated.
Introduction to Islam
Islam is the second-largest religion in the world and the fastest-growing major religion in the world, with over 1.8 billion followers, which comes out to about 24.1% of the global population. The followers of Islam are known as Muslims, which in Arabic means “one who surrenders to God.” In the Arabic language, the word Islam means “surrender” or “submission,” or “commitment” to Allah. Islam is the religion of the Quran or as any Muslim might say quite often, “the people of the book.” Islam is based on the teachings of the Quran. The Arabic name for God, Allah, does not refer to the God worshiped by Jews and Christians, even though they believe this to be the case. The Quran is smaller than the New Testament. It is set up similar to the chapter and verse but not really. What Christians would call a chapter Muslims would call a Surah (meaning, “step” or “gradation”), of which there are 114 in the Quran; each divided into what Christians would call verses but Muslims would call ayahs (meaning, “evidence,” “a sign” or “a pointer”). Someone who has memorized the entire Quran is called a hafiz. Some Muslims read Quranic ayah (verse) with elocution, which is often called tajwid, rules governing how the words of the Quran should be pronounced during its recitation. As we move through this publication, we will quote the Quran quite often because we want to have the reader familiar with it. This way, when a Muslim or some newscaster on television recites the Quran, you will be able to recognize whether that is the case. Allah is the grand theme of the Quran.
Surah 59:23-24 The Holy Quran
23 Allah is He, than Whom there is no other god;- the Sovereign, the Holy One, the Source of Peace (and Perfection), the Guardian of Faith, the Preserver of Safety, the Exalted in Might, the Irresistible, the Supreme: Glory to Allah. (High is He) above the partners, they attribute to Him. 24 He is Allah, the Creator, the Evolver, the Bestower of Forms (or Colours). To Him belong the Most Beautiful Names: whatever is in the heavens and on earth, doth declare His Praises and Glory: and He is the Exalted in Might, the Wise.
We can see from ayah 23-24 of Surah 59 that there were many names or descriptions of Allah. Generally, most Muslims will tell you that Allah is given ninety-nine Beautiful Names. We see right here in ayah 24, “To Him belong the Most Beautiful Names.” On the cover of our book, you will see the Quran with a string lying on top of it, which contains thirty-three beads. Prayer beads are referred to as Misbaha (Arabic masbaha), Tasbih or Subha and usually contain ninety-nine beads, corresponding to the Names of God in Islam. Sometimes only thirty-three beads are used, in which case one would cycle through them three times. Each of the beads represents one of the Names of Allah, which means that if you complete the circuit of ninety-nine beads, you will have recited all of the Names of Allah. Some of these ninety-nine names are, the Merciful, the Compassionate, the Holy One, the King, the Peace, the Protector, the Mighty One, the Fashioner, the Forgiver, Dominate One, the Provider. These are very similar to what we might find in the Bible. There are names in the Bible that are very integrated to our relationship with God that is not found in the Quran, like the Father, as the God of the Quran, Allah does not have that kind of relationship with his people. Moreover, Islam does not recognize Jesus Christ as the Son of the Father.
Surah 57:1-4 The Holy Quran
1 Whatever is in the heavens and on earth,- let it declare the Praises and Glory of Allah. for He is the Exalted in Might, the Wise. 2 To Him belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth: It is He Who gives Life and Death, and He has Power over all things. 3 He is the First and the Last, the Evident and the Immanent: and He has full knowledge of all things. 4 He it is Who created the heavens and the earth in Six Days, and is moreover firmly established on the Throne (of Authority). He knows what enters within the earth and what comes forth out of it, what comes down from heaven and what mounts up to it. And He is with you wheresoever ye may be. And Allah sees well all that ye do.
It should be noted that every surah (chapter) of the Quran, except Surah 9 begins with, “In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.” (Bismi-llāhi r-raḥmāni r-raḥīmi). In this surah, we find more title for Allah (Exalted, Mighty, Wise, the First, the Last, Knower of all things, and the like). In ayah (verse) 4, we find Allah as Creator, “He it is Who created the heavens and the earth in Six Days.” Muslims believe like many Christians that God created the earth in a literal six, twenty-four hour days. Muslims accept the creation of Adam. However, note that the Quran goes on to say, “and is moreover firmly established on the Throne (of Authority).” This latter thought has become a doctrine within Islam, known as the enthronement doctrine, which teaches that Allah after creating the world mounted the throne and now will never come down from his throne.
Remember, in the above Surah 59, ayah 23 it says, “(High is He) above the partners they attribute to Him.” The partner here is referring to the Son of God, Jesus Christ, suggesting that the divine cannot come down to the earth, which is why they only see Jesus as a prophet like Moses, only human. Therefore, the whole idea of Jesus Christ coming down from the spirit realm to the earth is heretical to Islam. For Muslims, it is an unforgivable sin for a Muslim to suggest that God has a “partner,” or a Son. The idea of humans needing a redeemer found in Scripture is not within the Quran.
Arabia in the Sixth Century
In the sixth century C.E., the land of Arabia was filled with traders and raiders. The area was filled with Bedouin people (a nomadic Arab of the desert regions of Arabia and North Africa), who were exchanging goods with caravan traders. To the north of Arabia was Asia Minor; to the south was the Indian Ocean, to the east were the Mountains of Persia; and to the west, there was the Mediterranean and the Red Sea. In many ways, Arabia was isolated geographically. Having an understanding of geography helps us to know better, how Islam rose against Christianity at this time in the world. “Many places named in the Bible as being in Arabia are more specifically in Arabia Petraea. Such sites include Buz, Dedan, Dumah, Ephah, and the Hazor of Jeremiah 49:28–33, Massa, Mesha, and Midian. Hazarmaveth, Ophir, Sabtah, Sephar, Sheba, and Uzal are in the south. Havilah and Parvaim are perhaps in the northeast, and authorities debate the location of Seba. The land of Uz, mentioned in the Book of Job, is considered by many scholars to be located in the area between Edom and northern Arabia.”
In discussing the climate of Arabia, the Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible writes, “In al-Hijaz, the birthplace of Islam, seasons of drought sometimes extend over three years or more. In Yemen and Asir, there are sufficient periodic rains to make systematic cultivation possible. There is no significant river in Arabia. Instead of a system of rivers, a network of wadis (dried stream beds) determines the routes of caravans and pilgrimages.”
The inhabitants of Arabia before Muhammad and up unto today are known as Arabs. The Arabian Peninsula was bound together by a very loose tribal structure. The Arabian Peninsula had little or no rain; too dry or barren to support vegetation. Living in a somewhat isolated area, they only had contact with the outside world using the caravan routes, which connected them to Syria, Egypt, and Persia. We may recall that even clear back in the days of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob there is the account the brothers hating Joseph to the point that they were about to kill him when a traveling caravan came by and the brothers sold him into slavery. Joseph was eventually sold as a slave in Egypt.
The severe lack of rain to this region was one of the motivating factors for the raiding of these caravans by the Arabs, which was a means of their surviving (of course, this is no justification). The tribes would lay in wait as a caravan passed in the valley, and then they would attack it and carry off their goods. Therefore, the caravan route provided the Arabian Peninsula with the critical trade for their survival of the tribes that did not raid and pillage. The tribes that benefited from these caravans were dependent on the nomadic Arabs for their protecting the caravans throughout their routes, providing them safe transport through their territories. As a result, the different Arab tribes developed an extensive set of treatise to get through their lives together.
Arabia and the Early Life of Muhammad
Muhammad (c. 570 CE – 632 C.E.) is the prophet of Islam and widely identified as its founder, who was born in Mecca (Arabic, Makkah) a city in the Hejaz region of Saudi Arabia, where there was a vast oasis. He belonged to the Banu Hashim clan, which was part of the Quraysh tribe, and was one of Mecca’s prominent families. However, it looks as if he was less prosperous during his early life. Muhammad’s father (Abd Allah) had died almost six months before he was born. When he was about six years old, he lost his biological mother (Aminah) to an illness, and he was left as an orphan. Over the next two years, Muhammad was under the guardianship of his paternal grandfather (Abd al-Muttalib), belonging to the Banu Hashim clan until his death. After that, his uncle (Abu Talib), who was the new leader of the Banu Hashim clan, took him in, yet not financially well off enough to do more than simply feed Muhammad.
In Muhammad’s ordinary childhood (he was not exceptional as to wealth or his background), the Arabs practiced a form of worship of Allah that was concentrated in the Mecca valley, at the sacred site of the Kaaba (Arabic, al-Kabah, “The Cube”), which was a simple cube-like building where a black meteorite was revered. It is viewed as the “House of Allah” and has a similar role to the Tabernacle and Holy of Holies in Judaism.
According to Islamic tradition, the Kaaba was a place of worship for the Angels before the creation of Adam. After that, Adam and Eve built a temple on the location, which was destroyed during the flood of Noah’s day and was finally rebuilt by Abraham and Ishmael as described later in the Quran. (Hitti 2002, p. 100) The Kaaba became a sanctuary for 360 idols, one for each day of the lunar year.
When Muhammad reached his teens, he began to accompany his uncle on Syrian trading journeys, which gave him his experience in the commercial trade. In the study of Islam, tradition plays a significant role. Islamic tradition says that when Muhammad was accompanying the Meccans’ caravan to Syria (some say he was nine others say twelve), he came across a Christian monk named Bahira, who then prophesied that Muhammad would become a prophet of God. Most of Muhammad’s later youth are steeped in mystery and legend.
It should be noted that Muhammad was very disappointed with the religious practices of his day. In Mecca, there was a kind of cosmopolitan area, containing people from different parts of the Arabian Peninsula. Therefore, there were many different temples and tribes there with many gods, especially nature gods. The nonstop bickering over religious differences troubled Muhammad. The Kaaba became a sanctuary for 360 images or idols, one for each day of the lunar year. A pagan priest, who received fees from various worshipers, represented each idol. It was similar to Athens or Mars Hill. Today, the Muslims refer to this as the time of ignorance. The irony is that Muhammad’s family had the job of guarding these idols. Moreover, in his childhood, Muhammad himself sacrificed to these deities and participated in the pagan worship of his day. He had a son whom he named after one of the Meccan deities.
Muhammad was disgusted by the idolatrous polytheism and animism, the immorality of his religion. He did not like drinking, gambling, and dancing that were part of his day. He especially detested the burial alive of unwanted infant daughters, which was practiced in Mecca and throughout the rest of Arabia. Surah 6:137 says, “And so to many of the Mushrikun (polytheists – see V.2:105) their (Allah’s so-called) ‘partners’ have made fair-seeming the killing of their children, in order to lead them to their own destruction and cause confusion in their religion. And if Allah had willed they would not have done so. So leave them alone with their fabrications.”
At the age of twenty-five, Muhammad married a wealthy forty-year-old woman named Khadijah bint Khuwaylid, who owned several essential caravans. Now, Muhammad was in charge of her caravans. This is the stage in his life where he gets access to wealth. These caravan businesses also made it so Muhammad could travel extensively and meet a wide range of people. He met Zoroastrians, Christians with a wide-ranging theological background, and Jews.
When Muhammad was about forty years of age, in the year 610 C.E., he had the custom of going to some caves around Mecca to meditate. It was in the ninth month of the year, the month of Ramadan (month-long fast for Muslims between dawn and dusk). Even those tribes that raided the caravans agreed to a treaty not to carry out any of their brutal and ruthless raids during the month of Ramadan. It was during this time that Muhammad was meditating and reflecting in the caves around Mecca, when he allegedly hears a voice say, “Arise and warn!” This is his supposed call to be a prophet. According to the Quran, an angel, later identified as Gabriel, appeared to him in the cave and called on him to rise up and warn the people of Arabia that they are facing eternal damnation unless they refrain from their idolatrous worship and worship the one true God, Allah.
From this experience, Muhammad was now convinced that he needed to go back and destroy the idols of his father, as well preach about what he now believed to be the one true God, namely, Allah. As he is going about this campaign, he arouses strong feelings among his people. His first convert was his wife, Khadijah. It was not long before others in his family began following him. Nevertheless, there was tremendous opposition to him in the beginning. This opposition stemmed from his promotion of one true God and the destruction of these idols, especially the Banu Hashim clan or tribe, which was part of the Quraysh tribe, as they were the ones who were the guardians of these idols in the Kaaba. In reality, all of it was more about the financial loss of money, as you recall the pagan priests, received fees from various worshipers, as they were representatives for each idol.
The first so-called revelation that Muhammad supposedly received in 610 C.E. continued until 632 C.E. Thus; we have a twenty-two-year period where Muhammad is allegedly receiving regular revelations from the angel Gabriel, which when later compiled, would become what is now known as the Quran. As was already stated above, the Quran is made of 114 chapters that the Muslims call Surahs. Almost all Muslims believe that the Arabic Quran that they carry today is an exact duplication of the heavenly transcript that Muhammad received by dictation from Allah by way of the angelic messenger Gabriel.
EXCURSION: Textual Variants in the Quran
‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan (644-656): He is the person responsible for standardizing the Quran in its present form. Many Muslims believe Muhammad gave the Quran, and there have been absolutely no changes, and this is not true. By the time of Uthman, there were MANY variants in the Quran because of interpretation and theology. In most cases, like with the Greek New Testament, if you have textual variants, textual scholars have rules and principles that will allow one to use the evidence to get back to what the original reading was, but that is not the way Uthman went. He burned all of the variants. Thus, all of the variants were destroyed. However, the Germans would later uncover some of these manuscripts in pits where they had tossed these Qurans. We now have some insights into how much variations were there.
On this Dr. Daniel Janosik Director of Islamic Studies, Adjunct Professor of Apologetics, Historical Theology, and Islamic Studies at Southern Evangelical Seminary writes,
“The writing process itself of the Qur’an is believed to further ensure its authenticity. Although the finalization of the Qur’an did not occur until several decades after Muhammad’s death, Muslims still consider Uthman’s collection to be a faithful rendition of the eternal revelation. Muslims believe that some verses were written down during Muhammad’s lifetime but that the majority of them were never recorded until after his death. However, as mentioned earlier, the traditional account holds that the full version of the Qur’an was carefully written down about 20 years after Muhammad’s death under the guidance of Uthman (by 650 AD). During his reign, many of the warriors who had memorized the Qur’an were killed in battle, and Uthman realized that preserving the Qur’an in an oral form alone was a dangerous prospect. He took it upon himself to order all the portions and testimonies of all who memorized the words of Muhammad to be sent to him so that he could collect and preserve the perfect and original words of Allah’s revelation. Afterward, Uthman is said to have destroyed all other manuscripts, as he considered them to be defective. Thus, his work and the resulting version of the Qur’an are considered to be a perfect recollection of the words of Muhammad, exactly as the prophet first uttered them to his followers during his lifetime.” (Janosik 2019, 42-43)
Muhammad made an effort to form alliances with various groups for the purpose of protection. He even had to flee across the Red Sea to Abyssinia around 615 C.E., from the persecution of the ruling Quraysh tribe of Mecca, Abyssinia being the Ethiopian Empire, a kingdom that spanned a geographical area covered by the northern half of the current state of Ethiopia. The Christians offered Muhammad and seventy-five Muslims refuge. The Aksumite king who received them is known in Islamic sources as the Negus. Muhammad shared the Islamic message with King Negus, who felt that it was not that different from the Christian message. It is likely the Christian King, Negus, possibly felt that he could convert the Muslims to Christianity because of the common ground they shared.
The problem they faced here early in the seventh century was the earliest record of translations of parts of the Bible into Arabic is that of a version made in Spain in 724 C.E., some one hundred years later. This means that they could not share Christian documents in Arabic with the Muslims. By this time, there were many heretical views of Christianity by many different varieties of Christian faith, and this is what the Muslims were actually exposed to in that early period. As we know from the New Testament authors, a great apostasy was to enter the church, and by this date, it was full-blown. In the first-century, there was just one true Christianity. About 200 C.E. there were twenty varieties of Christianity, with their being about eighty varieties by 384 C.E. as counted by Epiphanius. Several heretics were expelled from the Roman Empire and had fled down to Arabia for safety. This made it difficult for Muhammad and the Muslims to get a clear biblically sound picture of true Christianity.
Therefore, not only was Muhammad not exposed to the pure form of Christianity and its message, but he also had a fascinating relationship with the Jews. The Jews were scattered throughout the major cities of the Arabian Peninsula but especially in a town named Yathrib (today it is known as Medina), which was located 210 miles (340 km) north of Mecca. At this time, it had a large number of Jewish inhabitants. Medina (Yathrib) ranks as the second holiest city of Islam, after Mecca. The Jews in Yathrib were very upset at the idolatry going on in Arabia. However, they were happy when word came to them that Muhammad was preaching that there was but one true God. Muhammad’s message emphasized Abraham, the oneness of God; he preached against the corruption of idols, and he accepted the Ten Commandments as the Word of God. He refers to the Jews as the Ahl al-Kitab, that is, the “People of the Book.” Therefore, this appeared to be great news for the Jews, as they had been suffering spiritually while living under idolatrous Arabia. Muhammad had promised the Jews not only to end this idolatry but also to stop the inner tribal feuds. Therefore, the Jews and Muslims of Yathrib agreed to give Muhammad safe refuge. He had many troubles early in Mecca because of the families that were in charge of the idols and then after fleeing to Abyssinia, he had initial success, but problems caused him to have to flee yet again; therefore Yathrib (Medina) became an opportunity for refuge once more for him and his followers, as well as take root and prosper.
Thus, Muhammad and his followers left Mecca and traveled north to Medina in 622 C.E. Yathrib became known as al-Madīnah (Medina), the city of the prophet. This move is known as the Hegira or spelled Hijrah (i.e., “the exodus,” “flight,” or “emigration”) and was the beginning of the Islamic or Muslim era. From here, Islam dating begins. Modern Muslims base their entire calendar on the exodus from Mecca to Medina in 622 C.E., just as Christians date everything based on A.D. However, you will not hear a Muslim say a date followed by A.D. or C.E. The Muslim year is given as A.H. (Latin, Anno Hegirae, year of the flight) as opposed to A.D. (Anno Domini, year of the Lord) or C.E. (Common Era). The current Islamic year is 1438 A.H. In the Gregorian calendar, 1438 A.H. runs from approximately 3 October 2016 to 21 September 2017.
There are three reasons that this 622 move from Mecca to Medina becomes highly crucial to the Islamic identity. This is the point where all of the supposed visions that Muhammad saw in Mecca, are now able to grow into this powerful movement. It is no longer one individual person, who has had these supposed visions of the one true God, now there are large numbers of Arabs uniting with Muhammad to say that there is but one true God. This move is important to Islam in that this is the birth of their new religion. Prior to Muhammad, it was the Christians and the Jews alone who proclaimed that there was only one true God, which had created great animosity among the paganistic Muslims. For example, in the twelfth chapter of the Quran, Muhammad changes the Joseph story, so that the wife of Potiphar does not seduce Joseph. In the ninth chapter of the Quran, Muhammad makes the claim that the Jews believed Ezra was the son of God (Allah) in the same way that Christians saw Jesus as the Son of God. It should be noted that there is no evidence that any Jews believed that Ezra was “the son of God.” This making the Quran historically wrong, which is why many translators attempt to soften or to hide the issue.
The third reason that 622 C.E. is important to Islam, with the exodus from Mecca and flight to Medina is that it created this rise of a new political authority, making way for the Arabian Empire to emerge. The constant fighting among the tribes, the division, the raiders, brought about great fragmentation. The entire Arabian Peninsula was held together by this loose tribal structure. The emergence of Islam and this new political authority ends all of this. The Arabs now have an opportunity to be united as one nation. This, of course, had a great impact on the dark ages of the Western culture.
There were many early battles where Mecca tried to come north to try to tamp out this initial movement. Sadly, many Jews lost their lives during this time.
The Battle of Badr (624 C.E.): This battle was fought on Tuesday, March 13, 624 C.E. (17 Ramadan, 2 A.H.) in the Hejaz region of western Arabia (present-day Saudi Arabia), which was a turning point in Muhammad’s struggle with his opponents. There were other small skirmishes, but this was the first full-scale battle between Muhammad and Mecca. Muhammad’s forces of 319, facing unbelievable odds, broke the Meccan lines of over 1,000 soldiers, killing several prominent Quraishi leaders, which included the Muslims’ chief antagonist Abu Jahl. This victory sent three signals. First, Muhammad and his forces now felt that they had a chance. Second, this also sent a message to the other tribes that there was a new power in the region. Third, it gave the impression that Allah was fighting on behalf of Muhammad and his followers. This was referred to then as the mother of all battles, which is why you hear Muslim terrorist nations refer to the mother of all battles against the Western nations. For example, Saddam Hussein used this term in referring to Iraq and the United States at the start of the Gulf War. The Battle of Badr is one of the few battles, which is explicitly mentioned in the Quran.
Surah 3:123-125 The Holy Quran
123 And Allah has already made you victorious at Badr, when you were a weak little force. So fear Allah much [abstain from all kinds of sins and evil deeds which He has forbidden and love Allah much, perform all kinds of good deeds which He has ordained] that you may be grateful. 124 (Remember) when you (Muhammad) said to the believers, “Is it not enough for you that your Lord (Allah) should help you with three thousand angels; sent down?” 125 “Yes, if you hold on to patience and piety, and the enemy comes rushing at you; your Lord will help you with five thousand angels having marks (of distinction).”
The Battle of Uhud (625 C.E.): This battle was fought on Saturday, March 23, 625 C.E. (7 Shawwal 3 A.H.) at the valley located in front of Mount Uhud, in what is now northwestern Arabia. One year later, there is yet another massive battle between Muhammad and his forces go against an army led by Abu Sufyan ibn Harb from Mecca. However, this time, many Muslims forces were killed and even Muhammad himself was severely injured. Nevertheless, Muhammad found his excuse for the loss, not in Allah’s power to lead them to victory, but in the lack of faith on the part of the Muslim forces. Muhammad also said that the Muslims needed to ‘learn the value of martyrdom.’ Therefore, this battle was the beginning of highlighting the importance of Martyrdom in the Islamic community. This battle is significant because of its connection to September 11, 2001, where Muslims gave their lives in Martyrdom for Islam. This has been the case thousands of times over since 2001. The Western mind cannot fathom why Muslims in Palestine would send out a young boy to martyrdom himself to kill a few Jewish people. This martyrdom mindset goes back to this battle 3 A.H. (625 C.E.), and a very ancient conception promoted by Muhammad himself, wherein he placed a very high value on the Muslim life that would make such a sacrifice for Allah.
Return to Mecca (630 C.E.): Eventually, Muhammad feels that it is time to take Mecca back and claim it for Allah. Therefore, Muhamad geared up all of his forces and marched down to Mecca, where all were in completely surprised by all of the Meccans laying down their swords, with no one being killed in the battle that never was. Muhamad took this to be a great sign from Allah, so he granted immunity to all of his former enemies. He did not destroy the Kaaba but instead encircled it seven times and paid homage to the black stone because he believed that the black stone was a symbol of monotheism.
The Expansion of Islam
After Mecca had surrendered to Muhammad in January of 630 C.E. (8 A.H.) and he became its ruler. Now that he had the political capital and religious authority, he was now able finally to clean out the religious image in the Kaaba. After that, it was established as the central point for pilgrimages to Mecca, which continue down to this day.
Muhammad died in 632 C.E., because of being poisoned following his attack upon and conquest of the Jewish settlement of Khaibar. A few decades later, Islam had spread as far as Afghanistan and even to Tunisia in North Africa. Islam’s reach had spread into Spain and as far the French border as we enter the early eighth century C.E. The outgrowth of Muhammad, from being in charge of three caravans as a young man to the prophet and religious founder of what was becoming a worldwide religion, a whole other facet of human society, the second-largest today; it is a staggering feat for a human. From Muhammad, an entire other civilization grew, which of course the Muslims explain as a divine intervention into humanity by Allah.
The Death of Muhammad Leads to Divisive Strife
With Muhammad’s death in 632 C.E., a division broke out, bringing with it a crisis as to who would succeed him as leader of the Muslim community. Muhammad had no male offspring; therefore, he had no clear successor. The caliph refers to the successor of Muhammad, the ruler of an Islamic theocracy. The caliphate [office of the caliph] is the territory over which a caliph’s rule extends or the time for which it lasts. The caliphate history is the era of Islam’s ascendancy from the death of Mohammad until the thirteenth century C.E.; some Muslims still maintain that the Muslim world must always have a calif as head of the community, still seeking to reestablish the Caliphate. The issue of radical Islam today if their desire for a worldwide caliphate, where the caliph is ruling the world under Sharia Law. For Islam, there is no more significant issue than the caliphate (imamah), the successorship of Muhammad and the rulership of mankind, which has shed more blood.
Shiite is a follower of the Shia branch of Islam, which considers Ali, the cousin and son-in-law of Muhammad, and his descendants as Muhammad’s true successors, the first imam. Ali married Muhammad’s favorite daughter, Fatimah. Their marriage produced Muhammad’s grandsons Al-Hasan and Al-Husayn. The Shiites claim that Allah and Muhammad had designated Ali as the one true legitimate successor and that the first three caliphs had robbed him of the caliphate.
Sunni is the largest branch of Islam, which believes in the traditions of the Sunna and accepts the first four caliphs as rightful successors to Muhammad. Ali was the first Imam of Shia Islam. He did rule as the fourth caliph (656-661 C.E.), where a struggle over leadership arose between him and the governor of Syria, Muawiyah. He refused to submit to Ali’s orders; he was the only governor to do so. A battle ensued but to spare further Muslim bloodshed; they decided to end the dispute in arbitration, which weaken Ali because his followers were very disappointed, some who would become his deadly enemies. In 661 C.E., Ali was attacked with a poisoned saber and assassinated by a Kharijite zealot while praying in the Great Mosque of Kufa. The Sunni and the Shi) were on a quarrel or feud. The Sunni then went outside of the prophet’s family, choosing their leader from the Umayyads, wealthy Meccan chiefs.
The Shia chose Ali’s firstborn Hasan, who would have been Muhammad’s grandson. However, Hasan resigned and then was murdered. After that, his brother Husayn became the next imam to be then murdered as well in 680 C.E. His death was viewed a martyrdom by the Shia, which has been a black eye for the Shia down to this day. The Shia believes that Ali was the true successor to Muhammad and divinely protected by Allah, who ended up being assassinated, as was true of his two sons as well. The Shia also believes that Ali was infallible because of having the divine guidance of Allah, and yet he made many missteps leading up to his assassination. The Shia believe that there have only been twelve genuine imams, the last of these being Muhammad al-Muntazar, who disappeared 878 C.E., who will return to bring justice to mankind. This is a doctrine known as the Occultation, which we will talk more about in a later chapter.
Each year the Shia memorializes and honors the martyrdom of Imam Husayn. They have a procession where Shia Muslims will cut themselves with knives and swords, to inflict suffering on themselves. The last few decades have seen the Shia Muslims in the news as zealots for their Islamic cause of seeking to rule the world with a caliph, as they await the return of the Mahdi, the prophesied redeemer of Islam. The Mahdi is to rule, some say, five, seven, nine, or nineteen years before the Day of Judgement, that is, the Day of Resurrection, where evil will finally be removed from the world.
A Day in the Life of a Muslim
The Muslim life involves five pillars, or principal obligations, as well as six fundamental beliefs. Salat is any one of the daily five obligatory prayers where a devout Muslim turns toward Mecca to pray, which Sunnis regard as the second Pillar of Islam. Friday is the Muslim Sabbath; the men go to the mosque (a place of worship for followers of Islam) for prayer when they hear the haunting call of the muezzin from the minaret (a tower) of the mosque. “The muezzin is the servant of the mosque and is chosen for his good character. He stands either at the door or side of a small mosque or on the minaret (manara) of a large one.” The minaret is a tower built onto a mosque from the top of which the call to prayer is made. With modern-day technology, many mosques simply play a recording of give the call.
Mosque, Arabic masjid or jamiʿ, any house or open area of prayer in Islam. The Arabic word masjid means “a place of prostration” to God, and the same word is used in Persian, Urdu, and Turkish. Two main types of mosques can be distinguished: the masjid jamiʿ, or “collective mosque,” a large state-controlled mosque that is the centre of community worship and the site of Friday prayer services; and smaller mosques operated privately by various groups within society.
Outside the mosque stands the minaret (maʾdhanah), which was originally any elevated place but now usually a tower. It is used by the muezzin (“crier”) to proclaim the call to worship (adhan) five times each day. A place for ablution, containing running water, is usually attached to the mosque but may be separated from it.
Beginning with Muhammad’s own house, mosques came to be used for many public functions—military, political, social, and educational. Schools and libraries were often attached to medieval mosques (e.g., al-Azhar mosque in Cairo). The mosque also functioned as a court of justice until the introduction of secular law into many Islamic countries in modern times. Whereas many of the social, educational, and political functions of the mosque have been taken over by other institutions in modern times, it remains a centre of considerable influence. In some cases a maktab (elementary school) is attached to a mosque, mainly for the teaching of the Qurʾān, and informal classes in law and doctrine are given for people of the surrounding neighbourhood.
The mosque differs from a church in many respects. Ceremonies and services connected with marriages and births are not usually performed in mosques, and the rites that are an important and integral function of many churches, such as confession, penitence, and confirmation, do not exist there. Prayer is performed by bows and prostrations, with no chairs or seats of any kind. Men stand in rows, barefooted, behind the imam and follow his movements. Rich and poor, prominent and ordinary people, all stand and bow together in the same rows. Women may participate in the prayers, but they must occupy a separate space or chamber in the mosque. No statues, ritual objects, or pictures are used in the mosque; the only decorations permitted are inscriptions of Quranic verses and the names of Muhammad and his Companions. Professional chanters (qurraʾ) may chant the Quran according to rigidly prescribed systems taught in special schools, but no music or singing is allowed.
Conflict with Christianity
The spread of Islam in the seventh century went west into North Africa, east into Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, and South to Indonesia. The Catholic Church was very militant at this time, so Islam entered conflict with the Catholics. Eventually, the Catholic Church was forced to organize Crusades, to recover the Holy Land from the Muslims. On January 02, 1492, Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand of Spain entered Granada, where they received the keys to the city and the principal mosque, which was reconsecrated as a church. This completed the Catholic reconquest of Spain. Ferdinand and Isabella gave their word to allow the Muslims and Jews of Granada to live in peace but only if they converted, or else they were expelled from Spain. Under the Muslim rule of Spain, a mutual tolerance had existed. However, it later vanished under the influence of the Catholic Inquisition. Still, Islam not only survived but in the 20th and now 21st century has grown to the second-largest religion in the world and is the fastest-growing religion in the world.
As Islam expanded around the world, the Catholic Church was experiencing its own turmoil, trying to keep unity among its flock. However, the two influences that would shake and fracture the Catholic Church most were the printing press of 1455 and the Bible being translated into the common language of the people. God’s Word had purposely been locked away in the Latin language for centuries.
I WOULD have these words translated into all languages, so that not only Scots and Irish, but Turks and Saracens too might read them . . . I long for the ploughboy to sing them to himself as he follows his plough, the weaver to hum them to the tune of his shuttle, the traveler to beguile with them the dullness of his journey. – Desiderius Erasmus
Dutch scholar Desiderius Erasmus penned those words in the early part of the 16th century. Like his English counterpart, William Tyndale, it was his greatest desire that God’s Word is widely translated and that even the plowboy would have access to it.
Much time has passed since the Reformation, and 98 percent of the world we live in today has access to the Bible. There is little wonder that the Bible has become the bestseller of all time. It has influenced men from all walks of life to fight for freedom and truth. This is especially true during the Reformation of Europe throughout the 16th century. These leading men were of great faith, courage, and strength, such as Martin Luther, William Tyndale, while others, like Erasmus, was more subtle in the change that he produced. Thus, it has been said of the Reformation that Martin Luther only opened the door to it after Erasmus picked the lock.
The Quran and the Bible
Surah 3:3 The Holy Quran
3 It is He Who has sent down the Book (the Quran) to you (Muhammad ) with truth, confirming what came before it. And he sent down the Taurat (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel).
We will talk much about the Quran and the Bible in later chapters. For now, it should be noted that the Quran mention both the Old and the New Testament. Adam, Noah, Abraham are mentioned some seventy times in twenty-five different surahs. Ishmael, Lot, Joseph are mentioned in Surah 12. Moses is mentioned in thirty-four different surahs. Saul, David, Solomon, Elijah, Job, and Jonah are mentioned in Surah 10. The account of Adam’s fall is mentioned five times in the Quran, with the flood and Sodom being mentioned eight times. In fact, the Pentateuch is mentioned in the Quran more than any other part of the Bible. As far as the New Testament goes, Zachariah, John the Baptist, Jesus (‛Isa) and Mary are the only ones to be mentioned.
The Three Sources of Teaching and Guidance for Muslims
The Holy Quran is the Islamic holy book: the sacred text of Islam, believed by Muslims to record the revelations of God to Muhammad by the angel Gabriel from 610-632 C.E.
The Hadith or Sunnah is a collection of traditions containing sayings of the prophet Muhammad that, with accounts of his daily practice (the Sunna), constitute the major source of guidance for Muslims apart from the Quran.
The Sharia or Sharia Law is the religious law forming part of the Islamic tradition. It is derived from the religious precepts of Islam, particularly the Quran and the Hadith. Much will be said on this later. For now, know that Sharia Law regulates a Muslim’s entire life in religiously, politically, and socially. There are five categories:
- (Fard) a religious duty or an obligatory action: praying five times a day is fard and neglecting a fard will result in a punishment in the hereafter.
- (Mustahabb) is commendable or recommended. One definition is “duties recommended, but not essential; fulfillment of which is rewarded, though they may be neglected without punishment.” There are thousands of mustahabb acts, which include a traditional Islamic greeting, “peace be upon you.”
- (Jaiz) is that which is allowed or permissible. As a rule, everything that is not prohibited is allowed. (Mubah) is literally permissible; neither forbidden nor commended. Neutral.
- (Makruh) means, “detested,” though not haraam (forbidden); something that is disliked or offensive. If a person commits the Makruh, he does not accumulate ithim (negative reward for bad deeds that is tallied on judgment day) but avoiding the Makhruh is rewarded with thawab (reward for good deeds that is tallied on (judgment day).
- (Haram) is that which is sinful, which calls for punishment.
The Six Pillars of Belief
- Belief in one God: Allah (Surah 23:116, 117)
- Belief in Angels (Surah 2:177)
- Belief in His Books: Torah, Gospel, Psalms, Scrolls of Abraham, Quran
- Belief in the Prophets and Messengers: Adam was the first prophet. Others have included Noah, Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and Jesus, with the last prophet sent by God being Muhammad (Surah 4:136; 33:40)
- Belief in the Day of Judgment: when all the dead will be raised from their graves
- Belief in Divine Predestination: Nothing happens with the permission of Allah
The Five Pillars of Islam
- (The Profession of Faith) The testimony of faith (shahadah): La ilaha illa Allah. Muhammadun Rasulullah. (“There is no god but Allah. Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.”). Sunnis regard this as the first Pillar of Islam. Also may be used as a synonym for the term Istish’had meaning martyrdom. (Surah 33:40)
- (The Five Daily Prayers) This is any one of the daily five obligatory prayers (Salat) where a devout Muslim turns toward Mecca to pray, which Sunnis regard as the second Pillar of Islam. (Surah 2:144)
- (Almsgiving) This is a tax, alms, tithe (zakah) as a Muslim duty; Sunnis regard this as the fourth Pillar of Islam. Neither charity nor derived from Islamic economics, but a religious duty and social obligation. (Surah 24:56)
- (Fasting) This is fasting (sawm) during the month of Ramadhan. The word sawm is derived from Syriac sawmo. (Surah 2:183-185)
- (Pilgrimage to Mecca) Pilgrimage (ḥajj). one who has made the Hajj. Once in a lifetime, every Muslim is obligated to make the journey to Mecca. Only illness and poverty are legitimate excuses. (Surah 3:97)
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 Throughout the book we will quote the Quran quite often so that by the end of the book, the reader should have a good idea whether the Quran is really being quoted.
 B.C.E. means “before the Common Era,” which is more accurate than B.C. (“before Christ”). C.E. denotes “Common Era,” often called A.D., for anno Domini, meaning “in the year of our Lord.”
 We would be remiss if we did not mention that Islam has largely grown by conquering neighbors and forcing its people into conversion by the sword. It is considered apostasy to abandon Christianity and Islam but it is only Islam that claims that apostasy or the abandonment of Islam is to result in the death penalty. In some Islamic countries, a Muslim will be executed if he leaves Islam: (Iraq, Morocco, Nigeria, Egypt, Sudan, Syria, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia, to mention just a few). Blasphemy is defined as speech or actions considered to be contemptuous of God or the divine and is a capital crime in Pakistan.
 In order to evaluate accurately which religion is growing fastest, one must consider the growth alongside the growth of the world population as well. The world grew numerically from 1.6 billion to 6 billion in the 20th century. During the same period, Christianity went from 558 million in 1900 to 2 billion in the year 2000 (and 2.2 billion by mid-2017). As we can see, the percentage of Christians in 1900 was about 34.4 percent and in the year 2000, the percentage of Christians was just below that at 33.2 percent. Therefore, while it could be argued that Christianity had grown by 400 percent; they did not overtake the percentage of the population, and even lost some of the percentages that they had. Islam started 1900 12.35 percent of the population. By the year 2000, Islam had grown to 20 percent of the world population, which at the time of this book in 2017; Islam is actually at 24.1 percent. Islam has grown at 08 percent over the world population growth.
 According to Oxford Dictionaries, “Muslim is the preferred term for ‘follower of Islam,’ although Moslem is also widely used.”
 In other words, every time a Muslim recites one chapter of the Quran, he is moving one step closer to Allah. While it is true that the Bible has many verses that suggest the more Bible knowledge that a disciple takes in, the closer he draws to God. However, Muslims feel that the meaning of the Surah (one step closer to Allah) and ayah (pointing to Allah) is more dynamic in that the reader of the Quran is moving closer to Allah as they read the Quran.
 Therefore, every ayah points to Allah.
 Most will recognize that Catholics also have prayers beads. In fact, it is thought that the Catholics adopted this practice from the Muslims.
 It should be noted here that this author believes that these six creation days are six creation periods.
 Walter A. Elwell and Barry J. Beitzel, “Arabia, Arabs,” Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988), 145.
 IBID, 145.
 Muhammad’s opponents: Surah 43:31. Also, they say: “Why is not this Qur’an sent down to some leading man in either of the two (chief) cities [i.e., Mecca and Medina]?”
 Some Muslims believe instead that 40 scribes followed Muhammad during his life and recorded all of his words from Allah, but this is not generally accepted.
 Muslims also claim that an earlier copy of the Qur’an was written out by Muhammad’s secretary, Zayd ibn Thabit, who collated the Qur’an from various written and oral sources during the time of Abu Bakr, the first Caliph who served from 632-634. After this volume was completed Umar, the second caliph, left the book with his daughter Hafsah, who stored the Qur’an under her bed.
 Peter Riddell and Peter Cotterell, Islam in Context: Past, Present, and Future (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2003), 58-9.
 muezzin | Islamic religious official | Britannica.com
 Granada is the city and capital of Granada Province in the autonomous region of Andalusia, southern Spain
 John Edwards. The Spain of the Catholic Monarchs 1474–1520. Blackwell Publishers Inc, 2000, p. 112–130
 (Clayton 2006, 230)
 Reuben Levy, The Social Structure of Islam, p. 202