What Will You Say to a Muslim?
Have you ever had the opportunity of sharing God’s Word with a Muslim? If you have or if you have seen them on a news program being interviewed, you likely noticed that they a fervent, intense, passionate, zealous belief in God. The apostle Paul told Timothy, “This is good, and it is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to an accurate knowledge of truth.” (1 Tim. 2:3-4) The following basic information should be helpful in your pursuit to witness to all kinds of people, in this case, Muslims. However, first, we recommend a few books.
Many have not had many opportunities to witness to a Muslim. Most of us because of radical Islam (e.g., ISIS and Al Qaeda) over the past 15-years have gotten to know that quite a number of Muslims have a radical belief in Allah, the Islamic name of God. However, most Muslims are not that familiar with what the Bible truly teaches. It is our hope that we can share our faith with Muslims when the opportunity presents itself. The following is a simple introduction to that process. For more on this subject, please see the above books. Before beginning, let’s think about an illustration.
MEDICINE BALL ILLUSTRATION (see attached image below)
Medicine Ball Description: medicine ball is a weighted ball roughly the diameter of the shoulders, often used for rehabilitation and strength training. The medicine ball also serves an important role in the field of sports medicine to improve strength and neuromuscular coordination.
You can throw the medicine ball so hard like the men below in the picture that it is not catchable. Or, it can be thrown like the woman, so that is catchable. The same is true with evangelism. You can throw your words so they are catchable or not catchable, that is, they are acceptable or not acceptable. Yes, there are a lot of truths that you could mention about Muhammad and Islam but are they going to close down the conversation before you even get started?
A worldview in the simplest terms is “the sum total of a person’s answers to the most important questions in life.” Ironically, in today’s world, while everyone has a worldview, most are unaware of what it is and how it may affect their lives. For this reason, most worldviews are deficient, contradictory, and seldom are they united in thought with their many different pieces. (Nash 1999, 13)
While most of the earth’s seven billion residents are walking around unaware of the fact that they are carrying an insufficient worldview; it actually affects every facet of their life. Moreover, it is actually a matter of life and death that one not only become better aware of their worldview. However, it must be brought into alignment with the only worldview that matter, the thinking of the Creator of humankind himself as he has revealed to us through his loving revelation, the Bible.
What is of supreme importance then, is that the Christians continuously evaluate their own worldview, making sure that it is in harmony with God’s Word. Nevertheless, it is just as important to familiarize ourselves with the worldview of others: Buddhism, Hinduism, Shintoism, and Islam, to mention a few. “Converts and immigrant [of Islamic] communities are found in almost every part of the world. With about 1.62 billion followers or 23% of the global population, Islam is the second-largest religion by number of adherents and, according to many sources, the fastest-growing major religion in the world.”
Evangelism is the obligation of every Christian, to teach and preach the gospel to the ends of the earth. (Matt 24:14; 28:19-20; Ac 1:8) It is for this reason that we will look at the worldview of Islam and contrast it with the Christian belief system. Initially, we will offer a brief overview of how Islam got its start and explain some terms that should help us better understand the Islamic mindset. Next, we will look at a short overview of five facets that every worldview possesses: Islam’s view of God, view reality, knowledge, moral code, and religious character. Finally, we will contrast the beliefs systems of Islam with Christianity before ending with a brief overview of what has been said herein.
Short Overview of Islam
Muhammad bin [son of] Abdullah, was born about 570 C.E., in the prosperous trade city of Mecca. Young Muhammad was very much dissatisfied with the religious system of his day, it became known as the ‘time of ignorance.’ His people were steeped in idolatry and the worship of hundreds of local deities. Muhammad through his interactions with local Christian and Jewish traders had become just as disappointed with their approach to God as well. As far as he was concerned, both Judaism and Christianity had abandoned Allah, and for this reason, the God of the Bible was raising up one last prophet to restore the pure religion of Abraham.
According to A Christian’s Pocket Guide to Islam “the Jews, the Arabs gained a superficial knowledge of the Old Testament stories and Jewish folklore, which is seen in the pages of the Quran. The Christianity that Muhammad encountered was brought to Arabia chiefly by Christians who had fled from the Byzantine Empire, victims of the intricate Christological controversies of those days, who had been condemned as heretics. Muhammad’s very imperfect understanding of Christian doctrine was probably due to the nature of these informants.” (Sookhdeo 2001, 10)
Muhammad’s marriage into a wealthy family afforded him the opportunity to engage in meditative thought as to his religious environment. It was on one of these occasioned trips that Allah or Gabriel began to come to him while he was in his trance. The inhabitants of Mecca were not receptive to these visions, believing Muhammad to be “demon-possessed.” It is at this point, about 622 C.E.; Muhammad made his flight to Medina. This also corresponds with the start of the Muslim calendar. As a result, dates are known as A.H. (Sookhdeo 2001, 12, 80)
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The Arabic word jihad was given birth to in about 624 C.E. after the battle of Badr, in which it was decided that the Muslim had an obligation to perform a jihad whenever they perceived a threat of any sort. Further, it was here in Medina that the Quran, a sacred textbook, was further developed into the final revelation from Allah. It is here too that many of the traditions of Islam had their beginning: prayer toward Jerusalem, Friday as the day of worship, and the fast of Ramadan. In Muhammad’s lifetime, he managed to conquer all of Arabia, being the first to unite all Muslims as one, into the religion of Islam. Muhammad died in 632 C.E. and was succeeded by Caliph Abu Bakr in 634 C.E. and Caliph Umar in 644 C.E. Throughout this initial period of unity, Syria, Iraq, Persia, and Egypt fell to the newly founded Islamic empire. (Sookhdeo 2001, 13)
There are the two major divisions of Islam, the Sunni and the Shiah. This came apart back at the time of Muhammad’s successors and is based on a discrepancy of understanding as to who is his lawful religious heirs. Does the procession come after Muhammad’s lineage as the Shiite Muslims assert or is it based on the elective office as the majority Sunni claim? The argument continues to this day, with no resolution in sight. The Sunni Muslims are in the majority by about ninety percent, with most of the ten percent of Shiah being found in Iran. Of course, with the Shiah being in the minority, they are under constant persecution by the Sunnis. (Sookhdeo 2001, 65)
Five Facets of the Islamic Worldview
Unlike most of the religious systems that exist today, Islam has accomplished a way of life that many other institutions only dream of, a unity to the point that the Quran and the hadith govern their religious system, state laws, and all social settings, Shariah law. It is sacrilege to violate any of the religious norms, and one Muslim will correct another, and in many cases, it can mean death in Islamic countries.
View of God
Allah is the God of Islam. The Quran states: “So believe in God and His apostles. Say not ‘Trinity’: desist: it will be better for you: for God is One God.” (Surah 4:171, AYA) The Quran does not dispute the reality of God’s existence, like the Bible, it simply speaks as though he is. For the Muslim, Allah is almighty, all powerful, all knowing, and has no equal. Allah is the God of judgment and is to be feared in the sense of dread, not a reverential fear. As Abraham was God’s friend, the concept of a Muslim being the friend of Allah would be foreign to his mindset.
View of Reality
Islam believes Allah, “Almighty God” is the One who created the universe. They believe that the universe we are living in is not eternal as on the Day of Judgment there will be new Heaven and new earth. “On the Day when the earth will be changed to another earth and so will be the heavens and they (all creatures) will appear before Allah, the One, the Irresistible.” (Quran 14:48) Further, they believe the universe to be material, as the earth is under your feet, and is directed by God.
Aristotle’s work greatly influenced the Arab world. Arabic scholars, such as Avicenna and Averroes, expanded on and built on Aristotelian thinking in their attempts to bring into line Greek thought with the Muslim teaching. Setting aside the philosophical aspect of epistemology, and looking at the knowledge of Islam as it pertains to their religious institution, one will find that it has predominately been borrowed from late Judaism and Christianity and fused into Muhammad’s understanding, as later interpreted by the Arabian scholars. For example:
- Quran: “Allah receiveth (men’s) souls at the time of their death, and that (soul) which dieth not (yet) in its sleep. He keepeth that (soul) for which He hath ordained death.”
- Quran: “I do call to witness the Resurrection Day . . . Does man think that We cannot assemble his bones? . . . He questions: ‘When is the Day of Resurrection?’ . . . Has not He [Allāh] the power to give life to the dead?” (75:1, 3, 6, 40)
- Quran: “They ask: When is the Day of Judgement? (It is) the day when they will be tormented at the Fire, (and it will be said unto them): Taste your torment (which ye inflicted).” (51:12-14)
- Quran: “And as for those who believe and do good works, We shall make them enter Gardens underneath which rivers flow to dwell therein forever.” (4:57) “On that day the dwellers of Paradise shall think of nothing but their bliss. Together with their wives, they shall recline in shady groves upon soft couches.” (36:55, 56)
- Quran: “And if ye fear that ye will not deal fairly by the orphans, marry of the women, who seem good to you, two or three or four; and if ye fear that ye cannot do justice (to so many) then one (only) or (the captives) that your right hands possess.” (Surah 4:3)
Christian Moral Code vs Islam
Each human that has descended from Adam and Eve have a moral code (conscience) that is inherent in them from birth, which corresponds to the words found in Genesis when God said, “Let us make man in our image.” This moral code is an internal awareness that enables one to choose between what is right and what is wrong, “and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them.” – Romans 2:15.
This inner moral code, while inherent from birth must be trained; if not, it can be deceptive. It can serve as a guide to one’s life. However, it can become dangerous or even treacherous if it has not been enlightened under the correct standards, being in harmony with its maker. As this moral code develops over time it can be influenced for the good or bad by one’s environment, worship, and behavior. It is the correct understanding of the Word of God, which trains the moral code.
On the surface, it may appear that the moral values of the Muslim are humane and selfless in nature. Even many similarities further the misbelief that the Christian and the Muslim are worshiping the same God, similarly, but just by different names. Islam believes that faith is dead without evidence of good works; God will punish any worship that is not directed at him, rights against crime against your fellow man, adultery and fornication are wrong, similar abhorrence to the seven deadly sins, the obeying of the law of the land, drunkenness, suicide, and homosexuality are forbidden.
This section does not contain the space to look at all facets of the Islamic moral code; therefore, we will briefly consider how the women of Islam are treated. Unlike the West, it is the woman, who brings honor to the family. Thus there are many restrictions on the women of Islam, in order to protect the family honor. There is an equation within Islam: the greater the restriction, the greater the honor. For example, without exception, a girl must retain her virginity for marriage. The woman must have someone, even a child, who accompanies and supervises her everywhere she goes. The woman’s role in the house is to be the caretaker, and no Muslim husband would dare lift a hand, even if the wife has a full-time job outside the home. In the name of modesty, the woman is to be covered from the ‘neck to wrist and ankle, as well as her hair.’ The marriage is arranged, and while the female may refuse, the pressure is usually insurmountable. While it is permissible for a man to marry a Christian or a Jew (as they would then be Muslim), a Muslim woman can only marry a Muslim man. Divorce in the Islamic community is very similar to the Jewish religious leaders of Jesus’ day: the man can divorce the woman for any reason by simply saying three times, in front of witnesses: “I divorce you.” The woman, on the other hand, is largely unable to divorce the husband. The rape of Christian women within Islamic countries, while being a dishonor to the woman, it is a means for a Muslim man to proliferate the Muslim population because a child is Muslim if born of a Muslim man. While many today are attempting a progressive liberal approach in looking at similarities between Islam and Christianity, it has its dark side, and any syncretism attempts are severely misplaced. (Sookhdeo 2001, 59-64)
As opposed to delving into Islam’s highly developed religious rituals and traditions; we will take a brief look at how Islam’s tolerance, or lack thereof for other religious institutions. Actually, Islamic scholars who are behind the footnotes in the Quran and articles dealing with Islam’s view of Christianity and Judaism have begun a campaign to conceal their hatred for these religious institutions, viewing them as infidels. For example, while the word fight may be found in the writings, it actually means kill. The end game for Islam is to convert the world to Islam and to rule from Jerusalem, under Shariah law. This can be done by preaching, or by terrorism and killing the infidel. The words of the infamous Osama bin Laden bring this point home with a chilling effect: “I was ordered to fight the people until they say there is no god but Allah, and his prophet Muhammad.”
Islam versus Christianity
View of God: Islam considers the Trinity to blasphemous. (Q: 4:171, 5:17, 5:72-75)
|View of God: Trinity―one God on three persons―separate in person, equal in nature and subordinate in duty. (John 1:1; Isa 44:8)|
View of Man: While man may be may be weak, he is capable of righteousness before God.
View of Man: Man is fallen and sinful by nature, as inherited from Adam. (Rom 5:15)
View of Salvation: Islamic belief is that we can attain a righteous standing before God by works, and the denial of Christ’s ransom sacrifice. (Q: 4:157)
View of Salvation: Man, who is fallen cannot save himself, and is in need of a savior, and salvation is by faith alone. (John 3:16; Matt 20:28)
View of Heaven: The Islamic perception of heaven is very carnal as they will drink wine and have sexual relations with dozens of virgins. (Q: 2:25, 4:57, 13:35, 36:55-57, 37:39-48, 47:15, 52:20-23, 55:46-78, 56:12-40)
View of Heaven: The Christian perception of heaven is that we are no longer troubled with the concern of eating and drinking, there being no one getting married, for we will be like angels and drinking and with our new bodies, pain and suffering will be no more. (Rom 14:17; Matt 22:30; Rev 21:4)
View of Predestination: Ironically, while Islam believes that man cannot be held responsible for his actions; Shariah law is very quick to exact justice for certain actions, many of which result in death. (Q: 35:8)
View of Predestination: This term is really dealt with under doctrines, such as: foreknowledge, salvation, eternal security, the destiny of the unevangelized. Under these doctrinal positions, you have numerous views, but the majority consensus is that man is to be held responsible for his actions.
View of the Qur’an: Islam believes that the Qur’an is the very word of God through Muhammad and inerrant, never attaining copying errors. (Q: 61:6)
View of the Bible: Conservative Christianity believes the Bible to be the inspired, inerrant Word of God. (2 Tim 3:16; 2 Pet 1:21)
View of the Bible: Islam believes the Bible to have been the inspired Word of God, but has been corrupted beyond all trustworthiness.
View of the Qur’an: Early collections of Muhammad’s writings came in several different variations because they were retrieved from memory. Around 650-656 there was an attempt to deal with this by creating a standard edition.
(Sookhdeo 2001, 25-48)
While it is paramount that the Christian, who attempts to engage the Muslim in his ministry, be very much aware of the belief system of Islam, it is best to accept that, it is very difficult to disprove Islam based on knowledge alone. It is God alone, who will help the message grown within the Muslim heart. (1 Cor. 3:5-9) However, this knowledge of Islam will enable the evangelizer to counter, explain, and overturn the wrong beliefs that may be raised by the Muslim. It should be understood that most Muslims are like most Christians, in that; they are not that familiar with their Quran, like the Christian with his Bible.
To the Muslim, Muhammad is the greatest prophet that has ever lived, and it will bring the conversation to a complete stop if it should be perceived that the Christian is criticizing him in any way. While the Christian cannot honor Muhammad in a conversation with such honorifics as ‘the blessed Muhammad,’ it is fine to say ‘the prophet Muhammad.’ Instead of attempting to dethrone Muhammad, it is the wisest course to educate them about Christ, which they do not view as being the Son of God, but rather a great prophet like Muhammad.
Islam has circled the earth with its presence, and it would be a mistake, to assume that every Muslim is the same. Many Muslims are only Muslim in a very basic sense: prayer, Ramadan, and occasioned visits to the mask. They may have been westernized and feel ousted by the conservative Islamic community. However, Islamic extremist is just as prevalent, and caution is the word of the day. Until one has come to realize whom they are speaking with, it is best to be very cautious about what is said, and how it is said. It must also be kept in mind that his objective is to evangelize his visitor, as much as it is the Christian’s objective to evangelize him.
A white Christian attempting to evangelize a non-white Muslim is at a disadvantage from the start because they are lumped in with the immoral western world. It is best to address this immediately with, “I know that the western world is immoral in the extreme, and even within the Christian community, there are such cases, but would you agree that all major religions have those who do not represent themselves well?’ (Sookhdeo 2001, 73-75)
Some final suggestions are to be friendly and tactful. (Pro. 25:15) Keep in mind that while Most Muslims do not know their Quran well, what they do know is deeply entrenched has been learned by rote. Part of the Muslim development is hearing the fundamental Muslim teachings repeatedly, which is part of their spiritual development. If we are to reach the heart of a Muslim, it will be through patience and understanding. Arguing with a Muslim will serve us no better than arguing with any other person over religious matters. Instead of using the word “Bible,” refer to it as the book of God. Muslims also do not like the phrase “Son of God,” but they have great regard for Jesus as a prophet or messenger, so avoid the phrase “Son of God” until you have a long record of rapport. It is best to witness to just one person and avoid talking with a group. Most importantly, women should witness to women and men to men. If a female Muslim were caught talking with a westerner for an extended time, her life could be in danger, as honor killings are becoming the norm even in the West. In addition, keep in mind modestly dressed in the West is not necessarily modestly dressed in the Muslim world. Some things to build rapport on are the greatness of God and the love of God. We could speak on the wrongness of idol worship, the wickedness found in the world today, wars, uprisings, racial hatred, as well as the hypocrisy of religion. If we sense any anger, it is best to excuse ourselves from the conversation as soon as possible.
Each of us is affected by the diversity of the world we live in, and it has come to almost every neighborhood. With this variety of beliefs, it is no longer the case of a Christian attempting to share his gospel with unbelievers. Thus, we need to educate ourselves and broaden our understanding of what other worldviews are, which may very well open up the opportunity for one receiving life. Islam makes up 23 percent of the earth’s population (1.62 billion followers).
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 Zondervan (2010-06-19). Life’s Ultimate Questions: An Introduction to Philosophy. Zondervan. Kindle Edition.
 [Ar islām submission (to the will of God)] 1817.—Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. Eleventh ed. Springfield, Mass.: Merriam-Webster, Inc., 2003
 (Arab. Allāh, a contraction of al-Ilāh, “the God”)—The Encyclopedia of Christianity, 749
 [Ar muslim, lit., one who submits (to God)] ca.1615—Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. Eleventh ed. Springfield, Mass.: Merriam-Webster, Inc., 2003
 Anno Hegirae, year of the flight
 [Ar jihād] 1869: a holy war waged on behalf of Islam as a religious duty also: a personal struggle in devotion to Islam esp. involving spiritual discipline—ibid.
 [Ar Ramaḍān] ca. 1595: the ninth month of the Islamic year observed as sacred with fasting practiced daily from dawn to sunset—ibid.
 [caliphe, Ar khalīfa successor] 14c: a successor of Muhammad as temporal and spiritual head of Islam —ibid.
 As the Sunni are in the vast majority, this worldview will largely reflect their belief system. The hadith is the narrative record of the sayings or customs of Muhammad and his companions; and the collective body of traditions relating to Muhammad and his companions.—Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. Eleventh ed. Springfield, Mass.: Merriam-Webster, Inc., 2003
 The hadith is the narrative record of the sayings or customs of Muhammad and his companions; and the collective body of traditions relating to Muhammad and his companions.—Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. Eleventh ed. Springfield, Mass.: Merriam-Webster, Inc., 2003
 Shariah law is the immensely detailed body of rules and regulations, instructions for religious practice and daily life.—A Christian’s Pocket Guide to Islam. Pewsey, Wiltshire: Isaac Publishing, 2001, p. 19.
 Suras 2:190-193, 2:216, 2:244, 3:56, 3:151, 4:56, 4:74, 4:76, 4:89, 4:91, 4:95, 4:104, 5:51, 5:32-38, 7:96-99, 8:12-14, 8:39, 8:60, 8:65, 9:5, 9:14, 9:23-30, 9:38-41, 9:111, 9:123, 22:18-22, 25:52, 47:4, 47:35, 48:16, 48:29, 61:4, and 66:8-10.