The 5 Pillars
The Muslim's World
The Bible, the
Word of God
Jesus the Son of God
Sin and Atonement
The Crucifixion and Resurrection
From a seminar on Islam designed to focus
on the most important aspects of Islam and their core beliefs.
Not all issues are addressed, only the most common and important.
Familiarity with this material will aid in understanding Muslims
in order to present the Gospel of Christ to them.
Islam: Terms and Quiz
Terms: Muslim, Quran, Sunni (largest sect), Shia (second largest sect), Sufi (mystics)
Greeting: Asalamalaykuum (Peace unto you) Response: Walaykuumsalam (and unto you)
Abraham => Ishmael => Arabs => Muhammad => Muslims
Christian Lineage: Abraham => Isaac => Jews => Jesus => Christians
Muhammad's Religious Influences: Jews, Nestorian Christians (Mariology), Sabians
History of Islam:
632 Death of Muhammad & Expansion
750 Golden Age of Islam
1100 Crusades against Muslims
1300 Ottoman Empire
1700 Colonialism of Muslim Territories
1950 Economic Subjugation of Muslim Countries
1970 Oil & Fundamentalism Revival
Present Western "Christian" Immorality
Muslims are "Historical People" whose perspective of the world and life come from the events of the past. As Westerners, our view of life focuses on the present and the future.
Islam Quiz (with answers):
1. How many Muslims are there in the world? ~ 1.2-1.5 Billion Muslims
2. What is the world's population? 6.0 billion
3. How many children does the average Muslim woman have? six
4. What does the Arabic word "islam" literally mean? the way of submission
5. What five countries have the largest Muslim populations? Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Nigeria
6. What is the name of Islam's holy book? Qur'an
7. What language was this book written in? Arabic
8. What province in India has the largest percentage of Muslims? Kashmir (north-west)
9. What are the five pillars (central practices) of Islam? confession, prayer, alms, fast, hajj
10. What nation in South America is more than 15% Muslim? Suriname
11. What city do Muslims face when they pray? Mecca
12. Where is this city? Saudi Arabia
13. What are the two main branches of Islam? Sunni and Shi'a
14. What do Muslims call the building where they worship? mosque
15. How many converts to Islam are there everyday in America? ~2,500 (although the apostasy rate is very high)
16. How many Muslims die in the world everyday? ~ 80,000
Five Pillars of Islam and Tawhid
A young man asked Muhammad what is the minimum that he has to do to get into heaven. Muhammad listed the Five Pillars as the minimum.
(1) Recite the Shahada Confession of Faith
"La ilaha illa'Llah; wa Muhammadun rasulu'Llah."
"There is no God but Allah; and Muhammad is Allah's prophet."
(2) Salat Prayer (formal obligatory prayers 5 times a day, plus informal prayers)
(3) Sawm Fasting during the month of Ramadan
(4) Zakat Tithe; poor due (2_%)
(5) Hajj Pilgrimage to Mecca (supposed Abrahamic origins)
Muslims are uncertain if they will go to heaven. Through the practice of the 5 Pillars and the "traditions," they are confident that if they do go to hell it won't be for too long.
(1) In order to come back to the Flock of Islam, you have to recite the Shahada.
(2) Formal, obligatory prayers (salat) are required 5 times a day (early morning, early noon, late afternoon, sunset, and night prayer). The call to formal prayer begins with the important phrase "Allahu Akbar" (God is Greater). During the formal prayer (usually at the mosque), the Muslim recites the first chapter of the Quran along with other scriptures as they perform the prayer movements.
Surah 1: The Opening (Al-Fatiha)
In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. Praise be to Allah, the Cherisher and Sustainer of the worlds; Most Gracious, Most Merciful; Master of the Day of Judgment. Thee do we worship, and Thine aid we seek. Show us the straight way, The way of those on whom Thou hast bestowed Thy Grace, those whose (portion) is not wrath, and who go not astray.
Call to Prayer: "God is most great. God is most great. God is most great. God is most great. I testify that there is no god except God. I testify that there is no god except God. Come to prayer! Come to prayer! Come to success (in this life and the Hereafter)! Come to success! God is most great. God is most great. There is no god except God."
(2) There are also voluntary and informal prayers. Among these are du'a which are short, informal prayers recited for every part of daily life (traveling, cooking, sleeping, etc). The words for the du'a are prescribed. A Muslim's prayers are central to their lives.
Tawhid is the basic belief of Islam. Tawhid is the basis of being a Muslim. The sum of the Tawhid (basic belief) is contained in Chapter 112, considered to be 1/3 of the Quran.
Surah 112: The Unity, Sincerity, Oneness Of Allah
Say: He is Allah, the One and Only; Allah, the Eternal, Absolute; He begetteth not, nor is He begotten; And there is none like unto Him.
The opposite of Tahwid is sin (shirk), which is associating something or someone with Allah (idolatry). This is the highest degree of blasphemy. You are guilty of sin if you claim something to be Allah that isn't Allah. Allah is the eternal and absolute. Nothing can compare to him. Nothing can be associated with him. Nothing can partner with him.
In Islam there is no such thing as salvation since we are all born in the Best Form. Every child is born a Muslim (the straight path), but our parents and society raise us up in bad things, and then we forget. You aren't converted in Islam, you're reverted. Because we are created in the Best Form, we must "remember." Our sins require a Muslim to constantly purify himself by offsetting their sin with good acts. In terms of fleshly and sinful desires, Muslims do not try to repress them but instead channel and control them.
Muhammad is the last prophet of Allah who has brought the final revelation. Muhammad is not a Muslim's savior, only a prophet. Muhammad is not mentioned in the Bible.
Quran 9:33: It is He Who hath sent His Messenger with guidance and the Religion of Truth, to proclaim it over all religion, even though the Pagans may detest (it).
Quran 22:78: It is He Who has named you Muslims, both before and in this (Revelation); that the Messenger may be a witness for you, and ye be witnesses for mankind! So establish regular Prayer, give regular Charity, and hold fast to Allah. He is your Protector - the Best to protect and the Best to help!
During his lifetime, Muhammad was a powerful
political and military leader. His life was filled with many spiritual
experiences (revelations) and political accomplishments, Muhammad
did gain power often through unconventional and immoral means.
Muhammad had 23 wives (plus concubines). His favorite wife (Aishah)
was engaged to him at the age of six and married when she was
9 years old. He died in 632 AD.
Muhammad is said to have loved three things: "Women, Perfume, and Fine Clothes"
See, Why I am Not a Muslim, by Ibn Warraq (Muslim atheist on Muhammad's bad character).
The Quran is the Recitation. The Quran is the final and complete revelation of Allah. During the lifetime of Muhammad, the angel Gabriel appeared to Muhammad in visions and revelations and progressively gave him the Quran, which is the revelation of Allah's will. In the early days of Muhammad's revelation, much of what he was revealed was recorded on stones, shreds of paper, or committed to memory. The Quran is not in a chronological or organized format.
Reliability of the
The Quran was textual issues much like the OT (MT, LXX, DSS) and assembled much like the NT (councils and parallel texts). So while the originality of the Quran is not very reliable, most Muslims aren't familiar with the scholarship and most certainly don't approach the subject as a Western scholar.
The best way to question the reliability of the Quran (Muslims use non-Western thought) is to introduce a point of doubt or confusion so as to stop their cyclical rationale (The Quran is the Word of God because it says it is). For example Muslims believe the Quran to be a divine "eternal miracle" of God, written in the purest and most perfect Arabic ever known to man. A Muslim's circular rationale says the proof of the Quran being the eternal miracle of Allah is the perfect Arabic (divine) which no man can ever reproduce. Of course this assumes that the proof of divine inspiration lies in the language.
Several years after Muhammad died, one of the leaders (Uthman) burned all the deviant manuscripts that did not align with The Quran. Thus there are not parallel copies of the original Quran and Muslims use this to prove the Quran's divine inspired. "The Quran is the Word of Allah. He has preserved it, and it cannot change." But you cannot prove that the original Quran remains existent and unchanged when there is nothing to compare it to. The Bible has stood the test of time. If the Bible is the word of God, then it will stand and remain.
Teaching of the Quran:
Quran 3:85: If anyone desires a religion other than Islam (submission to Allah), never will it be accepted of him; and in the Hereafter he will be in the ranks of those who lost (all spiritual good).
God Is. God rules; God creates; God sends; God guides; God ordains; God has mercy; God judges. The Quran teaches Allah's sovereignty, his power, his mercy, his greatness. Allahu akbar "God is Great!" This literally means "God is Greater", because you cannot say "God is Greater than ___" because that is comparing him to something. Muhammad and the Quran teach that Allah is the God who is to be served. In contrast Jesus is the God who came to serve.
The six main teaching of the Quran are the following:
(1) You must to believe in Allah.
(2) You must believe in the Angels.
(3) You must believe in the Books.
(4) You must believe in the Messengers (prophets). Thousands of messengers have been sent, but the only ones that are known and valid are the ones named in the Quran.
(5) You must believe in the Day of Judgment. There is the torture and judgment in the grave, but the general/final judgment comes at the end of time.
(6) You must believe in Fate. Islamic fate teaches that God has ordained everything, including good and evil.
The Quran speaks in very spiritual terms
regarding God, worship, and righteous living. The Quran explicitly
denies Christ, his relationship with the Father, his crucifixion,
and his resurrection. There is a clear spiritual force behind
the Quran that reduces Christ to a mere man. While portions of
the Quran appear demonically inspired, many of the facts and rationale
reflect Muhammad's misunderstandings.
One of Muhammad's wives (Aishah) said this about his character. "His nature was the Quran [khuluquhu al-Quran]; he approved what it approved and he hated what it hated."
The Quran is overtly anti-Christ. It denies his death and resurrection. The Quran rejects Jesus as the Son of God (Quran 4:171), and states that Jesus is not the sacrifice of God (Quran 4:157). The Bible and the Quran are inherently opposed and you cannot reconcile the two on this issue. Because the Quran strongly and continually denies Christ, there is a side to the Quran that is overtly demonic in inspiration. Many Muslims and Christians affirm that the Quran has a tremendous amount of influence and power, with the help of spiritual forces.
Allah in the Quran:
The Quran is the revelation of Allah's Will for humans. The Quran teaches that we only have access to the Will of Allah. The revelation is not a revelation of Allah, but the revelation of his Will. We cannot know the nature of Allah, and as Muslims we are not to think on or meditate on the nature of God. If all we have is his Will, then we must submit to that Will and Do it. The Quran is full of imperatives for us to do his Will (Do This! 330 times). There are 130 commands (faraj) that are to be done everyday otherwise you sin.
A Muslim's task is to submit. Morality is about submission submitting and doing the will of Allah. The normative relationship in the Quran is Allah is our master (rab) and we are the slave (abd). The emphasis in the Quran is on the qualities of God that demand obedience. We don't want Allah to be displeased with us, so we are driven by fear. In Christianity obedience to God's will is motivated by love. In Islam you submit so you won't be cast away. Islam means obedience and peace. Peace can ONLY be experienced when you submit to the will of Allah. Peace doesn't necessarily have an emotional component as in Christianity. Faith in Islam is the action of submitting to Allah's will.
Quran 112:1-4 "Proclaim, 'He is the One and only GOD. The Absolute GOD. Never did He beget. Nor was He begotten. None equals Him."
The Hadith are found in separate books from the Quran. The hadith consist of all the actions, sayings, decisions, and deeds of the Prophet. There are over 600,000 hadith.
A Muslim's World
Iman (Faith) and Islam (Action) are connected because both occur under the gaze of Allah. A Muslim's disobedience occurs when you forget that your faith and actions occur under the gaze of Allah. The problem in Islam is forgetfulness.
Man is created in the Best Form. There is no original sin in Islam. Islam seeks to return man to his original, true nature in which is harmony with creation, inspired to do good, and confirming the Oneness of God. Our essential nature is not sinful, but we do have a tendency of rebellion against the will of Allah. Unfortunately Satan flows through our veins waiting for us to forget our nature.
Islam is the correct religion because it provides a Complete Way of Life. Because Allah created Islam, it provides a complete way of life. This is a circular argument which assumes that the mark of divinity is completeness. The fact is that many philosophers have come up with "complete ways of life" showing that completeness is the mark of humanity not divinity.
The entire witness of the Quran is to Allah's power, sovereignty, and greatness. In the hierarchy of power Allah is on the top with everything else far below. Allah is all powerful and all responsible, therefore I have limited power and responsibility. The Arabic word for fate and power are related. The defining characteristic of Allah is Power, not justice, mercy, or love. Morality is even subordinated to God's power. This is seen in a Muslim's view of heaven (wine, young virgins, young boys), and in the life of Muhammad (Aishah, 9 year old wife). Justice is subordinated to God's power. Justice in Islam is seen as the punishment of people who do not obey Allah. Allah is impersonal and arbitrary in the practice of power. Because there is no access to Allah through love, Muslims seek his power (Blessings) through acts and through folk practices very impersonal and mechanical. Muslim families instill and promote these acts and folk practices as the means to control and receive Allah's blessing.
Islam draws people because there are clear expectations with little ambiguity. Islam gives structure and discipline. Relational motivation is not important in Islam, it's the doing. Somebody who is beaten up by relationships can come and not have to face the pains of relationships. Instead fear operate over their desire for relationship. Sometimes this relational ethic is enforced by the family and culture in dysfunctional ways.
However Islam is not unconcerned with the family and society. Remember that Islam is a societal and an urban religion. It is important to serve your parents into their old age. Family is central in Islam. "I believe in the God and religion of my father, grandfather, great grandfather."
In Islam it's not "What you Believe," but it's "What you Do." The emphasis is on the doing rather than the believing. In Islam the emphasis is on right doing, whereas Christians emphasize right doctrine and theology. Remember the Quran reveals the will of God and not the character of God. A Muslim is one who submits. It is through submission to Allah and his will that brings peace and blessings.
Muslims think of Christianity as too complex because it's all theology and no law. They view Christianity as overemphasizing faith/love and forsaking the law. Likewise Judaism overemphasized the law and lost it because of their mistakes. Muhammad integrated both law and faith/love.
In Islam there is the idea of Jihad (struggle). The Quran speaks of the struggle within oneself (inner jihad), the struggle within the Islamic community (external jihad), and the struggle among unbelievers (external jihad).
Quran 4:3: If ye fear that ye shall
not be able to deal justly with the orphans, Marry women of your
choice, Two or three or four; but if ye fear that ye shall not
be able to deal justly (with them), then only one, or (a captive)
that your right hands possess, that will be more suitable, to
prevent you from doing injustice.
While the Quran teaches just and moral living, Islamic life is much different, especially for women. There are only 5 countries in the World where the life expectancy of women is shorter than men are ALL Muslim Countries.
The God of the Bible is love, whereas Allah's primary characteristic is power. Allah's power leads to fatalism rather than obedience from the security for the believer. The God of the Bible wants to be known in the context of His personal predestination while Allah does not want to be known.
God wills." Fate dictates
that God has ordained everything and determined everything. Allah
has preordained good and evil. Wherever you end up in heaven or
hell is determined by Allah by his mercy, wisdom, and previous
knowledge. Muslims do have free will, but the whole issue is unclear
to them. What is clear is what Allah's will is, therefore we must
focus on doing what he commands.
The Bible, the Word of God
A Muslim will always discount the Bible saying it has been changed and corrupted from the time Allah gave it to his prophets. They first need to understand that we use different English translations from the original Hebrew and Greek. Muslims often compare different translations of the Bible or point out the varying texts in the New Testament and Apocrypha. There are also different "versions" of the Quran, but these are not like the Bible's different versions.
There are 7 variants (or forms) of the Quran, but these variants are in the way you recite the Quran. Essentially the 7 forms of recitation come from different vowel pointings in later manuscripts. The original written Arabic did not have vowels. A Muslim will say that there is no difference in these recitations and that the Quran has been preserved, even though a word can change with different vowel pointings.
In order to avoid long debates about textual criticism of the Bible versus the Quran, it is best to compare the "7 forms of recitation" of the Quran with the textual variants in the Bible. We can say that there have been no doctrinal differences because of these variants in the Bible and Quran, and today they are both in their original form. Ultimately though, textual and historical evidence finds the NT exceptionally reliable. Refer to any Christian apologetic materials on textual criticism. If a Muslim still persists on the corruption of the Bible, a harsh response is to bring up the differences between Shi'a and Sunni texts in the Quran.
Logically, if the Bible was ever God's Word, then God would not have allowed it to have changed. The Quran clearly states that the Bible is clearly God's Word. Ask your Muslim friend to answer the following questions. (1) How can the Quran confirm a Book that has been changed? (2) How can the Bible be used as a proof text and foundation for the Quran when the Bible has been altered? (3) If the Bible is God's word, how is it possible for man to change His eternal and unchangeable Word? (4) Why does the Quran mention the Bible (OT, NT, prophets) when the Bible does not explicitly reference Muhammad or the Quran? (5) Jesus himself said His Words would never be changed (Matthew 24:35). Both Isaiah the prophet and 1 Peter declare "the word of the Lord stands forever." (1 Peter 1:23-25 and Isaiah 40:8)
Quran 3:3-4: 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). Then those who reject Faith in the Signs of Allah will suffer the severest penalty, and Allah is Exalted in Might, Lord of Retribution.
Quran 3:78: Among them are those who twist their tongues to imitate the scripture, that you may think it is from the scripture, when it is not from the scripture, and they claim that it is from Allah, when it is not from Allah. Thus, they utter lies and attribute them to Allah, knowingly.
Quran 4:163: We have sent thee inspiration, as We sent it to Noah and the Messengers after him: we sent inspiration to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob and the Tribes, to Jesus, Job, Jonah, Aaron, and Solomon, and to David We gave the Psalms.
Quran 5:15: O people of the Book! There hath come to you our Messenger, revealing to you much that ye used to hide in the Book, and passing over much (that is now unnecessary). There hath come to you from Allah a (new) light and a perspicuous Book,
Quran 10:64: 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.
Muslims believe that the preachings of Moses (referred to in the Quran) were the revelation of God, but that the Torah in our Bible is not that revelation. They believe that the Biblical Torah has another author. In the same way, the Psalms of the prophet David (referred to in the Quran) have been corrupted by Christian scholars. Likewise the Gospel that Jesus the prophet preached (also in the Quran) is not in our Christian NT. They point out the fact that of the 27 books of the NT, only a handful are the words of Jesus. Those books containing the words of Christ are entitled the Gospels of Mathew Mark, and Luke, but there is no Gospel of Jesus in the NT. A Muslims understanding of God's Word is that it will always come through a prophet in book form. Therefore they will typically ask if Jesus carried His gospel around with him when he preached. Muslims have misunderstood the whole canon process, and they assume that the Gospel at the time of Jesus was the book he carried with him, and not the epistles of the NT.
Quran 4:125: "Whose religion is better than one who SUBMITS himself to God, works righteousness and follows the faith Of Abraham the monotheist? God has chosen Abraham as a beloved friend".
Jesus the Son of God
The Quran states that Jesus is a prophet and is the Messiah. Jesus is a word from Allah but not The Word. In the Quran, Adam is also a word from Allah. There is no one who can claim to be the Son of God or Child of God because this blasphemy reduces God to the level of humans. Remember that associating or partnering anything/anyone with God is the ultimate blasphemy and sin in Islam. They do believe however that Jesus is the Messiah (different meaning), born of a virgin, who performed miracles, and lived a sinless life. Muhammad himself is not described as such in the Quran because he had to repent (implies that he sinned). The Quran teaches that Jesus will return again as the Messiah, but his role in the end times events will be minor compared to Muhammad. As noted above, Islam denies the deity of Christ, his crucifixion, his resurrection, his atoning sacrifice, and his unique relationship with God the Father. Muslims often discount the miracles Jesus performed and compare them with the miracles of other prophets. They look at the individual miracles but overlook the whole person and life of Christ.
Quran 3:59: The similitude of Jesus before Allah is as that of Adam; He created him from dust, then said to him: "Be." And he was.
Quran 4:171: O People of the Book! Commit no excesses in your religion: Nor say of Allah aught but the truth. Christ Jesus the son of Mary was (no more than) an apostle of Allah, and His Word, which He bestowed on Mary, and a spirit proceeding from Him: so believe in Allah and His apostles. Say not "Trinity" : desist: it will be better for you: for Allah is one Allah. Glory be to Him: (far exalted is He) above having a son. To Him belong all things in the heavens and on earth. And enough is Allah as a Disposer of affairs.
Quran 5:17-18: In blasphemy indeed are those that say that Allah is Christ the son of Mary. Say: "Who then hath the least power against Allah, if His will were to destroy Christ the son of Mary, his mother, and all every - one that is on the earth? For to Allah belongeth the dominion of the heavens and the earth, and all that is between. He createth what He pleaseth. For Allah hath power over all things." (Both) the Jews and the Christians say: "We are sons of Allah, and his beloved." Say: "Why then doth He punish you for your sins? Nay, ye are but men,- of the men he hath created: He forgiveth whom He pleaseth, and He punisheth whom He pleaseth: and to Allah belongeth the dominion of the heavens and the earth, and all that is between: and unto Him is the final goal (of all)" O People of the Book! Now hath come unto you, making (things) clear unto you, Our Messenger, after the break in (the series of) our apostles, lest ye should say: "There came unto us no bringer of glad tidings and no warner (from evil)": But now hath come unto you a bringer of glad tidings and a warner (from evil). And Allah hath power over all things.
Quran 9:30: The Jews call 'Uzair a son of Allah, and the Christians call Christ the son of Allah. That is a saying from their mouth; (in this) they but imitate what the unbelievers of old used to say. Allah's curse be on them: how they are deluded away from the Truth!
A Muslim will ask
you: How can
Jesus be God? You blaspheme by calling Jesus God.
1) You can answer briefly and say that you honestly do not fully understand it. The Bible teaches it and we believe it. Fully understanding God is beyond our mental capacity. You can say these things and then move on to issues they can handle at that time.
2) We must point out the important difference between Islam and Christianity about Christ. The Quran says Jesus didn't die on the cross for our sins, but the Bible tells us hundreds of times that he did die for our sins and rose again from the dead. Look in the Bible with them at what the Bible says about Christ's death and why it was necessary.
3) Read John 1:1-14. God in His sovereignty chose to reveal Himself to us by His Word (expression, communication of God). The Word became a human being and lived among us, having become one of us. The description of Jesus you read in the Bible is the description of the Eternal Word of God, Who "became" a man (not just looked like or pretended to be). As a man He got tired, hungry, thirsty, etc. As a man he prayed to His Father in heaven. As a man He died and rose again, victor over death. But He was still the Eternal Word of God. Can God exist without His Word? Was there ever a time when God's Word did not exist?
A Muslim will ask you:
Why do you call Jesus the Son of God?
1) This isn't used with a physical meaning. The Bible does not teach that God married the virgin Mary and had a baby! That is blasphemy! God is not physical, so such a thing is unthinkable! God is spirit, so the term, Son of God is used with a spiritual sense. The term implies a unique relationship.
2) I call him the Son of God because the Bible calls him the Son of God. I have no right to say he is not the Son of God when God says he is!
3) Colossians 2:2-3 states that Jesus Christ is God's "mystery," so we can not fully understand Him until God reveals Him to us! Jesus can never be fully understood by human logic or by scientific research.
A Muslim will ask you:
Do you believe in three gods?
1) The Bible clearly states 23 times that God is One! (read examples in the Torah, Psalms, Prophets and Gospel Deut.6:4; Ps.86:10; Is.44:6-8; 1 Tim.2:5-6a)
2) Mark 12:29-30 Jesus said Himself that God is One.
3) John 1:1-3-14 The "Word" of God is the communication or manifestation of God. God's Word is God Himself; not a second God. The Word was "with" God (two?) and yet the Word "was" God (one). Somehow, by the power of God, God's Eternal Word "became" a human being like us. (God can do anything!)
For a Muslim, the only thing you can know is the Will of God. You cannot know God personally because He is unknowable. Jesus is the complete revelation of God the Father (John 14:9), and the eternal Word (communication) from God (John 1:1-14). Why should we settle for only a shadow of God when we can go to the true reality of Christ?
The God of the Quran is not the God of the Bible. The Allah of the Quran does not establish a relationship with his people through covenants like the God of the Bible. Jesus has come as God in the flesh to establish the New Covenant with his people.
We must recognize that a Muslim cannot understand who Jesus is on his own. This is a spiritual battle. Jesus himself did not reveal his full identity but spoke in parables and referred to OT prophesies. When Peter said, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God," Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon, son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven." (Matthew 16:15-17) It must be revealed to them spiritually!
Sin and Atonement
The Quran teaches that one man cannot and should not pay for another man's sins.
Islam holds that men do not have a need to be saved. Islam does not address a need for salvation or deliverance from anything. Salvation is not in the vocabulary of Islam. Instead a Muslim obtains success by doing the will of Allah. This is the Islamic counterpart to deliverance and redemption that one finds in Christianity. Islam is a religion OF this world for humans who are of the Best Form, and are to be established in our call to success to partake in the Complete Way of Life.
In Islam, man is created in the best form and we are the master over creation. We are not at all deficient in our capabilities or our dignity. Christianity is seen as condemning those who are not completely deficient so that they will need a Christ to die for them. In Islam man is not saved by God's work, but instead the world is saved and transformed through us, the ones who do the will of Allah.
The biggest problem Muslims see with Christianity
is that our perception of man degrades us and our dignity. Conversion
to Islam is not based on the condemnation of the world. The Christian
view of man is contradictory to the Muslim view of our essential
nature (created in the Best Form). In Christianity we believe
in original sin and that man is totally depraved in his efforts
to be reconciled to God. In Christianity, humans have both SIN
and sins. In Islam, humans only has sins. Since they are created
in the Best Form we need to ask them then where their sin came
from. They will say it came from Satan and their parents' example.
Then ask where their parents' sin came from?
For Christians, Jesus atones for the forgiveness of our sins, both sins and SIN. Remember that original sin is a difficult concept for Muslims and will take time.
In Islam, if Muslims do not keep the law they will be condemned. They will give predictable excuses, and they will often say that God will have mercy and that Muhammad will make intercession for them (fate). But there is always a sense of not meeting the standard (not necessarily guilt). Islam is such a legalistic religion that they will either make it or not. Ask them where God's grace is, since they always say that God is gracious. Muslims do not have eternal security, only the option to submit to the will of God. Since there is no salvation in the Quran, they must hope that God will have mercy on them ("If God wills"). We as Christians know where grace is. Invite them to connect with the One who is full of Grace and Truth (John 1:17).
Help your Muslim friend to understand that we approach God differently, namely through the sacrifice of Christ. Muslims know about sacrifice from Abraham's sacrifice of his Only Son (special, promised son). Don't focus too much on Abraham because the have misconceptions of who he is. Use Abraham to teach about sacrifice as the only way to come and meet God. It is helpful to start with Abraham's sacrifice and go back to Adam and first sacrifice provided by God for Adam's sin.
The Crucifixion and Resurrection
Muslims of course believe that Jesus did not die on the cross. They believe somebody who looked like Jesus was crucified Simon of Sirene, Judas, or someone else.
Quran 4:157-158: That they said (in boast), "We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah.;- but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not:- Nay, Allah raised him up unto Himself; and Allah is Exalted in Power, Wise;- And there is none of the People of the Book but must believe in him before his death; and on the Day of Judgment he will be a witness against them;
Quran 19:33-34: "So peace is on me the day I was born, the day that I die, and the day that I shall be raised up to life (again)"! Such (was) Jesus the son of Mary: (it is) a statement of truth, about which they (vainly) dispute. It is not befitting to (the majesty of) Allah that He should beget a son. Glory be to Him! when He determines a matter, He only says to it, "Be," and it is.
When Muslims bring up the issue of God killing his own Son (lack of Fatherly love), We must realize this is the same argument that the Jews used when they stumbled over the Messiah having to be sacrificed. Even with Jesus as only a prophet, the idea that God allowed his prophet to be crucified is blasphemous. We must realize atonement through the New Covenant is not a natural or human event. "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing ... The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned." (1 Corinthians 1:18; 2:14)
A Muslim will ask
you: How could
God allow Jesus to be crucified by evil men?
1) We certainly do not believe that evil men can do anything without God's permission! The death of Jesus on the cross was God's purpose. This is why Jesus came into the world - in order to die for us! (Read Matt.20:28)
2) John 10:17-18 Jesus said nobody can take his life from Him. He voluntarily gave His life for us. Jesus has power both to give His life and to take it back again by coming back to life on the 3rd day. He is the Lord of life who conquered death!
A Muslim will ask you:
If Jesus forgives all your sins, do you have freedom to sin?
1) 1 Peter 2:24 - died not so that I can sin freely; 2 Corinthians 5:14,15; Romans 6:1,2 - Love compels me!
2) Ask them, "How could I deliberately do things that hurt the One Who died for me?"
Study the person of Christ with them from Acts chapters 13. This will help them connect the person and work of Christ to their life now and to the lives of Christians they know.
What We Share:
The main things in Islam that do not coincide with Christianity are our Un-Corrupted Bible. The Bible proclaims the Deity of Christ and the Atonement and this is our message (Acts 17:3). These things are spiritually discerned and have to be revealed to the Muslim. (Mt 16:17)
"When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence of superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified...My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words...not the wisdom of this age...we speak of God's secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden..." (1 Corinthians 2:1-8)
Study the person of Christ with them from John 1:1-14 and from Acts chapters 13. This will help them connect the person and work of Christ to their life now and to the lives of Christians they know.
As noted above, the only relationship the Muslim knows concerning God is master/slave. We have a new relationship initiated by Christ (Jn 15:). After they understand the distinction between Jesus the Son of God, and Christians as children of God, study the depth of a Father/son and a Father/daughter relationship with God the Father. "How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him." (1 John 3:1)
How We Share:
We don't always need to answer their questions or defend God's Word from their objections. Recognize where the real battle is and their objections may be a distraction from the real issues. There is value in discussion (seeds planted), but when they are arguing, it is generally not of much value because they generally don't listen. Muslims are very resistant! Don't debate or become argumentative, but reason and teach them in a kind and gentle manner. (2 Timothy 2:23-26)
How do we handle hard questions?
(1) Try to steer away from distracting questions to subjects they need to hear. Muslims generally ask if I believe that there's 3 Gods, if Jesus is the Son of God, if the Bible is corrupted, if I have read the Quran, etc. They are generally not open to discussion on these difficult subjects. Muslims are easily distracted from the real issues of sin and spiritual depravity, instead of the great debates of Jesus' deity. What they need to hear about is their own personal spiritual life. Ask them about issues such as sin and salvation. "Do you sin?" "Is lying a sin?" "If they're not lost, then who needs a savior?" Point out the major difference the Quran and the Bible, which is how we approach God. The Bible clearly challenges that we approach God only through the sacrifice of Christ.
(2) As much as possible, open your Bible and give them answers from the Bible. It helps for Muslims to see in written form what the Bible says exactly. Don't just challenge their thinking, but give them an exact thought from the Scriptures to wrestle with since there are so many distracting issues.
(3) Give brief answers until they are really ready to study the subject. Usually when you first meet a Muslim, their desire is not that deep. It is better to just be brief the first time, and then go and prepare and pray for the next times.
(4) Be aware of Satan's attempt to rob Jesus of his glory. Remember who is central in all the discussion Jesus Christ.
Don't be intimidated by the Quran or the religious intensity of Islam. If we are living full Christian lives, Christianity is much more rich and full than Islam. It helps to parallel parts of the Christian lifestyle to the Muslims' religious life (confession of faith, prayer, tithing, the fast, the pilgrimage). In Christianity, our commitment to God is much higher, and we have deeper convictions behind our religious actions. Remember though that we live by the law of grace and they are under the law of Islam.
Don't be wimpy Christian! Muslims don't respect those who waver in their faith. They may dislike what we say more than a liberal Christian, but they will deeply respect us.
Be natural about your love for Christ. They are natural in expressing their own Muslim beliefs. For Muslims, the things of God are not a private thing. Be open and natural. Share what you're learning from the Lord that day. Pray with them, read the Bible with them, read through the Prophets, discuss the Bible, pray using the Bible, etc.
Love your Muslim friend. Don't be an "American friend." Muslims have good reason to be full of fear and distrust.
When We Share:
1 Peter 3:15 "But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence."
Don't push them to make a decision for Christ until they feel that they need to. Ask them who would they want to choose between Christ or their family, ethnic identity, etc.
There is generally no fast way for a Muslim to convert because of their need for a process conversion. They need simultaneous evaluation and integration otherwise they revert back because of "spiritual schizophrenia." Help them to evaluate their old life in view of their new life. We need to be to be aware of their specific needs and take the time to disciple them.
When you are talking with Muslims, it's
like teaching a young child. They don't understand things until
they form a category for understanding something. For example
a child won't understand why adults drink or where babies come
from, until they have the capacity to categorize these "adult"
things. When Muslims say that Allah is Merciful, they mean he
is merciful enough to create a Paradise. You need to ask them
what they mean by Merciful or Compassionate, and ask them for
a concrete example of that belief. This way you are clear on their
meaning of the word and you also can give concrete examples of
Christianity and what the Bible means. Another example is the
Muslim perception of God, and how it is much different from how
we understand Him. Remember Allah is Seen by Muslims as .....
and Allah is Seen by Christians as .....
Make sure they understand where you are coming from. Always clarify and explain.
Pray with your Muslim
Moses, Aaron, Joshua, Elijah, and Ezekiel all fell on their faces in worship (Neh 8:6; 2 Chr 7:3; Mt 26:39). Daniel, Stephen, Peter, and Paul all knelt in prayer. David, Solomon, and Jesus stood and lifted their hands when they prayed (1 Timothy 2:8). All the postures of praying while bow, kneel, prostrate, stand, hands toward heaven. Each of these postures are comfortably used in typical Muslim. It would be a great impact to the Muslim to pray with them in one of these manners. Their focus should be pointed to the object of prayer and not the manner of prayer.
A helpful prayer is to pray Matthew 16:17 for your Muslim friend.
Bring them into your
For new Muslim converts there is an increase in loneliness and emptiness and depression. It is important to introduce them to other believers. It is especially crucial for women converts to be brought into a safe community of close women friends. In Islam they had a great network and support group of women, but in Christianity, we rarely provide that in our churches.
We must love Muslims and befriend them. Muslims are very hospitable people. If you want to love Muslims, you need to be hospitable to them also. Muslims value traditional respect for elders. If we want to love Muslims, you need to lovingly respect the elders. Religious devotion is very important to Muslims. If you want to love a Muslim, openly declare and live your faith while being respectful of some of their traditions.
Role-Play: Example of questions from watching the Jesus film:
Muslim: "You said
that this movie of the Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him)
comes from the Bible. Your Bible is corrupt and has been changed.
That is not what happened to the Prophet Jesus. All of your prophesies
from King David and the Prophet Isaiah (peace be upon him)
have been changed and corrupted."
Christian: "These are the books of the Psalms and the Prophets. Why would God let his Book brought by his prophets become corrupted?"
Muslim: "Allah revealed to Muhammad (peace be upon him) in Quran chapter 3:78 that your Bible is corrupt."
Christian: "When were the Scriptures altered or corrupted?"
Muslim: "Christians and Jews have so many different versions of the Bible."
Christian: "Manuscripts of the Bible date back to the 2nd century, but Muhammad lived in the 7th century. The Bible must have been altered after Muhammad because in Quran chapter 42:15 Muhammad (peace be upon him) says, "I believe in the Book which God has sent down," the book of the Torah, the Psalms, the Prophets, the Gospel."
Muslim: "In the
Jesus film we saw, the Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him)
was born of Mary was a virgin. This is also what the Quran says."
Christian: "Jesus isn't just a prophet born of the Virgin Mary. Jesus is the Savior, Messiah as prophesied by the Prophet Micah 700 years before Jesus. Micah 5:2 says, 'But you, Bethlehem, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.'"
Muslim: "In Luke 2:49, What does Jesus mean when he was a boy when he said, 'my Father's house?'"
Christian: "Jesus has a unique love relationship with God the creator, and that relationship is best described by calling Him Father. In the Bible King David prophesies in Psalm 2 the following:
6 I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill.
7 I will proclaim the decree of the LORD:
He said to me, "You are my Son; today I have become your Father.
8 Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance,
the ends of the earth your possession.
Muslim: "The Bible talks of the Prophet Jesus (peace
be upon him) raising a child from the dead just like we saw
in the Jesus film."
Christian: "Yes! Jesus has the power of God to heal, and Jesus has power over death."
Muslim: "In your Bible, not only did Jesus raise a child from the dead, but your Book also says the Prophet Elijah (peace be upon him) raised a boy from the dead. That's no different from what Jesus did."
Christian: "Yes this is true. But did Elijah feed the five thousand? Did Elijah heal the blind? Did Elijah cast out demons? Did Elijah prophesy his own death and resurrection?"
Muslim: "But Elijah (peace be upon him) prayed and it didn't rain. And Elijah (peace be upon him) prayed and fire came from the sky. You say that Jesus was crucified and that he did not have the power to resist."
Christian: "It is true that Jesus was crucified, was buried, and then rose again on the third day by God's power. But Jesus willingly gave up his life as a sacrifice for our sin."
Muslim: "Jesus didn't
die!! Jesus was only a Prophet (peace be upon him) and
was no more than a Messenger. Haven't you read the Quran? You
can't kill a Prophet. Why would God allow His Prophet or especially
His Son be killed?"
Christian: "You Muslims say that Jesus was a Prophet and that God would not allow his Prophet to die. But many of God's prophets were tortured and killed according to God's Will and Purpose. The Prophet Zechariah was stoned, the Prophet Jeremiah was chained and put in prison, and the Prophet Isaiah was killed unjustly.
"Hebrews 11:35-37 says, 'Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated.'
"So, why would God allow his Prophets to be tortured and killed unjustly? In them same way, God has a purpose for allowing His Son to be killed, just like the prophets.
1 John 2:2 says, 'Jesus is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.' Jesus is the Savior that King David prophesied about in Psalm 2. Jesus saved us from our sin, and took upon Himself the punishment for all the sins of the whole world."
Abdul-Haqq, Abdiyah Akbar. Sharing Your Faith with a Muslim. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 1980. ISBN: 087123556 $8.99
Miller, William. A Christian's Response to Islam. Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian & Reformed Publishing, 1980. ISBN: 0875523358 $4.99
Shorrosh, Anis. Islam Revealed, A Christian Arab's View of Islam. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1988. ISBN: 0840730152
Warraq, Ibn. Why I am Not a Muslim.
Prometheus Books, 1995.
ISBN: 0879759844 $20.76
http://www.islamicity.com (Muslim website)
Also see: Myths of the Middle East
The Qur'an 2:256
The Injil, John 8:32
Originated November 14, 2000
Email forwording to the Author: firstname.lastname@example.org
Lambert Dolphin's Library
Return to the Protestant Apologetics and Theology page