Islam vs Christianity

RELIGION ANALYSIS:

Islam

 A Research Paper in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for

APOL 500 (Fall 2012)

Apologetics

Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary

Rick Mangrum (ID# 21757355)

September 30, 2012

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

 

THESIS STATEMENT

            Every Christian should be fully equipped to share the Gospel with the followers of Islam, commonly called Muslims.  To prepare for that task, an understanding of this belief system, both its history and conflicts with Christianity, is necessary.  Sharing the Gospel with a Muslim may take a higher level of prayer, faith and preparation than sharing with those of other religious groups.  This work will attempt to help prepare the reader for this worthwhile and challenging task.

BASIC SUMMARY

The Islam faith is based on the life and proclamations of Muhammad, a wealthy and prominent tradesman who lived from A.D. 570 to A.D. 632.  Muhammad claimed to have been visited by the angel Gabriel on his fortieth birthday and given the message that he had been chosen by God to bring God’s final message to the world.  The message was simple.  All current world religions were corrupt.  There was one true God named Allah.  Muhammad’s job was to hear Allah’s words, record them for others and bring this message to the world.  According to Muhammad, he was the last God’s prophets.  Adam had been the first, followed by others in the Old Testament.[1]  God’s spoken word on Earth started with Adam and ended with Mohammad.

Islam has grown from it humble beginnings in A.D. 610 to become one of the most influential religion in the world with almost two billion followers, second only to Christianity.[2]  It is the religion of the majority of the inhabitants of 44 of the world’s 196 countries.[3] Normally linked to the Middle East and the Arab world, most followers of Islam are not Arab, living in many other parts of the world.

Islam teaches that all Gods other than Allah should be rejected.   Allah is the one and only God.   All but the followers of Islam will live in Hell for eternity. Islam today is based on the text of their holy book, the Qur’an, the written version of the words spoken by Muhammad to his followers.  Muhammad was not literate but many of his followers were scribes and educated professionals who recorded his words.  The Qur’an is presented as 114 chapters; each divided into verses much like the Bible.   The chapters are arranged in order of their length, longest to shortest, with the exception of the first chapter, The Fatiha, or opening prayer that is to be said five times a day.  Daily prayers are one of the Five Pillars of Islam that all followers are required to follow.[4]  The pillars are first that Allah is the only God, Muhammad his last prophet.   Prayers must be said five times a day, facing Mecca, the original home of Islam.  Believers must give one-fortieth of their income to the church.  Fasting must take place on a regular basis, especially during holy times.  Lastly, a trip to Mecca is required once in the life time of every follower of Islam.

Islam means “surrender” in the original Arabic language of Muhammad and requires surrender of all aspects of the life of the follower.[5]  It also requires surrender in the life of those who do not follow this belief system.  Those who are not followers of Islam are “second-class” citizens, always inferior to the followers of Muhammad.[6]

Jihad, a term meaning “struggle or exertion” in Arabic, is a common term associated with Islam.[7]  Not one of the five pillars, it is referred to by some outside of the Islamic community as the “sixth pillar”.[8]  It has two meanings.  The first is the inner-struggle of every believer to follow and obey the commands of Muhammad.  It is their daily struggle against evil.  The second meaning is that of the “lesser Jihad” or “legal war”.[9]  This belief is that all who resist the teachings of Muhammad must ultimately be destroyed or enslaved.  Specifically, anyone who lives in land bordering Islamic territory must be given the opportunity to convert to Islam or pay the consequences.  Since Islam is now a global religion, this type of Jihad applies to nearly all the world.

 

FLAWS OF THE BELIEF SYSTEM

            The flaws of Islam are found in its comparison to biblical teachings.  The Qur’an claims to confirm the Bible.[10]  “We have sent down the Koran to you with truth confirmatory of previous scriptures and as their safeguard.” (Qur’an 5:52)[11]  In fact it contradicts and conflicts with the Bible in many ways. It is inconsistent with Christianity in many key doctrinal issues.  The most significant conflict with the Bible found by this writer is the denial of Jesus as God’s son by the Qur’an and by the Islam faith.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”[12]  That biblical reference is straightforward and clear in its meaning.  As equally clear is the Qur’an reference on this subject.  “He is God, the One.  God, to whom the creatures turn for their needs.  He begets not, nor was He begotten and there is none like Him.”[13] (Qur’an 112:1-4).  The Islam holy book clearly contradicts the Bible in the biblical claim that Jesus is the son of God.  In Islam, Allah-god is alone in his rule and dominion of the universe.

The Qur’an is also consistent in its denial of Mary as the earthly mother of the son of God.  “Indeed, they have disbelieved who have said, God is the Messiah, son of Mary.”[14]  (Qur’an 5:72)  God has no partner in a son named Jesus, earthly or heavenly.  Those who claim so are destined for Hell, according to Islam, in the second half of that same passage.  “Whoever associates partners in worship with God, the God has forbidden Paradise for him, and his home is the Fire.”[15]  (Qur’an 5:72)  Islam is as clear as John 3:16 in its proclamation that believing in Jesus is a ticket to Hell!  Jesus was not the son of God born of Mary, his earthly Mother.  Islam clearly denies the deity of Jesus on every level.

Islam equally denies the existence of the trinity.  “Indeed, they disbelieve that who say, God is the third of three, there is no god but one God.”[16]   (Qur’an 5:73)  Allah is alone in his authority according to Islam.  There is no Holy Spirit as well as no Jesus.  There are many other examples of the Qur’an contradicting the Bible.

One of these is in the idea of Muhammad as the final prophet, the final spokesman for God.  He is presented as the final authority, “the last and final word of God to humankind.”[17]  In fact, the bible does prophecy a great prophet who will come.  “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him!”[18] (Deuteronomy 18:13)  God was telling Moses of a prophet to come.  Islam teaches that Muhammad is the prophet.[19]  This clearly cannot be the case.  Muhammad was not one “from among you” as he was not a Jew.  As an Arab, he was certainly not one of their “countrymen” but an enemy of Israel.  He could not be the prophet predicted in Deuteronomy because of his ancestry.  There are many other examples of the claim of Muhammad as the last prophet or even a prophet at all being contradicted by scripture elsewhere in Deuteronomy, as well as in Habakkuk, Psalms, Isaiah, Matthew, John and Acts.[20]  The length of this work will not allow an explanation of all of them.  There are many biblical references that eliminate Muhammad from the office of prophet.

Islam’s rejection of Jesus as God and the doubtful status of Muhammad as a prophet are just two of many problems with this belief system.  There is at least one more worth mention.  Islam denies the death and resurrection of Jesus.  “At the heart of Christianity is the death and resurrection of Christ.”[21] As an historical fact, there is greater historical evidence for the death and resurrection of Jesus than “almost any event in the ancient world.”[22]  A foundational belief of Islam is that Jesus was just another prophet who was replaced and superseded by Muhammad.  He never died on a cross and was never resurrected.  This system of belief is completely inconsistent with Christianity.

This amateur scholar has only briefly summarized three flaws of this belief system.  They are very significant and just a small fraction of the issues identified and detailed by scholars of all denominations.  This is a deeply flawed belief system.  Because of its denomination of many parts of the world, this student desires to know more!

           

 

 

SHARING THE GOSPEL WITH A FOLLOWER OF ISLAM

            Sharing Christ with a follower of Islam has many fundamental difficulties.  First is their view of the Bible.  They believe that it has been “corrupted” over time, especially by the writings of Paul.[23]  Biblical references to a Muslim will not be accepted or valued.  That makes the process of sharing the Gospel extremely difficult since the basic source of information used in sharing the Gospel is immediately dismissed by the listener.

Followers of Islam also openly reject the concept of grace, the “undeserved forgiveness through the blood of Jesus.”[24]  It’s difficult to even get to the concept of grace since they do not accept Jesus as God’s son and reject the concept that he bled and died on the cross.  With no Bible to use and no Jesus to reference, sharing with them is difficult.

But it is not impossible.  A more indirect approach may be more effective.  “Friendship evangelism” may be an effective approach.[25]  Muslims have been taught from birth to be suspicious and wary of Christians or Jews.  Becoming a friend to person you wish to persuade is always a good approach.  With a Muslim it can be very effective.  The love of Jesus is a powerful force, especially when witnessed first-hand by a direct recipient.  It will make more commitment to witness to a follower of Islam.  They need to see the true love of Christ in the lives of those who wish to witness to them.  The Roman Road is unlikely to be effective if only spoken.  If lived in front of them it can have impact.

Del Kingsriter has helped found a ministry in Springfield, Missouri to minister and share the Gospel with a growing population of Muslims in the Midwest.[26]  He presents a six step approach for sharing the Gospel with a follower of Islam, based in large part on the concept of personal witness through personal friendship.  You start with prayer.  “Prayer is the first and most fundamental ingredient in witnessing to all people-including Muslims.”[27]  Showing a Muslim that prayer is an important part of Christian life also builds a bridge with them to their belief system.  Showing interest and love to them is the second step.  Opening your “heart and home” helps break down the many cultural barriers that exist.  Third is to share your personal testimony, first informally through conversation and action, then in a more formal manner.  This process may take days, weeks or months.  Keep in mind that a follower is Islam has typically held their belief system for their entire life.  You are unlikely to influence them quickly.  In witnessing to a Muslim, a key objective is to never argue.  Be a witness not a debater.  Witness through your actions, then through your words.

The fourth step is to closely follow the primary biblical reference to all apologetics, 1 Peter 3:15.  Be ready to answer all questions.  Be ready with gentleness and great respect.  Your answers may go against the beliefs taught them by every person they respect.  Be respectful of their point of view.  Listen to it carefully and answer in confidence!  Avoid biblical references from Paul since he is pointed out specifically by Islam as a corrupter of the Bible.  There are many other resources to use.  Fifth, give them a Bible.  It sounds simple, but it is very unlikely that a Muslim will own or have access to a copy of their own.  Possibly give them one in their native language.  That may be seen as an extreme act of kindness and position the Bible not just as an English or Western belief system.

Finally, have faith in the Holy Spirit and its power.  It is the job of the Holy Spirit to convict the unbeliever of his need for salvation.  It is our job to present, the Holy Spirit’s job to convict.  Jesus committed that it would be so when he said “when he comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment.” [28]  (John 16:7-11)

           

 

 

CONCLUSION

            The purpose of this work has been to present a summary of Islamic belief, a critique of those beliefs and a potential approach a believer could take to share the Gospel with a Muslim.  A paper of this length can only skim the surface of any of these topics.  Further study is recommended on this topic before a serious attempt is made to evangelize to those around you of the Muslim faith.  It is a belief system potentially embedded in its followers from their birth, not just in their personal or family lives but in their entire culture.  Approaching the task prepared in both prayer and study is always recommended for any sharing of the Gospel.  It is particularly important in sharing with a Muslim.  A terrific work on this subject is by Charles Marsh, Share Your Faith with a Muslim along with the website for the Center for Ministry to Muslims.  Both sources provide biblically based approaches to this worthy task.

It is a difficult task but of course not impossible.  It is our job to respectfully and graciously present the message of Christ to those around us, then allow the Holy Spirit to work.  Sharing the Gospel with a Muslim brother or sister is a great example of the “faith working through love” we have all been challenged to demonstrate in our personal walk with Christ.[29] (Galatians 5:6)

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Center for Ministry to Muslims Website, http://www.cmmequip.org/, Accessed 9/20-25, 2012.

Dean, James, The Koran in Three Hours, New York, NY:  iUniverse Publishing, 2005.

Geisler, Norman and Abdul Saleeb, Answering Islam, Grand Rapids, MI:  Baker Books, 2002.

Hindson, Ed and Ergun Caner, The Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics, Eugene, OR:  Harvest House Publisher, 2008.

Koran Online Reference Website,  < http://quod.lib.umich.edu/k/Koran>, Accessed 9/20-25,         2012.

Lunde, Paul, Islam, Faith Culture History, New York, NY:  DK Publishing, 2002.

New American Standard Bible, MacArthur Study Bible, Nashville, TN:   Thomas Nelson    Publishing, 2006.

Operation Multiplication Website,  <http:// ieaom.org/images/SharingChristwithMuslim.pdf>,       Accessed 9/20-25, 2012.

Richardson, Don, Secrets of the Koran, Ventura, CA:  Regal Publishing, 1984.

Williams, John Alden, Islam, New York, NY:  Braziller Publishing, 1961.

 


[1] John Alden Williams, Islam, (New York, NY: Braziller Publishing, 1961),  p15.

[2] Paul Lunde, Islam, Faith Culture History, (New York, NY:  DK Publishing, 2002),  p15

[3] Ibid, p110.

[4]Ed Hindson and Ergun Caner, The Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics,  (Eugene, OR:  Harvest House Publisher, 2008), p278.

[5] Ibid, 279.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Lunde, p43.

[8] Lunde, p43.

[9] Lunde,  p43.

[10] Don Richardson, Secrets of the Koran, (Ventura, CA:  Regal Publishing, 1984), p145.

[11] Ibid.

[12]The MacArthur Study Bible, New American Standard Bible, (Nashville, TN;  Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006), p1548.

[13] Koran Online Reference Website, http://quod.lib.umich.edu/k/Koran, Accessed 9/20-25, 2012.

[14] Koran Online.

[15] Ibid

[16] Koran Online.

[17] Norman Geisler and Abdul Saleeb, Answering Islam, Grand Rapids, MI:  Baker Books, 200),  p152.

[18] NASB, p272.

[19] Koran Online.

[20] Geisler, p154-158.

[21] Geisler, p234.

[22] Ibid.

[23] Hindson and Caner,  p280.

[24] H and Caner,  p281

[25]Operation Multiplication Website, http:// ieaom.org/images/SharingChristwithMuslim.pdf, Accessed 9/20-25, 2012.

[26]Center for Ministry to Muslims Website, http://www.cmmequip.org/, Accessed 9/20-25, 2012.

[27] Ibid.

[28] NASB, p1583.

[29] NASB, p1766.

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