Tag Archives: Islam

Christianity And The History Of Human Dignity — Dewayne Bryant, Ph.D.

Moderns in the West often take the inherent dignity and worth of human beings for granted. We assume that recognizing the value of another person is intrinsic to humanity—or believe that it should be. We are shocked and outraged by human rights violations in nations around the world and crusade for fundamental rights for every individual. After all, the Founding Fathers enshrined the “unalienable rights” of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in America’s consciousness through the Declaration of Independence. Not everyone realizes that this perspective is largely the product of a Christian worldview.

Before the emergence of Christianity, recognition of human dignity was incredibly uncommon. The devaluation of foreigners, women, and different ethnic groups occurred with a frequency that might surprise many moderns. Even in the 20th century, some groups living in nations whose governments were mostly non-Christian or anti-Christian enjoyed far fewer rights than those living in nations influenced by the Judeo-Christian tradition.

The value of human life in Scripture stems from mankind’s creation by God. Not only is humanity the apex of God’s creative activities, but we are also the only creations who bear his image (Gen. 1:27). Elsewhere, Scripture states that humanity was created with status only slightly lower than that of angels (Ps. 8:5). Unsurprisingly, the Bible’s view of humanity is often quite higher than that of other worldviews both ancient and modern.

Partiality and Favoritism

Using unequal standards in the treatment of others is nearly as old as time itself. In the ancient world, social status was often a determining factor in punishments for criminal behavior. In the ancient Near East, various law codes prescribed different consequences for the offender based on the social status of the victim. To commit a crime against someone of high-ranking status brought more severe penalties than one committed against a slave. Elsewhere in history, the creation of ranks of nobility and aristocracy have often led to the differing treatment of individuals under the law. Money and power have long been used to either purchase or avoid justice.

In Christ, God revealed himself to mankind in the form of a Jew at a time when anti-Semitism was present in the Roman world. He took the form of someone of relatively low social standing, instead of the triumphant monarchial figure his contemporaries expected. He served not as a ruler but as a slave, washing feet when his disciples refused to do so (John 13:1-17) and setting the standard for service for all who would follow him (Matt. 23:11).

Early church history continued the same focus. For example, the third-century work Didascalia Apostolorum forbade a bishop to interrupt the service to greet a person of high social standing, yet also commanded him to see that a pauper would not have to sit on the floor. This echoes the insistence of James that favoritism due to social or economic status is forbidden (Jas. 2:1-13).

Infanticide

Infants were considered expendable under certain conditions in the Roman Empire. After its birth, a midwife would lay the child at the feet of its father. By picking up the child, the father signaled its acceptance into the family. If he did not—likely because it had some visible deformity or was female—the child would be left outside in a remote place or on a trash heap. The child would either die from exposure or wild animals or be taken by slavers for sale. Roman writers such as Cicero and Seneca noted physical weakness or deformity as the deciding factor in whether to keep a child (De Legibus 3.8 and De Ira 1.15, respectively).

Jesus taught the value of children. When the disciples tried to wave away children wanting to see Jesus, he told them, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 19:14). In a time where children had secondary status, Jesus uses them as a model of faith.

The early church viewed abortion as murder. The Didache instructed Christians not to procure an abortion or kill a newborn child (2.2). Justin Martyr also prohibited the exposure of children (Apology 1.27). Minucius Felix also forbade infanticide, stating that some exposed children to wild animals, while others strangled newborn infants or took abortifacients to kill them in the womb (Octavius 30.1-3).

The Greco-Roman world did not have a monopoly on infanticide. It appears throughout history in many cultures. The modern form of this is, of course, abortion. Countries such as China, India, Pakistan, and other nations throughout the Middle and Far East, have an extremely high male-to-female ratio in the population, with sex-selective abortion thought to play a significant role in this discrepancy (the same spirit was common in antiquity, where families typically kept only one female child). Some estimate that there are more than 100 million “missing” women from the combined populations of these areas today due to female infanticide. Nearly 60 million babies have been aborted in the United States since Roe v. Wade in 1973.

Misogyny

Although it is fashionable among critics to claim that Christianity is an inherently misogynistic religion, a comparison with the Greco-Roman culture of the first century shows clear differences between the two. Roman writings often refer to the infirmity of the female sex (infirmitas sexus) and the fickleness of the female mind (levitas animi). It seems that women’s testimony in court was viewed as unreliable, and Roman society held wives to a double standard concerning marital fidelity (cf. 1 Tim. 3:2). The culture expected unflagging faithfulness from wives. While philandering husbands could have mistresses and hire the services of prostitutes, women in the time of emperor Augustus could be banished for marital infidelity.

In contrast, the Bible view women as having a worth equal to men. Paul eliminates cultural/racial, socio-economic, and gender qualifications concerning who may be a follower of Christ (Gal. 3:28), which may have been prompted by a particular Jewish blessing that possibly dates to the first century AD. This prayer thanked God that the one praying was not made a Gentile, ignorant, or a woman (Tosefta Berakoth 7:18). We cannot miss the fact, however, that many Christian men have not been as quick to adopt a biblical view of women in history.

Later religions, such as Islam, hold a far dimmer view of women than people in ancient Rome. The Qur’an states, “Allah permits you to shut them in separate rooms and to beat them, but not severely. If they abstain, they have the right to food and clothing. Treat women well for they are like domestic animals and they possess nothing themselves. Allah has made the enjoyment of their bodies lawful in his Qur’an” (Sura 9:113). No matter how we interpret this passage, we cannot come away with much that is positive by comparing women to livestock who may be beaten into submission and whose existence is to serve the pleasures of their husbands.

Unbelievers and Outsiders

Humanity has always struggled with “the other.” Historically, the division between races has been a significant problem for various religions. Particularly noteworthy is Islam’s historic call for the destruction of Jews (Sahih Al-Muslim Book 41, Number 6985; cf. Sura 5:51, 54), a mantra often repeated in the Middle East today. It is not difficult to find examples of Muslim authorities teaching that Jews are the descendants of apes and pigs—a charge which does not appear in the Qur’an but can be found in Muslim writings dating back to the Medieval Period.

Other faiths have also espoused less enlightened views. After the death of Joseph Smith, Jr., the Mormon church barred anyone of African descent from the Mormon priesthood. This decision was reversed — conveniently enough — at the same time as the Civil Rights Movement. The Nation of Islam makes it clear that anyone of Jewish or Caucasian ancestry is a wicked creation of an evil scientist named Yakub just over 6,000 years ago. Some smaller fringe religious traditions and cultic movements sometimes have similar beliefs, such as identifying the mark of Cain (Genesis 4:15) or curse of Canaan (Genesis 9:25-27) as darker-colored skin.

In the New Testament, we see Jesus’ willingness to seek out individuals such as the Samaritan woman and Zacchaeus the tax collector (John 4:1-26; Luke 19:1-10), and his willingness to make the same kinds of individuals into righteous figures worthy of imitation in some of his parables (Luke 10:30-37; 18:9-14). Other examples appear in the Hebrew Bible (1 Kings 17:8-24; 2 Kings 5:1-14). Jesus’ ministry involved calling not the righteous, but sinners, to repentance (Luke 5:32), which included no qualifications regarding culture or ethnicity.

For Christians, one of the distinctive features of the gospel is its availability to all. The Bible recognizes no inferior human beings based on criteria commonly employed in discrimination against others. While this may have been an evil from the beginning of civilization, it has no place among God’s people. We celebrate the church’s rich diversity and see every human being as a unique living sculpture crafted by the Master Artist.

Dewayne is a minister at the New York Ave. Church of Christ in Arlington, TX. He serves as a staff writer for Apologetics Press and the Apologia Institute, and as a professional associate for the Associates for Biblical Research.

Two Religions, Two Gods — Dewayne Bryant, Ph.D.

Before 11 September, most people knew very little about Islam. The average person might have recognized the name Muhammad as belonging to a famous religious figure but would have known little about his life or teachings. Although Muslims had been immigrating to the US since the 19th century, their numbers were small enough that they remained unfamiliar to most Americans.

The destruction of the World Trade Center put Islam under a spotlight. Americans wanted to know about the religion of those responsible for the greatest act of domestic terror in the nation’s history. Books on Islam began to appear. Sales of both the Bible and the Qur`an spiked.

In 2015, Larycia Hawkins, a tenured professor at Wheaton College in Illinois, wore the hijab as a sign of solidarity between Christians and Muslims. She said that she stood alongside Muslims because both Christians and Muslims are “people of the book” who worship the same God. Naturally, this aroused no small amount of suspicion on the part of the administration. Although Hawkins’ writings included the apparent endorsement of theological traditions at odds with Scripture, her donning a purple hijab seems to have been the final stroke leading up to her departure from the school. Are Hawkins and others—such as Pope Francis and Roman Catholic apologists—correct in their assessment that Christians and Muslims both worship the same God?

Different Gods

Christianity and Islam share much of the same religious history as well as many individual characteristics. Both claim belief in a single God, point to some of the same sacred texts as authoritative, and agree on many points of moral teaching. With such extensive similarities, some have concluded that the two faiths are different approaches to worshiping the same God. As popular as this may be in the popular media, neither the Qur’an nor the Bible permits such an identification.

The most significant difference between Christianity and Islam is the radical view of the oneness of God (tawhid) in Muslim doctrine. Isma’il al-Faruqi (1921-1986) says, “There can be no doubt that the essence of Islam is al tawhid, the act of affirming Allah to be the One, the Absolute, transcendent Creator, the Lord and Master of all that is” (al-Faruqi 1995, 17). This language sounds similar to what a Christian might confess about the God of the Bible, but there is a more profound difference between God and Allah: the absolute denial of the Trinity.

Like some others throughout church history—such as adoptionists, Arians, and Socinians—Muslims deny the doctrine of Trinity. According to Muslim thinkers, Christians recognize three gods in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit even though the New Testament teaches their oneness. One passage which indicates something of the triune nature of God occurs is in John 14. Philip asks Jesus to “show us the Father” (v.8) Jesus responds, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” (v. 9).
On 13 October 2007, 138 Islamic scholars issued an open letter titled, A Common Word Between Us and You. The basis of the letter was Sura 3:64, which calls Christians to come to a common belief in God as one, not to associate any other gods with him, and to submit to Allah. The letter, whose signatories represented every major Islamic country or region, asks that Christians profess their love for God by embracing his oneness, and therefore rejecting any “associate.” By this, they meant a complete repudiation of belief in Jesus as God’s divine Son (Sura 5:78; 9:30; contra John 10:30), as well as the divinity of the Holy Spirit (cf. 2 Cor. 13:14).

The denial of the Trinity is a significant problem for those who would equate God and Allah. This is not a simple matter of describing a minor difference of opinion. Muslims classify the belief in the deity of Christ and the Holy Spirit as the sin of shirk (practicing idolatry or polytheism) and see it as ranking among the gravest offenses a human being can commit. Muslims deny the divinity of Jesus and the Holy Spirit (whom they call “associates” or “partners”), making their concept of Allah fundamentally different than the description of God found in the Bible.

Different Jesuses

Jesus (Isa) occupies a prominent place in Islamic theology as the second greatest prophet after Muhammad. He is also one of the five elite messengers of Allah, called the “Possessors of Steadfastness (‘Ul al-Azm). Unlike Christians, Muslims have always taught that Jesus was not crucified (Sura 4:157). Like Jews, Muslims could not accept a crucified, humiliated Messiah, a difficulty that the apostle Paul himself addressed when writing to the church in Corinth (1 Cor. 1:23).

Not only do Muslims reject the historical reality of the crucifixion, but they also dismiss the deity of Jesus. In doing so, Islam rejects the very foundation of the gospel—the substitutionary death of Christ for the forgiveness of humanity’s sins (cf. Rom. 5:8). Herein lies the beauty of the gospel: human beings are lifeless, helpless, and hopeless; spiritually, little more than walking corpses. In spite of our rebellion against him, God reached down from heaven to pull his people out of spiritual death and take them into his kingdom (Col. 1:13). Sadly, this is something that our Muslim neighbors will not accept.

The New Testament makes it clear that Jesus claimed divinity. He stated, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30), a claim that could be seen as relatively vague until we consider the response of his opponents. They understood him to be committing blasphemy, claiming to be God (John 10:33). Other passages clearly teach the deity of Christ (John 1:1-14; 20:28; Rom. 10:9; Tit. 2:13; 2 Pet. 1:1).

The Jesus of Islam is neither God nor the Son of God. If Jesus is not divine, this puts further distance between the Muslim and Christian understandings of the essential nature and character of God himself. A person cannot remain in right standing with God while rejecting the Son (Matt. 10:33; cf. John 8:19). In Christianity, recognizing Jesus as divine is a non-negotiable necessity; in Islam, it is blasphemy of the highest order.

Different Scriptures

Although we may hear the oft-repeated refrain, “Both Christians and Muslims are people of the book,” the question is, “Which book?” Neither Christians nor Muslims can accept the teachings of the Qur’an and remain true to the Bible. For this reason, Muslims believe that the Bible is a corrupted book. The late Islamic scholar Hammadah Abdalati states, “Long before the revelation of the Qur’an to Muhammad, some of those books and revelations [given to people like Abraham, Moses, David, and Jesus] had been lost or corrupted, others forgotten, neglected or concealed. The only authentic and complete book of God in existence today is the Qur’an” (Abdalati 1975, 12). Although the Qur’an speaks highly of the Bible (Sura 2:41, 89, 101; 5:71), Muslims believe that the information it contains can only be accepted as factual as long as the Qur’an confirms it.

The primacy of the Qur’an is unchallenged in Islam. Although Muslims believe Allah revealed his message through the prophet Muhammad, they consider the Qur’an to be the perfect, eternal word of Allah in much the same way the opening verses of John’s Gospel describe Jesus (John 1:1-14). Religious authorities heavily discourage textual criticism of the Qur’an. Any Muslim scholar attempting to analyze copies of the Qur’an containing textual variants will find himself ostracized if not persecuted.

If the Bible is considered to be a corrupted book, then the only trustworthy text for a faithful Muslim is that of the Qur’an. At the same time, no committed Christian can cede the authority of the Bible. In short, for the Christian and Muslim views of God to be remotely compatible, both must accept the book of the other as authoritative, which is something neither side will do. Christians will not accept the authority of the Qur’an. Muslims will not defer to the Bible when they believe it to be an adulterated text. This produces an insurmountable impasse in any attempt to equate the two faiths.

Different Faiths

Although some professing Christians consider Allah and the God of the Bible to be the same, doing so means ignoring many essential differences between Muslims and Christians. Recognizing these differences is not an expression of intolerance, condescension, exclusion, or judgment but a description of fact.

Some have argued that all religions interpret the same events or persons differently. To be consistent, however, this cannot be permitted when it comes to the nature of God. Either the Qur’an—as the eternally true, pure, and perfect word of Allah—is correct, or it is not. There is no middle ground for dialogue. The Bible and the Qur’an make mutually exclusive claims.

A desire for peace might motivate the efforts to connect Christianity and Islam. Without a doubt, the New Testament teaches that Christians should strive to live at peace with others if at all possible (Rom. 12:18). At the same time, Christians cannot make compromises with those in error. Even a cursory examination reveals that Allah and God are two different beings, causing these two religions to differ on the most fundamental level.

Dewayne is a minister at the New York Ave. Church of Christ in Arlington, TX. He serves as a staff writer for Apologetics Press and the Apologia Institute, and as a professional associate for the Associates for Biblical Research.

References

  1. Abdalati, Hammada. Islam in Focus. Indianapolis, IN: American Trust Publications, 1975.
  2. Al-Faruqi, Isma’il. Al Tawid: Its Implications for Thought and Life. Verndon: International Institute of Islamic Thought, 1995.

Five Pillars Of Islam – Stewart Schnur

Regardless of which Muslim sect one belongs to, all Muslims include these five practices of their faith:

  1. The SHAHADAH is a one-sentence statement that is important to them. “There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is His messenger.” If one says these words with sincerity, they are defined as a Muslim. The SHAHADAH affirms the identity of one god and is an expression which opposes polytheism. Christians do not believe in three Gods; we believe in ONE God who reveals Himself to us as there persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Both Muslims and Jews often teach their own that we believe in three Gods. The SHAHADA reminds the Muslim that Muhammad is the final and greatest prophet who received the words of the Quran, their holy book.
  2. Muslims recite memorized prayers in Arabic to Allah five times a day. This is called SALAT. They have a prayer rug upon which they bow towards Mecca. Muslims are required to attend prayer services every Friday at the mosque, a physical building in which they gather. Ceremonial washings are taken before they recite prayers at the mosque. All are expected to learn to say these prayers in Arabic.
  3. The Quran has charity as one of its main teachings. One is required to give 2.5% of one’s income to others. This is called ZAKAT. Muhammad was generous with his wealth.
  4. Muslims practice a fast called SAWM in the ninth month of the Muslim calendar, Ramadan. The daily fast goes from sunrise to sunset. Fasting is defined as no food, drink, or sex during these hours. From sunset to sunrise one may eat. This is the month Muhammad is believed to have received his revelations of the Quran.
  5. Muslims are required to make a pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in their lifetime, assuming they can afford it. This pilgrimage is called the HAJJ. They are in Mecca for about seven days and all participate in rituals involving their dress, prayer, ablution, and animal sacrifice. Some of these rituals date back to the time of Muhammad. Mecca is special as it is the birthplace of Muhammad and the city he returned to after being exiled in Medina. Muslims also believe Abraham built a temple in Mecca called the Ka’ba after Allah provided a ram to take the place of his son Ishmael as a sacrifice. Compared to the account of Abraham, Isaac, and a ram in Genesis 22:1-19, the account in the Quran 37:100-107 gives the different account of Ishmael (Abraham’s firstborn son) as the Arab tribes come from Ishmael. The Genesis account of Isaac taught by both Jews and Christians causes Muslims to teach our Bible has been corrupted and their Quran is correct.
  6. The sixth pillar shows a darker side of Islam today! Muslims wrestle with the concept of JIHAD. It is unfair to dismiss all Muslims as bloodthirsty terrorists. To most Muslims, a JIHAD is a war against selfishness, a war of the heart to be holy, a fight against temptations.

Yet today a minority of Imams (religious leaders) have a tendency to promote Islam through terror. Islam means “submission.” To the terrorist, all must submit to Allah or die. JIHAD is one of the most loaded words in Islam. We Christians understand we are to be militant in our war against sin and the devil. “The weapons of OUR WARFARE are NOT CARNAL but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds…” (2 Cor. 10:4-6). Among some Muslims, JIHAD conjures up thoughts of human carnage and death, wanton acts of destruction, and death for those who write or speak against Islam or Muhammad. Sha’ria, Islamic law, has been applied in numerous ways. Acid was poured on the face of a Muslim girl for allowing one wisp of hair to show under her veil. In Pakistan, the punishment for drinking alcohol is eight stripes of the whip. Iran persecutes the faith of 300,000 Bahais. We are aware of the recent beheadings and other gruesome acts by ISIS. Many African Muslims force female circumcision. Afghani females are not permitted an education. And of course, we well remember how Muslim extremists blew up the World Trade Center in New York.

Some Muslims declare religious wars on each other. In the past Iran’s Shi’ite Muslims have declared holy war on Iraq’s Sunni Muslims.

These and many other examples of how Islam can be interpreted makes all be filled with uncertainty and the fear that maybe they are doing something wrong. Islam is a works system of faith; even then, one is uncertain as to how Allah will ultimately judge them. There is no certainty of Allah’s mercy except for those who die in a JIHAD.

Understand That Islam Is Divided – Stewart Schnur

There are two major sects of Islam. There are also sub-sects found in different countries with unique teachings. Keeping in mind that to the Muslim the mosque and the state go together, the two major sects of Islam are the Sunni and the Shia. The Sunni make up about 90% of the Muslims and the Shia make up about 10%. The Shia stronghold is found in Iran, Iraq and Yemen with an influence in Syria and Lebanon. The dynamic in Iraq is an ongoing problem as the Shia make up about 60% of the population and the Sunni make up about 40%. These two groups have fought each other in various wars for dominance and continue to be hostile toward each other. The deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was the Sunni ruler over the majority Shia and was extremely prejudiced against them, seeing their common faith with Iran as a threat. Now in Iraq we have the Shia in charge. The tension between the Shia and the Sunni still exists as neither group wants to cooperate with the other. The Islamic State consists of militant Sunni’s who believe all Shia are apostates and need to be eliminated.

This gets very complex. The Shiites break their Ramadan fast at a slightly different time than the Sunnis and pray on a stone from the Iraqi city of Karbala, whereas the Sunni pray in Mecca at the Kaaba in their Hajj (pilgrimage) to a black stone. This division goes back to the seventh century in a disagreement as to who would succeed Muhammad.   Shiites took a blood line relative of Muhammad named Ali and the Shiites are defined as “”party of Ali” Shiites have special feast days for their saints and shrines are found in cities like Damascus, Najaf, and Masshad. The Sunnis frown on the exaltation of other people other than Muhammad.

Wahabbism, a sub sect of the Sunnis, considers images of religious figures as idolatry. This vein of thought is evidenced in the Taliban of Afghanistan who blew up a representation of Buddha.

The senior clerics with the Shiites are called Ayatollahs, who can and do make decrees on contemporary issues. The Sunni clerics are more concerned with the interpretation of Quranic law and how it is interpreted.

In the news we hear of various militant kidnappings, and murdering sub sects who claim to represent the pure original faith of Muhammad, their role model who beheaded some 700 Jewish Qurayzah men in 627 A.D. for their opposition to what he was doing and teaching. If that is what does represent the original faith, then those who instill fear and terror in the hearts of others, be they Muslims or unbelievers, are following the example of their ultimate leader Muhammad. To further prejudice their own against Christians and our teaching, they remind each other of the brutality of so-called Christians who were involved in the Crusades. To this we should acknowledge that the Roman Catholic Church which was behind those Crusades certainly did not act in a Christ-like way, and in no way represents the Christ we serve and love. Our Christ teaches us to “love our enemies” (Mt. 5:44).

The Islamic State represents the terror of Muhammad, as do the other Sunni sub-groups like Hamas in Gaza and the Muslim Brotherhood which originated in Egypt. There are the Sunni Wahabi in Saudi Arabia; the Taliban in Afghanistan and in Nigeria there is Boco Haram. Muslim Somalia has been in a state of anarchy for years. Sudan has had fighting for years between Muslims in the north and Christians in the south and has finally divided into two nations Sudan and South Sudan in 2011.

There are terrorist groups within the Shiites represented by Hezbollah in Lebanon, and the Houthis in Yemen. Shiites are part of the complex civil war in Syria.

All of this terror, uncertainty, and fear is supposed to get one or keep one in submission to their understanding of the Quran and Allah. There is no lasting joy in Islam. The problem for Islam today is that the majority of the Islamic people want to say Islam represents peace while intimidated and uncertain as to how to deal with these extremists. These are the ones we can talk to about Christ because they are reasonable.

“Pax Roma” (“Roman Peace”) meant to citizens of the Roman Empire, “IF you cooperate with Rome you will have peace.” The peace that some Muslims say Islam represents is the same type of peace. If you submit to Allah then you will have peace.

Christ offers us a peace which is not worldly (Jn. 14:27) between ourselves and a holy God. Repentant sinners can be in possession of peace with God (Rom. 5:1). This peace is awesome (Phil. 4:7). stewarteschnur@yahoo.com

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…May the Lord bless his people with peace! (Psalm 29:11)

Jesus and the Quran – Stewart Schnur

We need to understand what the perspective of our Savior is according to the writings of the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book. Our faith centers around Christ and their faith centers around Muhammad and the words of the Quran that others wrote down after Muhammad’s death. Only among Christians is Jesus seen as the Son of God.

We Christians know little about Muhammad and Muslims know little about the Jesus of the Bible. Jesus is given a somewhat distorted and piecemeal presence in the Quran. Seeing there are some 31 verses out of 6666 verses (called ayets in the Quran) that speak of Jesus, we can become familiar with these verses and begin here to teach them the rest of the story about Jesus. In our New Testament we find the word Jesus on every page. It is interesting to bring to their attention that Muhammad is mentioned only five times in their Quran.

I list for you the 31 verses from the Quran that speak of Jesus: 2:87, 136, 253; 3:3, 45, 52, 55, 59, 84; 4:157, 163, 171; 5:46, 78, 110, 112, 114, 116; 6:85; 19:32-35; 33:7; 42:13; 43:57, 61, 63; 57:27; 61:6, 14

When you have an opportunity to study with a Muslim I suggest you become somewhat familiar with their limited understanding of Jesus.

Jesus is spoken of as “a word from Him/Allah and his name will be Christ/Messiah Jesus the son of Mary” (3:45). For us, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God” (Jn. 1:1), and that Word became flesh (Jn. 1:17).

Jesus and Muhammad speak of the same prophets of God. “We believe in God, and in what was revealed to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes and in (the Books) given to Moses Jesus, and the Prophets” (3:84).

Jesus did find unbelief on their part and said: “Who will be my helpers to (the work of) Allah? Said the Disciples: “We are Allah’s helpers: We believe in Allah, And do thou bear witness that we are Muslims” (3:55). So Muslims believe Jesus and His disciples were Muslims.

Jesus is a model of virtue. 43:57 and 43:63 says, “When Jesus came With Clear Signs, he said: ‘Now have I come To you with Wisdom, And in order to make Clear to you some Of the (points) on which Ye dispute; Therefore fear Allah AND OBEY ME.’” A question here we can ask Muslims is, “Do you know Jesus’ commands? Our Jesus does say, ‘If you love Me keep My commandments’ (Jn. 14:15). What are Jesus’s commandments?”

The Quran says Christ Jesus was not killed or crucified in (4:157). This then denies a core belief of ours that Christ in shedding His blood at the cross made full payment for sins of the faithful to the one true God. They do believe that Jesus like Elijah and Enoch ascended into heaven (3:55; 4:158). They believe Allah purposefully deceived people into thinking Christ was killed and crucified. Our question must be, “Why would Allah want such a deception?” Some Muslims conjecture Judas or Simon who carried the cross for Jesus was placed on the cross.

Furthermore, we are not filled with doubts about Christ’s death and crucifixion as we have multiple prophecies and witnesses of this event. Muslims, like the Jews, do not believe God would allow the Messiah to die the death of a criminal. These have not read Isaiah 53. Since they do not believe Jesus died they do not believe He was resurrected from the dead, which to us is the final approval of Christ and His work from the Father.

The concept of Trinity is clearly spoken against in Surah 4:171 and 5:73. Here again we must make it clear that we believe in one God who for our needs chooses to reveal Himself to us as three persons and not three Gods. In Surah 5:116 Allah will ask Jesus if he has said for people to worship him and his mother (Mary). During Muhammad’s time Mariolatry was developing and Muhammad was influenced by this erroneous thinking.

Jesus did miracles as evidence of His bond with God and Muhammad did none. In Surah 5:110 Jesus is credited with the alleged miracles of speaking in infancy and giving life to a clay bird. The Quran and the Bible in this passage acknowledge Jesus did heal those born blind and the lepers and did resurrect the dead.

It is affirmed in the Bible and Quran that Jesus was born of a virgin and this miraculous birth was to be a sign (19:21). Jesus in the cradle tells his family Allah had made him a prophet (19:29-30).

These are some basic things we need to understand about a Muslim as we teach them more perfectly the way of the truth.

stewarteschnur@yahoo.com

The Quran: Islam’s Holy Book – Stewart Schnur

Muslims believe the Quran is the perfect word from God and its revelation is the ultimate miracle. They believe Allah sent the angel Gabriel to Muhammad over a period of 23 years to reveal the words of the Quran to him, first in a cave in Mecca during the month of Ramadan and later in Medina. Some Muslim clerics have memorized this book which is the size of our New Testament. The law “Shari’ah,” which makes the Quran the civil law, demands hands be cut off for stealing (Surah 5:38). The Quran allows a man to have up to four wives (Surah 4:3). Quranic law is superior to all civil law. (Christians feel the same way that if civil law goes against God’s law, God’s law must be followed.) They believe a woman should be veiled (24:31). Muhammad himself is not credited with any miracles and many Muslims believe Muhammad was illiterate, which to them validates the so called miracle of the Quran.

Most of us have not read any part of the Quran. The Quran is divided into 114 surahs or chapters. Each chapter consists of a number of ayets, or verses. Surah one consists of seven verses and is to be repeated to prove one is a Muslim. Surahs 2 through 114 are the longest to the shortest. Secular scholars are often critical of the Quran’s literary style and its lack of order. Its surahs or chapters cover various diverse themes.

Now let’s consider some of the major teachings of the Quran some upon which we may agree and many with which we will not agree.

Muhammad did bring the polytheistic pagans to the belief that monotheism or the belief in one God (Allah – Aramaic) as the correct understanding of God. The Quran also opposes the idea of the Godhead. They have no patience with the idea of three differing persons making up the Godhead.

Muhammad is perceived as the final prophet. Muhammad is the gift of grace to the world (28:46-47; 72:20-23). He is inspired by God (18:110). He is the model of moral conduct (33:21). Observe: it is the moral conduct of Muhammad to behead 700 Jewish men who surrendered to him. Obviously this is the logic some Muslims use today to justify their terror committed in the name of Allah. Muhammad’s work is said to be prophesied by Jesus (61:6). They go to passages which speak of the promised Holy Spirit and claim Jesus speaks of Muhammad.

The Quran claims of itself to be the true revelation of Allah. It is said to be an inspired message (6:19). The book is to be treated with humility and respect (59:21). Readers are not to entertain doubts about it (11:17). However if a Muslim is in doubt they need to speak to those who have been reading The Book (Bible) (10:94).

The hereafter is spoken of as Paradise or Hell. Paradise is a physical place with gardens and rivers (3:15). Believers will have many pleasures (43:69-71). The idea of each man having 72 virgins does not come from the Quran but is from the “Hadith.” The Hadith writings are the traditions of Muhammad.   The Quran has hundreds of verses about paradise and has fearful things to say about judgment and hell.

There are some passages in the Quran that could be stretched to promote terrorism in the name of Allah. Some passages speak of slaying opposition (2:190-191; 4:89, 91; 9:5; etc.).

There are some 289 ayets/verses which speak of “the people of the book.” These passages speak negatively of Jews and Christians. In Surah 5:51 it says, “O ye who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians for your friends…” This does of course instill prejudice against those who reject the Quran and accept the teachings of the Bible. These verses instill fear in Muslims where they are afraid to hear anything from “the Book.” Muslims believe the blessed lineage of God’s people is through Abraham’s first son born Ishmael.

Our Bible gives us forty authors over 1600 years and there are no discrepancies. The Quran has one author, Muhammad. Deuteronomy 17:6 and 19:15 tells us one witness is insufficient to prove a point. The law requires at least two or three witnesses. Our Bible has forty writing witnesses regarding the one true God and His word. When we share our faith with Muslims we need to respect their Quran and it would be helpful to them to know we have read some of it.

As we learn more of Islam which opposes the teachings of the Bible, let us not be perceived as bigoted or Islamaphobic. Yes, we will take a stand with Christ but we want not to be like others and be motivated by half-truths in opposing their errors. We want to truly understand what the Islamic person believes so we can help them see clearly their need for Christ.

stewarteschnur@yahoo.com

Muhammad: Prophet of God? – Stewart Schnur

Muhammad is an influential figure in our world, having started a religion which has over 1.5 billion followers. It is appropriate for us to learn some things about this man as most of us have had little education of him in our formal schooling. Muslims believe he is the most important person who has ever lived, the best example of a human being. Muslims do not believe he wrote the Quran but he is the human vessel who received that message. His life is viewed as an example of how one should properly submit to Allah.

3 Other Views of Muhammad

  1. The past view of the Roman Catholic Church is that he is a tool of Satan. This view resulted in the un-Christian Crusades which licensed the killing of Muslims in the name of Jesus.
  2. Our view might be that he was sincere but wrong in thinking he had a special revelation and was not a prophet.
  3. The liberal might say he misunderstood the Gospel and in some sense may be a prophet who restored monotheism to a pagan culture and brought some order to the Arab world.

25 Key Points in Muhammad’s Life

  1. A.D. 570: Born in Mecca.
  2. 576: His mother and father die.
  3. 578: Grandfather cares for him until he dies, then uncle cares for him in his teen years.
  4. 595: He will marry Khadijah, an older woman who was a merchant.
  5. 610: He allegedly has first of annual, life-long revelations from Allah through the angel Gabriel in a cave.
  6. 613: He begins to teach his monotheistic message to Arabs around Mecca, receiving intense opposition from Arabs who believe in Arabian gods.
  7. 613: He receives alleged revelation that it’s okay to worship three idols; later claims it was actually a revelation from Satan.
  8. 619: Khadijah dies. He marries Sawdah, the first of his polygamous wives.
  9. 620: He claims Gabriel took him by a heavenly steed called Buruq at night to Jerusalem where he met Moses, Abraham, and Jesus and allegedly ascended a ladder through seven heavens.
  10. 622: After seven years opposition, he and his followers moved to Medina, about 250 miles north of Mecca. The Muslim calendar begins with this date.
  11. March, 623: First raid on Meccan caravan using military/political power for his spiritual domination.
  12. April, 623: He marries Aisha, who is very young (some say nine). She will ultimately become his favorite wife.
  13. Feb/Mar, 624: He commands his followers to face Mecca when praying and that a month of fasting should begin.
  14. March 15, 624: Muslims under him defeat Meccan enemies in battle of Badr, the most significant military victory of his life.
  15. March 23, 625: Muslims barely survive battle of Uhud. The victory of the Meccans affected the spiritual confidence of some of his followers.
  16. May, 626: A chief of a Jewish clan was assassinated by Muslims. Tensions increase between Jews and Muslims. Opposition to him has consequences.
  17. 627: He marries his cousin Zaynab, who had been married to his adopted son. This caused turmoil among his followers since he was breaking traditional Arab customs.
  18. March, 627: Meccans fight against Medina (a Muslim stronghold), but lose.
  19. 627: He raided the Jewish clan of Qurayzah for their help in a prior raid on Medina. All 700 Jewish men were beheaded. One woman was put to death and the rest of the women and children were sold into slavery.
  20. 628: He signed a treaty with key Meccan leaders which signaled his opposition had weakened.
  21. 629: He and 2600 followers traveled to Mecca and worshiped where Muslims believe Abraham and Ishmael built the first temple to God.
  22. January, 730: Conquered Mecca with army of 10,000. The Ka’aba was cleansed of idols and pagan shrines were destroyed.
  23. January 31, 630: He had a military victory over Arabic tribes at Hunayan. Later that year he led 30,000 men in raids on northern Arabia.
  24. 630: Had trouble of jealousy and bitterness with his wives and threatened to divorce them all.
  25. 632: Made final pilgrimage to Mecca and dies in Medina on June 8, 632.