Tag Archives: Muslims

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.

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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

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.

Equipping The Saints For Battle – Stewart Schnur

I want to be a peacemaker (Mt. 5:9). Yet when it comes to souls that our Lord wants us to care about, we must fight the devil as he has multitudes deceived with worldly philosophies and false religion. We need to maximize the strength we have, recognizing that “the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds (2 Cor. 10:4). Do we really believe God can use us to pull down strongholds in the twenty-first century? If we don’t believe that, what does that say about our faith in God? Many today choose not have a strong faith in God and possess a weak faith. Thus, God cannot use them or work in them to accomplish His will. The weak in faith will not let God speak to them daily from their Bibles and will possess a minimal prayer life. The strong in faith hear God speak to them daily through the Bible and talk with Him daily. Christ needs strong Christians.

The problem that habitually exists among many if not most in the church is that we do NOT want to be equipped for the work of ministry God has called us to do (Eph. 4:12). Too many want to stand back and not get involved. They choose to be afraid. Others in the church still hold on to the denominational idea that the clergy (meaning preachers, elders, and deacons) are expected to work but all I have to do is sit in a pew and made a financial donation. The first century church had committed Christians who would be martyred for the cause of Christ. That is the type of faith they had which turned the world upside down (Ac. 17:6). Our God would like to see that dynamic in His church of today. We must understand that to claim represent the Almighty while representing Him with timidity, awkwardness, and weakness is an insult to our awesome God.

Our spiritual warfare might be called a “Jihad” or a “holy war” in Islamic terms. In our fight for Christ we are not interested in land or material things…but we do care about souls who have never heard of the whole counsel of God (Ac. 20:27). Paul tells us to be self-disciplined soldiers who endure hardship as good soldiers of Jesus Christ. We are engaged in a spiritual warfare and must not let worldly obligations entangle us to the point that we are distracted from our Commander who has enlisted us as His soldier (2 Tim. 2:3-4). Soldiers, our first unquestionable priority must be to love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, and all our mind (Mt. 22:37).

Soldiers, we also need to understand our enemy. Satan has many deceptions which ensnare people in sin. He deceives by making sin look pleasurable (Heb. 11:25). Islam is something most of us know little about. Their holy book, “the Quran,” does speak of Adam, Noah, Abraham, David, and Jesus as prophets. To them no prophet can compare to Muhammad, whom they say is the last and final prophet. Soldiers, we must not allow ourselves to be intimidated by their aggressiveness evidenced in Islam. Soldiers must be committed and HATE every false way (Ps. 119:104, 128). We are to hate what our commander hates. In doing this we both strengthen our resolve and keep our priorities right with God. We can’t be soft regarding that which is an affront to our God and say we love God. We must be militant, loving God and our fellow man, being strong in the power of His Might.

Into our entrusted hands the gospel is given. It is the good news regarding the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. God so loved us that He intervened in our world to make full payment for all with the blood sacrifice of Jesus. Multitudes today don’t know the Jesus of the Bible. They know the Jesus their sincere religious teachers talk about but they don’t know the real Jesus. Do we care? Shall we give up? Shall we just sit idly by? What would Jesus have us do?

Saints, we must be about our Father and Son’s business. “The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Lk. 19:10). Remember that someone sought you, shared the gospel with you, and helped you see how you had a need for forgiveness of your sins on God’s terms.

While in Corinth, Paul had a vision from Christ who told him, “Do not be afraid but speak, and do not keep silent; for I am with you… for I have many people in this city” (Ac. 18:9-10). Christ has only you and me as His hands and His messengers in our lost and dying world. Let us get back the first love passion we had in times past for our Lord (Rev. 2:4).

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For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.         (2 Cor. 10:3-4)

Our Attitude Towards The Muslim Soul – Stewart Schnur

Our Lord Jesus Christ came to seek and save the lost (Lk. 19:10). We as His followers are left here for now to do His work in seeking and saving the lost. The harvest truly is plentiful (Mt. 9:37).

Muslims believe Muhammad is God’s/Allah’s final prophet and all need to listen to God’s final word. There are about 1.5 billion souls who are Islamic, making up about 23.4% of the world’s population. It is estimated that 2.5 million Muslims live in the United States today. It is said that this religion is the fastest growing religion. A study has observed that in the year 2000 there were 1,209 mosques in America; by 2010 they increased to 2,106 mosques, a growth of 74%.

Thus, we need to prepare ourselves to teach them the whole counsel of God. We must prepare ourselves to help them understand the error of their ways and that Jesus alone represents the way, and the truth, and the life before the one true living God (Jn. 14:6).

To help us relate to our religious neighbors be they Islamic or otherwise, we need to begin by helping them see us and our Christ as a loving people (1 Cor. 13), representing a loving God (1 Jn. 4:8). We love our neighbors (Mt. 22:39) and our enemies (Mt. 5:44), and our love is evidenced in sharing Christ with others. Our language is to speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15). As Christians we believe a militant love is stronger than a militant fear or hate. In speaking with someone of another religion we need to do our best to understand their perspective. Our ignorance or prejudice will not bring a soul to Christ.

Both Christians and Muslims understand there is but one God. The Quran and the Bible have different definitions of God. We can begin at this point to compare our understandings of the one God. We want to be educators of the God of the Bible, not argumentative.   As disciples of Christ we must show our unwavering allegiance to Christ as the Son of Man. Christ as the Son of God is a blasphemous idea to both Muslims and Jews; we must show them Scriptures that this concept, though difficult, is true. God has highly exalted Jesus and given Him a “name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow…” (Phil. 2:9-10). Sin is the issue for all humans. How does God deal with our problem? Our God wants to be gracious and merciful and explains to us how He can be both just in forgiving of sins. We are saved by faith submitting God’s will. Muslims have a works plan of salvation and then are unsure about Allah’s mercy. Allah’s mercy is spoken of over 150 times but never specifically granted to man.

God will be a righteous Judge and express His wrath on all who have not resolved their sin issue with the sacrificial blood of Christ. We believe God will carry out the perfect judgment against sinners when Judgment Day comes. Our work now is to bring Muslims to Christ. Like us, they also need a Savior.

Guest Editorial: Muslims Need Christ – Stewart Schnur

(Some of our readers requested that we cover the religion of Islam. Accordingly, I asked my friend and brother of eleven years, Stewart Schnur, to write the articles and editorial for this issue. Stewart has done extensive research on Islam over the years, and we are thankful he has agreed to write these articles to instruct us about this relevant and needed topic of our times. — Jon Mitchell, Editor)

Is your soul or mine more valuable to God than the soul of a Muslim? Because Christ cares, we also must care to share the gospel with them. We must prepare ourselves to teach Muslims about the Christ of the Bible who is different from the minimal information about Christ in the Quran. We know the certainty of our God that there is NO SALVATION in any other name (like Muhammad) under heaven given among men by which ALL MUST BE SAVED (Ac. 4:12).

Muslims are sincere and strive as did Paul to have a good conscience (Ac. 24:16). Yet Paul was wrong and Muslims are too. They express a militant, often intimidating, and threatening approach to convert the world to their Allah. We must express a bold faith to show them that our love for them is stronger than the hate often expressed to us. They do believe Jesus is a prophet of God. The Quran teaches he alone was born of a virgin, and did miracles. The Quran teaches he was NOT crucified, or that he died (4:157). These teachings about Jesus were not found in the Bible but were founded in erring beliefs of so-called Christians during Muhammad’s lifetime.

We need to ask them what they know about the prophet called Jesus, “Isa” in Arabic. He is referred to in English translations of the Quran as “Messiah/Christ,” meaning “the anointed one of God.” Their understanding will be very limited as Jesus is mentioned in some 28 scattered passages of their Quran. In their ignorance and fear they may not want to be further informed about the Jesus of the Bible. Yet their precious soul is a stake. We must try to help them.

What motivates one to be Islamic? The Allah of the Quran has authority and you had better fear and submit to him. Insincere Muslims had better watch out for other Muslims who may harm them if they do not submit. This motivation of terror works in the heart of a Muslim considering conversion to Christ. Obviously such a mindset is totally contrary to the God of love, grace, and mercy revealed to Christians through Jesus Christ. Christians are motivated to be obedient to God through Christ and the great love He has expressed toward us at the cross.

Merciful Allah has predetermined who will and will not get to Paradise. Muslims in respect of Allah will tell you they don’t know if the greatest of prophets Muhammad will make it to Paradise. Their hope uncertainly trusts in their works. There is a better path. Let’s show it to them.

stewarteschnur@yahoo.com