This article shows how evangelism can be done to Muslims using parts of the Qur’an and the Islamic faith.

Source: Australian Presbyterian, 2010. 3 pages.

Qur'anic Christ Muslims' own witness can help them to faith

One hesitates to begin an essay with a quotation from Samuel Angus, but this one intrigued me: "I have often discovered ... that the two ideal conditions in which to write or to speak are either full knowledge or complete ignorance; half knowledge makes its possessor, according to his character, either too hesitant or too audacious." Armed with half knowledge, and a total inability to read Arabic, I will venture a few thoughts on presenting the gospel to Muslims.

Two things need to be stated at the outset. The first is that Muslims should be treated no differently from other people. We all appreciate friendliness and kindness. It is good to try to respect Muslim and/or Middle Eastern customs. If you are having lunch together, it is no burden for the Christian to eat halal food. A bacon and egg McMuffin is not a good idea. Don't put your Bible — or the Qur'an for that matter — on the floor for that is to show disrespect. It is not capitulation to say that Christianity and Islam have some beliefs in common, and some possible areas of cooperation, for example in opposing the homosexual lobby. We both believe in one God who created the world and who shall judge it.

The second thing is that one cannot simply follow the guidelines in the book of Acts. In the book of Acts, all, whether Jew or Gentile, believed that Jesus was crucified. It was the task of Christians to convince them that Jesus is Lord and that He rose from the dead. The Muslim, of course, does not believe that Jesus was crucified. As one can understand, this creates a real barrier.

Because of the Islamic emphasis on the prophets, the issue of prophecy should be a good point of entry. Indeed, this is the challenge of the God of the Bible to other so-called gods (see Isaiah 41:22-23; 44:7). Muslims believe that Jesus is the Messiah but only the Messiah of the Jews. The Christian can show from Psalm 2 that He is the Messiah of all the nations of the world. One can also turn to Isaiah 53 to point to the Suffering Servant who came to suffer as the righteous one for the sake of sinners, and then finally to triumph over death itself, and to win the victory. It was, in fact, Isaiah 53 that led Patrick Sookhdeo as a Muslim to become a Christian. After a debate with a sheikh some years back, a number of Muslims came to the Revesby church hall to dis­cuss some matters, and it was noticeable that they were quite taken aback when I read Isaiah 53 to them.

It is worth comparing prophecies in the Bible with prophecies in the Qur'an and the Hadith. Muslims say they believe the prophets, and they are often told that there were 124,000 of them. However, there are precious few prophe­cies. Islam holds to two kinds of prophe­cies:

  1. There is Sura 30 in the Qur'an which tells of the defeat of the Persians by the Romans, but it is not obvious what that is referring to. The Romans were always fighting the Persians, and defeated them more often than not. It is a prophecy of sorts, but something that a journalist might say.
  2. There is the prophecy in the Hadith that Jesus will descend to earth and break crosses, kill pigs, and abolish tribute (Jizya), and the wealth will pour forth to such an extent that no one will accept it. Also, there is the prophecy that Mohammed's uncle, who rejected his nephew's prophetic credentials, would suffer in hell. These are prophecies, but are unverifiable in this life.

It can be profitable too to raise the issue of the character of Jesus and the character of Mohammed. In the Qur'an, Jesus does miracles (3:46; 5:112-113), is joined to the Holy Spirit (2:86), is the Messiah (3:45), was born of a virgin (3:47; 19:20-22), and is the Word of God (3:45; 4:171). Despite this, Jesus is regarded as a lesser prophet than Mohammed. In Islam, Jesus is not in any sense divine. Hell is the fate of those who believe in the Trinity (Surah 5:72, 73), but it is virtually certain that Mohammed had little idea of what Christians meant by the Trinity. In Surah 5:116 Jesus in the judgment denies that He told people to worship Himself and His mother as two gods beside Allah. Surah 6:101 asks "How can He have chil­dren when He has no wife?" Like the Knight of the Woeful Countenance, Mohammed manages to tilt at windmills.

It is not wise to begin by attacking the character of Mohammed, but it is help­ful to know something about what Islamic sources say about him. Mohammed is said in the Qur'an to be "a good example to follow for him who hopes for Allah and the Last Day, and remembers Allah much" (33:21). Mohammed himself says: "I am only a man like you" (Surah 18:110). It is prophesied that he would die (39:30).

He married something like 13 wives, and kept many concubines (33:50), but he restricted other Muslim men to four wives (Surah 4:3). Mohammed married his favourite wife Aisha when she was six years old, and he consummated the marriage when she was nine years old (Sahih Al-Bukhari, vol.7:64). He married Zaineb, who had first to be divorced from Mohammed's adopted son (Sura 33:37-38). Hence Mohammed married his own daughter-in-law.

Mohammed seems to have ordered 38 battles, and personally took part in 27. He also gave orders for assassina­tions and massacres. After the Battle of Trench in 627, trenches were dug and between 600 and 700 men were decapi­tated. Mohammed himself is told in Surah 47: "So know, O Mohammed, none has the right to be worshipped but Allah, and ask forgiveness for your (sin­gular) sin, and also for believing men and believing women" (The Fighting, 47:19). In Surah 80:1-15 Mohammed is rebuked for ignoring a blind man.

Mohammed was a man who knew something of kindness and mercy. He spoke against female infanticide, and used to help his wives at home. But he was a man who sought the forgiveness of his sins, and who did not know whether he would enter Paradise. Mohammed's only sons died in childhood, and ulti­mately Mohammed himself died in 632. So Mohammed failed to defeat sin and death. He, like all of us, was a man in Adam.

Jesus is in a different category. He lived the life that you and I should have lived. He went about doing good. He is the strongest of men and the gen­tlest of men. Isaiah prophesied: "Behold, My servant Whom I have chosen, my beloved with Whom My soul is well pleased. I will put My Spirit upon Him, and He will proclaim justice to the Gentiles. He will not quarrel or cry aloud, nor will anyone hear His voice in the streets; a bruised reed He will not break, and a smouldering wick He will not quench, until He brings justice to victory; and in His name the Gentiles will hope" (Isa. 42:1-3; Matt. 12:18-21). The Bible says that He is unique in being without sin (John 8:29, 46; 2 Cor. 5:21; Heb.7:26; 1 Peter 2:22; 1 John 3:5). Mosab Hassan Yousef, the author of Son of Hamas, records his own experience: "When I read the New Testament, I fell in love with it. I was truly attracted to Jesus." Giving a Muslim a Gospel — espe­cially perhaps the Gospel of Matthew introduces him or her to the wondrous character of Jesus.

Finally it is good to deal with the Islamic view that one man cannot pay for the sins of others. Yet the Qur'an itself says that Adam's unrighteous act affects us all. The Qur'an says in Surah 2 (The Cow): "Then the Shaitan (Satan) made them slip there from (the Paradise), and got them out from that in which they were. We said: 'Get you down, all, with enmity between your­selves. On earth will be a dwelling place for you and an enjoyment for a time.'" (2:36; 7:24). So sin and fighting are a result of Adam's sin.

Also, death came into the world: "He said: 'Therein you shall live, and therein you shall die, and from it you shall be brought out (i.e. resurrected)'" (7:25). This means that Adam has brought sin and death through his being expelled from Paradise, which to the Muslim is not the Garden of Eden on earth, but is located in heaven. In other words, one man has undone us all. What, then, is so illogical about the claim that one man has restored his people?

Islam sets out its five pillars:

  1. the confession of Allah, and Mohammed is his prophet;
  2. prayer five times a day;
  3. the giving of alms;
  4. pilgrimage to Mecca (hajj);
  5. fasting during Ramadan.

Salvation is essentially by merit, and at the end the Muslim hopes that the angel on his right shoulder (mercy) tri­umphs over the angel on his left shoul­der (justice). Salvation is by creed and works (Surah 2:25; 4:57; 29:58). This will open up Paradise which includes 70 beautiful virgins, luscious fruit, wine, and gold (Surahs 37, 56, 74, 83). Islam says if you perform more good deeds than bad deeds, you can hope Allah will be merciful. Ultimately, it says that you save yourself by doing more good than evil. In the explanation of Surah 11:114, "For those things that are good remove those that are evil".

Christ, however, demands perfection (Mt. 5:48), which means that we cannot save ourselves (Lk 18:9-14). We need more than a prophet; we need a Saviour. Try to push your Muslim friend to see that, in the end, we are in Adam or we are in Christ (1 Cor. 15:22).

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