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What Christians Need to Know About Muslims

by David K. Irwin

Indonesia Watch (from Ministry to Muslims)

What Christians Need to Know about Muslims

Four thousand years ago Abraham cried out to God, “If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!” This heart-rending plea of a father for his son touched God’s heart, and He replied, “And as for Ishmael, I have heard you: I will surely bless him…. I will make him into a great nation” (Genesis 17:20,21).

Today the spiritual sons of Ishmael are called Muslims—the people of Islam. Over 1 billion Muslims are scattered around the world, and they are still outside the Covenant. They have been blessed in a material sense, but they have not been saved. They have submitted to God, but not to His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

Muslims accept the Lord Jesus as a prophet only.

In l959, the Lord sent me to Egypt to work with Lillian Trasher in the orphanage she had founded in Assiout. In that city I met Muslims, lived among them, and was exposed to their culture. Since that time, I have carefully nurtured a spiritual burden for the people of Islam, wherever they live, work, suffer, and pray.

My heart became increasingly burdened not only by the enormous spiritual need of the 1 billion Muslims, but also by the apathy of the missionary movement toward them. Little more than 4 percent of the missionary force is endeavoring to reach this vast multitude which comprises 35 percent of all unevangelized peoples of the world.

Unplanted fields bear no harvest. Islam is an unplanted field!

Instead of being evangelized, Muslims are evangelizing. They are sending out thousands of missionaries to preach the message of their prophet, Muhammad. Saudi Arabia has given millions of dollars to promote Islam in America . Mosques, such

as the one in Chicago which cost $15 million, are being built in many major cities.

New Mexico is the site of America ’s first all-Muslim community, called Dar al Islam. Situated on 1,280 acres, the orthodox Sunni Muslims intend to evangelize America from this center.

The soaring growth rate of Islam has been highlighted by Al-lslam, the “magazine of Muslims in Germany .” It reported that Muslims are counting on Europe , the birthplace of the Reformation and the modern missionary movement, to become completely Islamic within the next few decades.

In England more than 300 closed churches have been converted into mosques. Muslims expect their religion to have the highest number of adherents worldwide because, they say, Islam is “best suited to solve the problems of all areas…if human civilization is to be preserved from destruction, then Islam is the only religion for the world tomorrow…Islam is the universal message of peace in this world and the next.”

The number of Muslims has passed the 50 million mark in each of these six countries: Bangladesh , Turkey , India , Indonesia , Pakistan , and China . Muslims are now in a majority in 44 countries of the world. We must ask ourselves: Why has the church of Jesus Christ not gone into this neglected field?

How Islam Began

Muhammad, the originator of Islam, was born into the pagan Quraish tribe about 570 A.D. in the city of Mecca , in what is now Saudi Arabia . The Quraish claimed direct descent from Abraham through Ishmael. Many of them were traders whose caravans made journeys to Syria and Palestine .

Muhammad’s father Abdullah died before Muhammad was born. His mother Amina died when he was 6. His grandfather, who was the chief of Mecca and the keeper of a pagan shrine, cared for him.

During his early teens, Muhammad accompanied relatives on trading journeys to Syria . He may have also gone to Palestine .

When Muhammad was 25 years old, he married a wealthy widow named Khadija. He worked for Khadija as a caravan manager. When Muhammad began receiving “revelations,” Khadija used her wealth to help him spread his doctrines.

Through contacts with Christians and Jews in his native area and on trading journeys, Muhammad learned about the Jewish and Christian faiths. It seems that the paganism of his tribe and the many deities they worshipped increasingly repulsed him. Perhaps he was seeking for something to satisfy his heart’s desire and was trying to understand the Jewish and Christian doctrines. He incorporated some Jewish and Christian practices, such as fasting and regular hours for prayer, into his version of Islam.

At about the age of 40, while meditating in a cave, Muhammad received his first revelation. A spiritual being (some say the angel Gabriel) came to him and commanded him to “recite.” Almost all scholars believe that this first revelation is chapter 96 of the Qur’an, the sacred scriptures of the Muslims. It says, “Proclaim! (or Read!) in the name of thy Lord and Cherisher, who created—created man, out of a (mere) clot of congealed blood: Proclaim! and thy Lord is Most Bountiful—He who taught (the use of) the Pen—taught man that which he knew not.” At later dates other revelations provided the material for the rest of the Qur’an. Today, Islamic teachers in mosques and schools all over the world read and recite the Qur’an.

What Muslims Believe

The Muslim creed has six articles. They are about (1) God, (2) the angels of God, (3) the books of God, (4) the prophets of God, (5) the day of resurrection and judgment, and (6) the predestination to do good and evil. We will explain each of these briefly.

1. What Muslims Believe About God

There are several parts to the Muslim belief about God. The first involves His name. The name Allah refers to God’s essential being and is known as the great name of God. All of His other names are qualities of His divine being. Muslims assign seven principle attributes to God. They are:

a. Life. His existence has neither beginning nor ending.

b. Knowledge. He knows all things, visible or invisible, past or future. He never forgets, is never negligent, and never makes an error.

c. Power. Allah is almighty. If He wills, He can make stones and trees talk.

d. Will. He is able to do what He wills. Good and evil exist by His will. If a man is pious, it is because of the will of Allah. If a man is an unbeliever, it is due to the will of Allah.

e. Hearing. He can hear every sound, whether high or low. He hears without ears.

f. Seeing. He sees all things, even the steps of a black cat on a black stone at midnight. He is able to see without eyes.

g. Speech. He speaks, but without a tongue.

The second belief about God that Muslims emphasize is His unity. The Qur’an 112:1-4 says, “Say: He is Allah, the One and Only; Allah, the Eternal, Absolute; He begetteth not, nor is He begotten; and there is none like Him.” Muslims often quote these verses to Christians. The Muslim creed, “There is no god but God,” expresses their belief in God’s unity.

To a Muslim, the association of other gods with Allah is the greatest sin possible.

The third aspect of the Muslim belief in God is His greatness. The Arabic expression Allahu akbar, which means “God is greatest,” is recited almost constantly. To the Muslim it means that no matter what a man can think of, God is greater than that.

The fourth part of the Muslim belief about God is His revelation of His divine will or law. It is important for those who want to witness to Muslims to understand this.

Muslims use the expression tanzil (sending down) to mean the revelation or sending down of God’s message in the Qur’an. Christians say that Christ is the greatest of God’s revelations, but Muslims say the greatest revelation is His message or the Qur’an.

The last Muslim belief about God is His transcendence. Muslims believe that God is unknowable. He holds himself aloof from man, and His real self can never be known by man.

2. What Muslims Believe About Angels

According to the Qur’an, the devil was created from fire, men from clay, and angels from light. Angels have life, speech, and reason. They have no carnal desire or anger. It is said that their food is celebrating God’s glory; their drink is proclaiming God’s holiness; their conversation is commemorating God; their pleasure is worshipping God.

Angels are thought to be inferior to human prophets because they were commanded to prostrate themselves before Adam. “And behold, We said to the angels: ‘Bow down to

Adam,’ and they bowed down. Not so Iblis. He refused and was haughty” (Qur’an 2:34).

Muslims believe that angels intercede for man and act as his guardians. Each Muslim assumes that two recording angels tend him, one to record his good actions and the other his evil actions. “They know (and understand) all that ye do” (Qur’an 82:12).

Four archangels are part of the Muslim belief: Gabriel, the angel of revelation; Michael, the patron of the Israelites; Israfil, who must sound the trumpet at the last day; and Azra’il, the angel of death. The chief angel in charge of hell is Malik (king), and he has 19 sub-angels or guards.

The Muslim concept of sin and salvation is radically different from that of the New Testament.

3. What Muslims Believe About the Books of God

Muslims believe that God gave 104 sacred books to mankind. He gave 100 of these to Adam, Seth, Enoch, and Abraham, but they have been lost. The four remaining books are the books of Moses, the Psalms of David, the Gospels of Christ, and the Qur’an which Allah gave to Muhammad. It is critical for Christians to realize that Muslims claim that we have altered the books in the Bible. By this, they are attempting to justify the statements in the Qur’an that differ from the Bible.

They say the Qur’an corrects previous mistakes in revelation because it was revealed last! “We (also) sent (Our prophets) to peoples before thee…and We sent down the Book to thee for the express purpose, that thou shouldst make clear to them those things in which they differ” (Qur’an 16:63,64).

4. What Muslims Believe About the Prophets of God

Muslims generally speak of two classes of prophets of God. Nabi is any prophet who God inspires, and Rasul is a prophet to whom God has entrusted a special message. Muslims accept the Lord Jesus as a prophet only.

Tradition states that Muhammad claimed there were 124,000 prophets and 315 apostles or messengers. It is said that nine of these are “possessors of power or constancy.” They are Noah, Abraham, David, Jacob, Joseph, Job, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad. Six of these have special titles. Christ’s title is Ruh Allah which means the Spirit of God.

5. What Muslims Believe About the Day of Judgment and Resurrection

The last day has several names in the Qur’an. Among them are the day of uprising, the day of separation, the day of reckoning, the day of awakening and sending forth, the day of judgment, the last day, the encompassing day, and the hour.

Muslim teaching about the last day states that it will be preceded by three blasts of a trumpet. The first blast will terrify all creatures in heaven and earth. At the second blast, all creatures in heaven and earth will die. And at the last blast, 40 years later, all the dead will be raised again for the judgment. It will be a general resurrection of men, angels, jinn (spirits), and animals.

The length of the day of judgment will be 1,000 years. Some Islamic scholars say it will be 50,000 years. To support their point they cite “A day the measure whereof is as 50,000 years” (Qur’an 70:4).

When all the people have been assembled for judgment, the angels will keep them waiting for 40 years (or 50,000 years depending on the commentator). After this, God will appear to judge them, and Muhammad will intercede on their behalf. Muhammad will be the one to intercede because Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus will decline as they feel unworthy to do it.

Each person will be examined from his own book of deeds in which all his words and actions are recorded. God will weigh all his deeds and words on a balance scale. “We shall set up scales of justice for the day of Judgment so that not a soul will be dealt with unjustly in the least. And if there be (no more than) the weight of a mustard seed, we will bring it (to account), and enough are We to take account” (Qur’an 21:47).

6. What Muslims Believe About Predestination

Muslims believe that God is absolute in His decrees of good and evil. According to what God had engraved on a preserved tablet by His pen of fate, nothing comes to pass, whether good or bad, except by the divine will. A Muslim believes that God is not limited by any consideration whatsoever, moral or otherwise. He chooses whether He will forgive or damn a person.

From this teaching, we see that man is a mere puppet without free will, a mechanical being. This means that no person is responsible for what he does. All responsibility for his actions is laid on God. It follows then that God is unjust to judge a man by his deeds for which he is not responsible! This is utterly foreign to the teaching of both the Old and New Testaments.