From a seminar on Islam designed to focus on the most important aspects of Islam and their core beliefs. Not all issues are addressed, only the most common and important. Familiarity with this material will aid in understanding Muslims in order to present the Gospel of Christ to them.
Muslim Lineage: Abraham => Ishmael => Arabs => Muhammad => Muslims
Christian Lineage: Abraham => Isaac => Jews => Jesus => Christians
Muhammad's Religious Influences: Jews, Nestorian Christians (Mariology), Sabians
History of Islam:
632 Death of Muhammad & Expansion
750 Golden Age of Islam
1100 Crusades against Muslims
1300 Ottoman Empire
1700 Colonialism of Muslim Territories
1950 Economic Subjugation of Muslim Countries
1970 Oil & Fundamentalism Revival
Present Western "Christian" Immorality
Muslims are "Historical People" whose perspective of the world and life come from the events of the past. As Westerners, our view of life focuses on the present and the future.
Islam Quiz (with answers):
1. How many Muslims are there in the world? ~ 1.2-1.5 Billion Muslims
2. What is the world's population? 6.0 billion
3. How many children does the average Muslim woman have? six
4. What does the Arabic word "islam" literally mean? the way of submission
5. What five countries have the largest Muslim populations? Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Nigeria
6. What is the name of Islam's holy book? Qur'an
7. What language was this book written in? Arabic
8. What province in India has the largest percentage of Muslims? Kashmir (north-west)
9. What are the five pillars (central practices) of Islam? confession, prayer, alms, fast, hajj
10. What nation in South America is more than 15% Muslim? Suriname
11. What city do Muslims face when they pray? Mecca
12. Where is this city? Saudi Arabia
13. What are the two main branches of Islam? Sunni and Shi'a
14. What do Muslims call the building where they worship? mosque
15. How many converts to Islam are there everyday in America? ~2,500 (although the apostasy rate is very high)
16. How many Muslims die in the world everyday? ~ 80,000
Five Pillars of Islam and Tawhid
A young man asked Muhammad what is the minimum that he has to do to get into heaven. Muhammad listed the Five Pillars as the minimum.
(1) Recite the Shahada Confession of Faith
"La ilaha illa'Llah; wa Muhammadun rasulu'Llah."
"There is no God but Allah; and Muhammad is Allah's prophet."
(2) Salat Prayer (formal obligatory prayers 5 times a day, plus informal prayers)
(3) Sawm Fasting during the month of Ramadan
(4) Zakat Tithe; poor due (2_%)
(5) Hajj Pilgrimage to Mecca (supposed Abrahamic origins)
Muslims are uncertain if they will go to heaven. Through the practice of the 5 Pillars and the "traditions," they are confident that if they do go to hell it won't be for too long.
(1) In order to come back to the Flock of Islam, you have to recite the Shahada.
(2) Formal, obligatory prayers (salat) are required 5 times a day (early morning, early noon, late afternoon, sunset, and night prayer). The call to formal prayer begins with the important phrase "Allahu Akbar" (God is Greater). During the formal prayer (usually at the mosque), the Muslim recites the first chapter of the Quran along with other scriptures as they perform the prayer movements.
Surah 1: The Opening (Al-Fatiha)
In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. Praise be to Allah, the Cherisher and Sustainer of the worlds; Most Gracious, Most Merciful; Master of the Day of Judgment. Thee do we worship, and Thine aid we seek. Show us the straight way, The way of those on whom Thou hast bestowed Thy Grace, those whose (portion) is not wrath, and who go not astray.
Call to Prayer: "God is most great. God is most great. God is most great. God is most great. I testify that there is no god except God. I testify that there is no god except God. Come to prayer! Come to prayer! Come to success (in this life and the Hereafter)! Come to success! God is most great. God is most great. There is no god except God."
(2) There are also voluntary and informal prayers. Among these are du'a which are short, informal prayers recited for every part of daily life (traveling, cooking, sleeping, etc). The words for the du'a are prescribed. A Muslim's prayers are central to their lives.
Tawhid is the basic belief of Islam. Tawhid is the basis of being a Muslim. The sum of the Tawhid (basic belief) is contained in Chapter 112, considered to be 1/3 of the Quran.
Surah 112: The Unity, Sincerity, Oneness Of Allah
Say: He is Allah, the One and Only; Allah, the Eternal, Absolute; He begetteth not, nor is He begotten; And there is none like unto Him.
The opposite of Tahwid is sin (shirk), which is associating something or someone with Allah (idolatry). This is the highest degree of blasphemy. You are guilty of sin if you claim something to be Allah that isn't Allah. Allah is the eternal and absolute. Nothing can compare to him. Nothing can be associated with him. Nothing can partner with him.
In Islam there is no such thing as salvation since we are all born in the Best Form. Every child is born a Muslim (the straight path), but our parents and society raise us up in bad things, and then we forget. You aren't converted in Islam, you're reverted. Because we are created in the Best Form, we must "remember." Our sins require a Muslim to constantly purify himself by offsetting their sin with good acts. In terms of fleshly and sinful desires, Muslims do not try to repress them but instead channel and control them.
Muhammad is the last prophet of Allah who has brought the final revelation. Muhammad is not a Muslim's savior, only a prophet. Muhammad is not mentioned in the Bible.
Quran 9:33: It is He Who hath sent His Messenger with guidance and the Religion of Truth, to proclaim it over all religion, even though the Pagans may detest (it).
Quran 22:78: It is He Who has named you Muslims, both before and in this (Revelation); that the Messenger may be a witness for you, and ye be witnesses for mankind! So establish regular Prayer, give regular Charity, and hold fast to Allah. He is your Protector - the Best to protect and the Best to help!
During his lifetime, Muhammad was a powerful political and military leader. His life was filled with many spiritual experiences (revelations) and political accomplishments, Muhammad did gain power often through unconventional means. Muhammad had 23 wives (plus concubines). His favorite wife (Aishah) was engaged to him at the age of six and married when she was 9 years old. He died in 632 AD.
The Quran is the Recitation. The Quran is the final and complete revelation of Allah. During the lifetime of Muhammad, the angel Gabriel appeared to Muhammad in visions and revelations and progressively gave him the Quran, which is the revelation of Allah's will. In the early days of Muhammad's revelation, much of what he was revealed was recorded on stones, shreds of paper, or committed to memory. The Quran is not in a chronological or organized format.
Some out of context text delated by the author of this website.
Several years after Muhammad died, one of the leaders (Uthman) burned all the deviant manuscripts that did not align with The Quran. Thus there are not parallel copies of the original Quran and Muslims use this to prove the Quran's divine inspired. "The Quran is the Word of Allah. He has preserved it, and it cannot change." But you cannot prove that the original Quran remains existent and unchanged when there is nothing to compare it to. The Bible has stood the test of time. If the Bible is the word of God, then it will stand and remain.
Teaching of the Quran:
Quran 3:85: If anyone desires a religion other than Islam (submission to Allah), never will it be accepted of him; and in the Hereafter he will be in the ranks of those who lost (all spiritual good).
God Is. God rules; God creates; God sends; God guides; God ordains; God has mercy; God judges. The Quran teaches Allah's sovereignty, his power, his mercy, his greatness. Allahu akbar "God is Great!" This literally means "God is Greater", because you cannot say "God is Greater than ___" because that is comparing him to something. Muhammad and the Quran teach that Allah is the God who is to be served. In contrast Jesus is the God who came to serve.
The six main teaching of the Quran are the following:
(1) You must to believe in Allah.
(2) You must believe in the Angels.
(3) You must believe in the Books.
(4) You must believe in the Messengers (prophets). Thousands of messengers have been sent, but the only ones that are known and valid are the ones named in the Quran.
(5) You must believe in the Day of Judgment. There is the torture and judgment in the grave, but the general/final judgment comes at the end of time.
(6) You must believe in Fate. Islamic fate teaches that God has ordained everything, including good and evil.
The Quran speaks in very spiritual terms regarding God, worship, and righteous living. The Quran explicitly denies Christ, his relationship with the Father, his crucifixion, and his resurrection. There is a clear spiritual force behind the Quran that reduces Christ to a mere man. While portions of the Quran appear demonically inspired, many of the facts and rationale reflect Muhammad's misunderstandings.
One of Muhammad's wives (Aishah) said this about his character. "His nature was the Quran [khuluquhu al-Quran]; he approved what it approved and he hated what it hated."
The Quran is overtly anti-Christ. It denies his death and resurrection. The Quran rejects Jesus as the Son of God (Quran 4:171), and states that Jesus is not the sacrifice of God (Quran 4:157). The Bible and the Quran are inherently opposed and you cannot reconcile the two on this issue. Because the Quran strongly and continually denies Christ, there is a side to the Quran that is overtly demonic in inspiration. Many Muslims and Christians affirm that the Quran has a tremendous amount of influence and power, with the help of spiritual forces.
Allah in the Quran:
The Quran is the revelation of Allah's Will for humans. The Quran teaches that we only have access to the Will of Allah. The revelation is not a revelation of Allah, but the revelation of his Will. We cannot know the nature of Allah, and as Muslims we are not to think on or meditate on the nature of God. If all we have is his Will, then we must submit to that Will and Do it. The Quran is full of imperatives for us to do his Will (Do This! 330 times). There are 130 commands (faraj) that are to be done everyday otherwise you sin.
A Muslim's task is to submit. Morality is about submission submitting and doing the will of Allah. The normative relationship in the Quran is Allah is our master (rab) and we are the slave (abd). The emphasis in the Quran is on the qualities of God that demand obedience. We don't want Allah to be displeased with us, so we are driven by fear. In Christianity obedience to God's will is motivated by love. In Islam you submit so you won't be cast away. Islam means obedience and peace. Peace can ONLY be experienced when you submit to the will of Allah. Peace doesn't necessarily have an emotional component as in Christianity. Faith in Islam is the action of submitting to Allah's will.
Quran 112:1-4 "Proclaim, 'He is the One and only GOD. The Absolute GOD. Never did He beget. Nor was He begotten. None equals Him."
The Hadith are found in separate books from the Quran. The hadith consist of all the actions, sayings, decisions, and deeds of the Prophet. There are over 600,000 hadith.
A Muslim's World
Imam (Faith) and Islam (Action) are connected because both occur under the gaze of Allah. A Muslim's disobedience occurs when you forget that your faith and actions occur under the gaze of Allah. The problem in Islam is forgetfulness.
Man is created in the Best Form. There is no original sin in Islam. Islam seeks to return man to his original, true nature in which is harmony with creation, inspired to do good, and confirming the Oneness of God. Our essential nature is not sinful, but we do have a tendency of rebellion against the will of Allah. Unfortunately Satan flows through our veins waiting for us to forget our nature.
Islam is the correct religion because it provides a Complete Way of Life. Because Allah created Islam, it provides a complete way of life. This is a circular argument which assumes that the mark of divinity is completeness. The fact is that many philosophers have come up with "complete ways of life" showing that completeness is the mark of humanity not divinity.
The entire witness of the Quran is to Allah's power, sovereignty, and greatness. In the hierarchy of power Allah is on the top with everything else far below. Allah is all powerful and all responsible, therefore I have limited power and responsibility. The Arabic word for fate and power are related. The defining characteristic of Allah is Power, not justice, mercy, or love. Morality is even subordinated to God's power. This is seen in a Muslim's view of heaven (wine, young virgins, young boys), and in the life of Muhammad (Aishah, 9 year old wife). Justice is subordinated to God's power. Justice in Islam is seen as the punishment of people who do not obey Allah. Allah is impersonal and arbitrary in the practice of power. Because there is no access to Allah through love, Muslims seek his power (Blessings) through acts and through folk practices very impersonal and mechanical. Muslim families instill and promote these acts and folk practices as the means to control and receive Allah's blessing.
Islam draws people because there are clear expectations with little ambiguity. Islam gives structure and discipline. Relational motivation is not important in Islam, it's the doing. Somebody who is beaten up by relationships can come and not have to face the pains of relationships. Instead fear operate over their desire for relationship. Sometimes this relational ethic is enforced by the family and culture in dysfunctional ways.
However Islam is not unconcerned with the family and society. Remember that Islam is a societal and an urban religion. It is important to serve your parents into their old age. Family is central in Islam. "I believe in the God and religion of my father, grandfather, great grandfather."
In Islam it's not "What you Believe," but it's "What you Do." The emphasis is on the doing rather than the believing. In Islam the emphasis is on right doing, whereas Christians emphasize right doctrine and theology. Remember the Quran reveals the will of God and not the character of God. A Muslim is one who submits. It is through submission to Allah and his will that brings peace and blessings.
Muslims think of Christianity as too complex because it's all theology and no law. They view Christianity as overemphasizing faith/love and forsaking the law. Likewise Judaism overemphasized the law and lost it because of their mistakes. Muhammad integrated both law and faith/love.
In Islam there is the idea of Jihad (struggle). The Quran speaks of the struggle within oneself (inner jihad), the struggle within the Islamic community (external jihad), and the struggle among unbelievers (external jihad).
Quran 4:3: If ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly with the orphans, Marry women of your choice, Two or three or four; but if ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one, or (a captive) that your right hands possess, that will be more suitable, to prevent you from doing injustice.
While the Quran teaches just and moral living, Islamic life is much different, especially for women. There are only 5 countries in the World where the life expectancy of women is shorter than men are ALL Muslim Countries.
The God of the Bible is love, whereas Allah's primary characteristic is power. Allah's power leads to fatalism rather than obedience from the security for the believer. The God of the Bible wants to be known in the context of His personal predestination while Allah does not want to be known.
Ensha'allah "If God wills." Fate dictates that God has ordained everything and determined everything. Allah has preordained good and evil. Wherever you end up in heaven or hell is determined by Allah by his mercy, wisdom, and previous knowledge. Muslims do have free will, but the whole issue is unclear to them. What is clear is what Allah's will is, therefore we must focus on doing what he commands.
The Bible, the Word of God
A Muslim will always discount the Bible saying it has been changed and corrupted from the time Allah gave it to his prophets. They first need to understand that we use different English translations from the original Hebrew and Greek. Muslims often compare different translations of the Bible or point out the varying texts in the New Testament and Apocrypha. There are also different "versions" of the Quran, but these are not like the Bible's different versions.
There are 7 variants (or forms) of the Quran, but these variants are in the way you recite the Quran. Essentially the 7 forms of recitation come from different vowel pointings in later manuscripts. The original written Arabic did not have vowels. A Muslim will say that there is no difference in these recitations and that the Quran has been preserved, even though a word can change with different vowel pointings.
In order to avoid long debates about textual criticism of the Bible versus the Quran, it is best to compare the "7 forms of recitation" of the Quran with the textual variants in the Bible. We can say that there have been no doctrinal differences because of these variants in the Bible and Quran, and today they are both in their original form. Ultimately though, textual and historical evidence finds the NT exceptionally reliable. Refer to any Christian apologetic materials on textual criticism. If a Muslim still persists on the corruption of the Bible, a harsh response is to bring up the differences between Shi'a and Sunni texts in the Quran.
Logically, if the Bible was ever God's Word, then God would not have allowed it to have changed. The Quran clearly states that the Bible is clearly God's Word. Ask your Muslim friend to answer the following questions. (1) How can the Quran confirm a Book that has been changed? (2) How can the Bible be used as a proof text and foundation for the Quran when the Bible has been altered? (3) If the Bible is God's word, how is it possible for man to change His eternal and unchangeable Word? (4) Why does the Quran mention the Bible (OT, NT, prophets) when the Bible does not explicitly reference Muhammad or the Quran? (5) Jesus himself said His Words would never be changed (Matthew 24:35). Both Isaiah the prophet and 1 Peter declare "the word of the Lord stands forever." (1 Peter 1:23-25 and Isaiah 40:8)
Quran 3:3-4: It is He Who sent down to thee (step by step), in truth, the Book, confirming what went before it; and He sent down the Law (of Moses) and the Gospel (of Jesus) before this, as a guide to mankind, and He sent down the criterion (of judgment between right and wrong). Then those who reject Faith in the Signs of Allah will suffer the severest penalty, and Allah is Exalted in Might, Lord of Retribution.
Quran 3:78: Among them are those who twist their tongues to imitate the scripture, that you may think it is from the scripture, when it is not from the scripture, and they claim that it is from Allah, when it is not from Allah. Thus, they utter lies and attribute them to Allah, knowingly.
Quran 4:163: We have sent thee inspiration, as We sent it to Noah and the Messengers after him: we sent inspiration to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob and the Tribes, to Jesus, Job, Jonah, Aaron, and Solomon, and to David We gave the Psalms.
Quran 5:15: O people of the Book! There hath come to you our Messenger, revealing to you much that ye used to hide in the Book, and passing over much (that is now unnecessary). There hath come to you from Allah a (new) light and a perspicuous Book,
Quran 10:64: For them are glad tidings, in the life of the present and in the Hereafter; no change can there be in the words of Allah. This is indeed the supreme felicity.
Muslims believe that the preachings of Moses (referred to in the Quran) were the revelation of God, but that the Torah in our Bible is not that revelation. They believe that the Biblical Torah has another author. In the same way, the Psalms of the prophet David (referred to in the Quran) have been corrupted by Christian scholars. Likewise the Gospel that Jesus the prophet preached (also in the Quran) is not in our Christian NT. They point out the fact that of the 27 books of the NT, only a handful are the words of Jesus. Those books containing the words of Christ are entitled the Gospels of Mathew Mark, and Luke, but there is no Gospel of Jesus in the NT. A Muslims understanding of God's Word is that it will always come through a prophet in book form. Therefore they will typically ask if Jesus carried His gospel around with him when he preached. Muslims have misunderstood the whole canon process, and they assume that the Gospel at the time of Jesus was the book he carried with him, and not the epistles of the NT.
Quran 4:125: "Whose religion is better than one who SUBMITS himself to God, works righteousness and follows the faith Of Abraham the monotheist? God has chosen Abraham as a beloved friend".
Jesus the Son of God
The Quran states that Jesus is a prophet and is the Messiah. Jesus is a word from Allah but not The Word. In the Quran, Adam is also a word from Allah. There is no one who can claim to be the Son of God or Child of God because this blasphemy reduces God to the level of humans. Remember that associating or partnering anything/anyone with God is the ultimate blasphemy and sin in Islam. They do believe however that Jesus is the Messiah (different meaning), born of a virgin, who performed miracles, and lived a sinless life. Muhammad himself is not described as such in the Quran because he had to repent (implies that he sinned). The Quran teaches that Jesus will return again as the Messiah, but his role in the end times events will be minor compared to Muhammad. As noted above, Islam denies the deity of Christ, his crucifixion, his resurrection, his atoning sacrifice, and his unique relationship with God the Father. Muslims often discount the miracles Jesus performed and compare them with the miracles of other prophets. They look at the individual miracles but overlook the whole person and life of Christ.
Quran 3:59: The similitude of Jesus before Allah is as that of Adam; He created him from dust, then said to him: "Be." And he was.
Quran 4:171: O People of the Book! Commit no excesses in your religion: Nor say of Allah aught but the truth. Christ Jesus the son of Mary was (no more than) an apostle of Allah, and His Word, which He bestowed on Mary, and a spirit proceeding from Him: so believe in Allah and His apostles. Say not "Trinity" : desist: it will be better for you: for Allah is one Allah. Glory be to Him: (far exalted is He) above having a son. To Him belong all things in the heavens and on earth. And enough is Allah as a Disposer of affairs.
Quran 5:17-18: In blasphemy indeed are those that say that Allah is Christ the son of Mary. Say: "Who then hath the least power against Allah, if His will were to destroy Christ the son of Mary, his mother, and all every - one that is on the earth? For to Allah belongeth the dominion of the heavens and the earth, and all that is between. He createth what He pleaseth. For Allah hath power over all things." (Both) the Jews and the Christians say: "We are sons of Allah, and his beloved." Say: "Why then doth He punish you for your sins? Nay, ye are but men,- of the men he hath created: He forgiveth whom He pleaseth, and He punisheth whom He pleaseth: and to Allah belongeth the dominion of the heavens and the earth, and all that is between: and unto Him is the final goal (of all)" O People of the Book! Now hath come unto you, making (things) clear unto you, Our Messenger, after the break in (the series of) our apostles, lest ye should say: "There came unto us no bringer of glad tidings and no warner (from evil)": But now hath come unto you a bringer of glad tidings and a warner (from evil). And Allah hath power over all things.
Quran 9:30: The Jews call 'Uzair a son of Allah, and the Christians call Christ the son of Allah. That is a saying from their mouth; (in this) they but imitate what the unbelievers of old used to say. Allah's curse be on them: how they are deluded away from the Truth!
A Muslim will ask you: How can Jesus be God? You blaspheme by calling Jesus God.
1) You can answer briefly and say that you honestly do not fully understand it. The Bible teaches it and we believe it. Fully understanding God is beyond our mental capacity. You can say these things and then move on to issues they can handle at that time.
2) We must point out the important difference between Islam and Christianity about Christ. The Quran says Jesus didn't die on the cross for our sins, but the Bible tells us hundreds of times that he did die for our sins and rose again from the dead. Look in the Bible with them at what the Bible says about Christ's death and why it was necessary.
3) Read John 1:1-14. God in His sovereignty chose to reveal Himself to us by His Word (expression, communication of God). The Word became a human being and lived among us, having become one of us. The description of Jesus you read in the Bible is the description of the Eternal Word of God, Who "became" a man (not just looked like or pretended to be). As a man He got tired, hungry, thirsty, etc. As a man he prayed to His Father in heaven. As a man He died and rose again, victor over death. But He was still the Eternal Word of God. Can God exist without His Word? Was there ever a time when God's Word did not exist?
A Muslim will ask you: Why do you call Jesus the Son of God?
1) This isn't used with a physical meaning. The Bible does not teach that God married the virgin Mary and had a baby! That is blasphemy! God is not physical, so such a thing is unthinkable! God is spirit, so the term, Son of God is used with a spiritual sense. The term implies a unique relationship.
2) I call him the Son of God because the Bible calls him the Son of God. I have no right to say he is not the Son of God when God says he is!
3) Colossians 2:2-3 states that Jesus Christ is God's "mystery," so we can not fully understand Him until God reveals Him to us! Jesus can never be fully understood by human logic or by scientific research.
A Muslim will ask you: Do you believe in three gods?
1) The Bible clearly states 23 times that God is One! (read examples in the Torah, Psalms, Prophets and Gospel Deut.6:4; Ps.86:10; Is.44:6-8; 1 Tim.2:5-6a)
2) Mark 12:29-30 Jesus said Himself that God is One.
3) John 1:1-3-14 The "Word" of God is the communication or manifestation of God. God's Word is God Himself; not a second God. The Word was "with" God (two?) and yet the Word "was" God (one). Somehow, by the power of God, God's Eternal Word "became" a human being like us. (God can do anything!)
For a Muslim, the only thing you can know is the Will of God. You cannot know God personally because He is unknowable. Jesus is the complete revelation of God the Father (John 14:9), and the eternal Word (communication) from God (John 1:1-14). Why should we settle for only a shadow of God when we can go to the true reality of Christ?
The God of the Quran is not the God of the Bible. The Allah of the Quran does not establish a relationship with his people through covenants like the God of the Bible. Jesus has come as God in the flesh to establish the New Covenant with his people.
We must recognize that a Muslim cannot understand who Jesus is on his own. This is a spiritual battle. Jesus himself did not reveal his full identity but spoke in parables and referred to OT prophesies. When Peter said, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God," Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon, son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven." (Matthew 16:15-17) It must be revealed to them spiritually!
Sin and Atonement
The Quran teaches that one man cannot and should not pay for another man's sins.
Islam holds that men do not have a need to be saved. Islam does not address a need for salvation or deliverance from anything. Salvation is not in the vocabulary of Islam. Instead a Muslim obtains success by doing the will of Allah. This is the Islamic counterpart to deliverance and redemption that one finds in Christianity. Islam is a religion OF this world for humans who are of the Best Form, and are to be established in our call to success to partake in the Complete Way of Life.
In Islam, man is created in the best form and we are the master over creation. We are not at all deficient in our capabilities or our dignity. Christianity is seen as condemning those who are not completely deficient so that they will need a Christ to die for them. In Islam man is not saved by God's work, but instead the world is saved and transformed through us, the ones who do the will of Allah.
The biggest problem Muslims see with Christianity is that our perception of man degrades us and our dignity. Conversion to Islam is not based on the condemnation of the world. The Christian view of man is contradictory to the Muslim view of our essential nature (created in the Best Form). In Christianity we believe in original sin and that man is totally depraved in his efforts to be reconciled to God. In Christianity, humans have both SIN and sins. In Islam, humans only has sins. Since they are created in the Best Form we need to ask them then where their sin came from. They will say it came from Satan and their parents' example. Then ask where their parents' sin came from?
For Christians, Jesus atones for the forgiveness of our sins, both sins and SIN. Remember that original sin is a difficult concept for Muslims and will take time.
In Islam, if Muslims do not keep the law they will be condemned. They will give predictable excuses, and they will often say that God will have mercy and that Muhammad will make intercession for them (fate). But there is always a sense of not meeting the standard (not necessarily guilt). Islam is such a legalistic religion that they will either make it or not. Ask them where God's grace is, since they always say that God is gracious. Muslims do not have eternal security, only the option to submit to the will of God. Since there is no salvation in the Quran, they must hope that God will have mercy on them ("If God wills"). We as Christians know where grace is. Invite them to connect with the One who is full of Grace and Truth (John 1:17).
Help your Muslim friend to understand that we approach God differently, namely through the sacrifice of Christ. Muslims know about sacrifice from Abraham's sacrifice of his Only Son (special, promised son). Don't focus too much on Abraham because the have misconceptions of who he is. Use Abraham to teach about sacrifice as the only way to come and meet God. It is helpful to start with Abraham's sacrifice and go back to Adam and first sacrifice provided by God for Adam's sin.
The Crucifixion and Resurrection
Muslims of course believe that Jesus did not die on the cross. They believe somebody who looked like Jesus was crucified Simon of Sirene, Judas, or someone else.
Quran 4:157-158: That they said (in boast), "We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah.;- but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not:- Nay, Allah raised him up unto Himself; and Allah is Exalted in Power, Wise;- And there is none of the People of the Book but must believe in him before his death; and on the Day of Judgment he will be a witness against them;
Quran 19:33-34: "So peace is on me the day I was born, the day that I die, and the day that I shall be raised up to life (again)"! Such (was) Jesus the son of Mary: (it is) a statement of truth, about which they (vainly) dispute. It is not befitting to (the majesty of) Allah that He should beget a son. Glory be to Him! when He determines a matter, He only says to it, "Be," and it is.
When Muslims bring up the issue of God killing his own Son (lack of Fatherly love), We must realize this is the same argument that the Jews used when they stumbled over the Messiah having to be sacrificed. Even with Jesus as only a prophet, the idea that God allowed his prophet to be crucified is blasphemous. We must realize atonement through the New Covenant is not a natural or human event. "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing ... The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned." (1 Corinthians 1:18; 2:14)
A Muslim will ask you: How could God allow Jesus to be crucified by evil men?
1) We certainly do not believe that evil men can do anything without God's permission! The death of Jesus on the cross was God's purpose. This is why Jesus came into the world - in order to die for us! (Read Matt.20:28)
2) John 10:17-18 Jesus said nobody can take his life from Him. He voluntarily gave His life for us. Jesus has power both to give His life and to take it back again by coming back to life on the 3rd day. He is the Lord of life who conquered death!
A Muslim will ask you: If Jesus forgives all your sins, do you have freedom to sin?
1) 1 Peter 2:24 - died not so that I can sin freely; 2 Corinthians 5:14,15; Romans 6:1,2 - Love compels me!
2) Ask them, "How could I deliberately do things that hurt the One Who died for me?"
Study the person of Christ with them from Acts chapters 13. This will help them connect the person and work of Christ to their life now and to the lives of Christians they know.
What We Share:
The main things in Islam that do not coincide with Christianity are our Un-Corrupted Bible. The Bible proclaims the Deity of Christ and the Atonement and this is our message (Acts 17:3). These things are spiritually discerned and have to be revealed to the Muslim. (Mt 16:17)
"When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence of superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified...My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words...not the wisdom of this age...we speak of God's secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden..." (1 Corinthians 2:1-8)
Study the person of Christ with them from John 1:1-14 and from Acts chapters 13. This will help them connect the person and work of Christ to their life now and to the lives of Christians they know.
As noted above, the only relationship the Muslim knows concerning God is master/slave. We have a new relationship initiated by Christ (Jn 15:). After they understand the distinction between Jesus the Son of God, and Christians as children of God, study the depth of a Father/son and a Father/daughter relationship with God the Father. "How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him." (1 John 3:1)
How We Share:
We don't always need to answer their questions or defend God's Word from their objections. Recognize where the real battle is and their objections may be a distraction from the real issues. There is value in discussion (seeds planted), but when they are arguing, it is generally not of much value because they generally don't listen. Muslims are very resistant! Don't debate or become argumentative, but reason and teach them in a kind and gentle manner. (2 Timothy 2:23-26)
How do we handle hard questions?
(1) Try to steer away from distracting questions to subjects they need to hear. Muslims generally ask if I believe that there's 3 Gods, if Jesus is the Son of God, if the Bible is corrupted, if I have read the Quran, etc. They are generally not open to discussion on these difficult subjects. Muslims are easily distracted from the real issues of sin and spiritual depravity, instead of the great debates of Jesus' deity. What they need to hear about is their own personal spiritual life. Ask them about issues such as sin and salvation. "Do you sin?" "Is lying a sin?" "If they're not lost, then who needs a savior?" Point out the major difference the Quran and the Bible, which is how we approach God. The Bible clearly challenges that we approach God only through the sacrifice of Christ.
(2) As much as possible, open your Bible and give them answers from the Bible. It helps for Muslims to see in written form what the Bible says exactly. Don't just challenge their thinking, but give them an exact thought from the Scriptures to wrestle with since there are so many distracting issues.
(3) Give brief answers until they are really ready to study the subject. Usually when you first meet a Muslim, their desire is not that deep. It is better to just be brief the first time, and then go and prepare and pray for the next times.
(4) Be aware of Satan's attempt to rob Jesus of his glory. Remember who is central in all the discussion Jesus Christ.
Don't be intimidated by the Quran or the religious intensity of Islam. If we are living full Christian lives, Christianity is much more rich and full than Islam. It helps to parallel parts of the Christian lifestyle to the Muslims' religious life (confession of faith, prayer, tithing, the fast, the pilgrimage). In Christianity, our commitment to God is much higher, and we have deeper convictions behind our religious actions. Remember though that we live by the law of grace and they are under the law of Islam.
Don't be wimpy Christian! Muslims don't respect those who waver in their faith. They may dislike what we say more than a liberal Christian, but they will deeply respect us.
Be natural about your love for Christ. They are natural in expressing their own Muslim beliefs. For Muslims, the things of God are not a private thing. Be open and natural. Share what you're learning from the Lord that day. Pray with them, read the Bible with them, read through the Prophets, discuss the Bible, pray using the Bible, etc.
Love your Muslim friend. Don't be an "American friend." Muslims have good reason to be full of fear and distrust.
When We Share:
1 Peter 3:15 "But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence."
Don't push them to make a decision for Christ until they feel that they need to. Ask them who would they want to choose between Christ or their family, ethnic identity, etc.
There is generally no fast way for a Muslim to convert because of their need for a process conversion. They need simultaneous evaluation and integration otherwise they revert back because of "spiritual schizophrenia." Help them to evaluate their old life in view of their new life. We need to be to be aware of their specific needs and take the time to disciple them.
When you are talking with Muslims, it's like teaching a young child. They don't understand things until they form a category for understanding something. For example a child won't understand why adults drink or where babies come from, until they have the capacity to categorize these "adult" things. When Muslims say that Allah is Merciful, they mean he is merciful enough to create a Paradise. You need to ask them what they mean by Merciful or Compassionate, and ask them for a concrete example of that belief. This way you are clear on their meaning of the word and you also can give concrete examples of Christianity and what the Bible means. Another example is the Muslim perception of God, and how it is much different from how we understand Him. Remember Allah is Seen by Muslims as ..... and Allah is Seen by Christians as .....
Make sure they understand where you are coming from. Always clarify and explain.
Pray with your Muslim Friends:
Moses, Aaron, Joshua, Elijah, and Ezekiel all fell on their faces in worship (Neh 8:6; 2 Chr 7:3; Mt 26:39). Daniel, Stephen, Peter, and Paul all knelt in prayer. David, Solomon, and Jesus stood and lifted their hands when they prayed (1 Timothy 2:8). All the postures of praying while bow, kneel, prostrate, stand, hands toward heaven. Each of these postures are comfortably used in typical Muslim. It would be a great impact to the Muslim to pray with them in one of these manners. Their focus should be pointed to the object of prayer and not the manner of prayer.
A helpful prayer is to pray Matthew 16:17 for your Muslim friend.
Bring them into your Christ-centered Community:
For new Muslim converts there is an increase in loneliness and emptiness and depression. It is important to introduce them to other believers. It is especially crucial for women converts to be brought into a safe community of close women friends. In Islam they had a great network and support group of women, but in Christianity, we rarely provide that in our churches.
We must love Muslims and befriend them. Muslims are very hospitable people. If you want to love Muslims, you need to be hospitable to them also. Muslims value traditional respect for elders. If we want to love Muslims, you need to lovingly respect the elders. Religious devotion is very important to Muslims. If you want to love a Muslim, openly declare and live your faith while being respectful of some of their traditions.
Role-Play: Example of questions from watching the Jesus film:
Muslim: "You said that this movie of the Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) comes from the Bible. Your Bible is corrupt and has been changed. That is not what happened to the Prophet Jesus. All of your prophesies from King David and the Prophet Isaiah (peace be upon him) have been changed and corrupted."
Christian: "These are the books of the Psalms and the Prophets. Why would God let his Book brought by his prophets become corrupted?"
Muslim: "Allah revealed to Muhammad (peace be upon him) in Quran chapter 3:78 that your Bible is corrupt."
Christian: "When were the Scriptures altered or corrupted?"
Muslim: "Christians and Jews have so many different versions of the Bible."
Christian: "Manuscripts of the Bible date back to the 2nd century, but Muhammad lived in the 7th century. The Bible must have been altered after Muhammad because in Quran chapter 42:15 Muhammad (peace be upon him) says, "I believe in the Book which God has sent down," the book of the Torah, the Psalms, the Prophets, the Gospel."
Muslim: "In the Jesus film we saw, the Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) was born of Mary was a virgin. This is also what the Quran says."
Christian: "Jesus isn't just a prophet born of the Virgin Mary. Jesus is the Savior, Messiah as prophesied by the Prophet Micah 700 years before Jesus. Micah 5:2 says, 'But you, Bethlehem, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.'"
Muslim: "In Luke 2:49, What does Jesus mean when he was a boy when he said, 'my Father's house?'"
Christian: "Jesus has a unique love relationship with God the creator, and that relationship is best described by calling Him Father. In the Bible King David prophesies in Psalm 2 the following:
6 I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill.
7 I will proclaim the decree of the LORD:
He said to me, "You are my Son; today I have become your Father.
8 Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance,
the ends of the earth your possession.
Muslim: "The Bible talks of the Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) raising a child from the dead just like we saw in the Jesus film."
Christian: "Yes! Jesus has the power of God to heal, and Jesus has power over death."
Muslim: "In your Bible, not only did Jesus raise a child from the dead, but your Book also says the Prophet Elijah (peace be upon him) raised a boy from the dead. That's no different from what Jesus did."
Christian: "Yes this is true. But did Elijah feed the five thousand? Did Elijah heal the blind? Did Elijah cast out demons? Did Elijah prophesy his own death and resurrection?"
Muslim: "But Elijah (peace be upon him) prayed and it didn't rain. And Elijah (peace be upon him) prayed and fire came from the sky. You say that Jesus was crucified and that he did not have the power to resist."
Christian: "It is true that Jesus was crucified, was buried, and then rose again on the third day by God's power. But Jesus willingly gave up his life as a sacrifice for our sin."
Muslim: "Jesus didn't die!! Jesus was only a Prophet (peace be upon him) and was no more than a Messenger. Haven't you read the Quran? You can't kill a Prophet. Why would God allow His Prophet or especially His Son be killed?"
Christian: "You Muslims say that Jesus was a Prophet and that God would not allow his Prophet to die. But many of God's prophets were tortured and killed according to God's Will and Purpose. The Prophet Zechariah was stoned, the Prophet Jeremiah was chained and put in prison, and the Prophet Isaiah was killed unjustly.
"Hebrews 11:35-37 says, 'Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated.'
"So, why would God allow his Prophets to be tortured and killed unjustly? In them same way, God has a purpose for allowing His Son to be killed, just like the prophets.
1 John 2:2 says, 'Jesus is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.' Jesus is the Savior that King David prophesied about in Psalm 2. Jesus saved us from our sin, and took upon Himself the punishment for all the sins of the whole world."
Abdul-Haqq, Abdiyah Akbar. Sharing Your Faith with a Muslim. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 1980. ISBN: 087123556 $8.99
Miller, William. A Christian's Response to Islam. Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian & Reformed Publishing, 1980. ISBN: 0875523358 $4.99
Shorrosh, Anis. Islam Revealed, A Christian Arab's View of Islam. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1988. ISBN: 0840730152
Warraq, Ibn. Why I am Not a Muslim. Prometheus Books, 1995.
ISBN: 0879759844 $20.76
"Let there be no compulsion in religion: truth stands out clear from error."
The Qur'an 2:256
"And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."
The Injil, John 8:32
Originated November 14, 2000
A Short Summary of Islamic Beliefs and Eschatology
Collected by Lambert Dolphin
Islam has a world-following in excess of one billion devotees, about 20% are in the Middle East, with the largest concentration of Muslims in Indonesia. There are over 4 million Moslems living in America---which means that there are about twice as many Moslems in the US as Episcopalians! There has been an active Muslim contingent in North America for over 300 years, since the time the religion arrived with West African slaves.
The Arabic term islam literally means "surrender," or "submission." Islam's believers (known as "Muslims" from the active participle of "islam"), accept surrender to the will of Allah (the Arabic word for God). Allah is viewed as a unique God---creator, sustainer, and restorer of the world. The will of God, to which man is to submit, is made known through the Qur'an (the Koran), revealed to his messenger Muhammad. Muhammad, it is claimed was the last of the great prophets which included Adam, Noah, Moses, Jesus and some others. The basic belief of Islam is expressed in the shahadah, the Muslim confession of faith, "There is no god but God; Muhammad is the prophet of God."
Founded in the 7th century AD, Islamic fundamental beliefs include belief in angels, the revealed books and Scriptures, a series of prophets, and a Last Day (of Judgment). Muslim duties include five daily prayers, a welfare tax called zakat, fasting (during the month of Ramadan), and a pilgrimage (hajj) to Mecca; these four elements plus the profession of faith are called the Five Pillars.
The Encyclopedia Britannica is a good resource for understanding the roots of Islam. Mecca at the time the prophet was born was inhabited by the tribe of Quraysh (Koreish) to which the clan of Hasim belonged. The city was a mercantile center with shrines to many gods, chief of whom was Ilah. The Ka'bah sanctuary in the city square guaranteed the safety of those who came to trade. The pre-Islamic deities of Arabia which were most venerated were astral deities, especially the triad of the moon god, the sun goddess, and the god associated with the planet Venus. The moon god was the chief and was protector of the cities. These deities were given various names, however the moon god was evidently originally the Babylonian moon god Sin. To end division among his people in Mecca, Muhammad elevated the moon god Al Ilah to the chief and only god. (It is not widely known in Islam that Allah was a sexual being, having fathered three daughters--this is documented in the E.B.).
Among the visitors and residents of Mecca in the time of the prophet were Jews as well as Christians. Muhammad's thinking was further heavily influenced by these followers of Abraham, as well as by special revelations which were (it is said) communicated to him by the angel Gabriel. The God of Abraham was not Ilah, however, but Yahweh. Abraham was called by Yahweh from Ur of the Chaldees (Babylon) and told to renounce the pagan gods of his family which were the gods of Babylon. In fact Babylon was the seat of all false religion after the Flood of Noah and from Babylon idolatry spread throughout the rest of the ancient world. Muhammad assigned to the moon god of Mecca some of the attributes of the god of Abraham, however the pagan and occultic roots of pre-Islamic religion were not discarded. Alexander Hislop's classic book The Two Babylons remains a good reference on the Babylonian Mystery Religion which has now permeated all the world.
Abu al-Qasim Muhammad ibn 'Abd Allah ibn 'Abd al-Muttalib ibn Hasim was persecuted for his teachings in Mecca and fled to Medina in 622 AD, his teachings were soon accepted and the community-state of Islam emerged. From the date of Muhammad's flight, called the hijrah, Muslims begin their calendar---AH (Anno Hegirae) 287 is the same as AD (Anno Domini) 900. During the early period Islam acquired its characteristic ethos as a religion uniting itself in both the spiritual and temporal aspects of life and seeking to regulate not only the individual's relationship to God but human relationships in a social setting as well. Thus, there is not only an Islamic religious institution (private) but also an Islamic code/law governing society (public).
This dual religious and social character of Islam, expressing itself as a religious community commissioned by God to bring its own value system to the world through jihad (holy war or holy struggle).
Muhammad died in 632 AD and through jihad, Islam spread within a century from Spain to India. During the Muslim conquests Jews and Christians were assigned a special status as communities possessing Scriptures and are known to Muslims as "people of the Book" (ahl al-kitab) or dhimmis (protected people). Christians, Jews, and later Hindus and Zoroastrians were allowed religious autonomy, but had to pay a per capita tax called the jizyah. Many people converted to Islam to avoid the jizyah tax. In the 12 century the Muslim mystics, known as Sufis, were primarily responsible for spreading Islam to India, China, Central Asia, Turkey, and sub-Saharan Africa. Islamic traders were responsible (by the 14th century) for extending Islam to Indonesia, Malaya, and China.
Under Islam, land once possessed by Islam, if subsequently lost to an invader, remains land that is holy to Islam. It is especially imperative that such lost lands be restored to the rightful rule of Islam. Historically, of course, such lost lands now lost to Islam include not only Israel but large portions of Southern Europe, Spain and North Africa. Since Allah's will is for the entire world to come under subjection to the rule of Islam, Muslims are known for their zeal in spreading their religion, whether by peaceful means or by the sword.
Islamic doctrine/law/thinking are based upon fundamental principals/sources: the Qur'an, the sunnah (traditions), the ijma (community consensus), and ijtihad (individual thought).
The Qur'an (which is Arabic for reading or recitation) is regarded by Muslims as The Word Of God, delivered to Muhammad by the angel Gabriel. The Qur'an is divided into 114 surahs (chapters), the early surahs revealed in Mecca are ethical and spiritual teachings and the Day of Judgment, whereas the later surahs are concerned with social legislation and the politico-moral principals of community.
The sunnah (a clear and well-trodden path, of traditions) denote tribal/common law and the examples of the Prophet, his words and deeds. Six collections of the Hadith (a collection of the sayings of Muhammad) compiled in the 3rd century AH (9th century AD) are regarded as especially authoritative by the Sunni Muslims; whereas Shi'ah Muslims have a different set of sayings in their Hadith.
The ijma standardizes Islamic law and since the 3rd century AH, have been primarily closed to further interpretation. Accepted interpretations of the Qur'an and the actual content of the sunnah all rest finally upon the ijma. The transformation of the ijma into a conservative mechanism and the acceptance of a definitive body of Hadith virtually eliminated ijtihad (individual thought).
The Islamic doctrine of God, expressed in the Qur'an is rigorously monotheistic: God is one and unique; he has no partner or equal. Trinitarianism, the Christian belief that God is three persons in one substance, is vigorously repudiated by Muslims. Muslims believe although Allah's presence is everywhere, he does not indwell anything or anyone. He is the sole Creator, and sustainer of the universe, wherein every creature bears witness to his lordship and unity. He is also just, merciful, majestic, sovereign, and has endowed every creation with a definite and defined nature which allows the myriad of creation to function as a whole. This "nature" of creation, sets limits; and the limitedness of everything is one of the most fixed points in both the cosmology and the theology of the Qur'an.
According to the Qur'an, God created two apparently parallel species, man and jinn. Man was created from clay and jinn was created from fire. The jinn are endowed with reason and responsibility but are more prone to evil than man. The Qur'an is primarily directed at man, and is self described as the guide for the human race. Despite man's lofty position, the Qur'an describes human nature as frail and faltering. Man is viewed as rebellious and full of pride, arrogating to himself the attributes of self-sufficiency. Pride, thus, is viewed as the cardinal sin of man, because by not recognizing in himself his essential creaturely limitations he becomes guilty of ascribing to himself partnership with God and thereby violating the unity of God. True faith (identified as iman), consists of belief in the immaculate Divine Unity and Islam is in one's submission to the Divine will.
According to the Qur'an, the being who became Satan had previously occupied a high station but fell from grace by refusing to honour Adam when ordered by Allah to do so. Since then, Satan's work has been to beguile man into error and sin. Satan is a contemporary of man, and his act of disobedience is construed to be the sin of pride. Satan's machinations will cease on the Last Day.
The Qur'an reveals that messengers from God have, throughout history, been calling man back to God; yet few men have accepted the truth; most have rejected it and have become disbelievers (the kafir, the ungrateful). In Islam there is no point of no return, God is always willing to offer pardon based upon genuine repentance.
All prophets of Islam are human and never part of divinity; they are simply recipients of revelation form God. God never speaks directly to man, he sends angels or inspiration.
In Islamic doctrine, on the Last Day when the world will come to an end, the dead will be resurrected and judgment will be pronounced on every person in accordance with his deeds. Those condemned will burn in hellfire, and those saved will enjoy the abiding pleasures of paradise. Besides suffering in physical fire, the damned will also experience a fire "in their hearts"; similarly, the blessed, besides physical enjoyment, will experience the greatest happiness of divine pleasure.
In Islamic life hoarding of wealth without recognizing the rights of the poor is threatened with the direst punishments in the hereafter and is declared to be one of the main causes of the decay of societies in this world. The practice of usury is forbidden. Islam is the concept of the community of the faithful.
The mission of the community of the faithful is to "enjoin good and forbid evil" so that "there is no mischief and corruption" on earth, the doctrine of jihad, in view of the constitutional of the community as the power base is the logical outcome. The objective of jihad is not the conversion of individuals to Islam, but rather gaining of political control over the collective affairs of societies to run them in accordance with the principles of Islam. Individual conversion occurs as a by-product of the power structure of the community passing to the hands of the Muslim community. Under Islam, it is forbidden to wage wars for the sake of acquiring worldly glory, power, or rule. The Muslim sect of Kharijite once held that "decision belongs to God alone," and insisted on waging continuous and relentless jihad, but the followers of this sect were virtually destroyed during the internecine wars of the 8th century.
The Kharijis sect (and the more moderate Ibadis sect) believed that the basis of rule was righteous character and piety, any Muslim, irrespective of race creed or colour could become ruler-provided he or she satisfy the conditions of piety. This is in contrast to the claims of the Shi'ah that the ruler must belong to the family of the Prophet, and in contrast to the Sunnis that the head of state must belong to the Prophet's tribe. Sunni political theory is essentially a product of circumstance-an after-the-fact rationalization of historical developments. Thus, between the Shi'ah legitimism that restricts rule to Ali's family, and the Kharji democratism, Sunnism holds to the position that the rule belongs to the Quraysh (the Prophet's tribe), the condition that actually existed.
The Sunni sect embraces the principle of toleration, making it possible for diverse sects to recognize and coexist with one another. Sunni theologians place emphasis on divine omnipotence at the expense of the freedom and efficacy of the human will, a deterministic outlook on life characteristic of the Sunni (and invigorated by the Sufi) teaches that nothing exists except God. The Sunnites support the concept that "Muslims must obey even a tyrannical ruler."
The Shi'ah, probably under Gnostic and old Iranian influences, expanded their belief that the ruler must be from the family of the Prophet, and that the perfect leader (imam) is transformed into a metaphysical manifestation of God. The imam, alone, is infallible and can reveal the hidden and true meaning of the Qur'an. The Shi'ah recognize a dozen imams throughout history and believe that knowledge derived from sources other than the imam is useless. Shi'ism in contrast to Sunnism adopted the doctrine of freedom of the human will and the capacity of human reason to know good and evil. In the sphere of law Shi'ism differs from Sunni law mainly in allowing temporary marriage, legally contracted for a fixed period of time based upon a fixed dower.
From a spiritual point of view, perhaps the greatest difference between Shi'ism and Sunnism is the Shi'ah concept of the "passion motive." The violent death of Ali's son, Husayn, in 680 AD, at the hands of Umayyad troops is celebrated by the Shi'ah with moving orations, passion plays, and processions in which the participants (in an emotional frenzy of self-flagellation) beat their breasts with heavy chains and sharp objects.
The cities of Mecca and Medina are holy shrines of Islam. The fifth pillar of Islam, the pilgrimage (hajj) to Mecca, begins on the 7th and ends on the 10th month of the Dhu al-Hijjah. When the pilgrim is ten kilometers from the Holy City (Mecca) he enters the state of ihram, he wears two seamless garments and neither shaves nor cuts his hair or nails until the ceremony ends. The principal activities consist of a visit to the Ka'bah sanctuary or the Sacred Mosque; the kissing of the Hajar al-Aswad (the Black Stone); seven circumambulations of the Ka'bah; and the ascent of and running seven times between Mt. Safa and Mt. Marwah (not really mountains but topographic elevations in the desert). At the second stage of the ritual, the pilgrim proceeds from Mecca to Mina, a few miles away; and from there he goes to Arafat, where it is essential to hear a sermon and spend one afternoon. The last rites consist of spending the night at Muzdalifah (between Arafat and Mina) and offering sacrifice on the last day of ihram, which is the id (festival) of sacrifice.
The sacred places of Islam include: the Ka'bah sanctuary at Mecca built by Abraham; the Prophet's mosque in Medina; and Jerusalem from where Muhammad (mi'raj) ascended to heaven (which was the direction to which the early Moslems prayed before the "qiblah" was changed to the Ka'bah in Mecca). For the Shi'ah, Karbala in Iraq (the place of martyrdom of Ali's son, Husayn) and Meshed in Iran (where Imam Ali ar-Rida is buried) are considered places of special veneration. In Baghdad the tomb of saint Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani is visited every year by pilgrims from throughout the Muslim world, as are numerous Sufi shrines.
The general religious life of the Muslims is centered around the mosque. Friday is the weekly Muslim holy day. The most important and comprehensive concept of Islam, at the practical level, is that of the Shari'ah (the path leading to the watering place). In religious terms it means the highway of life leading to God.
The virtue of chastity is regarded as of prime importance by Islam. The Qur'an advanced its universal recommendation of marriage as a means to ensure a state of chastity (ihsan) which is held to be induced by a single free wife. Adultery and false accusations of adultery are severely punished.
With regard to Islamic art, the most important principal is aniconism, the prohibition of figurization and representation of living creatures. Underlying this prohibition is the assumption that God is the sole author of life and that a person who makes a picture of a living being seeks to rival God. Architecture and poetry are the richest of the Islamic art forms.
Perhaps the least understood element of Islam is the doctrine of jihad (holy war). The classical Islamic position holds that the world is divided into three spheres: the zone of Islam (dar al-Islam); the zone of peace (dar as-sulh---those nations with whom Muslim nations have peace pacts); and the zone of war (dar al-harb---the rest of the world). In modern times the jihad has appeared primarily as a defense against colonialism, rather than as a program of offense.
In classical Islamic law, Shari'ah, offenses against the person, from homicide to assault, are punishable by retaliation---the offended being subject to precisely the same treatment as the victim. For six specific crimes the punishment is fixed (hadd): death for apostasy (renunciation of religious faith) and for highway robbery; amputation of the hand for theft; death by stoning for extramarital sexual relations where the offender is a married person and 100 lashes for unmarried offenders; 80 lashes for an unproven accusation of unchastity/adultery, or for consumption of any alcoholic beverage.
Islamic belief has obviously drawn heavily on information available to the prophet Muhammed from local Jews and Christians living in Arabia during his. The principle claim that the revelation given to the Prophet came from an angel is not unusual among world religions or cults, and is consistent with the warning of the Apostle Paul given in 2 Corinthians.
"I feel a divine jealousy for you, for I betrothed you to Christ to present you as a pure bride to her one husband. But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ...And what I do I will continue to do, in order to undermine the claim of those who would like to claim that in their boasted mission they work on the same terms as we do. For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is not strange if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds. (11:1-15)
Islam attributes mercy and compassion to Allah, but has no provision for the certain salvation of the individual, no sacrifice for sin and of course no risen Lord to indwell and guide the believer through this life and the next. Allah is notoriously unpredictable and whimsical in his actions and the Koran sufficiently vague so as to give little assurance or guidance for daily life beyond strong, harsh legalistic restrictions and punishments taken out of context from the Law of Moses. On many points Islam differs radically from Christianity. To cite but one important instance, the church of Jesus Christ is not to bear the sword, nor to ally itself with the state, but to concentrate on "calling out (of the world) a people for His name." Orthodox Christianity proclaims the coming of the kingdom of God among men, but not Christian Dominionism. Compassion, understanding and tolerance is to be extended to everyone, not from an attitude of superiority, but of service, following the example of her Lord who said, "The Son of man came not to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many"; and, "The Son of man came to seek and to save that which was lost." God will see to it that His rule on earth eventually is universal, but in the meantime He is full of mercy and very longsuffering towards all the sons of Adam.
Islam's claim as far as Israel is concerned is to assume (without any Biblical basis of course) that Ishmael, not Isaac, is the legitimate heir to whom the Abrahamic promises were passed.
Although not commonly appreciated by most Christians and Jews, the various sects of Islam, in their oral tradition, and from the Koran, maintain a complex and intricate eschatology dealing with the end of the age and the coming of a great world leader, or Mahdi. The center of these events at the end of the age is Jerusalem, not Mecca, and Jesus is one of the principle participants in the coming great judgment, according to Muslim belief.
Since the destruction of the Second Jewish Temple in 70 AD, Jews have been unable to offer any blood sacrifice for sins, however the Moslems observe to this day an annual sacrifice of many thousands of lambs which are slain during the pilgrimage to Mecca:
"Midway through the pilgrimage rites, pilgrims move into tents outside the city of Mecca for the ceremony of standing in the Valley of Arafat at the foot of the Mount of Mercy. This celebrated standing ceremony, which lasts throughout an entire afternoon, creates in the minds of the devout a profound sense of the presence of God in their lives and of divine forgiveness of their sins. They remember, too, that Muhammad visited this spot and preached here on his final pilgrimage. So meaningful is this ceremony that many authorities regard it as the climactic or central event of the entire pilgrimage. In the evening, pilgrims gather forty-nine small stones which they take to Mina the next morning, in order to hurl them at one of three stone pillars representing the devil and his powers of temptation. By this rite (Jamrat) they recall the way Ishmael, on his way to be sacrificed by his father (Muslim tradition substitutes Ishmael for Isaac as the son whom Abraham nearly sacrificed), turned back the suggestions of Iblis that he flee."
"The slaughtering of a small animal on the field of sacrifice is a way of remembering that Allah accepted Abraham's sacrifice of a ram in place of his son." (Quoted from Islam: A Survey of the Muslim Faith by C. George Fry and James R. King, Babwer Press, Grand Rapids, 1980)
Muslim belief draws more on Old Testament Jewish belief than on Christian influence, though both Jewish synagogues and Christian assemblies existed in Arabia when the Prophet received the angelic revelations which lead him to write the Koran.
"Christians are interested to learn of the high regard Muslims have for Jesus (Isa, in Arabic). Jesus, it is taught, was born of a virgin, without human father, and lived a sinless life. He is given titles of honor bestowed on no other prophet and He is pictured as a wandering preacher who performed miracles and spoke beautiful words. To Him was given a book for His people, the Gospel, but the book was lost (or hopelessly distorted) and Jesus Himself was rejected. His people attempted to crucify Him, but Jesus was saved when someone took His place on the cross or tree and He ascended into heaven, having promised to send a comforter (Muhammad)."
"In Muslim piety many legends surround Jesus. Some Muslims believe that at some time in the distant future He will return to earth and marry. A grave site has been reserved for Him. Others declare that Jesus will judge the world at the end of time--or that He will help Muhammad with his work of judgment. Still another tradition, from the Ahmadiyya Muslims of South Asia, has it that Christ fled Palestine for India, where He gathered many followers, died at a ripe old age, and was buried at Srinagar, where His tomb was recently uncovered." (Fry and King, op. cit.)
A recent study of Muslim beliefs concerning the end time says:
"The Imamite doctrine of the Mahdi at one point merges with the return of Jesus, another prominent figure of Islamic eschatology. The doctrine of the return of Jesus, as described in the Sunnite sources and cited by the Shiite traditionists is explained in a more or less uniform manner."
"He will descend in the Holy Land at a place called Afiq with a spear in his hand; he will kill with it al-Dajjal (the Antichrist of Islamic eschatology) and go to Jerusalem at the time of the morning prayer. The Imam will seek to yield his place to him, but Jesus will refuse and will worship behind him according to the Sharia of Muhammad. Thereafter he will kill the swine, break the cross, and kill all the Christians who do not believe in him. Once al-Dajjal is killed, all the Peoples of the Book (i.e., Jews and Christians) will believe in him and will form one single umma of those who submit to the will of God. Jesus will establish the rule of justice and will remain for forty years, after which he will die. His funeral will take place in Medina, where he will be buried beside Muhammad, in a place between Abu Bakr and Umar."
"The Muslim eschatological tradition is unanimous in assigning to both Jesus and the Mahdi a significant role in the doctrine of the qiyama (resurrection). As a matter of fact, many exegetes of the Quran in explaining the verse, "He (Jesus) is surely a knowledge of the Hour" (43:61), state that the descent of Jesus during the rulership of the Mahdi will make the approach of the Hour known. In the development of the eschatological role of the Mahdi in Shiite traditions, much emphasis was laid on the function of the Mahdi as the descendant of Muhammad and the Imam, who will be followed in the prayer by Jesus. The latter point is repeatedly emphasized in the Shiite eschatological tradition. This distinguished the roles of the Mahdi and Jesus, which at times became confusingly alike. On the other hand, some Sunnites, in their polemics against the Shiites, related a tradition attributed to the Prophet: 'There is no Mahdi save Jesus, son of Mary.' This tradition was evidently used to undermine the chiliastic hopes of the Shiites and to minimize the eschatological importance of the Mahdi, which was emphatically maintained by the Shiites. The group who used the above tradition in their polemics argued that while there was no mention of Mahdi in the Ouran, the return of Jesus was well established in the signs of the Hour, and he, not the Mahdi, would kill the Dajjal.
"In the Shiite traditions the function of killing the Dajjal is reserved for al-Mahdi. In a long tradition Ali is reported to have answered a question regarding al-Dajjal, whose features are vividly described thus: He is one-eyed, his eye being in his forehead and shining like the morning star. On his forehead is written: "This is the kafir (non-believer)," which will be legible to both literate and illiterate persons. His emergence will be preceded by a time of great hardship. Then Ali describes the manner in which he will appear on a donkey, and his call will be heard from one end of the earth to the other. He will tell the people that he is their creator and their lord.
"Those who follow him on that day will be the enemies of God, who will be wearing something green on their heads. God will cause them to be killed in Syria at a spot named Afiq, on Friday, three hours after the sunrise, at the hands of the one behind whom Jesus will worship. Beware that his death will be followed by a great event. This great event is the revolution of the twelfth Imam, commencing from the direction of Safa in the precinct of the Keba. Thereafter no repentance will be accepted. Al-Dajjal's role at the End of Time is almost identical with that of Satan, as explained in traditional sources, because he will tempt people by bringing food and water, which will be scarce at that time. The Prophet is reported to have said that since the time of Noah there has been no umma on earth who did not fear al-Dajjal and his temptations; every prophet has warned his community against this tempter. The episode of al-Dajjal's emergence, at the time of the zuhur, has been interpreted as a test for sifting the true believers of God from the false ones," (From Abdulazziz Abdulhussein Sachedina in his book, Islamic Messanism, State University of New York Press, Albany, New York, 1981).
In their book The Islamic Understanding of Death and Resurrection, Jane Idleman Smith and Yvonne Yaybeck Haddad, State University Press of Albany, New York (1981) quote from an earlier work, The Religion of Islam, by Ahmad Galwash:
"It has been well known (and generally accepted) by all Muslims in every epoch, that at the end of time a man from the family (of the Prophet) will without fail make his appearance, one who will strengthen the religion and make justice triumph. The Muslims will follow him, and he will gain domination over the Muslim realm. He will be called the Mahdi. Following him, the Antichrist will appear, together with all the subsequent signs of the Hour (the Day of Judgment), as established in (the sound tradition) the Sahih. After (the Mahdi), Isa (Jesus) will descend and kill the Antichrist; or, Jesus will descend together with the Mahdi, and help him kill (the Antichrist), and have him as the leader in his prayers."
One can not expect that all Moslems everywhere are so well read in matters of their own faith that they all have worked out a personal view of eschatology. But what is interesting is that Islam does has a belief system about the end of the ages, the coming of a great Iman Mahdi, a great judgment, a heaven and hell, and a God who is basically merciful and compassionate.
As we approach the end of the age and consider the building of a Third Jewish Temple in Jerusalem as well as mounting messianic expectations in Israel, it is interesting to consider the possibility that a charismatic, religiously persuasive, and inspiring Jewish false messiah might conceivably also fulfill Muslim expectations for their own long-awaited Mahdi and thus expedite the final false and misleading Middle Eastern peace treaty spoken of by the ancient Hebrew prophets.
The end of the age we live in is marked by deception on a world-wide scale-because truth has been so widely and universally rejected by mankind. This is the clear statement of Paul when he speaks about the appearing of the man of sin:
"Let no one deceive you in any way; for that day will not come, unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God (in Jerusalem), proclaiming himself to be God. Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you this? And you know what is restraining him now so that he may be revealed in his time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed (unveiled), and the Lord Jesus will slay him with the breath of his mouth and destroy him by his appearing and his coming. The coming of the lawless one by the activity of Satan will be with all power and with pretended signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are to perish, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends upon them a strong delusion, to make them believe what is false (lit: "the lie"), so that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (2:3-12)
Arabic Inscriptions in The Dome of The Rock in Jerusalem
From the Muslim point of view the Islamic shrine known as the Dome of the Rock built on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem is an answer to, and a denial of, the attractions of Christianity and its Scriptures, providing the "faithful" of Islam with arguments to be used against Christian theology. The inscriptions are seven hundred and thirty-four feet long in all, amongst the lengthiest inscriptions in the world. There is a great amount of repetition and many quotations from the Koran.
The following extracts are relevant:
Inner Face: South Wall. "In the name of Allah the Merciful the Compassionate. There is no God but Allah alone; he has no co-partner. He is the Kingship and His the praise. He giveth life and He causeth to die, and He hath power over everything."
South-East Wall. "Verily Allah and His angels pronounce blessing upon the Prophet. O ye who have pronounced blessings upon Him and give Him the salutation of peace. O, People of the Book (i.e. the Jews and Christians, always referred to as such by the Moslems -Ed.) do not go beyond the bounds in your religion and do not say about Allah anything but the truth. The Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, is but a messenger of Allah and His word which he cast upon Mary, and a spirit from Him. So believe only in Allah and of his messenger, but do not say 'Three' (Trinity) and it will be better for you. Allah is only one God. Far be it from His glory that he should have a son."
North Wall. "The Messiah will not deign to be in the service of Allah nor will the angels who stand in his presence. O Allah; pray upon Thy messenger "the servant Jesus---(N-W Wall) the son of Mary and peace be upon him the day of his birth, the day of his death and the day of his being raised alive. That is Jesus, son of Mary---a statement concerning which YOU are in doubt. It is not for Allah to take for Himself any offspring, glory be to Him."
West Wall. "Allah bears witness that there is no God but Him, likewise the angels and the people possessed of knowledge," (S-W Wall)---Upholding justice. There is no God but He, the Almighty and All wise. Verily, the religion in Allah's sight is Islam."
Outer Face: West and North-West Walls. "In the name of Allah the Merciful and Compassionate. There is no God but Allah alone. Praise be to Allah who hath not taken to himself offspring. To Him there has never been any person in the sovereignty. Mohammed is the messenger of Allah, may God pray upon Him and accept his intercession."
"Praise be God who has not taken unto himself a son and who has no partner in sovereignty nor has He any protector on account of weakness."
If religious Jews are offended by the presence of this Islamic shrine on their holy mountain, Christians have even more reasons to take offense at these blasphemous statements about their God, and the deliberate insults to Biblical revelation that the interior inscriptions clearly intend.
Islam: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What is Islam?
The word "Islam" in Arabic Language means "submission" & "peace" A Muslim is a person who submits to the will of Allah and finds therein peace. Islam is derived from the Arabic word "salaam" meaning peace.
Who are the Muslims? The common answer is "the Arabs." This is a mistaken impression that is true only insofar as Islam arose among the Arabs, its Prophet and many of its adherents were and are Arabs, and its scripture, the Holy Quran, must be recited in original Arabic form. The Arabs comprise only 25 % of the present population of Islam. They form majority of the population in roughly thirty-six (36) countries and nearly half of the population in five others. The estimated strength of Islam is estimated to be one billion people, almost one fifth of world population. Islam is the world's third largest religion, behind Christianity and Buddhism,and its present rate of growth and vitality rivals both traditions.
Muslims represent many races and socioeconomic settings. There have been however significant divisions of opinion within the umma (commonwealth of Islam or Islamic Community). Despite these differences, Islam brings unity by incorporating divergent interpretations of basic beliefs.
SUNNI: The recorded practice and teachings of Prophet Mohammad were early regarded as his Sunnah, meaning 'path' or 'way.' These traditions became powerful symbols for the Islamic religion, models of right belief and practice. The collection of Prophet Mohammad's sayings are called "Hadith" comprising Sunnah or "authoritative examples." These required further interpretations and application to a variety of situations of everyday life.
Majority of Muslims following Sunnah of Prophet Mohammad are termed "Sunnis." Islam developed four schools of jurisprudence whose functions were to decide upon the proper application of Holy Quran and Sunnah to virtually all aspects of life of the community. Each of the four schools takes its name from early jurist to whom later followers trace many of the school's distinctive opinions. The four schools are:
1. Hanifi's (after Abu Hanifa, d.767)
2. Maliki's (after Malik ibn Anas, d.795)
3. Shafi'is (after Muhammad al-Shafi'i d.819)
& 4. Hanbali's (after Ahmad ibn Hanbal d.855)
The learned scholars of law are called "Ulema."They are highly respected for their learning in the religious sciences. Islam has no clergy or priesthood as such. The basic principles of Islamic Law are established by the following:
i) The Holy Quran
ii) The Prophet's Sunnah
iii) The learned consensus of Ulema
iv) Reasoning by analogy from accepted interpretations of i) & ii) to new problems not directly addressed therein.
All of the four above form a concept of revelation of God's will to the community of Islam. This concept is called, Shari'a, it is more than scripture, it implies a composite source of teaching and practice involving the Holy Quran, the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad and authoritative human interpretation and application.
SHI'IA: A significant minority of Muslims, 10-15 %, differ on certain religious and political matters almost since the beginning of Islam. They are known as Shi'ia 's. The historical and religious differences do not obscure the broad lines of agreement between Shi'ias and Sunnis.
Shi'ias differ little from Sunnis in belief and practice. Their differences lie mainly in the modes of leadership and piety. Although Islam united the Arabs of North and South under the same banner but the cultural and traditional differences remained strong and surfaced at the time of choosing the successors of Prophet Muhammad after His death. The majority believed in choosing from the closest companions of Prophet Muhammad while others sought guidance in political and religous matters from Hazart Ali, Prophet Muhammad's cousin and son-in-law. Hazart Ali was chosen as the fourth Caliph (leader of Islamic community) but was assassinated in 661. The civil strife that resulted left and indelible mark upon Islamic Umma (community).
Shi'ias believe Prophet Muhammad passed on a significant part of his teachings directly to Hazart Ali, and hence to subsequent Imams ( sprititual leaders). Although the twelfth and last Imam disappeared late in the ninth century, expected to return before the Judgement Day. The Shia Ulema carry on the distinctive teachings and interpretations they trace back through the Imams to Prophet Muhammad. The teachings of the sixth Imam, Jafar al-Sadiq (d.765) became the basis of Jafari schools among Sunnis.
The emotional intensity that characterizes Shi'ia beliefs culminates on the tenth day of Muharram (the first month of Islamic calendar). On this date in Karbala, Iraq, in 680, Hazart Husayn, son of Hazart Ali and grandson of Prophet Muhammad, was brutally murdered by troops of Ummayyad Caliph,Yazid. For nine days, Yazid's troops besieged the camps and deprived Hazart Husayn and his followers (72 of them) of any water. Remembering the tragedy of Hazart Husayn on every year on 10th of Muharram is done by Sunnis as well as Shi'ias.
Five Pillars Of Islam
The pillars of Islam are considered obligatory for all Muslims although Sunni and Shia schools of law have slight variations.
The pillars of Islam play important roles in intellectual and social dimensions of Islamic life. The five pillars of faith and practice are:
1. The Shahada (Witness)
2. The Salat (Prayer)
3. The Zakat (Alms)
4. The Sawm or Siyam (Fasting)
5. The Hajj (Pilgrimage)
SHAHADA: (Witness) The Shahada is:
In Arabic "La ilah ha il Allah, Muhammadan Rasul-Allah" Translation: "(There is) No diety but Allah (and) Muhammad is His Messenger" or,
"There is no God but Allah" and "Muhammad is His Apostle"
Islam is one of the three monotheistic religions to arise in the Middle East; along with the other two - Judaism and Christianity- it stresses the oneness and uniqueness of God. The world 'Allah' means 'The God.'
The second phrase of the Shahada declares that Muhammad is God's messenger to humankind. Accepting the Judaeo-Christian Biblical tradition in large part, Muslims believe that God had sent prophets and messengers to other nations in the past with the same revealed message Muhammad was to recite to the Arabs. Muhammad's mission brought the final positing of divine Truth, and thus Muhammad is regarded as the "Seal of the Prophets."
SALAT: (Payer) Performing daily prayers is an act of communication between humans and God. Five daily prayers are considered a duty for all Muslims,and on these occasions preparations in ritual purity are required. The prayers are Fajr (early morning before the sun rise), Zuhr (afternoon), Asr (later afternoon), Maghrib (after sunset) and Isha (evening). The prayers must be said while facing in the direction of Mecca. The congregational prayer of Friday afternoon is compulsory and must be said in a Mosque, Muslim's place of worship. There is a sermom and then the prayers in uniform rows.
ZAKAT: (Alms) The Zakat is a form of giving to those who are less fortunate. It is obligatory upon all Muslims to give 2.5 % of wealth and assets each year (in excess of what is required) to the poor. This is done before the beginning of the month of Muharram, the first of new year. Giving the Zakat is considered an act of worship because it is a form of offering thanks to God for the means of material well-being one has acquired.
SAWM or SIYAM: (FASTING) Another form of offering thanks to God is fasting. It is duty to all Muslims to fast during the ninth month of Islamic calendar, Ramadan. During this month, Muslims refrain from food, drink during daylight. Excepts are those ill health, pregnant women & travelers. One is to make up lost days of fasting at a later time. The time of fasting is from just before sunrise to just after sunset. The breaking of fast is joyous occasion. Sawm during Ramadan or any time is recognized as physically demanding but spiritually rewarding.
HAJJ: (Pilgrimage) The pilgrimage season begins in the tenth month, the month following Ramadan, and lasts through the middle of twelveth month, Dhu al-Hijja. This fifth pillar requires all Muslims who are physically and financially capable to make Hajj to Mecca once during their lives. The actual rites and prayers take place at the scred Ka'ba in Mecca and at nearby locations. Muslims associate the origin of the Hajj and the founding of the Ka'ba with the prophet Abraham. Nearly two million Muslims perform Hajj each year.
JIHAD: (Striving) Although it is not a pillar of Islam but is a duty in one form or another. The most common media misconception is of calling Jihad a 'Holy War.' The general meaning of the term is "striving for moral and religious perfection." The broader meaning of this term encompasses one's life and community. The constant struggle of striving to remain on the path of Islam by observing the above five pillars of Islam is Jihad. One who strives is Mujahid.
Being a Mujahid, a striver for moral and religious perfection, involves numerous forms of public and private devotion that charaterizes the 'practice' of islam. This includes respecting the dietry laws against eating pork and drinking alcohol, respecting parents and elders, helping to provide for close relatives and kins, giving to the poor and disadvantaged. On the other side, theft, murder, fornication, adultery, lying, cheating, wrongly accusing or testifying are strictly forbidden by Shari'a (Islamic Law). In technical sense, Islam means 'the pratice of the religious and social duties' outlined above.
IMAN: (Faith) The faith, like Five Pillars, can be divided in six parts. It means belief in the following:
1. God and His Attributes
4. Sacred Books
5. The Judgement Day
Mohammed, the prophet and founder of Islam, was born in Mecca about AD 570. At the time of his birth, Arab tribes in Mecca and throughout the Arabian peninsula were polytheistic, with each tribe having its own local deity. A large black meteor found in the desert and believed to have been sent by astral deities was placed in the southeast corner of a cube-shaped structure (Kaaba) in Mecca and became the central shrine of Hubal, a chief male god among 36o other deities. Among these was al-Hajar al-Aswad, a nature deity who was symbolized by the black stone. The most prominent Meccan deities besides Hubal were his three sister goddesses al-Lat, al-Manat, and al-Uzza. Mohammed at first acknowledged these goddesses as deities (believing them to be daughters of Allah), but later said his thinking had been corrupted by Satan. Al-Lat (or Allat) is the feminine form of Allah, and is believed to have been the female counterpart of Allah.' The chief goddess of Mohammed's tribe of Quraysh was al-Uzza, to whom Mohammed's grandfather almost sacrificed Mohammed's father except for the counsel of a fortune-teller. The head of this pantheon was al-Ilah (literally "the god"), a vague high god (astral deity) who some believe was associated with the moon. Mohammed's father's name was Abd-Allah ("the slave of al-Ilah"), so it is evident that Mohammed was well acquainted with this deity. He was also familiar with the Najran tribe, which was predominately Christian and exercised significant influence in northern Arabia. It is believed that Mohammed was at one time a student of Christianity and that this explains the inclusion of Jesus, as well as the Jewish patriarchs, in the Qur'an.
Beginning in A.D. 610 Mohammed claimed to have received angelic revelations that al-Ilah (Allah) was the supreme god and had a message of warning.' Several years later Mohammed began to speak publicly as a prophet of Allah, but was rejected by the pagan Meccans. The intensity of the persecution to Mohammed and his followers grew through the years and forced him to flee to Medina in AD 622. This event, known as the Hijra ("Migration'), marked the beginning of the Islamic era. After gaining local favor and amassing an army, in AD 630 Mohammed returned to Mecca, conquered it, and made it the spiritual center of his new religion of Islam. The city's Kaaba stone was transformed from a pagan shrine to the focus of Muslim pilgrimage (Hadj). The Holy book of Islam is the Qur'an (or Koran), which is composed of the angelic message to Mohammed, revelatory books, and selected and "corrected" stories of Abraham, Joseph, Moses, and David's psalms from the Old Testament and the story of Jesus (Arabic, Isa) from the New Testament. All of these are believed by Muslims to have been Muslims as well, even though they lived thousands of years before the birth of Mohammed! " The Hadith is another sacred book, which contains collected sayings and deeds of Mohammed, the last prophet.
Islam's god Allah is not the same as the God of Judaism or Christianity. Neither are its accounts of figures from the Jewish and Christian Bibles the same. Islam claims its version is correct and that all others have been corrupted. Christians, in particular, are said to be guilty of the unpardonable sin of shirk, which means to associate partners or companions to Allah. This accusation results from the Muslim misunderstanding of the Christian doctrine of the triune nature of the one God.
Islam, from its beginning, has been a religion of the sword (al Harb). The concept of Holy War (Jihad), mandated by Allah, requires Islam to completely subdue the earth through military conquest. The world is thus divided between Dar al-Islam ("House of Islam") and all areas yet unsubdued by Islam, Dar alHarb ("House of War"). All other religions and all other prophets after Mohammed are false, and all non-Muslims are infidels or dhimmi (tolerated minorities under Islamic rule-such as Jews and Christians). This controlling command eventually brought Islam to Israel, and is the reason for the Muslims' uncompromising control of the Temple Mount. ,
The author of this website is not necessary endorsing all of the above views.
" The Logos-Wisdom is the principle of all Divine and Esoteric Revelations. She has the characteristics of being the indwelling revealer of God. She IS the active principle and the transmitter of all Divine knowledge as well the cosmological cause of all creation. "
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Think for yourself and do not quickly accept ideas. Test all things; hold fast what is good. (1 Thes. 5:21)
If you have enemies, each has a Soul, as you do.
" Love your enemies "
" By their fruits you will recognize them" (Matt.7:15-16) "
" Love is the condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own. " --Robert A. Heinlein
" I neither know nor think that I know. " --Socrates
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