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SHARING YOUR FAITH WITH MUSLIMS

INTRODUCTION

Before you attempt to share your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ with a Muslim you need to have a clear understanding of the Islamic mindset and the usual Muslim customs and reactions. If you are not aware of these and you break the rules, you will be greatly hindered in your presentation of the Gospel.

 

In our Western society “individualism” is the norm, and we ordinarily experience “guilt” when we sin. In Islamic culture (as in many others) the collective “community” (the ummah) is most important, “honor” is paramount, and “shame” takes priority over all other feelings. Though the act itself may be sinful and even grievous, it is not nearly as cutting as the shame of discovery—being caught in the act—which brings dishonor not only on oneself but on one’s whole family and the community.

 

The Islamic community obviously has a powerful influence, and usually controls one’s thinking, his actions, and the enforcement of the established standards of right and wrong—based on Shari’a (Islamic Law). It is therefore a gross dishonor to the community and family when a Muslim leaves Islam and converts to another religion, particularly Christianity, for this is looked on as “treason.” So “honor” must be maintained; and the way this is done is ordinarily by killing the one who has renounced Islam--often carried out by a family member.

 

The more honorable a family is, the better public positions its members will be able to get; they will also have more influential friends and likely be able to arrange better marriages for their children. For this reason, you, an outsider, if you wish to be accepted, need to be very careful that you do not do anything that will bring shame or dishonor upon your Muslim acquaintances.

 

The following chart lists some of mankind’s most significant cultural values. It reveals the distinct difference between the thinking of the Eastern and the Western worlds.

 

Cultural Value Eastern/Muslim Society Western Society

Honor: All important Helpful, but not essential

Relationships: People are more important Events are often more important

than events than people

Time orientation: The past (traditions) The future

Family: Extended Immediate

Time usage: Punctuality not important Punctuality very important

Blame: Avoided, transferred Okay to accept blame

Hospitality: Essential and honorable Nice, but not essential

Change: Of little value (often shunned) Highly valued

Sin: An external mistake An internal moral failure

Status: Usually inherited Usually earned

Discipline: Internal (shame, administered External (physical,

by the family) by the parents)

Aging: Leads to greater respect and Usually leads to less respect

increased decision-making and decision-making

Rights: Society is most important The individual is most important

Confrontation: Usually indirect (by a third Usually direct (one-on-one)

person or through a story)

 

It is important to note here that even though Christianity is often thought of as a “Western religion,” the Bible is not a “Western book”; rather, its origin, its stories, and its way of expression are “Eastern.”

 

As we explore some of the ways to reach out to Muslims, it is good to keep in mind 1 Corinthians 9:22-23, which reads: “To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.” It should not, therefore, be the desire of any Christian to make a Muslim “Western”--a follower of our customs—but, rather, to present the claims of Christ to each Muslim in such a way that he or she can understand the Gospel from within his or her own background.

 

Sometimes Western Christians feel that Christianity is actually Western and all outsiders should be willing to enter Christianity on our terms and conform to our ways. This is a great mistake, and this type of thinking is a great hindrance in presenting the Gospel. How much are we willing to adapt in order to reach Muslims for Christ? (To adapt, I say, not compromise! As a missionary in Japan for 35 years, I had to make a lot of adjustments—yet not in the message I proclaimed, but in my methods. This attitude can work for you too!)

 

 

THE INITIAL MEETING

 

Not too many years ago most Americans had never met a Muslim, let alone talked to one for any length of time. But things have changed. More and more, as we go to doctors’ offices, malls, convenience stores, garages, gas stations, etc., we come into contact with Muslims. There are likely some that live in your neighborhood, or maybe you work with one. It may even be that a Muslim man has married into your immediate or extended family. (Muslim women are not allowed to marry non-Muslims.) All of these individuals are potential contacts who need to hear the claims of Christ.

 

“To have friends, you must show yourself friendly.” Let’s say that a Muslim family moves into your neighborhood. You ought to try to meet these newcomers casually as they are out in the yard; or perhaps you can go purposely to their house and welcome them to the neighborhood.

Shaking hands is a polite way of greeting a Muslim. But always do so with your right hand, never the left. The left hand is used for “unclean” functions, so extending it to others is considered an insult. However, a man should never take the initiative if the other party is a woman; some Muslim women feel they should never physically touch a man who is not their husband or an immediate member of the family. If a woman feels free to shake hands with a man, she will usually reach out her hand.

 

When good friends meet, they are likely to embrace and kiss each other on the cheek, perhaps several times--but always men with men and women with women. If you are eventually greeted in this way, it is a wonderful sign.

 

Following your initial contact, you might want to take over a plate of homemade cookies. Hospitality and generosity are two of the most valued attributes in Eastern culture.

 

As your friendship deepens, plan to invite the couple over for some light refreshments. For this occasion, you ought to use your best dishes and serve fruit, nuts, sweets, and tea or coffee. Usually Muslims do not make short visits, so you should be prepared for them to stay several hours. And don’t be the first one to suggest that the visit is over; that is something that is usually done by the guest.

 

When you meet a Muslim, do not start witnessing or right away offer to have a Bible study. You need to build up trust. Listening attentively can do this. Find out what kind of problems they may have. Then you can let them know that you have experienced the same sort of problems and can relate how you handled them. But don’t give advice. Let your friends know that you are on the same level as they are. (You want to get into the same boat they are in.) Let them know that you really understand their situation. Once you have identified with them in their plight, hopefully they might ask how you overcame the difficulty and got the victory.

 

If you are invited to their place, when visiting for the first time you should take along a gift, such as flowers or candy. The Muslim will ordinarily reciprocate with a gift, since your hospitality has put him under an obligation, and Muslims will do almost anything not to be a debtor to you.

 

You might next want to invite your Muslim acquaintance over for a full meal. Muslims believe that the very best food should be served when entertaining. When this is done, once again use your best dishes and silverware. You should be aware of the fact that Muslims do not eat pork or drink alcohol, so these should never be served. Some Muslims will eat only “safe” foods--which are referred to as halal or “permitted.”

 

In most of the Islamic world, dogs are considered dirty. They can only be used for hunting or as watchdogs, not kept as pets. For this reason, if you have a dog it is best to keep Lassie outside when you invite a Muslim family to your house.

 

You need to realize that proper clothing is important to Muslims. For this reason, if you invite them to your house or you are invited to their house, you ought to respect their standards and dress accordingly. Men should wear long pants, not shorts; and always wear a shirt, even in the summer. For women, the dress code is even stricter. They should wear things like a long skirt with a loose-fitting blouse, or a dress with long sleeves; definitely nothing sleeveless. No shorts, no low-cut necklines.

 

Note: In the Middle East, when someone says something only once, it is usually a polite statement or request, but it’s not intended to be fulfilled. The person on the receiving ends knows this. To a Muslim, repetition intensifies a request. If an offer is genuine, it will be repeated. Thus when you invite a Muslim to your home, don’t be afraid to repeat the invitation so they know they are genuinely wanted.

Nonverbal communication, such as body language or tone of voice, often carries more weight than spoken words. This means that when verbal and nonverbal cues don’t match up, people tend to believe what is “really” spoken by the nonverbal element. Keep this in mind, especially if you are disagreeing with a Muslim friend. Many Americans tend to look stern, or even frown, when presenting an opposing idea. One person familiar with Muslims offers this piece of advice: “You can say anything to a Muslim if you say it with a smile on your face.”

TALK ABOUT MATTERS OF COMMON INTEREST BEFORE YOU BRING UP RELIGION

It is best not to start witnessing right away. During a get-acquainted conversation the Muslim will usually tell you he is a follower of Islam, and you can tell him that you are a Christian, but it is best not to carry it further than that in the early stages of building a relationship. Some subjects of common interest that you can safely talk about are: (1) Raising children. (“Do you ever do things in front of your children that you do not allow them to do?”) (2) The economy. (3) Society in general. (4) Financial matters. (5) Travel experiences. (6) What it is like living in a foreign country. (7) How do the school systems compare. (Education in the Eastern world is based more on rote memory than on the assimilation and application of relevant facts.) (8) Health. (9) Family. (10) Character. (11) Behavior. (12) Work ethics.

 

BUILD A FRIENDSHIP

Compared to our Western relationships, friendships with Muslims take longer to develop, and trust is given more slowly; but once friendships are made, they are life-long.

 

The majority of Muslims will be very friendly, but they can often have a hidden motive. They may have some kind of request in mind; or, perhaps, they are seeking to witness to you about Islam! Muslims are generally urged to move into areas where other Muslims live, but if they cannot, they are to make friends in order to convert those who are not Muslim.

Even though you do good things for them, they may not trust you, because they may feel you are doing the same thing to them as they are doing to you. Therefore it is important to take your time and build a genuine friendship.

 

If they offer you something or invite you to a meal, you should not refuse it. If you refuse a meal or such gifts they will feel you are not their friend.

 

There is a real battle going on worldwide between Muslims and Christians. When they find out you are a Christian, they may begin to bombard you with anti-Christian literature and bring up things they have heard against Christianity. They want to get to you before you get to them. But do not give up in cases like this. However, be aware that many Muslims see Christians as their perpetual enemies.

 

When they give you anti-Christian literature or start telling you how bad Christianity is, tell them you already know the facts about Christianity, so you don’t want to talk about it. “But I do want to learn about Islam!” (Usually, before you can successfully present Biblical Christianity to “outsiders,” you first have to get them to question their own religion. That is why it is best to start with thought-provoking questions that I can send to you if you will contact me.) Tell them you desire to know how good Islam is! If, of course, they do have genuine questions about Christianity, they should feel free to ask them; but you don’t want them to attack you. So be careful not to drive inquirers away. Once you have done so, it is very hard to get them back. First impressions are very important to Muslims.

 

When you ask questions, don’t make them argumentative. Put them this way: “Can you explain such-and-such to me?” “Would you please help me to understand this?”

 

You want to love them into the Kingdom. This is done by learning to be a friend.

You might offer to help them with their English if they haven’t been in America for a sufficient time. This is a project that a church might undertake if there are a number of Muslims in the area.

In order to reach out to the children, a group of you might have a summer camp at the church for them. Since Muslims believe in most of the prophets mentioned in the Bible, you can use stories like those about David, Daniel, the three men in the fiery furnace, Jonah, John the Baptist, etc. Muslims are used to using stories to get points across.

WITNESSING ABOUT CHRIST

Don’t start by telling Muslims that they are sinners, because according to their estimation they are not. Be careful not to give the impression that, since you are a Christian, you are better than they are. Should they do something wrong, Muslims feel it was the circumstance that made them do it, and so they are not really responsible for their sin. Allah already knew that they had a weakness at that point, and He understands and will not hold them guilty.

 

Here are two illustrations: (1) A man is walking down the street and is really hungry. It is quite a ways to his house. He passes a house that has a nice apple tree in the yard. He leaps over the fence and grabs a few apples—which some would call stealing. But to a Muslim this is not a sin, because the person was hungry and the tree was there. Muslims would reason that it was Allah who provided that tree just when the man was hungry! They might say, “When Abraham was about to sacrifice his son, did not God provide a ram?” (2) A true story: A Muslim man committed adultery with his neighbor’s wife. When asked if he didn’t think that was a sin, he replied, “No. Her husband hadn’t been providing properly for her emotional needs and he wasn’t looking after his wife. She had a clear need at that time, and I was able to meet that need. It was not a sin! I did it for her benefit—a good deed. Why should I be punished or be ashamed?” So the circumstances get the blame.

 

Muslims are taught in the Qur’an that there are three circumstances in which it is okay to lie.

1. During war. Deception is no sin.

2. In times of dispute. You can tell a lie about another person in order to bring about peace.

3. To your spouse when you have been unfaithful—in order to keep peace in the family. (See Surahs 2:225, 16:106, 40:28, 66:2.)

 

Muslims lie on other occasions also: When seeking a job, being untruthful about one’s education and age is acceptable. So they might falsify a birth certificate or a passport. Regarding marriage, under Islamic law a couple can get married by an imam but need not register it with the government. This makes it easier for the man to divorce his wife: he just says “I divorce you” three times and that is it. But if they had registered the marriage, getting a divorce would be complicated, especially in the West.

 

In Holland people are able to get financial assistance from the government. But they can receive more aid if they are single than if they are married. So the husband will divorce his wife the easy way, and they will then apply for assistance as two single people--yet they remain living in the same house, together, as man and wife. So deception is justified in this circumstance.

 

Don’t be surprised, therefore, if sometimes you are lied to. But let’s get back to the topic of witnessing about Christ.

 

After you have built a relationship with your Muslim friend you might say something like this: “I don’t know a lot about Islam and I have many questions. I hope you will be willing to help me find answers to some of my questions. But first, would it be okay if I explained to you how I became a Christian? You may think that all Americans are Christians. That is not true! Many people are just nominal Christians, and I suspect there also are nominal Muslims. But each true Christian has had a personal encounter with God as Savior. Would it be okay if I told you my own private story as to how I came into this relationship with God?”

 

I have given my personal testimony many times to members of other religions. A testimony is an excellent way to present the whole plan of salvation if you tell your story in an interesting way. Muslims are fond of stories, so this is a good way to get facts across to them. Since Muslims generally do not understand Christianity, you must be careful not to rattle off, without explanation, standard Christian terms. Expressions like: “Jesus saves,” “substitutionary atonement,” “born-again believer,” “I’m bound for heaven,” “grace,” “trusting Jesus,” will be foreign to them and may need some explanation. As I mentioned earlier, Muslims do not understand “sin,” so don’t just say “God convicted me of my sins.” You need to name specific, inward sins. Go very slowly when you give your testimony, and be sure to explain all of your terms.

 

I have found that giving your personal testimony will help the outsider understand Christianity a little better--and it is something they will likely remember for a long time.

 

As you are giving your testimony, or later witnessing, when you use the Bible it is best to quote from memory instead of reading the words from the Bible. Also, as you quote the Bible don’t mention that it is from the Bible. There is a good reason for this. Muslims do not have any respect for the Bible and believe that it has been corrupted, so they are not familiar with the Bible. But as they hear parts of the Bible quoted they hopefully will recognize the beauty of what you have quoted and may ask you where it came from. Then you can tell them, or maybe even show them the passage in the Bible. In this way, they might come to realize the Bible is not like they have heard it to be. And they will be more open to the truths found in it as you progress in your relationship with them.

 

Do not invite a Muslim to your church right away. There are too many common things that can have a negative effect on a Muslim, such as the association of men and women together, young people holding hands, their dress, people wearing shoes inside the church, the cross in the front, and perhaps the style of music. You have to first build up a friendship and a trust. If there is a fellowship of former Muslims in your area, you might want to take your neighbor there first. But whatever you do, talk about your church in a positive way; don’t say anything negative.

 

If there is a wedding, a funeral, a baptism, etc., these could be points of attraction. Such events might get them interested. If you mention that such an event is coming up, they might ask if they could come along.

 

WORDS GUARANTEED TO START AN ARGUMENT

Certain words or phrases can trigger emotional responses, whether we intend for them to or not. Some Muslims will react negatively to words that we Christians often use, like: church, convert, baptism, cross, crusade, Son of God, Savior, Israel, Jew, Christmas—even the term “Christian.” Be careful. Here are some alternative words you can use.

 

Instead of Use________________________

Church Place of worship

Convert One who enters the Kingdom

Baptism Identification with Christ

Cross Means of Roman execution.

Crusade Campaign

Savior Rescuer

Israel Palestine

Christmas Feast of Christ’s birth

Christian Follower of Jesus (Isahi)

 

IMPORTANT “DON’TS”

 

(1) Don’t debate. No one wants to lose, so this is not a proper way to witness. Explain to your Muslim acquaintance that discussions are for friends and debates are for opponents.

(2) Don’t let the Muslim you are dealing with get you into a purely defensive position. You will never win a battle by merely defending.

(3) Don’t use the Bible at the outset. First you must get your friend to doubt what Islam teaches.

(4) Don’t start saying bad things about the Qur’an or Muhammad.

(5) Don’t start by discussing Jesus as the Son of God.

(6) Don’t start by bringing up the Trinity. If he brings it up, however, be prepared.

(7) Don’t remain silent. Muslims are often more vocal in their beliefs than American Christians are. We Westerners believe that we should politely wait for a pause by the other person before we interrupt and interject our own thoughts. However, if you just listen to a Muslim and do not interrupt and say something, he is likely to feel that you are agreeing with him. Or he’ll conclude that you have nothing important to say on the subject. Muslims are often amazed at how “wimpy”—how uncertain and ashamed--Christians are of their beliefs. I have learned--even though I don’t like to do it--that you have to continually interrupt when a Muslim says something you don’t agree with and let him know your true feelings. But whenever you disagree, “say it with a smile.”

 

AIDS IN SHARING YOUR FAITH

Using the Jesus film has been an effective way of helping Muslims understand

A calendar that has Scripture verses written in the birth language of your friend would be a valued gift. He and his relatives will read these verses and come to respect the Bible. If you give a Muslim anything written in Arabic he will never throw it away.

 

DO NOT GIVE UP IF YOU DO NOT SEE IMMEDIATE RESULTS

 

We need to remember that the success or failure of our witnessing to Muslims is not to be measured in numbers. Reaching out to Muslims requires patience. Often we do not see the full consequences of our efforts. It is the Christian’s obligation to faithfully present the Gospel in a simple and loving way. We want our unsaved friends to see the beauty of Christ in our lives and actions. The results are up to God.

COMMANDMENTS FOR SHARING THE GOSPEL WITH MUSLIMS

 

1. Be constantly in prayer.

It is the Holy Spirit who wins men to Christ. Seek His guidance and power as you present the Word.

 

  1. Be a genuine friend.

 

Saying “Hello. How are you?” isn’t enough. If you really care, show it by inviting them to your home, sharing your time and helping with their problems.

  1. Ask thought-provoking questions.

Help them to reach their own conclusion about the Gospel. There are many of these questions in this book—see the next chapter. Here are a few short and simple ones that you might begin with:

· What does the Qur’an teach about forgiveness?

· Do you have assurance that God will accept you?

· What makes a person “clean” or “unclean” in Islam?

· I have heard that animal sacrifices are important in Islamic culture. Why is this so? (At the end of the pilgrimage to Mecca all are supposed to sacrifice an animal.)

· When the animal is sacrificed, what deeper meaning does this have? (You might be able to refer to the animal sacrifices in the Old Testament that pointed to Jesus. Let them know that John the Baptist, whom all Muslims accept as a prophet, said in John 1:29 concerning Jesus: “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”)

· How is sin removed from a person in Islam?

· In Islam, how can people know for certain that God will allow them to enter Paradise on the Day of Judgment? (The only way a Muslim can be assured of going to Paradise is to be killed or kill himself in jihad.)

· In Islam, what things are considered honorable and what are shameful?

· Jesus is known as the “Messiah” in both Islam and Christianity. Why do you think Jesus, and only Jesus, has this title? What do you think it means? (This title is found eleven times in the Qur’an and is used only of Jesus and no one else. I have never met a Muslim who had any idea of its meaning. You should explain that it means “the Anointed One,” “the expected deliverer.”)

· No other prophet had this designation; could this be a significant fact? Since Jesus did not deliver the Jewish people from the rule of Rome, then what did He deliver His followers from? Might it not be deliverance from the dominion of sin, like the Bible states?

· Do you know that the angel Gabriel revealed to the prophet Daniel that the “Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself” (in 9:26) and that he even gave the exact date when Jesus would be “cut off”--pointing clearly to His death?

· How do you account for the fact that the angel Gabriel mentioned this about the Messiah over 600 years before Jesus was born? (Muslims believe that Gabriel is the revealer of truth.) When Jesus lived here on earth He also foretold His death. Should these facts be ignored?

· Since the book of Daniel was not written until after the Babylonian captivity of the Jews was almost over, it could not have been corrupted--like some mullahs claim happened to the rest of the Old Testament. What excuse do you Muslims have for not believing it and the other Bible books written after the Babylonian captivity?

 

  1. Listen attentively.

When you ask a question, courtesy requires that you listen to the answer no matter how long it takes. You’ll be surprised at how much you’ll learn.

5. Present your beliefs openly.

 

After your friendship has been firmly established, state what you believe clearly and without apology, showing Scripture passages that support those teachings. This places the responsibility for doctrine where it belongs—on the Word of God.

6. Talk about sin and how it affects our lives.

Say, “Sin is the biggest problem in our world today. How do we deal with sin?” (A person who is living in sin hates himself. He is an enemy to himself. Most Muslims recognize that they are living in sin, but they don’t know how to get forgiveness. Explain to them how Jesus forgives sins.)

7. Question, don’t argue.

 

Argument may win you a point but can lose you a hearing. There are some points on which you can argue forever without achieving a thing, except closing a mind.

8. Never denigrate Muhammad or the Qur’an.

 

This is as offensive to them as speaking disrespectfully about Christ or the Bible is to us.

9. Respect their customs and sensitivities.

 

Don’t offend by:

a. Putting your Bible (a holy book) on the floor.

b. Speaking too freely about sex. (Muslims don’t speak about sex; it is considered dirty.

c. Appearing too familiar in casual relationships with the opposite sex.

d. Refusing hospitality.

e. Wearing shorts or other inappropriate dress.

f. Making jokes about sacred topics such as fasting, prayer or God.

10. Use the Word of God.

 

As you build a friendship and respect, you can use the Bible more freely. You might be able to start a Bible study with your Muslim friend. Make sure he has a Bible that is accurate and easy to understand. The Gospels are the best portions to start with, particularly Matthew and Luke.

 

11. Persevere.

Muslims have a lot of rethinking to do when they are confronted with the Gospel, but rest assured that the Word of God will do its work in His good time.

Above all, be humble. Speak with love. This will make a way for you. My cry and my prayer to the Lord Jesus Christ is that He might draw millions of Muslims into His kingdom.

MAJOR OBSTACLES IN MUSLIMS COMING TO CHRIST

 

The Law of Apostasy (ridda). In Islamic society everyone must conform to the “Law of God,” so leaving the faith is considered apostasy. Therefore, conversion to the Christian faith triggers a rejection mechanism. According to Shari’a, an adult male apostate is to be given a short time to recant and if he does not he will suffer the full severity of the Law. Upon being tried and convicted, he is stripped of all civil rights so that anyone is free to kill him, his marriage is declared null and void, his children are taken from him, and his property becomes spoil to the Muslim community. Since his family is dishonored, it is often a family member who will kill him. The female apostate is to be imprisoned until she recants, however long that takes. Sometimes she too is killed by her family. Often the convert’s only recourse is to seek refuge abroad.

 

Is “honor-killing” likely to be carried out? Not in the U.S. and other Western countries where Muslims are a clear minority, and where the killer would be arrested and tried for murder. (Even so, the threat remains.) But one could be in danger if he were to visit relatives back in his Islamic homeland.

 

The treatment of Muslims who leave the faith and become Christians is certainly a major problem, and those working with Muslims need to do a much better job of helping converts relate their new faith and life to their culture. I would not advise a new convert to go home and tell his family that he has become a Christian and then begin attacking Islam. Nor do I feel converts ought to be baptized immediately. I believe that it is better to work with the Muslim convert so that he may grow in his Christian faith and have real changes for the better in his life. As his acquaintances begin to realize that he is now gentle in his speech, has become honest, is more patient with people, and possesses a real joy and peace, they will note this difference--and instead of him having to tell people that he has become a Christian, they will begin to say, “I note that there has been a real change in your life. What happened to you?” Then the convert can explain patiently that he has become a Christian--and hopefully he will not be rejected so severely.

 

Converts from Islam need much Spirit-led guidance. I feel it is important that we Christians give new converts adequate help in relating their faith and life to their culture in their tension-filled/traumatic transition from Islam to Christianity. The convert needs to separate from the Islamic faith but does not need to be taken out of the community. I feel it is a mistake to insist that a Muslim convert be baptized right away, take a Western name, hang a cross around one’s neck, or completely change his or her style of dress.

 

In America the transition of a Muslim into Christianity is nothing compared to what is normally experienced by those who live in Islamic-ruled countries. Yet even here in America there needs to be serious thought given regarding converts. For most of them, attending the average American church is a great shock because of the slovenly way so many of the people are dressed and their frequent lack of decorum. I heard of a Muslim who went to a Christian church and during the service there was a young couple hugging and flirting. This is something that Muslims just do not do in public. For this reason it is best to start off with a group Bible study in which the new convert can safely grow.

 

IMPORTANT QUESTIONS FOR MUSLIMS

 

The normal way of witnessing is to start with the fact that the person is a sinner--and properly so--going on, then, to the sinner’s need of repentance. At that point, the Christian opens his Bible and reads verses that show how a sinner can come to know Jesus Christ as personal Savior. However, when one witnesses to Muslims, this is not a very effective approach, for the following reasons:

1 Muslims have an entirely different concept of sin than what the Bible presents. They believe they have the true commands of God in the Qur’an, and if they are following some of them faithfully they feel they are “righteous.” And they think those of us here in America are the sinners because of the Hollywood style of living that so many of us have. Muslims have been taught that all Americans are Christians--and so they associate this sinful style of living with Christianity. In the Muslim’s mind, therefore, the Christians are the sinners and need to change, and the way to do that is to become a Muslim.

 

2 Muslims completely deny the fact that God has a Son and that Jesus is the Divine Savior of the world. They believe that He was just another in a long line of prophets and was sent only to the Jewish race; thus He can’t offer anything to Muslims, except be respected as a prophet--but certainly not as a Savior. So to them, Jesus can’t be the answer to the problem of sin.

 

3 Muslims do not believe that someone can die vicariously for another person’s sins. They deny that Jesus died on the cross, and the Qur’an declares that someone else died in His place. They believe each person has to take care of his or her own sins; so talking about Jesus forgiving their sins is foolishness to them.

 

4 Muslims do not believe that the Bible we presently have is accurate. They say that just about all of it is different than the original--some parts deleted and other parts corrupted. Thus you cannot use the Bible as your authority.

 

So how do we witness to Muslims? It is necessary to do some “pre-evangelizing.” You can do this best by asking thought-provoking questions about their religion. They must begin to have some strong doubts about Islam before you can present the Gospel effectively. Furthermore, you will not be able to address head-on the subjects of the Trinity, the Sonship of Christ, or His death as the vicarious atonement for the sins of mankind. Most Muslims are very well acquainted with the typical arguments of Christians on these subjects, and you won’t make much progress because there will be a lot of resistance. But you definitely do need to discuss the issue of the Bible being corrupted.

 

In light of this, the questions that are presented here have been designed to try to get the Muslim you are speaking with to question his or her own religion. Later, you can sidle up to the teachings of the Trinity, the deity of Christ, the death of Christ, etc., via the “back door”--where Muslims are not prepared, and they may not realize what you are doing.

 

Of all these points for discussion, I have found three to be the most telling. (1) The fact that Muhammad taught that, at the best, “only 1 in 100 Muslims will go to Paradise.” (2) The fact that the angel Gabriel is never identified in the Qur’an--so no one can be sure as to where the Qur’an came from, which undermines their authority. (3) The claim that the Bible has been corrupted. On this issue Muslims have two choices: (a) Either Allah has failed to keep His Qur’anic promise to preserve the Bible, (b) or else Muslims scholars are not telling the truth when they claim the Bible is no longer reliable.

 

The following questions do not need to be used in any particular order. I have presented all of these matters to Muslims and have not yet received reasonable answers back from them, but I do know that in some cases I have gotten my point across and made them think.

 

May the Lord bless and encourage you as you seek to share the wonderful love of God and Christ to your Muslim acquaintance.

 

1

WHAT IS THE GOSPEL?

Surah 5:46 in the Qur’an states: “And in their [the prophets’] footsteps We sent Jesus son of Mary, confirming that which was (revealed) before him, and We bestowed on him the Gospel wherein is guidance and a light … a guidance and an admonition to the God fearing.” (The word “Gospel” is also found in Surahs 3:3, 48, 65, 5:66, 110, 9:111; 48:29 and 57:27.)

Would you please tell me what this Gospel, Injeel (“Good News”), consists of? What actually was revealed to Jesus by Allah and then proclaimed by him? Surely, it must be important.

2

WHO DIED IN JESUS’ PLACE?

 

The Qur’an, in Surah 4:157, states that it was not Jesus who died on the cross but someone else. Would you please identify this person from the Qur’an? (I don’t want what the “scholars” think, but what the Qur’an clearly states.)

 

3

IN THE QUR’AN, WHERE IS THE MESSENGER WHO DELIVERED ALLAH’S WORDS CLEARLY IDENTIFIED?

 

Where in the Qur’an does it specifically identify, clearly, the one who appeared to Muhammad and gave him his messages--either at the very beginning or on previous visits? Don’t tell me what the “scholars” or “commentators” say as to whom that person was; I want to read the very words of the Qur’an where that person is identified! I have a good reason for this request. The Bible over and over clearly identifies the one who is speaking with a heavenly message. Here are some examples:

 

In Genesis 6:13 we read, “And God said to Noah.” So the one speaking is identified, and the one spoken to is identified.

 

Genesis 12:1. “Now the Lord said to Abraham.”

 

Genesis 22:1-2. “After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, ‘Abraham!’ And he said, ‘Here am I.’ He [God] said, ‘Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah [in Palestine], and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.’”

 

Exodus 3:4. “When the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, ‘Moses, Moses!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’” Then, in verse 14, God identifies Himself clearly: “God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM.’ And he said, ‘Say this to the people of Israel, I AM has sent me to you.’”

 

Luke 1:26-35. “In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth…”

 

Acts 9:4-6. “He [Saul of Tarsus, who later became the apostle Paul] heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ And he said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And he said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.’”

 

In the Bible the one who is speaking is usually identified right in the text, so we don’t have to speculate as to who spoke. (I could give many more examples, but these show you what I mean.)

 

My request again is, “Please show me in the actual text of the Qur’an where it clearly identifies the one who is said to be speaking to Muhammad.” (I know what the Muslim scholars speculate, but I want the very words of the Qur’an.) Where is the proof that it was Gabriel?

 

4

WHY DO MUSLIMS SAY THAT ONLY PARTS OF THE BIBLE WERE PRESERVED?

Muslims claim that the original Bible has been “corrupted, changed, and much of it lost.” Whenever there are things in the Bible that differ from what is written in the Qur’an, then automatically “the Bible has been corrupted” in these spots, they say. However, at the same time Muslims will use certain verses from the Bible when they try to prove that Muhammad’s coming was foretold in Scripture. Yes, and other parts of the Bible are also taken to be “authentic” if they seem to contradict a theological teaching Muslims dislike! Muslim scholars reject what they want but take whatever they think will help their cause.

 

The Bible either has to be either taken as a whole or rejected as a whole, not divided up in a way that might suit one’s fancy. So I ask, is it authentic or is it not?

5

ALLAH’S LOW MORAL REQUIREMENTS

 

I’ve had quite a number of Muslims tell me that Allah will “multiply their good works ten times.” I also read this claim in a book. Let us now take a clear look at what Islam teaches. The Qur’an states that on the Day of Judgment each man’s good works and evil works will be put on scales, and if one’s good works amount to at least 51% and the evil works to only 49%--and if Allah is favorable—then you will go to one of the seven heavens. But if the balance is the other way around, then you go to hell.

 

Let’s examine this teaching. If the “multiplication principle” is really true, then a Muslim actually has to be only 5.1 % good in order to have the possibility of making it into heaven. For if we multiply 5.1 by ten, it means that individual’s good works will actually amount to 51%, which would tip the scale--and therefore he has the possibility of going to heaven.

 

Does it seem right that a person can be so utterly sinful and still get to heaven?

 

6

WHAT DOES ISLAM HAVE TO OFFER SINNERS?

 

What does Islam have to offer people who want to be 100% sure of going to live with God the very moment they die? Can Islam give me 100% assurance that there is no possibility of my going to hell?

7

TWO ETERNALS?

Islam teaches that the Qur’an is eternal and has always existed unchanged in heaven. How can that be possible? It also teaches that Allah is eternal and has no equal. But if both the Qur’an and Allah are eternal, then Islam has two eternals! Doesn’t this mean that Allah has an equal? How is it possible to have two eternals?

 

8

WHY WAS THE QUR’AN WRITTEN IN ARABIC?

 

Muslims claim that the Qur’an is the final Word of God and that it is for all nations. If this is true, why was it written in Arabic? Muslim scholars declare that Arabic cannot properly be translated into any other language so that the true meaning comes out! Why was the Qur’an not written it in a language that could be translated so everyone would have the same advantage? It seems that Allah is partial to the Arabs! Why should that be?

 

9

CONVERSION. A MISTAKE OR A SIN?

 

Here is a question that I would appreciate your answering for me.

Let’s say an older Muslim realizes that he does not have many “good deeds” to his credit and comprehends that he does not have adequate time in this life to do enough “good deeds” to cancel out all his “evil deeds.” He feels utterly hopeless and downcast. He does not want to go to Hell and suffer for all eternity but desires to go to Paradise to be with God--but sees no hope. At this point, he hears that there is hope for bad sinners in Christianity, because people do not get into heaven by their own “good deeds” but by the one “good deed” that Jesus did by shedding His blood on that Roman cross for the sins of all mankind--and thus salvation comes as a gift from God, not something that can be earned. But before he can receive this gift, he must be willing to take the very difficult road of admitting that he is an ungodly sinner and repent! So he opens his heart and becomes a true follower of Jesus Christ. He is given the Holy Spirit that will enable him to live a life of holiness. He is now a true child of God who has been given everlasting life; he is 100% sure of going to heaven the very moment he leaves this life and will be in the presence of God forever. Peace and joy flood his heart!

 

In Islam, would this be considered a “mistake” or a “sin”?

 
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