Here is a heavy topic for our conversation concerning world religions. Any viewing of the news is pregnant with the fact that Islam is a very controversial topic. So what is Islam? What are their beliefs? Can Christians and Muslims peacefully coexist? Hopefully we can answer some of these questions here.
Islam has gained thousands of converts in North America, especially among many professional athletes. It is the youngest among major world religions but it is still one of the largest. It is so missionary-minded that it is seeking to convert western countries, not just African and Asian countries, and it claims 1 billion followers in countries around the world. Islam originated in what is now Saudi Arabia. The country which boasts of the most Muslims – 120 million – is Indonesia. There are millions more in parts of Eastern and Western Europe and in the Americas. To put it differently, 1 out of 6 people on earth subscribes to Islam.
A brief history: Mohammed, born in Arabia, city of Mecca, A.D. 570. His parents died when he was young. His uncle, Abu Talid took him in at age nine. He held a strong belief in monotheism (one God), and it is believed he absorbed much of his teaching from the Talmud. Although, it is unlikely he learned about “the one true God” from anyone who understood the Bible. Mohammed developed the Qur’an (Koran) – holy book of Islam. Mohammed was married to a woman 15 years older than himself. She bore him several children. He spent much of his marriage in solitary meditation.
According to Islamic legend, the archangel Gabriel came to Mohammed, 40, in a cave on Mount Hira near Mecca. “Read in the name of thy Lord,” he said, and instructed Mohammed to to teach by the pen as the Lord did.
Because Mohammed couldn’t read or write, the Qur’an is his reciting of revelations given to him. Mohammed preached in the market places in Mecca. He never claimed to be divine but insisted that Allah had called him to be a prophet. He hated the idolatry and immorality of Arabs who lorded their riches over the poor.
On July 16, 622, Mohammed fled to Yathrib, a friendlier city to the north where he became the religious and political leader of the city. Soon Meccans organized an army to destroy Mohammed and his followers. The fight ended in 630, with Islamic forces triumphant. Mohammed destroyed every idol in Mecca’s main temple or, Kaaba, except the Black Stone (a sacred meteorite enshrined there). Mohammed declared Kaaba to be the most holy shrine in Islam. That is where Muslims direct their prayers. During the next 2 years Mohammed strengthened his position as the leading prophet and ruler of Arabia. He united tribes into a vast army to conquer the world for Allah. He died in 632.
The Qur’an is 4/5ths the length of the New Testament. It includes 114 Surahs (chapters). In it, the ideas are credited to God, but dictated by Mohammed from his disciples who heard his oral teachings. Muslims claim that it is copied from an original in Arabic, which is in Heaven.
Here are the six doctrines of Islam which every Muslim is required to believe:
God – There is only one true God, Allah. He is all-seeing, all-knowing, all powerful.
Angels – The chief angel is Gabriel. There are two fallen angels named Shaitan and Jinns, whom are demons.
Scripture – The are four God-inspired books: The Torah, the Zabur ( the Psalms of David), the Injil (Gospel of Jesus), and the Qur’an. But Muslims believe that Jews and Christians corrupted their scriptures. So the Qur’an is Allah’s final word to mankind. It overrules previous writings.
Mohammed – The Qur’an lists 28 prophets. Last and greatest is Mohammed.
The end times – On the last day the dead will be resurrected. Allah will be judge and everyone sent to Heaven (sensual pleasure) or Hell (for those who oppose Allah and his prophet Mohammed).
Predestination (aka kismet) – The doctrine of fate. “If it is Allah’s will.” God has determined what he pleases and no one can change what he has decreed.
How the Qur’an contradicts the Bible:
- God is one, period. Anyone who subscribes partners is committing the sin of Shirk. This is directed against the Trinity and that Jesus is God.
- Allah is transcendent (all powerful) and relatively impersonal. The name “Father” is omitted to avoid the idea of Father and Son, and a personal Father, as the Bible boasts so proudly of.
- The Qur’an denies that Jesus is the Son of God. He is ranked far bellow Mohammed.
- The Qur’an says that Christ never died on the cross. Muslims say Judas died on the cross. Everyone was fooled! (Or it was Simon of Cyrene.) Or Jesus was taken down in a comma and He later revived and traveled elsewhere where He died.
- Surah declares that each person must take care of his or her own sins. Earn salvation by following the 5 Pillars. If he doesn’t make it, that’s his own fault. “Whoever goes astray, he himself bears the whole responsibility of wandering” (Surrah 10:109). Like Judaism, Islam places on each person a terrible burden of responsibility. This is directly contradictory to what God the Father says about our sins. We can’t deal with the punishment of our sin without relying on the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. Jesus’ Gospel is less burdensome than Mohammed’s, and praise the Lord for that!
- In regards to sin, humans are born with hearts that are clean slates. Sins can be overcome by acts of the will. The Bible teaches that we are all born with evil hearts and that only the power of Christ’s death and resurrection can empower us to overcome sin.
- Regarding salvation, Allah doesn’t love those who do wrong, and each person must earn his or her own salvation. The Bible teaches clearly that God loves the world and everyone in it, and that no one can earn their own salvation. Instead, each person must put their trust in His Son Jesus Christ if he or she wants salvation from their sins.
Loving in the West, Oppressive in the East
It is easy for us in America to accept Islam as a peaceful religion. Islam in the west is often identified with love, tolerance and justice. But in the east, Islam is political. Everyone in Islamic societies, including non-Muslims, must conform to Islamic laws, economics, politics and customs or suffer heavy consequences.
Historically, in countries where Islam is strong in political power, people of all rival religions are either wiped out or, in the interest of “tolerance” and “open-mindedness,” permitted to exist as second-class citizens. Christians are persecuted in Muslim countries, though not all. This is part of an effort to force people to submit to Allah. For instance, right now in Sudan, thousands of black Christians are enslaved to Muslim Arabs. The Qur’an gives them the right to make slaves out of “infidels.” The Islamic law is most strict in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. It is more lenient in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.
Muslims in the West enjoy freedom and democracy. They are protected by legal status as the minority.
In 1,500 years of Islamic history, it has yet to be proven that democratic values and Islam can comfortably coexist. Islam is a religion of self-reliance and self-effort.