10 Things Every Christian Should Know About Islam

Islam is a fast-growing religion, especially in the Western world. Christians increasingly need to be aware of Islam and, most importantly, how to engage its adherents with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Here are 10 things I learned about Islam during my 20 years as a missionary in a Muslim-majority country.

1. “Muslim” and “Arab” are not the same thing.

“Muslim” is a religious term. A Muslim is someone who adheres to the religion of Islam. “Arab,” on the contrary, is an ethno-linguistic term. An Arab is a member of the people group who speak the Arabic language. It is true that Islam originated among the Arabs, and the Qur’an was written in Arabic. However, some Arabs have historically been part of the ancient orthodox Christian churches. On the other hand, Islam spread far beyond the Arab world, and today most Muslims are not Arabs. This includes the Turks, the Kurds, the Iranians, the Pakistanis, other South Asian Muslims, the Malaysians and the Indonesians, almost all of whom are Muslim but none of whom is Arab.

2. The word “Islam” means submission.

A Muslim is someone who submits to God. The Islamic conception of who God is, and how he is to be worshiped and served, is based on the teaching of Muhammad. Thus the Islamic creed is: “There is no God but God, and Muhammad is his prophet.”

3. There are two major denominations of Muslims.

The two major denominations of Muslims are Sunni and Shi’a. Sunnis are the vast majority, at 85 percent of all Muslims. The split occurred in the first generation after Muhammad’s death and was based on a dispute over who should succeed him as leader of the Islamic community.

4. Islamic theology could be summarized as belief in one God, his prophets, his books, his angels, his decrees, and the final judgment.

Islam teaches that humans are born spiritually neutral, perfectly capable of obeying God’s requirements completely, and that they remain this way even after they’ve personally sinned. The need of humanity, therefore, is not salvation but instruction; hence Islam has prophets, but no savior.

5. Islam teaches that Jesus was a great prophet.

Islam affirms that Jesus was born of a virgin, that he lived a sinless life, that he performed mighty miracles, and that he will come again at the end of history. It even calls him a word from God. However, it explicitly denies the deity of Christ and repudiates the title “Son of God” as blasphemous. It also (according to the majority view) denies he died on the cross, claiming that Jesus’ visage was imposed on someone else, who was then crucified, and that Jesus was taken up into heaven without tasting death. Islam explicitly denies the possibility of substitutionary atonement.

6. Islamic practice can be summarized by the Five Pillars of Islam.

These are composed of the confession of faith (“There is no God but God, and Muhammad is his prophet”), prayer (the ritual prayers said in Arabic five times a day while facing Mecca and performing the prescribed set of bowings, kneeling, and prostrations), alms (taken as a tax in some officially Islamic countries), fasting (the lunar month of Ramadan, during which Muslim believers fast during daylight hours but can eat while it’s dark), and pilgrimage (the Hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca, which every Muslim believer should make once in his or her lifetime).

7. The vast majority of Muslims are not terrorists.

In fact, normal Islamic religious law forbids the intentional killing of non-combatants in battle. It also forbids suicide. It’s a small minority view that allows these things, and it’s a small minority who engage in terrorist activities.

8. Muslims can be some of the friendliest, most hospitable people on earth.

They make great neighbors and great friends. No Christian should be afraid to build a relationship with a Muslim.

9. Muslims need salvation through Jesus Christ.

They are lost exactly like any other non-Christian—neither more nor less than anyone else. Furthermore, Muslims do come to faith in Jesus Christ. It usually takes time, and extended exposure to the Word of God and the lives of Christians, but more Muslims are coming to faith today than at any other point in history.

10. God loves Muslims, and so should we—even those few who are our enemies.

We should love them enough to befriend them, love them enough to make them welcome in our homes, and love them enough to share the gospel with them.

This article originally appeared in the Summer 2013 issue of Southern Seminary Magazine.

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    • Moises Dias

      How to explain that terrorist groups (or philo-terrorists) like Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood receive the most support in elections?

      • Rob

        It’s because of disenfranchisement with the status quo and poor leaders. Hamas grew due to the corruption and incompetence of Fatah, and Muslim brotherhood grew due backlash against brutal and corrupt dictators throughout the region.

        Also, Muslim Brotherhood is not a terrorist group. And groups like Hamas have large social programs which helped them gain alot of support. Though they have lost alot of support in the past several years because they could not follow through with alot of their promises.

        The situation is far more complex than your rhetorical question seems to present.

  • Carlos

    I agree with the statement on number seven but not the reason. You must understand that later verses of the Qu’ran abrogate the earlier ones. You must not have read the last surah written down, tawba or chapter nine. It says to (I’m paraphrasing) kill the infidels wherever you find them and to make them submit.

    • Meg

      Carlos is correct from what I’ve read as well. It is surprising that a missionary in a Muslim majority country (the author) would not know about abrogation and that there are Surahs that command them to kill the infidels?

    • http://www.ethnicembraceusa.net Brian Considine

      Carlos, At-Tawba, Sura 9, is an historical call to arms during the Battle of Tabuk not a universal declaration for Muslims to kill all future infidels. It needs to be read in historical context. It would be like insisting that because the Lord commanded the Israelites to kill all the “ites” during a period of Old Testament war, we should go and do likewise today. But your objection is irrelevant to the point being made in #7, because what Zane is saying is based on a predominant Muslim understanding of their own texts. Zane references the “normal Islamic religious law” which is the Sharia, or Sunnah, and Hadith. Together they consist of what Muhammad believed, implied, or tacitly approved. Even than there is disagreement between Sunni and Shia on how they use these materials.

      • Carlos

        Instead of responding to your comments, Brian, I will refer you to another post which express my sentiments exactly.


        In case the link does not work, this is a post a few comments down made by Michael.

        • http://www.ethnicembraceusa.net Brian Considine

          Thanks, Carlos, I read Michael’s posts after I responded to yours and find that he makes the same mistakes that you do. Instead of focusing on an area that is clearly not agreed to by the majority of Muslims, and telling them what they believe, maybe we should focus on finding ways to tell them about the one, Isa al Masih, they should believe in.

          • http://www.frontlineapologetics.com Michael

            Brian let’s simply agree to disagree.

            I believe the context and meaning of surah 9 has been clearly interpreted as mandated violence against those who don’t believe in Allah by Islam’s top scholars and most trusted sources. The battle of Tabouk was simply the catalyst through which surah 9 was given, abrogating previous verses of tolerance. No revelation was given afterward taking it back, and the Muslim’s justification for violence against “those who believe not in Allah” remains. There is no textual evidence that this was a one time historical call to arms. This was an abrogating revelation, which is why Ibn Kathir interpreted it by saying the following, “Fighting the Jews and Christians is legislated because they are idolaters and disbelievers.” Since in the eyes of Muslims, Jews and Christians never cease to be these, the mandate to subdue them with violence and taxation remains. Additionally this isn’t just a surah 9 thing. You still have the problem of Muhammad calling Jews and Christians the “worst of creatures” and other verses condemning unbelievers throughout the Medinian revelations.

            You obviously disagree. Fair enough.

            Also, I have found it more than beneficial to point Muslims back to what their own sources have to say regarding violence against unbelievers. Since most Muslims have a natural distaste for such a doctrine, it opens up very beneficial conversations regarding the difference between Islam & Christianity, and Jesus Christ & Allah. Excellent doorway through which to share the gospel.

            But to each his own. Blessings to you my friend.

            • http://www.ethnicembraceusa.net Brian Considine

              Michael, of course we can agree to disagree. But I’ll make one last point. :-) A single Sura reference that is used as a polemic and applied inconsistently is not a good way to engage Muslims. Why impose on a billion people who do not agree with your position that Islam inherently teaches violence? Without historical and cultural context we do ourselves and others a disservice in our interpretations and dialogue. I don’t think you would accept a Muslim reading Luke 19:27, where Jesus in the parable of the Ten Minas says, “But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them—bring them here and kill them in front of me.’”as a making Christianity inherently violent based on one verse. As you know, throughout history Christians have often gone to the Bible to justify violence, war and oppression. Thankfully we have risen above that, mostly. Maybe we should just accept the fact that a vast majority of Muslims reject violence and see Sura 9 as historical reporting and understand their religion through the 5 Pillars of Islam. However what many Muslims are no longer rejecting is the the Ingel of Isa al Misah and are coming to Christ in record numbers. There are reason they are (see this article at Mission Frontiers: http://www.missionfrontiers.org/issue/article/why-are-muslims-coming-to-jesus-like-never-before#.UdRe3EPc5Ds.facebook) but your polemic isn’t going to serve that movement well. What will is loving Muslims as ourselves and sharing the Bible with them. We do have at least one thing in common – we all need Jesus to save us from ourselves. Shalom.

            • Carlos
  • http://prodigalthought.net Scott

    Thank you for posting #’s 7, 8 and 10. They remain very important as well.

    I think a helpful book worth engaging with is Miroslav Volf’s work, Allah: A Christian Response. And it would be helpful to keep in mind that Volf’s goal isn’t so much to discuss the issue of salvation. Rather he is trying to discuss how the two different monotheistic groups of Christians and Muslims can relate together in our world today. How can we find common ground and live alongside each other in a peaceable way?

  • Steve

    I thought this was A helpful article, a plea for tolerance and understanding, until I saw #9, which smacks of the same old ethnocentric proselytism.

    • Amelia

      What do you mean, Steve? Why is stating that someone needs Jesus (as human being on this planet does) ethnocentric?

    • http://www.covenantcaswell.org John Carpenter

      That likely indicates that you are not a Christian since you’ve apparently rejected the claim that Jesus is the only way to salvation, that all are lost in sin without Him. Your need, then, is not to criticize this article for stating Christian principles but to examine yourself as to whether you are really in the faith (2 Cor. 13:5), about your own spiritual needs.

    • Alien & stranger

      Many years ago, someone ranted at me that it was “unloving” to state that faith in Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation, when I quoted John 14:6. The person mentioned Muslims, so I pointed out that if it is possible for someone to be “saved” by observing the 5 Pillars of Islam, why then did Jesus need to die on the cross for our sins? This person was religious, but had never come to know Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord, so did not understand the Biblical Gospel.

    • http://www.ethnicembraceusa.net Brian Considine

      Certainly an interesting and uninformed comment, Steve. Jesus is not ethnocentric but transcends culture. Proselytism is the initial act of trying to convert someone, not a statement of belief. Wise up.

    • Amber

      Jesus believed himself to be the only way to eternal life, that’s a higher claim than any prophet. Now if a person believed that those who don’t believe in Jesus as the source of eternal life would die in eternal damnation for their sins, I wouldn’t call that intolerant but a cry of love to save them from their own destruction. and so if it turns out to be true it would be far worse not to tell them. I respect Christians for their guts and that they don’t have to share their ideology with people, in fact it’s easier not to but they do it because they actually love people outside of themselves.

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  • Nancy green

    Read Thabiti Anyabwile’s The Gospel for Muslims.

    • Alex

      Great little book by Thabiti, especially the part about hospitality being essential for an effective gospel witness.

  • http://www.frontlineapologetics.com Michael

    Thanks for this article, you bring up many fantastic points Zane!

    Just a few thoughts, regarding point #7. While you may be correct in that violence in Islam is a small minority view, it is not true that Islamic Law forbids violence against “non-combatants”. The only way a Muslim can hold that view is if they are ignorant of the Quranic teaching of abrogation found in Surah 2:106, where it clearly states: “None of Our revelations do We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, but We substitute something better or similar: Knowest thou not that Allah Hath power over all things?”

    In other words, when two or more verses contradict one another, it’s the later teaching that holds the authority. Since Surah 9 is widely considered the last of Muhammad’s revelations, it holds the most weight in regard to how Muslims interact with nonbelievers, specifically Christians and Jews. Here are a couple of examples:

    “O you who believe! Fight those of the unbelievers who are near to you and let them find in you hardness.” Surah 9:123

    “Fight those WHO DO NOT BELIEVE IN ALLAH or in the Last Day and who do not consider unlawful what Allah and His Messenger have made unlawful and who do not adopt the religion of truth from those who were given the Scripture – FIGHT until they give the jizyah willingly while they are humbled.” Surah 9:29

    “…slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them captive and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush, then if they repent and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate, leave their way free to them.” Surah 9:5

    As you can see, not only does “Islamic Law” mandate the killing of unbelievers, it mandates battle against them. All previous verses of tolerance are therefore abrogated for the teaching in Surah 9.

    • http://www.growinginworship.com Paul Ellsworth

      My question, for those more learned than I am; what is the context of these quotations? I could pull out some from the Bible, written to Israel, that would sound quite violent and “terrorist” too. :)

      • http://www.frontlineapologetics.com Michael

        Reading the Quran can be a bit like walking in on a conversation you weren’t originally a part of. There are details missing, the chapters aren’t in chronological order, etc. So in order to find the context, sometimes you have to go to a collection of the sayings and traditions of Muhammad called Hadith literature. You can also consult commentaries for background and interpretation which is called Tafsir literature.

        That being said, speaking broadly, the context for surah 9 which abrogates previous verses of tolerance towards unbelievers can be found by first examining the life of Muhammad. When Islam was but a small and growing movement in Mecca, Muhammad encountered much resistance from those around him. They were polytheists and didn’t take too kindly to some upstart messing with their religious system. Therefore, the earlier “revelations” Muhammad brought were very tolerant and encouraged co-existence between Islam and other religions. It wasn’t until Muhammad moved to Medina and became somewhat of a war lord that he began to become powerful by way of possessions and military. Which is why the later half of his revelations became more self-indulgent, intolerant, and violent. Simply put, he could say and do whatever he wanted to because he didn’t have to fear being killed by polytheists who didn’t like his revelations like the first 12 years of Islam while he was in Mecca. So when he receives revelation to kill those who refuse to believe in Allah, it’s understood that he is abrogating previous verses of tolerance.

        More specifically, the context and interpretation for surah 9 can be found in Tafsir Ibn Kathir (regarding surah 9:30): “Fighting the Jews and Christians is legislated because they are idolaters and disbelievers. Allah the Exalted encourages the believers to fight the polytheists, disbelieving Jews and Christians, who uttered this terrible statement and utter lies against Allah, the Exalted. As for the Jews, they claimed that Uzayr was the son of God, Allah is free of what they attribute to Him. As for the misguidance of Christians over Isa, it is obvious.”

        There is even more background than this, but I think you get the idea.

        As for the argument that people like to use claiming surah 9 is taken out of context, it’s plain language is hard to argue against. The entire surah uses words like “slain, killed, and fight”. As for who to slay, that is also clear since the surah is replete with calls to fight “those who dis-believe, unbelievers, and those who believe not in Allah”.

        Hope this helps a little bit my friend!

        • Jess

          Having read parts of the Qur’an, none of it is plain! It’s written in a very archaic form of Arabic (no longer extant) and in a poetical form that makes it very difficult to read even in a translation. As far as I am aware, this makes any dogmatic assertion that this is what ‘Islam’ teaches difficult. As with any religion, there is a multitude of opinions on the Qur’an depending upon what school you follow.

          • http://www.frontlineapologetics.com Michael

            I know that making such “dogmatic assertions” can be hard for many of us in the west to swallow. I recommend reading the Quran all the way through and grabbing a trustworthy hadith such as Sahih al-Bukhari. See for yourself, it’s more plain than you would think.

            I agree with you, the Quran can be difficult to understand, but you have to remember that’s why they have the hadith and tafsir literature. Surah 9 has already been interpreted by Muhammad himself, as well as by scholars who are considered to be the highest authorities in Islam such as the previously cited Ibn Kathir. So any “dogmatic assertion” as you say, begins and ends with how Muhammad and the rightly guided caliphs interpreted the Quran. Violence against unbelievers isn’t just plain in the Quran, Hadith, and tafsir literature, it’s already interpreted as such for you.

            Furthermore, while the Quran can be difficult to make sense of in parts, Surah 9 is one of the more straightforward and easier sections to make sense of because it’s context and language to “kill those who refuse to believe in Allah” is used repeatedly throughout. Surely, you can see why most of the Muslim world believes violence against unbelievers isn’t just acceptable, but divinely mandated.

            So the only way to believe violence against unbelievers isn’t mandated in Islam, is unless 1. you are a higher authority than Muhammad himself or the most trusted interpretations of his teachings, 2. you are genuinely unaware of what Muhammad and the most trusted scholars and sources in Islam taught (most are), or 3. you are hiding and not being truthful about what Muhammad plainly taught for various reasons. These are the main reasons why some Muslims seem to want peace while others cry out for jihad against unbelievers, and not because “it depends on what school you follow”.

            Also, this isn’t just a matter of a few verses or a Surah. The scope of violence against unbelievers is much more plain once you actually read the entire Quran, hadith, and tafsir sources.

      • RayC

        I think, perhaps, one answer to this question is that we so often forget that God visited judgement on his people of old in very much just the same way as he visited judgement on the sins of the surrounding nations. If you are familiar with the Old Testament I don’t think I need to spell out the seriousness and the horrors of those judgements. I stand to be corrected because this subject is not often discussed, so my understanding may need revising, but the way I read it is that God is actually quite even handed in His dealing of sin, and therefore quite unlike surah 9 as presented here. I think that this is a very important difference. Also, before we throw our hands up in horror as we speak of God’s “violence” and put God in the dock, is it often not the case that we have no idea how sinful we are before God and just how repugnant our sins are to Him? And, again, unlike surah 9, does this not really point us all, Christian and Muslim and others alike, to just how wide and deep God’s mercy is and to our absolute need for grace in Christ? And is it not a major point of the Gospel that judgement, in all its fullness, is deferred until that final Day, and meanwhile there is very Good News to tell – again unlike surah 9? The whole sweep of the Old Testament points to the fact that by obeying the Law is no one, and in no way, saved.

    • buddyglass

      And yet most Muslims don’t interpret it that way. I suspect it’s similar to how many professing Christians ignore or interpret away certain “hard” teachings. While Islam in the abstract may not be a religion of peace, Islam as understood and practiced by most Muslims for the most part is.

      • David

        Not in the Middle East. Not with Hamas, Fatah, Hezbollah, and all their sympathizers. If they are not sympathizers, they are fearful of the Jihadists, and they will not lift their voice against them. It didn’t take too many Nazis to control all of Germany. Let’s look at the real world rather than parsing the finer points of theology.

  • http://stephencswan.wordpress.com/ Steve, Winnipeg, Canada

    Thanks for this.

    Jesus is always a great starting place with Muslims and so #5 is important. I have found from dialogue with a variety of Muslims that when it comes to “that he lived a sinless life” they do mean something different than Christians do.

  • http://www.covenantcaswell.org John Carpenter

    #1. should be “Malays” not “Malaysians”. Malaysian is a citizenship; many Malaysians are Chinese or Indian (many of whom are Christians); Malay is the ethnicity almost all of whom are Muslim.

    #2. should add the word “purports”, a Muslim is someone who “purports” to submit to God by following Mohammed, etc. Real submission to God is by following the Lord Jesus.

    #7. is true but it should also be pointed out that Mohammed himself was a conqueror and has been described by some as a “terrorist”; that Islam spread by force of arms.

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  • http://stevenahill.com Steve Hill

    If there are people who legitimately think Arab is synonymous with Muslim, then welcome to Grand Central Facepalm Station! That’s right up there with the 18% of Americans who think the sun revolves around Earth.

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  • Mag

    Good points, but I thought this was a bit simplistic. I think one of the more interesting points about Islam is that although they acknowledge Jesus, worship a God similar to the God of the Bible, they explicitly deny the Trinity. They actually view Christians as polytheists for worshiping more than one god.

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  • http://heritagegrace.com Emilio

    Recently I wrote to Dr. Mohler on this very thing i.e. Islam. I for one believe the Church is completely dropping the ball on Islam. In light of Muslim Demographics and studies such as Jonathan Last’s recent: “What to Expect When No One’s Expecting: America’s Coming Demographic Disaster”- this is making for a dangerous combination. My desire is to see the major “conferences” of the Church (especially Reformed)T4G; Shepherds, Desiring God; Ligonier, and TGC etc. move now to mobilize the church towards greater awareness and greater education and intentional ministry to Muslims before the demographics turn the tide even further.

    Regarding the post; this was great in terms of bringing the basics of Islam to the fore and making the Christian mind think about the influence of Islam now. However, as some of the above posts have shown, brevity can also be misleading and concise to a fault. I would have liked to have seen more on what the Koran actually teaches about Islam versus what we can expect from nominal Muslims say, in America which will not readily appear as “enemies” though theologically they are constrained to be (Surah 5:51; 8.39)etc.

    James White’s new book on Islam (What Every Christian Needs to Know About Islam) is a must read!

    • Jess

      Excellent point, it’s interesting that ‘fundamentalist’ Islam tends to mostly grow within societies that are poor/suffering injustice. The growth of fanatical Islam is much a produce of social/economic forces as religion. Many Muslims who achieve middle class/professional status take on many of the traits of the culture/country they live in. The path to combat fundamentalism is as much to offer Muslims social mobility and economic prosperity as well as challenging their beliefs.

  • taco

    For good overview you should read James White’s new book “What every Christian needs to know about Islam.” It is an excellent resource.

    • http://veritasdomain.wordpress.com/ SLIMJIM

      I can vouch for James White’s book being very helpful!

  • http://veritasdomain.wordpress.com/ SLIMJIM

    Thank you for this! I pray that God will use this to better equip Christians to understand Muslims so to better witness to them!

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  • Diogenesusa

    Very seldom is the exclusive theology of Islam explained in detail and contrasted with the inclusive theology of Christianity.There is a book at Amazon.com titled;

    Allah of the Qur’an and the God of the Bible “Are They the Same?” The Verdict Is Yours.

    This gives a simple yet indepth comparison of the two theologies. It is available in both hard cover or ebook.

    An informed Christian makes a powerful witness for Christ.

  • http://divinehealingbytorrey.blogspot.com/2010/08/ Timothy Beirne

    Thank you for sharing this excellent article, Zane. Please join me in praying for my Muslim friend from Egypt that God will open his eyes to the Good News of Isa al Masih (Jesus, the Messiah). His name is Saleh and he’s a good man (which is what his name means). Please also pray for his family that God will bless them and pour out His Spirit on them.

  • Lois

    I appreciate these bullet points. Succinct. What I don’t understand is why these non-terrorists Muslims do not speak out more vigorously against these radical extremists. It is a conundrum. What you post is not new information but hearing from the other side would be helpful.

  • Chris Schwenk

    For anyone who wants to learn how to engage and evangelize Muslims, I must highly recommend learning from Georges Houssney, a Lebanese Christian who has been engaging Muslims his entire life. He heads an organization called Horizons International, which is one of the few organizations training people to reach the Gospel without compromising the truth and exclusivity of the Gospel. Much of the ministry to Muslims is focused on the “Insider Movement”, Common Ground, Building Bridges, the Camel Method – all of these compromise the Gospel, and don’t tell Muslims the truth about the lies of Islam.

    He has a one week training that goes on in Michigan during the month of June and a four week program in his home of Boulder, CO at the end of July and into August. I just got back from the one week “Engaging Islam” training in MI just a couple weeks ago and it was great.

    Here is his organization’s website: http://www.horizonsinternational.org/

    Also check out his book, “Engaging Islam”


    Also check out http://www.biblicalmissiology.org for great articles written by various people primarily focused on evangelism and missions to Muslim peoples.

  • http://hamilim.netronix.com Mike Tisdell

    The word “Muslim” is derived from the common Semitic root S-L-M which means “completed, whole, intact.” The idea that Muslim means “submitted” has recently become popular in some missiological circles, especially those promoting “Insider” methodologies, but it is an idea that is not supported by evidence. More importantly, the etymology of a word does not dictate its common understanding in any language. Etymology may give us hints about how a word is understood but understanding current usage is far more important when trying to understand the meaning of a word in contemporary culture. In our contemporary cultures, “Muslim” doesn’t mean “completed” or “submitted”; it is understood only as a designation for those who follow the Islamic religion. This is important to recognize because some missionaries today are suggesting that the name “Muslim” is religiously neutral and can be used as a designation for genuine followers of Christ.

    Note: I have no reason to believe that Zane Pratt has accepted these “Insider” ideas about Muslims coming into the kingdom of God but the claim about the meaning of “Muslim” repeated in his article likely originated with other missionaries who do. While Zane was inaccurate on this point, overall, his article is an excellent presentation of the realities of Islam.

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  • jer

    No, God doesn’t not love Muslim, God loves individuals, specifically His children, which could include former Muslims, His love is extended to all nationalities, ethnicities, races; but again not the entire group head for head, His love is for particular individual in any group. “Jacob have I loved, Esau have I hated …”

  • Michael

    I do not think we should begin with Jesus Christ when seeking to reach Muslims. I think we should go to the prophets and to Isaiah. Muslims are completely ignorant of these writings thought they acknowledge that there were many prophets in Old Testament times.

    We can show Muslims how Isaiah condemned Israel in really hard words – this should make them puzzled and curious. We can skim through the passages of condemnation – there are many verses in Isaiah. We should ask them why this condemnation and look at the reasons that Isaiah gives. From these we can go back to the creation narrative and see where this all began and show how Israel messed up time and again in her history and brought judgement (and exile) on themselves. Try and lead them to consider the question, “If Israel made such an unholy mess of their relationship with God can we with any honesty say we can do or be any better? If this is the judgement of a holy God then how can any of us escape?” The depressing part of the story of Israel should elicit some sympathy in any religious person.

    Having laid this foundation of knowledge of God’s judgement on Israel it is time to ask if there was any hope for Israel. At this point it would be helpful to introduce the solution that Isaiah looks forward to – God himself would graciously intervene to deal with the way he has been affronted by his rebellious people. This would prepare the way for moving to the other prophets and their future expectation and then on to the gospels and Jesus Christ. The Old Testament is an indispensable prologue to understanding the gospels and helps make sense of the person and ministry of Jesus.

    Years ago I had the opportunity, as a student, to visit Muslim families living in my neighbourhood and share the gospel with them. I was young in the faith and knew little about Islam. I did not realize the need to prepare a foundation for the message concerning Christ. I have been challenged to consider becoming involved again as a large mosque is being planned in my neighbourhood – at the opposite side of the world to the area I mentioned earlier – and this will provide an opportunity to witness to Muslims moving into the area.

    • Michael

      I am a different Michael from the commentator on July 5

  • Andrew

    I still find it difficult to read the article when you say “God loves Muslims”. Love is such a vast misunderstood and widely used coin word. They use it to make themselves and other people feel good about a horrible situation. I guess I’m just not sure what you mean by that since scripture is clear that God hates those who do iniquity (Psalm 5:5; which is a clear reference to those who are outside of His grace). Christ clearly put it this way, “whoever is not with me is against me”( Matt 12:30). There is still no reconciliation between the unbeliever and God, as well, there is great animosity.

    • anonymous

      good point andrew,

      looking at a quick sweep across the bible, there are some evidence to say that god desires everyone to be saved from the extensiveness of the gospel but it is dangerous to equate this to the love god has for the church

    • Jamin

      Andrew, I certainly agree that God’s love, in context of the covenant community, is set free in a completely different way. In salvation God’s love redeems us, restores us into right relationship and is manifested in our lives by our own outpouring of that same love. But at the same time Romans makes it very clear that God’s love has been demonstrated in the lives of those IN the covenant community in that ‘while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

      It does cheapen salvation to understand the phrase “God loves Muslims” as meaning Muslims are saved, or that His love works in them in exactly the same way His love works in the Church. But woven throughout the narrative of the Bible is God patiently extending His love to man, sinners to the core, so that those who would believe by grace, might be saved.

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  • Joemel

    Acts 2:38 (KJV)Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

    John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

    Revelation 1:8 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.

    (we must be repent, baptized and (Holy Ghost) Jesus Christ will show the way… for sure He will do miracle in your life…)

  • Noah

    What is the “pilgrimage” in #6, they explain why they do it, but not what they do.

  • Will

    Also, neither Moslem nor Arab equals “turban-wearing”. Especially here in NYC, where conservative 90% of the bearded, turbaned men on the streets are Sikhs…. but still get periodically attacked in the War On Turbans.

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  • David

    I believe this article is slightly over-optimistic with regard to the Muslim faith, at least in the Middle East. Though it may be true that not all Muslims are aligned with the Jihadists, far too many nominal Muslims sympathize with the Jihadists. In addition, virulent Anti-Jewish sentiments are broadcast daily in all the Muslim countries surrounding Israel. Still, the author is right that we are to love even our enemies for Jesus’ sake and seek to show them God’s love expressed in Jesus’ substitutionary death on the cross.

    • Michael in Dublin

      I think we need to recognize that the zealous Christian is eager to keep the two great commandments: wholehearted love of God and a compassionate love for the neighbor and also enemies. They are eager to be Christlike. The problem is nominal Christianity.

      In contrast the zealous Muslim is eager to follow the Quran and the example of Muhammad – and we all know where this leads.

      Secular society does not distinguish between the effects of being a zealous Christian and those of being a zealous Muslim. They fail (deliberately?) to notice the different outcomes of these two theologies or the contrast between zealous and nominal followers.

      The nominal Muslim may not be interested in becoming like Muhammad but for the zealous (orthodox) Muslim this is a serious deviation from Islam. Their theology and its logical consequences is the problem. It is Islam and those who follow it zealously – including nominals in their communities who give in to peer pressure – that presents the bigger problem in the world. However it is the failure of Christians – nominal Christianity – that is the bigger problem in the world.

      The real challenge is to present the kind of “Christian apology” to Muslims that tells them what God reveals in the Scriptures (Old and New Testaments): about his person and character; about our origins, rebellion and hostility towards him; about his gracious intervention and reconciliation of his enemies with himself through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. They need to see the contrast between what God has revealed in Jesus Christ with what Muhammad has given them about Allah.

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  • Pastor’s Wife

    Great article. I am a pastor’s wife and one of my closest friends is my next door neighbor who happens to be Muslim. Could not ask for better neighbors! Their family is so kind, generous, and loving. It’s a shame that so many in America view Muslims the way they do. Our views have been obscured by media and the few who have done terrible acts. Christians are viewed in a similar light often times- crazy people doing crazy things in Jesus’ name gives us a bad wrap. Jesus is all about love. He loves our Muslim neighbors just as much as he loves us. I’m thankful to have these friends in my life and hope that they, along with everyone else I know, are able to see the undeniably amazing grace and love of Jesus Christ through our words and actions.

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  • http://abqoasis.yolasite.com/ Nancy Stouter

    Yes, violence and hatred exists. But the gospel is not shared with those you hate and despise.
    Since I have reached out to get to know foreign born people here in the US who were raised as Muslims, the vast majority are not violent.
    They seek to live right and want honorable friends. I can love them- so I know that God does. And God wants them to know Him better.
    Step past the fear and excuses. Care for a stranger. Learn how. Here in Albuquerque we offer training so you can understand both your neighbor and God’s desires for them.

  • http://www.islamicmsg.org Islmaicmsg
  • http://trinities.org/blog Dale Tuggy

    Here is something else worth knowing about, and discussing with your Muslim friends: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Az3y-QFG0Bc&feature=youtu.be