From a Zoom training session by Bernie Powers on 7/08/21
The Key Question:
A key question for evangelists today is the following: how would Jesus respond to Islam today?
When we think of Islam many words may be conjured up. Terrorist, Isis, refugees, Waleed Aly, Usman Khawajah, Miss Australia 2006…Muslims can be anywhere along the spectrum.
Interesting facts on the Muslim faith:
Muslims make up about 25% of the world’s population.
The biggest populations are found in Indonesia, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh.
In Australia around 600,000 people identify as Muslims, roughly 2.6% of the population and similar to the ratio of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders within the country.
Islam began with the birth of Muhammad in Mecca in 570 AD. About 70% of the world’s oil reserves are found in this area.
The Qu’ran points Muhammad’s DNA to Islam (all verses taken from https://corpus.quran.com/):
Verse 59:7 Yusuf Ali: What Allah has bestowed on His Messenger (and taken away) from the people of the townships,- belongs to Allah,- to His Messenger and to kindred and orphans, the needy and the wayfarer; In order that it may not (merely) make a circuit between the wealthy among you. So take what the Messenger assigns to you, and deny yourselves that which he withholds from you. And fear Allah; for Allah is strict in Punishment.
Verse 33:21 (Yusuf Ali): Ye have indeed in the Messenger of Allah a beautiful pattern (of conduct) for any one whose hope is in Allah and the Final Day, and who engages much in the Praise of Allah.
Verse 4:80 (Yusuf Ali): He who obeys the Messenger, obeys Allah: But if any turn away, We have not sent thee to watch over their (evil deeds).
Muhammad had two faces:
- Face 1 – the peaceful preacher
Muhammad was called as a prophet in 610 AD when he was 40 years old and began his preaching to Meccan idolators. This lead to his persecution and some of his followers were killed by Meccans. Around 45 verses in the Qu’ran relate to this phase of Muhammad’s preaching, including:
Verse 7:199 (Yusuf Ali version): Hold to forgiveness; command what is right; But turn away from the ignorant.
Verse 45:14 (Yusuf Ali): Tell those who believe, to forgive those who do not look forward to the Days of Allah: It is for Him to recompense (for good or ill) each People according to what they have earned.
Verse 3:134 (Yusuf Ali): Those who spend (freely), whether in prosperity, or in adversity; who restrain anger, and pardon (all) men;- for Allah loves those who do good;-
Verse 5:8 (Yusuf Ali): O ye who believe! stand out firmly for Allah, as witnesses to fair dealing, and let not the hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice. Be just: that is next to piety: and fear Allah. For Allah is well-acquainted with all that ye do.
Verse 3:22 (Yusuf Ali): They are those whose works will bear no fruit in this world and in the Hereafter nor will they have anyone to help.
In 622 AD Muhammad moved to Medina. Around 200 followers went with him and during this time he changed. He undertook a reign of terror which brought him wealth and power, assassinating his critics and beheading prisoners of war. In total he made 77 military attacks and moved away from monogamous relations with his wife. He took ten more women as wives including a six year old girl, consummating his marriage with the latter when she was nine. Thousands of people were killed by Muhammad’s troops and his violence was reflected in his teachings:
2. Face 2 – violence
Verse 9:5 (Yusuf Ali): But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the Pagans wherever ye find them, an seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war); but if they repent, and establish regular prayers and practise regular charity, then open the way for them: for Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.
412 verses are found in the Qu’ran which describe, endorse or command fighting or killing. At this state in his life Muhammad ruled over the Arabian Peninsula with around 100 thousand followers.
By the time 1500 AD came around, Islam was the biggest world power the world had ever seen. Militarily, economically and culturally, Islam dominated. However some issues crept in around this time. Lack of education, corruption, in fighting and colonialism led Muslims to become poor and oppressed.
Muslims differ in their world views:
Pure Islam (traditional, orthodox)
Folk Islam (shamanism and animism)
Fundamentalist Islam (with elements of Marxism)
Liberal Islam (secular modernism and feminism)
Sufi Islam (with elements of Monism and Buddhism)
How would Jesus respond to Islam today?
- During his lifetime Jesus faced physically violent enemies and He both exposed and broadcast their threats:
John 7:19, King James version of the Bible:
19 Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law? Why go ye about to kill me?
37 I know that ye are Abraham’s seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you.
We need to take an honest look at Islamic terrorism:
- There have been around 30,000 fatal jihad attacks since September 11th 2001.
- ASIO has a list of 26 terrorist organisations: 25 are Islamic.
- Within Australia there are 40+ convicted terrorists. All are Muslim.
2. Jesus also faced ideological enemies and He stood up to them.
23 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. 24 Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.
46 And he said, Woe unto you also, ye lawyers! for ye lade men with burdens grievous to be borne, and ye yourselves touch not the burdens with one of your fingers.
We are to speak out against critics and to speak up for what we believe in in debates and other platforms.
3. How did Jesus respond to to those who wanted to hear?
He taught in the synagogues on the Sabbath and told His disciples that the fields were ripe for harvest:
Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.
But there is hope regarding efforts today to evangelise Muslims. More have come to Christ in the last 20 years than in the 1400 years prior to that. We are living in a time when the fields are indeed white already to harvest.