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The Religion Of Islam (A survey of the origins and beliefs of Islam)

"THE RELIGION OF ISLAM"

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  • The Origins Of Islam
  • The Qur'an
  • The Tenets Of Islam
  • Is Islam A Religion Of Peace?
  • A Comparison Of Islam And Christianity
  • Responding To Islam
  • For Your Further Study
  • The Origins Of Islam

    INTRODUCTION 1. Recent events in the Middle East and the U.S. has brought the religion of Islam to the public eye and generated much interest... a. The hostage crisis in Iran in the late 1970s


    b. The war with Iraq in the early 1990s
    c. The attack on the World Twin Towers and the Pentagon in 2001
    d. The U.S. war against international terrorism in response
    e. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict over the past fifty years

    2. The increasing popularity of Islam has also caught the attention of
    many…
    a. It is estimated there were 1.6 billion (one-fourth of the world
    population) Muslims in 1998
    b. Many live in the Arab world (120 million)
    c. Many more live in countries such as Iran, India, Pakistan,
    Bangladesh, Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, China, remnants
    of the USSR, Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, and Sudan
    d. It is the world’s fastest growing religion…
    1) It has grown 235% from 1935 to 1983 (“Christianity” – 47%)
    2) An estimated 10 million Muslims reside in the United States
    (1996)
    3) 34,000 Americans have converted to Islam following the events
    of September 11 (the highest rate of conversion since Islam
    arrived in America)
    — Islamic Web (http://islamicweb.com/begin/statistics.htm)

    3. Such growth can be attributed to a number of different factors…
    a. High birth rates
    b. Militant and evangelistic fervor
    c. Independence of Islamic countries
    d. Wealth (oil)
    e. Education in other countries

    4. Christians need to become more familiar with Islam…
    a. To better understand world events, our neighbors, and in some
    cases, our enemies
    b. To be able to share the gospel of Christ with those who in many
    cases know the Bible better than many professing “Christians”

    [In view of the need to understand the religion of Islam, let’s take a
    brief look at the origins of Islam…]

    I. THE BEGINNING OF ISLAM

    A. MUSLIMS POINT TO ABRAHAM, MOSES, DAVID, JESUS…
    1. They believe Abraham (together with his son Ishmael) rebuilt,
    in what is now Mecca, the first temple in the world for the
    worship of a single God (whose name in Arabic is Allah)
    2. That Moses, David, Jesus, and others were prophets sent from
    Allah
    a. That God delivered the Torah to Moses, but it was corrupted
    by the Jews
    b. That God delivered the Gospel to Jesus, but it was distorted
    by the apostles
    3. “Muslims believe in all Messengers of Allah without any
    discrimination among them, as every known nation has a Warner
    or messenger from Allah. They were chosen by God to teach
    humanity and deliver His Divine message. The Qur’an mentions
    the name of some of them including Jews including Adam, Noah,
    Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Job, Moses, Aaron,
    David, Solomon, Elias, Jonah, John the Baptist, and Jesus
    (peace be upon them).” – IslamicWeb.com
    4. “Muslims believe in all original scriptures and revelations of
    Allah, accepting them as the guiding light that the messengers
    received to show their respective people the right path to Him.
    However, some of these books and revelations had been lost or
    corrupted before the revelation of the Qur’an. The only
    authentic and complete book of Allah in existence today is the
    Qur’an, which has been preserved as it was revealed to prophet
    Muhammad through Angel Gabriel in its pristine, pure form.”
    – ibid.

    B. THE ROLE OF MUHAMMAD…
    1. “In Islam there can be no confusion or doubt that Muhammad was
    a man, and only a man, chosen by the Creator to fulfill a
    divine mission as a prophet. Muhammad’s mission was literally
    to ‘read’ what Allah had ordered and ordained, nothing more.
    The Prophet received his revelations from God, sometimes in
    solitude, sometimes in the presence of others. Words flowed
    from his mouth in a way that others described as inspired. This
    was Muhammad’s wahy (divine inspiration or revelation). Muslims
    believe that the Qur’an is the Word of Allah expressed through
    the revelations to the Prophet.” – Introduction To Islam,
    M. Cherif Bassiouni
    2. “The history of the Prophet, his deeds and sayings, were at
    first memorized by his companions and passed on as oral record.
    They were first comprehensively recorded by the historian Ishaq
    ibn Yasar (ca. 768). Later the deeds and sayings of the Prophet
    (the hadith), the circumstances surrounding their occurrence,
    and the evidence of those who first witnessed and reported them
    to others were recorded by a number of scholars.” – ibid.

    [Muslims thus believe that Islam goes back even to Adam, Noah, and
    Abraham. They base this on the proclamations of Muhammad. Because of
    the significance of Muhammad and his successors to Islam, it is
    beneficial to have at least a basic understanding of…]

    II. THE EARLY HISTORY OF ISLAM

    A. THE LIFE OF MUHAMMAD…
    1. 570 – Born into the leading tribe Quraysh of the town of Mecca
    a. Father dies before his birth, his mother dies when he was
    six years old
    b. Raised by his grandfather, then his uncle Abu Talib
    c. Name means “highly praised,” and many have taken name since
    2. As a youth, he travels with trading caravans and is exposed to
    many teachings, including Judaism and Christianity
    3. 595 – At age 25, he marries a widow named Khadija fifteen years
    his senior, who becomes a devoted companion
    4. 610 – Claims to receive the first revelations of the Qur’an from
    the angel Gabriel…
    a. In a cave on the summit of Mt. Hira, where he often went to
    pray and fast
    b. Commissioned to be the Messenger of God, to reveal the word
    of Allah
    c. A process involving a series of revelations lasting the rest
    of his life (23 yrs)
    d. Illiterate, he recited while others wrote words
    5. 612 – Begins teaching in a religiously volatile atmosphere
    a. Pagans influenced by idolatry did not like his monotheism
    b. Jews and Christians balked at his claim of revelations
    c. He converts his wife, his cousin Ali, and friend Abu Bakr
    (successor)
    d. In three years, forty people accept Islam
    e. Relations with his tribe (the Quraysh) become tense;
    persecution of Muslims begins
    f. In 615 he encourages 80 Muslims to emigrate to Abyssinia
    (Ethiopia) for safety
    6. 616 – Persecution of Muslims in Mecca intensifies
    a. A ban against marrying or trading with the Muslims lasts two
    years, causing food shortages
    b. Shortly after the ban is lifted, his beloved wife Khadija
    dies
    c. In 619 his uncle and protector Abu Talib dies, exposing
    Muhammad to great risk

    7. 620 – Arabs from Yathrib (Medina) make contact
    a. The envoys convert to Islam; pledge not to fight the Muslims
    b. Invite Muhammad to come to Yathrib and lead their ummah
    (community)
    8. 621 – The events of al-Israa and al-Miraaj supposedly take
    place
    a. al-Israa – Gabriel takes Muhammad to Jerusalem and back in
    one night
    1) From the Kabah in Mecca to what is now known as The Dome
    Of The Rock
    2) Muhammad meets Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and others
    b. al-Miraaj – Muhammad taken to the heavens to see the signs
    of God
    8. 622 – Muhammad and seventy families flee to Yathrib (Medina)
    (250 miles N)
    a. Leaders of the tribe of Quraysh plot to kill him; Gabriel
    warns Muhammad to flee
    b. Called hijrah (“the Night of Migration”); this marks the
    beginning of the Muslim era
    c. Residents of Mecca view the hijrah as a defection; vow
    revenge
    9. 624 – Two major developments occur
    a. The change of qiblah (direction of prayer); toward Mecca
    instead of Jerusalem
    1) Muhammad tells the congregation to turn around and pray
    toward Mecca
    2) This began to distinguish them from Judaism and
    Christianity
    b. The adoption of ghazu (raid), raiding caravans for booty to
    support families
    1) Muhammad leads a band to intercept the largest Meccan
    caravan for that year
    2) This leads to the Battle of Badr, in which Muslims defeat
    a large Meccan army
    10. 625 – The Battle of Uhud, outside Medina
    a. Army of Mecca defeats the Muslims
    b. Jewish tribes of Qaynuqah and Nadir expelled from Medina for
    collaborating with Mecca
    c. In 626 he began to take several wives; favorite is Aisha
    (daughter of Abu Bakr)
    11. 627 – The Battle of the Trench
    a. Muslims (3000) defeat a much larger Meccan army (10,000)
    b. Followed by the massacre of 700 men of the Jewish tribe of
    Qurayzah, their women and children sold as slaves
    1) For their support of the Meccans against the Muslims,
    perceived as betrayal
    2) It did not lead to hostility toward Jews in general
    12. 628 – Treaty of Hudaybiyyah
    a. Peace is made between Medina and Mecca
    b. Muhammad now the most powerful man in Arabia
    13. 630 – Meccans violate the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah
    a. Muhammad marches on Mecca with a large army of Muslims and
    their allies
    b. Mecca concedes defeat without a fight
    c. Muhammad takes the city without bloodshed; no one forced to
    convert to Islam
    d. He destroys the idols around the Kabah (believed to have
    been built by Adam, rebuilt by Abraham and Ishmael),
    rededicating it to Allah, and gives the old pagan rites of
    the hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca) an Islamic significance
    14. 632 – Muhammad dies; Abu Bakr elected as his khalifah
    (representative)
    a. Virtually all the tribes of Arabia had joined the ummah
    (Muslim community) either as converted Muslims or
    Confederates
    b. Single-handedly, Muhammad had brought peace to war-torn
    Arabia
    — Adapted from the chronology in Islam – A Short History, by
    Karen Armstrong, also helpful was The Biography Of Prophet
    Muhammad, by Dr. A. Zahoor and Dr. Z. Haq

    B. AFTER THE DEATH OF MUHAMMAD…
    1. 632-34 – The caliphate of Abu Bakr, Muhammad’s close friend and
    early follower, whose rule was chiefly preoccupied by the wars
    of riddah (apostasy)
    a. Usamah leads expedition to Syria. Battles of Zu Qissa and
    Abraq. Battles of Buzakha, Zafar and Naqra. Campaigns
    against Bani Tamim and Musailima, the Liar.
    b. Campaigns in Bahrain, Oman, Mahrah Yemen, and Hadramaut.
    Raids in Iraq. Battles of Kazima, Mazar, Walaja, Ulleis,
    Hirah, Anbar, Ein at tamr, Daumatul Jandal and Firaz.
    c. Battles of Basra, Damascus and Ajnadin. Death of Abu Bakr.
    2. 634-44 – The caliphate of Umar ibn al-Katthab, another
    associate of Muhammad who preserved the unity of the ummah by
    extending the ghazu (raids) to neighboring countries
    a. Battles of Namaraq and Saqatia
    b. Battle of Bridge. Battle of Buwaib. Conquest of Damascus.
    Battle of Fahl.
    c. Battle of Yermuk. Battle of Qadsiyia. Conquest of Madain.
    d. Conquest of Syria. Fall of Jerusalem (638). Battle of
    Jalula.
    e. Conquest of Jazirah. Conquest of Khuizistan. Advance into
    Egypt.
    f. Capture of the post of Caesaria in Syria. Conquest of
    Shustar and Jande Sabur in Persia. Battle of Babylon in
    Egypt. Battle of Nihawand. Conquest Of Alexandria in Egypt.
    g. Battle of Rayy in Persia. Conquest of Egypt. Conquest of
    Azarbaijan and Tabaristan (Russia).
    h. Conquest of Fars, Kerman, Sistan, Mekran and Kharan.
    i. Martyrdom of Umar (assassinated by a Persian prisoner of war
    in a mosque of Medina)
    3. 644-56 – The caliphate of Uthman ibn Affan, another associate
    of Muhammad who continued the ghazu
    a. Campaigns in Khurasan, Armeain and Asia Minor.
    b. Campaigns in North Africa. Conquest of the island of
    Cypress.
    c. Campaigns against the Byzantines.
    d. Naval battle of the Masts against the Byzantines.
    e. Discontentment and disaffection against the rule of Uthman.
    f. Martyrdom of Uthman (assassinated by discontented Muslim
    soldiers who proclaim Ali ibn Abi Talib as the new caliph)
    4. 656-660 – The caliphate of Ali ibn Abi Talib, cousin of
    Muhammad. A five year civil war ensues, known as the first
    fitnah (time of temptation)
    a. Battle of the Camel. Aisha, Muhammad’s wife and others lead
    a rebellion against Ali for not avenging Uthman’s murder.
    They are defeated.
    b. In Syria the opposition is led by Uthman’s kinsman Muawiyyah
    ibn Abi Sufyan
    c. An attempt to arbitrate leads to Muawwiyyah deposing Ali and
    proclaiming himself caliph in Jerusalem
    d. Ali is murdered by a Kharajite extremist. Ali’s supporters
    acclaim his son Hasan as the next caliph, but he abdicates
    and Muawiyyah becomes caliph who starts what becomes known
    as the Umayyad dynasty (moving the capital from Medina
    to Damascus)
    — Adapted from the chronology in Islam – A Short History, by
    Karen Armstrong; also from the chronology at Islamic Web

    CONCLUSION

    1. This has been a brief look at the first generation of Muslims in the
    period of Muhammad and the first thirty years after his death

    2. The first four successors to Muhammad are known as the Rashidun
    (“rightly guided” caliphs)…
    a. They were companions of the prophet Muhammad
    b. “…their period of rule would be just as formative as that of the
    Prophet himself. Muslims would define themselves and their
    theology according to the way they assess the turbulent, glorious
    and tragic events of these years.” – Karen Armstrong, ibid.
    — The importance of knowing the history of Muhammad’s life, and that
    of his immediate successors, will become apparent in a later study

    3. In view of such a turbulent and violent history, can Islam truly be a
    religion of peace…?
    a. Its adherents say “Yes!”, and most Muslims today are very peaceful
    b. “The word ‘Islam’ is derived from the same root as the words
    salaam (peace) and silm (the condition of peace). Islam means to
    abandon oneself in peace. A Muslim, consequently, is one who in
    peace gives or surrenders himself or herself to God. Islam means
    accepting the faith freely – heart, mind, and soul. Surrendering
    to Islam, as a result, means giving oneself to belief without
    reservation, accepting the tenets of faith, and following both the
    letter and the spirit of the Qur’an’s prescriptions.”
    – Introduction To Islam, M. Cherif Bassiouni
    c. Yet there are elements of Islam as proclaimed by Muhammad that
    cause many non-Muslims to wonder

    In our next study, we will take a look the holy book of Islam, the
    Qur’an..

    The Qur’an

    INTRODUCTION

    1. In our previous study, we briefly surveyed the origins of the
    religion of Islam…
    a. Muslims believe it is the original religion, going all the way
    back to Adam
    b. They believe Muhammad is the last of a long line of prophets,
    including Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, and Jesus
    c. Due to the efforts of Muhammad and his successors, Islam quickly
    spread from Arabia

    2. In 610 A.D., Muhammad claimed to receive his first revelation from
    the angel Gabriel…
    a. In a cave on the summit of Mt. Hira, where he often went to pray
    and fast
    b. He was commissioned to be the Messenger of God, to reveal the word
    of Allah
    c. A process involving a series of revelations lasting the rest of
    his life (23 yrs)
    d. Illiterate, he recited while others wrote the words

    [The “revelations” of Muhammad are written and preserved in what is
    called the Qur’an (or Koran), the holy book of Islam…]

    I. THE ORIGIN OF THE QUR’AN

    A. AS GIVEN TO MUHAMMAD…
    1. “The Qur’an (literally, recitation) contains 114 chapters
    revealed to the Prophet during a period of 23 years from 609 to
    632, the year of his death.” – Introduction To Islam, M. Cherif
    Bassiouni
    2. “The divine revelations were manifested in divine inspiration,
    which the Prophet sometimes uttered in the presence of his
    companions.” – ibid.

    B. AS PRESERVED FOR MUSLIMS…
    1. “His words were passed on in the oral tradition of his Arabic
    culture.” – ibid.
    2. “They (his adherents) memorized and documented the divine
    messages delivered to Muhammad on makeshift material, such as
    palm leaves, fragments of pottery and, according to traditional
    accounts, on the shoulder-blades of camels.” – Solomon
    Nigosian, Islam: The Way Of Submission
    3. “Some forty years after his death they were transcribed in the
    written form that has been preserved to date without change.”
    – Bassiouni, ibid.

    [To appreciate what the Qur’an means to the average Muslim…]

    II. THE IMPORTANCE OF THE QUR’AN

    A. TO ISLAM IN GENERAL…
    1. “The central article of Islamic faith, from which all else
    flows, is that God (Allah in Arabic) has spoken to mankind in
    the Qur’an.”
    2. “The Qur’an (meaning Recitation) is, for Muslims, the final
    word of God and as such contains His divine message to mankind
    as revealed to His Prophet Muhammed.”
    3. “This divine communication is seen as the final stage in a long
    series of divine messages conducted through specific messengers
    or prophets chosen by God, starting with Adam and ending with
    Muhammad.”
    4. “In each case, however, the message was altered and falsified
    by the perversity of later generations.”
    5. “Finally, God revealed His message in a definitive form to the
    Prophet Muhammad through the archangel Gabriel.”
    6. The Qur’an, then, is the infallible message or word of God.”
    – Nigosian, ibid.

    B. TO MUSLIMS IN PARTICULAR…
    1. “‘You will never understand this power and warmth of religion
    among us [Muslims] until you can feel in your heart the poetry
    and music of the noble Qur’an.'”
    2. “Indeed, the chanting of the Qur’an is the primary music of
    Islam. It is the soul of Islam and is reflected in the speech
    of all faithful Muslims.”
    3. “Muslim piety and even scholarship demand memorization and
    recitation of the Qur’an.”
    4. “Indeed, the divine injunction is ‘Recite the Qur’an’ (Qur’an
    73:20f). Hence, the pledge of true discipleship lies in
    recruiting the memory and the voice.”
    5. “Recitation of the Qur’an in Islam is equivalent to a statement
    of ‘faith’ in Christianity. Hence, the primary sign of a true
    Muslim is recitation of the Qur’an.”
    6. “Tradition ascribes the following sayings to the Prophet
    Muhammad, thus serving as a reinforcement to the habit of
    recitation:
    a. ‘If any man recites the Qur’an and memorizes it, God will
    cause him to enter Paradise and will grant him the right to
    intercede successfully for ten people of his household, all
    of whom deserve Hell Fire.’
    b. ‘The best man among you is he who learns the Qur’an and
    teaches it.’
    c. ‘Learn the Qur’an, recite it and sleep.’
    d. ‘The most excellent act of worship is the reciting of the
    Qur’an.'” – ibid.

    [Without going into great detail, some remarks about…]

    III. THE CONTENT OF THE QUR’AN

    A. THE DIVISIONS OF THE QUR’AN…
    1. “It is…divided into 114 chapters (called suras), arranged in
    order of length from the longest to the shortest, except for a
    short opening prayer in Chapter 1.”
    2. “The head of every chapter in the Qur’an (except the ninth,
    which is considered a continuation of the eighth) is prefixed
    by the following auspicatory statement: ‘In the name of the
    most merciful God.” – ibid.

    B. THE LANGUAGE OF THE QUR’AN…
    1. “…Muslims insist that the Qur’an was revealed in Arabic
    (Qur’an 43:1); this divine origin is, according to pious
    Muslims, inimitable.”
    2. “…Muslims have deprecated, if not prohibited, any attempts to
    render the Qur’an in any other language than Arabic, since to
    translate it is tantamount to profaning the sacred language God
    chose as His instrument of communication.”
    3. “Muslims and even non-Muslim scholars of Islam universally
    acclaim the Qur’an as representative of the purest and most
    elegant forms of the Arabic language.”
    4. “Among adherents, the unexcelled literary style of Qur’anic
    Arabic is one of the proofs of its divine origin (Qur’an 12:2)”
    – ibid.

    C. THE SUBJECT MATTER OF THE QUR’AN…
    1. The first sura (chapter) is a short prayer of 7 verses
    a. Called “Al Fatihah” (The Opening)
    b. Described by Muslims as “the Essence of the (Qur’an)”
    2. The second and longest sura contains 286 verses
    a. Called “Al Baqarah” (The Heifer)
    b. It summarizes much of the whole teaching of the Qur’an
    c. Among its contents:
    1) The story of the creation of man – 2:30-39
    2) The story of Israel – 2:40-86
    3) The story of Moses and Jesus, how revelations given to
    them were corrupted by those who followed them – 2:87-121
    4) The story of Abraham, how he and Ishmael built the Kabah
    (the house of Allah) in the city of Mecca – 2:122-141
    5) How the Kabah was now to be the center of universal
    worship and symbol of Islamic unity – 2:142-167
    6) Ordinances to guide the Islamic ummah (community)
    – 2:168-242
    a) With admonitions to faith, kindness, prayer, charity,
    probity, patience
    b) Pertaining to food and drink, bequests, fasts, jihad,
    wine and gambling, treatment of orphans and women, etc.
    7) The concept of jihad explained in the story of Saul,
    Goliath, and David, in contrast to the story of Jesus
    – 2:243-253
    8) A reinforcement that true virtue lies in practical deeds
    of manliness, kindness, and good faith – 2:254-283
    9) A concluding exhortation to faith, obedience a sense of
    personal responsibility and prayer – 2:284-286
    — From The Holy Qur’an: Text, Translation and Commentary by
    Abdullah Yusuf Ali, p. 16
    3. The remaining suras expound upon similar themes
    a) Often in response to events (such as war and peace) as they
    occurred in the course of the life of Muhammad and the
    Muslim ummah – e.g., Suras 3-5,8-9
    b) Often retelling histories of Biblical characters, supposedly
    correcting corruptions of such stories as held by Jews and
    Christians – e.g., Suras 7,10-15,19-22

    CONCLUSION

    1. It is difficult for non-Muslims to comprehend how the Qur’an is
    venerated by Muslims…
    a. In some countries, children under ten are required to memorize the
    whole book
    b. It has been said that the Qur’an as the Word of God is to Muslims
    what Jesus as the Word of God is to Christians

    2. In this brief introduction and survey of the Qur’an…
    a. My purpose has not been to debunk, point out weaknesses,
    contradictions, etc.
    b. My purpose has been to try to present it as viewed by Muslims
    — In keeping with the principle: Seek first to understand, then to
    be understood

    The better one understands the origin and content of the Qur’an, the
    more effective they will be to share the gospel to Muslims. The same is
    true with understanding some of the beliefs and practices of the Islamic
    faith, which we shall survey in our next study…

    The Tenets Of Islam

    INTRODUCTION

    1. Thus far in this brief introduction to Islam we have reviewed…
    a. The historical origins of Islam in the life of Muhammad and his
    early followers
    b. The origin and importance of the Qur’an in Islam

    2. In this study, we shall summarize some of the main tenets of Islam…
    a. Its beliefs
    b. Its practices

    [We begin this study by reviewing several beliefs as held by Muslims…]

    I. FUNDAMENTAL ARTICLES OF FAITH

    A. GOD…
    1. Islam “is predicated on the belief that there is but one God,
    Allah, the Creator of the universe and of humankind…Mercy and
    compassion are his principal qualities.”
    — Introduction To Islam, M. Cherif Bassiouni
    2. “The first and most essential element in Islamic theology is
    the doctrine of God (Allah).”
    a. “True belief demands an uncompromising monotheism.”
    b. Muhammad “accused Christians of being polytheists because of
    their belief in the Trinity”
    — Solomon Nigosian, Islam: The Way Of Submission
    3. Thus they view Jesus as simply a prophet, not the Son of God
    – cf. Qur’an 4:171; 5:73,75

    B. ANGELS…
    1. “Angels are frequently mentioned in the Qur’an.”
    2. “They are God’s messengers who exercise a potent influence on
    both the life of humans and the life of the universe.”
    3. “…angels are said to act as intermediaries asking God to
    forgive the offenses of believers” – Qur’an 40:7
    4. “At the time of death, the souls of humans are received by
    angels (Qur’an 6:93; 8:52; 16:30; 47:29), who have kept a
    record of their actions (Qur’an 6:61; 43:80; 82:10) and will
    witness for or against them on the Day of Judgment (Qur’an
    21:103; 13:24; 33:43)”
    — Nigosian, ibid.

    C. BOOKS (SCRIPTURES)…
    1. “One of the central doctrines of Islamic faith is belief in all
    of God’s revealed messages, which now consist of four books:
    Torah, Psalms, Gospels, and Qur’an.”
    2. “These four Books are to be regarded as Holy Scriptures, even
    though the three Books preceding the Qur’an include certain
    human imperfections.”
    3. “With the appearance of the Qur’an, the noblest of the Books,
    these earlier Books, it is believed, were abrogated.”
    4. “…it is an article of faith that the purpose of the Qur’an is
    to preserve original divine revelations by restoring the
    eternal truth of God.” (Qur’an 5:44-48)
    5. “Since the Qur’an abrogates all earlier Books, its ordinances
    continue to remain in force until the Day of Judgment…”
    — Nigosian, ibid.

    D. PROPHETS (MESSENGERS)…
    1. “To all peoples and in all ages, God sent prophets or
    messengers to proclaim the Oneness of God and to warn humanity
    of the future judgment (Qur’an 10:47; 16:36).”
    2. The Qur’an mentions many by name: – cf. Qur’an 6:83-90
    a. Most are Old Testament figures (Adam, Enoch, Noah, Lot,
    Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron,
    Elijah, Elisha, David, Solomon, Job, Jonah, Ezra)
    b. Three are from the New Testament (Zacharias, John, Jesus)
    3. “Just as Adam is regarded by Muslims as the first prophet sent
    by God, so Muhammad is the ‘seal of the prophets’ through whom
    God reveals His eternal message in its definitive form (Qur’an
    33:40).”
    4. “Muhammad’s life and death marked the end of prophecy since his
    prophetic mission satisfied for all time any need or demand for
    another prophet.”
    — Nigosian, ibid.

    E. THE DAY OF JUDGMENT…
    1. “The Last Day, or the final Day of Judgment, occupies a very
    important place in Qur’an and in the Hadith.”
    2. “The vivid description of the events leading up to the Last Day
    and the elaborate portrayal of the final judgment are very
    similar to the book of Revelation…” – cf. Qur’an 81:1-14;
    82:1-19; 69:13-37
    3. “…Islamic doctrine associates the coming of ‘The Guided One’
    (Mahdi) with signs that foreshadow the Last Day.”
    a. “Some Sunni Muslims believe that an individual from the
    family of the Prophet Muhammad will appear and reign for
    seven years to make the religion of Islam triumphant
    throughout the world before the end comes.”
    b. “Most Sunni scholars, however, identify this Messianic
    figure with the prophet Jesus.”
    4. “…Muslims believe that on the Last Day, the graves will be
    open, the dead will resurrect, and a judgment will be
    pronounced on every individual according to his or her deeds.”
    — Nigosian, ibid.

    [Taking a look now at some of the religious practices of those who are
    Muslims, Islam is perhaps most noted for what is called…]

    II. THE FIVE PILLARS (RELIGIOUS DUTIES)

    A. THE CREED OF ISLAM (SHEHADA)…
    1. This is the profession of faith in Islam: “There is no other
    god but God; and Muhammad is the Prophet of God” (la ilaha
    ill’Allah, Muhammad rasul Allah)
    2. Professing this creed is sufficient to make one a convert to
    Islam, provided the following conditions are met:
    a. To repeat it aloud
    b. To understand it perfectly
    c. To believe it in the heart
    d. To profess it till death
    e. To recite it correctly
    f. To declare it without hesitation
    — Nigosian, ibid.

    B. PRAYERS (SALAT)…
    1. “The next most important religious duty after the profession of
    faith is prayer.”
    2. “Qur’anic texts prescribe only three prayers a day, but Islamic
    tradition requires five: at dawn, noon, mid-afternoon,
    evening, and night.”
    3. “Muslims may not waive the obligation to pray five times daily
    even if they are sick or on a journey.”
    a. “The sick are to pray in bed and, if necessary, lying down.”
    b. “Travelers are enjoined to pray at dawn, to combine noon
    with mid-afternoon prayer, and evening prayer with prayers
    that follow nightfall, thus praying three times daily.”
    4. “Prayers may be said either in private or in public worship.”
    5. “All public or ritual prayers must be preceded by ritual
    purification both of the individual and the place. Ablutions
    (wudu’ or ghusl) secure bodily purity.”
    a. “…Muslims was their foreheads, hands, and feet before they
    pray…”
    b. “If no water is available, then hands and feet may be wiped
    with fine, clean sand.”
    c. “Muslims pray on a mat or rug in token of purity secured for
    the spot or place.”
    d. “Shoes or sandals are removed before devotees step on their
    prayer rugs.”
    6. “…a worshipper prays facing in the direction of Mecca (qibla)
    a direction which is indicated in mosques by a niche in the
    wall (mihrab).”
    7. “One day a week is set aside as a day of public prayer (Friday)
    …Muslim women do not attend public prayers, although some
    mosques have a room or section set aside for them.”
    8. “Prayer is the heart and essence of Islam. Any Muslim who
    willfully avoids prayer is considered to have forsaken Islam.”
    — Nigosian, ibid.

    C. RELIGIOUS TAX (ZAKAT)…
    1. “The third duties of a Muslim is to give alms to the poor as an
    outward sign of true piety.”
    2. “There are two kinds of almsgiving: legal (zakat) and voluntary
    (sadaqa).”
    3. “In Muslim canon law legal alms are assessed at one-fortieth
    (2.5%) of an individual’s income in kind or money.”
    4. “Legal almsgiving is now more or less defunct, because many
    Muslim states follow western systems of taxation.”
    — Nigosian, ibid.

    D. FASTING (SIYAM)…
    1. “The fourth duty of a Muslim is to fast during the twenty-nine
    days of the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar (the
    month of Ramadan).”
    2. “…during the day Muslims abstain from food, drink, and sexual
    intercourse; but these proscriptions are lifted between sunset
    and sunrise.”
    a. “All adult male and female Muslims fast from sunrise to
    sunset.”
    b. “Only children, the sick, nursing or pregnant mothers, the
    aged and travelers are exempt, though anyone exempted by
    reason of temporary disability or circumstances is expected
    to make up an equivalent period of fasting.”
    c. “The end of each daytime abstention is celebrated joyfully
    after sunset.”
    3. “Those who observe the fast faithfully and in a spirit of
    sincere repentance are assured of a remission of sins.”
    a. “Voluntary fasts at various times during the year other than
    the month of Ramadan are also considered as meritorious
    acts…”
    b. “None, however, other than Ramadan, may last any more than
    three consecutive days.”
    — Nigosian, ibid.

    E. PILGRIMAGE (HAJJ)…
    1. “The fifth prescribed religious duty of every Muslim is to make
    a pilgrimage to the holy shrine of Ka’ba in Mecca.”
    2. “It is an obligation to be fulfilled at least once in a
    lifetime by every adult who is sane, healthy, financially
    capable of supporting his family during his absence, and able
    to underwrite the expenses of the journey.”
    3. “The pilgrimage…can be performed only on specified days (the
    seventh to the tenth) in the last month (Dhu’l Hijja, the
    twelfth month) of the Islamic calendar.”
    4. “A cross-section of Muslims from all walks of life and of
    varying color, race and nationality realize their equality
    before God as they meet on common ground at least once a year.”
    — Nigosian, ibid.

    CONCLUSION

    1. This brief survey certainly does not address all the tenets of
    Islam…
    a. We have not covered many other observances and festivals held by
    Muslims
    b. There are many other aspects of their moral and social behavior
    (e.g., their abstinence from gambling, drinking, and pork, etc.)
    — Our purpose has been to introduce the more noticeable features of
    Islam

    2. There are two aspects of Islam that I would like for us to look at
    more closely…
    a. The meaning and implementation of jihad (holy war)
    b. The concept and political ramifications of ummah (Islamic
    community)

    These I hope to examine more closely in the context of a question that
    people often ask: “Is Islam A Religion Of Peace?”, which we shall do in
    our next study…

    top

    Is Islam A Religion Of Peace?

    INTRODUCTION

    1. The main tenets of Islam can be very appealing…
    a. A call to believe in one God, the God of Abraham, Moses, and Jesus
    b. A call to repentance and submission to the will of God
    c. A call to holy living, involving diligent prayer, fasting,
    charity, and pilgrimage

    2. Yet the early history of Islam and recent events have many people
    wondering…
    a. Is Islam a religion of peace?
    b. Does Islam allow people to live together in harmony regardless of
    race, class or beliefs?

    3. Most Muslims say they are for living together in peace and harmony…
    a. Especially those living in countries where Muslims are in the
    minority
    b. Yet one might ask, “Is this because of Islam, or in spite of
    Islam?”
    c. Would there be calls for peace and tolerance if Muslims were the
    majority?

    [There are several things to consider as one seeks to provide an answer
    to such questions. First, let’s take a look at…]

    I. THE OBJECTIVES OF ISLAM

    A. TO MAKE ISLAM THE UNIVERSAL RELIGION…
    1. Islam is claimed to be the true religion
    a. “The Religion before Allah is Islam (submission to His
    Will)” – Qur’an 3:19
    b. “Generally this statement is understood to mean that the
    true religion in the sight of God is Islam and that Islam
    alone is the way of life acceptable with Allah.” – S. Abul
    A’La Maududi, The Religion Of Truth
    2. It is to be proclaimed over all other religions
    a. “It is He Who hath sent His Messenger with Guidance and the
    Religion of Truth, to proclaim it over all religion, even
    though the Pagans may detest (it).”- Qur’an 9:33
    b. “We have not sent thee but as a universal (Messenger) to
    men, giving them glad tidings, and warning them (against
    sin), but most men understand not.” – Qur’an 34:28
    3. It is meant to be accepted by all
    a. “Allah’s Revelation, through the Holy Prophet, was not meant
    for one faith or tribe, one race or set of people. It was
    meant for all mankind, to whom, if they turn to Allah, it is
    a Message of the glad tidings of His Mercy, and if they do
    not turn to Him, it is a warning against sin the inevitable
    Punishment.” – Abdullah Yusuf Ali commenting on Qur’an 34:28
    b. “But those who reject Faith and belie Our Signs, — they
    shall be Companions of Hellfire.” – Qur’an 5:86
    — Of course, at this point the same can be said of Christianity;
    but there is more…

    B. TO CREATE ISLAMIC POLITICAL STATES…
    1. “…in Islam there is no division or distinction between what
    in the West is called ‘Church and State’. In fact westerners
    refer to the Islamic form of government as a theocracy.”
    2. “Thus contemporary political-religious groups focus on social,
    political, and economic aspects of Muslim societies. They
    oppose the secular state and instead call for the establishment
    of a ‘Muslim State’. ” – Introduction To Islam, M. Cherif
    Bassiouni
    3. “Islamic law differs from western legal systems in at least two
    major respects: scope and value.”
    a. “Western systems of law govern one’s relationship to the
    state and to fellow beings. The scope of Islamic law is much
    wider, since it regulates one’s relationship with God and
    conscience, in addition to the state and to fellow-beings.
    In this sense, Islamic law is a comprehensive code of
    behavior that embraces both private and public acts.”
    b. “Western legal systems adapt to the changing circumstances
    of contemporary society. Islamic law, however, is conceived
    as the immutable embodiment of divine will, imposed by God
    upon Islamic society. The process of interpretation and
    adaptation of Islamic law is held to have been completed in
    the past with the crystallization of the legal manuals.”
    – Solomon Nigosian, Islam: The Way Of Submission
    4. Islam is not content to be practiced as a personal religion;
    its goal is to create…
    a. The ideal ummah (Muslim community)
    b. Political states with all citizens required to submit to
    Shari’ia (Islamic law)
    — It is this aspect of Islam that creates the potential for great
    conflict among nations

    [Christians view the kingdom of God as spiritual (Jn 18:36; Ro 14:17),
    where Christians can live under any form of human government (cf. 1 Pe
    2:12-17). Islam, however, will not be satisfied until all governments
    and peoples conform to Islamic law. Accomplishing this goal
    includes…]

    II. THE CONCEPT OF JIHAD

    A. AS REVEALED IN THE QUR’AN…
    1. The term “jihad”, often translated holy war, literally means
    struggle
    2. When studied chronologically, the Qur’an concept of war appears
    to evolve:
    a. Stage one: no retaliation (in Mecca)
    b. Stage two: defensive fighting permitted (first instruction
    in Medina)
    c. Stage three: defensive fighting commanded (revised
    instruction in Medina)
    d. Stage four: offensive war commanded to kill pagans and
    humble Christians and Jews (after conquering Mecca)
    — cf. Richard P. Bailey, Jihad: The Teaching of Islam From Its
    Primary Sources – The Qur’an and Hadith
    3. This may help us understand why there is diversity of opinions
    among Muslims as to the meaning and application of jihad today;
    especially when the Qur’an contains words as these:
    a. “Let those who would exchange the life of this world for the
    hereafter, fight for the cause of God; whether he dies or
    triumphs, We shall richly reward him. … The true believers
    fight for the cause of God, but the infidels fight for the
    devil. Fight then against the friends of Satan …” (Qur’an
    4:74,76)
    b. “The believers who stay at home — apart from those that
    suffer a grave impediment — are not the equals of those who
    fight for the cause of God with their goods and their
    persons. God has given those that fight with their goods and
    their persons a higher rank than those who stay at home …”
    (Qur’an 4:95,96)
    c. “Slay the idolaters wherever you find them. …lie in ambush
    everywhere for them. If they repent and take to prayer and
    render the alms levy, allow them to go their way …”
    (Qur’an 9:5)
    d. “Those that make war against God and His apostle and spread
    disorder in the land shall be put to death or crucified or
    have their hands and feet cut off on alternate sides, or be
    banished from the land. They shall be held up to shame in
    this world and sternly punished in the hereafter: except
    those that repent before you reduce them …” (Qur’an 5:34,
    35)
    e. “Make war on them until idolatry shall cease and God’s
    religion shall reign supreme” (Qur’an 8:39)
    f. “Prophet, rouse the faithful to arms. If there are twenty
    steadfast men among you, they shall vanquish two hundred;
    and if there are a hundred, they shall rout a thousand
    unbelievers, for they are devoid of understanding.” (Qur’an
    8:65)
    g. “Fight against such of those to whom the Scriptures were
    given…and do not embrace the true Faith, until they pay
    tribute out of hand and are utterly subdued.” (Qur’an 9:29)

    B. AS ESPOUSED BY MUSLIMS TODAY…
    1. “Jihad, as an Islamic concept, can be on a personal level —
    inner struggle against evil within oneself; struggle for
    decency and goodness on the social level; and struggle on the
    battlefield, if and when necessary.” – 1st Islamic Web
    (http://islamicweb.com)
    2. “Islam permits fighting in self-defense, in defense of
    religion, or on the part of those who have been expelled
    forcibly from their homes. It lays down strict rules of combat
    that include prohibitions against harming civilians and against
    destroying crops, trees and livestock. As Muslims see it,
    injustice would be triumphant in the world if good people were
    not prepared to risk their lives in a righteous cause.” – ibid.
    3. There is diversity of opinion among Muslims regarding the
    meaning of jihad
    a. “Some Muslims, like Sufis, promote the conquest of one’s
    self as ‘the greater holy war’, while they disparage
    conflict with unbelievers or infidels as ‘the lesser holy
    war’.”
    b. “Others put forward the argument that fighting, or holy war,
    is justified only in self-defense.”
    c. “Still others, like Zaydi and the Ahmadiyya, reject the idea
    of fighting or holy war and advocate peaceful negotiation as
    the most effective means for upholding the principles of
    Islam.” – Solomon Nigosian, Islam: The Way Of Submission
    d. Of course, there are the extreme Islamic fundamentalists,
    who make it clear that their concept of jihad includes the
    killing of innocent civilians in an offensive war for God

    [When the more radical concept of jihad is applied to accomplish the
    ultimate goal of Islam (creating political Islamic states), there is
    bound to be war. The question as to whether Islam promotes peace can
    also be answered by looking at…]

    III. THE EXPERIENCE OF ISLAM

    A. IN THE EARLY HISTORY OF ISLAM…
    1. Muhammad adopted the Arabic custom of ghazu (raids), raiding
    caravans for booty to support families
    2. After the death of Muhammad, the first four successors to
    Muhammad (known as the Rashidun, the “rightly guided” caliphs)
    were men of war…
    a. Abu Bakr, Muhammad’s close friend and early follower, found
    himself preoccupied with the wars of riddah (apostasy)
    b. Umar ibn al-Katthab, another associate of Muhammad, sought
    to preserve the unity of the ummah by extending the ghazu
    (raids) to neighboring countries
    c. Uthman ibn Affan, another associate of Muhammad, continued
    the ghazu (raids)
    d. Ali ibn Abi Talib, cousin of Muhammad, whose rule was marred
    by a five year civil war known as the first fitnah (time of
    temptation)
    3. For the next 300 years, the history of Islam involves…
    a. Expansion through military conquest
    b. Civil wars as various Islamic factions struggle for power
    c. Assassinations, massacres, executions, inquisitions of
    Muslims by Muslims
    4. “People of the Book” (Jews and Christians) were dhimmis
    (protected subjects)…
    a. Allowed to practice their faith and offered military
    protection
    b. But forced to pay a special tribute (jizya), and unable to
    convert Muslims, marry Muslim women, or hold high government
    office

    B. IN MODERN ISLAMIC NATIONS…
    1. In every country where Shari’ia (Islamic law) is embraced…
    a. At best, non-Muslims face discrimination, social ostracism,
    harassment
    b. At worst, non-Muslims face prison, torture and death for
    practicing their religion
    c. Muslims may not convert to another religion, under the
    threat of death
    2. In recent events, we see terrorism against innocent civilians
    in the name of Islam…
    a. Approved by many Muslims in Islamic nations
    b. Condemned weakly if at all by Muslims in non-Islamic nations

    CONCLUSION

    1. Is Islam a religion of peace? It is difficult to say “yes” in view
    of…
    a. The objectives of Islam, as held all Muslims
    b. The concept of jihad, as espoused by many Muslims
    c. The history of Islam, as manifested in both the past and present

    2. Present-day Muslims appear to be going through an identity crisis…
    a. Moderates seek to redefine Islam (and jihad) as a spiritual
    struggle for peace
    b. Extremists seek to define Islam (and jihad) as a literal struggle
    for peace

    Which view of Islam will prevail remains to be seen. But the true
    religion of peace is that proclaimed by the Prince of Peace and His
    apostles who renounced the use of the sword to further the cause of
    truth…! – cf. Jn 18:36; Ro 12:17-21; 2 Co 10:3-5; Ja 3:17-18; 1 Pe
    2:11-17

    A Comparison Of Islam And Christianity

    INTRODUCTION

    1. In previous studies, we have directed our focus on Islam…
    a. The beginnings and early history of Islam
    b. The origin, importance and content of the Qur’an
    c. The faith and practices of Islam
    d. The issue as to whether Islam is a religion of peace

    2. It may be beneficial to look at Islam in comparison with
    Christianity…
    a. What might they have in common?
    b. How do they differ on fundamental issues?

    [In this study, we shall consider what the two religions believe on
    various issues as we seek to gain a better understanding of Islam. We
    begin with…]

    I. GOD

    A. ISLAM…
    1. Teaches there is one God – Qur’an 3:64
    2. Rejects the concept of the Trinity

    B. CHRISTIANITY…
    1. Teaches there is one God – 1 Co 8:6
    2. Reveals that the Godhead is composed of three distinct
    personalities – Father, Son, Holy Spirit; one in essence and
    substance – cf. Jn 1:1-5; Ph 2:5-8; 2 Jn 9; Mt 28:19

    [Closely related to any concept of God is one’s view regarding…]

    II. JESUS

    A. ISLAM…
    1. Considers Jesus a prophet, like Noah, Abraham, Moses (and
    Muhammad)
    2. Rejects the divinity of Jesus, denies his preexistence – Qur’an
    4:171
    3. Believes in the virgin birth, however
    4. Does not believe Jesus died on the cross nor was raised from
    the dead – Qur’an 4:157

    B. CHRISTIANITY…
    1. Declares that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God – Mt 16:13-18
    2. Teaches the preexistence of Christ – Jn 1:1-5; Co 1:16-17
    3. Proclaims that Jesus died on the cross for our sins, and was
    raised from the dead

    [What one believes regarding Jesus certainly has a bearing on one’s
    understanding of…]

    III. SALVATION

    A. ISLAM…
    1. Salvation comes by works
    2. Personal righteousness is weighed against personal sin, which
    ever is greater determines salvation – Qur’an 23:101-103
    3. A Muslim can be forgiven by repenting of sin – Qur’an 39:53-54
    4. Paradise is assured for one who dies as a martyr for Islam
    5. One becomes a Muslim by confessing “There is no other god but
    God; and Muhammad is the Prophet of God” (la ilaha ill’Allah,
    Muhammad rasul Allah) from the heart

    B. CHRISTIANITY…
    1. Salvation is by grace through an obedient faith – Ep 2:8-9; Ti
    3:4-7
    2. Jesus died on the cross as atonement for our sins – Ro 3:21-26
    3. He is the source of eternal salvation to all who obey Him – He
    5:9
    4. Those whose names are in the Lamb’s book of life will be spared
    condemnation – Re 20:11-15
    5. One becomes a Christian by:
    a. Believing that Christ died for your sins – Jn 8:24; Ro 10:
    9-10
    b. Repenting of your sins – Ac 2:38; 17:30-31
    c. Confessing your faith in Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God
    – Mt 10:32,33; Ro 10:9-10
    d. Being baptized into Christ for the remission of your sins
    – Mt 28:19; Mk 16:16; Ac 2:38; 22:16; Ro 6:3-6; Ga 3:27;
    Co 2:11-13; Ti 3:5; 1 Pe 3:21

    [Doctrines pertaining to salvation are naturally related to views
    pertaining to…]

    IV. ETERNAL JUDGMENT

    A. ISLAM…
    1. Believes in a resurrection of the dead and judgment at the Last
    Day
    2. Paradise for the faithful, served by beautiful virgins – Qur’an
    56:1-38
    3. Hell for unbelievers, with eternal torment – Qur’an 56:39-56

    B. CHRISTIANITY…
    1. Believes in a resurrection of the dead and judgment at the Last
    Day
    2. The eternal City, New Jerusalem, in the new heavens and new
    earth for those whose name is in the Lamb’s book of life
    – Re 21:1-7,9-27; 22:1-5
    3. The lake of fire for the unbelieving and wicked – Re 20:15;
    21:8

    [What one believes about God, Jesus, salvation and the judgment depends
    heavily upon what one considers to be…]

    V. THE WORD OF GOD

    A. ISLAM…
    1. Believes in 4 inspired books – the Torah (5 books of Moses),
    Zabur (the Psalms), lnjil (the Gospel), and Qur’an
    2. The first three have been corrupted; the Qur’an provides the
    final revelation of God’s Word

    B. CHRISTIANITY…
    1. Believes Old and New Testaments contains the revelation of
    God’s Word – 2 Ti 3:16-17
    2. Believes that God’s Word cannot be corrupted, but is preserved
    – 1 Pe 1:23-25; Mt 24:35; Isa 40:8
    3. Believes that revelation of God’s Word is fully and finally
    revealed – 2 Pe 1:3; Ju 3

    [It is of interest to note some of the differences in the two religion
    regarding…]

    VI. PRAYER, FASTING, AND WORSHIP

    A. ISLAM…
    1. Has set times to offer prayers (five times per day)
    2. Has set periods and procedures in which to fast (the month of
    Ramadan)
    3. Places emphasis on ceremonial rituals such as washings, posture
    in prayer

    B. CHRISTIANITY…
    1. Calls for fervent and steadfast prayer, with no set times
    proscribed – 1 Th 5:17; Co 4:2
    2. Has a place for fasting, but left up to the individual – Mt 6:
    16-18; Ac 13:2-3; 14:23
    3. Places emphasis upon the spiritual aspect of worship – Jn 4:
    23-24; Ep 5:19; Co 3:16

    [A major difference between Islam and Christianity in spreading their
    faiths involve the issues of…]

    VII. WAR AND VENGEANCE

    A. ISLAM…
    1. Allows war and vengeance for self-defense against persecution
    2. Allows use of war in promoting the faith against unbelievers
    and idolaters

    B. CHRISTIANITY…
    1. Forbids war and vengeance when persecuted for righteousness’
    sake – Mt 5:10-12,38-48
    2. Forbids use of war to promote the cause of Christ and the
    gospel – 2 Co 10:3-5

    [Some other differences between the two faiths relate to…]

    VIII. MORALS

    A. ISLAM…
    1. Forbids alcohol, gambling – Qur’an 5:93-94
    2. Forbids eating pork
    3. Allows up to four wives, may divorce and remarry them twice
    – Qur’an 2:229

    B. CHRISTIANITY…
    1. Forbids drunkenness, covetousness, and other “works of the
    flesh” – Ga 5:19-21
    2. Allows all foods, if received with thanksgiving and prayer
    – 1 Ti 4:4-5 (with the exception of drinking blood and eating
    animals that were strangled, Ac 15:20,29; 21:25)
    3. Teaches monogamy, divorce only for fornication – Mt 19:9; 1 Co
    7:2

    [Both religions distinguish between the role of men and women, though
    with important differences…]

    IX. TREATMENT OF WOMEN

    A. ISLAM…
    1. Men have more rights than women – Qur’an 2:228
    2. Women do not attend public prayers at the Mosque
    3. A husband may punish a wife by withholding what is due, and
    then beat her if necessary – Qur’an 4:34

    B. CHRISTIANITY…
    1. Men and women are fellow heirs of the grace of life – 1 Pe 3:7;
    Ga 3:28-29
    2. Women do not have leadership roles in the church – 1 Co 11:3;
    14:34-37; 2 Ti 2:11-12
    3. Forbids withholding what is due, and requires treating the wife
    with tenderness and understanding – 1 Co 7:3-5; 1 Pe 3:7

    CONCLUSION

    1. This has not been an exhaustive comparison between Islam and
    Christianity…
    a. It has been a simple examination at some of the more notable
    features of comparison
    b. Undoubtedly, many other similarities and differences could be
    noted

    2. In considering such comparisons, one should note the following
    caveat…
    a. Islam contains many different sects; not all professing Muslims
    might agree with some of the representations of Islamic beliefs
    made in this comparison
    b. In a similar vein, not all professing Christians may agree with
    what has been offered as that which Christianity teaches

    But perhaps this comparison can serve as a starting point in identifying
    key issues for discussions between Muslims and Christians who seek to
    better understand one another’s faiths….

    Responding To Islam

    INTRODUCTION

    1. Our study thus far has mostly focused on learning about Islam…
    a. How it began and its early history
    b. The origin, importance and content of the Qur’an
    c. Some of the faith and practices of Islam
    d. Whether or not Islam is a religion of peace
    e. Some comparisons between what Islam and Christianity teaches

    2. In this final study, I wish to offer some thoughts on responding to
    Islam…
    a. How Christians might prepare themselves for trying to reach
    Muslims with the gospel
    b. What approach to use in seeking to convert a Muslim to Christ

    [There may be many effective ways to evangelize Muslims, but I doubt
    that any will succeed without proper…]

    I. PREPARATION FOR RESPONDING TO ISLAM

    A. REGARDING OUR CONDUCT…
    1. Islam has much to be commended
    a. Submission to what they perceive to be the Will of God
    b. Dedication to what they believe is the Word of God
    c. Personal religious devotion as expressed by prayers,
    fasting, charity
    2. Christians should certainly equal if not surpass the
    righteousness of Muslims
    a. Just as Jesus taught His disciples regarding the scribes and
    Pharisees – cf. Mt 5:20
    b. Our submission to the Will of God should not be any less
    – Mt 6:33
    c. Our dedication to the Word of God should be as fervent – Ja
    1:21; 1 Pe 2:2
    d. Though not as formal or ritualistic…
    1) Our prayers are to be fervent, without ceasing – Co 4:2;
    1 Th 5:17-18
    2) Our fasting to be done to be seen of God, not men – Mt 6:
    16-18
    3) Our charity to be abundant – 1 Ti 6:17-19
    3. We must take the call of pure and nondenominational Christianity
    seriously
    a. Christ prayed for unity of believers, to convince the world
    – Jn 17:20-21
    b. Paul condemned religious division, and so should wee – 1 Co
    1:10-13
    — The call to follow Christ will be hindered if Christians are
    less dedicated to their Lord than Muslims are to their Prophet!

    B. REGARDING OUR ATTITUDES…
    1. Much harm has been done in the name of Christ
    a. As during the Crusades
    b. Or even today, through misrepresentation of beliefs, or
    name-calling (e.g., describing Muslims as “Mohammedans” or
    even worse, “rag heads”)
    2. Paul has listed the proper Christ-like attitudes – 2 Ti 2:
    24-26; Ga 6:1
    a. Must not quarrel, but be gentle
    b. Must be able to teach, patient
    c. Must correct in humility, in a spirit of gentleness
    — The gospel of Christ is more likely to be taken seriously when
    represented by those imbibed with the spirit of Christ!

    [With personal piety and graceful demeanor, the Christian is useful for
    the Master (cf. 2 Ti 2:21). But when there are so many differences
    between Islam and Christianity, what approach does one take? Here are
    some thoughts on the matter…]

    II. APPROACH IN RESPONDING TO ISLAM

    A. WE MUST DEFINE THE FUNDAMENTAL ISSUE…
    1. The crucial difference between Christianity and Islam is this:
    a. The Christian faith is based on the testimony of the
    apostles and first generation Christians
    1) All that we know and believe about Jesus is based upon
    their word – cf. Jn 17:20
    2) This testimony is found in the pages of the New Testament
    – cf. Jn 20:30-31
    b. The Muslim faith is based on the testimony of the Rashidun
    (“rightly guided” caliphs) and first generation Muslims
    1) All that they know and believe about Muhammad is based
    upon their word
    2) They compiled the fragments of the revelations given to
    Muhammad and put them into the Koran forty years after
    his death
    2. Once we admit our respective faiths are based on the testimony
    of these various witnesses…
    a. Our task is to examine their lives and teaching, to
    determine which is the more credible
    b. We must ask what possible motives could any of these
    witnesses have for lying, for someone (if not both) is lying
    3. When we compare the lives and deaths of the apostles and first
    generation Christians with the lives of the first generation
    Muslims, we see a remarkable contrast…
    a. There is no reasonable ulterior motive that one can place on
    the Christians for their willingness to die for their faith;
    they received no power, fame, or money for their testimony
    – this gives weight to their testimony as true
    b. The Muslims, in contrast, spread their religion with the aid
    of a sword; they gained great wealth and power in the process
    – this makes their motives suspect and weakens their
    testimony
    — The fundamental issue is this: Who are we going to believe?
    The apostles or the Rashidun? Who are the more credible
    witnesses?

    B. WE MUST EXAMINE BOTH THE NEW TESTAMENT AND THE QUR’AN…
    1. The key test is to compare the New Testament with the Koran
    a. To see which presents the higher standard of morality
    b. While this is somewhat subjective, I believe the fair minded
    person would agree that the New Testament presents a higher
    standard of morality
    c. The Qur’an reverts to a standard of morality equal to the
    Old Testament (even worse)
    2. It basically comes to this: “faith comes from hearing the Word
    of God” – Ro 10:17
    a. Muslims believes that if one will read the Qur’an
    objectively, it will convince a sincere person that it is
    from God
    b. I contend that if one will read both the New Testament and
    the Qur’an objectively…
    1) A sincere person will see that that New Testament
    presents a higher plane
    2) Supported by the lives and death of witnesses who
    suffered great hardship for no earthly gain
    3. Muslims like to point out slight corruptions of the Bible in
    some manuscripts or translations
    a. Yet God has preserved it sufficiently to fulfill its
    intended task, as promised – Psa 12:6; Mt 24:35; 1 Pe 1:
    23-25
    b. Which is to present to us the true Word of God, Jesus Christ
    – cf. Jn 1:1-5
    4. Yet read the suras of Qur’an chronologically, in the order they
    were “revealed”
    a. One can see the gradual progression of the Islamic religion
    b. “Revelations” were received that changed previous
    “revelations”, to accommodate current circumstances
    — The Word of God (i.e., Bible) has the power to produce faith;
    the challenge for Muslims is to read it objectively, not for
    the purpose of trying to prove it wrong!

    CONCLUSION

    1. There are many side issues that can easily distract efforts to
    evangelize Muslims…
    a. But as with all religious discussions, the key issue is one of
    authority
    b. What is our standard of authority in religion, and what evidence
    supports it as such?
    — Which is why I suggest our focus in approaching Islam be on the
    credibility of those who gave us the Qur’an, and upon the Qur’an
    itself, in comparison with the New Testament and its authors

    2. As stated at the beginning of this study, Christians need to become
    more familiar with Islam…
    a. To better understand world events, our neighbors, and in some
    cases, our enemies
    b. To be able to share the gospel of Christ with those who in many
    cases know the Bible better than many professing “Christians”

    3. I hope this study has helped in that regard, and also to challenge
    Christians…
    a. To consider our own dedication to God
    b. Are Muslims more dedicated to God than we?

    Of course, dedication alone to God does not save, as Paul wrote
    regarding Israel…

    “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that
    they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal
    for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant
    of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own
    righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God.
    For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone
    who believes.” (Ro 10:1-4)

    Can (should) we not say the same for the followers of Islam…?

    top

    For Your Further Study

    For more in-depth studies on the subject of Islam, I found the following
    books helpful:

    Islam – The Way Of Submission (Solomon Nigosian, Crucible, Great
    Britain, 1987, 209 pages)

    (From the cover) In this new study, intended for both Muslim and
    non-Muslim readers, Solomon Nigosian encapsulates and portrays the
    unique spirit of Islam, which pervades every aspect of Muslim life and
    unites millions of individuals all over the world in a common bond.

    Islam – A Short History (Karen Armstrong, Modern Library Chronicles, New
    York, 2000, 222 pages)

    (From the cover) Islam: A Short History begins with the flight of
    Muhammad and his family from Medina in the seventh century and the
    subsequent founding of the first mosques. It recounts the origins of
    the split between Shii and Sunni Muslims, and the emergence of the Sufi
    mysticism; the spread of Islam throughout North Africa, the Levant, and
    Asia; the shattering effect on the Muslim world of the Crusades; the
    flowering of imperial Islam in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries
    into the world’s greatest and most sophisticated power; and the origins
    and impact of revolutionary Islam. It concludes with an assessment of
    Islam today and its challenges.

    A Resource For The Study Of Islam (Ney Rieber, Star Bible Publications,
    Ft. Worth, TX, 1993, 227 pages)

    (From the author’s preface) “I began this study to meet the challenges
    I encountered while teaching the Bible in prisons. As my efforts to
    learn about Islam progressed, I was continually frustrated by a lack of
    detailed and dependable material on the subject. Realizing that others
    might find themselves in the same condition, I determined to make my
    research and some of my conclusions generally available. Materials are
    grouped by categories that I personally found reasonable. I hope that
    you find them logical, also.”

    You might also find these online resources helpful:

    Islamic web sites 1st Islamic Web http://islamicweb.com/ A Brief Chronology Of Muslim History http://islamicweb.com/history/history.htm Biography Of The Prophet Muhammad http://www.cyberistan.org/islamic/muhammad.html Non-Islamic web sites Answering Islam http://answering-islam.org/index.html Behind The Veil http://answering-islam.org/BehindVeil/ Does Islam Promote Peace? http://answering-islam.org.uk/Authors/Sene/peacepromoting.html Jihad http://www.answering-islam.org/Bailey/jihad.html Textual Variants Of The Qur’an http://answering-islam.org/Quran/Text/ The Islamic Agenda And Its Blueprints http://answering-islam.org/Terrorism/agenda.html What Is The Koran? http://www.theatlantic.com/issues/99jan/koran.htm

    3 Comments on The Religion Of Islam (A survey of the origins and beliefs of Islam)

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    2. Islam for Non-Muslims

      by Syed Hasan Akhtar, M. D.
      Austin, Texas
      Member, Islamic Research Foundation International, Inc.
      7102 W. Shefford Lane
      Louisville, KY 40242
      E-Mail: syedhasan14@hotmail.com
      Website: http://www.irfi.org

      ISLAM means…

      The word Islam means submission to the Will of God (Allah). Muslims worship the same one God that Jesus and Moses worshipped. Muslims believe in all the prophets that Christians and Jews believe in. According to the Muslim belief, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him & his progeny) was the last prophet in the long line of prophets which started with Adam and included Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, David, Solomon, Moses, and Jesus (peace be upon them all) to name a few. Muslims regard Prophet Muhammad as a human being with a divine mission. Muslims do not worship Muhammad.

      Thus, Islam is not a new religion. According to the Quran, it was the religion of all the prophets, peace be upon them all. They all submitted to God and they were all Muslims. They all brought the same central message; worship God alone, do not join any other deity with God, and to do good deeds.

      A Brief life history of Prophet Muhammad Peace be upon him & his progeny

      Muhammad was born in Mecca, Arabian Peninsula, in the year 570 AD. At the age of 40 Angel Gabriel brought God’s first revelation to Muhammad and thus bestowed the Prophethood on him.

      At that time, Arabia was pagan. Idolatry, sin and immorality were rampant. Women were ill-treated, sold, and traded freely. Muhammad for the first three years of his ministry preached about one God secretly and thereafter by divine inspiration preached openly. Upon teaching the new faith, he was initially mocked and later on abused, persecuted, and tortured. The first converts were told to emigrate to Abyssinia under the protection of the Christian ruler in order to save their lives and properties.

      In 622 AD, at the age of 52 years, Muhammad left Mecca for Medina, to save his life, because the pagans of Mecca had plotted to kill him. This migration is called Hijra, and this year constitutes the first year of the Muslim calendar. In Medina, Muhammad was welcomed with open arms by its people and amongst them he found many friends and supporters. In subsequent years Muhammad successfully fought off many attacks by the pagans of Mecca who wanted to root out the new religion and kill him. Muhammad defended himself with a small and ill-equipped band of his supporters against overwhelming odds.

      The Meccans had repeatedly violated the peace treaty, so Muhammad and his followers marched towards Mecca, his homeland, and took control without struggle. The people of Mecca offered no resistance. The inhabitants of Mecca feared revenge by Muhammad for the atrocities committed against Muhammad and his followers, but Muhammad declared general amnesty. He gave orders that no one should loot or plunder. Soldiers were forbidden to enter any house that was inhabited. No one was to be attacked unless he refused to lay down arms. The Meccans were moved by Muhammad’s generosity and compassion and hastened in throngs to swear allegiance to him. Kaba, the house of God was cleared of Idols.

      Deputations from all parts of Arabia came to Medina to swear allegiance to the prophet and to hear the Holy Scripture, Quran. The prophet sent emissaries to neighboring countries to convey the message of Islam.

      The prophet, in fact, had become “the ruler of Arabia”. His life style, however, remained as simple as ever. In the tenth year of Hijra, after performing the last pilgrimage, called Hajj, Muhammad addressed his followers who had gathered in the thousands his forthcoming death, and declared that the religion of God was complete. On that occasion, he received the final revelation from God brought by the angel Gabriel. In the same year he died after a brief illness, at the age of 62 years.

      Thus, in a brief span of 22 years Muhammad had abolished idolatry in Arabia and had established God’s religion, Islam. He brought civilization, law, order, and decency to a land and a people known for lawlessness, idolatry and sin.

      Beliefs and Observances

      A Muslim believes in: One supreme deity, (Allah or God), the prophets of God, the angels, and the life after death, the Day of Judgment, the concept of heaven and hell (reward and punishment for our deeds.)

      The Fundamentals of the Beliefs are:

      · Absolute oneness of God. God has no partners, no associates, no helpers, no consorts, and no sons. When He intends a thing He only says “Be” and it is.

      · Justice of God. God is just in His dealings with His creation.

      · Belief in all the prophets of God, including the last prophet, Muhammad, peace be upon them all. Also recognize the Imams (spiritual guides) from among the descendents of the prophet.

      · Day of Judgment. Every soul shall experience death. There will be resurrection and accounting on the Day of Judgment. God will reward, punish or forgive as He sees fit.

      The Obligatory acts of Worship include:

      · Obligatory Prayers (Salat) Five prayers a day; morning, mid-day, afternoon, evening, and night.

      · Fasting (Siyam) in the month of Ramadan.

      · Charity (Zakat, Khums.)

      · Pilgrimage (Hajj) to Kaba (symbolic House of God in Mecca) at least once in life time.

      Dietary restrictions in Islam:

      Certain food items are prohibited to Muslims. These include pork and all pork products, blood from animal source. Similar to Jewish law, only designated animals scarified in the prescribed manner are permitted to be used for food. All forms of intoxicants are prohibited.

      The Holy Quran

      It is called “Koran” (not a preferred term) in English. This is the Holy Scripture, the word of God. The angel Gabriel brought the divine messages to Muhammad. He repeated them to his followers who memorized them and also wrote them down. The divine messages came over a period of 22 years. To date, the Qur’an has remained intact in its original language, Arabic, unaltered by man or time. The Quran contains laws and commandments governing all aspects of the life of a Muslim. It also contains stories about the other prophets. Quran and the traditions or sayings of the prophet constitute the guiding light for the Muslim in his/her day-to-day life.

      The two most often recited collections of verses of the Holy Quran are: (1). The Opening Chapter (Fatihah).

      (2.) The Unity (Ikhlas). Both are listed below.

      Fatihah (Opening Chapter)

      In the name of God, most Gracious, most Merciful.

      Praise be to God, the Cherisher and Sustainer of the worlds;

      Most Gracious, most Merciful;

      Master of the Day of Judgment.

      Thee alone we worship and Thee alone we ask for help.

      Show us the straight way.

      The way of those whom thou has favored.

      The way of those who did not earn Thy anger, and of those who did not go astray.

      Ikhlas (Unity)

      In the name of God, most Gracious, most Merciful.

      Say: He is God, the One and the only.

      God, the Eternal, the Absolute.

      He begetteth not, nor was He begotten;

      And there is none equal unto Him.

      Some of the proofs that the Quran was divinely revealed:

       Muhammad was untutored and unlettered. He could neither read nor write.

       The wisdom, knowledge, and literary eloquence contained in the Quran are beyond the scope of a human being. .

       Statements made in Quran about sciences, such astronomy, physics, biology, etc., reveal knowledge which did not exist with man at the time of Muhammad. Those statements have been verified fourteen hundred years later.

      Many Jewish and Christian scholars at the time of Prophet Muhammad recognized the holy scripture as the word of God and embraced Islam. Since the time of Muhammad, the ranks of Muslims have swelled and the trend continues in all parts of the world. Today, Islam is the faith of one-fifth of the population of the world. Islam offers to mankind dignity, equality, justice.

      God guarantees direct access to Him. Says God in the Quran “I answer the prayer of the supplicant when he calls Me.” (II: 186)

      The authenticity of the Quran is undisputed. The Quran holds a unique place among the scriptures because only one version exists from the very beginning. Many faithful continue the tradition of memorizing the whole scripture, thus guarding it against any change. Even a single letter of the original Arabic text has not been changed.

      The Quran is free from any discrepancies or contradictions. This is particularly amazing, considering the fact that the messages were revealed over a period of twenty two years!

      Western scholars’ reviews on the Qur’an.

      “A work, which calls forth so powerful and seemingly incompatible emotions even in the distant reader — distant as to time, and still more so as mental development. A work which not only conquers the repugnance which he may feel as he begins its perusal, but changes this adverse feeling into astonishment and admiration. Such a work must be a wonderful production of the ‘human mind’ indeed and a problem of the highest interest to every thoughtful observer of the destinies of mankind”

      – Dr. Steingass, in T.P. Hughes’s Dictionary of Islam, p.526.

      “The hypothesis advanced by those who see Muhammad as the author of the Quran is untenable. How a man from being “illiterate” (untutored) could, become the most important author, in terms of literary merit in the whole of Arabia? How could he then pronounce truths of a scientific nature that no other human being could possibly have developed at that time, and all this without once making the slightest error in his pronouncement on the subject?” – Maurice Bucaille, in The Bible, the Quran and Science, p.125.

      Some of the verses in the Quran, which came in response to criticism by the unbelievers and the skeptics, are as follows:

      “And if ye are in doubt concerning that we reveal unto our servant (Muhammad) then produce a Chapter of the like thereof…” (II: 23)

      “And before this, was the book of Moses, as a guide and a mercy. And this Book confirms (it) in Arabic, to admonish the unjust, and as glad tidings for the righteous.” (XLVI: 12)

      The Quran confirms that the earlier prophets, including Moses and Jesus were true messengers of God. The previous scriptures, the Torah and the Bible, in their original form were true messages from God. The true purpose of the Quran is to correct and to restore the message of God in its totality.

      Commandments. This term is not specifically used in the Quran. However, after reading the Quran one learns the injunctions contained therein. A partial list is given below:

      1. Believe in one God.

      2. Honor and respect parents.

      3. Respect the rights of others.

      4. Be generous but do not squander.

      5. Do not kill except for justifiable cause.

      6. Do not commit adultery or fornication.

      7. Safeguard the possessions of orphans.

      8. Deal with others with justice.

      9. Be pure in heart and mind.

      10. Be humble and unpretentious.

      11. Do not backbite.

      12. Do not be a scandalmonger.

      13. Do good deeds for the love of God.

      14. God loves those who forgive.

      Jesus (peace be upon him) in the Quran:

      “And when Jesus, son of Mary, said, ‘O Children of Israel, lo! I am the messenger of Allah unto you, confirming that which was revealed before me and in the Torah, and bringing good tidings of a messenger who cometh after me, whose name is “Praised One”.’ Yet, when he has come unto them with clear proof, they say ‘This is mere magic!'” (LXI: 6)

      “And they say, ‘God had taken unto Himself a son.’ Be He glorified! Nay, but whatsoever is in the Heavens and whatsoever is in the earth is his. All are subservient to Him.” (II: 116)

      “She [Mary] said (to the angel), ‘My lord! How can I have a son when no mortal has touched me?’ He said, ‘So it will be. God createth what He wills. If he decreeth a thing, He only says unto it, “Be,” and it is.'” (III: 47)

      “Lo! The likeness of Jesus with God is as the likeness of Adam. He created him out of dust, then He said unto him, “Be!”, and he was.” (III: 59)

      “When God says, “O Jesus, son of Mary, remember My favor unto thee and unto thy mother. How I strengthened thee with Holy spirit, so thou speakest unto mankind into the cradle as in maturity and how I taught thee the scripture and wisdom and the Torah and the Gospel.” (V: 110)

      The fundamental difference between Islam and Christianity is that Muslims believe Jesus to be a man, a chosen prophet of God, whereas Christians regard Jesus as “son of God.”

      In Qur’an, God strongly rebukes the notion of Trinity.

      What Qur’an says about other prophets:

      “Say: we believe in God and that which is revealed unto us, and that which was revealed unto Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac and Jacob and the tribes, and that which Moses and Jesus received, and which the prophets received from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and unto Him we have surrendered.” (II: 136)

      What Qur’an says about other religions

      God says in the Quran: “Lo! those who believe and those who are Jews and Christians and Sabeans. Whoever believes in God, the last day, and does right, surely their reward is with their Lord, and there shall no fear come unto them. Neither shall they grieve.” (II: 62)

      The Quran and Science

      In the following paragraphs some of the verses from Quran dealing with various scientific facts are presented. For the sake of convenience these are, here, grouped under various headings. For a more detailed study, the reader is referred to the book “The Bible, The Quran and Science” by Dr. Maurice Bucaille.

      About the creation of the heavens and the earth

      “Do not the unbelievers see that the heavens and the earth were joined together, then we clove them asunder and We got every living thing out of the water? Will they not then believe?” (XXI: 30)

      The above verse refers to the “Big Bang theory” of the origin of the universe.

      “Moreover (God) turned to the heaven when it was smoke and said to it and to the earth: Come willing or unwilling; they said: We come in willing obedience.”

      (XLI: 11)

      The word “smoke” here refers to the gaseous material with particles suspended in it. This corresponds to the concept of the “Primary Nebula” put forward by modern science, which consisted of hydrogen and helium.

      “Your Lord is God who created the Heavens and the Earth in six days (periods)…In a day whereof the measure is as a thousand years of your reckoning.” (XXXII: 5)

      The creation of the Heavens and the Earth should not be taken in a literal sense. As explained in the Quran, what we call a day by our earthly yardstick is not the same as a day by the heavenly yardstick. This is consistent with modern scientific knowledge, which estimates the age of the Earth and sun in millions of years.

      “Did you see how God created seven Heavens one above another and made the moon a light therein and made the sun a lamp”. (LXXI: 15-16)

      The number seven is not to be taken literally. It refers to plurality. It is well known to modern science that in the universe there are many galaxies and many suns larger than are ours.

      Astronomy in the Quran

      “God is the one who created the night, the day, the sun, and the moon. Each one is traveling in an orbit with its own motion.” (XXI: 33)

      Modern scientific knowledge has shown that our galaxy revolves on its own axis. The sun is located eccentrically and thus revolves in an orbit around the center of the galaxy. This was not known to man 1400 years ago.

      “Has thou not seen how God merges the night into the day and merges the day into the night.” (XXI: 29)

      “He coils the day upon the night and coils the night upon the day.” (XXXIX: 5)

      Astronauts have described the appearance of the Earth from space. The sun lights up half of the earth facing it and the other half is dark. As the earth rotates on its axis, the darker areas come to light, and the light areas merge into darkness. This is easy to understand at the present time. However 1400 years ago this knowledge did not exist. In those days the earth was mistakenly thought to be flat and at the center of the universe. Modern scientific data are in full agreement with the Qur’anic description.

      “God subjected the sun and the moon, each one runs its course to an appointed term.” (XXXIII: 2)

      Modern science has estimated the age of the sun and has also estimated when it will run out of hydrogen and will cool off. Modern astronomy has discovered that the solar system is moving towards a point in the constellation of Hercules, named the Solar Apex.

      About the expansion of the universe

      “The heaven, we have built it with power. Verily, we are expanding it.” (LI: 47)

      The gradual expansion of the universe is one of the most important discoveries of modern times.

      About the conquest of space

      “O Assembly of Jinn (spirits) and men, if you can penetrate regions of the heavens and the earth, then penetrate them! You will not penetrate them save with a power.” (LV: 33)

      This refers to man’s entry into space and the exploration of the depths of the Earth.

      About the water cycle

      “We sent down water from the sky in measure, and lodged it in the ground. And we certainly are able to withdraw it. Therewith for you, we gave rise to gardens of palm trees and vineyards.” (XXIII: 18-19)

      “Has thou not seen that God sent water down from the sky and let it through sources into the ground? Then He caused sown fields of different colors to grow.” (XXXIX: 21)

      The water cycle as we know today was described 500 years ago. Before that, many people believed that water from the ocean was thrust into soil which formed springs and underground reservoirs. It was also thought that moisture in soil condensed to form water. The Quran gave the correct view in an authoritative way 1400 years go.

      About the mountains

      “We have placed in the ground (mountains) standing firm, so that it does not shake with them.”

      (XXI: 31)

      “Have We not made the earth an expanse and the mountains stakes?”

      (LXXVIII: 6-7)

      According to modern theories, mountains played a key role in the formation of landmass. They also contribute to the stability of the earth’s crust, which is relatively very thin. Beneath the crust are molten rocks at very high temperatures. Qur’anic description and modern scientific discoveries are in agreement.

      About the effects of high altitude

      “Those who God wills to guide, He opens their breasts to Islam. Those who He wills lose their way, He makes their breasts narrow and constricted, as if they were climbing the sky.” (VI: 125)

      This refers to breathlessness or “air hunger”, due to decreased concentration of oxygen in the air at high altitudes, particularly when climbing rapidly over mountains.

      About the origin of life on earth

      “God created every animal from water.” (XXIV: 45)

      “And We got every living thing out of water. Will they then not believe?” (XXI: 30)

      Modern scientific data indicate that life is of aquatic origin and water is the major component of the living cell. Man did not know this in Muhammad’s time.

      About the Vegetable kingdom

      Balance in the vegetable kingdom…

      “The earth…We caused all kinds of things to grow therein in due balance.” (XV: 19)

      Reproduction in the vegetable kingdom…

      “God is the One who sent water down from the sky and thereby, We brought forth pairs of plants each separate from the other.” (XX: 53)

      “Glory be to Him who created components of couples of every kind: of what the ground caused to grow, of themselves (human beings) and of what you do not know”. (XXVI: 36)

      The last two verses above clearly indicate the two sexes, not only in the vegetable kingdom but in other creatures not known to man at the time of Muhammad, but discovered later on.

      About the Animal kingdom

      “God fashioned the two of a pair, the male and a female, from a small quantity of liquid, when it is poured out.” (LIII: 45-46)

      In the above verses the reproduction of the animal kingdom is stated in a general but precise way. The word used in Arabic signifies sperm.

      Animal Communities

      “There is no animal on earth, no bird, which flies on wings that (does not belong to) communities like you. We have not neglected anything in the Book (of decrees.) Then to their Lord they shall be gathered.” (VI: 38)

      Existence of true communities amongst animals, insects, etc., has been established only in the last few decades.

      About formation of milk

      “Verily in your cattle, there is a lesson for you! We give you a pure milk to drink, excellent for its drinkers; (it comes) from what, inside their bodies, is between digested food and blood.” (XVI: 66)

      The above verse describes in general but accurate terms the formation of milk from the product of digested food, which mixes with blood and is carried to the mammary glands which secrete it. Man did not know this at the time of prophet Muhammad. In fact, the discovery of the circulation of blood was made some ten centuries after the verse was revealed.

      About human reproduction

      Quran has made many references to various facts about human reproduction in precise and accurate terms. Professor Keith Moore, who has written a well known book on embryology (study in human reproduction), has verified the accuracy of the Qur’anic statements. Scientific knowledge about human reproduction was incomplete until recent time. Use of the microscope was indispensable for the study of development of a baby in the mother’s womb. The sperm and the ovum (egg) are so small; they are invisible to the naked eye. The microscope was invented in the 17th century AD

      “He makes you in the womb of your mother in stages, one after another, in three veils of darkness.” (XXXIX: 8)

      The three veils of darkness or layers have been identified by biologists as (1) Abdominal wall, (2) Uterine wall, and (3) Amniochorionic membrane (a sac filled with fluid in which the fetus floats).

      “Man We did create from a quintessence of clay, and then We placed as a drop of sperm, in a place of rest, firmly fixed. Then We made the sperm into a clot of congealed blood; then of that clot We made a leech-like lump. Then we made out of that lump bones and clothed the bones with flesh; then We developed out of it another creature. So blessed be God, the best to create.” (XL: 13-14)

      “Then out of a morsel (chewed up) of flesh, partly formed and partly unformed.” (XXII: 5)

      According to Professor Keith Moore, the above is a surprisingly accurate description of human development in the uterus. The word “chewed up flesh” and “leech-like clot,” precisely describe the appearance and characteristics of the developing embryo and of conception.

      “And He made his progeny from a quintessence of the nature of a fluid despised.” (XXXII: 8)

      “Verily We created man from a drop of mingled sperm in order to try him, So, We give him (the gifts) of hearing and sight.” (LXXVI: 2)

      The word ‘despised’ refers to the fact that semen comes out through the same route as does the urine. “Mingled” fluid refers to the various secretions that semen is made up of. Also, semen mixes with fluids in the female genital tract.

      “That He did create in pairs, male and female, from a seed when lodged in its place.” (LIII: 45)

      The above verse refers to the fact that sex is determined at the time of fertilization. This discovery was made only sixty years ago, when sex chromosomes were discovered.

      Thus it is clear that the information in the Quran about human reproduction is of divine origin, and was beyond the knowledge of a human being at the time it was revealed.

      The translation of Qur’anic verses given above is by Doctor Maurice Bucaille
      Schisms in Islam

      Several schools evolved among Muslims. The majority of Muslims belong to the school called Ahlul Sunnah Wal Jamaat. Shiites Muslims constitute the largest minority.

      The former follow the teachings of Prophet Muhammad as interpreted by the four Imams: Imam Abu Hanifa, Imam Ahmed bin Hambal, Imam Malik and Imam Shafi. The latter follow the interpretation of the teachings of Prophet Muhammad, interpreted by Imam Ali and Imams from his family.

      The differences among Muslims occurred after the death of prophet Muhammad, in regard to his succession, and were of a political nature. The Sunni Muslims believe that the succession to Muhammad was left up to the people to decide, whereas the Shiites Muslims believe that Prophet Muhammad had designated his cousin and son-in-law Ali as his successor. Since then kings, rulers, religious leaders have exploited these differences in order to achieve their selfish and material objectives.

      It must be emphasized that he fundamentals of the faith are common to all Muslims. All Muslims believe in One God. All Muslims follow one book, the Qur’an. All Muslims believe in Prophet Muhammad and strive to emulate him. All Muslims agree upon the basic tenets of Islam.

      Islam, a misunderstood religion

      Islam has been largely misunderstood in the west. The reasons can be traced back to the era of the Crusades. Ignorance, fear, suspicion etc. prevented the followers of other major faiths from an objective and impartial study of the religion. The result was that numerous misconceptions, false stories, and biased accounts about Islam came to be accepted as true, even by Christian scholars and historians.

      Some of the misconceptions are given below:

      Misconception #1 – “Allah is God of the Muslims”

      Many Christians believe that Allah is different from the God of Jesus, or Yahweh, described in the Bible. The fact is that Allah (proper name of God), and Yahweh refer to the same one God, the omnipotent and the omnipresent Deity, the creator, sustainer and cherisher of the universe.

      Misconception #2 – “Muslims worship Muhammad”

      It is a common misunderstanding that Muhammad was ‘divine’, and Muslims worship him, like Christians worship Jesus. The truth is that to Muslims Muhammad (peace is upon him) is no more than a messenger of God. He died like any other mortal. Muslims do not believe that Jesus was divine, either. They regard him as a chosen prophet of God.

      Misconception #3 – “Women are given an inferior status in Islam”

      Nothing can be farther from the truth. The status of women in Islam is the most misunderstood aspect of the religion. According to the holy scripture Quran as well as the sayings of the prophet Muhammad, women enjoy an honorable status.

      In the Quran, God says this about Mary, mother of Jesus, “‘Behold! the angel said, ‘God hath chosen Thee above the women of all nations.’ “(III: 42)

      Islam gives women separate legal rights as individuals. Fourteen hundred years ago at the very inception of the Islamic faith, by divine decree women were given the right to divorce, the right to own property in their own name, separate from the husband, the right of inheritance, the right to make a will and many other rights. These rights were not available to women in the western societies until the 19th century.

      Quran says: “Men shall have the benefit of what they achieve and acquire, and women shall have the benefit of that which they similarly achieve and acquire.” (IV: 32)

      A saying of the holy prophet Muhammad is recorded as follows: “If a daughter is born to a person and he brings her up, giving her good education and training in various arts of life, I shall myself stand between him and hellfire.”

      According to another saying of prophet Muhammad: “Paradise lies under the feet of the mother.”

      God says in the Quran about women: “They (women) have rights similar to those against them,…”

      Misconception #4 – “Polygamy is conducive to loose moral behavior”

      Islam permits a man to have more than one wife under certain circumstances, but it does not encourage this practice. In fact polygamy is discouraged.

      The Quran says this about polygamy: “And if you cannot act equitably towards orphans, then marry such women as seem good to you, two, three, and four, but if you may not do justice to them, then marry only one.” (IV: 3)

      Islam permits polygamy as an alternative to situations, which may force a husband to immoral acts. A husband may be forced to seek a second wife in the following situations:

      A. Inability of the wife to bear children and the couple choose not to seek divorce.

      B. Prolonged debilitating illness of the wife, where she is unable to provide sexual satisfaction to her husband, or carry on her responsibilities in relation to the family.

      C. Prolonged physical separation due to war, travel, etc.

      Polygamy was practiced by all the prophets of the old and their followers. In the early days of Islam, as a result of successive wars against pagans, there was a great shortage of men and an over supply of women. Polygamy was the only honorable way to provide the women, particularly the widows and orphans, with food, shelter, and protection. Thus, many moral and social ills were avoided.

      Misconception #5 – “Islam was spread with the sword”

      In the past Muslim kings, or more appropriately, kings who happened to be Muslims, conquered many lands; but a distinction has to be made between lands conquered by these kings and imposition of Islam on its people. Islam does not believe in force, coercion, or lure of material benefits to spreads the faith. Muslims believe that God alone can put faith into the heart of a person.

      God says in the Quran: “If it had been thy Lord’s will, they would all have believed, all who are on earth! Wilt thou then compel mankind against their will to believe?” (X: 99)

      “No soul can believe, except by the will of God…” (X: 100)

      There are several examples of Muslims’ toleration towards other religions. Muslims ruled over Spain for many hundreds of years. The Christians and the Jews there were free to practice their own religion in their places of worship. In fact Christians and Jews are regarded as privileged people and are mentioned with respect in the Quran as “People of the Book”.

      Indonesia ranks as number one in the world for its Muslim population. However, it was never invaded or conquered by any Muslim king or ruler. Other countries like Malaysia have a Muslim majority. There, Islam was spread when the local population came in contact with Muslim traders and merchants from overseas.

      Today Islam is the fastest growing religion in America and elsewhere despite adverse publicity and negative stereotyping. The rich and the poor, intellectuals and the learned continue to enter into the fold of Islam. They encounter rejection, resistance, hostility from their families, friends, and the employers, but it does not deter them in pursuing their faith.

      Misconception #6. “Islam condones terrorism”

      Islam prohibits terrorism, unlawful acquisition of property of others, and causing harm to innocent human beings. Islam rejects all forms of violence.

      The terrorist attack on the world trade center in New York on September 11, 2001 was rejected by Muslims around the world.

      The Quran says: “Any one who has saved one life, has saved the whole mankind, and any one who has killed a human being, except in case of murderer or mischief (maker) on earth, it is as if he has killed the whole mankind.” (V: 32)

      Misconception #7. “Islam rewards suicide with paradise.”

      This misconception is held, unfortunately by a very small Muslim minority. Fortunately the overwhelming majority of Muslims reject this distorted and extreme view. Taking ones own life is no different than taking some one else’s life. It is a major sin which invokes extreme displeasure and wrath of God.

      Misconception #8. “Hijab (the head scarf and the outer covering) is degrading to women.”

      In fact it is a sign of dignity and respect for women. It signifies that the worth and value of a woman is not in her looks and the form. It prevents the woman from being reduced to “sex object.” Islam prohibits women to participate in beauty contests, or to become professional fashion models, or to appear on the cover of magazines for monetary reward.

      Islam requires even men to practice “Hijab” which means to practice modesty in behavior, to cover and protect their private parts, and not gaze at women with lust.

      In conclusion, Islam upholds the moral and ethical teachings of the Abrahamic faiths of Christianity and Judaism. In fact the teachings of the Quran as practiced by Prophet Muhammad require a higher code of moral and ethical conduct. If the Muslims fall short, they are to be blamed, not the religion.

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