I have been ministering out on the streets and I am starting to see some patterns. Let me talk about religious people in general before I move on to Muslims. Most other religions in America are trying to incorporate Christianity into their religion in some way. As if Christianity is somehow encapsulated into their world view. I guess it’s not a bad marketing strategy since America is engrained with Christian culture. So you have to evangelize people in America from a Christian perspective. Here are the statements people of other beliefs have used on me so far: “It will help you as a Christian”, “We believe in the bible” and “We have many Christian members”. Let’s turn towards Muslims now. When I approach Muslims I ask the following question, What is the difference between Christianity and Islam? Here is the basic response, “We believe that the Bible and Quran were written by the prophets but we take Quran as the final authority if there is a conflict”. On the surface, this may fly as a congruent statement but anything deeper than skin deep is vastly different. In this quick article, I want to share my initial experience with Muslims and not get into deep theological differences. And I am not going to present some systematic system of how to evangelize Muslims, at least not yet.
The first group of Muslims I ran into were hanging out at Ybor city in Tampa. I was ministering with my brother Paul on a Friday night to all the clubbers, drunks and lost people. So we approached a group of Arab college students, knowing they were Arabs we assumed they were Muslims. I asked a few of them where they were from and if they were Muslims. From there I started to ask them about how they perceived heaven. They stated that it was a scale of good deeds vs bad deeds. Following that, I presented them the concept of satisfaction of God to show a flow in their perception of heaven. In Christianity, it’s known as Satisfaction Theory of Atonement. In short, here is how it sounded like; Alla would not be satisfied with unending human sin and eventually, given enough time, Alla would grow in frustration towards humanity and ultimately would annihilate us. After I finished explaining to them the concept, I saw many confused expressions as if they were not sure how this deals with it. It is possible that this subject is a little complex or out of touch when talking to a group of Muslims in public. I was trying to keep their concentration on the subject at hand but this group had too many irrelevant questions and their response was that Alla is all merciful and that was satisfying enough. I am not sure if I broke any walls with this approach. Now, my brother tried a different tactic and that was from the “Penal Theory of Atonement” point of view. Here is what he asked, “If a man murders another man but then saves 7 men later in life, will the man still have to pay for the murder he did”. That actually put them in a bind. The only response we got was, “it’s complicated”. That seemed to resonate with them, at least with those who did not think about deeper issues in their religion. Eventually, a few of them got tired of the conversation we were trying to have and pushed everyone else to go away from us.
Another person that stands out in my mind was Nina, a Muslim mother from my kid’s school. When I started a conversation with her about the differences between Christianity and Islam she quickly made a statement, “I am a hardcore Muslim”. Her final response was that we just have to live a good life to make it to heaven, basically stating that we are saved by works. The subject that changed her mind is the inerrancy of the Quran. Let’s review it quickly, Muhamad wrote or I should state, spoke the Quran around the 7th century. The canonicity of the bible was established a few centuries before that. Hence, Mohamad was influenced by Christian thought and culture. Mohamad was illiterate and not educated therefore he only passed on the oral traditions of the Quran and only generations later it was written down on paper. They face major issues with this process of canonicity and making it inerrant. Let’s not even get into the fact that he was a self-proclaimed prophet and supposedly, an archangel Gabriel revealed the Quran to him. This is another major issue that Islam can not deal with. The fact is that all prophets claim the same thing, yet Mohamed is singled out to be the highest of all, says the sword. Let’s get back to Quran and Nina, the one point I hit her with is the error about Jesus Christ. Quran states that Jesus was never crucified but even before the Quran was written the historicity of Jesus was established and the historicity of the empty tomb was undisputed. Today, the same story is held by most historians of all religious backgrounds. I stated this to Nina and all she could say was “Well, we just have to live a good life to make it to heaven” and she was no more the hardcore Muslim she claimed to be initially. At that point, our kids were getting out of control and we had to go our separate ways. This is the response I get from most of the Muslims I encountered “We just have to be good”. Without going too deep into theology there are even surface issues they can’t deal with. I guess Quran and Bible can only agree on general revelation yet when it comes to the salvation of humanity, Quran is just absent and nowhere to be found. If we are to go deep into the Islam theology then you would see that Alla is not required to necessarily have an attribute of holiness. I’ll let you think about that one on your own.
It seems to me that most Muslims are ignorant about Christian claims and about historical errors and philosophical fallacies in the Quran. The best solution is quality discourse and openness of mind. I got a few contacts to work on and to see if they are willing to receive the truth. Now, there is that tight cultural wall that one would have to jump over. But as bible states in John 10:27 “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me”. Since they are trying to assume that Christian theology is encompassed in Muslim theology somehow then we should simply help them with that by talking about the differences. By doing this I believe many of them will come to know Christ. So hopefully this helps a few of you out there to start talking to Muslims and get them on the right path in life. There are so many of them that are so close to Christianity that they don’t even realize. I will follow up on this subject as I continue to enlighten local Muslims and advance my ministry towards them.