A Thumbnail Sketch of Islam for Christians - page 7


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From the Winter 2014 issue of Knowing & Doing:  

A Thumbnail Sketch of Islam for Christians

by Gerald R. McDermott, Ph.D.
Jordan Trexler Professor of Religion, Roanoke College

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  More militant Muslims feel the West is out to destroy Islam (despite the fact that the past few major American interventions abroad, in Kuwait, Somalia, the Balkans, Afghanistan, and even Iraq were conducted in defense of Muslims). As a Western-educated Muslim engineer once asked me (before Pakistan’s acquisition of nuclear weapons), “Why does the United States permit India, Israel, and South Africa to have nuclear weapons, but not Iraq or Pakistan?” Many Muslims believe there is a Zionist-American conspiracy to reduce the Muslim nations to their former colonial status under Western control. They see Israel as America’s client state and believe that the American government is controlled by Jewish lobbies. As the war in Iraq progressed, more and more Muslims concluded the United States was out to control oil and the Middle East.
  Yet even these suspicions fall far short of the venomous hatred required to teach young men to fly jetliners as missiles into skyscrapers in order to purposely destroy thousands of innocent people. The genesis of this barbarity lies not with Islam but Islamism, the term some scholars use to distinguish mainstream Islam from the twentieth-century terroristic ideology first seen in the Ayatollah Khomeini. Islamism is preferable to the popular term Islamic fundamentalism, which was coined by the Western media to denigrate conservative Christians in the West by associating them with Islamic violence. Jeffrey Goldberg described in the New York Times Magazine the way that Islamism takes boys as young as eight years old out of dire poverty and puts them in special schools, isolated from all secular learning, art, music, women, and mainstream Islam. There they are indoctrinated, day in and day out in the theology, ethics, and worldview of violent Islamism. There is no consideration of different views of the Qur’an, only simple rote learning of prescribed views, and liberal doses of venomous anti-Semitism. A worldwide terroristic network gives these boys an education at no cost to them—paying for their room and board and clothing, and their teachers and buildings, and then giving them jobs in organizations like the Taliban.

Your Muslim Neighbor

  Perhaps you have a Muslim neighbor or coworker. How do you share the love of Christ with him or her? Here are a few ideas.
  1. Show real interest in their faith. Study it. This article is a good start.
  2. Be slow to criticize. A recent Muslim convert to Christian faith in India said, “Don’t discuss any of the faults or weaknesses of Islam or speak ill of Muhammad or the Qur’an. Speak to the Muslim of Jesus and his stories and miracles.” You may be surprised to learn that Jesus is the most developed character in the Qur’an. As we saw earlier,  Muslims typically have huge respect for Jesus. Build upon this respect, and ask your friend if she’d like to read the injil (gospel) that tells more about Jesus.
   3. Muslims have a very difficult time understanding how Jesus could be God. It seems polytheistic, or even blasphemous to say God has a Son. As I have suggested, most Muslims think this would require God to have engaged in sex, which is unthinkable. But you can explain that Christians agree that God did not engage in sex, that even the Qur’an calls Jesus the Messiah (Qur’an 3:45), and the Gospels say Jesus is Lord and claimed the authority to forgive sins. Only God has that authority.

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