And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 18, Number
In this issue:
As we continue to examine Islam and contrast it with the Bible, we must spend time looking at the Five Pillars of Islam. They are "the framework of the Muslim life", and identify the points of unity and solidarity among all the Muslim sects (A Brief Illustrated Guide to Understanding Islam, "What Are the Five Pillars of Islam?"). "The pillars are non-negotiable. They are not to be questioned, but believed to the utmost. To criticize the five pillars is, in fact, paramount to treason, perceived as heresy and blasphemy, punishable in many Muslim countries by imprisonment or worse" (Unveiling Islam, Caner and Caner, 122).
The Five Pillars of Islam are 1) The Testimony of Faith (Shahada), 2) Prayer (Salat), 3) Giving (Zakat), 4) Fasting (Sawm), and 5) The Pilgrimage (Hajj).
1) The Testimony of Faith (Shahada). This is the basic creed of Islam. To become a Muslim one recites this profession in the Arabic language. The testimony, which consists of two parts, states, "There is no God but Allah. Muhammad is the messenger of Allah." The first part testifies "You believe that there is only One God, Allah. He alone is the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe. He alone is without partners, children or associates. He is the Most Merciful, the Most Wise, and the Most Just" (Shahada Video, islambulletin.org). The second part testifies your agreement that Muhammad is the servant and messenger of Allah. One must recite the Shahada in Arabic to become Muslim. After doing so, the aforementioned Muslim website says, "Congratulations! you are now Muslim" (Ibid).
The gospel of Jesus Christ teaches, "If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation" (Rom. 10:9-10). Without such a confession of faith one is not prepared to be baptized into Christ (Acts 8:36-38). The Islamic Shahada confesses a false God and a false prophet, which does nothing to bring one closer to the true God and His blessings (cf. Deut. 13:1-5).
2) Prayer (Salat). “Once a person takes shahadah, he is a Muslim and is required to do five times a day prescribed prayers" ("Introduction to Islamic Believes and Practices," StudyIslam.com). These are obligatory prayers: "Prayer is a duty incumbent on the faithful, to be conducted at the appointed hours." (Qur'an 4:103)
Muslim prayers are highly ritualized, with the same prayer said five times a day. There should be an ablution (cleansing) before each prayer, and certain prayer positions are assumed. Plus, the Muslim prays toward Mecca, Saudi Arabia (toward the Sacred Mosque that is located there, Qur'an 2:144). Friday is the holy day when Muslims assemble at the mosque (literally, "place of prostration") for prayers (Qur'an 62:9).
By contrast, the gospel does not teach formalized prayers, and condemns those of vain repetition (Matt. 6:5-8). The Christian prayers "without ceasing", meaning we are to continually pray our expressions of adoration, confessions, thanksgiving and supplications to God (1 Thess. 5:17; Acts 2:42). Looking to a place for prayer is not required, since our Father who hears us is in heaven (Matt. 6:9).
3) Almsgiving (Zakat). This is a purity and alms-tax, an annual payment of "2.5% of their incomes, after excluding outstanding debts...personal expenses, family expenses, due credits, taxes, etc." (Unveiling Islam, 125). The Qur'an says the righteous are those who “attend to their prayers, pay the alms-tax and firmly believe in the life to come” (Qur’an 31:4). In Islamic countries, the government collects the Zakat. It is considered a system of economic equalization (or, as Caner and Caner describe it, "Socialism in Religious Dress", Ibid).
The New Testament commands each Christian to give on the first day of the week "as he may prosper" (1 Cor. 16:2). Our giving is to be bountiful, with purpose of heart and cheer, not compulsion (2 Cor. 9:6-7). Tithing (a tenth) was a statute of the Law of Moses and is never used to describe the Christian's giving. Our giving is not regulated by nor distributed by the state. It is regulated by the apostolic authority in the Scriptures, and directed by the oversight of elders in the local church (Acts 4:32-37; 6:1-6; Acts 11:29-30; 1 Pet. 5:2-3).
4) Fasting (Sawm). Fasting is an annual, lifelong requirement for every Muslim. The month of Ramadan (ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar) is when it is said the first verses of the Qur'an were revealed to Muhammad and when he had his first important military success (Battle of Badr, 624 AD). “During Ramadan, Muslims are obliged to refrain from eating, smoking, drinking, and the pleasures of the flesh from first light to last light unless they are ill, traveling, nursing, or pregnant” (Understanding Islam, Thomas W. Lippman, 19).
In the Bible, fasting is not an end in itself, but expressed affliction of the soul and/or contrition toward God. It was not done to be seen by others (Matt. 6:16-18). There is no fast commanded in the gospel of Christ (See "Fasting: A Biblical Perspective," bibleanswer.com).
5) Pilgrimage (Hajj). An annual pilgrimage "to Makkah (Mecca, jrp) is an obligation once in a lifetime for those who are physically and financially able to perform it. About two million people go to Makkah each year from every corner of the globe" (A Brief Illustrated Guide to Understanding Islam). The Hajj is not the trip to get to Mecca, it is a five-day ritualistic journey in and around Mecca. It includes animal sacrifices (in honor of Abraham and Ishmael) and prayers at the Great Mosque before and around the Kab'ah (a stone structure containing an eight-inch Black Stone, probably a meteorite, Muslims believe is a remnant of a house of worship built by Abraham (Unveiling Islam, 128-130). This is the place Muslims pray toward every day.
The Christian's pilgrimage is to heaven, not to Mecca (Heb. 11:13-16; 1 Pet. 2:11). Worship of the true God is not defined by a location on a map (cf. Jno. 4:20-24). All such mystical rituals are of men, not the living God (cf. Col. 2:18-23).
You can find the complete outline of this sermon
plus PowerPoint and MP3 Audio files
Scripture Reading: Psalm 119:89-96
1. v. 65-72: Develops Character (66)
2. v. 73-80: Separates Reverent from Proud (78-79)
3. v. 81-88: Enables Endurance (86)
4. v. 89-96: Service to God (91, 94)
5. v. 97-104: Wisdom to Avoid Sin (98)
6. v. 105-112: Light (105)
7. v. 113-120: Security (114)
8. v. 121-128: Supreme Standard of Authority (124-128)
9. v. 129-136: Satisfies the Soul (131)
10. v. 137-144: Reveals the Nature of God (137)
11. v. 145-152: God is Near (151)
12. v. 153-160: Deliverance (153)
13. v. 161-168: Incites Praise of God (164)
14. v. 169-176: God’s Helping Hand (173)
You can find the complete outline of this sermon
plus PowerPoint and MP3 Audio files
Scripture Reading: John 12:31-36
1. Day and
night (light and darkness) are used as in the Scriptures as metaphors for
good and evil, truth and error, moral and immoral conduct, 1 Thess. 5:5;
I. THINGS IN THE NIGHT.
Spiritual Weariness, 1 Thess. 5:7; Jno. 9:4; Psa. 119:55.
II. WAKE UP!
A. Out of
Immoral Conduct, Eph. 5:12-16.
Our country is headed toward local, state and national elections this November. Character qualities like integrity, honesty and a fear of God are crucial components to be looked for as we decide who will be our next leaders.
I have been shocked, saddened and sickened by the sinful antics that pass for debate and campaigning among the Republican presidential candidates. Profane jokes, degrading insults and duplicitous rhetoric top the list of the disgusting attempts to defeat and destroy their rivals. On the Democrat side there is the cloud of scandal and looming possibility of criminal indictment of the front-runner for breaching national security when she was Secretary of State.
To America's shame, righteousness is in short supply (Prov. 14:34). On the one hand, we could say the candidates reflect the attitudes, demeanor and conduct of average Americans; there is certainly plenty of unrighteousness in our society. On the other hand, we understand people will incorporate the attitudes and tendencies they see in their leaders. It matters what kind of character the next president sets before the country and the world, for he or she will certainly influence the thinking and conduct of the nation. Policy and personal honor and integrity ought to be of paramount concern as traits in those who lead us (2 Cor. 8:21).
One brother aptly observed, "A nation is only as “great” as it is righteous and only as righteous as the individuals who comprise it. I must first allow MY OWN HEART to be transformed by the word of God before I can be “righteous” and help make a nation great. Expecting politicians to bring about a national reformation by means of social and economic policies in the absence of true righteousness on an individual level is a pipe dream! Without the firm decision of individual citizens to live with right attitudes and right actions based on what God expects and has revealed in His word, America will never be great!" (Jerry Falk, Preacher Talk, March 3, 2016)
Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated. 03/09/2016
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA