Contending for the Faith
Examining Islam (A 7-Part Series)
By Joe R. Price
Examining Islam (Part
Joe R. Price
September 11, 2001 raised Americans’ interest in the religion of Islam. With the recent growth and threat of ISIS there continues to be special concern about radical Islamic terrorism. Recent acts of terror in Paris, France and San Bernardino, CA reaffirm our need to understand Islam.
Christians should know the facts about Islam. We are not interested in hyperbole, exaggeration or false descriptions of the Muslim religion. Neither are we interested in “sugar-coating” the realities of this faith. The facts speak for themselves.
In 2013 there were about 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide, or 23% of the world’s population (Pew Research Center). Muslim sources put the number at slightly over 2 billion, estimating that at current growth rates (almost 3% per year), 1 in 3 people on earth will be Muslim by 2030 (Muslim Population in the World).
Christians welcome examination and are willing to contend for the faith which has been delivered by God to His saints (Jude 3). We use the inspired Scriptures to test and confirm all truth, including whether Islam is from God or men (Jno. 16:13; Acts 17:11-12; 2 Cor. 13:5; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; 1 Jno. 4:1, 6). We are ready to give a reason for our hope by the same word of God (1 Pet. 3:15). Indeed, any belief system that withdraws from open and critical examination of its doctrines and practices shows its inherent weakness (1 Pet. 3:15; 2 Cor. 13:5; 1 Thess. 5:21).
Jesus said, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (Jno. 8:32). Are Muslims willing to have their faith examined in the light of the word of Christ (whom they say was a prophet of Allah)?
What is Islam?
“Islam, began in Mecca, claimed to be the revelation of God (Allah) through the angel Gabriel to a man named Muhammad. Muhammad was born in approximately AD 570-571” (A Brief History of Islam, Ney Reiber).
Almost 600 years before the religion of Islam was founded by Muhammad in the 7th century, the Spirit of God inspired Christ’s apostle to write, “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed” (Gal. 1:8). Islam’s founding happened far too late to hold any credibility as being from the true God and His Son Jesus Christ. What they say an angel said does not harmonize with what Christ’s apostles taught.
Terminology of Islam
To understand Islam it is helpful to spend some time learning some of its vocabulary.
Islam. Its root word means “peace” (salaam); It means “submission to the One God”. “It means submission to the One God, as well as to live in harmony with other people and with the environment. A Muslim is, therefore, any person, anywhere in the world, whose obedience, allegiance and loyalty are to God, Lord of the Universe, and who strives to live in accordance with God’s laws.” (StudyIslam.com)
Muslim. ”A submitting one”; adherents of Islam are called “Muslims” (Moslems). “A Muslim is one who believes that ‘there is no god but God, and Muhammad is the messenger of God” (Understanding Islam, Thomas W. Lippman, 1)
Allah. ”Allah is the name of the One and Only God”. Muslims say this is the name of the God of Abraham:
“Allah is the name of the One and Only God. Allah has ninety-nine beautiful names, such as: The Gracious, the Merciful, the Beneficent, The Creator, The All-Knowing, the All-Wise, The Lord of the Universe, The First, The Last, and many others.
“He is the Creator of all human beings. He is the God for the Christians, the Jews, the Muslims, the Buddhists, the Hindus and all others, including those who do not even believe in Him. Muslims worship God, and put their trust in Him as they seek His help and guidance” (Introduction to Islam, StudyIslam.com, link now broken).
We must be clear here that the Allah of Islam is not the God of the Bible. Islam rejects the Biblical teaching of the Godhead (Father, Son, Holy Spirit), viewing it as polytheism (Jno. 1:1; Heb. 1:1-3; Col. 1:15-18). One cannot be a Muslim and believe in the God revealed in the Bible.
Muhammad (ca. 570-632). To Muslims, he is the last Prophet and final Messenger of Allah. Born Ubu’l Kassim in Mecca, he was orphaned early in life and reared, first by his grandfather, then his uncle. Though illiterate, he became a successful businessman, self-made philosopher, religious, political and military leader, and the husband to 12 or 13 wives. At 42 years of age (AD 612) he claimed the angel Gabriel visited him in a cave and commissioned him as the Messenger of Allah and the last Prophet of Allah to mankind.
Qur’an (Koran). The word means “recite” or “recitation”. Allah is said to have given this holy book to Muhammad who recited it. “The Koran purports to be the successor and continuation of the Jewish and Christian scriptures, incorporating their teachings in a new revelation that gave the people of Arabia an enlightenment previously accorded only to Jews and Christians” (Lippman, 57). The Qur’an is taken as the literal word of Allah. None of it was written or compiled during Muhammad’s lifetime. Its standard text has existed unchanged in its original idiom since the 7th century. Islam says the Qur’an can only be accurately learned and read in Arabic, and that it is “a book in which all things are written” (50:4). By contrast, the apostles of Jesus were guided into “all truth” by the Holy Spirit (Jno. 16:13). The New Testament of Christ gives us all things necessary for life and godliness, equipping us for every good work (2 Pet. 1:3; 2 Tim. 3:16-17). Furthermore, the gospel of Christ is for the whole world, Jews, Arabs and every other race (Mk. 16:15; Rom. 1:16). The Qur’an preaches a message far different from Christ’s apostles, and thus brings a curse, not a blessing (Gal. 1:8-10). The Qur’an is the work of man, not God.
Examining Islam (Part
Joe R. Price
To understand Islam it is helpful to understand the sources of authority to which Muslims appeal as authoritative.
The Quran and the Sunnah are accepted by Muslims as Islam’s two sources of theology, rules of conduct and social action. The Quran is thought to be the exact words of God, with “its authenticity, originality and totality” intact (Introducing Islam, Dr. Ahmad H. Sakr). “The Prophet’s sayings and deeds are called Sunnah” (Ibid). The Sunnah is regarded as “the verbally transmitted record of the teachings, deeds and sayings, silent permissions of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, as well as various reports about Muhammad’s companions. Along with the Quran, the Sunna makes up the two primary sources of Islamic theology and law. The Sunna is also defined as ‘a path, a way, a manner of life’; ‘all the traditions and practices’ of the Islamic prophet that ‘have become models to be followed’ by Muslims” (Wikipedia).
By way of contrast, Jesus Christ has “all authority” in heaven and on earth (Matt. 28:18). His words, including those of His verbally-inspired apostles and prophets, constitute binding authority upon all people, both Christians and non-Christians alike (Matt. 28:19; Jno. 12:48; 1 Cor. 14:37; Gal. 1:8-9; 2 Tim. 3:16-17). There is no comingling of the authority of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the authority of the Islamic faith. Their sources of authority contradict each other and deny the validity of the other.
Islam rejects the authority of Jesus Christ and demands allegiance to the teachings of false prophets. The problem is that Islam came onto the world scene seven centuries too late. It is a usurpation of the authority of Christ.
What is Shiria?
We hear much these days about Sharia law. In Islam, “Sharia is the code of law based on religious principles that regulates the conduct of all Muslims, a code that covers social, commercial, domestic, criminal, and political affairs as well as devotional practices” (Understanding Islam, Thomas W. Lippman, 71). In contrast to the Quran and the Hadith (the reported sayings, deeds and approvals of Mohammad), sharia is primarily a moral code, made by men and which evolves with history (Ibid).
Lippman explains, “Technically, sharia is not the same thing as jurisprudence, legal science, or legislation, but as a practical matter the word is commonly used even by Muslims as synonymous with Islamic law, including all its sources and its subsidiary principles and disciplines. A call for a return to sharia means a return to a legal system based on the Koran” (Ibid).
Islam is a theocracy that combines religion with civil authority and rule. British author V. S. Naipaul observed, “No religion is more worldly than Islam. In spite of its political incapacity, no religion keeps men’s eyes more fixed on the way the world is run” (Among the Believers: An Islamic Journey, Naipaul, 178; cited by Robert Spencer, Islam Unveiled, 94). As an example, Spencer notes that Naipaul “cites a typical article from the Tehran Times, published in the early days of Khomeini’s revolution: ‘Politics is combined with religion in Islam’” (Ibid). The article recommended a political partnership between Iran and Pakistan “with reformation and adaptation to present needs in full conformity with the holy Koran and Sunnah,” concluding that “Iran and Pakistan with a clarity of purpose and sincere cooperation can establish the truth that Islam is a complete way of life” (Ibid).
By way of contrast, the gospel of Jesus Christ is “a complete way of life” (Lk. 9:23; Gal. 2:20). Christians are indeed to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness”, but not through a ruling theocracy with political and commercial agendas (Matt. 6:33). Jesus said His kingdom is “not of this world”, thereby rejecting a governing theocracy on earth (Jno. 18:36). His kingdom “does not come with observation”, but is “within you” through conversion of the heart and a life of faithful discipleship (Lk. 17:20-21).
One True Religion
There is no doubt that Christianity and Islam are mutually exclusive. Any ecumenical effort between the two dilutes the gospel of Christ and destroys true faith in Jesus as the Son of God.
The Quran says “the religion in the sight of Allah is Islam” (3:19). In it Allah says, “If anyone desires a religion other than Islam (Submission to Allah), Never will it be accepted of him; and in the Hereafter he will be in the ranks of those who have lost (their selves in the hell fire)” (3:85).
Islam rejects Jesus as the Son of God. “Islam rejects the notion that Jesus, peace be upon him, was the son of God. Rather it honors and respects him as one of the great messengers and prophets of Allah to the Children of Israel” (“How to Become a Muslim,” The Islamic Bulletin). The Quran says, “Those who say, ‘The Lord of Mercy has begotten a son,’ preach a monstrous falsehood, at which the very heavens might crack, the earth break asunder and the mountains crumble to dust. That they should ascribe a son to the Merciful, when it does not become Him to beget one!” (19:88)
“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” is the confession Peter made and that was accepted by Jesus (Matt. 16:16-17). Islam says “peace be upon” Jesus as a prophet of Allah, yet it denies the identity He professed as a “monstrous falsehood”! Islam cannot have it both ways. Of course, that is the nature of false teaching. It contradicts the truth while it boldly asserts that its error is true.
Jesus is “the way, the truth and the life”, the only way to the Father (Jno. 14:6). Only in Jesus is there salvation from sin (Acts 4:12). Islam corrupts divine authority, denies the Son of God and refuses the “one faith” that identifies Him and that came from Him (Eph. 4:4-6).
Examining Islam (Part
Joe R. Price
The Origin and Spread of Islam
One of the oft-repeated traits of false religions is the elevation of men to unwarranted and undeserved positions of renown. Skeptics say that is what Christians have done with Jesus of Nazareth. Yet, the dramatic and unalterable distinction between those who exalt themselves as God’s great men and Jesus the Christ is the evidence that supports His claim of deity (His miracles, His resurrection, fulfilled prophecies, eyewitness testimony and even the testimony of His enemies). Jesus did not receive honor from men (Jno. 5:41). He received honor from the Father who sent Him (Jno. 8:54). Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is to be honored just as the Father is honored (Jno. 5:23). Islam does not honor Jesus as the Son of God. Therefore, it does not honor the Father, either. It is a false religion.
Islam honors the man Muhammad above Jesus Christ. Although Muslims deny deifying Muhammad, they hold him in the highest esteem, believing him to be God’s last prophet and final messenger.
“Muhammad is the very last Prophet of God to mankind. He is the final Messenger of God. His message was and is still to all of mankind, including the Christians and Jews. He was sent to those religious people to inform them about the true mission of Jesus, Moses, David, Jacob, Isaac and Abraham.
“Muhammad is considered to be the summation and culmination of all the prophets and messengers that came before him. He purified the previous messages from adulteration and completed the Message of God for all humanity. He was entrusted with the power of explaining, interpreting and living the teachings of the Qur’an (Introducing Islam, Dr. Sakr).
“The Prophet Muhammad is also reported to have said in a number of authentic hadiths, ‘I am the leader of all the children of Adam, but I do not boast about it.’ Allah gave Prophet Muhammad this honor. All prophets were sent to their own people for their own time (Ibrahim 14:4), but Prophet Muhammad was sent to all people for all time to come (Saba’ 34:28). Allah sent Prophet Muhammad as a mercy to all the worlds (Al-Anbiyaa’ 21:107); no other prophet or messenger of Allah was given this honor” (Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi, Superiority of Prophet Muhammad, IslamOnline.net).
In sharp contrast to the gospel of Jesus, Islam holds Muhammad to be the last, best spokesman of God. The divine voice that spoke from the cloud when Jesus was transfigured said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him”, should have said, “Hear Muhammad” (Matt. 17:5)! The inspired author of Hebrews said, “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds” (Heb. 1:1-2). Jesus the Son of God, not Muhammad, is God’s spokesman in this last age.
Muslims also believe Muhammad “is the supreme model of human behavior” for mankind (Islam Unveiled, Robert Spencer, p. 39).
“It may be said that the Prophet is the perfection of both the norm of the human collectivity and the human individual, the norm for the perfect social life and the prototype and guide for the individual’s spiritual life....He is both the Universal Man and the Primordial Man (al-insan al-qadim). As the Universal Man he is the totality of which we are a part and in which we participate; as the Primordial Man he is that original perfection with respect to which we are a decadence and a falling away” (Ideals and Realities of Islam, Seyyed Hossein Nasr, 82; cited by Spencer, p. 39).
Spencer continues, “The great Persian poet and revered Muslim saint Sheikh Moslehedin Saadi Shirazi summed it up succinctly, addressing Muhammad: ‘In short, after God you are the greatest’” (Quoted in And Muhammad Is His Messenger” The Veneration of the Prophet in Islamic Piety, Annemarie Schimmel, p. 5; cited by Spencer, 39-40). “The Prophet himself had said in his last sermon: ‘I leave behind me two things, the Quran and my example the sunnah [traditions about the words and deeds of the Prophet], and if you follow these you will never go astray” (Islam Today: A Short Introduction to the Muslim World, Akbar S. Ahmed, p. 28; cited by Spencer, 40).
The Bible certainly does not teach that after God, Muhammad is “the greatest”. He is a sinner in need of the salvation only Christ can give, just like everyone else (Rom. 3:23; 6:23). It is Jesus who lived without sin, not Muhammad (Heb. 4:15). Jesus Christ is the example we follow in all things (Lk. 6:40; 1 Cor. 11:1; Phil. 2:5; 1 Pet. 2:21). Jesus is the “author (cause, source) of eternal salvation” (Heb. 5:9). Jesus is the “captain” (leader, trailblazer, prince) of our salvation (Heb. 2:10). It is Jesus Christ in whom “dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” and in whom we are “complete” (Col. 2:9-10). Those who declare completeness in Muhammad and the religion of Islam remain incomplete, needing salvation.
At the age of 42 (AD 612), while on a personal mission to find truth, Muhammad claimed the angel Gabriel visited him in a cave on Mt. Nur and recited what is now found in Quran 96:1-5: “Proclaim thou in the name of thy Lord Who created, Created man from a clot of blood. Proclaim! and thy Lord is the Most Bounteous; Who taught by the pen, Taught man what he knew not.” He would change his name to Muhammad (“highly praised”) due to his alleged visions, and develop his message of one God (Allah) in opposition to the paganism and idolatry of his day.
Initially he only shared his new revelations with family and close friends, and for the next three years his message began to spread in Mekkah (Mecca), especially among young people. Upon Allah’s instruction, Muhammad went public and openly condemned the paganism and idolatry that filled Mekkah. His message was seen as an economic threat, leading to organized opposition to Muhammad and his teaching. Followers were persecuted to the death. In AD 622, 70 followers left Mekkah and went to Madinah (Medina), pledging to protect Muhammad. This was a turning point. For the next eight years Muhammad expanded his power base and became a religious, political and military leader.
And so, Muhammad began to spread his message by intimidation and force. Threats of war converted whole tribes to his new faith. In AD 630 he returned to Mekkah with 10,000 troops and imposed Islam upon the citizenry without resistance. Islam began and spread with the brandishing of the sword and a plain proposal: Submit (remember, Islam means “submission”) by conversion or by surrender and paying a tax, or die. By AD 732 Islam had spread throughout the Middle East, Africa and Europe until the Battle of Tours in France, and in time, Asia and the southwest Pacific islands.
How very different from the Prince of Peace, whose kingdom is not of this world (Isa. 9:6-7; Jno. 18:36). Jesus refused to advance His kingdom with the sword, saying “Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword” (Matt. 26:52). His message of truth is offered, not under the glint of a war blade, but with the sword of the Spirit (the word of God) pricking the heart in conviction of sin and conversion to Christ (Mk. 16:15-16; Acts 2:37-41).
Muhammad is a false prophet of a false religion. He is not God’s messenger and he is not our example of righteous living.
Examining Islam (Part
Joe R. Price
Muslims and Muhammad
The Muslim prophet Muhammad died in 632 A.D. The persecuted had become the leader of a new religion, ruling those who submitted to the revelations he claimed were from Allah (God). I encourage you to read more about Muhammad’s life. It is hard to overestimate his place in the Muslim world. “In situations that are not explicitly dealt with in the Koran, Muslims look for guidance to the life and words of the Prophet. Muhammad was only a man, but Muslims believe he lived a nearly perfect life. His life and words represent the standards of devout, pious, and upright behavior by which Muslims measure their own morality and that of their fellow men” (Thomas W. Lippman, Understanding Islam, An Introduction to the Muslim World, 32).
This marks out a crucial distinction between Muslims and Christians. The New Testament of Christ sets forth Jesus as the Master and Model for God’s people and the whole world (1 Pet. 2:21; 1 Jno. 2:6). Jesus is the Leader we follow, the Prince and Pioneer of our salvation (Heb. 2:10; 5:9; 12:2). Christians train themselves by following the life and words of Christ, not Muhammad: “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher” (Lk. 6:40). The inspired apostles of Christ boldly teach us to imitate them as they imitate Christ (1 Cor. 4:16; 11:1; Phil. 4:9). While Muslims claim Jesus as one of their prophets, we exalt Jesus Christ as The Prophet and very Son of God whom we “hear in all things” and follow in order to live in the blessings of God (Acts 3:22-26). Jesus is the one God raised up and sent to bless both Jews and Gentiles with salvation from sin (Rom. 1:16). Muhammad and his doctrines do not possess and do not provide the blessings of salvation. It denies the truth of the very One God sent to the world to save the world (Jno. 12:48).
After the death of Muhammad in 632 A.D. there was a struggle over the succession of leaders (the caliph is the successor to the Prophet, the caliphate his rule). By 660 A.D. a division solidified that still affects Islam and the world: The Sunni, Shia divide. It has been said that before he died Muhammad appointed Ali (his cousin and son-in-law) to be his successor. After his death, some accepted this choice, ascribing to direct successor from the Prophet. These Muslims, called Shia (which means “helpers of Ali”, “faction” or “Party” of Ali) believe Ali was divinely appointed as the successor of Muhammad and the first Imam (“Shia Islam”, wikipedia.com).
Shiites are the second largest branch of Islam, making up about 15% of the world’s Muslims. Iran, for example, is a Shiite-ruled Islamic nation. The majority of Muslims believed the successor of Muhammad should come from his close advisers. These are the Sunnis (“the way”). Shia and Sunni Muslims hold common core beliefs, yet still go to war against each other to uphold their distinctive doctrines which they believe link them to Muhammad and thus, Allah’s approval.
This marks another trait of false religion. Almost invariably there is a power struggle within man-made religious movements when the charismatic originator passes from the scene. Sometimes the movement dies off all together (Acts 5:36-37). At other times, division results. In sharp contrast is the united faith and practice of the early church of Christ. For you see, the Master was not dead at all, but alive forevermore (Luke 24). Christians share a common faith in the resurrected Christ and the common salvation He gives (Titus 1:4; Jude 3). The gospel calls us into common fellowship with Jesus Christ our Lord (1 Cor. 1:9). And so, instead of a power struggle, the early Christians “continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:42). Unity in Christ is the hallmark of shared fellowship with God (Jno. 17:20-21; 1 Jno. 1:1-7; Eph. 4:1-6). It is when Christians stray from the “word of the truth of the gospel” that division results (Col. 1:5; 1 Tim. 4:1-3; 1 Jno. 2:19). We plead for unity based upon the inspired Scriptures (truth), not political and ecumenical alliances that camouflage division with the facade of familiarity. We must abide in the word of Christ in order to be His disciples (Jno. 8:31-32). Fellowship with God and unity of Christians is obtained in the truth of Christ, never in the wisdom and will of men.
Examining Islam (Part
Joe R. Price
The Islamic Profession of Faith (Shahada), to be recited in Arabic in order to become a Muslim, states the basic creed of Islam (without which one cannot be Muslim): “There is no God but Allah. Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.” Let us take a look, then, at the Islamic view of God.
“There is no God but Allah”
We are told, “Muslims believe in one, unique, incomparable God, Who has no son nor partner, and that none has the right to be worshipped but Him alone. He is the true God, and every other deity is false. He has the most magnificent names and sublime perfect attributes. No one shares His divinity, nor His attributes. In the Quran, God describes Himself: Say, He is God, the One. God, to Whom the creatures turn for their needs. He begets not, nor was He begotten, and there is none like Him (Quran, 112:1-4). No one has the right to be invoked, supplicated, prayed to, or shown any act of worship, but God alone.” (“A Brief, Illustrated Guide To Understanding Islam”)
We affirm there is “one God” in contrast to the multiplicity of idolatrous, pagan gods: “there is no other God but one” (1 Cor. 8:4). Yet, we must note that when Muslims speak of Allah as “the One” they only and always speak numerically, denying the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as “one God.” By contrast, the Bible speaks of God as a “united one” or Godhead. “Then God said, Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness...so God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Gen. 1:26-27). God (elohim, plural) is “one” according to Deuteronomy 6:4: “Hear O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one” (“Hear, O Israel: Jehovah our God is one Jehovah”, Deut. 6:4, ASV). (See Genesis 2:24, where two are “one.”) The Scriptures speak of “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph. 1:3). They speak of God’s “Son Jesus Christ”, and of “the Holy Spirit of God” (Rom. 1:3; Eph. 4:30). In speaking of Jesus, the Bible says “the Word” (who “was God” and “in the beginning with God”) “became flesh and dwelt among us...the only begotten of the Father” (Jno. 1:1-2, 14). Allah of Islam is not the one God of the Bible (Eph. 4:4-6).
“Jesus is not God”
Muslims believe Jesus was a great prophet of Allah, but Jesus is not God.
“Islam rejects the notion that Jesus, peace be upon him, was the son of God. Rather it honors and respects him as one of the great messengers and prophets of Allah to the Children of Israel” (“How to Become a Muslim,” The Islamic Bulletin).
“God is not Jesus, and Jesus is not God. Even Jesus himself rejected this. God has said in the Quran: Indeed, they have disbelieved who have said, “God is the Messiah (Jesus), son of Mary.” The Messiah said, “Children of Israel, worship God, my Lord and your Lord. Whoever associates partners in worship with God, then God has forbidden Paradise for him, and his home is the Fire (Hell). For the wrongdoers (footnote: “the wrongdoers include the polytheists”) there will be no helpers” (Quran, 5:72). (“A Brief, Illustrated Guide To Understanding Islam”)
“Those who say, ‘The Lord of Mercy has begotten a son,’ preach a monstrous falsehood, at which the very heavens might crack, the earth break asunder and the mountains crumble to dust. That they should ascribe a son to the Merciful, when it does not become Him to beget one!” (Qur’an 19:88) (Ibid)
Contrary to Islamic teaching, Jesus did not reject being God. Indeed, His claim to be the Son of God meant that He and the Father “are one” (Jno. 10:36, 30). When Jesus agreed that He is “the Christ, the Son of the Blessed,” it led to His crucifixion (Mk. 14:61-62).
Jesus took to Himself descriptions assigned only to Jehovah. For example, Jesus said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM” - the burning bush name of God (Jno. 8:58; Exo. 3:14-15). And again, “I am the First and the Last” (Rev. 1:17). In Isaiah 44:6 Jehovah said, “I am the First and I am the Last; Besides Me there is no God.” Either Isaiah got it wrong, John got it wrong, or they are both right. We understand they are both right, because in Jesus “dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Col. 2:9). Jesus is unique, the only one of His kind (the “only begotten” of the Father); He is full deity and full humanity. Jesus is Immanuel (“God with us,” Matt. 1:23).
Concerning Jesus as the Son of
1) Jesus claimed to be, John 5:17-18.
2) Jesus accepted worship, John 9:38; 20:28.
3) Apostles confessed it, Matt. 16:16; Jno. 20:28.
4) Jesus was threatened with death for saying so, John 10:30-39.
5) Jesus was crucified for affirming it, Mark 14:61-65.
Islam, because it rejects the Son, dishonors the Father also: “He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him” (Jno. 5:23). God does not approve of or send anyone who denies the Son: “Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also” (1 Jno. 2:23). Islam is not from God, but man.
“Jesus did not Die by Crucifixion”
Islam says Jesus escaped execution and later appeared to his disciples without having died.
“Muslims believe that Jesus was not crucified. It was the plan of Jesus’ enemies to crucify him, but God saved him and raised him up to Him. And the likeness of Jesus was put over another man. Jesus’ enemies took this man and crucified him, thinking that he was Jesus. God has said: “...They said, ‘We killed the Messiah Jesus, son of Mary, the messenger of God.’ They did not kill him, nor did they crucify him, but the likeness of him was put on another man (and they killed that man)...” (Quran, 4:157) (Ibid)
Islam says it only appeared to be Jesus who died on the cross, but it was someone else. Matthew the apostle says something quite different: “Then they crucified Him, and divided His garments, casting lots, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet: ‘They divided My garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots’” (Matt. 27:35). Was Matthew and the other apostles liars? No. Yet, that is what Islam tells us to believe (cf. Acts 4:20).
The gospel of Jesus could not be more clear: Jesus died, He was buried, and He arose from the dead (Lk. 23:46, 52-56; 24:1-8; Acts 2:23; 1 Cor. 1:23; 15:3-4). His resurrection stands as the great evidence that He is the Son of God (Rom. 1:4; Acts 2:24-31). A multitude of witnesses saw Jesus after His resurrection, confirming this fact (1 Cor. 15:4-8).
Islam denies the true God, the true Jesus and the true gospel. No amount of rehabilitation will resuscitate the dead corpse of this fatally flawed religion.
Examining Islam (Part
Joe R. Price
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).
Examining Islam (Part
Joe R. Price
When Peter drew his sword in Gethsemane to fight against the mob that came to arrest Jesus, the Lord said, “Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword” (Matt. 27:50-52; Jno. 18:10-11). Jesus would later commission His apostles to spread His message, not by the force of the sword, but by preaching the word of the cross (Mk. 16:15; Matt. 28:19-20; 1 Cor. 1:18-25). His apostles taught Christians to wield the “sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” against the enemies of the faith (Eph. 6:17, 10-17; Jude 3-4; 1 Pet. 3:15; 2 Tim. 4:2-4). Followers of Jesus Christ do not defend and advance the faith by military might, but by the power of the truth of the gospel (Rom. 1:15-17; Col. 1:5-6). Those who used military might in the past to attempt to do so acted only with the approval of men and not God (Gal. 1:6-10). We completely disavow the Roman Catholic Crusades of the past and every other attempt to defend and secure the faith using military and political force. Such is carnal, and a reprehensible perversion of the gospel (2 Cor. 10:3-4).
Muslims deny that Islam spread by means of force and violence. But, from its inception, Islam was spread by the sword. Shortly after Muhammad’s death (632), “The banner of Islam was raised by a great general, Khalid ibn-Walid, ‘the sword of Allah’...with the zeal of a new convert, he charged across the peninsula (Arabian, jrp) in a lightning campaign and in a few months had united the tribes under Medinese rule” (Understanding Islam, Thomas W. Lippman, 109).
The sword ruled from the days of Muhammad to the Sultans and beyond. Wars inside Islam and outside against the infidels consolidated and advanced Islamic power from the seventh century through the seventeenth century. Indeed, within 12 years after the death of Muhammad the Muslim faithful had brought about the “submission” of the Arabian peninsula, Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Persia and Jerusalem, not by a message of peace, but by death and the threat of death (Unveiling Islam, Caner and Caner, 69). Within one hundred years Muslim warriors had brought northern Africa and Spain under submission to Allah (Caner, 71). The Battle of Tours (732) in France halted the Islamic advance into Europe.
The gospel of Christ exhorts Christians to engage in a spiritual battle against “principalities, against powers, against the rules of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12). This war is fought and won with the power of the Lord as we take up “the whole armor of God,” an armor that consists of spiritual defenses and weaponry (Eph. 6:10-11, 13-17). The “weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds,” because “we do not war according to the flesh” (2 Cor. 10:3-4). This warfare is personal, as each Christian is called to grow and be strong in resisting the temptations of sin, “strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man” (Eph. 3:16; 1 Cor. 9:26-27).
Islam also speaks of a struggle against what it perceives to be evil. Yet, its definitions of evil and its struggles against it have been and continue to be marked by carnal conflict, as well as calls for an inner struggle of purity.
Jihad (“struggle,” “holy war”) has become a part of our vocabulary since September 11, 2001. You will get a variety of definitions of this term depending on the source you consult. According to Robert Spencer, “Muslims often maintain that Western commentators have distorted the concept of war in the Qur’an--the jihad” (Islam Unveiled, Robert Spencer, 19). He says some Muslims separate “greater jihad” (that involves an individual’s inner spiritual struggles) from “lesser jihad” (which involves outward struggle against enemies of the faith). Most Muslims concern themselves with the greater jihad as they live their faith (Ibid.).
There are ongoing attempts to rehabilitate the image of Islam from the glint of the sword to the struggles of the heart. Division exists within Islam over the use of violence to advance the Muslim faith. Make no mistake, though, Islam sanctions the so-called “lesser jihad.” Take, for example, this modern-day statement from Sheikh Omar Bakri: “The Koran lays down that the Muslim must be capable of bearing arms and should be ready for the Jihad” (cited by Spencer, 19). Or this, from a seventh-century governor of Iraq, who wrote after a battle, “The Great God says in the Koran: ‘O true believers, when you encounter the unbelievers, strike off their heads.’ The above command of the Great God is a great command and must be respected and followed” (cited by Spencer, 20). This ruler was referring to Sura 47:4 in the Qur’an: “When you meet the unbelievers in the battlefield, strike off their heads and, when you have laid them low, bind your captives firmly.” Another passage says, “Fight for the sake of God those that fight against you, but do not attack them first. God does not love the aggressors. Slay them wherever you find them. Drive them out of the places from which they drove you. Idolatry is worse than carnage” (Sura 2:190-191). (Remember, Islam considers Christians to be idolaters. Therefore, slaying Christians is consistent with their faith.) From the start of Islam and for centuries thereafter, submission to Allah was exacted under threat of the sword (see Sura 9:5).
Present-day jihadists believe the western infidels are aggressors against the faith, therefore, attacking and killing them is warranted. They cut off heads because that is what the Qur’an says to do - they are following Allah’s will, given to them by the Prophet. These jihadists are “radical” only in the sense that other Muslims are unwilling to actually follow what the Qur’an says should be done to the infidels who will not repent and submit. An objective analysis of its authoritative documents and its history leaves one to conclude that Islam is not the peaceful religion it is often said to be.
Muslims are lost in sin and in need of the salvation only Jesus Christ gives (Acts 4:12). Islam is not compatible with the Bible. Christians and Muslims do not dwell within a large tent of “shared faith” and religious ecumenism. Muslims are lost. since they follow a false belief system fostered by a 7th-century false prophet (Muhammad) who claimed to be the Last Prophet and Final Messenger of God (Allah). Islam adheres to a false and faulty religious book (the Qur’an) that entrenches its devotees in fables, not truth (Gal. 1:8-9; 1 Tim. 1:3-4; 6:19-20). Only the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, can save these lost souls (Rom. 1:16; Matt. 28:18-20).
The Qur’an says, “If anyone desires a religion other than Islam (Submission to Allah), Never will it be accepted of him; and in the Hereafter he will be in the ranks of those who have lost (their selves in the hell fire)” (Quran 3:85). Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (Jno. 14:6). There is no compatibility here.
Do not lose heart. The Lamb of God will overcome all who fight against Him, “For He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are called, chosen and faithful” (Rev. 17:14). Go with God; not Allah.