Analysis of the Religion of Islam
The religion of Islam is unique among the belief systems of the world in that it is classified as both a cult and a world religion. Its founder, Muhammed (570-632 A.D.), claimed to have received revelations from a god he called Allah which were later recorded and became the sacred text of Islam known as the Quran. Ergun Caner wrote that,
Muhammed believed that Judaism had the truth at one time but was corrupted, and that Christianity had the truth at one time, but it was corrupted as well.All cults attempt to either correct Christianity or replace Christianity, and all cults view themselves as the sole voice for God on the Earth. Islam does this as well.
The religion of Islam worships an impersonal pagan god of Arabia who is clearly different than the tri-une God of grace as revealed in the Holy Scriptures, embraces a Jesus (Isa) who is not the Divine Christ Who shed His blood on behalf of sinners, and adheres to a rigid system of living by the scales that weigh out mankind’s good and bad works contrary to the free gift of grace available to the undeserving through Biblical Christianity. This supposed religion of peace has made an indelible mark upon the pages of history with increasing advancement in the modern era therefore it is incumbent upon the Christian apologist to understand its basic tenets so that he may preach the truth with confident boldness knowing that the gospel of Jesus Christ is the power of God unto the salvation of everyone including Muslims today in the 21st century (Romans 1:16). Thabiti Anyabwile, himself a former Muslim, testified that, “The same message that saves us-the gospel-is the message that will change our Muslim neighbors and friends.”
Islam teaches six basic beliefs. There is one God whose name is Allah and he is the transcendent judge of mankind, separate and distinct from all things. Allah has spoken throughout history through his many prophets including Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and his final messenger, Muhammed. The Muslim holy book is known as the Quran and is composed of 114 Suras or chapters. Angelic beings are the servants of Allah, two of which are assigned to every person to record their good and bad deeds. On Judgment Day, Allah will determine the fate of all mankind based upon their submission to his will which includes the rites and rituals of Islam. The god of Islam is also sovereign to the point that life is fatalistic because he ordains the fate of all. “If Allah wills it” is a mantra constantly repeated by millions of Muslims.
The five pillars of Islam cast the rigid structure to which its religious adherents must devote themselves. “There is no God but Allah, and Muhammed is his prophet” is the creed (shahada) of Islam required for confession. The Muslim call to prayer is commonplace in Islamic nations as they are required to bow in prayer (salat) toward Mecca, the holy city of Islam, five times a day. Devout Muslims give alms (zakat) to the poor which amounts to about 2.5 percent of one’s income. During the holy month of Ramadan, Muslims must fast (siyam) from dawn to dusk. At least once in their lifetime, Muslims are required to make a pilgrimage (hajj) to the holy city of Mecca. Despite strict devotion to the five pillars, the Muslim is not promised entrance into paradise unless “Allah wills it” or he gives his life for the cause in “jihad.” Holy War (jihad) is known by some as a sixth pillar and is the advancement of Islam through militant force. The late Walter Martin wrote, “Jihad is the duty to engage in holy war against unbelievers or enemies of Islam if called upon to do so. It is one of the basic requirements of Muslim faith. Allah promises a heavenly reward to all who die in holy war.”
Islam, as a belief system, possesses three fatal flaws which render it not partially wrong but completely false. Logic and rationale concludes that two contradictory truth claims cannot be true at the same time. These failures of rationality in the religion of Islam fall under the category of the nature of God, the identity of Jesus Christ, and salvation by grace.
The apologist must remember that despite the claim that Allah and Yahweh are just two different names of the same God, His nature is that which clearly identifies Who He is. Allah is the transcendent judge who is separate and distinct from man. Yahweh is the transcendent Creator of heaven and earth Who is one in essence yet eternally existent in three Persons. The second member of the Trinity, God the Son, took on human flesh and gave His life as a vicarious sacrifice on behalf sinners in demonstration of His love. The Muslim knows nothing of intimacy with God or of His grace bestowed upon the undeserving. Caner said that, “Muhammed was not ignorant concerning the Trinity; he specifically denied the Trinity, and in so doing, denied the God of the Bible.”
Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am” (Matt.16:13b NKJV)? The identity of Jesus Christ is the defining issue in history. Muslims believe that Christ was a prophet of Allah who was not the Theonthropic Person of Holy Scripture nor did he die on the cross of Calvary for sinners. Despite this claim, Anyabwile asserted that,
The Quran plainly taught that Jesus was born of a virgin with no earthly father (Sura 3:42-50). The Quran plainly taught that the Torah, Psalms of David, and the Gospels were books revealed by Allah (Sura 4:163-65; 5:46-68; and 6:91-92). And nowhere does the Quran teach that the Bible was corrupted or changed, only that some have covered its meaning, misunderstood it, or forgotten the message. So, for me, any consistent and intellectually honest Muslim had to come to grips with the teaching of the Bible.
Orthodox Christian doctrine, based upon Holy Scripture, upholds the full Deity and spotless Humanity of Jesus Christ as the Savior and Judge of mankind.
The heart of man longs for security, acceptance, and to be ridden of guilt. Islam has no concept of such undeserved favor and kindness, namely grace. Muslims can never be assured of paradise because their salvation is completely dependent upon the arbitrary will of Allah and their good deeds outweighing their bad deeds on the day of judgment. Ron Carlson said that, “When a Muslim prays, he will always pray for mercy because he does not know the grace of God. He does not know that God loves us and has provided a Savior for our sins.”
Sharing the gospel with a Muslim can be an intimidating endeavor but the Christian apologist must keep in mind that evangelism is not solely dependent upon his feeble efforts to convince sinners of their lost condition, impending doom, and the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ. God the Holy Spirit empowers the Christian witness, convicts mankind of sin, and makes the seed of the gospel grow in the hearts of men (I Cor.3:7). Prayer is perhaps the greatest untapped weapon that adorns the arsenal of the evangelist. As the old adage goes, “Before you speak to a person about God, speak to God about that person.”
The specific points that the apologist should use for sharing the gospel with a Muslim are those that have been indicated as failures of rationality in the Islamic religion: the nature of God, the identity of Christ, and salvation by grace. Discussing the identity of Who God is presents a moment of decision for the Muslim because Allah and Yahweh are clearly two separate beings. The Person of Christ is something that Muslims must face because their own sacred text supports aspects of Who He is and the reliability of the gospels as revelation from God. Salvation by grace speaks to the heart of the Muslim because the reality that God would do for man what he cannot do for himself is something that is foreign to Islam and its religious rites and rituals. Thabiti Anyabwile captured the essence of Muslim evangelism when he wrote,
Jonathan asked me an all-too-frequent question following a workshop on Muslim evangelism: ‘How do you share the gospel with Muslims? I feel so unequipped.’ It’s a fine question, but it has a fatal flaw. It assumes that somehow Muslims require a different gospel or a special technique, that Muslims are somehow impervious to the gospel in a way that other sinners are not.
Every Christian apologist that seeks to share the gospel with a Muslim must be in prayer for their soul, trust God for the results, and be confident that, “it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe” (I Cor.1:21b NKJV).