Monday, April 28, 2014
Recently, I read the book Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus, the true story of Nabeel Qureshi’s unexpected journey from Islam to Christianity. Nabeel grew up in a loving, devout Muslim home. In his book, he describes how he loved Islam, but as a seeker of knowledge and truth, he began to discover evidence for Christianity. This discovery would cost him everything.
Throughout the book, Nabeel gives helpful information to the reader about Islam. By recounting his learning experiences as a child growing up in Islam to a young man in college, the non-Muslim reader is able to understand the core beliefs of this ancient religion.
As a former Ancient World History teacher, I knew and taught basic “book” facts about Islam. Nabeel’s story gave me a personal look into the beliefs and practices of Muslims. I learned some things I found extremely interesting and worth sharing.
1. How a Muslim hears from God
“Dreams are the only means by which the average Muslim expects to hear from God.”(p.65) Muslims are taught to pay special attention to dreams and visions, because Allah may use one to communicate with them directly.
Although they pray 5 times a day, these are recited prayers, not prayers from the heart. While a Christian might expect to hear from God during a time of prayer and Bible reading, a Muslim does not expect to hear from Allah during these prayer times, nor do they look to the Quran.
My observation: This explains why many Muslims who convert to Christianity share about having dreams and visions of Jesus appearing to them.
2. Popular chapter in the Quran
The Quran is divided in two ways: one was into 114 chapters, called “surahs”, and the other was into thirty parts. Breaking it into thirty parts made it possible for them to read through the whole book during Ramadan, their holy month.
One of the most popular chapters is number 112, because it’s “short, melodic, and memorable” and contains what Muhammad “considered so weighty and consequential that reciting it is like reciting one third of the whole Quran in one sitting.” The message? God is not a father, and He has no son. (p. 39)
My observation: How interesting that one of the most beautiful and easy to memorize chapters in the Quran directly conflicts with our most popular verse in the Bible, John 3:16. Coincidence? No way.
3. Odd Beliefs about the Crucifixion of Jesus
Muslims have different views of what actually happened when Jesus died on the cross. Most Muslims believe “the substitution theory,” that Allah put Jesus’ face on someone else, and that person was crucified in Jesus place. The most popular view is that Allah put Jesus’ face on Judas’ body for poetic justice. Muslims must believe Jesus did not die on the cross, because the Quran says, “Jesus was neither killed nor crucified, but so it appeared.” (p.87)
My observation: If Jesus didn’t die and rise again then we Christians are wasting our time. If His blood didn’t wash away my sins, then I am still a sinner who is unworthy to stand before a holy God on judgment day. The cross means everything, and therefore Muslims must deny that it even happened.
4. Respect for the Quran
The Quran is so revered, Muslims must wash their hands before touching it. They can only touch it with their right hand. It must never be placed on the ground. Children are taught to read Arabic because Muslims believe the Quran must be read and memorized in the original language.
My observation: I was truly convicted by this information. As Christians under grace, we can take things for granted. We can even treat the holy as common. Have I taught my children to love the Bible like Muslims teach their children to love the Quran? Lord help me.
5. Christian truths Muslims reject
The three biggest hurdles for a Muslim coming to Christ—believing in Jesus’ death on a cross, believing in the Resurrection, and believing in the Trinity, that God is three in one. A “three in one” God belief is especially profane, since their main call to prayer, the Adhan, says, “there is no god but Allah!”
My observation: Christians, if you can’t defend all your beliefs, at least decide to work on these three. The books More than a Carpenter, The Case for Christ, Mere Christianity, and even this book, SAFJ, will help you sharpen your apologetic skills.
6. Heaven, Hell & How You Get There
Both Muslims and Christians believe in a Heaven, Hell, and a day of judgment. Christians believe in salvation by faith in Jesus Christ alone; Muslims believe in order to get into Heaven their good works must outweigh their bad deeds. Also, they must follow the five pillars: reciting shahada (‘There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is His messenger”), praying 5 times a day, paying alms (giving to the poor), fasting during Ramadhan, and making a pilgrimage to Mecca (Hajj).
7. Cost of Converting to Christianity
Muslims must give up everything to embrace the cross of Christ—family, social connections, and perhaps, depending on where they live, their freedom. Converting to Christ brings tremendous shame on their families. Also, they are risking it ALL when they accept Christ, because they’ve been taught their whole lives that the one unforgivable sin, or “shirk”, is to believe that someone other than Allah is God.
My observation: What can I do?
Pray for Muslims around the world to have visions & dreams of Jesus.
Pray for Christians living in Islamic nations to stay strong and keep the faith. (ex. Saeed Abedini currently in Iranian prison for his faith)
Show love to Muslims in my community. (Watch Nabeel Qureshi share on how to witness to a Muslim.)