While the rapid, exponential growth of Islam is a fascinating subject both historically and geopolitically, it is a tragedy spiritually.
Followers of Islam are characterized by passion, zeal, and total devotion to their god, but their god offers them no assurance of salvation or forgiveness of sin. The only type of Muslim who is guaranteed a place in paradise is a jihadist, someone who dies in a holy war against the enemies of Allah. Even Muhammad, the founding prophet of this faith, said “Although I am an apostle of Allah, I do not know what Allah will do to me.”
What a hopeless faith this is.
As Islam continues to grow across the world—and especially in America—our opportunities to befriend, love and share the gospel with Muslims are growing as well.
As we conclude this study, let’s look at several important reminders to help us navigate interactions with Muslims, as we seek to fulfill the Great Commission.
THE CHRISTIAN IS CHARACTERIZED BY RESPECT FOR ALL PEOPLE OF ALL RELIGIONS.
When God made humanity in His own image, He put no religious requirement on that image-bearer status. All people—Christian, Muslim, atheist—are made in the image of God, and as His image-bearers, are deserving of respect.
When we have opportunity to meet a follower of Islam, care and compassion should motivate us to show love to them as individuals. There is a common misconception taught in Western Christianity that all Muslims are our enemies, that they all hate us and want to destroy us as enemies of Allah. But many Muslims, especially in America, love our country, our culture and want to befriend people of various religions. Even for those who are not so kind, we need to keep in mind: Muslims are not our enemies; they are our mission field.
THE CHRISTIAN CLEARLY RECOGNIZES WHAT SETS CHRISTIANITY APART FROM ANY OTHER RELIGION.
While respect is the basis of a friendship, we cannot compromise on the gospel. At some point, we must help them recognize where their religion falls short and why Christianity is the only way to Heaven.
Thankfully, followers of Islam have more common ground with Christians than many other belief systems. Unlike the atheist, Muslims believe in the existence of God; unlike the Hindu, Muslims believe in one God; unlike the Buddhist, Muslims recognize Abraham and Jesus as true historical figures who served as prophets of the one true God.
Beginning with this common ground, we can show Muslims from the Bible where their ‘sacred’ text falls short.
Allah is not the same God as Jehovah. While Muslims worship only one god, he is a false god. The Jesus of Muslim faith—a good teacher and prophet of God—is not the true Jesus. The true Jesus, the Son of God, is the Savior of the world, fully divine and equal with God the Father.
One of the most clarifying distinctions between Islam and Christianity is that a Muslim does not have any assurance of salvation. What a privilege to introduce them to a Savior who promises them eternal life in Heaven, freely offered through the death and resurrection of our Lord.
As I mentioned earlier, Islam is a religion of works, without hope. While its followers may work as hard as they can to be right with God, their souls will never be at peace. They know nothing of resting their eternal future on the work Christ has accomplished already on their behalf. Instead, they are consumed with prayers, fasting and rituals in a never-ending effort to earn Allah’s favor.
Jesus says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). What an oasis of refreshment the gospel of Jesus Christ is to those who are striving to earn God’s favor through their own efforts. To the restless soul, the promise and assurance of salvation by faith in Christ alone is a sweetest gift they will ever be offered.
THE CHRISTIAN LEARNS FROM THE SPIRITUAL DEDICATION OF MUSLIMS.
While they worship the wrong god, Muslims worship their god with a discipline that unfortunately seems missing among many professing Christians. If you meet a Muslim, or read about the lifestyle of most Muslims, you will find that they are in many ways a model of devotion and worship—even though their worship is directed to a false god.
When I visited some Christian missionaries to Muslims in Africa, they gave me a Muslim prayer mat, and told me that five times every day, every Muslim unrolls that mat, bows down on the ground, and prays to Allah. That behavior so convicted me that for some time after my visit, I used that prayer mat to pray to Yahweh—the true and living God—in my private study.
Every Islamic believer takes five different times out of their day to pray. How often do we pray?
Every Muslim regularly fasts every year, devoting the time they would be eating to prayer and meditation. How often do we skip a meal to focus on God and meet Him in prayer and in His Word?
Every time two Muslims greet each other, they say in Arabic “Allah is great!” They revere the name of their god and use it as their greeting. Do you talk about the Lord in your conversations with others?
The Christian response to Islam—respect, recognition, and rededication—will not only help us in our own spiritual growth but will enable us to accomplish the Great Commission.
The mission field is not only thousands of miles away; it happens to be in your front yard, your office, your town. Let’s reach them with the good news—the saving gospel of Jesus Christ our Lord!