Romans Lesson 58 - Abraham and Islam
Have you ever wondered how a religion so opposed to Christianity can have so much in common with it? Why do Muslims call Abraham their father even when they don't believe in the God of Abraham? In the message Stephen unveils the cunning and deceptive secrets which undergird the fastest growing religion in the world.
Abraham & Islam
In the 6th century, 570 A.D. to be exact, a little boy was born in Mecca.
Even though he was distantly related to the Arab royal family at Hashim, the particular branch of the family into which he had been born was poverty stricken.
The newborn boy was named Muhammad. After both of his parents died during his early years, he was shuttled between relatives until at last, a poor uncle took him in. According to Muhammad’s biographers, he was a normal Arab boy who enjoyed talking with the travelers in the caravans and exploring desert caves.
The only thing that was unusual about his childhood was that he began to experience religious visitations. Muhammad’s mother, Aminah, had often claimed to have visions and paranormal experiences as well. She was involved in what we would call today the “occult arts.”
At the age of 40, Muhammad claimed to once again have a heavenly “visitation from the angel Gabriel.” He would claim from that experience that he had been chosen by Allah as the next prophet and apostle. His choice of words, prophet and apostle, are interesting choices.
As one author pointed out, there was no tradition of being a “prophet” or an “apostle” in Arabian religion. The term “prophet” was more than likely used in his hopes that the Jewish people would accept him as their next prophet and the term “apostle” was used in hopes of persuading Christians to follows him as well.
Muhammad claimed that Gabriel had visited him and placed on him the prophetic mantle, inspiring him with God’s newest revelation, summarized and recorded in the Hadith and the Koran.
At first, Muhammad preached to the Jewish peoples that he was God’s newest prophet – in the line of Abraham and Jesus.
It’s interesting to note that when Muhammad began his rise as a tribal leader and self-proclaimed prophet, he adopted many Jewish customs, such as some of their dietary laws, the observance of Saturday Sabbath, praying toward Jerusalem. In addition to this, he praised the Old Testament scriptures and he referred to the Jews in the Koran, as “people of the book.”
According to historians, and the clear actions that happened next, when it became obvious that the Jewish merchants were not going to become his disciples, Muhammad decided to drop all observances of Jewish rituals; he changed the direction of prayer from Jerusalem to Mecca; threw off the Saturday Sabbath and adopted the religious rites in which he had been raised.
Ultimately he began to war against the Jews, pillaging their villages and plundering their homes.
It’s interesting to me that the response to comments made by Jerry Falwell and Franklin Graham that Muhammad was a terrorist and a pedophile, have been not only condemned by Islamic nations, but death threats have been issued on these men.
The truth is public record. Even the Koran and the Hadith support such conclusions. Even secular texts like the Encyclopedia Britannica, along with Western historians and even Muslim scholars attest to the fact that Muhammad gained power and prestige by plundering and killing Jews.
It is a well attested fact that after one Jewish town surrendered, 700 of the men were beheaded in one day and the women and children sold into slavery. It is also true, according to sacred Muslim writings that Muhammad married, among others, a young girl and consummated the marriage when she was only 9 years of age.
As Muhammad’s power and tribal leadership grew in Mecca and Medina, so did his religious views. Views that were nothing more than a combination of Jewish tradition, the Bible along with the well known worship of the moon God, Sin, who was considered by the Arabs to be the supreme deity among all other gods.
It’s interesting in the Old Testament that when the Israelites often fell into idolatry, one of the forms of idol worship was the Moon god.
According to numerous inscriptions, discovered in North and South Arabia, dating back to the time of Muhammad and even centuries earlier, the Arab name for the Moon god was, Sin, but his title was al-ilah, which meant “the deity.”
Before Muhammad was even born, the name of the Moon god came to be known by his title, rather than his name – “Ilah . . . or as we know it today, “Allah.”
Arabs, years before Muhammad’s birth, often named their children, Allah, in honor of their most powerful deity, the moon god.
Allah worship, was ancient middle eastern astral worship, which, along with Baal worship was condemned in the Old Testament, because it involved the worship of the sun, the moon and the stars.
What Muhammad did with his fellow Arabs was take one of their many gods, the moon god, and begin to teach that Allah was not only the greatest god but the only god.
This aspect of monotheism became part of his teaching – teaching that became known as Islam. To the unbelieving Arabs, they could still believe in the moon god Allah. The Jews and the Christians, they could be told that Allah was their one true God, also.
One author summarized, “Islam was Muhammad’s repackaging of the ancient moon god worship. Modern Islam still uses the symbols, the rites, the ceremonies, and even the name of its god which came from the ancient religion of the moon god, Allah.”
The symbol of this worship, by the way, is the crescent moon. The “sliver of the moon” which is visible to the human eye during that particular phase of the moon.
Is it any surprise that the symbol of Islam is the crescent moon. The crescent moon sits on top of their mosques. A crescent moon is on the flags of Islamic nations. Muslims fast during the month which begins and ends with the appearance of the crescent moon in the sky?
At the very outset of our study today, you need to know that Allah is not Elohim.
Just as an angel came to Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, and gave him revelation and an honored calling as a prophet of God; so also an angel came and delivered to Muhammad new revelation and the honor of being the next in line of God’s prophets.
I personally do not doubt that angelic visions or apparitions were a part of their experience. Both of these men have led millions of people away from the deity of Jesus Christ.
I can only quote the warning Paul gave when he wrote to the Galatians, “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed! (Gal. 1:8-9)
So, just how attractive is Islam in the world today? How compelling is this amalgamation of Jewish tradition, Biblical passages and Christian beliefs mixed in with Arabic culture and the worship rituals and ceremonies of the moon god, Allah?
Ladies and Gentlemen, Islam is the second largest religion in the world.
In England, there are more practicing Moslems than evangelical Christians. Funded by the vast resources of Arab oil money, the Muslims are buying abandoned Anglican churches and turning them into mosques at such a rate that some Muslims claim that England will be the first European Muslim country.
I read recently that the legal situation has reached the point where the English Parliament has been forced to rule that Muslims do not have to follow English Common Law when it comes to divorce; they can follow Islamic law instead.
How about in America. A mosque or worship center is completed nearly every month. There are now more Muslims in America than Episcopalians.
Already, there are more than 500 Islamic centers in the United States, like the one in Washington, D.C. where it opens its doors daily to curious people who come in and are kindly taught the philosophy and art and culture of Islam.
What exactly is Islam?
You need to understand that the word Islam, originally denoted heroism – especially in the willingness to die in battle. The word Islam slowly developed into meaning “submission or surrender.”
By the way, technically speaking, Islam does not claim to be a new religion formulated by the prophet Mohammed but rather a “continuation of all former religious principles decreed by God through his revelations to all prophets.”
The prophets include, according to Muhammad and the Koran, Jesus Christ whom they revere as a true prophet of God, and nothing more.
Just as Mormonism doesn’t do away with Jesus, they just rewrite who He is; so Islam does the same thing, as I’ll show you in one minute . . . or two, or three.
Perhaps your thinking, “How does all of this relate to Romans chapter 4?”
One reason. Islam believes that the very first Muslim, was none other than Abraham. And Islam looks to Abraham as their spiritual Father.
Why? Because Abraham surrendered to God – Abraham submitted to God, thus Abraham displayed the very meaning of Islam – which is surrender to God’s will. In fact, the Arabic noun form of the verb to surrender is the word Islam.
Given the rise of Islam today; given the fact that the name Allah is recognized now more than ever before; given the fact that Muslims now intersect our lives in the Western world everyday, it is impossible, I believe, to teach on the life of Abraham, without exposing other religions who view Abraham as their leading man of faith.
And for your information, my job description according to the scripture is to not only teach you the word, but exposing and warning of the error of false doctrine in the world.
Jude warned the believers, 3.Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints. 4. For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.
Paul wrote to Timothy and Titus, young pastors to “reprove them severely that they may . . . not pay attention to Jewish myths and commandments of men who turn away from the truth . . . [men who] profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient, and worthless for any good deed.”
Several times Paul wrote to warn the believers of false teachers and false teaching. In fact, entire letters from Paul were to expose and challenge the false teaching of those who ultimately denied the grace of God and the deity cross work of Christ.
Just how important is Abraham in all of this?
You need to know that Jews, Christians and Muslims all claim that Abraham is their founder and their spiritual father..
The Muslims believe they are related to Abraham as descendants of Ishmael. Every one of the five prayers the Muslims pray during the day end with a reference to Abraham. Yassar Arafat’s liaison for religious dialogue has emphatically stated that Abraham belongs to only the Muslims.
The Jews believe they are related to Abraham as descendants of Isaac and the keepers of the covenant.
And Christians are clearly taught that we are the true sons and daughters of Abraham, related to Abraham by virtue of our faith in Abraham’s God.
Paul wrote in Romans 4:11 that Abraham is the father of all who believe!
Well, I’m not going to deal with the Jewish side of the argument today – I’ve done that already in previous sermons; today I want to deal with this issue from the Islamic claim to Abraham.
I found it interesting in researching Islam and reading an entire book on the life and teaching of Muhammad, that Muhammad, dozens of times in the Koran, told his followers to check out his teaching with the Old and New Testament scriptures to see if he were indeed telling the truth.
If they had done so, evaluating the two inspired works of Muhammad’s teaching – the Hadith and the Koran – as he claimed they could, Islam would have died in the 7th century along with Muhammad.
Muhammad had only a general sense of the stories of the Bible, and taught them all mixed together and at times, totally mixed up the characters and the historical timeline.
- He taught that the flood occurred during the days of Moses.
- He taught that Pharaoh’s wife adopted Moses, instead of Pharaoh’s daughter.
- He taught that Nimrod threw Abraham into a fiery furnace where he was unharmed by the flames; even though Nimrod lived centuries before Abraham.
- He taught that Moses’ sister Miriam was the mother of Jesus instead of Mary.
- He taught that Jesus was born under a palm tree instead of in a stable;
- He taught that Jesus was not crucified but that Judas was mistaken for Jesus and crucified in His place, while Jesus was taken up to heaven.
Obviously, this not only a distortion of scripture, that he claimed to agree with; but it is effectively the eradication of the gospel and redemption by faith in the sacrificial atoning death, burial and literal, physical resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Islam is not just another word for the worship of God. They have a different god entirely.
I think it is ironic that when Paul began this chapter in Romans, as he began to talk about this key figure in Biblical history, he asked in verse 3, “What do the scriptures say?”
What do the scriptures say?
This is the revelation of God to Abraham
20. “with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in
Wait a second . . . what was the promise again?
Paul clarifies it in Galatians 3:16. A verse in our generation that is as important as John 3:16. Galatians 3:16 delivers the stunning announcement to the Jewish people and the Muslim peoples of the world: “Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as referring to many [people], but rather to one [descendant], “And to your seed,” that is, Christ.”
Here’s the promise Abraham . . . from you will come the Messiah!
Earlier in chapter 3 of Galatians Paul spoke these incredible words, “Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham. The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “All the nations will be blessed in you.” So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the . . . who? Galatians 3:7-9
Abraham the Jew? No!
Abraham the Gentile? No!
Abraham the Muslim? No!
Abraham the believer!
And the promise came true!
That Redeemer would be born, with Jewish and Gentile blood coursing through His veins . . . the descendant of Abraham – the descendant of Ruth and Bathsheba – the descendant of David and Boaz – the one whom Abraham was promised would come and be a blessing to the nations of the world . . . and yes! People one day from every tribe, tongue and nation will worship the Lamb who sits upon the throne and they will give to him all praise and honor and glory and blessing – He the promised seed – Jesus Christ, God the Son, descending Deity in the flesh!
This is the revelation from God to Abraham, now notice in Romans 4:20b the response of Abraham to God.
“[He] grew strong in faith, giving glory to God. . .”
Two responses – first of all, “he grew in faith.”
Now you need to know that there are at least three kinds of Biblical faith:
First, there is decisive or saving faith. That is faith exercised in Jesus Christ, once for all time, when you ask Him to become your personal Savior – to make you a child of God. Saving faith is a transaction that occurs once for all time in a person’s life. Once that faith is acted upon, the issue of salvation is settled forever.
Secondly, there is doctrinal faith. The word “faith” is used in the New Testament to refer to a body of truth or doctrine. Paul told the believers in Corinth to contend for, to defend the faith.
Finally, there is daily faith – this faith has to do with total reliance and submission to our Lord for the events of each day. Paul said, “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” (2 Cor. 5:7). In Ephesians 6:16 he told the believer to take up the shield of faith in the daily struggle against the evil one and temptation.” In Acts 14:22 we read that Paul encouraged the believers to continue in the faith.
This isn’t a reference to losing salvation.
Decisive faith is different than doctrinal faith and daily faith.
Abraham grew in his daily faith in the promise of God.
Notice Paul gives us a second response of Abraham. He not only grew in faith, but he “was giving God the glory.”
You know what that means? That’s another way of saying, “Abraham was thanking God in advance for what God promised to do.”
How many of us have ever thanked God in advance for keeping His promises to us?! How many of us have ever started the day by saying, “Lord, I want to say ahead of time, that whatever happens today, you’ve promised that everything is going to work out for my good, so that I might be conformed just a little more into the image and likeness of Christ . . . so, in light of that promise, I want to thank you in advance for whatever will happen today!”
That was the revelation from God to Abraham, and the response of Abraham to God.
Let’s tie up some loose ends before we close: We’ve talked about the revelation from God to Abraham; and the response of Abraham to God; what about the response of Christians to Islam?
There is a three-fold response:
Three key words:
RESPECT: Like any religion we encounter, there should be respect for the person involved; there should be care and compassion given to share the attribute of love for them as individuals. They are not the enemy – they are our mission field. So, if you happen to work near one or live next to one, invest the time to listen and acknowledge them with respect.
The next key word is RECOGNITION:
While you respect them as individuals even though you disagree with them, at the same time you need to recognize, and you need to help them recognize that the Koran disagrees, time after time, with the Bible. They need to recognize that Allah is not Jehovah. Even though the religion of Islam worships only one god, that god is not the one true and living God who introduced Himself in Genesis chapter 1 as Elohim.
The Jesus of the Koran is not the Jesus of the Bible. According to the Koran, as taught by Muhammad, Jesus was not the only Son of God; Jesus did not die for our sins; Jesus was not divine but only a human man and Jesus Christ He did not come from heaven to save the lost.
Respect . . . recognition and finally, and most importantly;
REDEDICATION: When you discover the passion and zeal of a Muslim for his religion and his god, it ought to challenge your own faith and commitment to the true God of Abraham.
Examine your own commitment to the truth.
No matter where they are, they pray five times a day – how often do you pray? Missionaries to Muslims in Africa gave me a Muslim prayer mat which I have often rolled out on my study floor and knelt to pray to Yahweh. So convicted by my lack of prayer compared to the Muslim who will unroll his prayer mat 5 times a day, face Mecca and pray to the moon god.
Fasting is also a part of their religious observance? When have you ever skipped a meal in order to pray and focus on your Lord and His word?
Dress guidelines that are more than modest – they are 7th century customs imposed in the 21st century world. Nevertheless, compare the women in our Christian world with Muslim women who dare not show their flesh, and I wonder if Christians in the 21st century have progressed or digressed!
Muslims have passion for the reputation of Allah. Everywhere they go, their greeting of “Allah is great” is broadcast. How often do you talk to others about your living Lord?
With passion they chant their songs to Allah . . . with what kind of passion do we sing to our triune God – God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit?!
In spite of their zeal and passion, here is a world wide religion that gives its followers no assurance of heaven. None. Except for the martyr – the one who dies in some holy jihad (some act of battle against the enemy of Allah) . . . only they are guaranteed Paradise. And what is Paradise? A never empty bottle of wine, and a room full of women.
Surely the great prophet Muhammad was certain of Paradise? No, even Muhammad said, “Although I am an Apostle of Allah, I do not know what Allah will do to me.”
My friend, the religion of Islam provides no assurance for Muslims that they will go to heaven.
Did you notice what God’s promise did for Abraham? 21. and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform.”
Dear friends, Abraham does not belong to the Muslim . . . he does not belong to the Jew . . . he does not belong to some denomination or some nationality. He belongs, as the scriptures have taught us, to those who place their faith in the promised Redeemer.
John Ashcroft was quoted recently by Cal Thomas, a Christian journalist in summarizing the key difference between Islam and Christianity. I believe this quote sums it up,
“Islam is a religion where you send your son to die for God; Christianity is a faith where God sent His Son to die for you.”
This manuscript includes extensive quotes, adaptations and references from the following resources:
The Islamic Invasion, Robert Morey (Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Oregon), 1992
Eternity In Their Hearts, Don Richardson (Regal Books, Ventura, CA), 1981
Handbook of Denominations, Frank S. Mead (Abingdon Press, Nashville, TN), 1980
Time Magazine, September 30, 2002
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