Note from the writer: The following article was requested by Ps. W. Robert McQillan, then editor of the “Australian Evangel Magazine’ back in 1986. ‘The Evangel’ as it was called, was the Official Magazine of the Assemblies of God in Australia. In 2007 the AOG name was changed to ‘Australian Christian Churches (ACC).’ The article was published in Volume 43 – No 11 November 1986 under the above headline. I believe, that with hindsight, which is always 20/20, the article was somewhat prophetic!
We are being approached more and more by people asking for insights into the strange world of Islam. Australia now has a large and growing Muslim population, with over 70 centres of Islam now established throughout the country! Many Australians are succumbing to their proselytising and are converting to Islam. We have been told, on good authority, that they are even coercing people to become Muslim.
Beginnings: Islam began in the 7th century after Christ, when God, whose name (to the Muslim) is Allah, supposedly gave mankind a new religion through the man Muhammad who is now revered by millions as a holy prophet. Islam is thought of by its followers as a ‘perfect religion’ which combines the basic truth of all religions and enjoins it with new truths, thus making it the complete one. It is regarded as ‘The Universal Religion’. Islam means ‘peace’, therefore ‘peace with God’. A follower of Islam is called a Muslim, which means ‘obedient to God and peace loving’.
Central Teaching: The core of the Islam is, “There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the messenger (or prophet) of Allah”. To acknowledge this statement is to enter the fold of Islam and becoming a Muslim.
Beliefs: To be able to witness effectively to a Muslim, we must be aware of their basic doctrines. These are:
(a) God is one and everlasting.
(b) Angels are God’s agents, working at His command, and that Gabriel is the Holy Spirit(!).
(c) Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Krishna, Buddha, Confucious, etc., were all sinless prophets for their time.
(d) The chief of all prophets was and is Muhammad.
(e) The books of Moses, Psalms of David, Gospels, the Vedas, the Zend-Avastas and other similar books were all God inspired, originally pure, but no longer intact. The basic truths of the foregoing have been incorporated in the Quran (‘Koran’, which some say, is the Muslim equivalent of the Bible) which Muslims believe is 100% the ‘Word of God’ (but only in Arabic!)
(f) There is life after death and a Day of Judgement for all people.
(g) There is a heaven, which is called Paradise.
(h) There is a hell. Hell is a reformatory, for in the end all will be with their ‘Lord’ in heaven.
Duties of a Muslim:
- There are five times in each day that certain prayers must be said.
- To fast and not eat food during daylight hours in each month of Ramadhan, which is Islam’s holy month.
- To give alms to the poor. The legal requirement is to give one-fortieth of their income.
• To journey to Mecca as a pilgrim, at least once in their lifetime and engage in ceremonies and rituals around the Ka’ba Shrine. The pilgrimage is an essential part in gaining salvation.
Features of Islam:
• Islam teaches (but does not practice) the equality of all races believing that all men are equal in the sight of God.
• Islam believes it has the solution to the world’s economic problems. Islam prohibits interest on capital thereby supposedly equalising wealth.
• It is a religious duty of both males and females to acquire knowledge.
• Islam does not allow alcohol, or drugs which cause addiction. The only exception is for medication.
Sin and salvation: Sin is punishable, but Allah forgives it. A sinful deed can be atoned for by a Good deed. Therefore, the righteous are those whose good deeds outweigh the bad.
Jesus Christ: Jesus was born fatherless like Adam. Some Mulims say he did not die on the Cross, someone else did? Others say he only fainted, from which he recovered and went with his mother to Syria, Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan. He took final refuge in Kashmir, in India, dying there at an age of over 100 years.
The Second Coming: Jesus’ second coming was promised by Muhammad. Since Jesus died the Messiah can only be another person coming in the power and spirit of Jesus. (The Ahmadiyya Movement, a sect of Islam, believes the Messiah has come. His name was Ahmad, born in Qadian, India in 1835!)
Sects of Islam
(a) The Sunnis: After Muhammad’s death a power struggle developed as different factions vied to be Muhammad’s successor. Four schools of thought emerged (the Malikis, Hanafis, Shafi’is and Hanbalis) each accepting the Quran, the Sunna (or the practice of the prophet), and the four bases of Islamic Law (Shari’a): the Quran, (the Hadith) and Ij’ma (which is the consensus of the Muslim community) and the Q’yas (the use of analogical reason). These four schools of thought came together to be called the Sunnis, who make up about 90% of today’s number.
(b) The Shi’a: The Shi’a Muslims regard themselves as ‘people of appointment and identification’ because they differ with the Sunnis on leadership. Their leader is appointed by ‘the cycle of initiation’ which which is said to heve been introduced by Muhammad. It is their belief that their leader (or Immam) will be invested with the qualities of inspired and infallible interpretation of the Quran. Their first Immam was Muhammad’s cousin, an adopted son and later a son-in-law, by marriage to his daughter Fatima.
The Immamis are believed to be in direct descent from this line. They believe that the ‘cycle’ will be completed with the messianic return of the 12th Immam. He is said to have withdrawn in the 3rd century of Islam but still gives ‘guidelines’ to his agents on earth, or the ‘doctors of the law’ (Mujtahidun). The most respected today are the Ayatollahs of Iran — Shi’as believe that only they have the right to interpret the law and make religious rulings.
There are two offshoots of the Immamis: (1) the Saidis, who mainly live in Yemen, who do not limit the Immam. There are two groups, vis: the Mizaris, who look to the Aga Khan as their Immam, and the Musta’- lis, (known as the Bohora Muslims) who believe in a hidden Immam, to be revealed?
Iraqi – Iranian war 1980-1988: For several years this war has raged with much carnage caused by conventional weapons and the reported use of chemical warfare. Little has been reported in the media, as no doubt reporting is very difficult. Leaders in the West have called for both countries to enter into peace talks. But what is not understood is that there is no peaceful solution! This is a holy war (Jihad) that must be fought to a conclusion. The Ayatollah Khomeini believes he is leading a struggle ‘between Islam and all infidels’. All who are not Muslims are considered infidels! He has taught his followers, as their Immam, the ‘USA is the mother of all infidels’. This is why they took the US Embassy and held its’ staff as hostages.
Islamic prophecy: Khomeini also believes he has the task of bringing to pass the fulfilment of a prophecy given about 800 years ago, that in the time of the end, the Shi’a would be led by the Imam Mandi (who many believe Khomeini is) in an uprising in which they would overthrow the less militant Sunnis, and establish the Shi’as as the leaders of Islam. This is why there is no possibility of Iran and Iraq negotiating a cease-fire. Peace is not negotiable, for in the Iranian mind, it is a war in which there can only be one result – Victory for the Shi’a (which was a belief held by most back in 1986).
Ezekiel 38:5 mentions Persia and Libya along with other nations as being in an alliance that will come against Israel. It is interesting that Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan, who are not Shi’a, have leant towards Israel in recent times. The reason as I see it is ‘self-preservation’ against the threat of Iran. If Iran marches through Iraq, then Israel, which has one of the most efficient armed forces in the world today, will become Iran’s mark. If Israel is disposed of, then Iran would have no opposition in her quest to dominate all Islam.
Witnessing to Muslims
Remember the Muslim view of Jesus is that He was just a great prophet. They acknowledge He was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, He performed miracles, such as giving sight to the blind, healing lepers and raising the dead. He is called the Messiah and will return to earth to establish Islam. He is called the ‘Word of God’ and the ‘Spirit of God’. But, Jesus is not the Son of God and Saviour! To equate anyone with God is blasphemy — the unforgiveable sin. Most Muslims do not believe He was crucified; someone else died in His place.
Understand that, unlike the God of the Bible, Allah has done nothing for man that cost him something. Islam makes no real provision for sin. Salvation is never sure, as they have a ‘works’ emphasis.
Understand that the teachings of Islam’s founder are based on untrue and inaccurate interpretations of the Bible. His teaching in the Quran is based on revelations which he himself initially believed were demonic in origin.
The Holy Spirit is the chief agent in winning anyone to Christ! Be guided by Him at all times. Avoid condemning Islam or speaking badly of Muhammad or the Quran. Remember the Muslim is adamant that he believes in one true God, who he believes is Allah, and in His laws. In the heart of every true Muslim is a fear of God. Most Muslims have a sense of sin, but they have no conviction of same. Try to forget that they are Muslims and treat them as a human beings who are lost and in need of a Saviour. Your message will be judged by your character, your witness and conduct will speak volumes. Build on truths he already knows, and most importantly bear in mind that all Muslims will respond to love!
1. There are variations of the ‘Shahadah’ (Testimony, Witness) also known as the ‘Kalimah’ (Creed, Statement) within Islam e.g., Sunni Islam says, “I witness that there is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.”