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"...The church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."
I Timothy 3:15
(The following is a brief study on the subject of Islam. Many different sources were referred to which made this research possible. The purpose of the study was to offer a short analysis of some of the basic beliefs, ideas, and views held to by the typical Muslim.)
INTRODUCTION: Islam is not a religious cult in the strictest sense of the word but it is a major world religion, a false religion vastly different and opposed to Christianity. Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world with one out of every 5 people on the face of the earth being a Muslim. It is considered to be one of the four largest religions in the world, behind Christianity, Judaism, and Hinduism. It is estimated that by the year 2010, Islam will move ahead of Judaism to become the second largest religion in America. Hundreds of millions of people all over the world have embraced the Islamic faith to where entire countries are ruled and dominated by Islamic teachings, practices, and laws. Islam is a religious, social, and political force which every born-again Christian and every American should be aware of.
It is recorded that Islam first got its start around 600 A.D. by a man named Mohammed in an area in what is known today as Saudi Arabia. This man claimed to have received supernatural visions and revelations from Allah (Islamic name for God) through the archangel Gabriel: one hundred fourteen to be exact. These visions and revelations were recorded and written down known as the Koran (Arabic term for "the recitation"), the holy book of Islam. Mohammed claimed he was the true and final prophet to restore true religion and the praise of Allah throughout the world.
In order for us to understand the basic history and beliefs of Islam, there are some religious terms that need to be defined:
1) Islam -- is the name of the religion which came out of the revelations and teachings of Mohammed; it is the Arabic term for "submission."
2) Muslim -- name given to one who adheres to, follows the religion of Islam. It means: "one who submits." A Muslim is to submit to the will of Allah as revealed by Mohammed.
Mohammed was born in Mecca in 570 A.D. After his father's death he was raised by his grandfather and an uncle. His uncle was a merchant who traveled and Mohammed accompanied him, becoming a camel driver. It has been explained that when Mohammed began to see the polytheistic, idolatrous Arab tribal society around Mecca deteriorating in his day, that he decided to withdraw to a mountain cave near Mecca and spend a month (28 days) in meditation.
This happened to be the month of Ramadan, the ninth month in Islam's lunar calendar. During this time he claims Allah, through the angel Gabriel, first spoke to him and this is when Islam had its start. Mohammed continued to have visions and revelations and began to claim he was restoring the true religion of Abraham, Moses, Jesus, etc. which had been corrupted. These visions and revelations were later recorded as the Koran. The Koran records Abraham as saying: "This am I commanded, and I am the first of the Muslims."
After conflicts for several years within his own country and people, Mohammed was able to convince many of his fellow Arabs that Allah was the only true god. Sources today indicate that Allah was in fact one of the 360 idol-gods worshiped by the Arab tribes. Allah was originally a moon god to the Arabs. Muhammad's proclaiming of Allah as the only god caused so much opposition in Mecca that he and his followers in 622 A.D. had to flee 250 miles to what is known as Medina.
It was here that Mohammed became the political and religious leader in Medina and the town became the center for expansion of Islam. Mohammed eventually gained enough followers that he conquered Mecca in 630 A.D. He destroyed all the idols in the town and declared it a mosque (Arabic word for "temple"). In the next few years after this Mohammed's followers spread Islam over Palestine and Syria. Over the period of years, Mohammed married 15 wives. He said he did so for political reasons and because so many Muslim women were left without husbands who had been killed in battles of war.
When Mohammed died, he left no male heir to take over and so Islam splintered into different groups. The biggest group is the Sunnite sect which claim to recognize and follow the teachings of the immediate successors of Mohammed. They practice a moderate form of Islamic interpretation of the Koran. Over 90% of the Muslims in the Mideast, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Libya are of this group.
The next biggest group is the Shi'ite sect who claim to be the rightful line of succession to Mohammed. This group is much more literal in its interpretation and application of the Koran and is much more militant and fanatical. About 93% of Muslims in Iran are of this group.
Mohammed died in 632 A.D. and was buried in Medina. This is a known historical fact but Muslim tradition tells a different story. They claim that he went to Jerusalem on a white horse and ascended into heaven from a rock that is now enclosed in the Dome of the Rock (Mosque of Omar) on Mt. Moriah. This is why Jerusalem is considered a holy place for Muslims.
THE KORAN AND ITS TEACHINGS
It is traditionally taught that there is no ceremony, no ritual involved in a person who wants to become a Muslim. All one has to do is to believe and say: "There is no god but Allah and Mohammed is his prophet." After saying this, the person is obligated to do all the duties of Islam. One must remember that the word "Muslim" means: one who submits. Islam basically offers the world two choices: the Koran (conversion) or the sword (death). According to the teaching of the Koran, conversion to Islam can either be by persuasion or force.
We must understand that the spread of Islam through the centuries has been carried out largely on the battlefield. Islam has been advanced by the widespread use of war, torture, and force of arms. Islam has swept over the world slaughtering Jews and Christians alike. Islam is a fighting religion. Conquest is a religious duty in Islam.
The Koran urges Muslims to take up arms against the "infidel" (anyone who is not a Muslim). The Koran specifically says: "When ye encounter unbelievers, strike off their heads until ye have made a great slaughter among them, and bind them in bonds. " In another place it says: "those who fight against you, kill them wherever ye shall find them ...You Allah are our protector. Give us victory therefore over the infidel nations." "Kill thine enemy" is the practical teaching of Islam.
The Koran is the final authority in Islam. It is the recordings of all the visions and revelations that Mohammed supposedly received directly from Allah. There were 114 in total. These revelations in the Koran are believed by Muslims to have come to Mohammed over a period of 23 years. The Koran is divided into 114 "suras" or chapters and contains many quotations and references to the Bible. Quoting from one source: "The Koran offers a religion that relies upon methods of violence and force -- a doctrine of holy wars that brings inducements to political revolution and assassinations which have produced wars and tragedies unimaginable. The Koran offers a theology that is distinctly anti-Christ, claiming a method of salvation based entirely upon works."
Islam claims to revere the writings of all the supposed great prophets of the world yet the Muslims definitely exalt and honor the "prophecy" of Mohammed (i.e. the Koran) above the Scriptures and any other religious writings. Muslims believe that Mohammed is the prophet who fully revealed the final truth and they will not compromise that belief. A leaflet prepared by the Institute of Islamic Information and Education states: "Mohammed is the very last Prophet of God to mankind. He is the final Messenger of God. His message was and is still to the Christians, the Jews, and the rest of mankind. He was sent to those religious people to inform them about the true mission of Jesus, Moses, David, Jacob, Isaac, and Abraham."
The leaflet continues: "Mohammed is considered to be the summation and the culmination of all the prophets and messengers that came before him. He purified the previous messages from adulteration and completed the Message of God for all humanity. He was entrusted with the power of explaining, interpreting, and living the teachings of the Koran." Muslims believe that all mankind must be brought into subjection to the teachings of the Koran in order to experience peace and blessing.
In the Koran, Islam is more than a religion; it is a complete way of life that includes political, economic, social as well as religious conduct. All Islam claims to follow the Koran but there are a multitude of interpretations and applications of it among Muslims.
At first glance to the general public, Islamic belief appears to be almost compatible with Christianity. Often people claim that the Muslims believe in the same God as Christians with the exception that they do not accept Jesus Christ. It is often said that Christians, Jews, and Muslims are worshiping the same God but in different ways. Muslims have capitalized on this misconception and now urge Christians and Jews to worship the one God (Allah) with them, and work together for solutions to the world's many social problems.
Based on the Koran, Muslims believe in one god (Allah but not the Trinity); they believe in God as the Creator and Jesus as a prophet (but not as Saviour); they believe in the resurrection of all (including animals), final judgment, and eternal punishment. They believe in all of these things but not according to the Bible's definition of these things. When you carefully study the Bible and compare it with the teachings of the Koran, it becomes obvious that the god of Islam is not the God of the Bible. Islam rejects the biblical doctrines of the Trinity and the Deity of Christ, among other things.
What Muslims Believe About God
For the Muslim, Allah is the only true God. The Muslim concept of Allah is not what God reveals Himself to be in the Bible. To say that God and Allah are two names for the same being reveals a lack of understanding of the Bible or the Koran or both. The Muslims teach there is no such thing as the "blasphemous" doctrine of the Trinity, i.e. the Godhead is One but exists in three Persons.
Christians are referred to as unbelievers, infidels by the Muslims because they believe in the Trinity. In a booklet entitled Christian Muslim Dialogue on page 16, it states:
"The Trinity is not biblical. The word "trinity" is not even in the Bible or Bible dictionaries; it was never taught by Jesus and was never mentioned by him. There is no basis or proof in the Bible whatsoever for the acceptance of the Trinity." The Koran states that Christians worship 3 gods: God, Jesus, and Mary. It denies that there is a Trinity in the Godhead. It also says that those who say that God is a Trinity are to be severely punished: "Surely they are disbelievers those who said Allah is one of the 3 in a trinity. But there is none who has the right to be worshiped but one God (Allah). And if they cease not from what they say, verily a painful torment will befall the disbelievers among them."
The Muslim god is unapproachable by sinful man; he is so perfect and holy he can only communicate with mankind through a progression of angels and prophets. The Muslim god is a god of judgment, not grace; a god of wrath rather than love. Muslims have no concept of God as a loving and compassionate Father. Muslims never do refer to God as "Father;" they explain He would have to have a wife and children to be called such a name. This means, of course, that Muslims deny the deity of Christ. The Koran states: "It is not meet for Allah, the he should have any son. Allah forbid." Another quote plainly says: "God has no Son."
What Muslims Believe About Jesus Christ
To the Muslim, Jesus Christ is just one of many prophets of Allah. He is not the eternal Son of God or God Himself. Jesus Christ was a prophet for His people in His day. The Koran says: "Jesus is not more than a servant whom we favored, and proposed as an instance of divine power to the children of Israel." Mohammed, say the Muslims, is Allah's last and greatest prophet and all should heed him, superseding Jesus and all other prophets.
From the booklet "Christian Muslim Dialogue," it says on page 3: "The reader will be surprised to learn that in the Bible Jesus never claimed to be God." Islam sees Jesus Christ as a prophet of God who otherwise is no different from other men. The Koran says: "Jesus was no more than a mortal whom Allah favored and made an example to the Israelites." According to the Koran, the main significance of Jesus is that He prophesied the coming of Mohammed. All Muslim commentators teach that Jesus' promise of the coming of the Comforter in John 16:7 is a prophecy that Mohammed would come.
According to the Koran, anyone who says "God is the Messiah, Mary's Son, God shall prohibit him entrance into Paradise and his refuge shall be the fire. They are unbelievers who say God is the Third of Three." Another quote: "Kill those who join other gods with God (Allah) wherever ye shall find them; and seize them, besiege them, and lay wait for them with every kind of ambush."
In reference to Jesus Christ, the Koran states: "The Messiah, Son of Mary, is but an apostle; other
apostles have flourished before him. And his mother was a just person, they both ate food." In other words, Jesus was just a human; God does not eat food, argue the Muslims. Another quote: "God has no wife, therefore he can have no son."
In a pamphlet entitled "Prophethood in Islam" it states: "The Koranic account of Jesus emphatically rejects the concept of his divinity and divine sonship." In a tract called "Is Jesus Really God," written by the Institute of Islamic Information and Education, it states that Islam totally rejects the Biblical teaching that Jesus is God manifest in the flesh.
Islam has even gone as far as to actually deny that Jesus Christ was ever crucified. In the booklet "Christian Muslim Dialogue," it says on page 3: "The reader will be surprised to learn that in the Bible Jesus did not die on the cross." Muslims teach that Jesus Christ did not atone for anyone's sins, although He was Himself sinless. Various Muslim traditions say that Jesus Christ either miraculously substituted Judas Iscariot for Himself on the cross, or that Allah miraculously delivered Him from the hands of the Romans and Jews before He could be crucified. Most Muslims believe that Jesus Christ was taken bodily into heaven without having died. Koran says: "they slew him not nor crucified him, but it appeared so unto them...they slew him not for certain, but Allah took him up unto himself."
To deny Jesus Christ's crucifixion is to deny His resurrection. Muslims believe in a resurrection, but not the resurrection of the crucified Lord Jesus Christ. So here we see that Islam denies the basic, essential message of the Bible: the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In doing so, it has taken away the Saviour and has rejected God's saving grace. Islam says it has a high regard for Jesus as a prophet of Allah but no amount of respect for Jesus as a prophet can be acceptable to God when the Person and work of Jesus Christ are outright denied.
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY?
The Bible teaches that Jesus Christ was indeed God manifest in the flesh (1 Tim. 3 :16). John 1:1 and 14 says God dwelt as a Man among men. The Lord said to the religious people of His day who rejected His deity: "if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins" (John 8:24). The Bible teaches that Jesus Christ was crucified and His crucifixion and resurrection are the basic message of the Bible. About one-third of the words of the first 4 books in the New Testament are given to eye-witness accounts of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The basic essential message of the Bible is the gospel of Jesus Christ, His death on the Cross for sinners, His burial, and His glorious resurrection from the dead.
The Bible teaches that from birth man is a sinner and cannot help or save himself. He must have a substitute to atone for him and the only substitute God will accept is Jesus Christ and His death on the Cross. The death of Christ is the only means of salvation. It is the only means of reconciliation to God. Without the crucifixion, God's Word makes it clear there can be no forgiveness of sin and no eternal life. If Jesus Christ did not die on the Cross and rise from the dead, there is no salvation from sin.
Islam unashamedly rejects these basic truths which comprise the gospel. While many people try to argue that Christians and Muslims worship the same God, 2 John verse 7 and 9 say otherwise: "For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. . . Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son."
Denying the doctrine of Christ reveals Islam as a deception and an antichrist religion. The Koran has substituted false doctrines which present another gospel. No matter how intellectual, civilized, or scientific Islam is made to appear, it is still a religion which embraces and proclaims a false gospel and the Bible declares it and those who believe it to be accursed. "I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed." (Galatians 1:6-8)
FALSE CONCEPT OF SIN AND SALVATION
For a true Muslim, the Koran is the "word of Allah," and is to be believed and practiced literally. Apart from being a Muslim, there is no hope for a person according to the Koran. The Koran says: "Whoso desires any other religion than Islam, that religion shall never be accepted from him, and in the next world he shall be among the lost." Another quote: "The true religion with God is Islam." These two quotes simply signify that there can be no compromise, concession, or agreement between true Christianity and orthodox Islam.
Biblical Christianity and Islam teach a different concept of sin and salvation. Islam believes mankind is born pure, without sin. From the tract entitled "Introducing Islam to Non-Muslims," it is explained: "Muslims believe that people are born free of sin. It is only after they reach the age of puberty and it is only after they commit sins that they are to be charged for their mistakes. No one is responsible for or can take the responsibility for the sins of others."
What this does is to deny the Biblical teaching that all mankind sinned in Adam, i.e. Adam's sin has been imputed to the whole human race: "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:" (Romans 5:12). Second, this is a denial of the Biblical teaching that the sin of man is imputed to Christ, i.e. Christ became sin for us on Calvary's cross: "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." (2 Corinthians 5:21) Third, this is a denial of the Biblical teaching that the righteousness of God is imputed to men upon believing, i.e. believers possess the righteousness of God: "For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous." (Romans 5:19) By denying these truths which are fundamental to the gospel of salvation by grace through faith alone, Islam has laid the groundwork for a false gospel of self-righteousness and salvation by works.
The differing concepts of sin between Christianity and Islam leads to differing views of salvation. Islam's "salvation" is based on an individual's good works outweighing their bad works. The Bible teaches that salvation is not a reward but "the gift of God" (Romans 6:23). Heaven is the eternal abode of those who have received Christ as Saviour. Islam teaches that salvation is indeed a reward for a life of relative piety and righteousness. The Koran states: "Then those whose scales are heavy, they are successful. And those whose scales are light are those who lose their souls."
It is taught that a Muslim cannot be assured of attaining Paradise (Koran's concept of Heaven) unless he dies in a "jihad" (holy war). Then he goes immediately to paradise, which explains why Muslims are willing to die in terrorist acts. Note this quote from the Koran: "And they who have suffered in my cause and have fought and fallen, I will blot out their sins from them, and I will bring them into gardens beneath which the streams do flow."
One writer wrote describing a Muslim's concept of paradise as a type of desert oasis "where they will recline on soft couches, drinking cups of wine handed to them by maidens of paradise, of whom each man may marry as many as he pleases."
FIVE PILLARS OF THE FAITH
Every Muslim who hopes to escape the judgment of Allah, must fulfill his religious duties which are the works of the "Five Pillars of the Faith":
1. Recite the Muslim creed -- "There is no God but Allah and Mohammed is his prophet." To say the creed with conviction and sincerity makes one a Muslim.
2. Pray 5 prescribed prayers a day toward the holy city of Mecca.
3. Give alms to the poor. Muslims are required to give one-fortieth of their income as charitable contributions.
4. Fast during the entire month of Ramadan (9th month in the Muslim's lunar calendar). This is when the Muslims are supposed to fast for 28 days from all food and drink from sunrise to sunset in atonement for their own sins over the previous year. In actuality, what this involves is sleeping all during the day and eating all night.
5. Make a pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca at least once in a lifetime. For those unable to physically go, they can hire a substitute to go in their place.
According to the Bible, Allah is not God, Mohammed is not his prophet, and the Koran is not the Word of God. Islam is a false religion and utterly without power to save from sin because it doesn't recognize Jesus Christ as the Saviour. No person, no matter how religious or how sincere he may be, can possess truth or salvation apart from the Lord Jesus Christ. The person and work of Christ is the crucial divider between Christianity and Islam. Christ's atoning death is the perfect and only sacrifice which God will accept in behalf of sinners.
Our message to Muslims is that they, like all men, are hopelessly lost. All are naturally at enmity with God. There is no good in us that can merit God's favor and there is no good we can do to endear ourselves to Him. Being utterly lost and completely unable to save ourselves, God did all that was required to reconcile men to Himself by sending His only begotten Son. Christ bore our sin, died on the Cross as our Substitute, shedding His precious blood as a complete, all-sufficient, perfect sacrifice for sin, and He arose again bodily from the dead. Repenting of one's sins and believing on Christ, trusting Him for salvation, is all that is necessary to be saved.
Islam claims to be a religion of peace and tolerance when in fact it is characterized by violence and religious bigotry. It is the Christian's duty to diligently witness to, not dialogue with the Muslims. We must stand for the true Gospel and against all other false gospels. Islam has rejected the essential teachings of the Word of God. The so-called prophet Mohammed brought an erroneous message from a false spirit that is totally opposed to the Gospel of God's grace. The message of Islam is a curse, not a blessing. "There is only one true religion. It was prophesied in the Garden of Eden, typified in the days of Noah, confirmed to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and realized in the Person and work of Jesus Christ."
There is no doubt that Muslims have a definite zeal for their god. They desire to follow Allah and express their worship of Allah through their lives. But the fact remains, Muslims need Christ and His saving Gospel which is still the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth. They need not only to hear and believe this life-changing Gospel of Jesus Christ, but they also need to see it demonstrated in the lives of believers to serve as an example of what the Lord can do with a life that is totally and truly surrendered and submitted unto Him. Islam offers this world two choices: the Koran (conversion) or the sword (death). Bible-believing Christians have only one choice to offer the world: the Cross and empty tomb of Jesus Christ.
In this age of ecumenicalism and tolerance, many people would like to emphasize the resemblances and similarities between Islam and Christianity. While the two religions may share many historical persons and events in common, there is still an unbridgeable gap between them. "There is no possible compromise between biblical Christianity and Islam and none should be sought."
Sources Referred To:
The Kingdom of the Cults by Walter Martin.
The Discerner by William A. BeVier
The Baptist Watchman -- "Is the God of Islam the God of the Bible?" by Laurence A. Justice
The False Gospel of Islam by Ric Llewellyn