Muslims love to talk about religion, and I write this to encourage you to talk with your Muslim neighbors about meaningful spiritual matters that concern salvation and eternity. Unlike Westerners who often avoid conversations about religion and politics with people they just met, Muslims have no problem discussing religious matters. They cherish such conversations. In fact, when you meet a Muslim, if you do not begin talking about religion, most likely they would. They would also likely invite you to Islam soon after they develop a friendship with you. Do not be intimidated, but be bold and kind and thoughtful as you bring Jesus to the conversation. However, most Muslims come to conversations with misconceptions about Christianity, Christians, and Christ. Here I share with you three misconceptions, and I hope to help you refute them as you reflect the image of Christ, our Lord and Savior.
Misconception 1: The West Is Christian
This is a cultural misconception that often leads to very bad images in the Muslim mind about Christians and Christianity. Since Muslims view Islam as both a religion and state, they tend to view the West as Christian. In particular, they perceive Europe and North America as Christian. This is problematic on at least two levels: culturally and politically. Some Muslims view Hollywood as Christian and the actors and actresses reflecting a Christian lifestyle. So, women wearing crosses and dancing and men cohabitating in a lax lifestyle are erroneously interpreted in the Muslim mind as Christian living. This is, of course, wrong and incorrect, but it creates a barrier that we should cross. Tell your Muslim neighbor in the first opportunity that you are a follower of Christ and that you do not mess around but honor Christ and adhere to the Bible’s commands. Politically, Muslims often think that the Christian West is against Islam. Your best way forward is to direct their thinking on Jesus, the Prince of Peace. Affirm that the West is not Christ and that his disciples never carried out military campaigns to promote his message. While you can always bring the facts about the Muslim conquests and ask whether they were divinely prescribed, I encourage you to stick to focusing on Jesus and his teaching and character. Affirm that, in Christ, we are called to be peacemakers, not battle initiators (Matt. 5:9, Rom. 6:23).
Misconception 2: Christians Worship Three Gods
This is a major theological misconception. It stems from centuries of confusion among Muslims about the nature of the Triune God. Some Muslims think that Christians believe that Mary was God’s consort. The result of their relations was Jesus as their child (The Quran 4:171; 5:72–75; 5:116–117). As Christians we consider this blasphemous. Sometimes once you declare this fact, Muslims are convinced. However, in most of the conversations, Christians should show from the Bible that we worship one—and only one—God. I often show Muslims Deuteronomy 6:4–9 and Mark 12:29.
Many times these verses suffice to convince Muslims that Christians do not worship many gods. In other situations, we will still need to explain the Trinity. We should convey to Muslims that we believe in one God—one being in three persons. To explain the three persons, we should pose questions to Muslims to help them understand the plurality within the unity of God. Muslims will totally agree that God’s Word and God’s Spirit are eternal, because God has never been world-less and his Spirit has eternally existed. This means that it is acceptable for Muslims to claim that God, his Word, and his Spirit are eternal and uncreated. We should tell Muslims that this roughly explains how Christians talk about God. His Spirit is holy and his Word is his Son. These three are the persons of the one being we call our God.
Misconception 3: The Bible Is Corrupt
This is another theological misconception. Most Muslims are convinced that the true Bible is lost and the one we have today is falsified, altered, or corrupted. Whenever Christians attempt to use the Bible, Muslims may object to using it and claim it is useless. This understanding has run deep in Muslim accusations against Christianity for over fourteen centuries. However, most Muslims repeat the claim as they hear it in the local mosque without really any strong foundation.
In this case, I often tell Muslims that if they say the Bible is corrupt, then they admit the Quran is false and spreading lies. This statement is a preparation to show Muslims from their own scripture that their claims of biblical falsification run totally against what the Quran claims. Here, I only use the Quran since it is the only book a Muslim believes—it is the ultimate authority for all Muslims. Once a Muslim is convinced the Bible is not corrupt, there is no need to refer to the Quran at all. I take my Muslim friend on a journey in Islam’s scripture, showing that the Quran clearly states that Allah inspired the Torah of Moses, the Psalms of David, and the Gospel (e.g., The Quran 5:43–45; 4:163, 17:55, 21:105; 57:27). In addition to the three scriptures, the Quran uses a unique term, Zikr, which means “The Reminder,” to refer to the Bible as a scripture revealed before Islam, aiming to remind humankind of the truth about the deity. For these four scriptures, there is no one single verse in the Quran that claims they are corrupt or falsified.
Your best way forward is to direct their thinking on Jesus, the Prince of Peace.
Some Muslims may claim that the Zikr is the Quran, but this cannot be true since the Quran itself states, “For We have written in the Psalms, after the Reminder (Zikr), ‘The earth shall be the inheritance of My righteous servants’” (The Quran 21:105). Here the Zikr was revealed before the Psalms. Additionally, Allah affirms, “We have, without doubt, sent down the Reminder (Zikr), and we assuredly preserve it” (The Quran 15:9). Allah instructs Muhammad, “if you are in doubt about what We have sent down to you, ask those who read the Book before you” (The Quran 10:94). If the books revealed before Muhammad are corrupt, then Allah is misleading. The Quran associates Moses with the Zikr: “We did give to Moses and Aaron the salvation and a radiance and a Reminder (Zikr) to those who fear” (The Quran 21:48). Allah instructs Muhammad, “if you are in doubt about what We have sent down to you, ask those who read the Book before you” (The Quran 10:94).
This clearly makes the pre-Islamic scripture unfalsified. Some verses assure the hearers of the Quran that the Bible in its totality is uncorrupted (The Quran 29:46). The Quran asserts that the Torah in particular is perfectly preserved and that the Jews must follow it, as it contains the true laws of God and his light and guidance (The Quran 5:43–44). Similarly, the Quran affirms the Gospels, states that Christians must follow it, and declares that it confirms the Torah and has true guidance (The Quran 5:46). Thus, the Quran—presumably during Muhammad’s time—affirms the truthfulness of the Torah and the Gospels, and explicitly declares that they contain guidance and light. How, then, can they be corrupt? If the Quran states, “No man can change the words of Allah” (The Quran 6:34), how can Allah preserve the Quran and leave the Bible to the hands of people to corrupt it?
A. S. Ibrahim is the author of Reaching Your Muslim Neighbor with the Gospel.
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