It is important for Christians to understand other cultures and religions. As we continue learning about other faiths, this post will aid in our understanding of Islam. As stated before, I do not believe that all religions lead to the same end or that all religions are equally true. However, I do believe in Religious Liberty. This is the idea that people should be free to practice whichever religion they choose. While we may not agree with one another regarding our spiritual beliefs, we can seek to understand one another and treat one another with kindness and respect.
Christianity and Islam in Conversation
Both Christians and Muslims find the origin of their faith in Abraham. We have similar teachings about the creation of the world, the plan and purpose of humanity, and the belief that one God is Lord over all the earth. Muslims and Christians both regard Jesus as a prophet, but Christians see him as the second member of the Trinity and therefore as God, while Muslims believe Jesus was only a good man. Both Christians and Muslims believe that God has a moral plan or will for how we are to live. Christians can learn about devotion from Islam because of how Muslims are committed to rituals intended to keep people focused on God. Muslims can learn from Christians about the deep importance of making faith personal and a matter of the heart.
An Overview of Islam
Mohammed (Ubu’l Kassim) born in 571 AD in Mecca, began having visions at the age of 40 that led to the beginning of the religion. His teachings drove him to leave Mecca and go to Medina. This flight is marked as the beginning of Islam (622 AD). Mohammed died in 632 AD after recapturing Mecca and spreading His religion to many people.
Qu’ran – 114 chapters called suras, principal writing, only Arabic is seen as authoritative
Hadith – these are the compilations of the traditions of the faith, stories about Mohammed, and laws for daily living.
Six Doctrinal Beliefs:
Belief in Allah – Monotheistic (Allah alone is God)
Belief in Angels – the messengers of Allah
Belief in the prophets – prophets receive revelations through angels and proclaim them to man
Belief in the Qu’ran – final and complete scripture that is exalted above all other scriptures
Belief in the Day of Judgment – Resurrection of dead, judgment day, new world, hell (those that go to paradise will have food, drink, recline on couches in gardens and will be in a state immortal youth, the men will also have many newly created virgins as companions)
Belief in Predestination – Allah is sovereign, everything is attributed to his will (even salvation – no matter how good one is or how hard they try to please him, he ultimately is the only one who can decide their eternal faith
The Five Pillars of Islam (a sixth pillar is Jihad)
Shahadah – Creed – must make statement of belief
Salat – Prayer – prayer is held 5 times a day (early morning, midday, midafternoon, evening, and late evening) on Friday ceremonial washing is practiced with noon prayer, someone reads from the Qu’ran and the Imam (leader) leads the congregation in the necessary words
Sawn – Fasting during Ramadan – Ramadan means shared discomfort, occurs on ninth month of their calendar
Zakat – Charity to the Poor – this is a religious tax (about 2.5%) to meet needs of poor, maintain mosques, hospitals, schools, defense forces, etc.
Hajj – Pilgrimage to Mecca – actual journey to Mecca to see the Ka’bah (black stone) – Muslims believe that Adam and Abraham venerated this stone and that it was a gift from Allah.
Types of Islam:
Nation of Islam
Allah created world, people are to live morally in accordance with his commands. The solution to the problem of disobedience is for Muslims to recite the Shahada. This is done when professing belief in Allah.
Dr. Scott Shiffer has a Ph.D. in Christian Theology from the B.H. Carroll Theological Institute and has been teaching religion classes since 2006. He leads Transformation Media Ministries, an organization to help believers think biblically about culture in America. Scott has given numerous presentations including one at Oxford. He has spoken at church retreats, youth retreats, conferences, and has taught discipleship classes for over 10 years. Scott is married and has three children. He has a heart for helping believers draw closer to God and for aiding them as they are faced with new challenges in America every day.