What do Muslims believe?
And whoever puts all his trust in Allah, He will be enough for him - Surah At-Talaq 65:1-3
Muslims, in the western world at least, do not have the best reputation.
For most, Islam (The religion Muslims practice) is synonymous with terrorism and war. With the U.S.A. fighting against radical terrorist groups in the middle east, the media has painted most Muslim people as terrorists and evildoers. When in reality, that is not the case. The vast majority of Muslims do not condone the evil actions of the groups.
The same logic applies when the world says: “All Christians hate homosexuals.” Yes, there may be some Christians who leverage their misunderstandings of scripture to hate a certain group of people. But, by and large, Christians do not dislike homosexuals and welcome them into the Church. It is a small minority that earns the large negative reputation. The same is true with Islam. Islam is a religion built on pursuing peace and honoring their God. Not simply causing chaos in the world.
Which is why this post will cover some context, core beliefs and practical tips for a Christian who wants to witness to a practitioner of Islam.
For starters, Islam was founded in the 7th century by a prophet named Muhammed. Muhammad, via visits by the angel Gabriel, eventually composed the words of Allah (Islam’s God) which is known as the Qur’an. Think of it as their bible. It is their guide to life.
The Qur’an, which is seen as the literal words of Allah, is the driver of their faith and doctrines. Same of those main doctrines are:
- A belief in one God, Allah. Which is why Muslims struggle with the Christian Trinity so much. They see us as having three Gods and breaking their most important doctrine.
- A belief in the angels. Christians believe in angels too, but Muslims hold them in higher regard. Remember, Muhammed got his inspiration directly from an angel. - A belief in the prophets. These prophets actually include some biblical prophets, like Moses. But also include Muhammed as the last one. - A belief in the revelation of Allah, the Qur’an. Surprisingly, Muslims actually accept portions of the Bible as true - like the Torah and Gospels. But add on the Qur’an which they see as perfect. - A belief in predestination. They see Allah as sovereign. Similar to how Christians see God, but they emphasize and respect Allah’s sovereignty much more than the typical Christian. Which is not necessarily a wrong thing.
- A belief in the judgement day and afterlife. Muslims, like Christians, believe people will either go to Paradise (Heaven) or Hell.
In light of judgement day and afterlife though, Islam is quite different from Christianity in how one attains eternal paradise.
Christians cling to the fact that Christ paid for our sins on the cross and provided us a path to Heaven by virtue of God’s Grace and forgiveness. Muslims must construct their own road though by following the “Five Pillars.” The Pillars are as follows:
1. Profession of Faith (shahada). Professing belief in Allah as the one true God by reciting a particular Arabic phrase. 2. Prayer (salat). Muslims put Christians to shame when it comes spiritual practices, specifically their practice of prayer. They pray five times a day - facing the Mecca each time. 3. Alms (zakat). Basically giving away their income, sort of like a tithe. Except 2.5% of someone’s wealth instead of 10%. 4. Fasting (sawm). During the daylight hours of Ramadan (google it), Muslims are required to abstain from food and drink. 5. Pilgrimage (hajj). Involves every Muslim taking at least one trip to the Holy city of Mecca, in Saudi Arabia.
Only by following the five pillars do Muslims have a shot at paradise. Yet, even so, they never truly know if they did enough. Muhammed wasn't even certain he was headed for paradise (Surah 46:9). With all of that said, Muslims, like every other religious person, have deep convictions as to why they believe what they believe. They are not all crazy or foolish. They were just taught differently.
In having conversations with someone who practices Islam, approach them with the understanding that they have reasons for their beliefs. Pray that your pride be left at the door, listen well and hear their heart.
Doctrine wise, focus on the premise of earning paradise vs. being given it by virtue of God’s grace. Working our way to Heaven is both exhausting and impossible - in both belief systems.
Share about the love and forgiveness God has for them. Emphasize that Allah and the Christian God are not the same God. One requires work for eternal paradise and the other completed the work for us on the cross.
Overall, deal with and dialogue with your Muslim friends in a way Christ would. With patience, kindness and grace.
https://www.gotquestions.org/Islam.html https://www.history.com/.amp/topics/religion/islam https://isbcc.org/what-is-islam/