The title of this article is exactly what I want to emphasize because I have been looking through the wrong lenses for quite some time about who Muslims are and what they believe. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve been looking through the lenses of some one elseÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s prescription and now I want to share how I see Muslims through the eyes of Christ.
Before I begin getting to the actual point of this article I want to give a short background of the origin of Islam. I also want to look through the lenses of some historical figures and a general modern perspective on Muslims. In the year 595, Muhammad, then in his twenties, married a widow named Khadijah, after serving her for some time as a merchant actively engaged with trading caravans to the north. He and Khadijah had two sons (who did not survive), and four daughters. During this period of his life Muhammad traveled widely.
When he was in his forties he began to retire to meditate in a cave on Mount Hira outside of Mecca. About this time the Arabic communities were infested with paganism and polytheistic beliefs. There were Persian Jews and Byzantine Christians or in other words Greek Christians that surrounded these areas as well. Muhammad felt that polytheism was not the true way and knew that the Jews and the Christians were right about there being one true God. Muhammad had a vision or spiritual experience in the cave and he became very fearful. He was unsure whether or not the experience was from God or from the devil. He decided to go to his wife and share his vision and ask for advice on what he should do. Khadijha told him that he was a good man and there is no way God would allow him to have a vision from the devil, but she saw that he was still filled with doubt so she sent him to her cousin Waraqqa who happened to be a Christian. So Muhammad decided to go to see Waraqqa and share this experience with him. When Waraqqa heard what had happened to Muhammad Waraqqa told him that it was Ã¢â‚¬Ëœthe angel Gabriel, the same angel who had appeared to Mary the mother of Christ. He also told Muhammad that God had called him to be a prophet and do as God tells him to do. He told him to basically Ã¢â‚¬Ëœgo for itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢. Now letÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s pause here for a moment and evaluate this. If Waraqqa had discipled Muhammad the right way I think that history would be changed forever. By the right way I mean if Waraqqa had told Muhammad, Ã¢â‚¬Å“letÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s look at the Bible and see what God is sayingÃ¢â‚¬Â, or Ã¢â‚¬Å“letÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s go to my pastor or priest and see what he has to sayÃ¢â‚¬Â, who knows how history would have played out? I truly believe that in the beginning Muhammad was sincerely seeking the truth but he was misdirected and unguided. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a common theme in human nature when people are misdirected or guided in the wrong direction they end up going the wrong way! ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s as simple as that. Our understanding of the truth is limited because our understanding has been distorted by sin. This really plays in well with the view of Muslims and understanding them. LetÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s look at some perspectives from some historical figures on Muhammad and Islam (see Karen ArmstrongÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s, Ã¢â‚¬Å“MUHAMMADÃ¢â‚¬Â, London, Victor Golancz Ltd, 1991).
In the 11th century, around 1095 A.D., Pope Urban II began what was called the first crusade. The PopeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s intention in the beginning was to regain control of the Holy Land from the Muslims. The horrific massacres that followed is still very fresh in the minds of many people, especially in the minds of Muslims today. DonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t get me wrong there was bloodshed on both sides of the field, but the lenses through which the Pope viewed Muslims and their prophet Muhammad were plainly seen as evil (see Karen ArmstrongÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Ã¢â‚¬Å“MUHAMMADÃ¢â‚¬Â, London, Victor Golancz Ltd, 1991, pgs 25-28).
In the 13th century there was an Italian poet by the name of Dante. He wrote a poem called Inferno which basically was a poem about all the levels of hell and in DanteÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s perspective he put Muhammad in one of the lowest parts of hell (see Karen ArmstrongÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Ã¢â‚¬Å“MUHAMMADÃ¢â‚¬Â, London, Victor Golancz Ltd, 1991, pg 29).
In the 16th century we have what we call the Reformation. Luther played a huge role in this reformation so we will look through his lenses. Luther knew very little about Islam. Luther analyzed its faults in much the same way as he analyzed Roman Catholicism. Even though he knew a little about Islam he just assumed that they were the same and labeled them as heretical. This is true about some of the teachings of Islam but later on I will show that itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not completely heretical; as a matter of fact the Quran is a lot closer to the Bible than people may think (see Karen ArmstrongÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Ã¢â‚¬Å“MUHAMMADÃ¢â‚¬Â, London, Victor Golancz Ltd, 1991, pg 34).
Then we have the perspective of western secular media of today. The media really portrays the Muslims as the enemy which must be destroyed. They portray all Muslims as fundamental terrorists and IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m sorry to say this but many Christians here in the west believe the same thing; I was one of them.
Looking through the lenses of Christ has shown me that this is far from the truth. Looking through new lenses letÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s take a look at the Quran. The Quran doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t mention anything about the miracles of Muhammad except for one and that is the Quran. Muhammad said that the Quran itself was a miracle because he was illiterate and there was no way he could have written anything as beautiful as the Quran was. The miracles that are attributed to Muhammad are all in whatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s called the Hadith or the traditions of Muhammad. This is actually what Muslims follow and look at more than they do the Quran. The way Muslims live theirs lives is based on the Hadith. The Hadith is a book of traditions passed down from person to person. Using a more modern explanation, Mark who told Janie who told Roy who told Samuel who told Michael saw some guy see Muhammad tie his shoes starting with his left shoe then his right. The Hadith is filled with writings such as these.
But I want focus more on the Quran though because in the Quran we can find that Jesus is called the Word, the Spirit, and the Most Exalted. Right now most of you who are reading might be thinking, what? In chapter 3: 45 of the Quran it says that Jesus is the Word and Most Exalted in this world and the hereafter. In chapter 4:171 of the Quran it says that Jesus is the Word and the Spirit of God. To elaborate on this specific verse the Quran says that there is no Trinity but one God. We must realize we agree with them in the sense that there is only one God but we believe that He is disclosed in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Muslims believe that we believe in three separate gods who are the father, the son, and mary. By getting rid of these misconceptions we can bring down many barriers between us. The Muslim Faith or creed says they have to believe in the unseen, they have to participate in worship, give alms which means they have to give 2.5% of their income to the poor, they have to believe in the Quran, previous scriptures, and the afterlife (Surah 2:1-10). Now ask yourself, Ã¢â‚¬ËœwhatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s familiar or similar to their faith and ours?Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ WhatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s interesting about this is they have to believe in the previous scriptures. What are the previous scriptures you might ask? They are the Taurat of Musa (Torah of Moses), Zabur of Daud (Psalms of David), and Injil of Isa (Gospel of Christ or New Testament). You might be a little confused at this point! MuhammadÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s intention was not to start a new religion but to confirm all the previous scriptures that I had mentioned above. Muslims believe in all of these things but they also believe that we donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have the copies of these previous scriptures in the original languages. This is also a misconception because we do have interlinear translations of the New Testament and Old Testament which means that we have translations that have Hebrew/English and Greek/English side by side translations. Of course Muslims will then say that the Greek and Hebrew we have are not the original ones. This is true, but we have copies of the copy of the original manuscripts. We have about 5,000 manuscripts dating from before and after the time of Muhammad and they all agree in everything except some very minor scribal details and variations. Objectively many Liberal scholars alongside Christian scholars have found and agree that those manuscripts are 99 + % accurate; no other book from antiquity possesses anything like this abundance in manuscripts and accuracy (see Bruce Metzger, The Text of the New Testament, pp 31-33). Then we have archeological and secular testimony to the accuracy of the New and Old Testament (For a critical and scholarly presentation of secular sources of early Christianity, see F.F. Bruce, Non-Christians Origins). In addition to that Muhammad himself was told to consult the readers of the prior books if he had any doubts about the Quran (see Surah 10:94 in the Quran).
In conclusion I must emphasize the purpose of the article. The reason I have shared this information with you is not so you can go out there and prove them wrong but so that our misconception of them would also be dispelled. The primary reason why I shared this information with you is because Muslims have a prayer that they have to pray five times a day which is all of Surah 1 or Chapter 1 of the Quran. They have to pray these five different times a day, but in those five different times they have to pray this a total of 52 times a day. To elaborate itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s like when you work out at the gym you have sets and reps. LetÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s say you have three sets of curls but in these three sets you have 10 reps each. ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s what I mean! In this prayer they are asking God to show them the straight way, to show them the path of grace. So 52 times a day they are asking God to show them the straight way of grace. Well my fellow Christian brothers and sisters God has heard there prayer because we are the people to show them the straight way of Grace and that is Jesus Christ. What can be more profound than that? In John 4 Jesus gives us the best example on how to reach our Muslim neighbor. Jesus goes into Samaria, which was considered very unclean by all Jews, and built a bridge to a Samaritan women by going into her comfort zone and showing her the straight way of Grace, Himself. We have a similar view of Muslims that the Jews had of the Samaritans, but we must participate with God and showing them the straight way. We must do this with our new lenses on and see them the way Jesus sees them. Even if you are not specifically called to bring Muslims to Christ you are called to love them and the only way we can truly love them is to see them through the eyes of Christ.
Armstrong, Karen. MUHAMMAD. London: Victor Golancz, 1991.
Metzger, Bruce. The Text of the New Testament
Bruce, F. F. Non-Christian Origins.