God Loves Muslims – And Now, So Do I

I’ve always known that God loves Muslims and I should too. But, to be honest, loving those who adhere to a religion that inspires heinous atrocities around the world has always been tough for me. It’s not that I harbored hatred toward Muslims. Truth is, I never really knew any Muslims all that well. I just simply didn’t find the stereotype particularly attractive.

However, the past couple weeks have dispelled those negative stereotypes. First, I read, Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus, by Dr. Nabeel Qureshi and grew to love his Muslim family, even though I’ve never met them. The Muslims he described were kind and compassionate, smart, and full of integrity. Though their religious convictions are very different than mine, they’re much more like my own family than many nominal Christians or secularists I know. They’re passionate about their beliefs and live according to those beliefs. I respect that.

Screen Shot 2015-04-14 at 6.41.01 PMSecondly, I had the privilege last week of spending time with one very prominent Muslim — Dr. Shabir Ally, an imam and president of the Islamic Information and Dawah Centre International. Dr. Ally participated in the debate I moderated with Dr. Qureshi at Wayne State University. And, truth is, I really liked him. Either he’s an incredible actor or he’s a genuinely gracious and endearing person. I choose to believe the latter.

Equally important, though, reading Qureshi’s book dispelled several myths for me. I think these myths are pretty common among American Christians, so I decided to outline them in this post:

Myth #1:  The Only Peaceful Muslim is a Nominal One.

There’s no doubt the Quran appears to advocate violence. One verse, for example, says, “Slay the infidels wherever you find them.” However, I learned reading Qureshi’s book that some Muslims sincerely believe that this violent verse only applies to a very specific circumstance — “when the polytheists of Mecca had breached a contract with Muslims.” The general principle of Islam, these Muslims believe, is peace. In fact, the Quran also contains another verse that says “there is no compulsion in religion.”

“Many Muslims, even devout ones, don’t know these stories…. They are genuinely deceived into believing Islam is a peaceful religion — and they are genuinely peaceful people.”

Now, if you study the Quran in depth, and also the hadith (Muhammad’s words or actions recorded in tradition), you’ll discover that Muhammad clearly advocated slaying infidels, sometimes quite brutally. In fact, as Qureshi recounts, in hadith 1.24, Muhammad says, “I have been ordered by Allah to fight against people until they testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that Muhammad is Allah’s Apostle, and offer the prayers perfectly and give the obligatory charity . . . then they will save their lives and property from me.” (italics added) Plus, both hadith and sirah (biographies of Muhammed’s life) recount a horrific story where Muhammad captured and beheaded over 500 Jewish men and teenage boys.

But, as Qureshi recounts, many Muslims, even devout ones, don’t know these stories. And, when they are confronted with them, they desperately try to explain them away. Likely, given the strength of their devotion to Islam and how integral it is to their identity, they believe their own rationalizations. To do otherwise is simply unthinkable. They are genuinely deceived into believing Islam is a peaceful religion — and they are genuinely peaceful people.

Myth #2: Arguing Religion With Muslims is Pointless and Will Only Cause Division.

I’ve heard this argument numerous times applied not just to discussing religion with Muslims, but with any adherent of another faith or even no faith. In fact, I once hosted a program on whether apologetics helps or hurts our Christian witness. Arguing that apologetics actually hurt our witness was David Fitch, author and B. R. Lindner Chair of Evangelical Theology at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL. Reiterating his blog post, Fitch said Christian apologetics simply alienate unbelievers. Plus, apologetics create “over defended Christians unable to listen.”

Now, I’ve never really bought this argument. In fact, I have found that some of the best listeners I know are Christians trained in apologetics. Yes, they are good at offering a defense of the gospel, as 1 Peter 3:15 exhorts us to do. But, most know the answers to the questions because they’ve heard them repeatedly in their close and caring relationships with their non-Christian friends.

However, before the past couple of weeks, I didn’t realize how much Muslims truly relish debate, and how going toe-to-toe with them actually engenders respect. My family background is almost entirely Western European, so I’m not sure why this is the case — but we are much the same way. We love passionately debating religion, politics and hot-button issues. Until recently, I never realized that I had such affinity with Muslim people.  I’m really hoping now that God brings some Muslims into my life. This brings me to my last myth . . .

Myth #3: Muslims Don’t Want Relationships With Christians

I don’t know that I ever really thought about this last myth – at least, not consciously. My parents were missionaries, so they taught us to always be open to people from other cultures. But, of all the people I would expect to be open to relationship with me, Muslims would probably be near the bottom of that list. I admit, that’s probably pretty sad and inexcusable, but that’s what I thought.

“I’m convinced Muslims are worth our best effort. Many of them are open and waiting for relationship with us; are we open and welcoming with them?”

Nothing, however, could be further from the truth. When I discussed this with Dr. Qureshi, he told me about a Muslim he knew who came to the West to study and brought with him a suitcase full of gifts. He intended to give those gifts to the people who invited them into their homes. Sadly, he returned home with that suitcase still full of those gifts. Not one person had invited him into his home. Even now, writing this story brings tears to my eyes. God is bringing the world to us in America, but often we’re too preoccupied to even notice.

Qureshi may never have come to faith in Jesus had it not been for David, a fellow student and passionate follower of Christ, who befriended him. Had David kept to himself, Nabeel Qureshi would have never been confronted with the truths of Christianity. Last week’s debate would have never happened. And, all those who have been strengthened in their faith or believed in Christ because of Nabeel Qureshi’s testimony would have missed out. Building relationships and sharing Christ with Muslims may take a bit more effort than building relationships with people just like ourselves. But, I’m convinced Muslims are worth our best effort. Many of them are open and waiting for relationship with us; are we open and welcoming with them?

 

 

 

 

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3 thoughts on “God Loves Muslims – And Now, So Do I

  1. Tom

    Is the Christian/Muslim debate from Wayne State available to listen to? Would you give me the link? I listened to the debate on the radio on 4-11 and I wanted to hear it again and share it with some friends.
    Tom

  2. JUSTME

    In Exodus 32:30-35, Moses asks God to punish him for the sin committed by the people in regards to the Golden Calf. Gd tells Moses that the person who committed the sin is the one who must receive the punishment. Then, in Deuteronomy 24:16, God simply states this as a basic principle, ‘Every man shall be put to death for his own sin.The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the father. Every man shall be put to death for his own sin. [Deuteronomy 24:16]
    ‘ This concept is repeated in the Prophets, in Ezekiel 18: ‘The soul that sinneth, it shall die… the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.’ The prophet Jeremiah looks to the day when the mistaken belief that one man’s death atones for another man’s sins shall no longer be held by anyone: in Jeremiah 31:29-30, the prophet says: ‘In those days they shall say no more, The fathers have eaten a sour grape, and the children’s teeth are set on edge. But every one shall die for his own iniquity: every man that eateth the sour grape, his teeth shall be set on edge.’…What does Gd say about human sacrifice in the Tanakh, the Hebrew Bible? In Deuteronomy 12:30-31, God calls human sacrifice something that He hates, and an abomination to Him, ‘for every abomination to the Etrnl, which he hateth, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods.’ In Jeremiah 19:4-6, God tells us that human sacrifice is so horrible a concept to Him, that it did not even come into His mind to demand it from His creation, ‘They have built also the high places of Baal, to burn their sons with fire for burnt offerings unto Baal, which I commanded not, nor spake it, neither came it into my mind.’ We see the same thing in Psalm 106:37-38, and in Ezekiel 16:20. This teaches that God would not accept Jesus’ or anybody’s death on the cross as a blood sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins. The very idea of that Gd would accept a human sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins is unacceptable….God is One, as we read in Deuteronomy 6:4, as well as in Isaiah 44:6, where God tells us, ‘I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no Gd.’ When Isaiah tells us that Gd said, ‘I am the first,’ it means that Gd has no father. When Isaiah tells us that Gd said, ‘I am the last,’ it means that Gd has no literal son, a divine piece of Gd. And when Isaiah tells us that Gd said, ‘Besides me there is no Gd,’ it means that Gd does not share being Gd with any other Gd, or demi-Gd, or semi-Gd, or persons, and there is shud b no trinity……Gd is not a man that he should lie; neither the Son of Man that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good? [Numbers 23:19]

    so julie u can see the law(torah) and the tradition of the prophets b4 the coming of the christ CLEARLY contradicts the basis of the current belief system that christians hav today…. let c what jesus say about the law n the previous prophets b4 him..MATTHEW 5 17-20 17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven…JESUS CLEARLY AFFIRMS THE OLD LAW/TORAH AND THE TRADITIONS OF PREVIOUS PROPHETS.. SO JULIE, THE TRINITY, GOD BEING A MAN i.e. JESUS, JESUS DYING ON THE CROSS /BLOOD OF THE SACRIFICED JESUS WAS TO WASH HUMANITY’S SINS R ALL CLEAR DEVIATIONS FROM THE LAW N THE PROPHETS WHICH JESUS HIMSELF DEARLY DEFENDS IN MATT 5 17-20…WHAT U PEOPLE HAV TODAY IS THE PAULINE DOCTRINE OF CHRISTIANITY RATHER THAN THE JESUS’S WHICH DIAMETRICALLY OPPOSES TO THE TEACHINGS OF JESUS AND THE OLDER PROPHETS…YES GOD SPEAKS ABOUT THE COMING OF THE NEW COVENANT IN THE TORAH, BUT GOD DOESNT SAY THAT THE NEW COVENANT WILL ABOLISH ALL THE EARLIER FUNDAMENTAL RULES IN HAND, GOD SAYS THAT THE NEW COVENANT IS A COVENANT THAT UNLIKE WHAT HE HAS NOT MADE WITH THE FOREFATHERS OF JEWS B4.. U MAY ARGUE GOD MAY HAV MEANT CHANGING THE LAW TO WHAT CHRISTIANS HAVE TODAY, YET JESUS HIMSELF WHO WAS SUPPOSED TO BRING THAT NEW WAYS TO THE COVENANT EMPHATICALLY CONFIRMS UNEQUIVOCALLY THE CONTINUITY OF THE OLD COVENANT N THE PROPHETIC TRADITIONS IN MATT 5 17-20 ABOVE..N NO OTHER VERSES IN THE NT THAT HAS A DIRECT QUOTATIONS FROM THE ‘MOUTH’ OF JESUS LIKE MATT 5 VERSES ABOVE THAT CHALLENGES/NULLIFIES THE MATT 5 VERSES ABOVE, IN FACT LOTS OF OTHER VERSES IN THE NT ACTUALLY SUPPORT THE MATT 5 VERSES ABOVE, LIKE JESUS PRAYING ALL NIGHT LONG; WHO’S JESUS PRAYING TO IF HE HIMSELF IS GOD? N WHY DO U PRAY SAYING ‘OUR FATHER WHO R IN HEAVEN’ WHEN THE FATHER IS IN FACT IN THE BODY OF JESUS (AS GOD-INCARNATE)? WHY NOT SAY OUR FATHER WHO R IN JESUS? .. THIS IS WHY WE MUSLIMS CANNOT ACCEPT CHRISTIANITY TODAY.. I’M SURPRISED OF NABEEL BEING A LEARNED MAN,SURELY HE WUD HAV STUDIED ENUFF OF THE BIBLE AND FOUND THESE FUNDAMENTAL CONTRADICTIONS B4 ACCEPTING A CHRISTIANITY..NEVER MIND HE WAS A MUSLIM B4 FOR BEING AN AHMEDIYYA IS NOT QUITE A BEING A MUSLIM HIMSELF..TO US NABEEL MOVED FROM ONE DEVIATION TO ANOTHER..

  3. Jamal

    Dear Julie, we only ask you to read both the Quran and the Bible and then find out which one is the violet book, in fact all verses in Quran referring to violence are explained and justified on when to use violence, please stop cherry picking and hypocrisy.

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