<<the religion of Muslims>>
Islam is Arabic for ‘surrendered’. A Muslim is a person who follows the religion of Islam, which totals about 1.6 billion people worldwide. A Caliphate is an Islamic state, led by a caliph who is a successor to the prophet Muhammad. This religious and political leader’s power and authority is absolute.
Islam is based on the teachings of its founder Muhammad who was born in Mecca, Saudi Arabia in 570 AD. As an Arab he was a descendant of Ishmael, Abraham’s first son, born to the slave girl Hagar (Gen 21:13, 25:12-18). Muhammad was a devout man and became critical of much of the Christianity he saw around him, as the beliefs and behaviour of those who professed to be Christians was vastly different to that of the NT Church. Muhammad claimed to receive from Allah (the Supreme Being, equivalent to our God), various revelations which were ultimately written down around 622 AD. The Qur’an (also spelt Quran; Koran spelling is now obsolete) is held in much higher regard than the other sacred writings Muslims recognise – the Torah, Psalms and Gospels – parts of which they consider have been changed. They do not believe in the Trinity, nor the crucifixion, resurrection or the divinity of Jesus. While recognising other prophets including Moses and Jesus, Muhammad is considered the last and greatest prophet.
Islam is not just a religion of works; it is a complete legal, economic and social system, a political code and a total way of life. To the Muslim there can be no distinction between church and state. However, behind the apparent unity that binds all Muslims together, there are many diverse beliefs and practices with intense rivalry among the two main groups – Sunnis and Shiites. Cultural practices and the strictness of their observance of beliefs vary greatly between different Muslim countries, yet all are intolerant of pagans (non-Muslims) and especially Jews – “…he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now” (Neh 6:1; Ps 83:1-8; Gal 4:28,29).
Islam has five basic ‘pillars’ or core elements: ‘There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is his prophet’; five times a day a Muslim must prostrate himself towards Mecca (located in Saudi Arabia) and recite set ritualistic prayers; he must make generous financial contributions to the community and for the spread of Islam; during Ramadan, the ninth month of the Muslim year he must abstain from food, drink and sexual relations between sunrise to sunset; and he must try to make at least one pilgrimage (Hajj) to Mecca in his life time. While not under such strict obligations, these core practices are often observed by women and young people from puberty. Women normally gather in a different part of the mosque to men.
Closely associated with those five pillars is the concept of Jihad or holy war. This means striving on God’s behalf, either in a violent or non-violent way, be it in war, repelling non-Muslim (infidel) ideologies or against one’s own immoral tendencies. Every Muslim man understands that he is in a great battle between good and evil and that he has a vital role to play in that battle. This violent conquest or Jihad through terrorism and bloodshed must continue until every other religious faith submits and there is just one united Islamic world.
Sharia law is an oppressive and barbaric system of ‘justice’ derived from the Qur’an and other writings. These harsh laws include the amputation of the hand or arm for stealing and stoning to death for adultery. Women have few rights, being totally submissive to men and when in public must be fully clothed. Animals for human consumption must be slaughtered according to Halal standards.
A major factor in the Islamic goal of world domination is the high birthrates amongst its adherents, with almost 20% of the world’s population claiming to be followers, and around 40 countries having a Muslim majority. Over 40% of Muslims are under 15 years of age, with 62% of the world’s Muslims living outside the Middle East. Fanatical dedication to the goal is how they gain influence and impose their way in every area of life, even in host nations where they have relocated. Muslim wealth from oil is being used to fund Islamic learning facilities throughout the western world, yet this type of approach is denied Christians in Muslim countries. With the world’s insatiable demand for oil, this has made the Western governments reluctant to upset the Muslim nations. However, the Bible declares, “Any nation that will not serve you [God] will perish” (Isa 60:12). No nation or individual will flourish that does not obey the laws of God or maintain worship of Him.
Although they claim it, Muslims have no legitimate claim to Jerusalem (Neh 2:19,20).
Pray that many Muslims will come to faith in Jesus
death (Act 2:11). Many thousands of zealous yet misguided Christians fought the Muslims in the Crusades (11th to 13th centuries), the aim of which was to gain back control of the ‘Christian’ lands from Islam. This brought much dishonour to the name of Christ and the bitterness still lingers.
In contrast to the core issue of a Muslim obeying the laws given by Allah, the core value of Christianity is a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Important values of Islam which are shared by or similar to Christian’s include compassion to the poor (Muslims must give away a proportion of their wealth), zeal for the honour of God (although there is a discrepancy as to who He is) and loyalty to their community of faith.