This summer two faithful members of the Crossroads family who have been serving and sharing the love of Jesus to Muslims in Central Asia taught a class about Islam. It was very informative and I believe it is information that all Americans should be aware of especially Christians. I have enclosed a summary they provided from the class. If you have any questions about Islam and a proper Christian response please call us at Crossroads and we will put you in touch with the experts. We hopefully will be offering this class again soon.
E4 Class: CROSS AND CRESCENT SUMMARY
Introduction: Most people in the West have very little knowledge or understanding when it comes to Islam, a religion that has over 1.5 billion adherents and is having a major impact worldwide. The purpose of this class was not to stir up fear or anger, but to educate people in order to equip them to have an informed, respectful discussion regarding Islam with other Westerners as well as Muslims, if they ever have the opportunity to meet a Muslim.
We were pleasantly surprised to have had 38 individuals, mostly from Crossroads Church, but also from other churches in the valley and from no church affiliation at all.
In class #1, we covered the Founding and Expansion of Islam. This was mainly a history lesson covering how Islam began, the “prophet” Muhammad, the spread and development of Islam and the Crusades.
Class #2 covered Islamic beliefs, based upon on the Quran and Hadith. We also covered the pillars of their faith and fundamental articles of their faith.
In class #3 we took a close look at the diversity among Muslims, for instance the different sects of Islam, the two major sects being Sunni and Sh’ia. We also looked at social practices, feasts, fasting, honoring strangers, community and the overall Muslim worldview that impacts their politics, religious practices, relationships with other Muslims and relationships with non- Muslims.
In class #4 we dove into the cultural and political barriers that may keep us from healthy interaction with the Muslim world. This included world politics and relational issues between governments but also barriers that may confront us as individuals. How can we be culturally sensitive and “contextualize” our behavior so as not to offend unknowingly. We also discussed the question: “Is Islam a religion of peace?” No doubt, a hot topic in the world today and one which stirs emotions. While the majority of Muslims are peaceful people, the radical elements of Islam find justification for their violence in the Quran and the life of their prophet.
Class #5 focused on theological issues and things Islam has in common with Christianity as well as things that are diametrically opposed to our faith. Muslims do believe that our Bible is a “holy book in its original form, but that it has been corrupted over time. They believe many true things about Jesus, such as the virgin birth, that he performed miracles and that he was a prophet, but they cannot accept the fact that he was God incarnate, that He died on the cross, and that he rose from the dead. They do not believe in the atonement, but believe in trusting in their own works in order to earn salvation. They have no assurance of salvation.
Our final class discussed our response to Islam. How do we reach out to Muslims with love and respect and realize that it is a spiritual battle that requires much prayer and understanding? How do we break through the barriers that separate us? How do we contextualize without compromising the truth of the Bible? All these questions are issues that missiologists have dealt with for decades and many methods and strategies have been implemented, some with great success and some with little fruit.
In all the classes, we weaved in the personal experience we had while living in central Asia. Our own experience enabled us to teach with passion and knowledge. It was a wonderful privilege to share our experience and knowledge with so many friends from our Valley.
We hope that this class has reached its objective of equipping the saints with good information and understanding. We pray that those attending the class will have the opportunity to engage with a Muslim on an informed basis and glorify God as they do.
A great read is:
“Seeking Allah Finding Jesus, a devout Muslim Encounters Christianity” by Nabeel Qureshi