Sharing your Christian faith with Muslims
Every Christian needs to consider himself or herself a missionary. Our mission is to make Christ known to those who do not know him, whether they live thousands of miles away or just next door.
The migration of Muslim-background people to the West has resulted in a growing mission field right here – in our educational institutes, workplaces and neighbourhoods. We have an unprecedented opportunity to reach Muslims for Christ. But how? Here are some questions and answers that might help.
I have never been engaged in Muslim evangelism. How can I get involved?
‘I’m scared – scared of the unknown; scared of being ridiculed; scared I won’t say the right things’. Fear is the Number 1 reason why most Christian people don’t evangelise Muslims. But humans do some of their best work when they’re afraid! Almost every evangelist I know experiences fear. So don’t worry.
‘Yes, but I’m no good at contacting Muslims. I wouldn’t know what to say!’ Well done, you’re completely normal! Everyone feels like that. So train by taking a course or joining up with others who are experienced in Muslim evangelism.
There are many Christians working amongst ethnic minorities from a Muslim background. Why not get in touch with one of them and join them for a day or two? They will be delighted to have you with them.
There are also a few churches, like my own, that organise weeks of outreach specifically to reach Muslims. Our strategy involves book tables, door-to-door visitation and open-air meetings.
The week is also used as a training week, where those who are interested in Muslim evangelism get the opportunity to see how it’s done and learn from experienced workers. So, a beginner won’t be sent to do door-to-door work on his own. During the first few days beginners won’t be asked to do anything except watch and learn. We even offer free accommodation and food! All you have to do is pay for your travel expenses. So what are you waiting for?
Do I have to be an experienced apologist to share the gospel with Muslims?
No! Although it is helpful to study Islam and know things about it, it is not essential. It is important to notice that most Muslims you meet don’t even know their own religion. They are not all like those who preach in Hyde Park.
Have you heard of Mosab Hassan Youssef’s conversion in Palestine? A volunteer from the United Kingdom met the young man and invited him to a Bible study. He had no idea he was talking to the son of a key figure in the Hamas organisation.
He wasn’t an apologist. He wasn’t a specialist. He was just an ordinary believer who invited someone to a Bible study. That simple, almost anonymous, invitation eventually transformed Mosab’s life, and now he is sending shock waves throughout the Middle East as he publicly declares his faith in Christ.
Should I use the Qur’an?
It is not necessary for you to become knowledgeable of the whole content of the Qur’an, although it would be profitable to read it, along with any other books you can find on witnessing to Muslims.
There are, however, two schools of thought concerning the use of the Qur’an in Muslim evangelism. One says verses from the Qur’an should always be used and the other says they should never be used.
The former group believes that using the Qur’an will prove the accuracy of the Bible, while the latter believes this will bring the Qur’an up to the same level and give it the same status as the Bible. The typical Muslim might say, ‘If the Qur’an proves what you are saying, then I will continue believing it – why do I need the Bible?’
I tend to lean toward the second school, but I am not dogmatic about it, because it is important for a Muslim to know you understand Islam. In the example given, it is helpful to understand the relevant Qur’anic verse and where it comes from.
What are Muslims’ attitudes towards Christians?
In Morocco we call Westerners ‘Sons of Issa (Jesus)’. Why? Because for a Muslim, every European is a Christian. As every Moroccan is born a Muslim, so (they think) every European is born a Christian. There is a widespread confusion about the West and Christianity.
The Qur’an commands Muslims to respect Ahl al-Kitab (people of the book – Jews and Christians) but in practice, as a Muslim, I never saw this. This was because Muslims, educated or not, base their ideas of Christians on various historical ‘facts’.
For example, I had an Algerian colleague at the university laboratory where I used to study in France. His first response to my Christian faith was this – Christians were wrong to participate in the Crusades!
The First Crusade began nearly a millennium ago, yet Muslims often speak about those terrible events as if they happened yesterday. Why? It’s a perception of ongoing Western imperialism.
There’s a long history – the Crusades are in there but so also is the fact that the Muslims were booted out of Spain in 1492. That’s also very bitter for them. And then there was colonial rule. Nine-tenths of the Muslim world was under colonialism. They connect all this, including Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and other things going on in the Middle East.
Although Western political power disappeared under decolonisation, there is often an underlying economic power that continues to drive poverty. So for a Muslim to become a Christian is to return to a sort of colonialism.
Furthermore, the Orient has a negative view of Western society as dysfunctional. There is no respect between children and parents, no respect for the elderly, and people spend their time drinking and indulging in sexual immorality. To be a Christian, for a Muslim, is to live in that atmosphere.
Before I left Morocco eight years ago to go to France, a friend’s father told me this: ‘Resist the temptations you will have in France and return in the same state as you are leaving’.
Hence, there is profound suspicion. When a Muslim comes to the West, he comes with many warnings – be careful in your relationships with people! Be careful not to let them affect your walk with Allah! Keep a distance from them! Sons of Issa have their own religion and we have ours!
Is it true that the Qur’an does not talk about the love of Allah?
I have heard many Christians state that the Qur’an nowhere speaks of Allah’s love. This is false. A Muslim would immediately refute this claim. The Qur’an does speak of Allah’s love:
‘On the Day when every soul will be confronted with all the good it has done, and all the evil it has done, it will wish there were a great distance between it and its evil. But Allah cautions you (to remember) Himself. And Allah is full of kindness to those that serve Him. Say: ‘If ye do love Allah, Follow me: Allah will love you and forgive you your sins: For Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful’. Say: ‘Obey Allah and His Messenger’. But if they turn back, Allah loveth not those who reject Faith.’ (Qur’an, Surah 3:30-32, Yusuf Ali’s translation).
‘But seek, with the (wealth) which Allah has bestowed on thee, the Home of the Hereafter, nor forget thy portion in this world: but do thou good, as Allah has been good to thee, and seek not (occasions for) mischief in the land: for Allah loves not those who do mischief’ (Qur’an, Surah 28:77, Yusuf Ali’s translation).
Other Qur’anic verses also illustrate Allah’s love: Surah 30:44-45 and Surah 57:23.
So yes, the Qur’an does speak of Allah’s love. But what sort of love is it? This is the big issue. Does Allah love in the same way as the God of the Bible? The answer is an emphatic no.
Allah’s love is conditional – his love is experienced through conditional blessing, as is clear from the Qur’anic verses quoted above. A Muslim longs for God’s love. To get it he has to earn it. It is not free. He has to buy it by his good works. He has to deserve it.
How different this is from the love of God in the Bible! Of course the Bible too warns against pride, mischief and faithlessness: ‘But God demonstrates his own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us’ (Romans 5:8).
To be concluded
E. M. Hicham
The writer is an assistant pastor and author of Your questions answered: a reply to Muslim friends, published by EP Books. He is also a founder member of MEC Word of Hope Ministries – a non-profit-making literature ministry producing literature for Muslim evangelism. For more details visit: http://www.word-of-hope.net.