The meeting takes place in his small grocery shop. [The Christian’s speech is italicised.]
My name’s Richard.
I am Abdul.
I notice that you have the shahada [Muslim declaration of belief in the unity of Allah] on your wall.
Do you read Arabic?
No. But I recognise the shahada, because I have seen it in so many shops in this area.
Ah, I see. How can I help you?
I’d like two dollars worth of dry figs thanks, and two dollars worth of those dried raisins.
For you, my friend, I add extra figs. These are the sweetest, the most pure figs and most delicious raisins; so good for your health, straight from my country, no preservatives! Four dollars, please.
Thanks for the extra figs.
It is nothing.
I wonder if I could offer you this Injiil [Gospel] to read!
You are a Christian?
Well, that depends on what you mean by Christian.
You Christians believe that God had sex with Mary, and so you believe that Isa al-Massih is God’s son!
That’s disgusting! Who told you such a blasphemous thing? May the Most High God cleanse your mind from such thoughts. No true follower of the Lord Jesus Christ believes such things!
I am sorry. But is it not true that you Christians believe that Isa is the Son of God?
What do you think Son of God means?
My friend I do not want to anger you again. But how can any son be born without…? [The shopkeeper shrugs his large shoulders expressively and spread out his huge hands. Richard opens his New Testament at Luke.]
Let me read to you the words that the angel Gabriel spoke to Mary, the mother of Isa al-Massih: ‘Peace be with you! The Lord is with you and has greatly blessed you … Don’t be afraid Mary: the Most High God has been gracious to you. You will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and you will call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High God!’ ‘How can this come about?’ said Mary, ‘I am a virgin and have never known a man?’ and Gabriel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will overshadow you, and God’s power will rest upon you. For this reason the holy child will be called the Son of God’. That’s why we say that Isa al-Massih is the Son of God. If you have a problem with that, your problem is with Gabriel and God’s Word.
My friend, you are becoming heated. Let me make you a cup of sweet tea, eh?
Yeah, thanks, I could do with a cuppa.[Abdul disappears into a back room, returning in a short period of time with two steaming glass cups of black tea.]
My friend, the problem is that your book is corrupted. It is full of mistakes.
What! Who told you such wrong things? Here is the Injiil. Show me where it has been changed or altered.
It is true. Your books were all lost and the book you have now is made up by men who denied that Mohamed —Allah is pleased with him — was the last prophet, the seal of the prophets.
Who told you that the Holy Tuarat [Pentateuch], Zabur [Psalms of David], and Injiil have been corrupted?
The eternal Holy Quran tells us that the books of the Christians have been corrupted.
Do you believe that the Most High God of Abraham is the creator of all things, that he is all powerful, and that none can prevent his will from being carried out?
Of course! Allah is Al-Jabbar, the all powerful one.
How then can the Tuarat, Zabur, and Injiil, which your own Quran tells you have been sent down by the all powerful Most High God, and which he himself says that no one can change, have been corrupted? It is impossible! Let me show you what is written in the Injiil. [Richard turns to 2 Timothy 3:16, and reads it to Abdul.] ‘All Scripture is God-breathed out’. The words that I hold in my hand have been breathed out by the Most High God. How can anyone change God’s breathed out Word?
Why do you Christians eat pig meat? Why do you Christians drink alcohol and take drugs?
What! [The sudden change in topic startles Richard.] Abdul, I don’t drink alcohol. I don’t smoke cigarettes or take drugs, and none of my Christian friends do either. Besides, Abdul, you haven’t answered my question. How can anyone change the Word of God?[Abdul dismissively waves his hand.] Why do you eat pig meat? Doesn’t your book tell you not to eat pig’s flesh? Why do you eat such flesh when the noble Taurat [Torah] says you cannot eat pork?
Abdul, look, I used to eat bacon and eggs for breakfast regularly. But, since I am now living in this community, I have made a personal decision not to eat pork, because I want my Muslim friends to feel comfortable when they come to my home.
Ah, you are a good man. Why are you not a Muslim?
No, I’m not a good man. I’m a sinner saved from God’s judgement, through faith in Jesus Christ as my Messiah.
We also believe Isa is the Messiah. He is a great prophet, but not as great as Mohamed. Oh, my young friend, if you knew Mohamed, the wonderful things he has done; and we will see him in paradise. You would love him, my friend.
Abdul, we seem to have…[Abdul interrupts excitedly.] I remember, I have a DVD for you about the great prophet Mohamed — Allah is pleased with him [Abdul rummages under the shop counter. Another customer enters the shop, Abdul walks around the shop counter and both men greet each other warmly with hugs, and kisses on each cheek. They speak animatedly in Arabic. Richard looks at his watch, hesitates, glances at his watch again, then speaks to Abdul.]
Sorry, Abdul, but I have to go. Perhaps I could see you again?
You are welcome to come into my shop anytime. When you do, I shall have that DVD for you.
Thanks, Abdul. Thanks also for the figs and raisins, and our time together.
Ma’a salama, Richard. I shall pray for you.
Thanks. I’ll pray for you also.