Reaching Out to Muslims
There is a growing Muslim population in North American and many Christ followers may feel intimidated or ignorant in knowing how to engage with this population regarding matters of life and faith. Following is some advice and suggestions in beginning and maintaining this dialogue.
Much of this material is adapted from a excellent book by Fouad Elias Accad entitled Building Bridges: Christianity and Islam. When I first picked up this book I was apprehensive – wondering if it would stay true to a fundamental evangelical approach to missions and evangelism. In my opinion, there is no compromise in truth that salvation is through Christ alone by grace through faith. Mr. Accad merely gives us methods, reminders and cautions so that this message may be received by Muslims. Remember their intimidation may be greater than yours.
- Relationships, Relationships, Relationships.
- If the Muslim has not had time to develop respect for a Christian friend and vice verse, most conversations are always futile. But if the Christian has worked on building a close relationship and understanding his Muslim friend for a good period of time, there will be an immensely different Response (Accad, pg. 31).
- Learn from the person.
- Towrah = Old Testament, Zabur = Psalms and Injeel = New Testament.
- Koran consists of one book with a different title for each of its 114 chapters.
- Establish common ground where there is.
- Muslim means “surrendered to God”. As Christ followers we can agree with this – we are surrendered to God through the sacrifice of Messiah Isa (Christ).
- Some of us conclude that other people have worthless religious practices. The fact is, we have failed to realize that those people only do these things in an effort to please God, whom they appreciate and revere about everything else. Think of sincere Muslims. They give to the poor. They fast from dawn to sundown for a whole month every year. They stop whatever they are doing five times a day to pray (Accad, pg. 21).
- Of the four gospels Matthew seems to be the most appropriate for Muslims to being reading (Accad, pg. 73).
- Using the Koran successfully, to help Muslims journey towards Christ, hinges on being able to show that its real intention was pro-Bible, pro-Christ and pro-Christian. Most translations of the Koran add traditional Muslim interpretations, injecting what Muslim scholars have taught over the years. A biased translation/interpretation of the Koran will only obscure this, be much less useless (Accad, pg. 61) and make this method difficult for the uninformed Christ follower.
- Caution: Be wise as serpents – harmless as doves.
- If we’re going to building bridges to Christ for the worldwide Muslim population, we desperately need to use a method that taps into their very real desire to please God…. But unfortunately our methods of communicating these truths in the past have so offended the vast majority of Muslims that they totally close their minds and become hostile to us. (Accad, pg. 11). It is important not to violate their high regard for Islam or the Koran. Even though you may make it quite clear that you love God, if you state reservations about either Islam or the Koran you are automatically suspect, and others will probably not open themselves up to your friendship. (Accad, pg. 36).
- Saying “God’s Son” (eg. John 3:16) without explanation – when a Muslim hears that he assumes that you mean that God had intercourse with a woman who might happen to have Mary, Jesus’ mother (Accad, pg. 9).
- Muslims believe there is one way – God’s way. So if someone comes saying “Islam is wrong. ‘Allah is not God’. You have to accept Jesus, God’s Son. He’s the only way to God.” A Muslim turns him off at once because he is contradicting what the Muslim has been taught as God’s holy truth. (Accad, pg. 8)
- Do you believe that Mohammad was a prophet? Answer: If you mean ‘Do I believe that Muhammad is a prophet like ________ believe it? Then my answer is no. But if you mean, ‘Do I believe that his was a prophet like the verse in the Koran says he was?’ then my answer is yes. See Poets 26:194-195 – “It says he was a warner in a clear Arabic tongue”. This approach uses a Muslims immense respect for Koran to move them to the point of being willing to study the Bible and eventually present a more accurate and appealing profile of Jesus Christ. (Accad, pg. 38)
- Isaac or Ishmael: The only passage in the Koran that talks of this is Rangers 37:101-109. Note that the son is not named.
- Follow the Seven Principles.
- This is a radically different, scriptural means of telling Muslims who Christ actually is and why he occupies such a prominent place in their Koran – without alienating them from their native culture. (Accad, pg. 11).
- Reminders in using the Exposure to all the information from the 7 principles at once could turn someone against the individual ideas contained in them. Go through them one at time – don’t move onto the next one until your Muslim has fully understand and agreed with you on the current one.
- The 7 Principles:
i. God has a purpose for your life.
ii. Sin separates us from God.
iii. We can’t save ourselves
iv. The cross is the bridge to life
v. God’s provision is a person
vi. Making Him ours
vii. What to Expect when we accept God’s Gift.
* Accad, Fouad Elias. Building Bridges: Christianity and Islam. Nav Press, Colorado Springs, CO 1997.