Isis…Jihad…world wide Islamic terror attacks: how can the Christian interact wisely with his neighbor when discussing and dealing with these stark realities of today? How can the believer bear witness for Christ toward a Muslim neighbor? What is the significance of the type of clothing, holidays, and traditions which are increasingly noticeable in much of the western world, and even dominant now where Muslims were once a tiny minority?
The 21st century American citizen who is also a citizen of the eternal kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ does well to be equipped, as a sent ambassador of the heavenly kingdom, with a basic knowledge of Islam and the man named Mohammed or Mahomet, whose dates are A.D. 570 – 632.
He was born in Mecca in South Arabia and was of the tribe of the Koreish, which controlled a pagan shrine known as the Kaaba. The Koreish (or Quraysh) tribe claimed descent from Ishmael, the son of Biblical Abraham and Hagar. His father Abdallah died before Mohammed was born, and his mother Amina died when he was six or eight years old. He was cared for by his grandfather for two years, then by an uncle, Abu Talib. A nervous, sensitive child, some scholars say he had a tendency toward epilepsy.
At age twenty-five he became a camel driver for Kadijah, a wealthy widow of Mecca, whom he married a little later. Of this union one child, Fatima, survived infancy. She later became the wife of Ali, one of Mohammed’s followers and later his successor.
Trading trips took Mohammed to Syria, where he came in touch with both Judaism and a degenerate form of Christianity. At age forty he claimed to have received a vision and a call to preach. He began a new religion of mingled Judaism, Christianity, and Arabian paganism, blended together by his imaginative mind. His first converts were Kadijah his wife, Ali and Zaid, two adopted sons, and Abu Bekr, a close friend.
Persecuted in Mecca, in 622 A.D. he fled to Medina. This flight, the Hegira, is considered to be the historical origin of what we know as Islam, which means “submission”. Although Islam is a religion with a prophet (this same Mohammed), a holy text (the Koran or Quran), and various rites and ceremonies, underneath those things is a movement that envisions global domination and sanctions the use of violent force to realize that goal. Jihad means “holy war.” The Islamic idea of peace is not tranquil co-existence with other world religions or with Biblical Christianity, but their elimination.
Mohammed gained strength in Medina, a city in what is now Saudi Arabia. He established a “theocratic” state, eliminated internal strife in the city, repulsed attacks of the Meccans, and before long returned to and gained possession of Mecca, which became the holy place of Islam. He became judge, lawgiver, and administrator among his followers. By 632, the time of his death, nearly all of Arabia was at his feet; within the next one hundred years North Africa, Palestine, Asia Minor, Persia, and Spain were conquered for Islam.
Mohammed’s early life was perhaps one of sincerity and truth-seeking; but his later years were manifestly a time of power-seeking and corruption.
We should anticipate interaction with Muslims and therefore should be at least acquainted with the essential tenets of Muhammed’s religion, which are:
2. Angels, the sinless servants of Allah
3. Books, the chief of which is the Koran
4. Prophets, of whom Muhammed was the last and most important*
5. The resurrection and last day.
The five practical duties of Islam are:
2. Prayers five times daily
3. The annual, month-long fast of Ramadan (start date changes from year to year)
5. Pilgrimage to Mecca
Notorious groups like the Taliban and Isis make clear that consistent Islam is more than a religion as the western mind understands that word. It is a movement that envisions global domination and sanctions the use of violent force to realize that goal. The word Islam is Arabic for “submission.” Islam does not define peace as tranquil co-existence with Biblical Christianity and the world’s man made religions and philosophies. Islam’s “peace” means bringing all of humanity into submission to itself.
Dr. Greg Bahnsen (died A.D. 1995), a brilliant Christian scholar, author, and apologist, believed that Islam would be the greatest foe of the spread of the Gospel worldwide in coming years. It has been said that there are more mosques – Islamic places of worship – than churches in London (yes, England) today. Islam is growing rapidly in the U.S. and elsewhere in the West. Millions already follow Islam not only in the Middle East, but in Pakistan, the Philippines, much of Southeast Asia, and Africa.
Credit: the article on Muhammed in the book “Who’s Who in Church History”, edited by Elgin S. Moyer. (Keats Publishing, New Canaan CT, 1974. Library of Congress number 74-19918)
This website offers more information on Islam from its own perspective:
* Islam regards the Lord Jesus as one of history’s true prophets of God, but denies that He is the Son of God and regards Biblical Christianity as a perversion of His teaching.
** This is the creed: “There is no true god but Allah, and Muhammed is his prophet.”
Previously published elsewhere, January A.D. 2016