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I got a comment yesterday about a few of my older posts regarding Islam and Christianity and their relationship. I think I'll post about it, instead of just replying in a comment. So here is the comment, and following will be my response to it. I am very thankful that Khany took the time to share his ideas. I think the free exchange of ideas is what makes the West so wonderful. Both of us are free to share and believe how we choose without fear of censorship or death.


hello Juloyes,
i just across your blog by chance while browsing the web and now i feel the urge to respond although it has been so long since you posted this that you may have lost interest in the subject.

if you are interested in islam i would highly recommend that you learn it from its "primary" sources. "my year inside radical islam" might teach you something about muslims - or one person's experience inside a geographically limited community informed by its social and political environment over the course of an year - but you can hardly expect to get a handle on islam from this reading. my intention is not to disparage the book, i have not read it.

english translations of the quran (http://www.quranexplorer.com/) are readily available so too are english biographies of the prophet (peace be upon him). there are the only primary sources of islam. having said that let me address your question to the best of my knowledge.

although there numerous quranic verses that could be quoted i will highlight only three.

(002:062)
Indeed, those who believed and those who were Jews or Christians or Sabeans [before Prophet Muhammad] - those [among them] who believed in Allah and the Last Day and did righteousness - will have their reward with their Lord, and no fear will there be concerning them, nor will they grieve.

(004:171)
O People of the Scripture, do not commit excess in your religion or say about Allah except the truth. The Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, was but a messenger of Allah and His word which He directed to Mary and a soul [created at a command] from Him. So believe in Allah and His messengers. And do not say, "Three"; desist - it is better for you. Indeed, Allah is but one God. Exalted is He above having a son. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. And sufficient is Allah as Disposer of affairs.

(004:048)
Indeed, Allah does not forgive association with Him, but He forgives what is less than that for whom He wills. And he who associates others with Allah has certainly fabricated a tremendous sin.

muslims believe that islam is not a new religion that was revealed to the prophet muhammad. in fact it was the religion of god from the first day. all the prophets and messengers of god taught the same essential message "worship none save the one true god". in deed, prophet muhammad only reiterated this primordial message. in this sense the true followers of jesus and moses (peace be upon them) are muslims in this sense. the divination of christ is an innovation in the christian religion in the sight of islam.

yet, it is not in the right of any muslim to decree that another person will go to heaven or hell whether he be muslim or otherwise. this is because only allah knows what is in the hearts of people and he can allow out of his mercy who he wills into the garden of paradise.



Some thoughts on Islam and Christianity:

1. Is it possible for one to study an English translation of the koran, or must it be read in Arabic only? Could I study it for myself in English and still make credible points with a Muslim?

2. It seems as though the first verse you quoted says that as a Christian, I will not lose my reward. Yet the following two verses seem to say the opposite, that allah does not forgive any association with him. So which is it?

3. As C.S. Lewis so articulately expressed in his book Mere Christianity, the statements of Christ do not allow us to call Him merely a "good teacher". He is either a liar, a lunatic, or He is LORD. His claims to deity in the gospel of John, for example, are so numerous that they cannot be denied. Here is one: John 10:30 "I and the Father are one."

His disciple also affirms Jesus' deity: John 1:1: In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father full of grace and truth.

4. Christians are not polytheists. The doctrine of the trinity is woven throughout the Bible. There is a sense of mystery involved, but the idea that God is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit is found in Mark 1:9-11, 2 Corinthians 13:14, and Matthew 28:19. Three persons within ONE God, that perfectly coexist with one another, the same in essence, equal in power and glory, as the Baptist catechism states so succinctly.

5. People are utterly depraved and have no hope of salvation. It makes no difference how many times a day you pray, how kind you are to the poor, whether you make a religious pilgrimage, stay morally pure. If one were to broadcast every thought and intention of my heart onto a movie screen for the world to see, I could never show my face again, I would be so ashamed. In contrast, God is so wholly Holy that I could never purify myself to be acceptable to Him. This is why Jesus came:

Jesus is the perfect God/Man. He is fully God, and fully man at the same time. Hebrews 4:15-16 explains that in Jesus we have a great High Priest, a Savior, who can sympathize with our weakness, but who ever fell prey to the charms of sin. He lived the perfect life that we cannot. He could only do that because he is God. He paid the ultimate price on the cross. He bore God's wrath. It fell upon Him. So that the person who recognizes his sinful, depraved state and trusts in Jesus' perfect sacrifice to atone for his sin, this is the person who is promised eternal life. I have the assurance that because I am trusting in Jesus to save me from the punishment my sin deserves, I will be with Him forever in heaven.

I do not have to labor. I can never fulfill the law's demands to save myself. I also do not serve an arbitrary god who will someday weigh my good and bad deeds and decide if I did good enough.

6. You claim to be unable to know the mind of allah, yet he has spoken in the koran so you know something about what is in his mind.

7. allah is not just. If he just decides that one person's sin never gets any punishment, he is the worst of rulers. We would never stand for a king to punish some for their wrongs, and not others. We could cry, "Tyrant!" In Christ, God is just and merciful. He punishes sin by placing it on Jesus, yet in His grace and mercy, provides a way for people to be saved: by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

8. While I have read many books that are critical of Islam, I have also had enlightening, frank conversations with my good Muslim friend, who I cherish. Hearing radical Muslims desire my death makes me feel uncomfortable, especially when they say the koran demands it.

8. There is ONE guarantee in Islam of paradise: death by jihad. Is this correct? If so, then I would certainly understand why a desperate Muslim would go to such lengths for the assurance that he or she has pleased allah enough to get to paradise. It would take off a lot of the pressure to be good enough.

At the end of the day, I am supremely thankful to have this "cyber" discussion. I am glad that Muslims and Christians can dialogue and I think it goes along way in learning to trust each other. I do not desire the death of any Muslim, even Osama bin Laden. I desire to see God change his heart in such a way that he repents of his sin, and turns to the living God, Jesus Christ. J

4 comments:

i was not expecting to see my comment turned into a post. i would have put some more effort in clearing out mistakes :) your's is a long post that i cannot answer in full. partly for lack of knowledge, partly for lack of time, and mostly because much of it simply reiterates third person projections of god in islam that are simply not true.

i will only respond to your questions on my original comment. "So which is it?"

you state in another related post that 'people of the book' only has legal bearing and does not imply nearness of faith. again, i do not know where you get this idea from. consider for example that muslim men are allowed to marry women from amongst the 'people of the book'.

which is it? allahu alim. allah knows best. it is clear from this and other verses that associating partners with god is a tremendous sin. i have known several uniatarian christians (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unitarianism) and a few non-unitarian christians who pray to god alone. i do not wish to debate the council of nicea etc. my aim in commenting on your post was not to challenge christianity. i merely wanted to say if you want to learn about islam learn it from its primary sources or from mainstream respectable muslims who practice their faith, not from people on the fringes. what kind of view of christianity would i have if i based my views of christianity from what is offered on the skeptics bible?

January 15, 2008 at 1:34 PM  

sorry khany :) it seemed like an interesting post. :) see me smiling?

i so appreciate your thoughts on this. while i have read some of what you would consider the "fringes" of Islam, I have also had lengthy discussions with my more moderate friend, who has been a friend for over a decade. what i have read in these particular books, what she has told and what i have read in the media seem to affirm the things i have stated in regard to the religion.

again, this has been fun. thank you for your thoughts! i will begin reading for myself, however. thank you for challenging me to. years ago, i was challenged by my Muslim friend when she asked me if i'd read the entire Bible. at that point, i hadn't, but i have read through it twice now (it's loooong) and am working through it a third time. i'd encourage you to crack it open for yourself, too!

blessings, khany.

January 15, 2008 at 2:26 PM  

it is no big deal =D
i was only slightly embarrassed to see my words in the spot light.

to your relief i can tell you that the quran is relatively short. also since it recounts many of the biblical characters and stories you will find yourself in familiar territory. although i have to say that the subtle differences in the quranic narratives are often of significant worth (not merely slips). look out for them.

i am happy to know my comments are appreciated. happy reading.

peace.

January 15, 2008 at 2:44 PM  

juloyes - Dr. Timothy George from Beeson University has an excellent video series called Christianity and Islam. Islamic experts, who are Muslim, are interviewed and Dr. George gives a clear understanding of the differences between Christianity and Islam. I highly recommend it - for you to khanny. This is a good conversation.

January 16, 2008 at 7:35 AM  

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