Sharing the gospel with a Muslim

Genocide of Christians

The seventh in a series on Islam to help us think through this issue. Why do Christians and Muslims disagree and what is the way forward?

When it comes to the question of Christians and Muslims it is wise to be working for peace. We need to build friendships, avoid misunderstanding, and remember that we do agree on some things. But we also need to understand our disagreements. In this article I want to consider why we disagree theologically and what is the way forward.

Reason 1: Muhammad and the Prophets

The first reason we disagree is because of where we get our information about God. For the Christian we learn about God from the Bible while the Muslim learns about God from the Qur’an (and Hadith). It may appear that we both rely on one book – just different books – but this is not the case.

The Bible is not one book but many books from many prophets over about a 1500-year period. These books build on each other and are meant to be read together. What Christians believe about God comes from reading all the prophets. The Qur’an on the other hand is just what Muhammad recited and claimed came from God. That is, Islam is based on one man.

Christians and Muslims disagree because Muhammad teaches a different message from  the prophets.

Reason 2: The Claims of the Qur’an

The Qur’an claims to confirm the teaching of the Bible and therefore Christians should accept it.

O you People of the Book! (Christians) Believe in what We have (now) revealed (the Qur’an), confirming what was (already) with you (the Bible). (Qur’an 4:47, Yusuf Ali)

But the Qur’an does not confirm the teaching of the Bible, and because of this Christians do not accept it. The Muslim response to the Qur’an not confirming the Bible is to blame Christians and insist that Christians must have changed the Bible. The result of all this is that Christians and Muslims disagree.

The Qur’an also claims that the Bible foretells the coming of Muhammad.

Those who follow the messenger (Muhammad), the unlettered Prophet, whom they find mentioned in their own (scriptures), in the Law and the Gospel. (Qur’an 7:157, Yusuf Ali also 20:133, 26:196-197, 61:6)

The main verses referred to are John 14-16 where Jesus foretells the coming of the Holy Spirit. Christians have not found any reference to Muhammad in the Bible and so reject this claim too. The Bible is meant to be proof that the Qur’an is true, yet it offers no such confirmation. The result is that Christians and Muslims argue about why this is the case.

What is the way forward?

Muslims say they believe all the prophets; therefore Christians need to invite Muslims to listen to the prophets in the Bible, and refrain from accusing Christians of changing the Bible as this is not true and only stops meaningful discussion.

Secondly, Muslims need to take the claims of the Qur’an seriously. Does it confirm the Bible? Does the Bible foretell the coming of Muhammad? If these claims are true then that is good evidence for the Qur’an. If these claims are not true then have the courage to consider this and not blame Christians.

These things can be done and are part of the way forward to deal with our disagreements.

Samuel Green, Engaging with Islam

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