Summary: Islam is a religious, social and political force & every Christian should be aware of it. With so many millions embracing the Islamic faith & with entire countries ruled & dominated by Islamic teachings, practices & laws their world-view is becoming more
A SURVEY OF ISLAM
Islam is a religious, social and political force and every Christian should be aware of it. With so many millions (& soon to be billions) embracing the Islamic faith and with entire countries ruled and dominated by Islamic teachings, practices, and laws their world-view is becoming more and more prevalent, even in America. [The number of mosques has increased significantly in the U.S. in the last decade. There was a 74 % increase in the number of Islamic houses of worship rose from 1,209 in the year 2000 to 2,106 in 2010. USA Today, February 29,2012.]
Our world is dependent on Islamic nations for a major portions of its oil needs. Western towns, universities, and businesses are seeing a larger influx of Muslims than ever before in history. We need to equip ourselves to give a defense of biblical faith against the aggressive claims of Islam and be able to share effectively in love the Good News of Jesus Christ with the followers of Mohammad. With awareness of this challenge let us begin our survey of Islam.
To facilitate our study let’s use the following outline:
II. BRIEF HISTORY / BACKGROUND.
IV. CORE BELIEFS OF ISLAM.
V. THE 5 PILLARS OF ISLAM
VI. PRACTICES / SHARIA LAW
VIII. TERRORISM AND RADICAL ISLAM
IX. HOW THEN CAN WE REACH A MUSLIM WITH THE GOSPEL?
Islam, like many religions, has its own vocabulary to describe its beliefs. A quick look at some of the most important religious terms in Islam will help us as we discuss Islamic history and belief.
Islam, the Arabic term for "submission," is the name of the religion that came out of the revelations and teachings of Muhammad. [Present day emphasis is on the established system of religious beliefs and practices.]
Muslim is the name given to one who adheres to the religion of Islam. Muslim is a cognate of Islam, and means "one who submits." The Muslim submits to the will of Allah as revealed by Muhammad.
Allah is the Arabic term for God. Muslims feel strongly that the English word God does not convey the real meaning of the word Allah.
Muhammad was an Arab born in the city of Mecca in A.D. 570 (died A.D. 632). He claimed that he was the prophet to restore true religion and the praise of Allah throughout the world, just as Jesus Christ was a prophet in His time for His people. Muhammad means "the one who is praised."
Qur’an (Koran is the older spelling) is Arabic for "the recitation," and refers to the collection of revelations supposedly given by Allah through his archangel to Muhammad and preserved as the Islamic scripture. Muslims believe in the Law of Moses, the Psalms of David, and the Injil, or Gospel of Jesus Christ. However, they believe that those Scriptures were superseded by the scripture given through Muhammad, and that the Bible used by Christians and Jews is a distorted version of those other scriptures. Wherever the Bible contradicts Islam, the Muslim says the Bible is incorrect. Sura refers to the divisions within the Qur’an, much like the "chapters" in the Bible. The Qur’an contains 114 revelations, each composing one sura or chapter. Apart from the famous first chapter of the Qur’an, the shortest revelations appear first, the longest ones last.
The Hadith, Arabic for the "collected traditions," is also important in Islamic literature. These are the supposed words and deeds of Muhammad and are used to provide the basis of every aspect of Islamic law and practice.
Caliph is Arabic for "deputy" and refers to the main leaders of Islam, especially the immediate successors of Muhammad.
Ayatollah refers to a spiritual master or leader in Shi’ite Islam (2nd largest school of thought among the ½ dozen or so, main type in Iran. Shi’ite means partisans -of Ali). [Imam refers rightful leader of Shi’ite Islam.]
The imam is the permanent prayer leader of a mosque or congregation in Sunni Islam (far & away the largest school of thought among the ½ dozen or so). [The Kingdom of the Cults, Walter Martin. Bethany House. 2003. pp 436-7.]
Jihad refers to a Muslim holy war or spiritual struggle against infidels. It is the doctrine that calls on Muslims to combat the enemies of their religion. It is a holy war or crusade undertaken as Islamic duty. The jihad of the sword involves waging war against enemies of Islam. Muslims contend that those who die in combat become martyrs and are guaranteed a place in paradise. In strict Islamic law jihad is a duty on all adult male believers until Islam has attained universal domination; hence there can be no peace with unbelievers but only limited truces. Another word that shares the same root word is mujahed (guerrilla fighter), mujahedin is the plural form.