Summary: Islam is a religion of works founded by a warlord. The good news, however, as that grace and truth have been revealed in Jesus Christ.
A Christian’s Guide To World Religions Part-1
“What About Islam?” Galatians 2:17-21
A missionary in India spoke near a fountain on the subject, “Jesus, the Water of Life.” A Muslim interrupted, “Your religion is like this little stream of water, but Islam is like a great ocean!” “Yes,” said the missionary, “but there is this difference: When men drink ocean water they die of thirst. When they drink the water of life which Christ gives, they live forever!” The stream is small, but it can satisfy your thirst. Jesus Christ came into the world as a little baby that He might show that no one is so little or so insignificant that the great God will not come to dwell within him.
This morning we will embark on a three part journey, exploring the three most prominent world religions, other than the largest faith; Christianity. This week we celebrate veteran’s day and since we have many American troops serving overseas in what are predominately Muslim areas, it seems appropriate that we begin with the religion that Muhammad founded; Islam.
In the following two weeks we will discuss the next two largest world religions; Hinduism and Buddhism. My focus will be providing a basic understanding of the history, major beliefs, and holy writings of each of these three religions and then to provide a concise comparison of them with Christianity. Then I will ask the simplest of questions of each of them: “What think ye of Christ.” (Mathew 22:42)
You see, unlike the droves of spiritual teachers of this postmodern era, I am compelled toward a high view of the uniqueness of the Cross of Jesus Christ and therefore a high view of the uniqueness and authority of the Christian faith in regard to all matters pertaining to faith in and worship of Jehovah El Elyon (Genesis 14:22), The LORD, the Most High GOD.
Mortimer Jerome Adler, the American Philosopher, once wrote that, “Christianity is the only world religion that is evangelical in the sense of sharing good news with others. Islam converts by force; Buddhism, without the benefit of a theology; Hinduism doesn’t even try.” It my deepest and strongest desire, in the following three weeks before we enter the Advent, Christmas, season, to show the uniqueness of the gift that we have been given in Christ by comparing and contrasting the pure religion of Jesus Christ with these three false, vain, empty religions.
In so doing, I trust that we may all have a renewed sense of awe at the advent of Messiah, Jesus Christ. Let me say in advance that this will not be an exhaustive treatment of the history or practices of Islam. Such a treatment would require a lengthy series of sermons. We’ll be doing a bit of a “fly by,” skimming the tree tops to get a sense of the nature of the forest.
Background. Islam dates from time of the last ten years of the life its founder, Muhammad Ibne Abdullah, or simply the prophet Muhammad. He was born at or around 570 A.D. in the city of Mecca, which is now located in Saudi Arabia. Muhammad was orphaned early in his life and tradition says that he was raised by his grandfather and then his uncle, Abu Talib. Muhammad was a poor man until he married a wealthy widow named Khadija. At about the age of 40, Muhammad is said to have begun to see visions and receive revelations.
It was at this time that Muhammad began preaching publicly against the multiplicity of idols which were worshiped at Mecca’s central shrine, the Ka’ba. Muhammad believed, or at least reported, that he has received his visions from Allah, through the angel Gabriel. For his monotheistic beliefs he was an enemy to many, not the least of which were the merchants whose wealth stemmed from the sale of goods and idols to pilgrims traveling to the Ka’ba to worship their gods.
Muhammad and his many followers were forced to leave Mecca to what became known as Medina for a time. From that time it took Muhammad, only ten years to build his band of followers into a strong army which conquered nearly all of central and western Arabia. Muhammad, who had been previously cast out of Mecca, returned less than a decade later and made it his capital.
Muhammad was clearly a great military leader. He also considered himself to be the prophet of Allah, and as such, he founded Islam, which he taught was a return to the pure worship of the one true God of Abraham. Muhammad believed that was a descendant of the son born of Hagar to Abraham, when Abraham disobeyed God’s command to wait for a child to be born of his aging wife, Sarah.
This connection is crucial to understanding the Islamic religion. The Ka’ba, which was the central shrine of Arabs in Mecca, Muhammad believed to have been built by Abraham as a place of worship to God. Muhammad considered Abraham to be his father and thus, the religion he founded was to be, not so much a new thing, but a return to the worship of the one true God of his father.