What do Muslims Believe?

21 02 2014

An American friend recently told me that he had discovered there were some Muslim families in his apartment complex.  But he hesitated to approach them, not knowing how they would respond.  He assumed if he understood what Muslims believe first, it would help him to make friends.

My friend’s desire is understandable, but may not be helpful.  Although having general knowledge is generally a good thing, what Muslims actually believe may be so individualized it may be wiser to make friends first, then find out what your Muslim friend believes.  This will save you from assumptions that may not be true.

I would encourage the same approach for Muslims who want to make a Christian friend.  Many Muslims have been told that Christians believe in the Trinity—God the Father, God the Mother (Mary), and God the Son (Jesus).  I don’t believe that, and I’d rather someone ask me what I believe than assume something false, wouldn’t you?

What an individual Muslim believes may have everything to do with what his parents or teachers taught him more than what the Qur’an actually teaches.  Here in Indonesia, our adopted Muslim son was raised in a radical Islamic boarding school that taught him Allah approved of stealing from Christians, murdering Christians, and raping Christian girls.  Living with us challenged those beliefs, and thank God he doesn’t believe that any more.  Some Muslims we know believe that reading the Bible will cause the Christian “jinn” (genie) to jump on you and distort your thinking to the wrong path.  Some Muslims we know believe that God gave His power to the witchdoctors to heal people, or kill people with curses.  But many Muslims we know believe none of the above.

We also know Muslims who believe the Qur’an teaches they must also follow the Christians’ Holy Books.  We know Muslims who see Jesus’ uniqueness in the Qur’an and embrace him as their Messiah too.  In fact, we’ve never met a Muslim who says bad things about Jesus.  Some know nothing about him, others honor him as a prophet, healer, and teacher, or even as the living Word and Spirit of God.  When you make a new Muslim friend, don’t assume he or she is against Jesus—ask!  You might be surprised at what they believe.

Perhaps the best example of this “surprise factor” is the Muslim artist Mo Sabri—check out what he believes about Jesus here (on youtube, search for “Mo Sabri I believe in Jesus” or click this link): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4gDFFATGyh0  Amazing!!!

So whether you’re Christian or Muslim, I encourage you to make friends first—

IMG_5279along the way find out what your friend believes, and share what you believe in a respectful way.  Don’t make beliefs a condition for friendship.  Be a true friend.  Love sincerely.  The context of a loving relationship is the safest place for both you and your friend to take a fresh look at what you believe.

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My Response to SOMEONE HAS TO DIE — by “Grace”

10 06 2012

Flag used by Caucasian jihadists in 2002. The ...

JIM’S BOOK BROUGHT HEALING TO MY HEART OVER MEMORIES OF MY CHILDHOOD IN THE MIDDLE EAST

When I read “Someone Has to Die,” I couldn’t put it down. I read it till about 4:30 in the morning till I finished. It was well-written, fast-paced, action-packed, emotionally rich, and relationally challenging. It reminded me of some wild experiences I had as a child growing up in the Middle East. The best part was the LOVE displayed by characters in the book, both Muslim and Christian–that was phenomenal. It is that kind of love that brings a sense of peace to the most chaotic circumstances.

The story was beautiful and moving; but beyond that, there was, for me, a stirring in my spirit. The story churned up my own story; and I needed resolution. So first thing when I woke up I went to one of my favorite places to pray. When I was eleven years old my family moved to a war-torn Islamic country. I thought of it as a grand adventure and an adrenaline rush, even in some very scary times. As an adult I have been gradually realizing that many of my childhood ways of thinking and feeling weren’t based in reality. We were in genuine danger sometimes. And there were probably more feelings I should have been having than just, “Oh, how exciting.” So when I went to pray the morning after I finished the book, I asked God what feelings he had about those events.

I remembered one time I was riding the bus with my mom, my siblings and some other expatriates. These wild, armed men kept trying to steal a ride, (or maybe rob us), and a guy at the door would bribe them to go away. Finally, the driver got so mad because the bribe money had run out so the next time some of these thugs tried to flag us down, he just kept driving. Then it was their turn to get mad, and they shot out the side view mirror. The driver stopped then; and a bunch of wild-haired men came pouring onto the bus. One motioned for my brother to move over close to me and sat down in the aisle seat. Others found places on the stairs. We rode maybe 3 or 4 hours like that. At one point, a boy came on the bus with a basket of pomegranates and the hitchhikers stole some from him. He ran off yelling and throwing rocks back toward the bus. Typical of Middle Eastern hospitality, the thieves then offered us some! We said no. My brother and I, wide-eyed in amazement at this new home of ours, thought of it as a grand adventure, as usual.

So when I went to pray the morning after reading “Someone Has to Die,” I remembered this story, and I started to feel the compassion of Jesus towards these men. I started saying, “Isa Masih! Rahman o Rahim!” over and over again. Mostly when starting a journey or anything of significance, Muslim people say, “Bismillah Rahman o Rahim” –it means, “In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful.” I felt the compassion of Christ, so I was saying, “Jesus Christ, the Compassionate, the Merciful!” I always KNEW we should love our enemies, but I FELT it in a new way.  I had never really thought of those men on the bus as enemies anyways; they were just characters in my fantastic adventure story. Suddenly they were not just characters anymore; but people that Jesus feels great compassion for and on whom he longs to have mercy. Then I remembered the verse where Jesus says,  “He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives the one who sent me….And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward.” (Matthew 10:40-41, NIV) And again, suddenly, I saw our journey in this war-torn country with its deep and pervasive hospitality in a new light. Could Jesus be showing His compassion and mercy by allowing people to show hospitality to us, even as children with very little understanding—to receive us—even to offer us stolen pomegranates? Could that have been a sign of his mercy even to these men?

So then, I asked God to give me compassion for some extremist Muslim men who killed the father of a very close friend. They killed him for no reason, when he was working for the good of other Muslim people. I feel God’s desire for these terrorists. His sorrow over the darkness they carry. His anger over the lies they believe that keep them in chains, bound to a lifestyle of violence and hatred. He wants them; He wants them for Himself, to set them free, and to give them peace instead of war, compassion instead of hatred, life instead of death. That’s God’s wish and hope for those men.

Jim Baton’s book tells a story—a story of people who love and of people who hate; a story of children caught in conflict; a story of what happens to people who don’t understand the love of God and those who do. By itself this book is an interesting, stimulating, thought-provoking read. But I believe that when a reader is open to dialogue with the Spirit of God about this, then the true value of what Jim has written comes to light. It is a tool in the hands of God himself–a tool I believe He will use to bring peace and reconciliation, justice and compassion, understanding and mercy, friendship and love.

—“Grace”

How did God speak to your heart when reading SOMEONE HAS TO DIE?  Write in and let others know!





Peacemaker of the World

19 01 2012
English: Jesus entering Jerusalem on a donkey

One of my favorite descriptions of Jesus in the Bible comes from Micah chapter 5.  Many Christians hear the beginning of this passage read at Christmas foretelling Jesus’ birth: “But you, Bethlehem…from you will come the leader who will shepherd-rule Israel…”  But if you read in the Message translation, verses 2-4 end with the shepherd-ruler being ascribed this amazing title: “Peacemaker of the world!”

I remember teaching a group of Muslim students once about how similar Muslim and Christian views are concerning our future world peace.  Several Hadith (Muslim records of the sayings and deeds of the Prophet Muhammad) point to a future time when the Prophet ‘Isa will return to take leadership of the Muslim umat (the people of God), to correct all false teaching concerning himself, and to usher in a period of world peace under his leadership.  The Bible also foretells Jesus’ return to reward the people of God, when every knee will bow before him and confess him as Lord (no matter what they believed about him in the past), and that he will bring about a time of world peace under his Kingship, where even “the lion will lie down with the lamb.”

Although there are also some differences between Muslim and Christian views of the end times, I find it interesting that both groups are waiting for the coming of Jesus as the next major event on the eschatological calendar.  And if we’re all waiting to see Jesus face-to-face and to live under his Leadership, doesn’t it make sense for all of us to try and get to know him the best we can even now?

We’re already seeing that the Jesus of Ephesians 2 is the demolisher of separating walls between people, and he’s bringing peace already between many various groups who thought they could never be at peace with the other.  What’s happening already is just a foretaste of the time when Jesus returns to the earth and is acknowledged by all peoples as the great Peacemaker of the World.