The Best From "News & Views" MM Home Page Back to Article Index page.
The Language of the Muslims
The events of September 11, 2001 are burned into the minds of all of us, and our lives are forever changed.
I opened a letter from the USA and a fine powder rose up. I jumped back in horror, thinking "Anthrax!". Actually it turned out to be paper dust caught in the folds of an envelope that had jammed in the canceling machine at the post office. Before September 11th, it would have passed unnoticed. Still, at our house we were all jumpy for about a week, making sure I did not develop symptoms! I had the peace of the Lord during that time, but can well imagine the panic of those who do not. So, instead of being promoted to glory, I'm still here working!
When I used the term "Jihad" when discussing the events of September 11th I encountered many blank stares at first, before the media included it in their reporting. Then people came to realize that it meant "holy war" against Christians and Jews, by the militant Muslims, as commanded by their religion, Islam.
I think it is timely for us all to become familiar with the terms used by Islam.
The word "Islam" describes the religion of the world's 1.1 billion Muslims. It is generally agreed that the word "Islam" is derived from an Arabic word meaning "peace".
The founder of Islam is the Prophet Muhammad . He claimed to receive revelations from Allah, the Muslim name for God. These "revelations" were compiled over a period of years into the book called the "Koran" or "Quran".
The most popular phrase used by the Muslims is that "There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is His Messenger". This was the phrase that was supposed to be cried out by the terrorists as their planes hit the twin towers.
The central belief system of the Muslims is called "tawhid". It means that each Muslim, by his good works, can attain salvation. Their actions on earth are said to determine their eternal destination in the afterlife.
Muslims are a people of repetitious prayers, in contrast to Christians who also pray but do not use the same words over and over. Five times a day a Muslim must face Mecca (their Holy City) and seek the forgiveness of their daily sins from Allah.
Devout Muslims tithe, giving 10% of their income to the Islamic poor, through their local mosque. This tithing regulation is called "Zakaah". The mosque is their building where they worship.
Each year the Muslims have a holy month called "Ramadan", and each Muslim is encouraged, at least once in his lifetime to make a pilgrimage to their Holy City of Mecca during this month. Often there are pictures on TV of hordes of people circling around their holy shrine in Mecca.
Basically, there are three types of Muslims: Secularists, Moderates, and Fundamentalists. (Outsiders use these terms, not Muslims.) Each group is able to use the Koran to justify their views. This is because Muhammad's views changed over a period of years, depending on his circumstances. Parts of the Koran seem peaceable and loving, but other parts are so hostile to others as to be downright scary!
The "Secularists" are Muslims who do not have knowledge of the contents of the Koran, except for a favorite innocuous verse or two. (Remind you of some Christians you know...!)
The "Moderates" are those with better knowledge of the Koran, but seek to make their faith relevant to modern life. They choose the most loving verses they can find, written at a time when Muhammad hoped to convert Christians and Jews. These tolerant verses lasted for a time, but It soon became evident that Christians and Jews wanted nothing to do with him. Then he changed his tune.
The "Fundamentalists" seize on these violent verses in the Koran which urge "Jihad", holy war against all Christians and Jews. I am amazed at the media, who have not done their homework in the Koran. They keep saying the Koran preaches peace, but this is not so. The commands are there to commit violence against all others. Extravagant promises are made to those who will engage in "Jihad", being martyrs to the cause and taking as many "infidels" with them as possible!
A Christian dying as a martyr dies as an innocent, by himself. A Muslim is expected to die himself and take the largest group possible of unbelievers with him. Then he can enjoy "paradise" with unlimited sexual favors, good food, etc. and Allah's blessing. This was the hope of the terrorists who used planes as bombs, killing all passengers and those in the towers. They believed Allah would be very pleased, and apparently he would, if the Koran is to be believed. This would be the highest, most noble death imaginable!
Enter Bin Laden and the Taliban. The Taliban are Islamic clerics headed up by Mullah Mohammad Omar. They want Islam to rule the world, and use the most extreme verses in the Koran to further their evil schemes. The Koran does urge world dominance by the Muslims.
We all know of their repressive regime in Afghanistan, especially against the women. Women were treated like non-persons, peering out at the world through heavy veils and encompassing garments. Many were executed for such crimes as momentarily revealing a glimpse of an arm or leg, or going out unescorted by a male. Executions were carried out in Soccer stadiums and provided the entertainment. Under the Taliban rule, there was no TV, no sporting events, no luxuries, just religious drudgery. Some men were given horrible punishment over the length of their beards!
Islamic growth is fueled by petro dollars gleaned mostly from "Christian" countries. We are at their mercy every time we fuel up at the pumps! The United States is believed to be home to over six million Muslims. This makes it the second largest religion in North America, outnumbered only by the "Christians". The Jews are now outnumbered by the Muslims in North America.
Muslim influence is everywhere. The vote in the United Nations is heavily influenced by Muslim-dominated countries of the third world. The United States and Canada must tread lightly so the oil continues to flow here. Anyone offending the Muslims had better do so carefully, or face the economic consequences.
However, Islam is not a united religion. They are divided up into main factions, and then many more splinter groups. Some of the names of these smaller groups within the larger ones are called, "Shia", "Ismailis", "Zaydis", "Twelvers", "Sunnis", "Sufis" etc. Some are mystical, some are overly literal when it comes to the Koran.
Christians should know that Muhammad claimed to be the "Comforter" spoken of in John 14 in the Bible. However, this is the Holy Spirit.
Muslims also claim that the Hebrew and Greek scriptures of the Bible were corrupted, but the Koran corrected them.
Muslims deny many fundamental Christian, Biblical, doctrines such as the Trinity, the atonement of Jesus Christ for sinners. They believe Judas, or some other substitute died at the crucifixion, not Jesus. The Jesus of the Muslims is only a prophet, not Deity.
As Christians we need to feel, not fear of ordinary Muslims, but compassion for them. The majority of them are like any other works oriented group, trying to be good enough for God. We need to be in much prayer and prepared to witness to them in love. They are not going away, they are growing, and must become objects of our Christian evangelism.Be prepared!