In considering the task of evangelising the Muslim world we must record at the same time the great sacrificial effort and the apparently small visible result. Looking back to the early pioneers such as Raymond Lull, Francis of Assisi, or Henry Martyn what is there to show for all the tears and blood save the patience of unanswered prayer. Like Simon Peter, the lonely worker might well say, “Master, we have toiled all night and taken nothing, nevertheless, at Thy word we will let down the net.”
A confession of faithfulness – “We have toiled.”
A confession of failure – “We have taken nothing.
A confession of dauntless faith – “Nevertheless we will let down the net.”
These three short phrases on the lips of the fisherman-apostle express actual conditions in the world of Islam.
It is true there are converts from Islam but when we report the facts there is a paucity of converts in the Muslim fields. Some blame the church for lack of faith; others the missionaries for lack of love. The reason, others, say is that we have tried to win by controversy rather than by kindness, and our difficulty is one of method. Again, we are told that the time is not yet, the hour has not struck, and the harvest is not ripe.
Law of Apostasy
All the reasons given above for the meagreness of direct results in work for Muslims have a measure of truth, yet none of them are sufficient. It is our conviction that among the many reasons for the small number of converts to the Christian faith in Muslim lands there is perhaps none so important as the Muslim law regarding apostates. Every convert to Christianity is an apostate from Islam, and although there have been apostates throughout all the centuries, and we know of cases even during the life-time of Muhammad the Prophet, the law of apostasy has become fixed in Islam. The apostate dies to his faith and is regarded by his family as worse than dead.
Islam from the earliest times and according to the teaching of the Quran, has always made it extremely easy to enter the Muslim brotherhood, and extremely difficult for those who once enter its fold to find exit. It is not an exaggeration to say that the doors of this vast temple reared by the Arabian prophet swing only inward, not outward.
The Rev. William Miller once asked a convert from Islam this question, “Is the law of apostasy a cause for the fewness of converts?” he replied, “It is the cause!” Mr. Miller comments that the law does not prevent earnest men from becoming Christians, but it prevents many weaker seekers for the truth from pressing on to a thorough study of Christianity.
As I pen these lines a Muslim student has just left my study, whose father turned him out-of-doors and threatens to kill him if he continues to read Christian books. He asked me, “what shall I do then with the words of our master, ’Whosoever denies me before men’?” And then the homeless lad looked with pitiful longing for an answer as we prayed together. He knew the Muslim law regarding apostates.
Theoretically the penalty of death has been abrogated in many countries but as a matter of fact, it still exists in actual practice. The only difference being that before its abrogation executions under this law took place in public, and now the converts just disappear.
“Why are there so few Muslim converts?” (Abridged) S.M. Zwemer
The Mahdi literally means “the guided one”, and has come to mean in an individual way, the divinely guided one. While Allah himself is called al-Hadi in the Quran (Al-Hajj 22:54; Al-Furqan 25:31) the figure of al-mahdi or mahdi, and his mission is not mentioned at all. Islam uses the term of certain individuals in the past and of an eschatological individual in the future. The Mahdi is interpreted differently by Sunnis and Shi’a although both look for one who will arise to restore the purity of Islam and usher in a Golden Age in which Islamic revelation will reign in the ideal community, the umma.
There is a general belief amongst Muslims that the living Muhammad intercedes for them at the throne of God. The Wahhabi’s state that the intercession of their Prophet is only by the permission of Allah on the Last Day and that there will be no intercession for sins until the Day of Judgement. In principle the Quran denies that there is an intercessor with Allah. However, there are a few passages which suggest that under certain circumstances Allah does allow someone to intercede. It seems that Muhammad’s intercession is available for the Muslim as he/she invokes the blessings of Allah upon the Prophet.
Both the Quran and Tradition present their picture of ‘Isa. They give him a high place among the prophets; they affirm his sinless-ness; they affirm he had power to work miracles but all this does not distinguish Him in any way as to its nature from the other prophets who came before him.
The Quran recognises that David glorified and praised God. The mountains and the birds alternated with him in these praises (Al-Anbiya 21:79, Saba’ 34:10, Sa’d 38:18). Muhammad, it seems, took literally the passages where creatures and elements joined David in their praises so it seems that when David was fatigued Allah caused other parts of nature, both animate and inanimate to relieve him. David is presented as a model Muslim, praising Allah, fasting, prostrating, acting justly and fighting for the honour of Allah
The title Tawrat is given in the Quran and all Muslim works for the Book of Moses (in Hebrew Torah stands for ‘the Law’). The term tawrat is found in the Medina period. Muslim scholars accept that the Tawrat teaches the unity of God yet believe it falls short of the full revelation as it does not give an account of the stated method of prayers (Al-Fath 48:29), the fast, a detailed description of the pilgrimage to Jerusalem and alms-giving, nor is there anything regarding heaven and hell. For these reasons the Tawrat is said to have been altered by the Jews.