Q & A - Muslim evangelism
Questions and Answers about Muslim Evangelism (1)
Why should I go to the Muslims?
Muslims like the rest of mankind have many needs. Without Christ they are lost in sin and bound by the system of Islamic teaching. Christians need to obey God’s commission and present the gospel in a meaningful way.
Why should I pray for Muslims?
The Muslim is forewarned with all the answers which he has learned about Islam from being a baby. He has also memorised much of the Quran and has become like a rock in his acceptance of his faith. Without prayer this rock cannot be broken.
1. If a Muslim becomes a Christian it may well mean severance from his family rights, deprivation, opposition from his community, loss of employment, persecution and occasionally death. Knowing full well the costs involved in leaving Islam and the price that may have to be paid in coming to Christ he needs much prayer support.
2. We are engaged in spiritual warfare, Satan has blinded the eyes of the Muslim so that they cannot come to Christ unless by a work of the Holy Spirit. All the arguments in the world, however convincing, will not have its desired effect unless the ministry is covered in prayer.
How can I prepare myself to witness to Muslims?
1. Get to know what Muslims believe.
2. Get to know what the Quran says and the reasons why it says what it does.
3. Get a thorough understanding of the differences between their doctrines and ours particularly those areas that cause strong dissension between us.
4. Remember that the Quran challenges us on theological grounds; therefore we must not only know their theology but ours as well!
How can I approach a Muslim?
A Muslim may be hard to win but he is easier to approach than the average Westerner. Many Westerners are not interested in religion but you can approach the Muslim on this ground as his religion is very important to him.
Is there any special technique involved in witnessing to Muslims?
a) Handle God’s Word honestly and truthfully. > “Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God” (2 Corinthians 4:1,2).
b) Be prepared to live the Gospel. > “So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us “(1 Thessalonians 2:8).
c) Be content to explain one small aspect of the Gospel at a time.
d) Some find it helpful to use illustrations and stories to express spiritual truths. However, caution is needed for example recently a Christian used the ice/water/steam illustration to explain the Trinity but the Muslim with whom he spoke with replied angrily saying does not your Bible say in Isaiah 40:18,25 “To whom then will ye liken God?”
e) Try to encourage your Muslim friend to read one of the Gospels for himself. Many recommend you encourage them to read the Gospel of Luke others consider the Gospel of John is more suitable.
How can I introduce spiritual subjects into the conversation?
Muslims are very happy to talk about their religion and the Christian should encourage the Muslim friend to think about his relationship with God. Learn to ask good questions. Why do you pray five times a day? How do you think your sins will be forgiven? On what grounds do you think you will enter Paradise on the Day of Judgement? Obviously the one asking the questions should know the biblical answers.
Can you give me an example as to how a conversation will go?
Having formed a friendly relationship and having established that the person is indeed a Muslim an introductory conversation may go along the following lines:
Christian: ‘May I ask why you are a Muslim?’ Muslim Response: ‘I have always been one. My father was a Muslim’
Christian: ‘Have you ever read the Injil … the Gospel …? The book about Isa (Jesus).’ Muslim Response: ‘Nabi Isa?’ (Prophet Jesus). ’Yes, I have heard about him.’
Christian: ‘Look, my friend, what is your name?’ Muslim Response: ‘Ahmad.’
Christian: ‘Well Ahmed, I would like you to read about Jesus too. I have something with me here, will you accept it a as a gift? I want you to read it. I cannot make you believe it, but see what it says and then if you have any questions, I would try to answer them.’
In many cases it will be accepted but not always. If it is accepted say: ‘I would like to meet you again, Ahmad. Where could I find you again?’ This might lead to obtaining his address or you may like to invite him to your home, bearing in mind his customs and eating habits could be different to yours. You should try to accommodate him as much as possible for Christ’s sake.
Can you give me some hints on how to handle Muslim beliefs?
Islam is a great religion and its adherents are immersed in it. The Muslim is not only a sinner, such as we all are, but he is a Muslim sinner. Rituals and ordinances are important to him so we need to have in mind how he may possibly view certain aspects of his religion. It is worth learning as much as possible about Islam so that we do not put any stumbling blocks in his way.
Prayer. Be aware that Muslims know of only one way to pray and this involves ritual with ablutions, prostrations, facing the correct direction and praying with feet uncovered. Cleanliness and reverence are important aspects and we should recognise this when we talk about prayer. Never interrupt a Muslim when he is praying.
Conversion. A Muslim becomes a Muslim by repeating the Shahada – the Confession – ’There is no God but God and Muhammad is the Prophet of God.” He may think that a person becomes a Christian in a similar way.
The Muslim and Society. In Islam religion and politics are one so religion covers not only the spiritual but also family and politics. This means that if a Muslim inquires about Christianity it is not only a matter of a personal decision but one that affects his home, town and government.
The Muslim and Interpretation. Many Muslims will see things in a material or literal sense and do not apprehend the spiritual. Therefore his conception of the terms ’Son of God’ and ’Trinity’ will be interpreted radically different from your own understanding. Obviously both subjects have to come up sooner or later but don’t use them as a ’red rag to a bull’ but rather wait your opportunity until the Muslim himself introduces the subject.
The Muslim and Sin. Bear in mind that the Muslims idea of sin is not something evil, but something unlawful (haram).
Heaven. To Muslims, heaven and the Garden of Eden are one and the same. Adam fell from heaven to earth, a physical fall, not a spiritual or moral fall. The Arabic al-firdus meaning ‘Paradise’ will be more easily understood by the Muslim as the place of bliss after death.
The Bible and the Quran. Be careful in using the expression ’Holy Bible’. It is of course, God’s Holy Book but we don’t want to use the word ’holy’ in connection with the Quran so this will free us from any obligation to use Muslim terminology such as the Holy Quran.
Muslims as people. Let him feel you are genuinely concerned about him as a person, not simply as the one you are trying to convert. Demonstrate love.
Differences between the Bible and the Quran. Don’t compromise. There are major differences, so say this. Invite the Muslim to see for himself by reading his book and ours, and by comparing them. You should read the Quran because you are expecting him to read our book and then you can truthfully remark that you have read it but still cannot accept it. Muslims expect Christians to be honest.
Christ and Miracles. The Muslim will say Christ’s miracles were performed by the permission of Allah. Don’t compromise here, but explain clearly that He had the authority and power to do so. e.g. A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cured of his leprosy (Matthew 8:2,3).
What if I can’t answer a question?
There are times when you will not be able to answer all their questions. When this happens admit it and search for the answer, then the next time you meet your Muslim friend you will be able to raise the subject and conversation will progress naturally.
What should I say if they ask me what I think about Muhammad?
It is wise not to refer to Muhammad as the ‘Prophet Muhammad’ but to refer to him as ‘your prophet‘, Muhammad. Should you be in a position where an answer is expected as to your view of Muhammad, avoid causing offence and reply in a suitable way like ‘If I accepted Muhammad, I would not be a Christian’ or ‘The Bible speaks that salvation is found in Christ so I do not need to look for another.’ Obviously we have our own assessment of Muhammad and in Muslim countries we do not speak of him but only of Christ but in the West less caution is required however, there is no advantage in antagonising a person who you are trying to win for Christ.
Discussion is to be encouraged argument is to be avoided. In an argument we can get bogged down on one particular point and our aim becomes simply to destroy the argument on the other side. In a discussion the perspectives are broader as we seek to gain the person for Christ by enlightening certain aspects of truth.
What happens if the Muslim wants to quote the Quran to me?
When a Muslim quotes from the Quran the Christian should listen and be prepared to look at the appropriate passage in private. He should also at all times be able to give the biblical explanation for the topic under discussion.
Should I give literature?
It is always useful to reinforce your conversation with suitable literature. Make sure you know what is available in the appropriate language. It is essential the Muslim has a copy or portions of the Bible it is still generally true that most Muslims come to faith after reading and studying the Word of God. In the West we will probably give out scriptures free, while in many majority Muslim countries they are usually sold as they are then more likely to be read.
Should I have Bible studies with Muslim?
As a rule Muslims do not settle to a prolonged study of the Bible with a Christian unless God is working in their lives and they are seeking. They generally want us to get straight to the point and think we are stalling when we try to show our painstaking approach is designed to promote their understanding. The Muslim will go along with our relating Biblical material until we draw a conclusion that is contrary to Islam, he will then simply reject our scriptures as corrupt. The Muslims attitude of mind is so governed by his Islamic faith that one should not be surprised that there seems to be no penetration of the Biblical message.
* A number of comments have been taken from the late Jack Budd who wrote the book called ‘How to witness to Muslims.’ (This article could be written in either masculine or feminine gender but for convenience we use the masculine gender throughout).