As we begin our post today I need to share a few things. First of all this is a post promised by me, to allow you to see how Muslims and Christians interact when they discuss Christ, Islam, Mohamed and Christianity.
Second, who are we? Many of you are new readers. I am merely the face of Christians that have come to Jesus from Islam. If you will read my previous post you can learn more. They are mostly fleeing countries where they were persecuted for making a stand for their new faith. However, I also have Christians from predominately Muslim countries that are fleeing communism, tribal conflicts and war. Almost every believer I work with has been arrested, beaten, stabbed, cussed and worse. Those married ALL lost their families and most have children back in their home country taken from them, or left by them, as they fled for their lives. Husbands have had their wives given to other men to be married, as they are now considered dead, their children now raised by others. I am the face since they would be in great danger if discovered.
Who is my Imam? Hassan came from a neighboring country. He actually used to persecute Christians that had come from Islam. Being an excellent student he was chosen to study the Qur’an at an early age. Jesus appeared to him in dreams calling him. The first time he ran to a known believer and asked him about this dream. Then after hearing that Jesus wanted him to follow after Him, he laughed it off and left. The next dream he went back to the brother and asked again about the dream. This time the other brother, boldly stated that Jesus would not appear to him again, and that if Hassan, did not repent and follow the Lord he would be lost forever. Hassan turned to Jesus and lost everything. More on that in a later post.
So here we are. Hassan is a leader in one of our house churches in an area predominately inhabited by refugees from surrounding countries. He is a published author and sought out by others on matters concerning Islam and Jesus. Last year a special group contacted him and asked for him to head up a forum that answers questions from Muslim from all over the world who want to know more about Jesus and to challenge the Christian faith in an anonymous setting. I asked him two weeks ago, what were the typical questions that Muslims have when they contact him. I was a bit surprised at his answer.
You must understand that I have been trained to deal with Muslims in one of three ways. With cultural Muslims, the vast majority in my host country Tanzania, unless you are near the coast or a large mosque, it is simple. You are most likely going to confront Muslims that are what I called cultural Muslims. Folks raised in Islam but not very educated nor truly committed to it. They are open to the truth, but the main obstacle is family disapproval. I share the gospel with them the same as I would an unbeliever in any animist culture.
The second way I was trained to share, was a version of the camel method. I recommend the book The Camel to learn this method. You basically use the verses in the Qur’an to point out that it tells Muslims to learn about Jesus, and to ask Christians about Him. Then I share all about him. It is very non confrontational and simple. It requires little knowledge of Islam but affords a great opportunity to meet Muslims, share Jesus and learn more about Islam, as well.
The third way is best reserved for the experts. The confrontational method. There are men that go hammer and tong after the Muslim faithful, especially radicals and Imams. They pull no punches and are fearless. As it turns out, this is the way my Imam relates to most Muslims. Immanently qualified and knowledgeable he is infamous in his bluntness. I must say, I was a bit stunned. I expected this humble and affectionate brother to be firm but very tactfully addressing inconsistencies in Islam, raising questions and doubts among it adherers and perhaps offering a more insightful view into some aspects of Christ from a different persepective. I thought after gaining respect and trust he would then share the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. Well…… Not so much. I am more comfortable with my approach as it addresses the needs Muslims have and their dissatisfaction with Islam.
I say this because I can tell you without fail, that many who come to Jesus, have serious problems with the hate, violence and anger in that religion. If you have read my other post you know even radicals are yearning for peace and security in their faith. There is none in Islam. So lets see what Hassan does and says.
Hassan works in a internet forum environment a few days a week. Muslims from all over the world schedule a time to ask him questions. Sometimes a dozen Muslims from Canada, Saudi or Iran will make an appointment and sign on with planned questions and counter questions. Many are like professional debaters and get other less knowledgeable believers and even doubters to participate. They mostly use anonymity in this environment. Some are just seekers with simple questions.
I expected Hassan to tell me that most questions were about the trinity, the veracity of the Bible and other questions that the books tell me are frequently asked. I especially like his explanation on the trinity. It is exactly like the one that was used by the earliest church writers. Not like our current responses that we cap with “its a mystery”. I’ll save that for another post.
So what is the most asked question?
How is Jesus God?
Hassan would then point to John 1:1 Where Jesus is the Word of God. Then he quotes from the Qur’an from the Surat An-Nisa 4:171 where Jesus the Son of Mary is called the word of God and breath of God. (this interpretation varies widely depending on the translation of the Qur’an, when I researched it. However, being an Imam, he speaks Arabic and it’s version or translation is unquestioned. It is the original language of the Qur’an.)
The Muslims then countered that Jesus was merely a messenger to the Jews, as stated in Matthew 15:24, He was sent only for the lost sheep of Israel, the Jews. (Muslims know their bibles too).
Hassan, goes back to John one and points to the rest of the text in John, showing that the worlds were created through the Word and it became flesh and dwelt among us. He then goes to Hebrews 1:1-3 where Jesus is said to be more than the prophets of the past and that He is the Son of God, the brightness of His glory and and upholds all things.
Hassan shares all these things with me quoting them from memory. I open my bible and Qur’an and follow along. He is spot on. In my many meetings with him he has looked in his bible one time to confirm the place of a text. Be aware, a man is not chosen to be an Imam that is not intellectually exceptional. If you chose to engage an Imam, be prepared. It is best to assume that the Imam is prepared for you.
Second question. You are going to love this one.
Does the Bible testify about Mohamed the prophet?
This is where I was a little stunned.
Yes, says Hassan. Matthew 24:24. After me will come many false prophets. Yeah, that was, and is, his answer. At this point he is usually cursed, many hang up and more promise to find out who he is and cut off his head.
If they stay connected he adds, John 10:10, the thief ( as opposed to the True Sheppard) comes to steal, kill and destroy and Jesus comes to bring abundant life and then quickly quotes the Quran. Surate At-Tawbah 9:5 where Allah commands his followers to kill, ambush and destroy the Christian believers. Islam is the thief. The false Sheppard. He might also throw in verse 29 from the same Surat.
Finally, their third point, not necessarily a question. Instead they make a statement for Hassan to address.
Mohamed was the fulfillment of the Jesus promise to send “another” to reveal all truth.
It is their observation that Jesus said He would send another, and Mohamed was that other person to be sent. I was a bit shocked by this proclamation and curious as to what verse they would use. Remember, they are prepared for this debate and the leaders study often.
The Muslims then quoted John 16: 12-13 where Jesus says He has more things to say to them but they will learn them from the Holy Spirit and He will teach them more. They contend that Mohamed was that holy spirit sent to teach them more perfectly. Wow, did not see that one coming.
Hassan then points to John 14:16-17 where Jesus mentions sending the Comforter the Holy Spirit and that He would dwell within us. And of course many other verses where the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost and people repeatedly received the Holy Spirit in that day and that Mohamed came 600 years later and dwelt in no one. He boldly states that this means that Mohamed is not the promised Comforter. By the way this is a rather interesting proclamation and not a position taken by the Qur’an. I find this comment telling.
It shows that Muslims are studying the scriptures a great deal. Now many are admittedly just looking for proof text to make a point as this example shows. Not unlike many Christians, I might add.
I will continue to learn more of Hassan’s escapades with radicals, seekers and antagonist as we move forward. I will also write his testimony as well. Sorry but as you may have figured out. Hassan, is not his name. I can’t tell you where he is from. I can’t show you a picture.
I can tell you this. He is a humble and studious man. He smiles a lot and is fearless. He hugs me and lays his head on my shoulder when he sits next to me. Here, as in much of Africa, men are very affectionate. Dear friends hold hands, embrace and walk arm in arm. He calls me daddy sometimes and I don’t know why. He is just a little younger than me and is a respected leader. He needs your prayers. I have him in a safe house. He is sharing his faith both online and in a predominately Muslim culture. And, he is my friend and brother. And we call him Imam Hassan.