As I have been following the news and commentaries about the current attacks by radical muslims, I think what probably concerns me the most is the continual misinformation that a politically-correct media tolerates and even promotes about the true nature of Islam. People continue to say, “Islam is a religion of peace” when radical Islamists continue to carry out attacks all over the world. Paris and California are but two that have gotten our attention because they happened in the West, but the attacks in Nigeria, Kenya, Turkey, Lebanon, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Pakistan, Egypt, Libya and many other places don’t get the same media attention. All being carried out by devout Muslims in the name of their prophet and religion.
Tragically, in the past 25 years a growing number of Christian missionaries have grown far too “sympathetic” in their assessment of the true nature of Islam and what they believe to be its initial inspiration. Many will go to incredible lengths to defend Islam and the acts of its followers, even when those acts constitute terrorism. They will whitewash Islamic history and ignore the problematic verses in the Qur’an. I know that the lack of receptivity amongst Muslims for centuries led many missionaries to begin exploring with so called “new paths”, but the number of Muslims coming to faith around the world today is unprecedented in history and what lies behind such an incredible response is simply not what these “new path” missionaries think. More on that in a minute.
To get back to the issue of Islam and the misinformation: in short, there really is much confusion and naturally people are deferring to those who they assume know what they're talking about. What you are about to read is my contribution to the debate.
I have been a serious student of Islam for more than 25 years and have lived in the Middle East for more than two decades. I know Arabic and can therefore read and understand the Qur’an and the Islamic traditions in their original language. As a student of Islamic History, I also know the context in which events happened. I should also say that I too at one time was trying to “paint” Islam in the most positive light I could – focusing on the Qur’anic verses that were peaceful and promoted tolerance. I had hoped that something like a “Messianic Muslim” movement could be started that would sweep across the Islamic world. God at work “on the inside” of Islam was what many of us were advocating (and many still are). Whereas I can say with the utmost confidence that God is at work deep inside the world of Islam, it is to lead them OUT and to expose the deception that they have been living in.
And before I respond to the issue of the true nature of Islam and the source of its violence, I have a deep love for Muslims. I have devoted my life to reaching them with the Gospel. And unlike many who making the claim about all the muslim friends they have, I actually have and have had hundreds of Muslims friends as I live in a muslim neighborhood and work alongside them every day.
I will now speak clearly – the religion of Islam at its source was NOT peaceful and Muhammad was NOT a man of peace but of excessive violence. Whatever one wants to say about the beginning of his life and mission (I.e. In Mecca), the way he lived up until the end of his life was full of terror and violence. Notice I did NOT say that most Muslims are violent. The vast majority of Muslims that I have known are peace loving and have been incredible friends. I am grateful that they are not following the example of their prophet and the admonish to violence in their scriptures.
I can cite dozens of Qur’anic verses (I’ve supplied a link below) and far more passages from authoritative Islamic traditions (Hadith) in support of what groups like ISIS, Al Qaida and other terrorist Islamic groups are doing. The command to kill, to behead and even to crucify are all Qur’anic injunctions that are part of the latest (most recent) revealed passages in the Qur’an. What does this mean? It means that the peaceful verses, the verses that you will often here moderate Muslims and the media citing have been cancelled out (abrogated) by the later, and thus binding/authoritative ones.
Here is one example of a verse that abrogates all of the previous peaceful and tolerant verses that call for peaceful co-existence with non-Muslims and even affirm other faiths.
Surat Al Tawba (9:5) (Chapter of Repentance) - “…slay the pagans (mushrikeen) wherever you find them” (note: mushrikeen – often translated as “pagans” or “idolaters” literally means “those who have associated something/someone with God”. This includes Christians because we believe in the Trinity and have therefore committed the sin of shirk (association) by our belief in Christ’s Deity). I have had dozens and dozens of Muslims confirm to me that because I believe that Jesus is God and that He is the Second Person in the Holy Trinity that I am a mushrik (an associator). Every single one of those Coptic Orthodox young men that were beheaded on the beach in Libya earlier this year were beheaded because they believed in the Trinity and were therefore mushrikeen (associators). This very verse was being obeyed when they martyred those men. Horrific. This is not an isolated or a cherry-picked verse but representative of dozens and dozens of similar violent ones.
This verse of terror comes from the final chapter revealed in the Qur’an. This is like their “Great Commission” chapter. We have Matthew 28 – they have this chapter. Their final word, their final marching orders. This presents a huge problem for modern Muslims because as I said before, most are not violent, and despise violence. Let me reaffirm once again what I said before: the vast majority of my muslim friends have been some of the kindest, most charitable people I have ever known.
After literally centuries of almost no response to the Gospel from the Muslim World, I believe that we are living in a new season where God began to expose the true nature of Islam for all to see so that many of its captives will be set free. It was Jesus who said that those things that are hidden will one day be exposed. In Matthew 10:26, Jesus said, "Therefore do not fear them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. So we must not fear them. Fear is never a legitimate Christian response. We fear God alone. And we welcome hidden things (I.e. the true nature of Islam) being exposed for all to see.
I am convinced that we are living in days when the true nature of Islam is being shown and will continue to be shown over and over again. That could never have happened before the age of mass communications and a worldwide media. The acts of ISIS and other such groups are almost instantaneously being uploaded and broadcast to the world. News of these atrocities travels almost as fast as they happen.
In spite of the constant attempts by the moderate Muslims and ironically the Western media to declare it to be a religion of peace, Islamic violence is actually increasing all over the world. The Middle East I live in today, is far more dangerous than the one I arrived in back in 1992. There a many places where I could travel freely before with no problems whatsoever. Today that would be unthinkable.
I know that what I have just written would have me labeled an “Islamophobe” and would be called “hate speech” by many, including many Christians today. But we cannot stand by when lies are being uttered, and Islam is being portrayed as something its own scriptures and tradition completely undermine. Especially when the exposure of the violent nature of Islam is now one of the leading factors that is leading Muslims OUT OF Islam. While it is true that many are turning to atheism in the abandonment of Islam (sadly because they assume that Christianity must be no different), I can attest to this being a major factor in the lives of the Muslims I have been discipling recently. Violence in Islam helped lead them to Christ.
If these verses are so prevalent, and these chapters in early Islamic history so clearly full of violence, why doesn’t every Muslim see these things or know about them? How do they reconcile these things with their own practice of their faith? Essentially, I believe it boils down to deception. Many simply don’t see it, even when you show it to them.
For example, a couple of us were meeting with a devout Shi’ite muslim who I had prayed for to be healed. During the course of an interesting conversation, I told him that I was grateful that he didn’t obey the Qur’an. He was confused. So I showed him the verse - “Do not take for yourselves friends from amongst the Christians and Jews”. He refused to believe that it was talking about friendship although I was showing him the verse in Arabic. It simply didn’t “fit” with his interpretation of what Islam is supposed to be. Another example in that same conversation was when I challenged the Islamic belief that Muhammad was without sin (a universally held belief by all branches and sects of Islam). However in 4 different places in the Qur’an God is commanding Muhammad to “seek forgiveness for HIS OWN sin”. I showed this Shi’ite young man the verse in Arabic – I broke down the grammar and the vocabulary of this incredibly clear verse. It didn’t matter what the Qur’an said – he was convinced of something else and so it didn’t matter what the clear Arabic said. Deception.
It is exactly the same with the dozens and dozens of horrifically violent verses in the Qur’an. Because most of the world’s muslims are in practice peaceful people, and and as I said this is our experience living amongst muslims for nearly 25 years, they simply refuse to see and admit that these verses are there. Or they try to explain them away as metaphorical, or not applicable today. They just continue to repeat the oft-cited mantra, “Islam is a religion of peace”. As if saying that somehow makes it true.
Again, here’s the problem. One of the main factors that is helping muslims to leave Islam today and come to Christ is the realization that they have been deceived. That Islam is NOT the peaceful religion they had always been told. They are going back into the Qur’an and into their authoritative traditions and discovering that their prophet was not a man of peace, that he was anything but tolerant. This is a major crisis that is currently going on in Islam. One of the common trends has been for modern muslims to completely reject the Hadith (Islamic traditions) and to be essentially “Quran-only” muslims as the traditions are so violent and so indefensible in a modern rationalistic world that they’ve abandoned them. They are still left with all the violence in the Qur’an.
What is so tragic is that many Christians, and sadly many Christian missionaries, perpetuate the lie that Islam at it’s source is a peaceful religion. Are their peaceful teachings in the Qur’an? Yes, but as I said (and this is according to Islamic Qur’an interpretation) they were abrogated (cancelled out, deemed non-applicable) by the more later “revelations”. So it is exactly opposite of what we have in the Bible. Jesus’ teaching supersedes anything in the Old Testament and we are bound by His commands. Thankfully, Christ left us “a new and living way”. In Islam it is just the opposite. The earliest verses in the Qur’an, which is where you find the peaceful and tolerant ones, have been replaced by the later commands to attack, to kill, to subdue, to behead, and to even to crucify non-muslims. If anyone is interested, here is a link that highlights many of those violence verses in both the Qur’an and the Islamic traditions - http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/quran/023-violence.htm
So we love muslims, we befriend them and we share with them the love of Christ and His Gospel. What we don’t do is to acquiesce to the “spirit of the age” (the political correctness) and agree with ridiculous statements about Islam that are historically untrue and in contradiction to the clear teachings of the Qur’an.
It is like God is wielding a two-edged sword – doing miraculous things in the lives of muslims AND exposing the falseness of their religion and the lies they have believed. It is these two factors that are behind the greatest number of muslims coming to Christ in all of history. It is happening all over the Muslim world and in the lives of Muslims who have emigrated elsewhere. And as countless Christians have suffered martyrdom at the hands of Islamic extremists, the world is watching. The world is also seeing the true nature of Christianity as many of these martyrs have willingly given their lives instead of denying Christ. They have been seen praying for their very executioners at the time they were being slain. Powerful and so much like Christ Himself who uttered the words, “Father, Forgive them, for they know not what they do” even as an act of terrorism was being committed against Him.