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FSM 257 (FN366)
SPECIAL ISSUE -- DO -- July 1994

       Introduction       1
       Ministering to Muslims: Compiled Tips       2
       Pubs on Topics Relating to Muslims       9
       Issues Which Western Muslims Are Particularly Concerned About       10
       Witnessing to Muslims! (by Maria)       13
       Working Together with Muslim Groups (by Maria)       15
       Giving in the Islamic Faith       18
       Book Excerpts:
              An Introduction to Islam       19
              Basic Islamic Beliefs       21
              What the Koran Teaches about Jesus and Christianity       23

Dear Family, God bless you! The following is a compilation of reports, discussion notes, counsel and book reviews on the "Muslim Ministry," which we pray will be a help to you in relating to, understanding and ministering to Muslims. WLY! Love, Your FSM Editors.


Is There an "Average" Muslim?
       The Muslim world is very complicated, and so it is almost impossible to make sweeping generalities about Muslims. Our representatives to the Muslim world, and indeed the whole Family, need to keep this in mind when we minister to Muslims.
       There is no such thing as an "average Muslim," plain and simple. The Muslim world is divided into hundreds of subgroups, many of whom hate each other so much that they have spent decades killing each other. Nowadays, what kind of Muslim you are is almost as important as the basic fact that you are Muslim.
       Examples include the Gulf War, as well as the Iran-Iraq war, where Muslims were fighting on both sides, both convinced that they were serving God and would go straight to Paradise if killed.
       Of course, the same could be said about Christianity. If you go to Northern Ireland, it is not enough to be a Christian. Your religious denomination could determine whether you live or die.

Muslims in the Letters
       If you study the topic of "Arabs" in the Letters you may find there are seemingly contradictory statements about the Muslims. This may be partly because these talks by Dad were given over a span of years, at different points in history. The rather charitable Letters of around 1975 were written when radical Islamic fundamentalism was not very well known in the West.
       Then ML #1756 and others like it were written nearly nine years later, when Islamic fundamentalism was sweeping the World.
       There are many sides to Islam, and the Letters have addressed different aspects of it, the good, as well as the bad.

MINISTERING TO MUSLIMS--Compiled Tips from Family Members!

       The following tips, compiled from points sent in by Family Members in various countries, can be applied to Muslims from any part of the World. Although Muslims living in the West may be more Westernised in some ways than those living in the Mideast, Indonesia, or on the Indian Subcontinent, a large percentage of Muslims living in the West originally came from one of those areas. Therefore we feel the following counsel could be applied to many of the Muslims you meet & interact with while witnessing, no matter where they're from.

       An Overview of Muslims: Although it varies from nationality to nationality, Muslims are generally a very emotional people, affectionate, warm, and they can be very generous. Most will proclaim their faith in God. They are usually easy to approach and are open to being witnessed to. You can make friends very easily.
       Muslims generally love children! They like family parties and gatherings, & they really like to enjoy themselves! Most, especially those from Arab cultures, are passionate, wild & warm. They enjoy music and dancing. They like outgoing people.
       Your Initial Approach: It's important to clearly state from the beginning that you are not trying to change their religion, as Dad mentions in "Give'm Jesus": "I think you can just tell them, 'You don't have to change your religion, you don't have to change your customs, you're not adopting a new religion!--Jesus is not a religion!' I've taught that for years! Jesus is not a religion, He is a Person, He is a special inner personal Friend you can have!" (ML#2401:8.) Muslims are often sensitive and defensive when talking to Christians, so it's good to put this in your witness as soon as possible, as it helps to put them at ease.
       In fact, we can say we are helping people to become better Muslims, because we are. We can apply what Dad has said about Buddhists to Muslims, as follows: "I certainly haven't attacked their religion! We've gotten [EDITED: "Muslims"] saved & gotten them all turned on about our teachings & everything, & we didn't say a word about their not going to [EDITED: "their mosque"], not a word about their not being [EDITED: "Muslims"]! If anything, we've almost promoted it in some cases, & said ... 'Just get turned on to Jesus & say you're an even better [EDITED: "Muslim"] now than you ever were because you've got Jesus in your heart & you're really turned on!'" (ML#2401:2.) With some of our Muslim catacombers, we have encouraged them to keep visiting the mosque weekly.

Muslims--Similarities & Differences
       One thing that stands out when ministering to & interacting with Muslims in general is the diversity of religious ideas & practices, as well as culture, that abound. As with Christians from Europe, South America, the Far East, India or North America--whose cultures & interpretation of what it means to be a "good" Christian varies greatly--religious beliefs & practices may vary greatly within the Muslim world. We have found that some practices adhered to by one sect of Muslims, or in general by Muslims in one country, may be considered abhorrent & heretical to another group.
       There seem to be definite differences between the Middle Eastern & Mediterranean Muslims (i.e., those from Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, & Jordan), the Gulf Muslims, Iranian Muslims, & even a difference between the Muslims of India & Pakistan!

Some basic differences are:
       Mediterranean/Middle East Arab Muslims are generally much more "Western" than those from the Indian Subcontinent, for example, in dress & even outlook, as well as standard, though they are stronger on Islamic theology. Some can appear to be very "Western," yet at the same time can also be very strict on doctrinal issues.

       Gulf Arab Muslims are similar to the Mediterranean or Middle East Arabs. Much of the older generation, being recently catapulted into the modern world within the last 25 years, & coming from a very old-fashioned type of life & culture, can be quite "old-fashioned" in their thinking, & sometimes even quite narrow-minded. Because many have a much higher income than their other Arab brothers, they benefit from a lot more of the Western "conveniences" which can outwardly make them appear to be more "modern." However, this is not really so.

       Pakistani/Indian Muslims: There seems to be a particular emphasis on the outward forms of the Muslim religion, such as dress, head attire, traditions, modesty of women, not drinking, etc. Most have a great respect for anything religious, including Christians & those of other religions, & many worship at shrines & pray to Muslim saints--consequently, many have no difficulties in praying to Jesus.

       Muslims living in Western countries tend to either become very Westernised, especially if they were born in the West, or alternatively they may become very "Islamic" in response to the threat they face of losing their identity amidst Western society. Many also lead a dual life of strictness at home with their family & children, & a more relaxed type of life once away from the confines of home.

       It is impossible to generalise about people from one particular region, culture or religion, and there are many exceptions to the general observations made above. There are different ways to approach Muslims from different areas & different guidelines to follow which can help in reaching these precious people. It is wise to remember that even within each area, cultural group, or country there are wide differences in Muslims, ranging from the very strict fundamentalist types, to the more "worldly" types--and many "shades" in between! For example, one very religious man may be very tolerant of Christians & very gentle-natured, whereas another equally religious man may be intolerant or even hostile!
       Not all Muslims share the same theological doctrines, and there is a great divergence of beliefs amongst sects as well as amongst individuals. Although it is good to be aware of these different beliefs, it is important not to label the Muslims you meet.
       Some Muslims, similar to nominal Christians, don't really care about Islam. In some ways this makes them even more open to a genuine witness, as they have seen the hypocrisy of some people who say they are Muslims.
       Proclaiming that Jesus is the Son of God can be the biggest stumbling block for Muslims. Because of this, it's usually best to talk more generally about God and win their confidence first. Those who have travelled or been educated abroad, or young people, are generally more open & usually it doesn't stumble them if you present Jesus as the Son of God. You can also meet a lot of "sinner" type Muslims, who are fairly easy to witness to.
       Occasionally, you will meet a more devout Muslim or even a Fundamentalist. They know Islam and they know the Koran. Devout Muslims can sometimes carry a heavy spirit, and can also be bound by the law. It's good to be very prayerful when witnessing to them, as they have usually made a firm commitment to their faith.
       There are two main groups (or denominations) of Muslims, the Sunni Muslims (who are the majority), and the Shiites. (See GN 548, "Islam," from World Book Encyclopedia, for more information on Muslim sects.)
       Some nationalities tend to be very well educated and Westernised, and some are quite sophisticated. Muslims from rich families have often been educated abroad. However, in spite of being educated abroad, we have found that they can still tend to be a bit nationalistic, & no matter how well educated they are or how much wealth they have amassed, they often remain very "Muslim."
       Each country has its own culture, dress, dance and they all feel their own is the best!
       A lot of the more "ordinary" folk you meet are often very simple, so it's best to keep your witness very simple.

How to Witness
       Openers: First, find points in common. Make it very clear that you are not trying to change their religion. When they know that you are their friend, the religious "wall" comes down.
       Share your personal testimony, as it usually thrills them. You can even offer to show them the verse(s) that helped to change your life, as they have a great respect for the Bible.
       It is good to get feedback from them as you give your testimony. Two very common reactions you might receive when telling your testimony are either, "That is wonderful ..." which is the green light to go ahead, & ask if they want to hear the verse that helped change your life, or even to ask if they'd like to pray. Alternatively, they can look a little sceptical or confused that a non-Muslim could have such an experience, and ask, "Have you ever read the Holy Koran ...?" (Why not say "Yes!"--I have!--D.) When you hear this, you may need to try another line of witnessing.
       In the beginning it is good to express that you have faith in God, as this often surprises them. They will respect that, and they also very much respect prayer. Their general impression of Westerners is that they are anti-God, so acknowledging God in your conversation is a good way to begin to win them. However, it's important to talk about God in the beginning, rather than Jesus.
       Tell them what you believe and find as many things in common with them as you can, with the main thing you have in common being that you also believe in God!
       If you know some Arabic it really touches their heart and is a key to winning them, even if you only know a little, especially when used very sincerely. (Devout Muslims, no matter what country they come from, consider Arabic the very language of Heaven since this is the language of the Koran.)
       "Mashaallah" means "praise God," & is often used when you're talking about the amount of children God has blessed you with. For example, if you say, "I have eight children," they will respond with, "Mashaallah!" Because Muslims value children & often have large families, they are usually impressed with our large families!
       "Allah ka shukran" means "thanks to God." This can be used in the same way we say "Thank You Jesus," indicating that "it's only the Lord!"
       "Al hum du 'llah" means "Praise God!"

       It may be best to explain your work as volunteers and Christians initially, only using the word "missionary" for those who become closer later.

       Points for Witnessing: Verses: When witnessing, show them John 10:28 instead of John 3:16, as this will avoid bringing up the subject of Jesus being the Son of God, which is very controversial. Also, Rev.3:20 is quite good in leading Muslims to the Lord. Other verses you can use are Eph.2:8,9; Tit.3:5; Rom.3:23.
       Prayer: You can say "Shall we offer prayers together?" or "Can I teach you a little prayer?" instead of "Do you want to pray with me?!" The latter can make you sound superior to them and thus makes it harder for them to receive it, as they are quite proud of their religion and easily get defensive. When you lead them in prayer you can say, "Dear God, please send Jesus into my heart," instead of "Dear Jesus, please come into my heart," as in Islam they are not supposed to pray to a "man."
       Sometimes when praying with more conservative Muslims, we will hold up our hands Muslim-style (as if you are holding a big, invisible book with both hands), which is their way of praying, rather than bowing our heads and folding our hands in the Christian tradition.
       When asking them to pray, it is a good time to once again emphasise that you are not trying to change their religion.
       You can freely suggest that you "offer prayers together" when together with Muslims in meetings or whatever, as your open declaration of faith will go a long way!
       Respecting Islam: Your respect for Islam may be very surprising to them, but very winsome. You can explain that Islam means to surrender to God, & we believe in doing the same. Mention that you believe that Mohammed was a prophet of God, and that you also believe in the one God (Allah Wahad).
       Knowing the Koran: You can sometimes remind them that Jesus is mentioned in the Koran as "The Spirit of God" (Issa Rooh Ullah), and that they can ask God to send His Spirit into their life. You can share with them that Jesus can be their Friend.
       As an interesting note, Jesus is mentioned in the Koran 25 different times. "The Son of Mary" is mentioned 23 times. The following attributes are prescribed to Him:

SURA              AYAT       ATTRIBUTE
Nisaa              4:171       Word
Nisaa              4:171       Spirit
Maryam              19:21       Sign
Maryam              19:21       Mercy
Al-Imran              3:49       Messenger
Maryam              19:30       Prophet
Maryam              19:31       Servant

       Try using some Arabic names rather than the Biblical equivalents, such as "Dawood" for David, "Yusuf" for Joseph. You can call Jesus "Hazrat Issa," which is the name for Jesus that they are most familiar with. This really wins them, as they can see you know something about their Holy Book.
       You can also say "Hazrat" (Prophet) before the names of David, Moses, etc., as people are familiar with these names.
       Holy Books: Most Muslims recognise four Holy books: The Torah, the Zaboor (Psalms), the Angeel (the New Testament) & the Koran. They believe the Koran is the crowning Holy Book.
       If you are able to find a Koran with an index, you could then use the index to complete a study on a certain subject in the Koran that your friend is interested in. This can really win them! If you mention your class is taken from the Koran, it can certainly help you bridge the gaps between Islam & Christianity!

       Our Tools: In general our Posters are a very good way to lead Muslims to the Lord. They often really like them because they have a simple and clear message!
       However, it's also quite important to be cautious when bringing out certain of our Posters, as some Muslims are quite sensitive about picturing faces of the Prophets, including Jesus. They may be offended at any pictures of God or Mohammed. It's also good to be mindful of this when distributing Videos. It's best not to distribute the Video "Magic Painter," for example, to an orthodox Muslim as it depicts the form of God.
       Muslims have a great love for children and are very family-oriented. This is a great door opener for distributing Videos, as people are concerned about the Western influence from System videos, and consequently are usually very happy to take our Videos! PTL! Islam is also against abortion and family planning, as well as homosexuality, so we have a lot in common when discussing the ills of the modern world and the breakdown of moral values.

       Feeding Your Muslim Friends: We have found that specially prepared "DF classes" (& not the more Christian-oriented "Daily Food" booklets) are very helpful. For example, you could take certain sections from the Daily Foods, MOP sections, Good Thots, etc., & make special classes on different themes such as, "Leadership", "Wise Speech", "Love", "Friendship", etc.
       We try to avoid giving too much of a Christian message initially, as it is a little difficult for Muslims to receive at first. As an example, when sharing the Reflections "Love Reaches Out" we omit the poem on the second page ("Living in His Love"). After we get them "hooked" on very milky Word, we then begin slowly feeding them more meat, such as the Treasures, Mountain Streams, DFs, etc. It's a little bit like spoon-feeding a baby!
       We have found that "The Holy War" and the Christian Digest on "The Coming Persecution" are very well received by our friends and even new acquaintances. They open up a lot of topics for discussion, and many of our common beliefs and creeds are underscored in these pubs. (Note: We delete the section at the end of the Christian Digest "The Coming Persecution" which describes how some Muslims are persecuting Christians.)
       They respect the written Word. They seem to prefer the Letters to the Bible, as the Bible is a little difficult for them to understand. Being able to read something in their own language really touches them. They usually like the political Letters (the basic ones) which show we're on their side on many issues.

       Mail Ministry: Though they may not always write back, your Mail Ministry can be very fruitful. However, mail, especially to top people, is censored in some places such as in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and the UAE, so be extremely prayerful.

Specific Witnessing Topics
       Presenting our Communal Lifestyle to Muslims: Some Muslims ask us if we live in a commune. The word "commune" seems to carry with it the connotation of sex, hippies, etc. We've found it helpful to explain that we live in a "joint family system," as this is a very respected & traditional way of living amongst Muslims. Although generally members of the same family live together in a traditional "joint family," they are usually impressed that we have "adopted" this lifestyle. They also marvel that we all live together in unity & cooperation, especially as we are not flesh-&-blood relatives!
       The Endtime: Muslims are very interested to hear about the Endtime, especially since it is also mentioned in the Koran, the Hadith (their commentary on the Koran), as well as the Bible.
       It clearly says in the Koran that Jesus will come back. It calls the Antichrist "Dajal" (or Dajjal, Dejal, Dejjal, etc.), literally meaning "the one-eyed man," who will lead the World into wars. (There are different Muslim schools of thought about the subject of Jesus coming back, destroying Dajal and taking over the World.) They also believe that we are living in the Endtime, and that the signs point towards this.
       It helps to present the Posters chronologically in order of the soon-coming events to give the full Endtime vision. Often Muslims get very excited about the Posters, as they know about the "Kana Dajal", Jesus' return to Earth, and also about Heaven and Doomsday ("Khayamat") and the re-creation of the Earth. If you can use the Arabic terms for the main players & events of the Endtime, it is easier for them to understand.
       Our Stand on Politics: When they realise that you have the right perspective of what's "good" and what's truly "bad" in the World, & that you are knowledgeable about what's going on, it is a definite heart winner. They appreciate your having an understanding of Mideast politics and history.
       Some of the "top" Arabs in some countries are very pro-American, and they can also be pretty shallow and selfish. Others have a real heart for the Palestinians. It's wise to be prayerful when talking about America, or the present plight of the Palestinians--let them talk so you can find out their views on this first. It's important to be careful not to speak without first knowing where they stand on these issues, as you may end up offending them.
       It's usually best not to mention our past contacts with Godahfi on first meetings, as a lot of Muslims dislike him, including some Libyans.
       The Gulf War is also a very delicate subject. Though Arabs may see a lot of things clearly, they don't see the whole picture the same as we do.
       Introducing Dad: They seem quite open about Dad. Muslims believe that Mohammed was the last prophet, so rather than saying Dad is our "prophet," it's best to say that he's our founder, or leader. They certainly like the Letters!
       Muslims & Judaism: We've heard from some Muslim friends that 15 to 25% of the stories in the Koran have negative themes about the Jews.

Accepting Our Friendship
       Muslims are very "friendship"-oriented, as well as family-oriented, and being invited to visit them at their home is a sign of acceptance and honour. It shows they are willing to have you meet their families, and come into their intimate circle.
       Friendship with Muslims is easy, but being accepted as a close friend is more difficult. This is due to the fact that accepting us basically means accepting Christianity.
       Muslims put a great emphasis on hospitality and friendship, and once they accept you as their friend, it is so much easier to minister and witness to them.
       An honest appreciation of their culture and history really goes a long way with them, as well as verbally appreciating their wonderful customs and hospitality.
       Many Muslims feel that Westerners in general view them in a bad light, so showing our love for them and accepting them really touches their hearts.

Their Beliefs about Christianity
       Most Muslims do not believe that Jesus died on the cross. Some believe that another person was put on the cross as a substitute for Jesus. They believe that Jesus ascended up to Heaven and never died.
       When introducing people to Jesus, it's good to use the term "Rooh Ullah" (The Spirit of God), which is another way Jesus is referred to in the Koran. We also mention that He went to prepare a place for us in Heaven, using the verses Jn.10:28 and Rev.3:20 to support this.
       They are quite guarded against being culturally attacked or overrun by "Christianity" or "Christendom," and are acutely aware that although at one point in history they were far superior to the West in culture, wealth, science, literature, etc., they not only "lost the lead," but have been vilified, made to look like barbarians, and given no credit by the West for their civilization.
       You can mention that you are making Muslims "better Muslims," Christians "better Christians," etc. Also you can say you are "improving faith in God." As many Muslims are very proud of Islam, and they have had it ingrained that Islam is "the best" religion, Muslims feel apprehensive if we imply that Christianity is better than Islam, & they won't accept that. It's best to avoid comparing traditions, dress, education, etc., as this puts people on the defensive.
       When asked about your relationship with the churches: We've learned through experience that often we're asked about our relationship or affiliation with churches more as a courtesy, because the person is making a real effort to relate to us. It's important to handle any enquiries wisely, as they're usually quite respectful of Christian education & Christianity in general.
       Muslims asking you if you're Protestant or Catholic: Many Muslims share a broad perception that Protestants are pro-Zionist & that Catholics are pro-Palestinian. It's good to be aware of this when ministering to Muslims.
       "Consider the Poor" Ministries: When working in a Muslim country, or amongst Muslims, one way to relate to them is to share that you are working hand in hand with their own people. This takes away the defensiveness they have towards missionaries coming to their country and converting them. It shows that you hold their own people in high regard, and that you are open to living with and working side by side with them.

Faith and Support
       Muslims have a strong faith in God in general, and they often pray & ask God to send His blessings in their lives. They don't always understand the concept of "living by faith," as to them putting faith into practice and expecting God to answer specific prayers is a little vague.
       Helping the needy is a very big part of their religion, and we have found Muslims in general to be very generous. It is more difficult to cultivate them as long-term supporters, perhaps because their supporting us regularly would mean that they have accepted Christianity in their lives to a certain degree, which takes a step of commitment. The views of their peers and relatives also greatly influence their actions. It is very helpful to read the Statement on Support with close friends, as they then understand how much they can help, & often even realise that God may want to use them to help supply our needs.
       The Koran teaches about giving, therefore they clearly understand the concept of giving to God. They tithe 2% of their net income yearly--this tithe is called the "Zakat." (The Ismailis, a Muslim sect in Pakistan, tithe 8%.) When reading the Statement on Support, it is of course always good to listen to their beliefs along this line too. This really wins them and shows them that we are interested in them. Articles such as "Make Me a Cake", "Giving to God" and "In Defense of the Poor" in the Treasures are also very good to use to explain the concept of giving to God & living by faith.

Showing Respect to Muslims
       Mohammed: We have learned to talk about the Prophet Mohammed in a way that shows we respect him as a prophet of God. Muslims have been taught to show Mohammed a lot of respect. Whenever they mention his name they say "Mohammed, peace be upon him" (written as PBUH). It's a real sign of respect if you are able to do likewise. Showing this kind of respect for Mohammed wins even the hardest of hearts, as they rarely hear a Christian say good things about Mohammed or Islam. Muslims have been taught to accept the "People of the Book" (Christians and Jews), and they feel slighted that Christians do not accept Muslims in the same manner.

       The Holy Books: Muslims have great respect for the Word of God, "The Holy Books," the Koran and the Bible. They revere the actual physical book, and consider every page and the paper itself as holy, and demand that it be treated as such. As they treat the Koran with the utmost respect, it is wise to do likewise with Bibles. For example, when sharing Bible verses with someone, it is best to use a non-marked Bible rather than one full of handwritten notes. It is important that you are clean & have just washed your hands before reading from the Koran. It is considered respectful to remove your shoes before reading the Koran or Bible with most Muslims. Do not place any objects on the Koran or the Bible, nor place these books on the floor. When not in use, the Koran should be kept on a shelf above head level, signifying that it is above the human mind, & it should also be kept wrapped in a special cloth.

Customs & Culture
       Knowing something about their customs is helpful in improving your communications with Muslims. For example, you should know about the required once-in-a-lifetime visit to Mecca called "Hajj"; the giving of "Zakat," which is the tithing of 2% of your yearly income during the month of Ramadan; fasting for one month during Ramadan, etc.
       If you find yourself involved in a discussion of Islam it's helpful to be able to throw in some interesting stories from the Koran. For example, apart from Hazrat Ali and his wife, an elderly Christian man was the first to recognise Mohammed as a prophet of God. This speaks well for Christians! They will be very impressed that you know something about their Book and traditions.
       When being introduced, it's best to let the man you are meeting take the lead. If he puts out his hand for you to shake, go ahead, but if not, don't offer yours. Women should not usually shake hands with men on their first meeting with them.
       If you intend to call at a Muslim's home, it's best to find out in advance whether the family is modern or more traditional. If they are more traditional, it's best for a man to go rather than a woman.
       The father is the head of the family, & he should be shown due respect. If he enters a room or conversation, he should be the one to whom your conversation is directed, unless he indicates otherwise.
       It is important not to sit too close to your witnessing partner if they are of the opposite sex, unless you are married. In traditional settings, the males & females don't mix at all. Keeping about one seating space between members of the opposite sex seems acceptable.
       When visiting homes & sometimes even offices, some Muslims remove their shoes before entering. It's good to follow suit, even though they may say not to worry about it.
       When praying, if at all possible, women should cover their heads. Holding your hands palms up in front of you in the Muslim fashion seems to indicate to them that you're making an effort to relate.
       Eid: After the Muslim holy month of Ramadan (or Ramazan) they have a few days of celebration called Eid. This is the Muslim equivalent of Christmas. They exchange Eid Mubarak (Eid Greeting) cards, give gifts, etc. It touches their hearts to receive nice handmade cards from the children at this time.
       During Ramadan it's considerate not to eat or drink in their presence & to politely decline their offers of food or drinks during the daytime as they are fasting, unless for some reason they are also not fasting. Iftar is the meal they break their fast with every day after sundown & before sunrise.
       When visiting, or witnessing, seat your men next to their men, your women near their women. It's best to try to have men talking with men, women with women, especially if they are conservative. If you notice the men are talking only to the men, any female witnessing partners should not try to talk to the men but rather sit back and let the male witnessing partner take the lead.
       Personal hygiene is very important to them, and they bathe every day. They appreciate it if your personal sample is very good, & you're very clean and presentable. It's an integral part of Islam to be neat and clean, especially before offering prayers.
       Don't offer Muslims pork! Even a picture of a pig, or the word itself can be offensive. In some countries like England, for example, many Muslims only eat "halal" meat, which is similar to Jewish "kosher" meat; i.e., slaughtered in the manner prescribed by Islamic law. If you are serving a meal at your Home to Muslims it is best to only serve "halal" meat.

Ways to Meet Muslims in the West
       Many Muslims frequent bigger Western cities, where they rent apartments or hotel rooms. One way to meet them is to go door-to-door in apartment blocks. You can also meet them very easily in the main streets.
       You can invite yourself to their National Day receptions, or go witnessing at Arab companies.
       They like to introduce you to others, so it is easy to meet other Muslims through referrals. They like to share you with their friends. If you're able to get invited to a top private club, you can often meet others. However, most of the clubs that wealthy Muslims attend are for members only & are very private & exclusive. Amongst the "top," the circle is usually quite small.

       Following is a list of pubs covering topics relating to the Muslims. However, we want to emphasise that many of the following Letters are very political (and in some cases, dated), & as you know, there is a wide range of differences among the Muslims regarding their stance on different issues. For example, because Godahfi figures prominently in a number of these Letters, you might want to find out where they're at & what their attitude is towards him before sharing any points from these Letters with any Muslims you are ministering to.
       We want to caution you that some of the views or opinions brought out in the Letters on this list could possibly be offensive to some Muslims. The main use of this list is for you to have it for your own study and not to actually give these pubs to contacts. (Remember, "Know your meat or get butchered!" See ML #274A.)



Volume 3
321       Rich Man, Poor Man
335A       The Holy War ( [DELETED] [EDITED: "Use the"] Mountain Streams version of this Letter which could be given to any Muslims you are following up on. ...)


Other pubs besides MLs:
--"Stand Up for Religious Freedom" (tract, Muslim version)
--"Biblical Perspective on the Jewish People" (Statement)
--WND 375 on the Gulf War

(Following are excerpts of talks given at a recent Islamic Conference in the U.S., with comments from an attending Family Member.)

The Theme of the Conference Was "Muslims for a Better America":
       (Excerpts:) "World events have helped bring forth a consensus on how many Muslims there are in America--six million--which remains to be verified through objective demographic study. Not much else is known about them in hard facts. Recent work in surveying the Muslim community is yielding valuable data. Muslims in North America are a people of distinction. They include talented and high-achieving individuals in all walks of life. They have the ability--and the Islamic obligation--to help build a better America.
       "The Muslim vision of a better America is one in which Muslims in the U.S. & Canada--in all their diversity, and with a singleness of purpose--promote what is good and beneficial while curbing what is evil, unjust, ugly & indecent, morally and spiritually."
       (Comment from Family Member:) American Muslims don't appear to be very patriotic when it comes to being Americans. They see the decadence & decay of the U.S. System, the U.S. support of Israeli oppression of the Palestinians. Overall they have a very realistic perspective of what is going on, and they feel that Islam is the key to turning the U.S. around. In other words, they believe that if the U.S. would embrace the teachings of Islam both morally & spiritually, then it would solve the problems which the U.S. faces today.

       A few examples which expand on this point were the seminars on:

"Crisis in Public Education: An Islamic Response"
       "That the public school system in North America--especially the U.S.--is virtually broken down is a truism that is no longer challenged. A great deal of effort is being made by various groups to fix the system and even revamp it. Meanwhile, Muslims have been promoting Islamic education and establishing Islamic schools for Muslim children. Is there something in the Muslim effort that may hold the promise for solving the dilemma of public education at large? Can the Islamic example in education help shape a better America?"

"Children's Education: How to Complement the Public School"
       "Not all Muslim communities have or will soon have Islamic schools. In most public schools, children learn in an environment that is morally decadent and educationally uninspiring. Caring parents must be creative and resourceful in working with their children to erase the negative effects of public schooling and to develop their children's inherent abilities."
       (Comment from Family Member:) Their children growing up in Western society is a very deep concern amongst the Muslims, as is their children's education. Their children's education and upbringing as well as the family unit is one of the most important things to them. Because of this, they have established youth chapters in almost every city and university in the United States, which are called MSA (Muslim Student Associations).
       Almost every Muslim we have spoken to over the age of 35-40 expressed the same concern about their children, especially their teenagers. They see that the peer pressure of Western society which their children are subjected to in public schools is corrupting their kids. This is why they have established their own schools (where possible) in an attempt to keep the education that their children receive pure and according to Islam. Obviously, our views on socialisation are common ground that we can meet them on.
       At the same time that they are trying to preserve Islamic morals and values in their children's upbringing, they are also trying to prepare them for the role of leadership in U.S. society.

"Muslim Youth: Emerging Leadership for a Better America"
       "Youth are any community's most significant resource. In preparing them for leadership in tomorrow's America, the Muslim community faces its greatest challenge as well as its greatest opportunity."
       (Comments from Family Member:) It appears that the Islamic youth movement is quite strong. The youth are very idealistic, and my personal impression is that the Muslim youth will be real on-fire AACs when the showdown comes. At this conference they were quite vocal in denouncing the Zionist conspiracy and other things which they feel are not right.
       However, a division between the parents and teens is beginning to form, basically due to the fact that the parents are limiting the teens in only allowing them to enter into certain professions. Almost every Muslim teen or YA that we talked with, when asked what they were studying to be, said either an engineer, doctor or teacher.
       An Arab academic we befriended told us that the older generation needs to "lighten up" and allow the Muslim youth more choice of profession or the youth are just going to rebel and do it anyway, which some are now doing.
       This came out very strongly in a workshop on the media where several young Muslims stood up and blasted the older generation for the problems that the Muslims were having in the media, putting the blame on the fact that there are very few Muslims involved in the media industry, and this was due to the older generation not allowing their youth to make that their profession. (They also blasted the Zionist control of the media and talked about the need for Muslims to get involved in the media and "claim the land.")
       One of the top media people amongst the Muslims present said that the media industry was looked down upon as a low-class profession and none of the parents want their children to get involved in it.
       In talking with our academic friend, who seems to be an innovator along the lines of Islamic teen training, he said there seems to be quite a bit of unrest amongst the Islamic youth. It's not so much that they want to go out and join in with the "Western society teens" (although this is a problem as well), but it seems to be more that they want to be set free to reach their full potential. At this point the youth feel that they are being put in a box.
       Another subject which was given a lot of emphasis was the stereotyping and misrepresentation of Muslims in the media. This was a hot subject and one that we can definitely agree on. These Muslims believe that the Zionists control the media and that the Muslims always end up with the "short end of the stick," so to speak. One lady stood up in the middle of one of the workshops and blasted Walt Disney for the animated movie they made about Aladdin. It's a very sensitive subject!

"Muslims in the Line of Duty --Government & Media"
       "Muslims make up a significant minority in both the U.S. & Canada today. They can have economic, cultural, political, and moral influence on the direction these countries take. But in order to make use of our opportunities, we must stand up and be counted. But how do you make your voices heard?"

"Fundamentalism, Extremism & Terrorism: Muslims & the Media"
       "The misguided association between Muslims and extremism in the minds of the non-Muslims is a creation of the media. The World has been held hostage by this creation. What does Islam say about championing extreme views and actions, about the threat or use of terror, and about holding fundamentalist beliefs? Does Islamic change today presuppose the use of extreme measures? Isn't it in fact a force for good in the evolution of a better America?"

"Shaping Public Opinion --The Role of the Media"
       "In a society where numbers count, Muslims must learn how to get their message across effectively in all possible ways."
       (Comment from Family Member:) The persecution and suffering that the Muslims are going through in Bosnia is given a lot of emphasis, as well as other places around the World where the Muslims are being persecuted, such as Somalia, Kashmir, etc. It seems that we have some common ground here as well, as we're both being persecuted around the globe. Although the form of persecution that is waged against us and the Muslims is different, the perpetrators and the goal are the same.

"The Muslim World Today: The Bosnia Experience & Its Lessons for Muslims in North America"
       "The tragic events in Bosnia are momentous in their implications. One billion Muslims in some 48 Muslim countries with about half of the World's energy resources have not been able to even minimise the suffering in Bosnia, much less stop it. Everything Europe, the U.S. & the UN have done to help solve the crisis has eventually ended up punishing the Muslims. What the direction of events in Bosnia is & how they will impact on Muslim causes elsewhere needs to be understood in the context of international relations. Such understanding may indeed lead to policies worthy of a better America, internationally as well as domestically."
       (Comment from Family Member:) One thing I have noticed, which I thought was significant, is that very few people at this Muslim conference spoke out openly against the AC Conspiracy. Although everyone knows what's going on, very few were willing to talk about it.
       One other important point is that whenever the Jews are brought up, the word "Zionists" is often used instead of the word "Jews" so as to make a distinction between the race itself and the organisation which exists within the race.


       Maria #217 DO #2925 8/93
       1. We read a recent statement by one of our Family Members that, "We in no way, shape or form try to convert the Muslims." If we are not in any way, shape or form, trying to convert the Muslims, why in the world are we ministering to them? Why have a missionary work at all in the rest of the World if we're not trying to convert those of other faiths who need the Lord? And from all the things Dad has said about Islam & its tangled lines & its false teachings, why shouldn't we be trying to convert the Muslims? That's our ministry, to go into all the World to preach the Gospel to every creature, & if we're not trying to convert them, why are we preaching the Gospel to them? In other words, why then are we there & what have we been doing there?
       2. If you're in a country where the Muslim influence is very strong & you don't feel it wise to directly present Salvation to each person you meet, or perhaps you are in a Western Christian country, but you feel the Muslim person might be highly offended if you were to ask him to receive Jesus, you can always indirectly use the lit to present Salvation to them. In such cases, our lit can do a wonderful job of giving them the message & explaining to them about Jesus & His Love. We've got to witness to them one way or the other. And if we feel that we can't approach them directly with Salvation, at least we're going to have to present it indirectly through our lit.
       3. On a long-term basis, when we're living in their country & among their people, our sample will speak very loudly, of course. But there will come a time when we will have to explain either in person or through our literature why we're there & why we love them, & why we're doing what we're doing. The Muslims need His Love just as much as anyone, & it doesn't look like there are very many people in the World who are giving it to them.
       4. We've worked closely with other religious groups, & while we haven't insisted that they receive Jesus into their hearts, we have still given them our literature, & not been afraid to discuss our beliefs with them & give them our testimonies, & when they ask questions, answer them. And if it got to the point where they looked like they were ready for Salvation & they were wanting what we had, we didn't hesitate to ask them if they would like it. How can we not offer them this priceless gift when we know they so desperately need it?
       5. Though we may not do hard-sell witnessing, in all clear conscience & in order to be true to our faith & our primary ministry, which is preaching the Gospel, we cannot withhold the Message from people who need it. It's our whole purpose for having left our home fields & gone into any mission field!
       6. It's all right to tell them, "We're not trying to change your religion. We are not trying to replace anything, we are just adding to it." We're not trying to change their religion or culture, but we're still going to preach Jesus to them as an addition to their existing belief or religion, like Dad's Letter about the Buddhists & how we can minister to them, witnessing to pagans.
       7. So in that sense, we are not trying to "convert" them. So if that's what was meant by this statement by the Family Member which I quoted above, we can understand. But there is a sense in which we definitely must try to "convert" them--in some "way, shape or form." Although we don't want to change their religion, we do want to change their way of looking at Jesus, & we do want to bring them to know Him in a very real & intimate sense as their Saviour & Lord. So we can't accurately say that in "no way, shape or form are we trying to convert them."
       8. We're not going to be able to hide the fact that we're Christians. And it's going to become evident very soon what our goals are. Even our most GP Statements clearly bring these out & show that sharing the Salvation message was first & foremost what the Family was founded upon. And this is what all Christians believe & are supposed to practice.--The evangelisation of the World & the going into the World to preach the Gospel to every creature.
       9. So I don't see how we can apologise for this. And I do think that our lit is an excellent way to preach to them without being so offensive to them as to sit them down & ask them if they want to accept Jesus. Our lit does it for us. And especially when the mention of needing to receive Jesus & our Salvation prayer are only incidental in a way to the actual message that the pub is emphasising, I think it's an excellent way to get them to read it & not to feel on the spot. In other words, all our Posters about the Endtime & our Statements, while not a sermon, do present the need to accept Jesus & pray the Salvation prayer. These have the message right there for all who read our lit.
       10. We are not going to try to proselytise, we are not going to try to hit them over the head & tell them that they've got to pray the Salvation prayer & receive Jesus, but I don't see how we can hide what we're there for! It's throughout all of our lit. And if they want to read our message about the Endtime & about the AC conspiracy & about all kinds of other subjects, then they are going to have to take our Salvation message & our mentions of Jesus along with it.
       11. Our belief that Jesus is the only way to God is fundamental to all Christianity, & surely they must know what Christians believe. And we certainly cannot tone down that message that is already in our pubs just for their sake.
       12. But we shouldn't be offensive in trying to preach to every Muslim we meet about how they need to have Jesus. We may give them our lit about the Endtime, which has a Salvation message on it, but they don't have to accept it & we are not going to get upset if they don't. We can just agree to disagree.
       13. I know it may be pretty hard for them to take, but they know we are Christians. And if they've read our Posters they've certainly read the Salvation message on them, too, so they must be aware of that. They might be reassured to know that we are not going to try to vigorously convert every Muslim that we meet, but we can't say that we won't give out our lit to them, since the kind of lit we would give them would mostly be our Endtime message. We can't take off the Salvation message just because we're giving the lit to a Muslim.

The Music Miracle!
       14. Don't forget how powerful our message & music can be in planting the seeds & softening their hearts. We have such wonderful songs covering a wide variety of subjects, but all emphasise God's Love. Our Endtime songs could be particularly effective, as they give hope to a people that need their faith encouraged that God still loves them & He is going to win the battle, & they will see the victory in the end.

Muslims are Muslims--Not Arabs!
       15. We also need to get in the habit of referring to Muslims as "Muslims," and not confuse the matter by referring to them as "Arabs." The majority of Muslims are not Arabs. For example, Iranians, Pakistanis & Indonesians are not Arabs, but almost all are Muslims.

WORKING TOGETHER WITH MUSLIM GROUPS --By Maria       Maria #218       DO #2926       8/93

[EDITED: "See ML section."]


(Excerpts of book reviews)

From "Principles of Islam"
       The best and most practical way of cooperation in Islam is alms-giving. It is called "Zakat" in Arabic (translated in English as "poor-due"). It purifies the soul from meanness. It releases the conscience from anxiety when one performs his duty to God and society.
       Alms were imposed by Islam on the rich at 2-1/2% of their capital (total wealth), which may now equal 40-60% of the modern income.
       Alms are a compulsory duty for Muslims. It is mentioned in various parts of the Koran side by side with prayers. God threatens those who abstain from giving alms with gross punishment.

       Those who deserve alms as mentioned in the Koran are:
       1. The poor who do not possess sufficient wealth for the needs of one day, or who have debts that are more than their means. This obviously means that Islam recommends for Muslims a better standard of living than that of "making ends meet."
       2. The needy who possess nothing.
       3. The employees who collect the alms.
       4. "Those whose hearts are to be reconciled." This means that those who were the former enemies of Islam and were recently converted must be helped. A special portion of the alms was allotted to them to reconcile their hearts. After the great growth of Islam, this division of alms was cancelled by Abu Bakr, the first Caliph.
       5. The slaves who are under contract with their masters to be freed after a certain amount of money is paid. The State must help them to obtain their freedom. This division of alms has also been stopped.
       6. The debtors whose debts comprise all their wealth. These debts ought not to be the result of sins.
       7. For the cause of Allah. It is a general term for expending alms, to be decided according to circumstances. It may be for war, education, care of sickness, or any other general welfare.
       8. The wayfarer who is far from his wealth; such as those who emigrate for the freedom of faith or after a sudden invasion or oppression, leaving their wealth in their former homeland.

       Muslims are summoned to pay as much as they can to help their fellowmen. In Islamic history, it is stated there was an epoch, under the reign of Omar Ibn Abd al Aziz, when all the employees of the Caliph when passing the houses of the poor offered money, but the majority refused this, being satisfied with the alms from the Caliph.
       Islam vehemently encourages the rich to contribute more than alms to the good of the people.
       Muslims are forbidden to advertise their good deeds. Help must be given in a normal manner, even in secret if possible.
* * *

"The Poor Due" from "Essentials of Islam" series:
--The Third Pillar of Islam:
       Almighty Allah imposed Zakat on all Muslims and gave them orders regarding it in many verses of the Koran. For example:

       "And be steadfast in prayers, pay the Zakat, and whatever good you send forth before you for your souls, you shall find it with God, for God sees well what you do."

       This mention of Zakat in the Koran occurs in some 32 verses. In most of them it is coupled with prayers, and this emphasises the importance which the Koran places upon the Zakat.
       God has promised all who fulfil Zakat great reward. This is illustrated in verses like:

       "And establish regular prayers and pay the Zakat and loan to God a goodly loan. Whatever good you send forth before you for your souls, you shall find it in God's presence, and greater in reward...."

       What better reward is there than God's mercy?
       Mohammed also mentions Zakat in one of his sayings as one of the five pillars of Islam: "Islam is built upon five pillars -- testimony of belief in one God and Mohammed as His prophet, prayers, Zakat, fasting in the month of Ramadan and the Pilgrimage to Mecca."
       For that reason, when Mohammed sent his envoys to preach Islam, he advised them to call people to worship God and then to pay Zakat, taking from the rich to give to the poor.

Book Excerpts: {\b \i AN INTRODUCTION TO ISLAM}
       Islam today is the second largest religion in Europe. There are between seven and eight million Muslims in Western Europe, and over 25 million in the whole of Europe, including European Russia.
       Islam is a religion that is over 13 centuries old, and comprises at present more than 900 million human beings in all parts of the World.

The Basic Creed:
       The essentials of Islam are the five pillars, as follows: Faith (Iman), Prayer (salat), Fasting (sawm), Charity (zakat), and Pilgrimage (Hajj). A Muslim is obliged to pray five times a day, and he must fast for one lunar month one time yearly from dawn till sunset (traditionally during the month of Ramadan). He is obligated to try to make a pilgrimage to Mecca at least one time in his life.
       He is committed to the values of life given by the Koran (Qu'ran). He strives to promote the message of Islam through his work and actions. This striving is known as Jihad, which means a striving and a struggle in the path of God. Jihad implies readiness to give whatever one has, including his life, for the sake of Allah.
       There are two basic sets of teachings: That of the Sunnah, or following the example of prophetic practices. And that of Hadith, or traditions.

The Three Basic Articles of Faith Are:
       a) Belief in the Unity of God.
       b) Belief in the prophethood of Mohammed.
       c) Belief in the life after death and in man's accountability before God on the Day of Judgement.
       Whoever professes these beliefs is a Muslim. And all these concepts are epitomised in the Kalima: "There is no God but Allah, and Mohammed is His prophet."

Social Responsibility:
       The following are what might be called the Major Commandments, or social responsibilities that Islam sets forth. "Social responsibility" is something that a good Muslim takes seriously as per the Koranic injunction "God only assigns a soul something it can cope with. It is credited with whatever it has earned, while it is debited with whatever it has brought upon itself." (Koran 2:286)

       1. Show kindness towards both your parents.
       2. Do not kill your children because of poverty. Allah shall provide for you as well as for them. (This is often the verse Muslims use in arguing against birth control and family planning.)
       3. Do not indulge in shocking acts which you may practice openly or keep secret.
       4. Do not kill any person, except through due process of the law.
       5. Do not approach an orphan's estate before he comes of age, except to improve it.
       6. Give full measure and weight in all fairness. Do not assign any person to do more than he can cope with.
       7. Whenever you speak, be just, even though it concerns a close relative.
       8. Fulfil God's agreement. Thus has He instructed you so that you may bear it in mind.

Relationship to the World:
       Self-Defence: Islam does not preach the doctrine of "turning the other cheek," but instead prefers self-defence tempered with compassion and an attempt at reconciliation. Thus, their policy of collective defense has often been bewildering to those people who have attacked an Islamic community.
       Universal Brotherhood, & Economic Well-being: Islam preaches a goal of Universal brotherhood, and economic well-being and sufficiency for all. The Prophet is quoted as saying, "The love of this World is the source of all evil. He who loves the World prejudices his Hereafter and he who loves the Hereafter receives a setback in the World. So prefer that which is eternal to that which is mortal." But Islam also teaches that if worldly possessions can be acquired without sacrificing spiritual ideals, then there is no virtue in forsaking them. As Mohammed taught, "There is nothing wrong in wealth for him who fears God!" The acquiring of riches is not looked upon as wrong, as long as they are acquired justly, and assuming that person gives his Zakat (tithes) to the poor and needy--a task that is most often made obligatory and controlled by the government.
       No Prejudice or Arab Superiority: Islam teaches that an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab, nor a white over a black except by righteousness. It aims at establishing a social order where all individuals are united by bonds of brotherhood and affection like members of one single family created by one God from one couple, Adam and Eve. This brotherhood is universal and not parochial. It is not bound by any geographical boundaries and encompasses the whole of mankind and not any one family group, or tribe or race.

       It is interesting to note the Prophet's emphasis on prayer. Following are some of the kinds of prayer and ways of praying.
       The most important prayer is the one known as Salat, one of the pillars of faith, which is obligatory. It is comprised of five daily services at dawn, noon, afternoon, after sunset, and nightfall, each one taking from 15-30 minutes. The only service in which a sermon is delivered is the Friday noon service. All worshippers face toward the Kaaba in Mecca, which ensures spiritual concentration.
       There is a call to prayer, called Azam, and a short interval before prayer begins to give time to prepare. Preparation consists of cleaning the mouth and nostrils, and washing the face, arms, and feet. There is no priesthood in Islam, and every Muslim is or should be competent to lead a congregation in the service.
       All five services taken together do not take up more than about 2 hours, no more time than a person in the West is apt to spend watching television.
       Except for the recitations that are made by the Imam of the opening chapter of the Koran, no other prayers are recited aloud, but rather they are silently recited by the worshipper. If his thoughts wander, he should rally them and shepherd them back into the Divine Presence.
       In addition to participating in the five obligatory services, Muslims are exhorted to get up during the latter part of the night for individual prayer.
       The habit of prayer should be very constant. The prayer most frequently resorted to is the first verse of the opening chapter of the Koran, which is repeated at the beginning of each chapter:

       "In the name of Allah, Who sustains us and provides for us and blesses all righteous action with beneficent reward."

       This prayer is said as grace before meals, when one takes a glass of water or tea, when any task is begun.
       There are prayers for boarding a vessel, riding an animal or vehicle, entering a building, for your family and spouse, for going to bed and rising in the morning, before taking medicine, before taking any important decision, for sexual intercourse between a husband and wife, etc. In short, Islam requires that whatever task or activity a person may be engaged in, his soul should be anchored in God, and he should constantly seek nearness to Him. It is a case of one's faculties being occupied with the business at hand, and one's soul being engaged with God!
* * *

       (Excerpts from the following books: Islam and Its Meaning and Message.--A series of articles edited by Khurshid Ahmad, published by the Islamic Foundation; Islam: Its Meaning for Modern Man, by Mohammed Zafarulla Khan, published by Harper & Row.)

       This is a brief introduction to Islam, giving some of the basic beliefs and practices. (Much of this is not in the Koran but from the traditions of Muslims. But it is important to know how to savvy Muslims. Stick to God and the Love of Jesus, as does the Koran.--Refuse to argue traditions not in the Koran.--And PRAY!--And LOVE!--D.)

Allah (God)
       Knowledge of Allah and belief in Him constitute the very foundation of Islam.
       Once man believes that God exists, he must know His attributes and names. Generally speaking, perfection and absolute goodness belong to Him, and no defect or wrong applies to Him. In specific terms, Muslims should know and believe the following:
       1. God is one, has no partner or son, and neither gives birth, nor is He born. None is equal to Him.
       2. He is the Merciful, the Compassionate, the Guardian and the True Guide, the Just and Supreme Lord, the Creator and the Watchful, the Able and the Powerful.
       3. He is the Loving and the Provider, the Generous and the Benevolent, the Forgiving and the Clement.
       The Love of God for His creatures is immense and beyond human imagination. We cannot measure or count His favours. He creates us and takes good care of us from the time before we are even born onward. He makes us in the best sense of creation. He helps us and provides for us. He creates in man the mind to understand, the soul and conscience to be good and righteous, and the feelings and sentiments to be kind and humane.
       The Loving, Merciful God never forgets us or lets us down or ignores our sincere calls upon Him. Even those who reject God are assured of forgiveness, should they realise their erroneous attitude and resolve to come back to God.

The Meaning of Islam
       The word Islam is derived from the Arabic root "salam," which means peace, purity, submission, and obedience. In the religious sense, the word Islam means submission to the Will of God and obedience to His Law. The connection between the original and religious meanings is strong & obvious. Only through submission to the Will of God and by obedience to His Law can one achieve true peace and lasting purity.
       Some outsiders call Islam "Mohammedanism" and address the believers of Islam as "Mohammedans." The Muslims protest and reject the use of these words. This misnomer implies that the religion takes its name after a mortal being, Mohammed, or as believers in him in the same way as Christians believe in Jesus. The word "Mohammedanism" may also mislead the outsider and make him think that the religion was founded by Mohammed. All these implications are seriously wrong & misleading. Muslims worship God alone. Mohammed was only a mortal commissioned by God to teach the word of God and lead an exemplary life. He stands in history as the best model of piety and perfection. He was the last prophet who reinforced and immortalised the eternal message of God to mankind. The original founder of Islam is no other than God Himself, and the date of the founding of Islam goes back to the age of Adam. Islam has existed in one form or another from the beginning and will continue to exist until the end of time.

Fundamental Articles of Faith in Islam
       The true, faithful Muslim believes:
       1. There is One God.
       2. In all the messengers of God without any discrimination among them.
       3. In all the original scriptures and revelations of God.
       4. In the Angels of God, who are purely spiritual and require no food, drink, or sleep.
       5. In the Day of Judgement.
       6. In the timeless knowledge of God and in His power to plan and execute His plans.
       7. That God's creation is meaningful and that life has a sublime purpose beyond the physical needs and material activities of man.
       8. That man enjoys a high-ranking status in the hierarchy of all known creatures. He is gifted with rational faculties, spiritual aspirations, and powers of action.
       9. That every person is born "Muslim." The very course of birth takes place in accordance with the Will of God, in realisation of His plans and in submission to His Commands. Every person is endowed with spiritual potentialities and intellectual inclination that can make him a good person. (Note: The Koran does not seem to specifically say this, although Muslim scholars say this is the entire thrust, goal or motivation of the Koran--to bring this message to mankind: That man is endowed with certain spiritual potential and intellectual inclinations that can indeed make him a better person if he puts his mind to it and studies and follows the tenets of the Koran.)
       10. Every person is born free from sin and all claims to inherited virtues. (Note: It is a Christian belief that all men are born in sin. In the Koran, it's not mentioned that man is born free from sin, nor is it mentioned that man is born in sin; therefore Muslims prefer to believe that man is born free from sin.)
       11. Man must work out his salvation through the guidance of God. A person must combine faith and action, belief and practice.
       12. God does not hold any person responsible until He has shown him the Right Way. There would be no punishment before giving guidance and sounding the alarm.
       13. In human nature, which God created, there is more good than evil, and successful reform is greater than hopeless failure.
       14. The Koran is the word of God revealed to Mohammed through the agency of the Angel Gabriel. It was revealed piece by piece on various occasions to answer questions, solve problems, settle disputes, and to be Man's best guide to the truth of God and eternal happiness.
       15. There is a clear distinction between the Koran and the traditions of Mohammed.

Basic Concepts of Islam
       The Holy Koran and the traditions of Mohammed define these required measures and establish the standards which build up a meaningful faith. Thus, the true believers are:
       * Those who believe in God, His Angels, His Books, His Messengers, the Day of Judgement, and the absolute knowledge & wisdom of God,
       * Those who observe their daily prayer as well as the weekly & annual congregations.
       * Those who pay their religious taxes of Zakat to the rightful beneficiaries.
       * Those who fast during the month of Ramadan.
       * Those who perform the pilgrimage to Mecca (Hajj) at least once in a lifetime, if the means are available.
       * Those who love their near or distant neighbours and show genuine kindness.
       * Those who say the truth and engage in good talk, or else abstain.

Prayer (Salat)
       Allah holds the Salat in great esteem. No other prayer of devotion is dearer to Allah than Salat. Five daily prayers have been prescribed for us by Allah:
       * Early Morning Prayer (Fajr)--between dawn and sunrise.
       * Noon Prayer (Zuhr)--after the sun begins to decline from its zenith until it is about midway on its course to setting.
       * Mid-Afternoon Prayer (Asr)--right after expiration of the noon prayer time and extends to sunset.
       * Sunset Prayer (Maghrib)--immediately after sunset until the red glow in the western horizon disappears.
       * Evening Prayer (Isha)--right after the expiration of the sunset prayer and continues until dawn.
       Accurate calendars are available telling the exact time of each prayer.
       Mohammed said that anyone who performed ablution (a cleansing procedure called wudu) and offered prayers with deep sincerity, all of his/her minor sins shall be pardoned by Almighty Allah in the Day of Judgement. Prayers are the pillar of faith, and one who demolishes this pillar destroys the faith. The first question to be asked on the Day of Judgement will be about prayer.
       Some acts are essential before the beginning of a prayer:
       * Ablution should be performed.
       * The place of offering a prayer should be clean.
       * Women should cover their whole body from head to feet, with the exception of face and hands. Men should not be naked from below the navel down to and including knees.
       * The face should be towards the Kaaba (in Mecca) and one should concentrate only on the prayer.
       * There must be intent for the prayer.
       * Prayer should be offered at its appointed time.
       * All of these acts must be performed, or the prayer will not be in order.

Concept of Morality
       To protect man, Islam has prohibited certain things. Among these are the following:
       1. All kinds of intoxicating wines, liquors, and spirits.
       2. The meat and products of swine, of wild animals that use claws or teeth to kill their victims, all birds or prey, rodents, reptiles, worms, and dead animals and birds that are not slaughtered properly.
       3. All forms of gambling & vain sports.
       4. All sexual relations out of wedlock and all manners of talking, walking, looking, and dressing in public that may instigate temptations, arouse desire, stir suspicion, or indicate immodesty and indecency.

       Following is a section from the book A Muslim Primer--Beginner's Guide to Islam, offering guidelines regarding dialogue between Christians and Muslims.

Jesus, Son of Mary
       One of the first questions Christians want to ask Muslims is, "What do you think of Jesus?" Well, Islam thinks very highly of Jesus, more highly than any other religion save Christianity. The Koran assigns Jesus such titles as "Messenger," "Messiah," "Prophet," "Son of Mary," "Word of God," "Sign," and "Servant." There are at least thirty-five references to Jesus (Isa) and dozens of other verses in which Jesus is called by other names and titles. {\ul \i Suras} (chapters) 2-5 contain most of them.
       Jesus is considered the most significant Prophet ({\ul \i Rasul}) next to Mohammed. A cardinal tenet of Islam's faith is belief in Jesus; you cannot be a Muslim without honouring Jesus as a revelation from God. P.B.U.H. (Peace Be Unto Him) follows every mention of Jesus' name by a devout Muslim.
       How do Muslims understand Jesus?

       Virgin Birth: The stories of Jesus' birth in the Koran (3:42-44, 19:16-40) are rather similar to the account in the Gospel of Luke. About one-half of Sura 19 (approximately forty-five verses) discusses the role of Mary. There is no question about the importance of Mary and her virginity. Indeed, some non-Muslims have remarked that there is more about Mary in the Koran than in the New Testament.
       After beginning with a record of the birth of John the Baptist, Sura 19 moves to the angelic visitation (annunciation) and birth of Jesus. These are followed by some comments on the meaning of Jesus for Islam. Sura 3 is a briefer version of the same story.
       According to the Koran, God sent an Angel to inform Mary she was to be the mother of the Holy Prophet Jesus. Her reply was similar to the Biblical Mary's: "How can I have a child? No man has touched me, and I am not unchaste." (19:20) The angel replied, "The Lord says: 'That will be easy for me; and We wish to appoint him as a Sign unto men and a Mercy from Us.'" (19:21)
       Mary believed the Angel, conceived, and eventually gave birth to her Son under a palm tree. Though Jesus was born of a Virgin, Islam does not believe that He is divine, or the Son of God. Just as the first prophet, Adam, was created by fiat (God's decree), Jesus was conceived by the Word of God. Allah says to Mary: "Be" and "it is." (19:35) Furthermore, Islam does not believe that Jesus needed to be divine to perform miracles. The Koran happily recounts His miracles and reminds us that God helped the prophet Moses perform several miracles.
       While her Son was quite young, Mary presented him to the villagers. They were amazed at His capacity for language when He said, "I am indeed a servant of God; He hath given me Revelation and made me a Prophet." (19:30)
       In Islam the Virgin Birth of Jesus has less to do with Jesus than with the power of God and the Islam (submission) of Mary. His birth does not guarantee Him any superiority among the prophets nor make Him the Son of God. The Koran is careful in every instance to call Him the Son of Mary. Islam allows that Jesus may be a son of God in the metaphorical sense as each of us may be if we obey and believe in One God.
       Mary, the mother of Jesus, is the only woman in the Koran called by her proper name. This indicates in what high regard she is held by the Koran and how highly esteemed she is in Islam. All other women in the Koran are identified by relationship to a man. This regard for Mary, however, does not result in any veneration of her, as in Christian Catholicism.

       Jesus and the Gospel: According to Islam, Jesus came, as prophets before Him, with a divine message. This message was the Gospel (Injil--Arabic for Evangel or Good News). The Gospel here is not to be confused with the four gospels, although the latter may retain aspects of the Injil.
       There are some specific meanings to Gospel in Islam. The Gospel is not the life of Jesus, but the message Jesus brought from Allah, namely a confirmation of Abraham's monotheism and Moses' revelation of the Torah, which was the original true religion of God. Furthermore, as a confirming revelation from Allah, the Gospel refers to Jesus' prophethood, His Islam (submission to God), and His stress that the spirit of the law should take precedence over its letter. S.S. Mufassir sums up Islam's view of the Gospel this way: "The Good News which Jesus brought--the Gospel or Injil--was a renewal and affirmation of God's revelation to Moses, a message reaffirming God's love, mercy, justice and guidelines for living to those who would keep His covenant." The Koranic summary is in Sura 5:67-72.
       You might say that Islam sees as authentic the religion of Jesus and is inspired by that, not the churches' and subsequent first-century religion about Jesus.

       Crucifixion: It is commonly held by Muslims that Jesus did not die on the cross, but was taken up into Heaven by God before His death. The operative verses are 4:157-159. The context of these verses is a strong polemic against the Jews for "straying from the guidance of the Book" and in particular for falsely charging Mary with unchastity. Then, the Jews go on to boast, as the Koran says, "We killed Christ Jesus, the Son of Mary, the Apostle of God." Then a quick caveat is added: "But they killed him not, nor crucified him; but it was made to appear to them. For of a surety they killed him not. Nay, God raised him up into Himself."
       These verses have been subjected to a great deal of examination and varying interpretation. Do they mean Jesus died bodily and His Spirit lives? Did Jesus only appear to die? Did the Jews kill His body, but not His message? Some first- and second-century interpreters theorised that a substitute was made for Jesus at the last minute. Goeffrey Parrinder, in his Jesus in the Koran, traces in some detail the argument for and against the "substitute theory" and its sources in Christian and Muslim literature. It is very clear, however, that neither scripture, the New Testament or the Koran, mentions a substitute.
       H. Abdalati presents a convincing Islamic argument for Islam's denial of the death of Jesus in his "Islam in Focus." Chief among his theses are: (1) Can the crucifixion be reconciled with the justice, mercy, power, and wisdom of God? (2) Is Jesus' death at the hands of His enemies consistent with the providence of God? (3) Is it feasible to believe that the God who forgave Adam and Eve their sin would need a sacrifice of Jesus to forgive the human race?
       The last argument is the most compelling from an Islamic perspective. The death of Jesus is of little interest to the Koran because Islam is not really interested in atonement for sin. While for Christians the death of Jesus is an incontrovertible historical fact and theologically indispensable, for Islam its historicity is problematical, and Jesus' death, at best, is theologically confusing. Perhaps the conclusion of the Muslim-Christian Research Group says it best: "The two religions consider that the end of Jesus' life on earth was 'extraordinary' and that God took Him up, whether after His death and resurrection [EDITED: "for Christians"] or without death and crucifixion [EDITED: "for Muslims"]."

       Jesus the Prophet: Jesus, as we have mentioned, is called many names in the Koran: Apostle, Messenger, Messiah, Word, and Prophet. The Koran does not present discreet definitions or draw neat distinctions among them; that is why there is a good deal of overlap in their usage. However, it would be helpful for Christians to be aware of the Islamic version of these titles.
       Jesus is a Word from God with the message of Islam, not the Eternal Logos of John's Gospel. Jesus as Messiah means Jesus the Messenger. Jesus the Apostle is also known as Jesus the Prophet. It is the latter title by which Jesus is best known in the Koran and for which He is honoured by Muslims. Although "prophet" is the grandest title a human being can be assigned, He is still human. Sura 4:171 is an example of how many titles for Jesus can be found in a verse and yet be crystal clear about Jesus' humanity: "Christ Jesus the Son of Mary was no more than an Apostle of God and His Word, which he bestowed on Mary, and a Spirit proceeding from Him." (See also 5:78.)
       S.S. Mufassir has paraphrased 3:45-53 to give us a complete picture of Jesus in the Koran: "The Koran verifies that the Gospel of Jesus describes Him as a Word from God, the Messiah born of the Virgin Mary, a prophet and messenger of God to the people of Israel Who relieved them of the restrictive, manmade additions to the Torah and Who performed many miracles by God's permission, including healing the blind, curing diverse diseases and raising the dead, and that He taught the Oneness of God, whom He called His Lord."
       For the average Muslim, Jesus is an example of sanctity and piety and Someone who embodied true Islam. For this reason He is accorded more honour and deference than all the prophets who preceded Mohammed.

Openings for Dialogue
       There are two Suras which are virtual invitations to dialogue:

       Say, O People of the Book! Come to common terms as between me and you. That we worship none but God, that we associate no partners with Him, that we erect not, from among ourselves, Lords and Patrons other than God. (3:64)

       Invite all to the Way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching, and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious. (16:125)

       Let us attempt to see what "common terms" there are between Christianity and Islam and try to do so in ways that are "best and most gracious." This will be at the same time both easy and difficult. Our attempt to find "common ground" will be difficult because we both make absolute claims and appear to hold uncompromising convictions about the nature of God. But our task will be easy because both religions are solidly within the Abrahamic/ Jewish tradition and cannot be understood apart from that tradition. We belong to no other family of religions. In addition, from the time of Mohammed, Islam has been less critical of Christianity than of Judaism and far more expansive toward Jesus than any other religious figure. That is an important positive note to strike at the beginning.
       We will need much grace to speak of our differences. We may feel tremors beneath our common ground as we engage in dialogues about some fundamental points which divide us. Both Christianity and Islam are triumphalist, absolutist, missionary-oriented religions. Both insist each is the true religion. What would a dialogue look like in the framework of two apparently mutually exclusive religious claims: "There is no God but God and Mohammed is the Prophet of God" and the Words of Jesus: "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father but by Me." Let us explore some possibilities.
       A framework for honest dialogue should include a statement of similarities and differences between Islam and Christianity. I have suggested comparisons and contrasts between the two religions. Now I would like to do so in a more systematic way.

       1. Christianity and Islam differ on which family tree fulfilled most adequately the promises made to Abraham. Was it the family of Isaac or the family of Ishmael? Christians say the promise to Isaac ended with Jesus, Who was the fulfilment of all Old Testament prophecy. Islam claims that Mohammed was the fulfilling Prophet of Ishmael's tradition.
       2. Both religions differ on the nature of human beings. Christianity, on the whole, has a negative view of human nature and asserts that we are fallen creatures. Therefore, the doctrine of original sin is a central category for Christians. We are saved only by the death and resurrection of Christ. Islam has a more positive notion of men and women and does not believe we are lost persons. Hence, it rejects the theology which supports original sin. We are "saved" by following the guidance provided for us in the Koran.
       3. These differing views of human nature naturally lead to differing views about Jesus. What Christians see as the heart and soul of their faith--the divine Sonship of Jesus, His Incarnation, Crucifixion, Resurrection, and the Trinity--are seen by Islam as distortions and alterations of true Islam, the original revelation of God. It is instructive to recall some verses from the Koran to understand Islam's point of view:
They do blaspheme who say "God is Christ the Son of Mary." But said Christ: "O Children of Israel! Worship God, my Lord and your Lord." Whoever joins other gods with God, God will forbid him the Garden and the Fire will be his abode. (5:75 and see also 5:19)

And behold! God will say: "O Jesus, Son of Mary! Didst thou say unto people, worship me and my mother as gods in derogation of God?" He [EDITED: "Jesus"] will say: "Glory to Thee." Never would I say what I had no right to say. (5:119)

       It is also clear from these statements that Mary is not to be venerated or worshipped in any way.
       4. For 300 years now, Christianity generally has divided the political and ecclesiastical realms. Christians have accommodated themselves to the separation of church and state and have not required a religious test for leadership of a nation. Islam, on the other hand, legislates for all aspects of life and for all its followers, including political leaders.
       5. Christianity underwent the critique of the European Enlightenment--that confrontation with rational, romantic, and revolutionary philosophy which has indelibly engraved upon Western consciousness the marks of individual freedom, ideological tolerance, and self-criticism. It also secularised our values to a point almost incomprehensible to Muslims. Islam has never experienced a similar time when ultimate values were so relativised. Since Islam's inception, reason and faith have had a close, if sometimes stormy, relationship.

       Although there are differences, some may say irreconcilable differences, between Christianity and Islam, there are many similarities that we do well to emphasise. The Second Vatican Council highlighted these common elements [EDITED: "twenty-nine"] years ago in one of its documents, Nostra Aetate:

       The Church also has a high regard for the Muslims. They worship God, who is one, living and subsistent, merciful and almighty, the Creator of heaven and earth, who has also spoken to men. They strive to submit themselves without reserve to the hidden decrees of God, just as Abraham submitted himself to God's plan, to whose faith Muslims eagerly link to their own. Although not acknowledging him as God, they venerate Jesus as a prophet, His virgin Mother they also honour, and even at times devoutly invoke. Further, they await the day of judgement and the rewards of God following the resurrection of the dead. For this reason they highly esteem an upright life and worship God, especially by way of prayer, alms-deeds and fasting.

       1. There is a joint legacy of a Biblical tradition and the same heritage of prophethood. Both Christianity and Islam come from Judaism, share the common parentage of Abraham, and respect the Jewish Torah.
       2. Islam and Christianity are both monotheistic religions and ascribe similar attributes to God: Creator, Sustainer, Judge, Merciful, Forgiver. God and Allah both act in history to further causes of justice, peace, and harmony among all people.
       3. Both religions are universal in scope, claiming to transcend differences of race, ethnicity, nationality, and colour.
       4. Christianity and Islam are both committed to a unification of faith and life, prayer and action. They are strongly ethical religions. The Christian unity of grace and law is similar to the unity of mercy and Shariah in Islam.
       5. Both faiths make absolute claims to perfect truth about God. In this way, they resemble most religions founded on divine revelation. As a result, when they speak, they are certain they are speaking in the name of that Absolute.
       6. Christianity and Islam both say they purify and fulfil religions that preceded them: Christianity for Judaism, Islam for both Judaism and Christianity.
       7. Both religions believe that history has a goal and will culminate in the return of Christ at the Last Day. Accompanying this is a common belief in Last Judgement, the Resurrection and an afterlife in Heaven (Garden) or Hell (Fire).
       8. Islam and Christianity emphasise personal acts of piety such as prayer, fasting, charity, and scripture reading. They share as well the prophetic call to help the oppressed, the poor, the widow, the orphan, and the homeless.
       9. Christianity and Islam are growing, dynamic religions with progressive, reactionary, and mainstream dimensions in both of them. And in each case, change is not betraying the core of the respective faith.
       10. Both exemplify the human tendency to fall short of the ideals of their founders and scriptures. Christians fail to live up to the model of Jesus, and Muslims seldom achieve the standards set by the Koran. We are united in human frailty, but more importantly in the human aspiration to be the best Muslim or Christian we can be. All these points of unity and agreement should be emphasised as a basis for dialogue.

       A concrete way to illustrate our similarities and differences is to see how Islam responds to a common denominator of Christian faith, the Apostle's Creed. Guillaume suggested this in his book entitled "Islam." The words underlined are the beliefs rejected by Islam:

       I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
       Maker of heaven and earth.
       And in Jesus Christ His only Son, our Lord
       Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost,
       Born of Virgin Mary
       Suffered under Pontius Pilate,
       Was crucified, and buried.
       He descended into Hell;
       The third day He rose again from the dead.
       He ascended into Heaven,
       And sitteth on the right hand of God
       the Father Almighty;
       From thence He shall come
       to judge the quick and the dead.
       I believe in the Holy Spirit;
       The Holy Catholic Church;
       The Communion of Saints;
       The forgiveness of sins;
       The Resurrection of the body,
       and the life everlasting.

       Admittedly, this concrete example of the Creed has to do with belief and theology. At the level of ethical concerns, there would be very little difference. I am mindful of a statement al-Faruqi made several years ago: "In the circumstances in which Muslim and Christians find themselves today, primacy belongs to the ethical questions, not the theological."

What Christians Can Do to Better Understand Islam
       The following list of concepts, if considered by Christians, could further the understanding of Islam:
       1. That Islam is not a new religion, but a renewal and restoration of the religion of Jesus, Moses, and Abraham--the original religion God planned for everyone.
       2. The Muslim pain of having been the butt of centuries of Christian slander, misrepresentation, and ridicule. Dante, Luther, and nineteenth-century European missionaries and colonisers helped fuel this devaluation.
       3. That no other religion in the World, until the Bahais, has made acceptance of the truths of other religions conditions for its membership. In other words, any true Muslim must believe that both the Jewish Torah and Christian Bible are also Holy Books, inspired by God.
       4. How and why Islam was so offended by Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verses. It cannot be reduced to a "free speech" issue. Muslims feel his book was the most profound of blasphemous and scandalous acts.

       Hans Kung, a Roman Catholic theologian who has studied Islam for many years, suggests three other ways Christians can attempt to increase their understanding of Islam:
       5. See Islam as a path of salvation, indeed, the closest to ours of any other World religion.
       6. View Mohammed as an authentic prophet of God.
       7. Understanding the Koran as a revealed scripture, not a mixture of Arab, Jewish, Christian, and Greek religions.

What Muslims Can Do to Better Understand Christianity
       The following list of concepts, if considered by Muslims, could further the understanding of Christianity:
       1. A fundamental estrangement and separation of men and women from God, each other, and nature (what Christians call original sin).
       2. The correlative Christian emphasis on atonement and reconciliation as benefits of the Crucifixion of Christ.
       3. Christianity as an intact religion and a path of salvation.
       4. That Jesus, being the divine Son of God, was more than a prophet and that the Gospel was an historical act of God's mercy.
       5. That Christianity does not see monotheism and its belief in the Trinity as mutually exclusive.
       6. That for most Christians, works (good deeds) are a product of God's grace, not a condition for receiving it.

       (Dwell not on differences but on agreements. You are friends!--D.)

Copyright 1996 The Family