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Research File on Islam

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Research File on Islam

Research File

Consisting of three parts:

PART 1: A Reflective Report on a Mosque Visit.

PART 2: My Personal Reflection on Islam and Muslims.

PART 3: Academic Essay on the Challenges of Communicating the Gospel among Muslims in the UK.

Jurgen Hofmann

Total word-count: 5299

21th June 2012

Note:
Persons and institutions, who have given their cooperation for this paper, have been given fictitious names.

Index

PART 1: A Reflective Report on a Mosque Visit.

First impression
Obligatory prayers
Questions
PART 2: My Personal Reflection on Islam and Muslims.

Contact with Muslims in my home town
Contact on the We
Behaviour
Relationship
Women
PART 3: Academic Essay on the Challenges of Communicating the Gospel among Muslims in the UK.

Introduction
Muslims in the UK
Differences
Challenge 1: Communication
Dialogue
Friendship
Challenge 2: Contextualisation
Atonement
Individualistic society
Syncretism
Challenge 3: Fear
Overcome fear by dialogue
Conclusion

BIBLIOGRAPHY
WORDCOUNTS



PART 1:
A Reflective Report on a Mosque Visit


First impression

Visiting a Mosque was a new experience for me. I did see several mosques on video but have never entered one before. The first thing I noticed was the building. In finding my way I was looking for a bombastic building, but this Mosque was situated in a big terrace building. The welcome was very friendly, and after some attempts to pronounce each others’ names we entered the building.

After taking off our shoes, Mr. Hami, who is a teacher in the Mosque, guided us to the upper room where he had prepared a table with different sorts of literature. Four other Muslims, including the Mosque leader, joined us. This room has all the facilities for lectures. Mr. Hami told us that Mondays to Fridays this room is used for Islamic lectures. The group, which attends these lectures, is mostly youth in the age of 5 to 18 years.

Apparently Hami prepared himself to have a debate with us about Christianity. One of Hami’s English converts was there in the room with us—a prove of Hami’s ability to convince people of the ‘truth’—and explained that all that is necessary to become a Muslim is doing the shahada, the confession of faith by repetition of the word of witness: “There is no god worthy of worship except Allah, and Muhammad is His messenger”. After several, passionate, attempts to debate us about several myths and doctrines in Christianity, it was time to go down for prayer.

Obligatory prayers

It was 20:30 and time for prayer assembly (jamaat). This prayertime is called ‘Asr’ (mid-afternoon), and is one of the five obligatory prayers. During this prayer the Muslim has to perform four Rak’ahs After turning to Allah in mind (niyyah) and ritual cleansing (wudu), the Muslim stands silently (qiyam) while reciting the first verses of the Qur’an. The second part of the rak’ah involves bowing low (ruku) with hands on knees, as if waiting for Allah’s instructions. The third movement (sujud) is to prostrate oneself on the ground, with forehead and nose on the floor and elbows raised, in a position of submission to Allah. The fourth movement is to sit (julus) with the feet folded under the body. The prayers end as the worshippers turn to the left and right saying, “peace be upon you, and Allah’s blessing”. This action reminds Muslims of the importance of others around them, both in the Mosque and in the rest of the world. The other four prayers are called: Fajr (dawn prayer: two rak’ahs), Dhuhr (afternoon prayer: four rak’ahs), Maghrib (sunset prayer: three rak’ahs), and Isha’a (night prayer: four rak’ahs). These five prayers are part of the five pillars within Islam (cf. Glassé 2002:377,399).

Questions

Back in the upper room we had the opportunity to ask questions. During prayer time I saw a man lifting up his hands—a similar gesture to what some of the Christians do during worship. Mr. Aariz (the Mosque leader) stated that it is a gesture of receiving blessing from Allah. When I asked if there was something like spontaneous prayers, Hami showed us a map on the wall. This map exhibited the two different prayers, the obligatory prayers and the spontaneous prayers. The latter are considered as dua supplication, which means that they are preferable but not necessary. The dua can be seen as a composed individual prayer or spontaneous with personal petitions. Mostly the dua prayers are formal and in that sense not comparable with the spontaneous prayers in Christianity.

The conversation turned towards the five pillars of Islam. Hami expounded about the zakāt (‘that which purifies’ or ‘alms’). The rules about the alms are very strict and required for every Muslim. Hami described that, every year, a Muslim has to count all of his money (minus debts). After this, the Muslim has to pay 2.5 percent of the amount that exceeds the value of 85 grams of pure gold. If the money does not exceed this amount, the Muslim has to pay in other ways, such as good deeds. One of Hami’s objections towards Christianity is the fact that there are many interpretive debates among Christian scholars. According to Hami the Qur’an can not be debated like the Bible and thus one does not find this form of theology in Islam. In contrast to this claim we cannot find any straightforward guidelines about the zakāt in the Qur’an—concluding that the issue of rates were determined by the interpretations of Islamic scholars and tradition (Kuran 2004:19-21). Due to time we did not discuss the other two pillars (fasting during the month of Ramadan, and Pilgrimage to Mecca: ‘hajj’).

A question about what would happen to a Muslim who converts to Christianity, caused some disturbance among the present Muslims. One of them, Areez, wanted to answer but Hami interrupted him by stating that he knew how to answer this. Hami continued by stating that he was aware of my aspiration of becoming a missionary. The tension was high, but Hami acceded. Areez, possibly not remembering what he wanted to say, set forth that I made him remember a joke. It was a lurid joke about someone who was circumcised first and later they circumcised his head. I participated in the joke by noting that the first circumcision is hygienic but the second one a bit unhealthy. It became apparent that converting is no option. Furthermore, Hami was convinced of the fact that no Muslim ever converted to Christianity, and every example we gave was, according to Hami, based on lies. Surprisingly, in a one to one conversation, Aariz declared that he did know of several Muslims who converted to Christianity—he could not tell what happened to them afterwards because he lost contact. Regretfully I concluded that the reactions on this topic confirmed what we learned during lectures—Islam is a feared based religion. Normally one will not be confronted with this kind of reaction in everyday life, but by asking the ‘right’ questions, the reaction is easily provoked and seen. Also the difference in cultural background became apparent through this short tense moment. There where the Westerners try to ovoid these ‘outbursts’ in debates, it is considered normal is some Eastern cultures.




PART 2:
My Personal Reflection on Islam and Muslims


Contact with Muslims in my home town

Coming from a city in Holland with many immigrants, it was not difficult to get in touch with Muslims. After several attempts to communicate the Gospel to Muslims I realised that this was not as simple as I thought. The discussions were quickly drawn to a doctrinal debate. The debates were mostly about the Trinity, death and resurrection of Christ, and the virgin Mary. This has partially to do with my apologetic approach of things. As a result I thought that reaching out to Muslims was not the work for me. Still I was not certain of this statement because it seemed that I had more in common with Muslims than I thought.

Contact on the Web

Because of my predilection for apologetics, I maintain a Dutch language website on apologetics in a broad sense of the word. For this website I often use videos on topics like creation and evolution, or immorality. To my surprise there are several Muslims who watched the videos and even left positive reactions. Because of my earlier failed attempts to evangelise Muslims, I was still sure that this group was not within my reach. What I did not see or notice, was the fact that Christians share quite some commonalities with Muslims. Just like Christians, Muslims struggle with the naturalistic approach of our society. Muslims also participate in the creation/evolution debate and thus they can relate to orthodox Christians reasonably easy. As a Christian I would like to see that people return to faith in God and banish immorality from our society. In this, Christians do not stand alone—Muslims would like to see that as well. Of course Muslims have other ideas about faith than Christians, but the feeling of being alienated in one’s own society is the same.

Behaviour

As a Christian I feel secure knowing that God takes care of me. Because of Jesus’ sacrifice I can be truly free. There is no constant pressure of doing everything right—my salvation does not depend on my good deeds. I know that this is different for Muslims. The struggle of living righteously, and then hoping that Allah is in a good temper when you meet him, is a frightening idea. My presuppositions are more established after listening to Mr. Hami, who came to the university to talk about and discuss Islam. Mr. Hami expounded about the proper way of living and behaviour. He explained that almost every move had to be thought through. Entering the toilet with your left foot and leaving the toilet with your right foot. This sounded very much like legalism and superstitiousness. The reason for using the left hand to clean after using the toilet was because Satan is left-handed (e.g. Sahih Muslim 23:5008). It almost sounds like a children’s game: “If I do not clap my hands before entering the house, something terrible will happen.” Hearing about these behaviours makes me feel sorry for Muslims. How different is the freedom in Jesus.

Relationship

Christ came to show life in its fullness. Christianity is about the relationship between humans and God. As humans we are created uniquely. Being allowed to pray to and worship God as our Father establishes this uniqueness. The implication of a Father-son relationship is that there is a family structure within Christianity. This concept of Father-son relationship is unknown in Islam. Instead of a relationship there is absolute subordination. Muslims do not allow themselves to think about Allah in a relationship-context. There are five prayers which must be performed and are obligatory (the Salah). These prayers are formal and prescribed, although there is an informal form of prayer (dua supplication), these are often still very formal. The five prayers integrate particular words and actions which symbolise and express a Muslim’s faith. In prayer, Muslims praise Allah, seek guidance and forgiveness, and develop self-discipline. It is a great sin to neglect performing any of these obligatory prayers.

This impersonal faith is so unfamiliar to me that I would gladly share about my experiences with Muslims. However, I understand that this is one of the main problems Muslims have with Christianity. The metaphors, such as a personal father and child relationship, that are common for westerners, are likely hard to grasp for people who grew up in an Islamic culture. This gives me a challenge—how am I going to explain these ‘alien’ principles to Muslims?

Women

The last issue I want to reflect on is the situation of women in Islam. At the visit to the Mosque we asked where the women were. The answer to this question was the same for all the questions about women. It is better for the women to stay home, and the man in the Mosque added that it was out of protection for the women. A Hadith of Rasulullah states that it is better for the women to pray at home (although not postulated). According to the Muslims we interviewed, it is not wise to let a women walk on her own on the street—she could become a victim of crime.

This sounds very good and up-front, but I cannot help wondering how these Muslim women will ever hear the Gospel, if they are so closely watched. I have had many conversations with Christians who worked among Muslims. Women’s meetings was one of the main strategies. The setting was pretty simple—while the children were playing the women gathered together for a drink and something to eat. These meetings always seemed a bit simplistic to me, but now I see that this will probably be a very good way to make good contacts. Throughout these relationships the Gospel can be shared. According to my friends, this could take years of investment. Because of the closed culture within Islam, building relations will most likely work best. Through a transparent relationship a Muslim can look into the life of a Christian, and that in itself should be a witness to them.




PART 3:
The Challenges of Communicating the Gospel among Muslims in the UK



Introduction

For many centuries the Christian and Islamic countries were divided and both lived in an isolated situation from each other. After the second World War this changed dramatically. The Western countries needed manpower to answer the demand of welfare. Muslims immigrated, with this prospect of welfare, massively to the West.

Many Islamic countries are closed to the Gospel, while others are so far from Christian influence that widespread mission work is almost unthinkable. Yet, through this immigration, new doors opened. Christians can walk out of their homes and evangelise among Muslims without actually moving out of the country.

“[Now Christians] can become involved in a ministry that, for nearly fourteen hundred years since Islam began, has largely been impossible. An opportunity has been laid right at the feet of the Church which hitherto could not be conceived” (Gilchrist 1987:Vol2-1a).

However, the Christians will have to face different challenges in their approach to Muslims. These challenges are considered to be difficult, but not impossible. This paper will discuss three areas which need to be tackled in order to effectively evangelise Muslims in the UK.

Firstly there will be a summary of the statistics of the Muslim population in the UK, followed by a short enumeration of some differences between Islam and Christianity. After this the paper will expound on the problem of communicating with Muslims. Are the Western emphases in social life the same as what people from Eastern countries would emphasise? The second challenge is about how to communicate and live the Gospel in a way understandable for a Muslim. Can a Muslim relate to the way British Christians experience their faith? Finally, this paper will look at the understanding the average Christian has of Islam. Especially after the several terrorist attacks of the last decades this view has dramatically changed among Christians.

This paper’s emphasis is on the challenges of communicating with Muslims in the UK. It mainly concerns Christians in the UK, unless otherwise noted. Whenever this paper mentions Muslim, it describes Muslims who are actively participating in their own faith and who are committed to the worldview of their culture of origin. This is not always straightforward since many second generation Muslims in the UK have learned to understand the Western worldview. In this case it depends on which worldview they find most acceptable.

Muslims in the UK

According to the 2001 census, 1,546,626 Muslims live in England and Wales, where they then formed 3.3% of the population (Census 2001a). At least 1,503,638 of this population lives in less sparse urban areas (Census 2001b). During the first quarter of the 20th century it was estimated that there were around 10,000 Muslims in Britain. Britain’s Muslim population are by majority people who immigrated to Britain in the 1950s-70s, or their descendants (cf. Hellyer 2009:149).

Differences

In this Muslim population, one can see the influences from their original countries. There, where born and bred Western Christians view their world with an emphasis on the future, the immigrated Muslims celebrate their past and traditions. The glorious times will be taught and treasured in the families (Parshall 2003:87). British people struggle with the seeming unwillingness of Muslims to assimilate into the modern Western culture. The cyclical rituals like the yearly fast (Sawm) during the month of Ramadan (the ninth month of the Islamic calendar), and the obligatory prayers (Salat) each day, are still alien to the Westerner.

Islam holds that mankind’s present separation from Allah is not caused by sin, but due to Allah’s transcendence. Allah is essentially unknowable—that is to say, he does not disclose himself to humans. In the Muslim’s worldview, humans are inherently good and pure (Surah 30:30, 95:4). Although they recognise the fact that people sin, they believe that every human has the ability not to do sin. In order to live righteously they need to know how. Allah provided the guidance in the Qur’an and the Muslim traditions. Muslims believe that this guidance came into being when Muhammad founded the first Muslim community.

In retrospect one can say that the above enumeration is in many ways the opposite of what a Christian believes. Sin plays a different role in Christianity and goes deeper than Muslims’ belief—sin is not only about the actions of a person, but also about a person’s thoughts (Burnett 2002:123). Most Christians believe in an inherent sinful character and tend to look forward in order to improve. Parshall (2003:87) states that Christians most often regard the past as ‘out dated’ and irrelevant. Future-oriented Christianity can clearly be seen in church—the newest songs, little Old Testament preaching, fast changing liturgies. This is where Islam has more in common with the Hebrew culture than with the Western Christian culture. Furthermore, Christians believe that revelation is primarily of the character and acts of God, Muslims believe it is a revelation of the will of Allah, and not about who he is, because Allah is unknowable.

Challenge 1: Communication

Dialogue

Despite the fact that Christians do not recognise the Qur’an, it is useful to learn what the book teaches about Jesus. The Qur’an speaks of Jesus with great respect—although not as the Son of God—and can be used as a starting point for conversations. Moreover, the Qur’an also narrates about the high value of the Bible. This knowledge can be used to communicate with Muslims (cf. Rooyen 2005).

Communicating with Muslims can be a shock for a Christian—especially if it concerns Muslims who are not ‘westernised’. First of all, there can be a language barrier, particularly when a Muslim lives and participates in a Muslim community. A language barrier can be amusing for both parties, in particular if the Christian tries his or her utmost best to speak some of the foreign words. But there is another issue to bear in mind. In the Western culture it is unknown, or ‘not done’, to argue the issue with much emotion—logic and composure should prevail. In many Eastern countries conversations seem to be much more passionate, to such an extend that a ‘well mannered’ British person may think that they are about to fight each other. A Muslim, who is engaging in a discussion with a Christian, will have respect for a passionate defence of the Gospel. According to Lingle and Delancy, this has to be done with correct body language. Westerners do tend to look stern or even frown when they disagree with their counterpart. They continue by stating that “you can say anything to a Muslim if you say it with a smile on your face” (Delancy and Lingle 2011:150).

Friendship

An important aspect for a respectful dialogue is a good relationship with the Muslim. This does require time and effort. The gap between differences needs to be bridged and most will agree that this can be accomplished through sincere friendships. This is a big challenge for almost every Westerner. Developing a genuine friendship is time consuming, especially with Muslims. Nonetheless Gilchrist states that “Muslims are unlikely to become your brethren until they first become your friends” (Gilchrist 1987:Vol2-2a). Unlike many Muslims, Christians are very time-oriented. This makes the challenge of genuine friendships even bigger. Rhodes notes that Muslims sometimes say that Americans are shallow and trivial in their friendships. This could easily be projected on the English, or many of the other Westerners for that matter. Rhodes continues by urging that a Christian needs to develop genuine friendship, regardless of the Muslim’s response to the Gospel (Rhodes 2002:22).

In contrary to the aforementioned suggestion, it should be noted that there is a risk to ‘friendship-evangelism’. This term has surfaced in recent years and is undoubtedly well intended, but as Miller states:

“As Christians we do not become friends with people in order to produce a certain result. We do so because we are friends, because that is what we have become in Christ.”

If there is this hidden agenda of ultimately bringing the other to Christ, what happens if this does not happen? Miller further states that friendship is not genuine if it is used as a methodology—rather than a method, friendship is the way Christians ought to look at people (Miller 2005:164).

Challenge 2: Contextualisation

Atonement

Although Christians and Muslims share similarities, such as ideas about morality or the concept of afterlife, there are fundamental differences. One such difference is the guilt oriented mind of the Westerner in contrast with the shame-oriented mind of many Muslims. The majority of Evangelical Christians believe in the Penal Substitution theory of atonement. The theory appeals strongly to the Western understanding of judgement: “You are guilty and need to pay, and without payment you will stay guilty”. This however is not the understanding of many Eastern people. Kraus (cited in Baker and Green 2011:198) expounds on an event in America, where a Japanese student commented that he would never say, “I forgive you.” This sounds strange for Christians, who want to be forgiven in order to be released of guilt. For the shame-orientated Japanese it would mean that the one who says, “I forgive you”, essentially admits the other person’s badness, “and thus forgiveness reaffirms his or her shame.”

This principle of shame can also be found among Muslims, and thus the Penal Substitution metaphor for the atonement is a principle that is hard to grasp for Muslims. Jesus died in an eastern shame-based culture. In this culture the Roman crucifixion of a convict was not so much about how to hurt the victim the most, but more about the humiliation. The victim was hanging totally naked, helpless in agony and exclusion. Afterwards the Romans just disposed of the body, without any honour. How do Christians explain this to their Muslim friends? Why did Jesus have to become a curse (Deuteronomy 21:23), and how could the great prophet have been alienated. For the Muslim, this amount of shame and dis-honouring of a man is unbearable.

Baker and Green (2011:202) define that

“the cross was not a unique moment of shame and exclusion in the life of Jesus. The cross was the epitome of Jesus’ identification with us in shame, but his whole life displayed this identification.”

By emphasising this aspect, one can illustrate that Jesus can fully identify with the fear of being shamefully excluded. Kraus continues by annotating that Jesus’ identification offers us the potential of identifying with him and conquer shame. This goes further than reuniting with God, it also means that God removed alienation by love, through exchangeable identification. The good news for Muslims is that the cross is the revelation of God’s love and that this love banishes shame. Therefore a Muslim can be free from this burden and freely come to God (Kraus cited in Baker and Green 2011:202).

Individualistic society

Contrary to the Muslim, many Christians are very individualistically oriented. Much emphasis is put in a personal faith and relationship with God. In the time of Jesus, religion was a group activity. More in conformity with the Jewish society, the Muslim sees no difference between faith and politics. For the Muslim this ought to be interwoven. In the Arabic society, individual decisions are restricted. Before an important decision can be made, the group mind has to be formed and has to come to a consensus (Haleblian cited in Parshall 2003:90)). A Muslim’s life is inextricably linked with the community.

Parshall comes with an interesting thought of evangelising whole groups. He states that the common form of evangelism is to win individuals to Christ. He notes that this has, in group-orientated cultures, led to separation from society and regularly to total estrangement (Parshall 2003:91). It seems that Parshall is suggesting to implement this ‘group-evangelism’ in Muslim countries. This approach is likely less obvious among Muslims in the UK. Muslims who live in their own country are more at ease than Muslims who live in a society where they are in the minority. A minority group is probably more determined to maintain their traditions and thus the pressure on individuals not to deviate will be high.

The challenge will be to offer a Muslim, who wants to convert, a genuine community. It is not enough to meet with a new convert on the Sunday morning. The ‘Sunday morning’ relationship among Christians can be very disturbing to a Muslim. Many Christians will settle for one hour a week. A converted Muslim is likely to be alienated from his own community. One hour on the Sunday morning is not ‘community’ for the Muslim convert, who is used to a very formal way of worship and a highly organised daily and monthly schedule of rituals and ceremony. Christians need to realise that Muslim converts are in a difficult situation. Their relatives consider it a choice made against family, the community and ultimately against Allah (Braswell 2000:153-154). House-groups are a good alternative to meet with the converts. This way the convert can adopt to the ‘strange’ habits. On Sunday morning it is disturbing for a convert to see couples holding and hugging each other—something many Muslim couples won’t even do outside their own house, let alone in a holy place like a mosque or church. Small groups are more likely to regulate some behaviour code, at least until the new Christian is used to the habits and traditions of the Christian community (Delancy and Lingle 2011:163).

Syncretism

Contextualisation is a beautiful concept, but Christians need to consider how far they are willing (and allowed by Scripture), to go. Syncretism has been recognised as a big danger in contextualisation. Hesselgrave (cited in Ot and Straus 2010:275-276) states that

“Syncretism often results from devoting too much attention to the outer layers of culture and not enough attention to its inner core or worldview”

Ot and Straus (2010:276) argue that focussing on changing only the outward behaviour of converts, the Gospel will unlikely reach and change their old beliefs, values, and emotions. In the light of this it needs to be said that Christians ought to take time to disciple converts. Moreover, sound doctrine needs to be taught and demonstrated.

Challenge 3: Fear

Volf states that the main fear in religion is “that of imposition—one faith imposing aspects of its own way of life on others”. He continues by stating that even Secularists know this fear, but then the fear of imposition by any faith—”since they tend to deem all of them irrational and dangerous” (Volf 2011:x). The fear towards Islam, and thus Muslims, became very strong in just a few years. Terrorist attacks amplified these feelings—sometimes to such an extend that we can speak of ‘islamophobia’. Islamophobia refers to unfounded hostility towards Islam, with the consequence of discrimination against Muslim individuals and communities, and of an unwillingness to listen to what Muslims have to say (Runnymede Trust 1997:4).

The Runnymede Trust (1997:5) report mentions two ways to look at Muslims. Firstly, there is the closed view. This view can be described as strongly prejudiced. It leaves little or no room for people to deal with their fear. The second way is to look at Muslims with an open view. This way does not mean that one has to agree with everything, but it leaves room for dialogue.

Overcome fear by dialogue

The apostle Paul said: “I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some” (1 Corintians 9:22b). For a Christian this ought to be the starting point if it comes to understanding Muslims. A good start for Christians to overcome their fears, is by learning from Muslims instead of teaching them. This was what Paul did in Athens. He was able to direct the people to one of their own poets in his speech (Acts 17:28). This must have made a good impression on the people of Athens: “This man does not merely come to convert us, but he is interested in our culture as well.”

Kreeft gives four points in Islam which are worthy of the attention of Christians. First there is faithfulness in prayer, fasting and alms giving. Secondly, the sacredness of the family and children and hospitality. Then there is the absoluteness of moral laws and of the demand to be just and charitable. Finally, the absoluteness of God and the need for absolute submission, surrender and obedience to him (Kreeft 2010:12).

By genuine exploration of a Muslim’s faith, Christians can overcome their prejudice and in return the Muslim will recognise your interest. Kreeft argues that there are two different Christianities in the world. There is the authentic New Testament Christianity, and there is

“the Christianity of accommodation to modernism, egalitarianism, niceness, naturalism, pop psychology, secular humanism, relativism, subjectivism, individualism, ‘Enlightenment’ rationalism or postmodern irrationalism” (Kreeft 2010:18).

The second version of Christianity is the kind Muslims disapprove of most. By proving a veracious Christian, the Muslim will show respect because an upright Christian stands for much of the same morality. Kreeft (2010:20) mentions that only the New Testament Christianity and real Qur’anic Islam can have a real dialogue—both fear terrorism, extremism and abandonment. This consistency is a fertile ground to start an honourable dialogue, despite the continuous media attention to the execrescence of terroristic Islam and modernistic Christianity.

Only when Christians independently investigate the beliefs of other religions—instead of forming their opinion by listening to the media—they will overcome their fears. It is through God’s Spirit that Christians can stand firm in their faith and have the power to overcome their fears, through love and the use of their minds. Paul summarised this principle in one sentence: “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (1 Timothy 1:7).

Conclusion

In this paper some of the challenges of communicating the gospel among Muslims in the UK have been discussed. Just a few decades ago, reaching out among Muslims was typical missionary work, which had to be done abroad. Christians had to do this with their utmost discretion because of the closed character of many Muslim countries. This has changed radically with the enormous immigration of Muslims to the UK. This made it possible for Christian to evangelise among Muslims without actually moving out of the country, although the need of missionary work in closed countries has remained.

Christians experience different challenges in their approach to Muslims. There are big differences between Islam and Christianity, notwithstanding there are several similarities which can be used as a starting point for a dialogue.

In this dialogue Christians should remind themselves of the fact that many Muslims came to the UK with different ideas and views of the world around them. Especially in the first conversations it is helpful to discuss common interests and to show a genuine curiosity in the Muslim’s life.

Friendship proved to be the most successful way to reach Muslims. To build a friendship with a Muslim takes a lot of time. The friendship has to be one out of love and not a methodology to evangelise.

To explain the Gospel to a Muslim requires the ability to displace the Muslim’s worldview. This means that the Gospel has to be told in a way relevant for the Muslim. Most of the Gospel in the West is explained through a guilt-based view. This view is not shared by many Muslims, who are more familiar with a shame-based view of life.

All the mentioned suggestions are only attainable with genuine love and interest for the life of the Muslim. Fears are more likely to overcome through personal exploration instead of forming presuppositions through the information provided by the media. As stated, there are challenges in reaching Muslims, but it is surely not impossible.




Bibliography

All biblical references are taken from The Holy Bible: King James Version (1611).

Baker, M. D. and Green, J. B. (2011) Recovering the Scandal of the Cross: Atonement in New Testament and Contemporary Context. 2nd. ed. Downers Grove, InterVarsity Press.

Burnett, D. (2002) Clash of Worlds: What Christians can do in a World of Cultures in Conflict. London, Monarch Books.

Braswell, G. W. (2000) What You Need to Know About Islam and Muslims. Nashville, B&H Publishing Group.

Censusa (2001) National Report for England and Wales – National Report for England and Wales: All people Part 1. [Internet] Newport, Office for National Statistics. Available from: <http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/census/census-2001-national-report-for-england-and-wales/national-report-for-england-and-wales/national-report-for-england-and-wales–all-people-part-1.xls> [Accessed on 08 June 2012].

Censusb (2001) Key Statistics – Rural and Urban Area Classification 2004 KS07 Religion. [Internet] Newport, Office for National Statistics. Available from: <http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/census/census-2001-key-statistics/rural-and-urban-area-classification-2004/rural-and-urban-area-classification-2004-ks07–religion.xls> [Accessed on 08 June 2012].

Delancy, R. and Lingle, W. (2011) Burning Questions about Islam: A Panoramic Study for Concerned Christians. Bloomington, Crossbooks.

Gilchrist, J (1987) The Christian Witness to the Muslim. [Internet] Answering Islam. Available from: <http://www.answering-islam.org/authors/gilchrist.html> [Accessed on 07 June 2012].

Glassé, C. (2002) The New Encyclopedia of Islam – Revised Edition of the Concise Encyclopedia of Islam. Drake, N. and Davis, E. (eds.). Walnut Creek, AltaMira Press.

Hellyer, H. A. (2009) Muslims of Europe: The ‘Other’ Europeans. Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press.

Kreeft, P. (2010) Between Allah & Jesus: What Christians Can Learn from Muslims. Downers Grove, Intervarsity Press.

Kuran, T. (2004) Islam and Mammon: The Economic Predicaments of Islamism. Princeton, Princeton University Press.

Miller, E. R. (2005) Muslims and the Gospel: A Reflection on Christian Sharing. Minneapolis, Lutheran University Press.

Ot, C. and Straus, S. J. (2010) Encountering Theology of Mission: Biblical Foundations, Historical Developments, and Contemporary Issues (Encountering Mission). Grand Rapids, Baker Academic.

Parshall, P. (2003) Muslim Evangelism: Contemporary Approaches to Contextualization. 2nd. ed. Waynesboro, Gabriel Publishing.

Rhodes, R. (2002) Reasoning from the Scriptures With Muslims. Eugene, Harvest House Publishers.

Rooyen, van, L. (2005) Evangelism II: Breaking Down Barriers to Effective Evangelism. [Internet] Tampa, Global Ministries & Relief Inc. Available from <http://www.books.google.co.uk/books?id=T6yMk6FXy6YC> [Accessed: 13 June 2012].

Runnymede Trust (1997) Islamophobia: A Challenge for Us All. Richardson, R. (ed.) [Internet] Available from:

Sahih Muslim (2011) [Internet] SearchTruth.com. Available from: <http://www.searchtruth.com/book_display.php?book=023&translator=2&start=0&number=5008> [Accessed 4 June 2012].

Volf, M (2011) A Public Faith: How Followers of Christ Should Serve the Common Good. Grand Rapids, Brazos Press.




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PART 3 word count

Total word count

:

:

:

:

1032

994

3273

5299