What Muslims Believe
Recently, I took a cab from The Moody Church to downtown Chicago and immediately began a conversation with the driver. He was from Damascus, Syria; he intends to return to the Middle East permanently next year. When I found out he was a Muslim, I asked whether he knew the Qur’an by memory. “Yes,” he said as he picked up his copy from off the dashboard, “I read it every spare moment.”
Then he picked it up a second time. “I forgot to kiss it,” he said as he put the book firmly to his lips. “Do you always kiss it?” I asked. “Every time I pick it up and put it down,” he assured me. When I spoke of Christ, he felt comfortable with my faith. “Of course, Christ was a great prophet,” he told me, “but there is none greater than Muhammad.”
He said he planned to return to Damascus because of the friendship and comradery that exists among the Muslims. “Regardless of what your need is, there is someone who will help you.” He contrasted this with the United States where everyone was so preoccupied with his or her own selfish pursuits that they do not have time to reach out and help.
With that, I had arrived at my destination. I gave him a book I had in my briefcase and we parted. What a challenge he left with me! He was a man of one book; his faith was misplaced, but his commitment was a rebuke to any Christian.
Muslims, like Christians, believe that God has revealed Himself in a special book. Both religions also believe in a special prophet and that all men will be made accountable to God. But there the similarity ends, for each religion has a different understanding of these doctrines.
The Muslims regard the Qur’an, a book somewhat smaller than the New Testament, as authoritative. Like the Bible, it contains stories, poetry, exhortations, and moral principles. The first words that an infant hears are a recitation from the Qur’an and most probably such will be the last words he will hear just before he dies. The book is highly revered and memorized. It governs the devout Muslim’s life. He believes that it always existed in the mind of God in Arabic, and when the Qur’an is translated, it loses its special character as the Word of God.
Muslim theologians insist that the Qur’an was delivered to Muhammad by the angel Gabriel. Muhammad received these revelations over a period of time when he was in an altered state of consciousness. The task of shaping these revelations fell to his scribe, who compared the various copies in existence until he had a text the faithful could agree on. The Qur’an controls every aspect of a Muslim’s life, whether it be law, science, politics, or religion. He desires to make it a part of his very being.
For us to read the Qur’an is a very trying experience because it appears to be a jumbled account of some biblical stories mixed with rambling discourses about morality, the deeds of Muhammad, and laws. But for the Muslims, it is revered as the word of God.
What does the Qur’an teach about God? God is a unity; He is exalted and has the name Allah. His chief attribute is power. Thus Islam affirms the sovereignty of God. Everything that happens does so because Allah wills it. Although this sounds like Calvinism, it differs in that many Muslims are fatalists who believe that God is the author of evil. This also encourages them to condone evil in their own life. Yet, for others, this belief in God’s sovereignty has given them stability and power. It has set them at ease regarding the ultimate triumph of the Muslim cause.
The God of the Qur’an has many of the same attributes as the Christian God, for He is omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent. Allah is also considered to be eternal, holy, unchangeable; the Judge.
Muslims also believe in angels and demons. And they believe that along with man, history and nature all move toward the final end which is known as the Judgment. At that time, the good will be rewarded and the evil punished with everlasting fire.
Muslims put Christians to shame by their complete devotion toward Allah. At the hour of prayer, thousands bow toward the holy city in recognition of their commitment to Allah and His will. The authors of the book entitled Islam—A Survey of the Muslim Faith speak of the priority that prayer has in the life of a devout Muslim, “through submission man has shared in the vitality of God, and power for living has been released on earth.”
With such commitment to God, we might be tempted to ask whether, in fact, Muslims might actually be worshipping the true and living God. Though He is called Allah, might He not be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ? But unfortunately, this cannot be the case. Christ emphatically stated that it is not possible to honor the Father unless one honors the Son. To neglect Christ, and yet claim to worship the true God, is impossible. Regardless of their devotion, the Muslims need to know about Christ and believe on Him as the Savior of the world.
I wish my Muslim friend would “kiss the Son” rather than the Qur’an. Christ is the only Savior qualified to bring us to God. That’s a message we have to give to the 900,000,000 Muslims that share our planet. Will we have a part in getting this message across?
For more information about Islam, you may wish to purchase Pastor Lutzer’s 2013 book: The Cross in the Shadow of the Crescent.