Talking with a Muslim about Religion

by Jeffrey W. Hamilton

Text: Titus 1:10-16


I.         How do you talk with someone about religion when there is little common ground?

            A.        A good way to start is to find something in that religion that is true and that can be used as a basis of discussion.

                        1.         In a false religion, not everything is false

                        2.         Falsehood is more readily accepted if truth is mixed with some falsehood

                        3.         So find a useful truth

            B.        Paul’s example

                        1.         In Athens, he found an altar to the unknown God - Acts 17:22-23

                                    a.         That there was a God unknown to idolatrous Greeks is very true

                                    b.         It is their own declaration. To deny it would be to deny themselves.

                                    c.         Thus, it became the basis for talking about who the unknown God was.

                        2.         Paul used a statement by a Cretan prophet to support the need for change - Titus 1:12-14

                                    a.         It is not a question of whether this person was really a prophet or not. The prophet made a statement that happens to be true.

                                    b.         It is not a complimentary statement, but they can’t argue with it unless they want to deny that their own prophet wasn’t really a prophet.

II.        Some truths in the Qur’an

            A.        Mohammed delivered the message found in the Qur’an roughly around A.D. 600

            B.        Claim that some Jews had twisted or altered the meaning of the Old Testament

                        1.         “GOD had taken a covenant from the Children of Israel, and we raised among them twelve patriarchs. And GOD said, "I am with you, so long as you observe the Contact Prayers (Salat), give the obligatory charity (Zakat), and believe in My messengers and respect them, and continue to lend GOD a loan of righteousness. I will then remit your sins, and admit you into gardens with flowing streams. Anyone who disbelieves after this, has indeed strayed off the right path." It was a consequence of their violating the covenant that we condemned them, and we caused their hearts to become hardened. Consequently, they took the words out of context, and disregarded some of the commandments given to them. You will continue to witness betrayal from them, excepting a few of them. You shall pardon them, and disregard them. GOD loves those who are benevolent” (Qur’an Sura 5:12-13).

                                    a.         This passage is usually offered as saying that the Bible was altered, but it doesn’t say the text was altered, only misused.

                                    b.         This is supported by early Muslim teachers, such as Ibn Kathir

                                    c.         It was not until quite a number of years later, in 1064 that Ibn Khazem stated that the Bible text itself was corrupted.

                                    d.         This is in agreement with Jesus’ charge - Matthew 15:3-9

                        2.         Later in the same Sura: “Why do they ask you to judge among them, when they have the Torah, containing GOD's law, and they chose to disregard it? They are not believers. We have sent down the Torah,* containing guidance and light. Ruling in accordance with it were the Jewish prophets, as well as the rabbis and the priests, as dictated to them in GOD's scripture, and as witnessed by them. Therefore, do not reverence human beings; you shall reverence Me instead. And do not trade away My revelations for a cheap price. Those who do not rule in accordance with GOD's revelations, are the disbelievers” (Qur’an Sura 5:43-44).

                                    a.         In the Qur’an, the entire Old Testament is referred to as the Torah, as stated in a footnote: “The Torah is a collection of all the scriptures revealed through all the prophets of Israel prior to Jesus Christ, i.e., today's Old Testament.”

                                    b.         This is important. The Qur’an truthful states that the Old Testament is the record of God’s revelations. It comes from God and not man.

                                    c.         This is in agreement with Paul’s statement - II Timothy 3:16-17

                        3.         Continuing in the same Sura: “Subsequent to them, we sent Jesus, the son of Mary, confirming the previous scripture, the Torah. We gave him the Gospel, containing guidance and light, and confirming the previous scriptures, the Torah, and augmenting its guidance and light, and to enlighten the righteous. The people of the Gospel shall rule in accordance with GOD's revelations therein. Those who do not rule in accordance with GOD's revelations are the wicked” (Qur’an Sura 5:46-47)

                                    a.         Further, it states that Jesus confirmed the Old Testament and delivered additional revelation from God containing what the Qur’an refers to as the Gospel.

                                    b.         Jesus did use the Scriptures as a source of authority - Luk3 24:44

            C.        The Qur’an says it confirms the Old and New Testaments

                        1.         “Say, "Anyone who opposes Gabriel should know that he has brought down this (Quran) into your heart, in accordance with GOD's will, confirming previous scriptures, and providing guidance and good news for the believers." Anyone who opposes GOD, and His angels, and His messengers, and Gabriel and Michael, should know that GOD opposes the disbelievers.” (Qur’an 2:97-98).

                        2.         Christians will disagree with this statement as a whole, since the Qur’an is not accepted as coming from God. But it is important to note that Muhammad claims a belief in the Scriptures of his day (A.D. 600) as being confirmed.

            D.        If you want to know the truth, read the Bible

                        1.         “All food used to be lawful for the Children of Israel, until Israel imposed certain prohibitions on themselves before the Torah was sent down. Say, "Bring the Torah and read it, if you are truthful”“ (Qur’an 3:93).

                        2.         God’s Word is truth - John 17:17

            E.        God inspired the Bible

                        1.         “ They never valued GOD as He should be valued. Thus, they said, "GOD does not reveal anything to any human being." Say, "Who then revealed the scripture that Moses brought, with light and guidance for the people?" You put it down on paper to proclaim it, while concealing a lot of it. You were taught what you never knew—you and your parents. Say, "GOD (is the One who revealed it)," then leave them in their heedlessness, playing. This too is a blessed scripture that we have revealed, confirming the previous scriptures, that you may warn the most important community* and all those around it. Those who believe in the Hereafter will believe in this (scripture), and will observe the Contact Prayers (Salat).” (Qur’an 6:91-92).

III.       The Qur’an says God’s Words cannot be changed

            A.        “Shall I seek other than GOD as a source of law, when He has revealed to you this book fully detailed?* Those who received the scripture recognize that it has been revealed from your Lord, truthfully. You shall not harbor any doubt. The word of your Lord is complete,* in truth and justice. Nothing shall abrogate His words. He is the Hearer, the Omniscient” (Qur’an 6:114-115).

            B.        For the Muslim, this includes the Qur’an, but for our purpose, it states a truth: God’s Words are unchangable - I Peter 1:22-25

            C.        The “Reminder”

                        1.         “Absolutely, we have revealed the reminder, and, absolutely, we will preserve it. We have sent (messengers) before you to the communities in the past” (Qur’an 5:9-10).

                        2.         “We gave Moses and Aaron the Statute Book, a beacon, and a reminder for the righteous” (Qur’an 21:48).

                        3.         “We have given Moses the guidance, and made the Children of Israel inherit the scripture. (Their history) is a lesson and a reminder for those who possess intelligence” (Qur’an 40:53-54)

                        4.         But the claim is the reminder, which includes the Bible, is being preserved by God.

IV.      The dilemma

            A.        Some, but not all, Muslims teach that the Bible is corrupted. Ibn Khazem stated in A.D. 1064, “Since the Qur’an must be true it must be the conflicting Gospel texts that are false. But Muhammad tells us to respect the Gospel. Therefore, the present text must have been falsified by the Christians after the time of Muhammad.”

                        1.         Notice the admission that the Qur’an and the New Testament are in conflict.

            B.        The problem is that we have numerous manuscripts, translations, and quotations from the Bible which show that the current text and the ancient text are the same.

            C.        If the Bible was altered, then it would mean that God was not able to preserve His word and both the Bible and the Qur’an are wrong on that point, making the rest suspect.

                        1.         Or, the Bible is unaltered, meaning the Qur’an is correct on that point but also meaning that its conflicts disprove the Qur’an is God’s Word.

                        2.         It is a difficult position to be in

            D.        Any change is accursed - Galatians 1:6-9

V.        Don’t ask questions

            A.        “O you who believe, do not ask about matters which, if revealed to you prematurely, would hurt you. If you ask about them in light of the Quran, they will become obvious to you. GOD has deliberately overlooked them. GOD is Forgiver, Clement. Others before you have asked the same questions, then became disbelievers therein” (Qur’an Sura 5:101-102).

                        1.         “The Holy Prophet himself forbade people to ask questions ... so do not try to probe into such things.” [Maududi, The Meaning of the Qur’an, v. III, pgs. 76-77].

                        2.         The Prophet got angry and his face became red. ...“The Prophet was asked about things which he did not like, and when the questioner insisted, the Prophet got angry.” [Bukari, Hadith, v. 1, no. 91,92].

                        3.         “Allah has hated you ... [for] asking too many questions.” [Bukari, Hadith, v. 2, no. 555 and v. 3, no. 591]

            B.        A well-thought question can help people see the truth - Isaiah 45:21-24

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