Every year Muslims are leaving their home country and becoming a part of a Western nation. This can be challenging as they bring their religious customs with them, ways that were accepted back home but not acceptable where they are now living.
Nonie Darwish is an amazing woman who lived for the first 30 years of her life in a Middle Eastern nation. In her testimony, “Cruel and Usual Punishment” she shared, “I was a bird in a cage; a second-class citizen who had to watch what I even said to my close friend. Under Islamic law I had to live in a gender-segregated environment and always be aware that the legal and society penalty for ‘sin’ could end my life.”
She continued, “This is what it is like to live as a woman under Sharia law. Sharia (the body of Islamic law) is different from law in the West, because it deals with all aspects of day-to-day life, including politics, economics, banking, business law, contract law, marriage, divorce, child rearing and custody, sexuality, sin, crime and social issues. Among other thing, it (sharia) allows a woman seen without a headdress to be flogged, punish rape victims, and calls for beheading for adultery. I never questioned or challenged it —or dared to ever think about its validity.”
Nonie related that in the fall of 2007 she was part of a panel discussion called “Islam and Democracy: Companions or Competitors?” at Mount San Antonio College in Southern California. She said that what happened later is something we need to be aware of and understand, and to ignore this would be at the peril of our democracy.
One of the panelists, the head of the Muslim student organization, fiercely defended Shari. After the discussion Nonie asked him, “If Sharia is the perfect system that every Muslim should follow, why are you living in America and not in a Muslim Sharia state such as Iran or Saudi Arabia?” His answer was that not one Muslim country applied Sharia as it should and that is why he was in America.
Nonie stated, “In the heated discussion that followed, another student who believed that Muslim countries failed to bring about the true Sharia state, actually believed that perhaps the United States could be the first country to apply Sharia the proper way, the way it was intended by Allah. Many of the students echoed that belief, and some even expressed a desire to demand the enforcement of Sharia in America.”
This is important to understand: Many Muslims desire to not only correct and perfect Sharia in their country of origin, they gradually want to expand their perfected Sharia-driven society and impose it upon the rest of the world.
“Cruel and Usual Punishment” Published by Thomas Nelson – Copyright 2008
We will never forget the look of sadness in her eyes; she was weary, and without hope. As she shared her testimony, we learned that she had met her husband from the Middle East while studying in a Western university. Raised as a nominal Christian but without a Biblical foundation, her new life on campus was fun and carefree. She met this handsome, dark-haired Arabic man who “swept her off her feet” with his loving attention. He told her that Muslims and Christians worship the same God; they believe in the Bible and, of course, Jesus. He wanted to marry her, and the idea of living in the Middle East sounded so romantic.
Once married, they left for his home nation to build their life together. It all sounded so exciting until they got settled, and he took her passport away from her. When she became pregnant he said, “I want 12 children and if you don’t give them to me, I will get another wife.” By the time we met her in her late 20’s, she was pregnant with her sixth child. What could she do? She was required to raise her children Muslim, and she could not go back to her home nation. She was now a believer in Jesus but had no passport, and she loved her children. She was trapped in an unchangeable, hopeless situation and no promise for change.
Many people who live in Western nations don’t have a Christian background and have little or no Biblical understanding because they were not taught God’s principles while growing up. Their perception of Christianity may come from the media or movies, unbelieving professors, and things they have read. They may also have a false understanding of Biblical teachings compared to the general society, or even a rejection of any belief in God. As a result, there is a prevalent thinking that Christianity and Islam are very similar with only minor differences.
A Muslim may tell Christians that the Qur’an speaks of many Old Testament Prophets, including Jesus, and it refers favorably of Christians. However, because of what they were taught in their religion, they will not tell you they believe Jesus is the Son of God or that He died on the cross. As a Muslim they cannot question anything in their religion or the Qur’an.
II Corinthians 6:14 gives us God’s direction for marriage, “Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and unrighteousness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Marrying a person of a different religion means marrying an unbeliever, or being unequally yoked.
Tens of thousands of Christian women in Western nations have married Muslim men in the past 20-30 years. If the man does not practice his religion, it may be a workable situation. But if he follows his religion, often the wife finds herself trapped in a nightmare of oppression, abuse, and control.
“What if I told you the best evangelist for Jesus was the Ayatollah Khomeini?” This shocking statement was made by an unidentified Iranian church leader in the film, Sheep Among Wolves, Volume II produced by Frontier Alliance International Studios. The film, available on YouTube has been viewed nearly 600,000 times.
As the leader of the Iranian revolution in 1979, Khomeini led the overthrow of the last shah of Iran and ushered in an Islamic government. This brought the true face of Islam to light, and Iranians now know Islam for what it truly is. After 40 years under Islamic law — a utopia according to the religious leaders — Iranians have witnessed the worst devastation in the 5,000-year history of their nation and they desire freedom.
The Iranian church leader highlighted in the film continues, “What if I told you Islam is dead? What if I told you the mosques are empty inside Iran? What if I told you no one follows Islam inside of Iran? Would you believe me? This is exactly what is happening. God is moving powerfully inside Iran.”
The Iranians are so weary of their religion and the control that is over their lives. They are fleeing Islam in droves and as believers now, they bow their knees to Jesus. It is eye-opening when they begin to read the Bible and see that it contains the history of the Jewish people. Now realizing that Jesus is Jewish, these former Muslims are becoming pro-Israel!
There are less than 20 operating “overground churches,” and the government monitors them. While the government tries to restrict the church, general society is not hostile to Christians. Believers are forced to meet in a house church, most of which have 8-12 members. For security reasons, they are forced to multiply once they reach about 12 people, which helps spread the gospel even more.
Many Christians in Iran are paying a high price for their faith in Jesus. They have lost jobs, homes, or even custody of children. Some have been physically abused, and some are unjustly imprisoned in Iran’s notorious prison system.
Why do Iranians resist their religious leaders, face persecution, and become Christians?
A major reason is the transformations that are happening in their lives. They see healing from sickness, restoration from a past filled with abuse, deliverance from drug addiction, dreams and visions of Jesus. This the power of testimony that family, friends, and community cannot deny. The transformation in their lives through Jesus Christ reveals the unstoppable power of God!
The nation of Persia is mentioned 23 times in the Bible and is introduced in the first chapter of Esther. In 1935 the Persian leader asked the League of Nations to change the name from Persia to Iran. The country was moving toward a modern westernized state, and women wore western dress.
Now the nation of Iran has about 82,000,000 people; Islam is officially the religion of over 99%, mostly Shi’a Muslims. In 1979 the Ayatollah Khomeini overthrew the Shah of Iran, and a hard-line Iranian regime was established with Muslim clerics in control, making a drastic change in the nation and freedoms disappeared.
Even though Christian missionaries served since the 1830s, there were only 500 Muslim background Christians. All missionaries serving at that time were told to leave, accused of being CIA agents. Evangelism was outlawed, Bibles in Persian were banned and soon became scarce, and multiple pastors killed. People feared the small Iranian church would quickly wither and die.
Today Iran ranks as one of the worst countries in the world for persecution and world terrorism. That has not stopped the move of God in their nation. Despite great persecution, continued hostility, and death of the innocent for more than 20 years, Iranians have become the Muslims most open to the gospel in the Middle East. Nothing can stop the power of the Holy Spirit!
The violence in the name of Islam causes widespread disillusionment with the regime. Many Iranians question their beliefs. Often videos are shown by the media, declaring Iranians hate the Western nations. America is called “The great satan,” and Israel is known as “The little satan”. Iranian protesters supporting the government are seen stomping and burning the American flag chant, “Death to America.”
One Iranian man of God said, “I can boldly say, there’s no country in the world that loves America more than Iranians do. They want American fashion, music, arts, and they want democracy.” This Muslim background believer beams Christian TV programs to Iran daily in their Farsi language. He shared that there are 1 to 3 million Muslims walking with Christ and reaching out to others. The church is rapidly multiplying. The power of God cannot be stopped!
Imagine if you were a “missionary” in an Islamic nation for many years. Working without being exposed, yet laboring diligently, you might see a handful of Muslims receiving Christ as their Lord in your lifetime.
Fast forward to this past 30 years, and it is a different story. One reason is there has been a season of concentrated prayer in the past generation for the people in the nations, resulting in heart changes in the lives of multitudes. This is so encouraging.
One reason Muslims are coming to Christ is they have become disenchanted because of the violence they have seen in Islam in the past generation. Political and territorial disputes caused a war between Iraq and Iran from 1980-1988. Both are Muslim nations. Estimates of total casualties range from 1,000,000 to twice that number, causing unbelievable pain and suffering in so many lives.
Another example is the rise of ISIS in 2014 that revealed untold violence. Designated a terrorist group by the United Nations as well as individual countries, ISIS declared they were following the true beliefs of Islam in the Qur’an and the Hadith (the holy books of Islam). ISIS is widely known for the videos of beheadings of both soldiers and civilians, journalists, and aid workers. People around the world were horrified at the types of executions and the destruction of cultural heritage sites. The thinking, moderate Muslims were often repulsed at what they saw in the name of their religion.
We often hear how fast Islam is growing. However, what we do not hear is that moderate Muslims are abandoning their faith. It is mostly young men and women, ill at ease with the extreme brutality shown by their religion, and uncomfortable with growing extremism in their communities.
In the days ahead, we will share testimonies of what God is doing in the lives of Muslims, revealing the truth of Islam to them. Many are disenchanted and receiving Christ. However, there are so many who are leaving Islam and becoming atheists. They’re waiting for the revelation of Jesus Christ. Our prayers can make that happen!
There is much confusion about religion in the world, and the vast majority of people in the Western world believe that Christians and Muslims worship the same God. Is this true? We will continue to review the doctrines of Christianity and Islam to learn the differences.
The Trinity is foundational to the Christian faith. This doctrine of the Trinity (Tri-unity) states that God is a single being who exists, simultaneously and eternally, as a communion of three distinct persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. His attributes are eternal and unchangeable, with perfect justice, goodness, and truth. He is a holy God.
Islam dismisses the Christian belief in the Trinity as worshipping “many Gods.” They falsely teach that Jesus’ followers worship the Father, Son, and Mary (mother of Jesus), only adding to the confusion in their understanding of our faith.
The God of the Christians pursues a personal relationship with His worshipers. He extends His love and desires to receive love in return. Although God hates sin, He loves the sinner.
Allah is described in the Qur’an as the great “unknowable” who does not reveal himself to mortal man. They teach that he is a remote god who reveals his law, but not himself. He is full of judgment and power, but lacks the attributes of holiness, love, purity, and grace. He cannot be called “father,” and the fundamental Muslim is unable to say that “God is love.”
Muslims go through life, not knowing whether the god they follow loves them for they do not know His character, only his will based on his law. They have no assurance of salvation in their heart, and only their “works” (or fighting in jihad) qualify them for eternity.
There is a stark difference in the beliefs of Christianity and Islam. Take a moment to thank God for the wonder of His love, the abundance of His goodness, and His grace in your life.
Dr. Sam Solomon was raised in the Middle East as a Muslim, spent 15 years studying to become an Islamic jurist, and is an expert on Islamic sharia law. Unusual circumstances drew him to begin reading the Bible. In the holy scriptures, he saw the tremendous differences from all that he was taught in the Qur’an. Dr. Sam repented of his sins and received Jesus Christ as his Lord.
A few years ago, he released his book, “Not the Same God.” He asked a vital question of Christians and Muslims, “Is the Qur’anic Allah the LORD God of the Bible?” Dr. Solomon makes a convincing case that Islamic theology amounts to a complete contradiction of the Judeo-Christian faith.
As Christian believers, we have realized we were sinners and received the sacrifice paid by Jesus on the cross. Our sins forgiven, we now have peace with God. Jesus enables us to walk daily in the peace of God. Our salvation is life-changing . . . for now, and for eternity.
Sadly, for the Muslims, the Qur’an denies the divinity of Jesus, along with his crucifixion and resurrection. Muslims teach that Muhammad is the ultimate “seal of the prophets” and fulfillment of all God-given scriptures. Original sin is denied, and they reject the Christian teaching for salvation and the forgiveness of sins.
We see that no matter how hard they try, the followers of Islam will never experience the love of God, the assurance of their sins forgiven, or eternal life without Jesus. It is heartbreaking.
We often hear the question, “Do Christians and Muslims worship the same God?” Many secular scholars (and even some who are Christian) see Islam as one of the three great Abrahamic religions who believe in “One God.” To them, Allah is just another name. The Qur’an claims this sameness in Surah 29:46, “Our God and your God is one.” Is this true?
It is more helpful to ask, “What kind of God is revealed in Christianity and in Islam?” Both Christians and Muslims believe that God is one, but what they believe is very different. The confusion is because they do not understand the fundamental beliefs of Christianity and Islam.
As Christians, we have the revelation that the God we serve is a God of love. I John 4:8 tells us that “Whoever does not love does not know God because God IS LOVE” (Gr. Agape). He has power, He has strength, but HE IS LOVE. When we look at how the Bible describes love, then we see a few ways in which God is truly the essence of love. Agape love is beautifully described in I Corinthians 13.
How do the Muslim people see Allah as a God of love? If we examine their holy book, the Qur’an, the one they follow is totally different from the God of the Bible.
One example of the difference is in James 1:13, “For God cannot be tempted by evil, or does He tempt anyone.” This scripture reveals that when we are tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” In other words, God does not tempt with immorality or sin. He does not deceive. Psalm 5:4 tells us that God takes no pleasure in wickedness. He is holy, and He is pure.
The Qur’an in Sura 3:54 says this about the god of Islam: “And (the unbelievers) schemed and planned, and Allah schemed also, and the best of schemers is Allah.” This thought is repeated in many other Qur’an Suras.
The Arabic word for scheme is makara. This denotes one who is a deceiver, one who is conniving, a schemer. It is always used in a negative sense. Allah is seen as the best of deceivers, the premiere schemer. This is not simply a Christian perspective but one thoroughly endorsed by Muslim theologians as well.
Dr. Victor, our Arabic consultant (whose PhD. is in Islamic Studies), verified this information. He shared that for English language speakers, it is translated as “planner”. In the original Arabic language, and as taught to Muslims worldwide, the word used is “deceiver.”
One of the roots of their faith is based on deception, not on truth. When we realize this, our hearts are stirred with compassion for the Muslim people. We want them to know the God of truth who loves them with an everlasting love.
Today we spoke with our friend, Dr. Victor, who was born and raised in Egypt. He regularly views Arabic TV by satellite and fully understands the Arabic language. As a result, he sees how Muslims are living and facing difficult challenges during these times. This year it is unlike any other.
Past history reveals that even during wars, natural disasters, and other disrupting events, no matter what was taking place around them, Muslims still gathered to fast and pray.
The first full day of Ramadan started on April 24, but it is much different than the 30-days of prayer in the past. There are no social gatherings as usual. Mosques are basically closed, and their prayers must remain in the privacy of their home. They normally can gather together, even in large gatherings, where they can encourage one another in their faith. But not this year, they are on their own.
One Muslim shared that he usually feels that a significant part of his own spirituality is praying at the mosque, side by side with his community. He said, “You are sharing the same ritual, the same actions, the same emotions with others.” But . . . not this year. If anything, they will be watching the mosque prayer online.
“Ramadan is the month when I can finally see my family for extended periods of time. It is a time when the family bonds are going to be strengthened, one Muslim expressed. “This year, it is going to be difficult and depressing.”
The al-Aqsa mosque is located on the Jewish temple mount in Jerusalem. Sheikh Omar al-Kiswami is the imam and director of the mosque. Now only guards and mosques employees are permitted to pray. He stated, “Our hearts are tortured from pain in the holy month of Ramadan. It is a very sad moment in the history of Islam.”
As Christians who can seek God, know Him and sense His presence, it is difficult to believe that those who pray five times a day do not. Their god, Allah, is “unknowable.” He never reveals himself, only his will. A Muslim man who prays 5 times a day has heard the call to prayer over 90,000 times by the time he is 50 years of age. Imagine doing this regularly and yet never knowing if your prayers are pleasing Allah. It is hopeless. It is lifeless.
Dr. Victor shared that he read on social media that many Muslims are questioning their faith and Islam in general. They are asking, “Is this (coronavirus) the wrath of Allah? What do we do to please this god? We fasted, we prayed, we fulfilled all the pillars of Islam, yet Allah is not pleased.” Many started to turn to the Bible to find answers to their confusion. Their hearts are open to God’s truth more than at any time in the 1400+ years of Islam.
The Islamic 30-day Ramadan fast for 2020 will start on or around the evening of April 23 and will be observed by the majority of the 1.6–1.8 billion Muslims worldwide. Fasting during Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam.
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic Hijri calendar. Like the Western Gregorian calendar, the Hijri calendar has 12 months, but unlike it, those months follow the lunar cycle, i.e., a new month begins with each new moon.
The Islamic calendar began in 622AD, (started at the beginning of the religion by Muhammad).
When Muslims first fasted, they largely inhabited the same location in the Middle East and relied on the naked eye to determine when the moon had been spotted. Information of a moon sighting did not have to travel vast distances around the world as it does today.
As Islam gradually spread over the centuries, it was no longer possible to determine the moon sighting in one place and also at the same time transmit to all Muslims globally. As a result, some begin fasting on one day while others fast on a different day.
During Ramadan, Muslims begin the month and take no food or drink from dawn to dusk. When evening comes until sunrise they then can eat and drink as they like.
This year Ramadan, for most Muslims, will be unlike any they have experienced before. As hundreds of millions of Muslims begin, it will be marked by a more solemn manner. Why?
GOD LOVES MUSLIMS! In general, the majority are an overwhelmingly hospitable, reasonable, peace-loving people—yet staunchly opposed to the Christian gospel. The main reason for this is found in the roots of Islam. Our focus this month is to pray regarding these roots, for light and truth to be made known to them and the gospel of Christ revealed.