The majority of Christians who subscribe to this blog would most likely identify themselves as Evangelical Christians. The National Association of Evangelicals have four statements with which respondents must strongly agree in order to be categorized as an evangelical. These statements are:
- The Bible is the highest authority for what I believe.
- It is very important for me to personally to encourage non-Christians to trust Jesus Christ as their Savior.
- Jesus Christ’s death on the cross is the only sacrifice that could remove the penalty of my sin.
- Only those who trust in Jesus Christ alone as their Savior receive God’s free gift of eternal salvation.
The criteria to be considered evangelical seems clear, however a 2014 Religious Landscape Study by the Pew Research Center surprisingly revealed that 52% of those surveyed identifying themselves as evangelicals believe that many religions can lead to eternal life. Expanding the criteria to all Christians 66% believe many religions can lead to eternal life.
This means statistically if you were to conduct a general survey of those self-identifying as Christians, two thirds of those surveyed would not have an understanding of Jesus’ words in John 14:6 where He said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” The Bible teaches that it is only through faith in Jesus Christ that man can be reconciled to God and receive eternal life. Obviously many people who identify as Christians do not understand an essential doctrine of Christianity. If we want to objectively understand the basic teachings of Christianity, we must examine Christianity’s foundational text – the Bible.
Likewise in order to understand Islam, we must examine Islam’s foundational texts. Yesterday we discussed some sects and branches of Islam. It is clear that all Muslims do not believe exactly the same things, however all Muslims do base their beliefs on the Qur’an.
Muslims believe the Qur’an contains the actual words of Allah to Muhammad without any alterations or changes. Muhammad received the revelations over a period of 23 years. After he received a revelation he would recite it to his companions who also memorized it or wrote it down.
The Qur’an contains 114 suras or chapters, which are not in chronological order but roughly arranged from the longest to the shortest. The Qur’an says around 90 times that Muhammad is the perfect Muslim, so in order to properly practice Islam, a Muslim worships Allah as Muhammad worshipped Allah.
The Sunna is defined as “the body of Islamic custom and practice based on Muhammad’s words or deeds.” The Sunna is made up of the Sira (Muhammad’s biography) and the Hadith, a collection of stories and traditions of Muhammad’s life. It is actually the “Sunna” that governs a Muslim’s life more than the Qur’an since Muhammad is the perfect example for Muslims.
Throughout this series we will examine the foundational texts of Islam in order to objectively determine what Islam teaches.
Pray that both Christians and Muslims will read the foundational texts of their religions and seek to know the truth about their religious beliefs.
Few western Christians grasp a basic understanding of Islam. Many presume the Qur’an is the “bible” of Islam, however if all a Muslim possessed was a Qur’an, he could not practice his religion. The Qur’an is considered the actual words of Allah as dictated to Muhammad. It contains 114 suras or chapters, which are not in chronological order but roughly arranged from the longest to the shortest. It is actually the “Sunna” that governs a Muslim’s life more than the Qur’an. Sunna is defined as “the body of Islamic custom and practice based on Muhammad’s words or deeds.” The Sunna is made up of the Sira (Muhammad’s biography) and the Hadith, a collection of stories and traditions of Muhammad’s life.
It is the trilogy of texts, the Qur’an, the Hadith and the Sira that make up the “bible” of Islam. PoliticalIslam.com reveals that based on the size of the texts in the Islamic trilogy, the Qur’an makes up 14% of Islam, the Sira 26% and the Hadith 60% which means Islam is actually 14% about Allah (in the Qur’an) and 86% about Muhammad. The Qur’an says around 90 times that Muhammad is the perfect Muslim so in order to properly practice Islam, a Muslim worships Allah as Muhammad worshipped Allah. For those truly seeking an understanding of Islam, one needs to only look to Muhammad as the perfect example.
For example, examine the Hijra of Muhammad – the migration of Muhammad from Mecca to Medina in 622 AD. Muhammad arrived in Medina with approximately 150 followers, but by the end of Muhammad’s life the number of Islamic followers had increased to nearly 100,000. Once Muhammad had moved to Medina, the nature of his revelations changed dramatically. The early Qur’an written in Mecca is considered peaceful. “There’s no compulsion in religion” (Sura 2:256) and “Unto you your religion, and unto me my religion” (Sura 109:6). But when Muhammad migrated to Medina the message became much more militant. “I will throw fear into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Then smite their necks and smite of them each finger. That is because they opposed Allah and His messenger” (Sura 8:12-13).
In Islam there is a doctrine of abrogation. This means that the later passages that Muhammad received in Medina take precedence over the Mecca passages. In a way the later revelation supersedes the previous one, however that does not mean the earlier verse is incorrect. Because the Qur’an is considered the actual words of Allah and Allah cannot be wrong, the early Mecca revelations cannot be wrong. So when a Muslim states that Islam is a religion of peace, he can also fully believe that it is okay to “smite” the necks of disbelievers.
Pray that Muslims will be quickened to realize that the vast majority of their teachings do not come from the Qur’an itself – and pray they will explore the life of Muhammad and his words and deeds.
Ask God to give them a “holy dissatisfaction” with what they are reading and long for their own revelation of the true Word of God.