Muslim Neighbors

These are my notes from Mateen Elass’ presentation, “Muslim Neighbors: Building Bridges or Building Fences? Or Both?” at the 2011 MoRanch Men’s Conference

Mateen is the author of “Understanding the Koran: A Quick Christian Guide to the Muslim Holy Book”
http://www.zondervan.com/Cultures/en-US/Product/ProductDetail.htm?ProdID=com….

Mateen is also currently the pastor of our church in Edmond, Oklahoma
http://www.fpcedmond.org

Mateen was approached by a publisher after 9-11 to write a book that would introduce Christians to the Muslim mindset and many other thorny issues

Building bridges or fences: are we trying to merge, build fences or both?

Poem “Mending Wall” by Robert Frost
– something there is that doesn’t love a wall, That wants it down
– good fences make good neighbors

Often as humans we want both of these
– what is true in personal relationships is also true for religions

We can’t eliminate differences because we want to be together

Who are our Neighbors: Some Basics
– Islam is not a creedal religion (with creeds)
– there are six agreed upon fundamentals

1- the unitary nature of the one sovereign God (no trinity)
2- Angels, demons, and jinn exist
3- God has sent 104 books of revelation, of which 4 remain (Torah, Zabur, Injeel, Qur’an)
4- 124,000 prophets were sent into the world 5- There will be a Judgement Day for all humans
6- Predestination Torah are the books of Moses, but generally refer to the entire Old Testament
Zabur are the Psalms of David
Injeel refers to the revelation brought by Jesus
– when Muslims hear “gospel” they think of Injeel as a single book, most haven’t read the New Testament

Muslims believe Mohammad was the last of those 124,000 prophets

The word Islam means submission

Koran paints vivid pictures of heaven and hell

Muslims think Jesus was a prophet but not divine Muslims think God will send Jesus back at the end of times, but God (Allah) will will judge the world

Typical Muslim statement at a funeral, “What Cn You Do?” wit a shrug

Five Pillars (behaviors)
1- recitation of the Shahada
2- performance of the five daily prayers (salat) – must be said in Arabic
3- Almsgiving – 2.5% of assets annually (zakat) – not income, that is assets, and per year
4- Fasting during month of Ramadan (sawn)
5- Hajj- pilgrimage once in your lifetime (required for males who can afford it, Muslim tradition holds that all pre-Hajj sins are purged / forgiven)
6- Jihad – a 6th required activity

Muslim calendar is lunar calendar, about ten days shorter than Gregorinan calendar
– cycle is 36 years then relative to western calendar
– this means Ramadan is always moving through the western calendar

The Dilemma
– between the world views of Christianity and Islam we share much in common, yet we would cease to be one if we adopt beliefs and behaviors of the other

Examples of the Dilemma
– exclusivistic claims
— Christianity: one Trinitarian God, known fully only in Jesus Christ
— one way to salvation
— more

— Islam
– essence of God is sovereign power, call to appropriate slavey
– one law which all must obey, submission – one people of God (ummah) bound by shahadah
– Mohammed is one final prophet, he is considered the ideal human being to be emulated
– one final revelation: Quran
– one true religion, straight path- religion of Abraham

Haddid traditions include info about Mohammad, can be translated into other languages unlike the Quran
– amount is about five times the size of the Bible

16% of the Muslim world is native Arabic

Many Muslims don’t understand the old Arabic of the Quran

B. both religions have expansionist goals
– Christianity: missional Matthew 28:18-20
– evangelistic
– sovereign reign of Christ- Phil 2:9-11
– motive: participation in God’s love for a lost world

Muslims believe it is blasphemous to say Jesus will sit on the throne at the end of time, because they do not accept Jesus as God

– Islam
— from prophet for the Arabs to messenger for the world
— 7th C Arabian culture and lifestyle divinized
— Issues call to submission to all the world
— Kingdom of Gd a political and religious reality

— motive: participation in God’s sovereign conquest
— use of jihad as legitimate strategy under certain circumstances
— classical understanding: law of abrogation (warfare)
— parameters defined clearly in Shariah

3rd area of disputes: Eschatological Vision
– Christianity
— living presently in end times
— realized vs consistent eschatology: already and not yet
— apocalyptic flavor
– Kingdom of Christ is not of is world
– Christ’s return leads to separation of sheep and goats
– Hell = place of torment

– Islam views
— expansion of the religion as peace of Dar al-Islam increasingly swallows up Dar al-Harb
— apocalyptic flavor
— end times scenarios vary but have some common characters: re-established caliph, Antichrist, Mahdi, al-Masih – Jesus

There is no Caliph currently for Muslim world, Shiites have one but not Sunnis

After death of Jesus, day of judgement
– Heaven as place of sensuous reward
– He’ll as place of unmitigated reward

No personal interaction between God and people in heaven for Muslims

Reference Revelation 21 and 22
– God says he will wipe away all tears himself
– that is such an act of intimacy

Essential Fences
A Theology: essential nature of God
B Chrstology: high or low
C Creation: for what purpose did God create humans
D Echthrology: how do we treat enemies
– Jesus said love your enemies
– Muslims believe they should either convert or kill enemies

4 Potential Bridges
– shared morality in many areas
– similar calls for social justice and care for the marginalized
– shared sacred stories to some degree
– Muslims do not believe this: our shared fallen human nature and need for assurance of divine mercy and personal forgiveness

Frontiers are changing now
– After a 328 year lull (Vienna, 1683) Islam is once again penetrating the West
– God is on the move in the Muslim world
– through supernatural means, through dreams
– through the Internet, through technology
– Muslims are having the first time in many cases to hear the gospel message about who Jesus is

Our fear must be replaced by Christ centered love for Muslims

Poem by Edwin Markham: We drew a circle and took him in

Question about recent Middle East events

Recent protests in Syria are remarkable given the 1982 slaughter of 20,000 people by the father of the current leader, who was trying to stop protests

There is no woman mentioned in the Koran by name except for Mary (even Eve is not mentioned by name, just as Adam’s husband)

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