Friday, June 16, 2006

Biblical Roots Of Islam

I wanted to post on the Biblical roots of Islam. Many trace the beginnings of Islam back to Muhammad (born in A.D. 570 in Mecca, in what is now Saudi Arabia). The roots of Islam actually start with Abraham in Ur of Chaldea (present day Iraq) in about 2000 B.C.The rest of this I am copying and pasting from

  • The Biblical Roots of Islam
  • If interested you can read it there in its entirety.
    This is very interesting because it opens your eyes to the spiritual battle that has gone on for many, many years between Christianity and Islam. I believe all the peace talks in the world will not stop this battle. It will be finished when Jesus returns riding on a white horse!

    The story begins with a man named Abram, son of Terah, a descendant of Shem, who lived in the city of Ur (near the Persian Gulf) but migrated to Haran (Gen. 11:10-32). Abram received a call from God to go to the land of Canaan (present-day Israel). God promised Abram the following (in what is sometimes called the Abrahamic Covenant):

    · I will make you a great nation
    · I will bless you, and make your name great
    · You will be a blessing
    · I will bless those who bless you, and curse the one who curses you
    · In you all families of the earth shall be blessed (Gen. 12:2,3)

    God told Abram (later his name would be changed to Abraham) that He would give his descendants the land of Canaan (Gen. 12:7; 13:16; 15:18-21; 17:), that Abraham’s descendants would be too numerous to count (Gen. 13:14,15,17;15:5; 22:17), that Abraham would be the father of many nations (Gen. 17:4,5), that in his seed all nations would be blessed (Gen. 22:18), and that the covenant would be an “everlasting covenant” (Gen. 17:7). The covenant was reaffirmed to Isaac (Gen. 26:1-5) and Jacob (Gen. 28:3,4, 13-14; 35:10-12). A thousand years later David affirmed God’s covenant with Abraham (Psa. 105:8-11). The promised blessing, of course, came through God’s Messiah, Jesus the Christ (Acts 3:25,26; Gal. 3:14,16).

    God promised Abraham, “In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed” (Gen. 22:18). The promise was repeated to Isaac (Gen. 26:4) and Jacob (Gen. 28:14). The apostle Paul makes it clear that the seed (singular) was Christ: “The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say ‘and to seeds,’ meaning many people, but ‘and to your seed,’ meaning one person, who is Christ” (Gal. 3:16).

    But Abraham had several sons, eight to be exact: Ishmael through Sarah’s Egyptian maid Hagar; Isaac through Sarah; and six others (Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Isbak, & Shuah) through Keturah, whom he married after the death of Sarah (Gen. 15:1-2). Which of the eight was the “son of promise?”

    Twice in Genesis 22 God tells Abraham that Isaac is “your son, your only son” (Gen. 22:2,16). God knew that Abraham had two sons at the time, but He reminded Abraham that Isaac, as far as The Promise was concerned, was his only son. Paul connects the dots from the son of promise to Isaac, and from Isaac to us – spiritual “children of promise” (Gal. 4:28).

    Although Abraham had been promised that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars of heaven (Gen. 15:5), Sarah was not able to bear him a child. Sarah felt that God had obstructed her from having children, so she came up with the idea of making her maid, an Egyptian named Hagar, a “sexual surrogate” for her husband. Abraham, inexcusably, heeded his wife’s advice and had sexual relations with Hagar (Gen. 16:1-2). The world has paid dearly for this detour from God’s plan. Herbert Lockyer observes, “Little did Sarah know, when she persuaded Abraham to take Hagar, that she was originating a rivalry which has seen the keenest strife through the ages, and which oceans of blood have not stopped. Moslem Arabs claim descent from Ishmael…Arabian tribes springing from Ishmael are scattered throughout the Arabian peninsula. The wild hearts beat on in the bosoms of those who form the Arab world.”

    Once Hagar had conceived, she not only swelled with pregnancy but she also swelled with pride. Sarah, with Abraham’s approval, “dealt harshly” with Hagar, forcing her to flee into the wilderness. But God assured her that He would also multiply her descendants so that they could not be counted (Gen. 16:3-10). She was instructed to call her son Ishmael (“whom God hears”). Then came the prophecy that may have caused Hagar to shiver in spite of the heat in the desert:

    “He shall be a wild man;
    His hand shall be against every man,
    And every man’s hand against him,
    And he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren” (Gen. 16:12).

    The NIV reads, “He will live in hostility toward all his brothers.” Thomas Cahill writes, “Her son Yishmael (of Ishmael) shall be another Enkindu, ‘a wild-ass of a man, his hand against all, hand of all against him’ – father of the Arabs” (The Gifts of the Jews Doubleday, 1998). James L. Garlow observes, “The offspring of Abraham is the focal point of the current conflict. The ongoing struggle in the Middle East is a direct result of the animosity between the descendants of Ishmael and Isaac. While there is no record of Ishmael and Isaac ever fighting each other, Genesis does record God’s prophecy regarding Ishmael; He will be against everyone, and everyone will be against him (Gen. 16:12 TEV). Today’s struggle is between those who call themselves the descendants of Ishmael and those who call themselves descendants of Isaac. The intense struggle in Israel and the surrounding Arab nations can only be understood historically as a struggle between the descendants of two brothers who lived four thousand years ago: Ishmael (modern-day Arabs) and Isaac (the Jews)” (A Christian’s Response to Islam, RiverOak Publishing, 2002).

    Abraham pleaded Ishmael’s case before God, but was told that the everlasting covenant would be with Isaac and his descendants (Gen. 17:19). However, He promised Abraham that He would bless Ishmael and make him fruitful. Ishmael would beget 12 princes and would be made into a great nation (Gen. 17:20) – the Arab nation. Today there are nearly 300 million Arabs constituting a great nation. The Arab League of Nations consists of 22 countries: Algeria, Bahrain, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. They literally surround the tiny nation of Israel (8,000 square miles). Three hundred million Arab Muslims surrounding 5 million Jews. They control 99.9 percent of the Middle East whereas Israel represents one-tenth of one percent of the landmass. Arabs occupy 5.3 million square miles of oil rich land but are unable to get along with themselves, let alone others. Witness the conflict Iraq and Iran. The Iranians, though Muslim, are Persians. Note: Not every Muslim is an Arab. The most populous Muslim nation on earth is Indonesia. Indonesians are Malays, not Arabs.

    When Ishmael was 16 years old, Sarah caught him mocking Isaac. Once again she made Abraham cast out Hagar and Ishmael, this time for good (Gen. 21:8-14). (Muslims believe they wound up in Mecca where Abraham visited them. He and Ishmael built a shrine, the Ka’bah.) Again God reaffirmed his promise to Hagar that He would make of Ishmael a great nation (Gen. 21:18). Ishmael became a skilled archer and eventually married an Egyptian woman (Gen. 21:20,21). Ishmael became the father of 12 sons (Gen. 25:13-16) and these tribes became known as the Ishmaelites (sometimes called Midianites, Gen. 37:25-28). Isaac had two sons: Jacob (later called Israel) and Esau. Although Esau (like Ishmael) was the first-born, God chose Jacob to receive The Promise (land, name, blessings). Esau, embittered and filled with hatred, linked up with Ishmael, and married Ishmael’s daughter (Gen. 28:9). Jim Gerrish notes, “Like Ishmael, Esau moved into the desert in the area of Mt. Seir, or Edom, to the east of the Dead Sea. There he became the progenitor of multitudes of other Arab peoples. These Arabs were joined by the children of Lot, Abraham’s nephew, in making up many of the inhabitants of today’s Jordan, as well as other parts of the Arab world (Gen. 19:37,38). The bitter rivalry between all these desert peoples and Israel is recorded throughout the Old Testament. Time and time again they came in fury and bitter hatred to destroy Israel. Bible history is replete with the attacks of the Edomites, Ammonites, Ishmaelites, Moabites and hordes of other Arabs against the seed of Isaac and Jacob” (“Islam, Religion of the Other Brother”). The descendants of the six sons of Abraham by Keturah became tribes of people living in what is now Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt and other North African nations.

    Psalm 83:4-8 spells out the “clear and present danger” to Israel from the Arab coalition: “They say, ‘Come, let us wipe them out as a nation; let the name of Israel be remembered no more!’ For they conspire with one accord; against you they make a covenant – the tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites…they are the strong arm of the children of Lot.” The Edomites participated in the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C., earning themselves God’s eternal wrath (Obadiah 10-14). Arabs strongly resisted the rebuilding of Jerusalem (Neh. 2:19). They harbor a “perpetual hatred” for the people of Israel (Ezek. 35:5).The stated purpose of vengeful Arab nations has not changed to this day. They are still committed to driving the Jews into the Mediterrean Sea and obliterating the very name of Israel (indeed, one cannot find the name “Israel” on maps made by Arabs today). Yasser Arafat continues to call for jihad against Jerusalem. Palestinian terrorists train young Arab children to be “suicide bombers” and to die as “martyrs” for the cause.

    Arabs, who claim Ishmael as their father, have laid claim to God’s promises to Isaac, saying Ishmael was the son of promise – the one Abraham sacrificed. (The Koran, which came 600 years after the Bible, says the sacrifice took place in Mecca whereas the Bible has Abraham sacrificing Isaac on Mt. Moriah in Jerusalem). Why this deliberate and desperate twisting of the Scripture? Why this outright rebellion against God’s Word? Because Arabs are convinced that they are the true heirs of the land God promised to Abraham’s descendants. But the Bible, as we have seen, clearly indicates otherwise (Gen. 13:15; 15:18; 17:7; 26:3,4; 28:13,14; Jer. 31:35,36 et al). Bob Russell writes, “…the Christian faith and the Islamic faith contradict each other at key points. Remember that there is an axiom from logic called the law of non-contradiction. Two statements that contradict each other can’t both be true. Either one or both must be false” (Christian Standard, Sept. 1, 2002).

    Twelve times in Scripture God refers to Himself as “the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” – never “the God of Ishmael.” Two hundred and three times God is called “the God of Israel” – never “the God of Ishmael.” The nation of Israel is mentioned 2,565 times in 2,293 verses. The Arabians are mentioned a mere ten times. Israel became a nation in 1312 B.C.E., 2000 years before the rise of Islam. “Palestine,” a corruption of “Philistine,” the arch-enemies of Israel, is never mentioned in the Bible. (Herodotus in the 5th century B.C. called it “that part of Syria which is called Palaistine.” Hadrian made it official in the 2nd century B.C.)

    But when Abraham died, Isaac and Ishmael – together – buried their father (Gen. 25:8,9). This little jewel – “Isaac and Ishmael his sons buried him” – gives us a glimmer of hope for the future. Can the sons of Abraham be reunited again?


    Faced with all this, some would throw up their hands and say, “What’s the use? There’s no hope!” But this is the language and posture of defeat. The gospel of Jesus Christ is for all. It is the power of God unto salvation for everyone who believes. Even though the Cross seems a stumbling block to the Muslim world (and the Jewish world too for that matter) it remains the only hope of the world. Jesus Christ, who is our peace (Eph. 2:14), is the only hope for peace in the Middle East.

    God is no respecter of persons (Rom. 2:11). He wants all people to repent. He is not willing that any should perish. Even in the Old Testament, there are glimmers of hope for the sons of Ishmael. Egyptians and Syrians would be delivered by the Savior and would worship together along with Israeli believers (Isa. 19:18-25). People from Kedar and Nebaioth (Ishmaelites) would proclaim the praises of God (Isa. 60:7-9). Israel’s neighbors, who had caused them nothing but grief, would experience the compassion of the Lord (Jer. 12:14-17). In Jesus’ day the Idumeans (Edomites), hearing of Jesus’ fame, came to Him (Mark 3:8). And then there was Pentecost!

    Pentecost, A.D. 30. “Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven” (Acts 2:5). The apostles, filled with the Holy Spirit, were speaking to each nation group in their own language. Among them were Egyptians, Libyans, and Arabs (vs. 10,11). They all heard “the wonderful works of God” in their own language. Peter and the apostles preached the message of Christ – crucified, buried and raised up. They were cut to the heart and cried out, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Swift as an arrow shot from the bow came the reply: “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38 emphasis added). Then came another promise – a promise not just for the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – a promise for all. “For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call” (v. 39). About 3,000 souls answered the call that day and were baptized. Now “one in Christ” they worshiped together and lived in love, peace and harmony (vs. 42-47).

    Few people foresaw the fall of Communism, which once enslaved millions in the darkness and despair of godless atheism. Let us, by a “faith that works by love,” optimistically preach Christ to the Islamic world!

    Case in point #1: Jeremiah Cummings, a former member of Louis Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam, founder and director of WICC-TV (The Worldwide International Campaign for Christ Television Network), Orlando, Florida. Cummings (formerly Jeremiah Fard Muhammad) was baptized into Christ in 1997 after a 13-month study of Christ. His study was precipitated by a historic 1996 debate he had in Dallas with Jack Evans, president of Southwestern Christian College (an a cappella Church of Christ institution), “Islam vs. Christianity” (available on CD for $55 or 4 Cassettes for $35 from Cummings uses teachings from the Koran to establish the divinity of Christ. “Muslims deny the virgin birth of Christ, but in the Koran the virgin birth is seen in Sura 21:91, ‘And as for Mary, who protected her virginity, and we breathed into her of our spirit [Holy Ghost in Luke 1:35] and made her and her son a sign’ [Isaiah 7:14].” He says, “If I can show them thing in their own book – things that they’ve read all their live and didn’t know, Muslims are more likely to respond to Christian teaching.” He has baptized a number of Muslims into ChristHis 10-year plan for WICC-TV is a 24-hour, 7-day-a-week Church of Christ teaching network that will be broadcast around the world.

    Case in point #2: Lee Turner, founder and director of Key Communications in Portland, Oregon. In 1960 Brother Turner became the first missionary from the Christian Churches/Churches of Christ to go to the Muslim country of Pakistan. For more than a biblical generation he has been reaching out to the Muslim world with the gospel of Christ. Thousands of Muslims have eagerly responded to Key Communication’s radio and literature ministry. The May 2002 issue of Outreach to Muslims he wrote of “Loving Muslims to Christ.” “It is a challenging assignment but one which perceptively captures the greatest difference between Islam and Christianity, between Muhammad and Christ…the message of God’s love shown through Jesus Christ to all men and women really stands out like a great triumphant banner!…Myriads of Muslims can tell the difference between the love of power and the power of love!”

    Turner expanded on this significant “difference” a major article entitled “The Difference” (Asian Evangelism, Nov. – Dec. 2001). After delineating the political, ethical, and social differences between Islam and Christianity, he pinpointed the theological differences. “Muslims who reach out to learn of Christ are often responding to one or more of the following three extremely important theological differences between Islam and the message of Christ.

    · First of all when the gospel of Jesus is thoughtfully presented, a Muslim often senses the profound difference between God sending down versus God coming down… I certainly don’t have to tell you that the second alternative is the very heart of the gospel. God…personally breaking into human history…’God with us’…In sharp contrast, Islam presents God as one who only sends down. There is no personal encounter. There is no sharing in the human condition…no being tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin.

    · Another startling contrast a Muslim senses when he hears the gospel of Christ is the difference between God revealing his will rather than God revealing himself…The highest form of revelation is personal revelation. Jesus said, ‘…he that hath seen me hath seen the Father’…The first concept, that is that God only sends down, is a Mt. Sinai-like experience. In such an experience one gets law codes, statutes, enactments, prohibitions, restrictions, commands. But the second experience, that is that the Word became flesh, in other words he became a man, provides the opportunity to commune with God!

    · Through listening attentively to the gospel a sincere Muslim soon gains a
    third revolutionary understanding. He comes to understand that The Word was not made a book but rather the Word was made flesh…The Son is the eternal Word, which was in the beginning with God, and was then sent down to earth. Islam’s ‘act of salvation’ is not the descent of the Word in human form, but the sending down of the Book itself…As long as the Word remained on ‘equality with God’ (Phil. 2:6) he could not be our sacrifice because he was immortal! Only after the Word became flesh could he fulfill God’s purpose as expressed in the 53rd chapter of Isaiah….”

    What do we have to offer the children of Ishmael? Jesus Christ, the Middle East’s most famous son! In “Christianity’s Greatest Challenge” (a tract published by Fellowship of Faith for Muslims), C. George Fry wrote, “There is a five-fold rationale for the Church’s mission to the Middle East: (1) First, we witness because of the command of Christ (Acts 1:8)…The Church must reenter the Middle East with an invitation to discipleship so that our Lord’s Semitic kinsmen after the flesh may become His brethren according to the Spirit. (2) Second, we witness because of the truth of Christ. Truth is universal, and, as Alec Vidler has written of Christianity, ‘either it is true for all men, whether they know it or not; or it is true for no one, not even for those people who are under the illusion that it is true’…(3) Third, we witness to the fullness of Christ. Our mission to the Middle East is our prayer in action that the day will come when the Muslim peoples will know Jesus not simply as Prophet-Teacher but also as Savior-King…(4) Fourth, we witness to the grace of Christ, that in Christ, ‘all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross’ (Col. 1:19,20). (5) Fifth, we witness to the fellowship of Christ, in which there is no east or west, no Jew or Arab, no male or female. This is the community of reconciliation that could mean a new day for the Middle East with a spiritual reunion of Europe and Asia, the end of the estrangement between Abraham’s sons, and an emancipation declaration for the Muslim women. Christ, up to now the barrier between Christian, Jew, and Muslim, can become, by the grace of God, the bridge to oneness in the Gospel.

    Islam is Christianity’s greatest challenge – and Christianity’s greatest opportunity. Surely the Spirit, using sanctified reason, will show us a way to find new methods of penetrating the Muslim world with the message of Christ!”

    I am haunted by Abraham’s poignant prayer to God:

    “Oh, that Ishmael might live before You!”

    But I am made hopeful by Jesus’ fervent prayer to God:

    “That they all may be one…that the world may believe”

    Jesus Christ did not pray a prayer that cannot be answered! The saving message of Christ, shared in the spirit of Christ, has, can, and will bring the estranged sons of Abraham together again!

    -------Compiled by Victor Knowles
    Founder/Executive Director, POEM (Peace on Earth Ministries)

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