Top 10 Questions
and Comments from Muslims (1-8)
Having spoken for several months on the street level with Muslim believers, I've been introduced (and reintroduced) to many of the comments and questions they feel are very persuasive points in favour of Islam. Today I'm sharing the top ten questions and comments which you can expect from Muslims if you're a Christian believer.
Q & C 1. “Have you considered Islam?”
Reply: I've never considered becoming Muslim, although if you're meaning to ask whether or not I've given Islam a fair shake, an opportunity to speak for itself, then I've definitely considered Islam and the claims attached to the faith. I've even read from many modern Muslim apologists, with some of the more popular names being Ahmed Deedat, Shabir Ally and Zakir Naik. I've checked out “Peace TV” at the recommendation of Muslim friends and devoted serious study time to the claims of the truthfulness of the Islamic faith (e.g. scientific miracles in the Qur'an, prophesy, Qur'anic literary beauty).
Q & C 2. “Have you ever read the Qur'an?”
Reply: I've read the Qur'an, in addition to having read from the Kutub alSittah (also referred to as the Authentic Six). Although for time saving purposes I won't recount every relevant tradition I've read (e.g. Sahih Bukhari, Sahih Muslim, Sunan Abu Dawood).
Q & C 3. “Why don't you accept Islam, aren't you frightened of going to hell?!”
Reply: Well, in Islamic thought everyone (Muslims included) are promised some duration in the horrid fires of hell (Ref: Qur'an 19:71). After which Islamic material insists false converts (who could be anyone who believes they're Muslim mistakenly) are abandoned in hell, while true believers are released (Ref: Sahih al Bukhari Book 93 Hadith 601):
“O Lord, allow me to intercede for whoever said, 'None has the right to be worshipped except Allah.' Then Allah will say, 'By my Power, and my Majesty, and by My Supremacy, and by My Greatness, I will take out of Hell (Fire) whoever said: 'None has the right to be worshipped except Allah.'”
Notice the people who're supposed to be removed from hell are men and women who've already said the famous Islamic declaration of faith (yet Muslims who recite the words can only be “taken out” from hell if they're first left there). Although, whether people who suppose themselves to be true believers are truly Muslim or not would be entirely in the determining hand of Allah.
In Islamic thought nobody can help nor harm themselves lest Allah wills that they do so (Ref: Qur'an 57:22), meaning none of my Muslim friends really know where they'll spend eternity. Muhammad even taught certain people were created for hell, teaching this when asked if people should continue to do acts of charity (Ref: Muslim commenting upon Qur'an 92:5-7):
“No, carry on doing good deeds, for everyone will find it easy (to do) such deeds that will lead him towards that for which he has been created.”
Although the question isn't bad, in that everyone should be concerned with where they're going to spend eternity. In the Christian understanding, not only are followers of Jesus freed from the dangers of separation from God and the torment of hell, they're also given an assurance of salvation by God's Spirit (Ref: John 11:25-26):
“Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.”
Q & C 4. The Qur'an has more about Jesus in it than the Bible does!
Reply: I've heard this comment before, and despite it being popular to repeat, it's untrue. More important than how often any book mentioned Jesus' name however (word for word mentions), would be whether our sources are accurate and faithful to the life of the real Jesus of Nazareth. Christian sources are written by apostles, disciples and secular historians who lived in the first century, they're the testimonies of the contemporaries of Christ and even His own family members (e.g. Epistle of James & Luke's use of Mary's testimony).
In comparison, the Qur'an stories about Jesus have been borrowed second hand from famous Gnostic groups, people who flourishing many hundreds of years after Jesus wrote false gospels in the names of the disciples (men who had long been deceased). It's for this reason and many others that historians don't consider the portrait of Jesus as found in the Qur'an to be historic, rather than being a person, historians have considered this Qur'anic “Jesus” as merely an argument for an Islamic understanding of history. I encourage my Muslim friends who're open-minded and patient enough so as to read this essay to then read the original writings about Jesus, writings which came from His disciples, historians and family members.
Q & C 5. The Bible's been corrupted!
Reply: Again I've heard this claim made before, and in response to any readers who sincerely believe this to be true, I'd like to ask if you have done the hard work of studying the various disciplines by which textual critics judge the authenticity of a collection of manuscripts (e.g. manuscript authority, palaeography). Have you studied the material, or is it fair to write you're repeating something that's often said in the Muslim community and elsewhere. The Christian source materials, having been studied, have emerged as the most reliable, authoritative and well preserved of anything in antiquity. So the claim of corruption simply isn't founded.
The Jehovah Witnesses, NOI (nation of Islam), Mormons and many others have questioned the authenticity of the Christian scriptures because if the Bible has gone unaltered in its core message the newer faiths have nothing to restore. These newer faiths are “restoration religions”† which require some kind of giant apostasy and/or scriptural corruption (caused by Allah refusing to protect his word), after which new holy men can arise to put right what god has supposedly allowed to fall into disrepair.
Christ in the Bible however teaches He's fulfilling scripture (Ref Matthew 5:17), not innovating, nor restoring something that's been abandoned unto corruption by God almighty. Christianity isn't a restoration religion because Christians believe God's preserved His word from corruption from the very beginning (meaning the Torah and New Testament are perfectly preserved).
Q & C 6. “The Qur'an is proven by scientific predictions in the text!”
Reply: Writing historically, the idea of science vindicating the claims found in the Qur'an isn't any older than the 1970's (so we're discussing an extremely new trend in the community), which should cause a lot of scepticism in the minds of faithful Muslims. An example of the kinds of verses that modern Muslims use for an argument from science might be Qur'an 21:30, which reads:
“Have those who disbelieved not considered that the heavens and the earth were a joined entity, and We separated them and made from water every living thing? Then will they not believe?”
As an example of big bang cosmology (how many Muslim writers attempt to frame the verse) the above isn't really appropriate. Writing with regards to cosmology, the earth and the skies weren't one in any sense of the word, in fact, if the Qur'an material were to be interpreted how many moderns readers would like, the Qur'an would be judged in light of modern cosmology and proven erroneous. Reading the Qur'an as if it were a science textbook isn't exegesis (also known as being led by the text), it's eisegesis (imposing our own views upon the material in an alien and unnatural reading).
Q & C 7. “Churches are being closed across the UK, they're being converted into Mosques!”
Reply: I'm not sure of how widespread this supposed trend of church building conversions would have to be before it convinced my Muslim friends that their religion's correct, however, Christians, despite being the most persecuted people group on the planet, outnumber Muslims by nearly a whole ten percent (so that's 31% of the population being Christian compared to only 23% being Muslim). This is in spite of many Islamic nations having very strict rules against people living out their Christian faith. If being in the majority made an ideology right, Christianity's right. Making arguments from how big religions are (or perhaps how quickly religions are growing) in an attempt to come to the truthfulness of the view simply isn't valid.
This line of reasoning's more appropriate for deciding in advance who's more likely to gain victory in a man-made wartime scenarios (rather than for discerning God's desire for His people and their religion). An example of this would be how Muslims were defeated in the retaliatory crusades waged by many believers in Christianity, which again doesn't disprove Islam, yet if we're being informed by wars waged, population numbers and the like, it's not in Islam's favour. It's smarter not to argue in this way to begin with.
Q & C 8. “The Bible's been translated so many time, how could anyone trust it's authentic? The Qur'an has been perfectly preserved, it's the only perfect book!”
Reply: That's not an appropriate criticism when we understand how transmission isn't translation, only by confusing the two categories could somebody make this kind of objection. For an example, in terms of Qur'an translations, readers may choose from several (they're translations which have been rendered different in wording and even chapter chronology):
Personally I've read from the Pickthall translation of the Qur'an, although other readers might be familiar with another version. Does our having read different translations of the Qur'an mean there are many different and competing “versions” of the Qur'an? No, rather competing “translations” are drawn from the same source material (meaning the original manuscripts). Every translation of the Qur'an could be inaccurate, unfairly altered or maliciously maligned, that's no reason to be distrustful of the original source material however.
Similarly, publishing houses throughout great nations have been translating our original Greek manuscripts of the New Testament and creating both translations of the Bible and even study Bibles for decades upon decades, that's largely because the Bible is the bestselling, most widely read scripture in the world. When modern translations are made, they're not materially changing doctrine, not if the translations are done properly, rather they're attempts at updating language or making things more readable for the sake of a culture in which classical English (e.g. KJ versions of the Bible) have become more unpopular. No religious book is left out of this industry.
Nobody doubts Islamic scripture because differing translations are available, to do so would be confusing transmission of the original source material with the translation of the source material. Keeping faithful to the same methodology, Muslims can't malign the Bible by misunderstanding the two already mentioned categories.
Many believers in Islam are offended by having their Qur'an translated to begin with, and some would wish to violently oppose this practice, that's because they insist to the Qur'an being flawless “as is.” They'll insist the Qur'an (because it's supposed to be perfect) shouldn't be altered, their violent opposition to the practise of Qur'an translation was mirrored by the way honest Christian men went to their deaths for daring to translate the New Testament into other languages for the education of everyone.
The Qur'an however, my Muslim friends insist, can only be understood in classical Arabic (not even in modern Arabic). Yet Muslims also believe everyone not belonging to the Islamic community (Ummah), be they Buddhists, Hindus, Jews or Christians are supposed to believe in and follow Muhammad and Islam (despite none of the other people groups reading classical Arabic).
Muhammad was described by Muslims as being “a mercy to all of mankind”, even a prophet for everyone, yet those groups are also expected to be conversant with an extremely narrow language in order to believe in this particular person's self-proclaimed mission (surprisingly it's a language which the majority of Muslims cannot read and/or speak). Complaining that nobody can reject Islam without being able to read classical Arabic (an ordinary defence of Islamic scripture) while also having embraced Islam without knowing classical Arabic isn't sensible.
The Christian faith however teaches God isn't constraint by any one language, meaning nothing can keep His word from reaching distant nations, rather He's sovereign over every language, as was shown during the Pentecost miracle (Ref: Acts chapter two):
“They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. Now there were staying in Jerusalem Godfearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked:
“Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!”