What Does Islam Want? And Why Is Da'wah so Important?


Greetings scholars of Christ:

The Mormon man said to me, "All I want to do is to help the children given to you from the Heavenly Father to love Jesus." Compelling at first glance, but at a second look, a great challenge. The challenge is that he used Christian words, which Mormonism had infused in his head with completely different meanings, in order to disarm me. In a fashion Islamic da'wah works the same way. Some 40 years ago the International Review of Mission (1976) featured a dialogue between two Muslim scholars and three Christian ones. Representing the Muslim point of view were Khurshid Ahmad and Isma'il al-Faruqi and for the Christian point of view were Kenneth Cragg, Arne Rudvin, Lamin Sanneh, and Fitzgerald. What is very evident in the discussion is that the Muslims were unashamed of telling the Christians exactly what Islam wants and what it thinks every human need, but were doing it in language that sounded Christian at first glance.

Ahmad stated unapologetically that Islam exists because every human needs divine guidance — wait for it — of an Islamic kind. Thus the message must be propagated.

An interesting discussion ensued with al-Faruqi and Kenneth Cragg, where al-Faruqui said in plain English that Islam is the primordial religion and that everyone needs to be called back to it. In response to Cragg's question as to whether Buddhists were on the wrong track, al-Faruqui said that they might have started out OK, but went off the rails, and that Islam is called to bring people back to Islam. Here is the snippet:

al-Faruqi: Yes, Islam as religio naturalis, din al-fitrah.

Cragg: But that which in Buddhism is antithetical to Islam and to rationalism is not simply chaff mixed with wheat, if I may put it that way; it is the very wheat of Buddhism. By your analysis here it must then have been a false prophecy which brought the Buddhist to that belief.

al-Faruqi: I won’t say a false prophecy. I would say that a true revelation through an authentic prophet has been thoroughly falsified.

What can be gathered by this unvarnished article which is found here is that Islam does not hide the fact of its own perceived superiority, and in fact its own idea that it has the higher moral ground to call those who are lost in what it calls "the times of ignorance" back to the so-called true religion. It would not be putting words in al-Faruqi's mouth at all for him to say that Christianity through the Hebrew and New Testaments, to his thinking, was once a true revelation — when every part of it aligned to Islam, and that it was delivered down from heaven just like Muhammad received the Qur'an. His whole idea of inspiration, of course, is completely Islamic and has nothing to do with God-breathed scripture ( 2 Timothy 3:16-17). Then he asserts that all of this revelation in Islamic packaging was thoroughly falsified. That is the Bible and its contents that you and I stake our present salvation, our citizenship in heaven, our longing for the New Jerusalem and even enjoying its foretastes here, and our collective incorporation into the living moving people of God the Father, being part of the temple of the Holy Spirit, and part and parcel of the universal Body of Christ.

So what is the point?

al-Faruqi and Khurshid use terminology that Christians associate with certain meanings. They talk about guidance, having a creation mandate of sorts, peace,  mission, prophecy, and true revelation. Each and every one of these words, however common to Muslims and Christians is a universe of different meaning, not unlike the example of the Mormon teacher.

Lesson: "A common word between us" is not to be associated with "a common meaning between us." Caveat emptor!

Prayer: Help us Father in heaven on whom we depend for all wisdom, to see with Holy Spirit empowered vision, and with the mind of Christ, exactly what the Muslim person in front of us is and is not communicating. Help us to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves knowing that it is not by the might of my winsomeness, nor by the power of my persuasiveness, but by your Spirit that Muslims will see Jesus as the Prophet, Priest, and King who fills all of their deepest longings. 

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