In Acts 17:23-24 Paul makes reference to an altar with the inscription: “To an Unknown God.” Paul then proceeds to describe who that God is, as he has revealed himself through his Son Jesus Christ. In doing this Paul uses a bridge to the Gospel from another faith (in this case Greek polytheism).
This idea of finding a bridge through other faiths to the Gospel is also possible with the Islamic faith. This is especially true because the Qur’an contains a lot that esteems and compliments the Bible. If we hold on to what truth is, from a biblical perspective, and dwell on that, there is much in the Qur’an that we can agree with. Though, at the same time, there is much that we would not agree with.
For example, Jesus is called by at least 40 unique names in the Qur’an including: “strengthened by the Holy Spirit” (2:87); “held in honor in this world and the Hereafter” (3:45); “His Word” and a “Spirit proceeding from Him” (4:171); “Messiah” (4:172); “sinless – holy son” (19:19); “born of a virgin” (19:20).
The Bible is also mentioned hundreds of times. The Qur’an calls it: “revealed by God” (3:3), “inspired” (4:163); “given by God – a guide and a mercy” (6:154); “unchangeable” (10:64); “the Truth” (10:94).
Those of us in the Reformed tradition see evidence of common grace in such passages. The Holy Spirit leaves traces of God’s revelation in other faiths. Yes, the world is fallen and human religions and cultures are also affected by the fall. But that does not leave them without grace-filled signs and evidence.
The Qur’an can be a bridge to the Bible and to a fuller understanding of who Jesus is through a fuller reading of the New Testament. If time allows, you may want to do further study in the Old Testament to emphasize God’s one Covenant of Grace.
Alongside of the Qur’an, Muslims also follow the Hadith. The Hadith are collections of observations from the life of Muhammad, what he said and did. Some Hadith are more accepted than others. Various Hadith also make good bridges to further conversations about Jesus and the Bible.
For example, one Hadith states: “Mussaddad narrated that…Anis said…The prophet said, ‘None of you believes until he desires for his brother what he desires for himself.’” (Sahih Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 1, Number 12, page 19.)
If you read that over a few times you will notice that it sounds a lot like something Jesus taught in Matthew 7:12: “So in everything, do to others what they would have them do to you, for this sums up the law and the prophets.”
By knowing this Hadith you have a bridge to talking about Jesus with your Muslim neighbor.
Muhammad also said “’There is no one who will be admitted to paradise based only on his deeds.’ A man said, ‘Not even you O messenger of Allah?’ He said, ‘Not even me, except that He (Allah) wraps me in mercy.’” (Sahih Muslim, Volume 4B, Number [2816R2], page 303)
Would it not be appropriate and helpful to link this Hadith to Ephesians 2:8-9, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.”
Paul proclaimed this in Athens. We continue in that tradition today. There are many Muslims waiting to hear the good news of Jesus the Word, the Sinless One, the Messiah.
What "bridges" have you used to talk to neighbors from different faiths?