Every month I am posting a challenging question for those involved with Muslim ministry and dialogue. I look forward to your comments and you may agree or disagree. The main thing is to have an enriching discussion for all. For the month of February the question is:
Is Muhammad a Prophet?
This is a difficult question to answer only because I think it is better to avoid these kinds of questions until you have a good relationship with your Muslim friend. You don’t want to insult your friend or their faith, especially when you are forming a relationship. Given the Islamic reverence for Muhammad as the “true Muslim,” they could easily be offended.
There are some positive things we can say about Muhammad — and we should try to be positive. Muhammad wanted to reform the faith of his Arab brothers and sisters, who were at that time polytheistic. Muhammad was deeply offended by their polytheism and their idolatry. As Christians we also worship one God and are offended by idolatry. We can admire Muhammad’s burning passion to lead his people to monotheism.
But we need not dwell on Muhammad. If possible, we should shift the focus to Jesus. That is where the strength of our witness lies, on the person and ministry of Jesus as revealed in all four gospels. Once we lead people there the Holy Spirit will help us the rest of the way.
When Jesus was posed hard questions in his ministry, he often responded with another question that led to a more important discussion. Sometimes we can’t avoid the hard questions, but if we can lead people into truth through questions rather than debate, we will get farther in our goal — which is to share the love and grace of God that we find in Jesus with our Muslims neighbors.