The Pillar Fight

The Pillar Fight

Sometimes it can be hard to know where to start when talking to our Muslim friends about our faith. Elliot shares some great tips for how to do this well.

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Elliot Cooper

Elliot Cooper

Elliot is a big fan of wearing lycra and is interested in everything to do with cycling.  Eating cake and getting to know people from different countries are also firm favourites. He currently has a number of jobs including teaching ESL classes in the community and working for Mahabba, a charity committed to sharing the love of Jesus with our Muslim neighbours.

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The Pillar Fight

Some people jump right in even if they know nothing at all. I’m stronger than you! I have the answer and you don’t. Fight! Fight! Fight! Is the Quran historically accurate? Did Mohammad even exist? My religion is better than your religion! I am right and you are wrong!  In your face!

I’m really not convinced about this approach. It may be possible to win the argument but lose a friend. Is it possible to argue someone out of what they were born into and never asked to join?  When someone recently asked me about my beliefs in an aggressive manner I did not wish to engage with them at great length. I really didn’t want to engage with them at any length. In fact I really didn’t wish to engage at all. Arguing, shouting, getting angry, and thumping the table.  No thanks. It doesn’t do much for me. What about you?

If we don’t want to engage with Muslims in an adversarial way what is stopping us engaging with Muslims in another way? Perhaps one of the biggest hurdles about sharing Jesus is lack of knowledge. Should I take my shoes off when visiting Muslims in their homes? Should I shake their hands or not? Should I pray with my Muslim friend? I don’t know what to do!  More than that I don’t know what they believe.

What do Muslims believe?

The five core parts – or pillars – of the Muslim faith consist of the following: reciting the Muslim profession of faith, performing the daily prayers five times a day, giving to charity, fasting during Ramadan- the special holy month, and travelling to Mecca.

What about the differences between the two faiths? Andrew White, the vicar of Baghdad is on record as saying: ‘I’ve looked through the Quran trying to find forgiveness…there isn’t any.’*

Are you now ready to jump on in?  What about the debate on whether Christians and Muslims follow the same God?  An American professor raised a huge controversy in December by suggesting such a thing.* Opinion is divided, everyone seems convinced they are right.

So what shall we do? Here are some practical steps.

  1. Focus on Jesus
  2. Care
  3. Learn
  4. Join a Mahabba group.

Focus on Jesus

Don’t wait to have all the answers, or you may well be waiting a very long time indeed! Focus on Jesus. Many people don’t like ‘the church’ or Christianity due to negative associations they may have. However, most people like Jesus. Muslims hold him in high regard. He is mentioned many times in the Quran.  Even Christians like Jesus! So, let’s start with Jesus. Share how you met him, and how you are attempting to follow him. Show the Jesus of the Bible to Muslims. Retell a Biblical story about Jesus. Pray with that Jesus would reveal himself to them. Don’t discuss the shortcomings of Mohammed. Don’t try and score points. Talk about Jesus.

Care

People often don’t care what you know until they know that you care. Wait six months before sharing Jesus? Get to know someone totally before you talk about Jesus? No, I’m not saying that. We must be consistent and open about sharing Jesus and praying for people as soon as we meet them. However, people may become more receptive once they know that we genuinely care for them. We are called to be good news. I think people are less bothered if you make a cultural mistake if they know you care for them. Has someone new just moved into the street or my class? How can I practically welcome them? Invite them around, do something together. If you are good at cooking ask them over for a meal. Just don’t eat pork, or pork products - for example gelatine, or drink alcohol! Be hospitable.

Learn

Read a book (do you remember them- they don’t need plugging in!) or go on a website, listen to a podcast, read a blog. Of course there is lots of whacky stuff out there – so choose carefully. Carl Medearis has a website with lots of resources. Google it! Research, compare what the Quran has to say about Jesus to what the Bible has to say. If reading isn’t your thing, go on a course. Friendship First is a short six part dvd course that helps people to share Jesus with Muslims. Encountering the World of Islam is a more comprehensive course- but even checking out the website provides a lot of information about Muslim beliefs.* Perhaps you want to dive on in deeper. All Nations puts on a course every year normally in December. * When I went one of the main benefits was realising that there are a range of beliefs within Islam.

Join Mahabba?

Finally, why don’t you join a local Mahabba Group.   This will enable you to pray with others. They will also be able to share their experience about how to share Jesus and relate to Muslims.  Perhaps they may take you along to a Mosque to help you to understand Muslims better. They might even introduce you to some of their friends and neighbours or ask you along to do outreach with them.

There are around 40 Mahabba Groups around the UK, so there’s probably one near you. You would be very welcome!

Are you up for a challenge?  Get involved!  What are you waiting for?

  1. http://www.mahabbanetwork.com/
  2. http://www.spectator.co.uk/2015/11/isis-bombs-have-exiled-the-vicar-of-baghdad-to-surrey-but-hes-itching-to-go-back-to-the-middle-east/
  3. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2016/02/06/wheaton-lifts-charges-against-professor-who-said-muslims-and-christians-worship-the-same-god/
  4. https://encounteringislam.org/
  5. http://www.allnations.ac.uk/index.php?pageid=73

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