Nov 15 - Islam Part 2

Islam Part 2

November 15,2015


Islam – Part 2

November 15th, 2015


Last week I gave the first part of this message, which focused in particular on the period in the life of Muhammad when he was in Medina, the time when he became increasingly antagonistic and violent toward those who did not accept his message. 


I gave a relatively small sample of the over 100 verses in the Quran that speak of violent jihad, and pointed out how these verses are used by radical Muslims to demand violent and ongoing Jihad against non-Muslims or Muslims who do not agree with their interpretation.


As if we needed another reminder, the attacks in Paris Friday, prove that this is an ongoing reality.


I also pointed out that close to 100,000 Christians are killed for their faith every year, most of them by Muslims in predominantly Muslim countries.[1] 


It seems as if Jesus warning as recorded in John 16, has come true again:


Indeed the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering service to God.  And they will do these things because they neither know the Father nor me.                                                                                    John 16:2-3


Finally, I contrasted the message of Jihad in the Quran with Jesus’ message of peace. 


Today I want to continue on a bit in pointing out further differences between Islam and Christianity.


But first, I should point out that Christians and Muslims do have some beliefs in common.  For example, they both agree there is one God who created the universe and is sovereign in the lives of men.  They both agree that God is the source of morality and justice.  They both agree that ultimately justice will dispensed in the afterlife in either an eternity with or an eternity without God. 


Of course peace-loving and charitable Muslims and Christians have a lot more in common. 


A college student is taking a walk in Central park in New York. Suddenly he sees a little girl being attacked by a pit bull dog . He runs over and starts fighting with the dog. He saves the girl's life, but the pit bull is killed in the process.  A policeman who was watching the scene walks over and says: "You are a hero, tomorrow you can read it in all the newspapers: "Brave New Yorker saves the life of little girl" The man says: - "But I am not a New Yorker!" "Oh ,then it will say in newspapers in the morning: 'Brave American saves life of little girl'" the policeman answers. "But I am not an American!"  says the man. "Oh, from where are you then?" The man says: - "I am from Iran!" The next day the newspapers says: "Islamic extremist kills innocent dog in Central Park.”

However, the teachings of Muhammad as found in the Quran do point out some more significant differences.  For example, Muhammad was diametrically opposed to the doctrine of the Trinity. 


Oh, people of the book!  Do not exceed (the limits of) your religion nor utter anything concerning Allah other than the truth.  The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, was only a messenger of Allah, His [Allah’s] word and a spirit which He bestowed on Mary.  So believe in Allah and His messengers, and do not say “Trinity!” Cease and it will be better for you.  Allah is only one Allah.  He is too exalted to have a son.                            Quran 4:171


But many other differences between the teaching of the Quran and the Bible exist as well.


One such area concerns the role of women. 


While it is clear that Jesus and Paul lived in a patristic society, Jesus had no qualms associating with women, such as the group of women from Galilee who followed him and his disciples during his public ministry.  Jesus spoke with women, even with a Samaritan woman, something devout Jews of that time would not have done.  He had close women friends, such as Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus.  He healed women, such as the one who touched the hem of his outer garment when a crowd surrounded him.  Women were important to Jesus and his ministry.


Paul’s statement that in Christ there is neither male nor female (Gal 3:28) helped pave the way toward gender equality. 


While women figured prominently in Muhammad’s life as well, his attitude and teaching about women is quite different. 


Muhammad taught that a Muslim man can have up to 4 wives at one time (Surah 4:3).  After the death of his first wife, Muhammad himself married 12 more times, 9 of whom survived him.  It seems that he may also have had two slave concubines. 


Two years before his death, Muhammad took a married Jewish woman (Safiyyah) as his wife, right after her father, husband, and all other male family members had been slaughtered by Muhammad and his men.  This woman was around 17 at the time, so around 19 when Muhammad died.   


Of the 12 wives, Aisha was Muhammad’s favourite.  She was the daughter of Abu Bakr, Muhammad’s close friend and general.  He was betrothed to Aisha when she was 6 years old.  The marriage was consummated when Aisha was 9.  She was 18 and childless when Muhammad died. 


By the way, in two verses, the Quran gives directions when Muslim men marry (actually remarry) prepubescent girls (Quran 33:49; 65:4; - don’t have to wait to consummate a marriage if she is still a virgin, wait for three months if she’s not). 


Even though he left a number of young widows behind, Muhammad had forbidden under threat of death for anyone to marry his widows.  This was unique, since other Muslim widows were free to remarry, and Muhammad himself married the widows of other Muslim men.


Surah 33:50-51 conveniently gives Muhammad two more special dispensation that other Muslim men do not have.  First, it gives him the freedom to have more than 4 wives and, second, it gives him the freedom to stop sleeping with any one of his wives for as long as he wants to – while other Muslim men were obligated to have sex with their wives.  


This provoked a comment from Aisha, that Allah seems very quick to fulfill Muhammad’s wishes and desires - a pretty dangerous comment, if you ask me.[2]


Another example of Muhammad receiving messages from God that apparently sanction his own desires, is when he wanted to marry the wife of his adopted son Za’id because he found her physically attractive.  When Za’id refused to divorce his wife, Muhammad had this convenient revelation from God:


When you [Muhammad] said to the one on whom Allah and you have bestowed favour: “Keep your wife and fear Allah,” you yourself kept hidden that what Allah had disclosed to you because you feared man whereas you should have feared Allah more.  Therefore, Za’id will perform what is necessary [to divorce] from his wife.  I gave her to you [Muhammad] in marriage.  From now on it is no longer sin for believers to marry the wives of their adopted sons after those performed what is necessary [to divorce] from their wives.  This commandment of Allah must be fulfilled.                  Quran, Surah 33:36


Guess what Za’id?  This is God speaking.  Divorce your wife so the man who adopted you can marry her!  This is God speaking and so you MUST do this!


For Muslim men, there are no real limitations placed on divorce (2:227) and remarriage (2:230).[3]  They can unilaterally pronounce themselves divorced.  However, when a husband pronounces himself divorced from his wife, he needs to do so three times, and this needs to be witnessed by two other men. 


A wife cannot initiate divorce proceedings other than to approach a Kadi, a Muslim judge, but she needs to prove some massive fault on the part of her husband, difficult to do because a woman’s testimony in a Muslim court is considered only worth half of that of a man’s.


A Muslim man can divorce his wife for pretty well any reason.  Muhammad himself had planned to divorce himself from one of his wives because he was no longer attracted to her.  The reason he didn’t follow through is because she gave up the night Muhammad usually spent with her to Aisha. 


[By the way, there is a verse in the Quran (4:128) that Muhammad received with regard to this specific situation … if a husband desires to divorce his wife, then she should do the right thing and seek to be reconciled to her husband, even if that means she’s not treated equal to the other wives.  However, nothing is wrong should the divorce go ahead anyways.]


On the other hand, Jesus’ teaching on divorce and remarriage is somewhat different.  For one, Jesus’ stipulations only make sense in a monogamous relationship.  This is probably why Paul commented that church leaders should only have one wife. 


Even though some Jews during Jesus’ and Paul’s time had multiple wives, there is no record of polygamy in the earliest church, and all of the church fathers, beginning with Justin Martyr in the second century (100 – 165 AD), condemned the practice.[4]  


When asked for a legal opinion on Deuteronomy 24:4, Jesus sided with the more conservative side on the debate by limiting the legitimate reason for divorce to sexual immorality. 


The apostle Paul limited divorce to abandonment [by a non-believing spouse].  The Bible also makes it clear that divorcing a wife when she gets older is wrong in God’s eyes (Mal 2:14; cf. Prov 5:18; Eccl 9:9).  In all of this, Muhammad’s own choices seem to guide the messages from Allah which he received.


Since Muhammad beat one of his wives (Sahih Muslim Hadith, # 2127), the Quran gives a husband the right to beat his rebellious wife until she obeys:


Men are in charge over women because Allah has made the former excel over the latter in light of [the husband] spending his wealth [to support the wife].  Good women are obedient, guarding in secret [or: in the husband’s absence] what Allah wants them to guard.  If you fear insolence, admonish them, stop sleeping with them, and beat [or: strike, scourge] them.  If they then obey you, stop punishing them.             Quran, Surah 4:34


Unfortunately, many fundamental Muslims think that the Quran endorses domestic violence, which is why it is pretty common in some Muslim countries. 


This next slide is based on information from Unicef published in 2013 and shows the level of acceptance of domestic violence among Muslim women in some Arab or Muslim dominated countries.


The highest rate of acceptance of domestic violence are in those countries which are most radically inclined, such as Afghanistan, Jordan and Mali.


This is very different from what we read in the Bible:


Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. … Husbands should love their wives as they do their own bodies.  He who loves his wife, loves himself.  For no one hates his own body, but nourishes and cherishes it.       Ephesians 5:25,28-29


In traditional Islam, a husband has absolute control over the marriage bed … wives have no right of refusal.[5] 


The Quran (4:24; 7:30) allows Muslim men to marry or have sex with women captured during raids or after battles [referred to as “those your right hand possesses”].   


Unfortunately, some Muslim radicals have understood this to imply that God condones the rape of any and all girls and women who have the misfortune to be captured, taken hostage or kidnapped by them.  It may also be the reason why it is so difficult to prosecute rape cases in many Muslim countries.


Similarly twisted is the justification that a Muslim man is able to visit a prostitute as long as he “marries” the woman for the night and doesn’t exceed his limit of having 4 wives at one time.  


Two verses in the Quran speak of what women wore at the time of Muhammad. 


In one verse, there is the mention of a “Khimar,” (24:31) which is thought to have been some kind of head scarf.  In the other, there is mention of a “Jalabib,” (33:59) which is thought to have been a loose outer garment. 


What those originally looked like is really not known.  And it isn’t as if these verses are prescriptive … they only mention what a woman wore at one point in time.  However, based on these two terms, a dress code for Muslim women was in fact developed by Muslim men. 


Based on the Jalabib, Muslim women have to dress conservatively, which means covering their whole bodies, including the arms and legs, and often their feet. 


The reference to the Khimar is sometimes ignored by Muslim women, for example, in Turkey or Lebanon.  They do not wear head covering of any kind.  However that is not the norm.


Some Muslim women wear a head scarf called the Hijab.  It is the smallest of the head coverings.


A more conservative form of the Hijab is called al-Amira.  It covers the head and neck and is by far the most common head covering in Muslim countries from Indonesia to North Africa (Egypt, Tunisia) to the Near East (Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq). 


More conservative than the al-Amira is the Chador (Tschador), which covers the head, neck and whole upper body, but allows the face to be shown.  It is worn by about a third of the Muslim women in Pakistan and Iraq.


A majority of Muslim women in Saudi Arabia and about a third of the Muslim women in Pakistan wear the Niqab (Neiykab), which covers the whole head, face and upper body and only allows the eyes to show.


The most conservative interpretation of the head scarf is the Burka.  Much like the Niqab, it covers head, face and upper body, but in addition has netting that obscures the eyes.  The Burka is worn by about a tenth of the Muslim women in Saudi Arabia, but it is most common in Afghanistan, where it is enforced as the only viable option by the Taliban.


In some Muslim countries, there is a Sharia police force that, among other things, enforces a dress code.  For example, some disallow the wearing of long pants by women, or the exposure of feet or ankles.


According to the Hadith, Muhammad stated that the majority of the inhabitants of hell will be women.[6]  I’m not at all sure, why he thought this. 


Muhammad also thought of paradise in very sensual place.  Surahs 56 and 78 describes how those who make it to Paradise will be reclining on thrones, served hand and foot by youths, able to drink as much as they want without getting a hangover, and able to eat fruit and fowl to their hearts content. 


As a reward for their faithfulness to Allah (56:24), each man will also receive female companions, described as beautiful, big eyed, virgins (56:22,36), and full breasted young women who do not grow old (56:37; 78:33).[7]


Many hadith, further sayings of Muhammad not contained in the Quran, expand on this Quranic verse to speak of 72 virgins or houri, with whom the faithful men will have sex forever.[8] 


Who then will be able to enter paradise?  Muhammad relayed the message from Allah, that the person who dies in battle will be immediately transferred to paradise:


Do not say that those who are killed in the cause of Allah are dead.  No!  They are alive, even though you cannot see it.                                                 Quran, Surah 2:154


If you are killed or die in the cause of Allah, surely forgiveness from Allah is better than all the riches one could accumulate [in this world].  Quran, Surah 3:157


Further, in particular reference to martyrs, that is, those Muslims who die in battle or for the Muslim cause, the Hadith promises seven blessings:[9]


Instant forgiveness of sins at the point of death

The ability to bypass the day of judgment

The martyr will not have to languish in the grave

He immediately enters Paradise

He receives a special crown of honour

And he will be married to 72 houris

Finally, he will be able to intercede on behalf of 70 of his relatives.


We should understand that radical Muslims equate martyrdom in battle with suicide bombings.  They argue that suicide bombers are in fact committing suicide. 


Instead, as Sheik Yusuf al-Qaradawi of the Muslim Brotherhood explains two months after the 9/11 attacks:  Suicide bombings are in fact “heroic commando and martyrdom attacks and should not be called suicide under any circumstances.” 


Moderate Muslims are opposed to suicide missions because they point out that suicide is forbidden in the Quran, as is the killing of women and children. 


You may NOT think that bypassing the grave and judgment day and gaining instant access to paradise would be a big motivation to blow oneself up in a crowded marketplace with innocent women and children, unless you’re aware of what happens to Muslims who do NOT die as martyrs.


According to Islamic doctrine, between the moment of death and the burial ceremony, the spirit of a deceased Muslim takes a quick journey to both heaven and hell.  The spirit sees the ongoing bliss in paradise, and the ongoing torture in hell. 


Before the corpse is buried, the spirit returns to the body.  Shortly after the burial, two massive and terrifying angels carrying hammers, Munkar and Nakir, with blueish faces, long fangs and wild hair, come to test the faith of the person.  They ask three question, which even the devout Muslim might get wrong, since he no longer can remember what happened in his life (Who was your Lord? Allah; What was your religion? Islam; Who was your prophet? Muhammad). 


If he correctly answers the three questions, then the grave is transformed into a luxurious space that makes the long wait to the final judgment bearable.[10] 


But if he gets one of the answers wrong, then the grave is transformed into an oppressive, constricted space, where the sentient corpse suffers agonies until the judgment day.[11] 


The last judgment will then concern itself with whether or not the person has kept themselves from sin and followed the five pillars of Islam:


1. the Creed (Kalima) - “There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is the Prophet of Allah.” In order to become a Muslim, the creed has to be stated publicly.  Muslims regularly repeated it.

2. Prayer (Salat) – Muslims must pray five times a day (upon rising, at noon, in the middle of the afternoon, after sunset, and before going to sleep), in Arabic, while facing Mecca.

3. Almsgiving (Zakat) - All Muslims are to give 1/40th of their income for the poor.

4. Fasting (Ramadan) - You are to eat no food from sunup to sundown during the holy month of Ramadan.

5. The Pilgrimage (Hajj) - A Muslim is expected to make a pilgrimage to Mecca to circle the Kaaba at least once in their lifetime.

For devout Muslims, living out these five things are crucial, because how exacting they do so will help determine their eternal destiny. 


But the last judgment is also based on a scale that measures the good and bad a person has committed during his or her life.


The catch is that, as the Quran states, only Allah has complete knowledge the heart of the Muslim (3:29; 3:156; …), and only He sees everything that a person does (3:156). 


Since no one is perfect, at the end of life there is really no way to know for certain if enough good works were done to outweigh the sins one had committed.  In other words, there is never real assurance of salvation, no absolute knowledge that a person will make it into paradise based on one’s service to Allah …  unless, of course, a Muslim dies a martyr for the cause of Islam. 


Of course radical clerics, in their desire to recruit suicide bombers, insist that the only direct path to paradise is martyrdom, as they define it. 


This is very different from what we read in the NT.  Jesus said that he would bring into paradise those who believed in him as the one who would die for the sins of the world.  In other words, there can be assurance of ones’ salvation based on the forgiveness of sins through Jesus’ sacrifice – not through someone killing themselves or dying for his cause. 


Of course, genuine faith will result in certain actions or good deeds in the life of the believers, but these do not earn a person their salvation. 


The difference in the view regarding salvation is based in part on the difference between Muhammad’s and Jesus’ teaching about the nature of God.


For one, Muhammad never called Allah his father.  Instead, he refers to himself as the Allah’s slave.  Obedience and fear of punishment, not love, was the primary impulse behind serving Allah. 


Jesus, on the other hand, told his disciples to address God as their heavenly Father.  Just think of how the Lord’s prayer begins:  Our father who is in heaven. 


Once, Jesus referred to God as “Abba, Father,” (Mark 14:36 in the Garden of Gethsemane when he asked God to have this cup removed).  Paul uses the same expression twice, once in Galatians (4:6) and once in Romans (8:15).


Abba is not the same as the Greek word for Daddy, pappas.  Yet it was used by children, both small and grown to address their fathers, both as a term of respect and a term of endearment.  Some scholars have suggested that it be translated as “dear father,” others as “my father.” 


Whatever the translation, it demonstrates that both Jesus and Christians saw themselves as beloved children of God, something Muhammad was very much aware of.


This was his comment:


The Jews and Christians say, “We are the children of Allah and his beloved.”  Respond to them, “Then why does He punish you for your sins?  You are no more than mortal humans among those he has created.  And He forgives whom He wills and He punishes whom He wills.”

Quran, Surah 5:18


The point is that the Jews and Christians should not think of themselves as God’s children because they, like all other mortals, are at the mercy of God’s rather precarious will, and may well be punished in hell for their sins.   If God actually loved them, they would be sure not to go to hell. 


[In the Quran, Allah is said to love those who turn to him (2:222), who trust him (3:159), who fear him (9:4), who do good (3:134), who are patient (31:146), who are just (5:42), and those who fight in battle for Allah’s cause (61.4). 


We also read that Allah does not love unbelievers (2:276), sinners (2:276), the sinful (4:107), evil doers (3:57), the arrogant and boastful (4:107), the treacherous (4:107), and the extravagant (6:141).  ]


These Suras make it clear that God’s love is predicated upon right behaviour.  In contrast, both the OT and the NT speak of God’s love as undeserved and unearned. 


So the Quran never states that God is love.  Yes, God is the just, righteous, the merciful, the avenger, the provider, but he isn’t love.  And his mercy is reserved for Muslims who obey him fully. 


And Muslims in turn are to hate their enemies, defined in the Quran as anyone who does not convert to Islam:


Abraham and those who were with him are a good example for you when they said to their own people, “We repudiate you and whoever you worship beside Allah.  We disavow you and between us and you there will be enmity and hate forever, unless you come to have faith in Allah alone.”                                 Quran 60:4


On the other hand, the NT stresses that God himself is love, that this is what defines him and what predicates his actions toward humans.  And this God of love calls his children to acts of love toward all people of all faiths, as well as to peace and respect toward others.


So Jesus focused on loving others:


A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another.  Just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.  By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.                                                                                             John 13:34-35


Often we misunderstand love as merely an emotion.  If we love someone, we feel an emotional feeling of affection and attraction.  But relationships based only on feelings alone are pretty unstable and can be fickle.  For relationships to flourish, there has to be more than simply a feeling.  Otherwise, we can set aside a relationship if we no longer have that feeling, when we “fall out of love,” so to speak. 


For relationships to flourish, followers of Jesus need to redefine love along different lines.  For example, they need to think of biblical love as …


1. Biblical love: practical deeds or actions


Jesus defined love as doing good, something his followers were to do even to those who wish to harm.


Love your enemies.  Do good to those who hate you.

                                                                        Luke 6:27


The apostle Paul spoke of the Jesus’ law of love as the law of Christ, and saw it as the caring for others in practical ways.


Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.                                                    Galatians 6:2


Acts of love are really the good works that the writer of Hebrew is telling his readers to do and encourage others to do. 


Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.                                Hebrews 10:24



For relationships to flourish, we need to think biblical love as practical actions and as  …


2. Biblical love: feelings of empathy:


If I should speak in human and angelic languages, but do not love (care for) others, I am no more than a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I had prophetic powers, or was able to understand all mysteries, or knew all things, or had faith to move mountains, but do not love (care for) others, I am nothing.  Even if I give away all I possess or am willing to be burned, but don’t care for (love) others, I gain nothing.              1 Corinthians 13:1-3


Empathy finds its expression in care and concern for others.  The display of the greatest spiritual gifts and the greatest sacrifices for reasons other than actually caring for others, are meaningless.


For relationships to flourish, we need to think of biblical love as practical actions, as feelings of empathy, and as the …


3. Biblical love: decision to extend grace: 


Love is patient and kind.  Love does not envy or brag.  It is not arrogant or rude.  It does not insist on its own way.  It is not irritable or resentful.  It does not rejoice with wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth.                

1 Corinthians 13:4-6


The reality is that there always will be a gap between what you expect from people and what they actually do.  The question then becomes how we deal with this gap – with grace or with anger and condemnation?


For relationships to flourish, we need to think of biblical love as practical action, feelings of empathy, extension of grace, and …


4. Biblical love: positive encouragement:


So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.              1 Thessalonians 5:11


Anyone can tear down.  Anyone can find fault.  Anyone can discourage.  But love builds up, finds the positives in someone, encourages them. 


This kind of love, in combination with our personal testimony of what God has done for us, is the witness that will speak louder to Muslims than any other message we could bring.

As Jesus said:

Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.                                                                          Matthew 5:16


Or as the author of 1 Peter wrote:


Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day He visits us.                                                                                           1 Peter 2:12

The point of last week and this week’s sermons are NOT to disparage Islam.  Even in light of the latest atrocities in Paris, we should never forget that the majority of the victims of radical Muslims are moderate Muslims who disagree with their agenda. 


Nor should we forget that many moderate Muslims are peaceful and compassionate, they are loving husbands and wives, and tolerant toward other religions. 


However, in our current climate of political correctness there is the denial of the direct link between what is written in the Quran and Hadith and the terrorist attacks, suicide bombings, the persecution and killing of non-Muslims and the oppression of women.


And there should be a direct connection between what Jesus called his followers to do, and what we actually live out in our lives:




            With my loving actions

            With my genuine concern

            With my patient, gracious, and forgiving heart

            With my words of encouragement?




[1] Numbers vary from 10,000 to 100,000 to 165,000 to 180,000.  My number is from

[2] Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol. 6, book 60, num. 311.

[3] A woman can be remarried to one of her previous husbands, something specifically forbidden in Deut 24:1-4.  In fact, if divorced for a third time from her first husband, she will need to marry another man and divorce him before being allowed to be reconciled to her fist husband.

[4] Jewish Christians may have had multiple wives since this was common practice among Jews … however polygamy was not practice in Roman society.

[5] A husband can have sex with his wife any way that he desires – Quran 2:223

[6] Bukhari 1:28, 1:301, and 2:161

[7] Strangely, many Muslim translators prefer to leave out the reference to the breasts since it would make the Quran “pornographic”.

[8] Sunan Ibn Majah, Zuhd (Book of Abstinence) 39; Al-Tirmidhi, Vol. 4, Ch. 21, No. 2687

[9] Shaykh Waleed al-Firyaan, "The six blessings of the martyrs", Islam Q&A, Fatwa No. 8511

[10] Hadith of al-Baraa’ ibn ‘Aazib as narrated by Abu Dawood in his Sunan (4753) and classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh Abi Dawood, 2979. 

[11] Adapted from a description by Leor Halevi.