“Why Christians Should Learn about Islam”
Christians sometimes wonder, “Why should we learn about Islam? Should we really care what another religion teaches?”
But there are lots of reasons that Christians should be learning about Islam. Let’s consider five of them.
First, numbers. Islam is the second-largest religion in history (after Christianity). There are about 1.6 billion Muslims in the world, which is more than a fifth of the world’s population. And according to many sources, Islam is the fastest-growing religion in the world. So Islam is big, and it’s getting bigger. When that many people believe something, it’s a good idea to learn what they believe.
Second, clarity. Christians can’t communicate the Gospel clearly to Muslims without understanding what Muslims believe, because the Quran distorts the meaning of Christian claims. For instance, Christians claim that Jesus is the Son of God. But when we say, “Jesus is the Son of God,” Muslims think we’re claiming that God had sex with a woman and produced Jesus as an offspring. They believe this because the Quran says, “How can Allah have a son when he has no wife?” (Surah 6, verse 101). Now, when Christians call Jesus the Son of God, we’re not talking about God having sex and producing an offspring. No Christian has ever meant that. But that’s what Muslims think we mean, because the Quran says that’s what it means to call someone the Son of God.
There’s a similar problem when it comes to the doctrine of the Trinity. According to the Quran (Surah 5, verse 116), Christians believe in a Trinity made up of God, Jesus, and Mary. Here again, no Christian has ever believed this. But there are Muslims who think we believe in a Trinity made up of God, Jesus, and Mary, because of how the Quran distorts basic Christian doctrines. So if we don’t know what Muslims believe, we won’t understand how they’re misinterpreting what we say when we preach the Gospel.
Third, preparation. Muslims are trained to challenge the core doctrines of Christianity. Jesus taught his followers lots of things, but when they preached the Gospel in the Book of Acts, they preached that Jesus is the divine Son of God, who died on the cross for sins and rose from the dead—deity, death, and resurrection. These are the three core teachings of the Christian Gospel. Islam denies all three of them, and so Muslims are taught to challenge Christians on these issues. Muslims are taught to attack Christianity where it matters most. If Christians don’t know about Islam, we won’t know how Muslims are going to challenge our claims.
Fourth, refutation. Many Muslims are so confident that Islam is true, they usually can’t take any opposing religious claims seriously. Muslims have been told all their lives that Islam is confirmed by science and mathematics and history. They’ve been told that the Quran has been miraculously preserved and that Muhammad was the greatest man who ever lived. They’ve been trained to have complete confidence in their religion. So, when you share the Gospel with a Muslim, why would he think that you’re telling him the truth about God? Why would he think that he needs any other message when he’s already got Islam? But if you can show the Muslim that he’s been given false information, and that the evidence doesn’t support his beliefs, then he may be willing to listen to what you say about Jesus. So, giving Muslims facts about their religion in order to undermine their confidence in Islam is crucial, and we can’t give them these facts unless we know what the facts are.
Fifth, illumination. Islam thrives in an atmosphere of ignorance. When you meet a convert to Islam, you’ll almost always find that he was given false information about Islam in order to convince him to convert. The reason so many people fall for this false information is that there’s a general atmosphere of ignorance about Islam, which allows Muslim preachers to say just about anything they want, because no one’s going to challenge or correct them. A favorite tactic of these preachers is to adapt their message to the values of their audience. If a Muslim preacher is talking to people who believe in women’s rights, he’ll say: “You believe in women’s rights? Muhammad was a champion of women’s rights. He was probably the greatest defender of women who ever lived.” If the preacher is talking to someone who believes in science, he’ll say: “The Quran is filled with scientific claims that could only be verified centuries after Muhammad’s death. Science proves that Islam is the truth.” When there’s a general atmosphere of ignorance about Islam, many people will believe what they hear from these Muslim preachers, and many people will convert to Islam. The only way this is going to stop is if the Christian community gets to a point where we know enough about Islam to refute false claims. When a Muslim preacher says, “Muhammad was a champion of women’s rights,” hands need to go up to challenge him and to bring up Quran verses that refute him.
So Islam is already a massive religion, and it’s growing rapidly; Muslims often don’t understand the Gospel because they’re misinterpreting our claims based on the Quran’s distortion of basic Christian doctrine; Muslims have been taught to criticize core Christian doctrines, and it’s a good idea to understand their objections; many Muslims can’t take the Gospel seriously until their own beliefs have been challenged; and people are converting to Islam due to a general atmosphere of ignorance—all of these are reasons for Christians to read some books and to watch some videos, so that the church can respond effectively to the challenge of Islam.