This booklet was originally prepared to provide notes
for those who attended
the teaching sessions on this topic given to the International Fellowship of
Christians, Abidjan, and for their interested friends. It is now available in French,
entitled Pour comprendre Muhammad. It is hoped that some general comments
on Islam as well as notes on the Pillars and communicating the Gospel to Muslims
may be prepared later to supplement these remarks on Muhammad and the Qur’an.
Be advised that the Course on the Qur’an, currently available
in French or English,
has a considerably more detailed and better documented treatment of a number
of points raised in this booklet. For your comments on the present booklet, or to buy the the
Qur’an Correspondence Course (105 pages) or the Cours sur le
Coran, a 144 page book coauthored with the late Jeremy Hinds of
the Bible Society of Nigeria, please use the following address:
Dr Victor Bissett, Coopération et Documentation Missionnaires,
08 B.P. 424, Abidjan 08, Ivory Coast. Internet: CDM@WHO.net
Quotations from the Qur’an are generally taken from Mohammed
Marmaduke Pickthall, The Meaning of the Glorious Koran: An
Explanatory Translation (New York: Mentor, 1961). Some other
remarks are from this source, used with the permission of
Unwin Hyman Ltd, 15 Broadwick Street, London.
First printing May 1989.
Expanded revision November 1989.
Revised printing October 1990.
Internet e-mail edition 1997.
Web text edition first posted June 15, 1998.
All rights reserved.
Copyright (c) Victor Bissett, 1998
COOPERATION ET DOCUMENTATION MISSIONNAIRES
08 B.P. 424, ABIDJAN 08, Ivory Coast.
The Early Life Of Muhammad
His Early Revelations
The Revelation Tested
The Salman Rushdie Novel: The Satanic Verses
The “satanic Verses” Of The Qur’an
Doubts About The Revelation
The Real Nature Of The Qur’an
The Early Meccan Teaching
The Meccan Opposition
Muhammad At Medina
Muhammad’s Night Flight
Muhammad And The Jews
Muhammad In The Bible?
Muhammad Against The Jews
The Muslims Turn Towards Mecca
Entry To Mecca
The Death Of Muhammad
Muhammad The Paradox
Three Influences At Work
The Name “Allah”
The Feast Of The Ram
The Death Of Christ
Muhammad’s Christian Relatives
The Poor Christian Witness
Islam, A Christian Heresy?
The Nestorian Controversy
The Nestorians And The Cross
The Virginal Conception
Victor Bissett started teaching in 1965. He has taught
secondary and tertiary institutions in Australia and France,
and also in Niger Republic in 1981-82. There he was the first
missionary professeur accepted to teach in a State lycee,
and he was made a member of the jury for the Baccalaureat
in 1982. He then taught courses for three years with SIM
in the Bible School at Niamey.
His university studies were initially in Philosophy and
modern languages. He did secondary teacher training,
graduated B.A., and was later awarded an M.A. with Honours
in French. He completed his Th.L. while teaching in the
government Lycee Montesquieu in Bordeaux, France, in 1969-70.
Afterwards he did graduate B.D. studies, with a special
option in Comparative Religion and in Islam in particular.
He also did Australian College of Theology Scholar of Theology
(Th.Schol.) examinations in Dogmatics and Comparative Study
of Living Faiths, writing papers in the area of Christology
and on The Points of Contact beween Islam and Christianity
Today. He has completed a Ph.D. in New Testament Gospel studies
and has done cross-cultural courses in Detroit, Michigan. With
the late Jeremy Hinds (of the Bible Society of Nigeria),
Victor Bissett is co-author of the Cours sur le Coran edited
Victor Bissett is married to Stephanie and they have three
daughters. Having come to Cote d’Ivoire as missionaries in 1985,
their financial support comes mainly from friends in churches
in Australia. They help various churches in Abidjan and elsewhere
and collaborate with groups like the Groupes Bibliques
Universitaires d’Afrique Francophone and the International
Institute for Pastoral Training in a Bible teaching
ministry and in leadership training as well as editing and
desk-top publishing. Various courses are conducted,
Victor participates in retreats and church conferences,
and some dozen books and booklets have been prepared in French.
This text is now made freely available for your reflection.
We only request honest use and acknowledgement of quotations.
May God bless you richly.
This present text is still available in booklet form from CDM.
(c) 1998, Victor Bissett. CDM@WHO.net
However, it will be evident to most people that we cannot
understand Islam and its development theologically and throughout
the world without understanding the role and place of Muhammad.
It is possible, even probable, that Islam, owing to its particular
Traditions, developed in ways quite different from the thinking
of Muhammad, perhaps under the pressure of circumstances and
polemic situations encountered after his death. This is a frequent
phenomenon, and can be seen in a parallel situation where,
for example, many Calvinists after the Reformation of the 16th
Century have certainly been more Calvinist than John Calvin.
Time therefore needs to be taken during these studies
to correct certain erroneous and slanderous ideas. We will all
need to at least admit, after studying the evidence, that
Muhammad must have been a man of great talent and versatility,
otherwise he would never have had the success as military leader,
social reformer, statesman and religious figure that he did.
Surely he was also a model of admirable moral integrity in the
Arabia of his day. We need always to speak of him with respect,
as Muslims do of Christ, and should not cloud the issues and
raise unnecessary barriers to contact and discussion with Muslims.
In this particular presentation, it will quickly be
evident that the subject of Muhammad and Islam is approached
from a definite Christian perspective to inform Christians.
Note that this is not therefore a booklet intended to be passed
on to Muslims to convince them. (The Qur’an Course may be of
some help in that direction -- though there too it will quickly
be perceived that the Muslim notion of revelation has not
Here I will simply try to share some conclusions
I have reached about Muhammad over the last seventeen years
since my first Scholar of Theology examinations in Islamics
and point ways to a better understanding of him and Islam than
is sometimes witnessed among Christians. I will try to be
positive, seeking to show ways of getting inside the mind of
Muslims. In due course this may help us all in the more
adequate presentation of our message of God’s redemptive
love to them, just as Muslims seek to present the message
of the One transcendent God to us. However, to really
appreciate Islam in its modern forms, we must obviously
accept Muslims and get to know them as friends.
Instead of naming Muhammad all the time, the term
“the Prophet” (short for “the Prophet of Islam”) may often
be used for simplicity’s sake. Christians also often speak
of Muhammad’s “Revelations”. No more significance need be
read into these terms than what many Protestants may imply
when they speak, for example, of the “Virgin” Mary, of
“Saint” John, or when they use “Father” or “Monseigneur”
as the title of a Roman Catholic priest.
References to the Qur’an are usually given from
the Mohammed Marmaduke Pickthall translation: The Meaning
of the Glorious Koran. This translation is generally highly
regarded and its introductory notes and footnotes are very
helpful. It is readily available. The paperback French
translation of Kasimirski, Le Coran (Garnier-Flammarion,
Paris), is usually available in Abidjan at the Librairie
de France, for those interested. The revised 3rd edition
of our Cours sur le Coran has been reprinted and this takes
the reader through the Qur’an by themes and so gives a good
understanding of what the Qur’an actually teaches. It also
provides indices and a glossary of main Muslim terminology.
Muslim tradition -- our only source for much of the
background -- maintains that Muhammad was given to a Bedouin
woman to suckle and that he spent his early years in nomad
tents. When aged twelve, he went to Syria with Abu Talib and
is supposed to have met there a Christian monk named Bahira.
Did anything of this rub off on the impressionable adolescent
that he no doubt was? We might well imagine so. Muhammad was
later employed by a rich widow, Khadija, and was put in charge
of her caravans. For this reason he travelled frequently and
no doubt multiplied his contacts. His faithfulness to his task
was rewarded by Khadija’s hand in marriage.
All of this is not certain as much is based on
Traditions. But tradition plays an important part in padding
out the historic background to Islam as we know it does in
Christianity (for instance, in our deciding just who were
the authors of the Gospels or of many of the New Testament
books). In any case, he was no doubt an orphan (cf. sura
93.6ff). He married at age 25 to a widow traditionally given
as aged 40 and took no second wife till her death 25 years
later, being fifty at that time.
He was hardly motivated by the passions of youth, and
so we should not see his later marriages as taints on his
character. In his marriages there were no doubt a number of
cultural factors involved that we can probably ill appreciate
today. Ayeshah is the best known of his wives, and she was
married as a young girl out of friendship to Abu Bakr. Other
marriages were often for reasons of state or to take care of
widows (cf. the levirate marriages in the Old Testament, which
we would probably have difficulty accepting). As an example,
the governor Muqauqis of Alexandria presented to Muhammad the
slave-girl Maryam the Copt who bore him a son Ibrahim (who
predeceased him). Of a number of children, Fatima alone
survived. She later married ‘Ali.
We might well ask why he was like that. What troubled
him? Perhaps it was the situation of Arabia caught between the
two great powers of Constantinople and Persia. Maybe he was
struck by the human condition, the question of the meaning
of life, the pagan atrocities of those about him, or even
by the middle-age crisis, if Third World people experience
that. Perhaps his inner anguish was a result of combination of
all these, particularly if Muhammad looked to accomplish
something concrete for his Arab people. It may be that having
a sense of national destiny, he felt he ought really to be
able to do something significant.
Anyway, he went regularly to a cave near Mt Hira close
to Mecca for contemplation. (We can hardly say that it was
meditation.) There he fasted and experienced vivid dreams
or visions (an important element in some cultures, including
those of the Bible, both Old Testament and New). He was
dissatisfied with the polytheism, idolatry and injustices of
Mecca and became convinced of the existence and mighty
transcendence of the one true God.
In his spiritual pilgrimage was there Jewish and
Christian influence? Apparently so, and it seems to have
often been rather Talmudic and Apocryphal in character, as
we will see. In addition there were different Christian
heresies surely known to him. A Monophysite form of
Christianity (emphasizing the single nature of a divine
Christ, “the Word”) was rampant in the Arab kingdom of
Ghassan. The Byzantine church had hermits about the Hijaz.
The Nestorians, believing that Jesus Christ was two persons,
and who separated the Logos from the suffering man, Jesus,
had a strong presence at Mecca, apparently, as well as
around Al-Hira and in Persia. These factors will have to
be considered in greater detail later, in view of their
We also need to remember that Jewish tribes were
numerous and had influence in Medina (at that stage known
as Yatrib) and the region, and in the Yemen. Reading the
Qur’an definitely leads us to believe that Muhammad had
absorbed much Jewish Talmudic teaching, and that he had
had contact with some forms of Christianity. For example,
Jesus’ “miracle” in sura 3.49 where we read, “I fashion
for you out of clay the likeness of a bird, and I breathe
on it and is is a bird,” is without any doubt based on the
account in the apocryphal Gospel of Thomas. Statements like
that of 5.116: “O Jesus, son of Mary! Didst thou say unto
mankind: Take me and my mother for two gods beside Allah?”
show that Muhammad’s “trinity” comes from Christian contact
of sorts. This could hardly come from revelation! Scholars
point out that the number of Ethiopian loan words found in
the Qur’an may also be an indication of Christian influence,
if we bear in mind that the early Muslim contacts with
Abyssinia were very positive.
We can also suppose that Muhammad’s adoption of
monotheism was probably the result of a conviction arising
from these contacts and a reaction to the idolatry, excesses
and spiritual darkness in Mecca at the time. We should remember
that Mecca was a city important for international trade and
therefore gave opportunity for all sorts of contacts. Note
that in the pre-islamic period there were, however, a few
known Arab monotheists, Hunafa (sing. hanif), and also at
the time of Muhammad, and they were neither Jewish nor
Christian. Nevertheless it was only later that the term Hunafa
was to come to be applied to the Muslim faithful.
At age about 40, his first “reading” or “recitation"
came to Muhammad, i.e. al-Qur’an, which can be translated "the
recitation”. It is to be found in sura 96.1-5 of the Qur’an:
“Read: In the name of thy Lord who createth, createth man from
a clot. Read: And thy Lord is the Most Bounteous, Who teacheth
by the pen, Teacheth man that which he knew not.”
According to an important tradition, Muhammad replied,
“I am no reader.” Another tradition has him reply, “What am I
to recite (or read)?” This tradition resembles, and may have
even been moulded by an Old Testament passage like Is. 40.6:
“A voice says, Cry! And I said, What am I to cry?”
Although Muslims place a good deal of emphasis on the
idea that Muhammad could not read, and therefore for them the
Qur’an is a miracle “the Reading of the man who knew not how
to read,” Pickthall says), this point is not certain. The word
used in the Arabic may simply mean Gentile or untaught, in the
formal sense. In the Bible something similar was said of Jesus
and also of Peter and John. It did not stop the last-named from
writing quite a large part of our New Testament. In the case of
Muhammad we are looking at a predominantly oral society, and he
is said to have “recited” his revelations which others later
recorded on palm-leaves, skins, camel bones and pieces of wood.
Some evidence has however been put forward to indicate that
Muhammad himself was directly involved in the writing process.
A little later -- remember that, like the letters of
Paul in the New Testament, the Qur’an is organised more in
reverse order of length of units (called suras) rather than
by chronology -- we read in 94.1-3: “Did We not open up your
breast and relieve you of the burden which broke your back?”
Tradition and much Muslim belief sees this as a physical
opening and cleansing by God, but everything seems to point
to an understanding of such revelations in a deeply spiritual
and probably visionary sense.
Apparently quite a time passed, then Muhammad went
through a period of serious spiritual depression, doubt and
uncertainty. He had at first wanted to commit suicide. The
vision of the angel Gabriel sent him distressed back to his
wife Khadija for reassurance. He is then supposed to have
heard 74.1 (sometimes considered the very first revelation):
“O thou enveloped in thy cloak, Arise and warn! Thy Lord
magnify, Thy raiment purify, Pollution shun! And show not
favour, Seeking worldly gain!”
Muhammad’s early revelation, as we have indicated,
seems, in spite of tradition, to have been an inner and
somewhat mystical experience. This is made fairly explicit
by the statement, “We sent him (the Angel) down upon your
heart that you may be a warner.” (Cf. 26.194; 2.97.) It was
probably not a physical manifestation, although tradition
often has the tendency to add to the supernatural to make
it even more fabulous. This is so even in Christian thought,
as can be seen in the way angels develop wings in paintings
and during our Church plays, without any real biblical
warrant. (In that regard, the Word of God leads us to
believe that angels look just like men, as in the case
of Abraham’s three visitors and in the gospel Resurrection
accounts. And, let us admit, it would be rather surprising
if you could “entertain unawares” an angel who knocked on
your door if he had wings folded behind his back
[cf. Heb. 13.2]!)
These first “recitation” passages mark the
assumption of the prophetic mantle. Western Islamicists
often find other poetic passages in the Qur’an which they
date earlier as reflecting the spiritual seeking of a mystic.
It is every bit as difficult to date parts of Qur’an as it is
to date accurately the Bible books.
THE SALMAN RUSHDIE NOVEL: The Satanic Verses
Having mentioned Muhammad’s uncertainty about his
revelations, it is no doubt appropriate to consider the
famous “satanic verses”. But perhaps in the present climate
this cannot be done without first commenting on Salman
Rushdie’s sensational book, a long allegorical novel
rather in Kafka’s style. It has some 549 pages (London & New
York: Viking Penguin, 1988) and took its title from the two
so-called qur’anic “satanic verses” of which a narrative account
is given on page 114-115 of the English edition.
This novel, set basically in the 20th Century and
starting off with the explosion of a plane, certainly had a
number of good reasons to shock Muslim sensibilities. But some
things could only have irritated those who were particularly
well-educated and informed. It seems to have been they who
then stirred up ignorant and nominal believers who did not
need much provocation. For example, one thing noted was the
name for “the Messenger”, Mahound, which was commonly used in
European Christian medi‘val plays to portray and caricature
Muhammad. We can safely say that not everyone would be aware
of such an association!
However, in the novel Mecca is also given the
unfortunate name Jahilia, which is Arabic for “Darkness”.
And Rushdie has the prostitutes in a brothel named Hijab
(Arabic for “Head Veiling”, but given as “Curtain” in the
English text) mockingly bearing the names of Muhammad’s
wives and in time they take on their identity. In addition,
according to the novel, Mahound has a malicious scribe who
deceptively distorts the qur’anic text while recording
Gibreel’s revelations. This scribe, deserving even in
the novel of the death penalty, has the name Salman the
Persian (Iranian?). Surely that was not very smart on
the author’s part!
It is no doubt this blatantly provocative and
rather devastating and negative nature of the book which
shocks Muslims most. And remember that the novel -- a work
of fiction, it is true, but as cynical as Voltaire’s works
in French -- was written by an apostate, a former Muslim!
As a result of all this, perhaps we can understand that
fanatical Muslim reaction which we saw, without condoning it.
When Martin Scorsese’s film The Last Temptation of
Christ appeared in 1988, some Christians in Abidjan and other
cities of Africa and Europe signed petitions against this
film without perhaps really knowing what it contained that
was so offensive. In France at least three cinemas showing
the film were burned. Christians should never act with such
violence, but with this experience in mind we are no doubt
better able to appreciate what pushed so many Muslims into
book-burning, riots, etc.
A word of warning is appropriate concerning a document
of nine pages in wide circulation. This gives a purported
summary and “extracts” from Rushdie’s book. This document
is a cynical spoof and is perhaps a university joke or a
deceitful effort to stir up fundamentalists. But it is
deceiving even pastors although certain things should
immediately strike the alert reader (e.g. the striking
introductory exaggeration that “Rushdie is at present the
best protected man in the world, with 1,600 (sic!) Scotland
Yard agents guarding him day and night”). What President in
the world has ever had such constant protection? Some Arabic
is used to better deceive, but the novel does not have a
single character of Arabic! Nothing in the brochure is true,
neither concerning Rushdie (born in 1947, but said to be
doing university studies in 1952 and writing books quite
different from those he actually wrote!), Muhammad (depicted
as a lewd murderer and a homosexual) nor the novel The
Satanic Verses (described as a “tiny pocket book” of 102
pages). Even the chapters listed do not correspond to
The writer of these deceptive pages that he wishes
to have accepted as extracts knows virtually nothing about
Rushdie, has never seen the novel Rushdie wrote, and has
not even documented basic points about the Prophet’s life. He
says that the Muhammad was born in 632, a ridiculous error,
as everyone knows the Muslim calendar starts from the year 622.
The translation is muted or the text is changed in
most versions. For example, Mohammed Pickthall gives the
paraphrase: “Have ye thought upon Al-Lat and Al-‘Uzza, And
Manat, the third, the other?” However, the essence of what
Muhammad said, according to Arabist Alfred Guillaume,
apparently is, “Al-Lat, Al-‘Uzza and Manat are exalted
virgins whose intercession can be counted upon.” This
corresponds closely to the text of the early Muslim writer
Waqidi. Kasimirski adds an explanatory foot-note (p.263) to
his French translation, saying that Muhammad, to the glee of
the infidels, absent-mindedly or sleepily recited: “They are
beautiful and distinguished maidens who deserve worship.”
Such a text form has reliable evidence dating back
a thousand years to the great Muslim historians At-Tabari
and Ibn Sa‘d, among others. This would seem to accept the
idea of intermediaries and at the same time the validity
of other shrines. In the end it could not help but jeopardize
the worship of the One God at the Ka‘aba.And this Muhammad
would have quickly realized.
This syncretism at first won over some Meccans,
but any sympathy gained in the city of Mecca was lost when
Muhammad’s rethinking shown by the revelation of 22.52
disavowed this as not having been revealed by God but by
Satan! Exegesis suggests that 17.73 may be a reminder of
this unhappy incident: “And they indeed strove hard to
beguile thee away from that wherewith We have inspired
thee, that thou shouldst invent other than it against
Us; and then would they have accepted thee as a friend.”
It needs to be added that many modern-day Muslim
scholars reject this embarrassing historical account
provided by the Muslim Tradition. However, as Watt says,
it is surely unthinkable that the story was at some stage
merely invented by the Muslims or inserted by fraud into
Note that Muhammad was in a sort of epileptic state
when the revelations occurred. But this was not usually a
problem for him, so we can be fairly sure that he was not
suffering from a medical condition. Some would hastily suggest
that the trances are related to possession, but should the same
thing be said then also of those who enter extraordinary trances
during certain types of church services? It is no doubt true,
however, that the occult element in this cannot be completely
It should be mentioned that Muhammad was reassured
in his uncertainty. His qur’anic revelations told him that
prevailing doubts were to be overcome by his consulting the
people of the Book, the Jews and Christians, and his
followers were to do the same! This important point can be
seen in 10.95; 16.43; 21.7. These are verses that have sent
many a Muslim into an enlightening study of the Bible. We
need quote only the first: “If thou art in doubt concerning
that which we reveal unto thee, then question those that read
the Scripture that was before thee.”
Muslim teaching is that the revealed Qur’an is but a
copy of the Mother of the Book, the perfect Qur’an which is
said to be uncreated and has always existed with God in heaven.
(You might realize that this generally held Muslim doctrine
has enormous inherent philosophical difficulties, since it
postulates the existence of something uncreated alongside
If this point about the nature of the revelation
is grasped, we can see that for the Muslim, the Qur’an is
the “Word” revealed. So it is equivalent in fact to Jesus
in Christianity, and it is really Muhammad who has the role
of our Bible, himself providing the model and teaching
needed by the faithful. The Tradition then provides much
of what in Christianity is derived from the Acts of the
Apostles and the Epistles. We should note that the roles
of the Bible and the Qur’an are therefore very different.
These books are so often compared during Christian
discussion of Islam, but they are not really comparable
We must remember that they had the Ka‘aba, a shrine
filled with idols, which also had a black meteorite stone
“fallen from heaven”. This stone still exists to this day,
having an important place in the pilgrimage. The shrine had
something of the financial value and interest of the Our Lady
cave at Lourdes in France in terms of a money-earner. We can
understand that his teaching concerning social justice and the
poor was not appreciated by the wealthy, any more than Amos’
hearers took notice of his messages about social justice. This
led Muhammad to begin more and more to talk of the Old Testament
and of other prophets, pointing out that they too were without
honour but that judgment came inevitably on their mockers. So
the nature of the messages of the Qur’an seems to have changed
It is clear that Muhammad must have already known these
biblical stories about the Prophets in some form or other.
Otherwise he would not have been able to make sense of them
when the various revelations came to him. We will be able to
look somewhat more closely at his religious contacts later.
There was in this town a group who had met him during
their pilgrimage. They had somewhat accepted his claims, but
probably more for his moral qualities than because of his
statements about his revelations. They had been looking for
a charismatic leader able to stop their tribal feuds, and
they thought Muhammad seemed to have the qualities they were
Their welcome extended to him became the turning
point of his career and of Islam itself and therefore this
can be said to be the start of the Muslim era. Consequently
Muslims date events A.H., i.e. Anno Hegirae, or after the Hijra.
If need be, you can roughly convert to our calendar dates by
adding 622 and deducting three years per century to allow for
In any case, the ahadith (Traditions) have developed
this into the physical mi‘raj or Ascension of Muhammad,
together with details of the animal he rode, his sojourn
in each of the seven heavens and his conversations with Adam,
Jesus and other prophets. Some of our countries have a public
holiday to commemorate the event, following an all-night vigil.
It seems clear that Muhammad highly esteemed Jerusalem.
Notice where his Ascension (17.1) took him. A Tradition quotes
Muhammad as looking forward to a day when Jerusalem would be the
seat of Islam rather than Medina. He is supposed to have said:
“Islam has begun by being expatriated (to Medina) and it will
finish up expatriated (to Jerusalem). And blessed will be the
members of Muhammad’s community who will be expatriated with
it.” This is found in the Hadith Al-Ghorba, i.e. Speak of the
Exile, and is quoted by Vincent Monteil in L’Islam, p.44.
Muhammad then became disillusioned that his message
was not immediately received by the important Jewish population
of Medina. He saw himself certainly not as God or a god but as
the messenger of Allah proclaiming and reviving the one, true
religion of Ibrahim and the other prophets (7.158; 10.95;
28.52-53; 42.13 -- “He hath ordained for you that religion
which He commended unto Noah... and that which We commended
unto Abraham and Moses and Jesus saying: Establish the
Even more striking perhaps is the Family of Imran 3.33
and 19.28, of which Maryam the mother of Jesus is a member.
This needs to be compared with 1Chron. 6.3 (5.29 of the Hebrew
text) for its relevance to be appreciated. There we learn that
Moses, Aaron and Miriam are the daughters of Amram/Imran. Is it
therefore all that surprising that the Qur’an says that Aaron
is Mary’s sister and Imran was her father, if you remember that
in Arabic there is no different form for Mary and Miriam?
Other examples could be multiplied of the sort of
thing that outraged the Jews. As a final case we can mention
that the account of the struck rock giving twelve springs in
sura 2.60 seems clearly to be a mixture of two separate Bible
stories, those of Horeb in Ex. 17.6 and of Elim in Ex. 15.27.
This Jewish ridicule about his accounts, Muhammad could
not and was not prepared to accept. He believed he was reciting
the revelation of Allah and denied learning them from human
sources. The point is now made in the Qur’an that the Jews
corrupted or at least misinterpreted their Scriptures
(2.75, 78-79, 174, 176-177; 3.78; 4.46; 5.15; 6.92). However,
in Muhammad’s eyes there is still salvation for Jews and
Christians, as 2.62 shows.
Sura 98 probably marks the definite break with the
Jews who refused to believe. Now the Jewish tribes are
banished or attacked. This is so particularly of the tribes
guilty of betrayal or those (e.g. Bani Nadir, and later the
Qurayza) that rejoiced or took part in Muhammad’s military
This was no doubt a step towards his acceptance
in Mecca. In the Qur’an account there are skirmishes
(2.217), hesitations (16.126) and stand-offs. There
are important battles that become religious wars. At
times attack by the Muslims was considered the best
means of defence. The important Battle of Badr took
place in A.D. 624 when 300 Muslims defeated 1000 Meccans.
The following year was that of the Battle of Mt Uhud when
Muhammad was injured. In 627 the Meccans with Bedouin
nomads form an army of 10,000 against Muhammad. This Battle
of the Ditch led to dissension between the allied enemies
and they lifted their siege and went home. The end was
in sight for Muhammad.
Just before his death Muhammad had given his
farewell address at Arafat at a pilgrimage in A.D. 632.
It is no doubt the very last verse of the qur’anic
revelation (5.3): “This day have I perfected your religion
for you and completed my favour unto you, and have chosen
for you as religion AL-ISLAM.” It has something of the idea
of Jesus’ “It is finished” about it and gives assurance to
the Prophet that his religion is now “perfected”. In that
year the Christians of Najran submitted to a tribute and
the Muslims guaranteed them protection of their persons,
goods and worship. According to Muhammad there were to be
no forced conversions among the Peoples of the Book, for,
the Qur’an says, “There is no compulsion in religion” (2.256).
Later in the day the rumour went about the Muhammad
had in fact died. ‘Umar threatened to punish severely
those who propagated this rumour, and declared that it
was a crime to think that the Prophet of God could die.
Abu Bakr came into the mosque at that moment and overheard
him. He went into the bedroom of his daughter Ayeshah,
where Muhammad was lying. There he realized that the
Prophet was indeed dead. After kissing his forehead he
went back to the mosque. The people were still listening
to ‘Umar who was explaining that the Prophet was too dear
to God and the people, and that he could not be dead.
Abu Bakr failed to get ‘Umar’s attention, so he
called to the people who gathered around him. After
praising God he said the moving words, “O people, as for
those who are in the habit of worshipping Muhammad, Muhammad
is dead. But for those who are in the habit of worshipping
Allah, know that Allah is alive and does not die.” To conclude,
he then recited the verse 3.144: “Muhammad is but a messenger;
messengers have passed away before him. Will it be that, when
he dieth or is slain, ye shall turn back on your heels?”
According to the witnesses, it was as if the people heard
this for the first time, and it is said that ‘Umar’s legs
failed him and he fell to the ground, all the while calling
for God’s blessing upon Muhammad.
To best appreciate Muhammad’s experiences and
his prophecies, and all the mystic and cultural factors
concerned, I think you would have to be an extremely
sensitive religious Arab back in the 7th Century. You
would also need to have something of an Arab nationalistic
spirit, and at the same time be deeply touched by the
ignorant polytheism and idolatry of your people. Such an
appreciation is hard on our part, because our world today
is just ever so different. In addition, sadly, so often
even the blind idolatry and impiety of our very own friends,
relatives and compatriots leave us largely unmoved.
This present topic concerning the influences at work in
his life is of considerable importance to us all if we wish
to understand something of Muhammad’s religious development.
If we do not accept that the Qur’an is divine revelation,
for us it will undoubtedly throw some light on the sources
of the Qur’an. It will also help us to see a little how conflict
with Jews and Christians later arose and became ever so bitter,
because the refusal of the Prophet’s message was just like a
betrayal. However, before looking at Jewish and Christian
influences on Muhammad’s life, it is necessary to make some brief
remarks about the pagan or polytheistic situation at the time.
A case can be made for seeing in “Allah” a link with the
Hebrew word for God, El, apparently pronounced Il in Ancient
Babylonian. In Arabic the form for God became Ilah, which gives
“Allah” when one elides the “i” and adds the word for "the”, Al,
i.e. Al-Illah became “Allah”. The three monotheistic religions of
Arabia use this name to designate the supreme being, The God.
We can be fairly sure that it was so understood in Mecca at the
time of Muhammad, otherwise the Qur’an would never have made
sense or would have been very ambiguous to its hearers as a
result of its straightforward use of this term without further
It is true that Allah is more remote, more transcendent,
than the God that we Protestants know. In this regard the titles
of a couple of testimonies by converted Muslims, I Dared to Call
Him Father and Dieu etait si lointain (i.e. God was so far
away) are revealing. You may know that French Catholics have
gone through a stage of calling God “vous” rather than "tu”.
So we might say that in the Islamic understanding God resembles
more the remote God of the common Catholic position, where
mediators such as Mary or the Saints are often thought to be
necessary. Yet even in this regard few Protestants would say
that Catholics do not pray to the same God as us, any more
than they would assert that animists have no belief in the
There were quite a number of idols or gods worshipped
among the Arabs, and sura 71.23 bears witness to this.
There is also that surprisingly frank account in the
Qur’an of the occasion when the Prophet apparently made
somewhat of a concession to paganism in reciting sura
53.19-20 concerning Al-Lat, Al-‘Uzza and Manat, the goddesses
of the Sun, of Venus and of Fate respectively. There is no
need to go over our discussion of the so-called “satanic
verses”. However, it is obvious that idolatry was rife at
the time of Muhammad. He was not going to have an easy time
convincing his people of the existence of one true God.
Worship of Al-Lat was extremely widespread, and her
means “the goddess”. The footnote given by Pickthall under
name the first sura of the Qur’an seems therefore to be more
of a dogmatic nature than factual when he says that Allah has
no feminine form. Furthermore, many would suggest, something
of Manat’s character as the predestinating and arbitrary
destroyer seems also to have been transferred to Muhammad’s
understanding of Allah.
There are other elements of paganism connected with
Islam apart from the jinn spirits, Fate, and the Black Stone.
Entire books have been written on this subject, as the
bibliography shows. It has struck me as somewhat surprising
that Islam, never over-tolerant of representations of the
creation, has the moon crescent as its symbol. This is perhaps
a further element kept from early paganism.
Mention has already been made of the annual pagan
pilgrimage to the Ka‘aba at Mecca, where many idols were
adored. This was as important a socio-economic factor in
the town as was the worship of Artemis or Diana in Ephesus
mentioned in Acts 19.23-40. Anyone who challenged the vested
interests of the day was looking for trouble. It is
therefore not hard to imagine why the Meccan leaders
and traders rejected Muhammad’s monotheistic messages.
There is no doubt that, about the time of Muhammad,
the Jews dominated much of the economic life of the Hijaz,
and, like much of the best arable land in various oases, the
market at Medina was under the control of a Jewish tribe.
Alfred Guillaume says that they must have made up at least
half the population of Yatrib/Medina, and they no doubt had
proselytes and kinsfolk among the Arab tribesmen. Consequently
we can say that Muhammad could not have avoided contact with
Judaism, even if he had wanted to.
Old Testament allusions or stories are frequent in the
Qur’an, as are those taken from the Jewish Talmud (the rabbinic
traditions) or midrashic (i.e. interpretive) legends. As examples
we can mention sura 18.61-62 -- the story of the wise man of
Al-Khedr and the fish, and sura 2.63 -- relating to a rabbinic
legend that had developed the very words of the Hebrew "under
the mountain” of Exodus 19.17 to have Sinai tower over the
people of Israel, threatening them if they did not accept
the Torah! There is also the strange account in sura 2.64,
because David was said by the rabbis to have transformed into
apes those who fished on the Sabbath!
We have seen that ritual prayer was at first said
towards Jerusalem. Anti-Jewish elements appear only in the
later Qur’an as a reflection of Muhammad’s profound
disillusionment resulting from the Jewish refusal of his
messages, from their mockery, and more especially from their
betrayals and their alliances with his enemies. After all,
the prophets of Allah had always been rejected by the proud
people, Muhammad recalled (cf. s.2.87-89, 91).
Muslim scholars have been divided on this over the
centuries, with even some notables accepting the truth of
Christ’s death (at least for a few hours). It is worth
noting that the doctrine of the Ahmadiyya sect depends
on the fact that it was indeed Jesus who was crucified.
Sayyad Ahmad Khan of India developed the theory that it
was Jesus, but he only swooned on the cross and was taken
down alive after only a few hours. This idea was later
mixed with a supposed visit of Jesus to Tibet. Much has
been made of this escape theory. Ghulam Ahmad has had a
great success with this story, particularly since he pointed
out a grave in Kashmir which he claimed to be that of Jesus!
Tradition and Muslims in general have of course
developed the doubts about the Crucifixion and the qur’anic
teaching somewhat, resulting in the idea of some sort of
most unlikely substitution, perhaps with Judas or Simon
of Cyrene on the Cross. The relevant qur’anic verses are
sura 4.156-159 and sura 3.54-55.
We read in s.4.157-158: “And because of their
saying: We slew the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, Allah’s
messenger -- they slew him not nor crucified, but it
appeared so to them... They slew him not for certain,
but Allah took him up unto Himself. Allah was ever Mighty,
Wise.” With that compare Kasimirski’s translation (in his
version, sura 3.47-48): “The Jews imagined tricks against
Jesus. God worked some out against them, and God is certainly
cleverer. God said to Jesus: I will make you undergo death,
and I will raise you up to myself.” In context, Muhammad may
not be opposing the death of Christ as such. He seems rather
to be scoring points against the unbelieving Jews, who should
not take arrogant credit for crucifying the Messiah. Allah
is sovereign, and the suggestion may be that the Jews should
not think they can act against him and his Prophet.
In any case Muslim scholars are divided as to
whether Jesus was dead before being raised to God, i.e.
before the Ascension, or whether he was not. You might like
to know that the Sale translation of the Qur’an helpfully
details some of this in the note on p.51-52, mentioning
those who acknowledge that Jesus died a natural death and
continued in that state for three or seven hours before
being resurrected and taken to heaven. We know that yet
other Muslims propose that Jesus will return to earth,
marry, and then die.
This whole subject is a matter of considerable
confusion as a result of the qur’anic references’ being
so enigmatic. We have probably given enough details for
the purposes of these brief notes. However, we can come
back to this matter of the Crucifixion during our
discussion of the Nestorian ideas current among Arab
Christians at Muhammad’s time.
The influence of the Judeo-Christian Scriptures was
widespread among the Arabic God-fearers. As early as forty
years before Muhammad’s call, even the idolatrous Ka‘aba had
on a stone a proverbial quotation from Matthew 7.16. Worship
at the Ka‘aba was supposed to have been based on the tradition
of Abraham, which became so important to Islam in due course.
During the cleansing of the Ka‘aba, when Muhammad ordered
all idolatry to be removed from the shrine, he made an
exception in the case of pictures of Mary and Jesus which
were on the wall, according to Ibn Ishaq. These were still
visible to eyewitnesses as late as 683, when the Ka‘aba was
destroyed by fire and had to be rebuilt.
Muslims often seem to be thoroughly anti-Christian
and mistrustful of Christians. This may come as a natural
enough reaction from their family upbringing and their
historic experiences (the Crusades and, in Africa,
Catholic-civil colonial pressures). But it may also result
from the fact that they understand very little about their
own faith and their religious heritage, and perhaps even less
about biblical Christianity. This may give the impression that
relations have always been like this. But we need to recall
that Muhammad undoubtedly had close and frequent contact with
Christians and Jews. Mecca had so many Christians at the time
of the Prophet that they apparently had a cemetery of their
own. They included slaves from Ethiopia, but there were also
Arabs won to the Coptic faith. Even Khadija’s hairdresser
was apparently a Christian.
It is important to note this cosmopolitan character
of wealthy Mecca. For example, Abbas, an uncle of the Prophet,
had a Greek concubine. He presented Muhammad with a Coptic
slave named Abu Rafi. The Tradition teaches that Muhammad
was informed of some things by two Christians, Jubra and
Ysara, and for this reason the idolatrous Qureshites rejected
him and mocked saying, “It is only a mortal that teaches him.”
The Prophet used to stop and listen to these two Christians as
they recited aloud from the Torah and the Injil. We can probably
only appreciate the importance and impact of this if we grasp
the significance of recitation and memorisation in a society
where orality was the main means of passing on tradition and
Christian monks, healers and travellers passed
through Mecca, and from the age of 25 Muhammad is supposed
to have travelled a lot with Khadija’s caravans. Someone of
his religious disposition would surely have sought out
opportunities for discussion like that he had when, as early
as age twelve, he went to Syria with his uncle Abu Talib and
there met a Christian monk named Bahira. Let us not forget
either the importance and power of Damascus in the early
Christian world. Christianity anything but died out there
with the exit of Paul through that hole in the wall
(Acts 9.25)! However, it is a fact of history that Persia
long dominated Syria. Then, just in time for the Muslim
era, the Byzantine Greeks took Syria with a terribly
cruel oppression. When, soon after, the Arabian Muslim
forces showed themselves, they were of course welcomed
as liberators. That is the way it was to be throughout
much of North Africa.
Arabia had a surprisingly large number of
Christians prior to and around Muhammad’s time. Though
the bedouin of the Hijaz region were pagan, many tribes
of Arabia had accepted some form of Christianity. Even
two tribes of the Hijaz were Christian. The tradition
says that Muhammad wore long gowns given to him by desert
monks there. While Muhammad was a youth, even King Nu‘man
of Hira converted to Christianity.
Remember that after his initial revelations,
Muhammad did not know whether he had become a poet or
possessed, or the both at once, a state greatly feared
by Arabs at the time. Khadija went, apparently with
Muhammad, to see her cousin Waraqa Ibn Naufal, an old
man “who knew the Scriptures of the Jews and Christians.
” He had even written down the Gospels “in Hebrew”.
Waraqa saw in the revelation the same sort of
manifestation as at the Burning Bush. Waraqa’s word
to Khadija was: “So he will assuredly be the prophet
to his own people. Tell him so and have him stand firm”
(Al-Tabari). It is worth noting the precise wording of
Waraqa’s understanding, because Waraqa remained a
Christian all his life. We can note at this point that
Khadija had another Christian cousin Uthman ibn
Al-Huwayrith who became a Christian at the Byzantine court.
MUHAMMAD’S CHRISTIAN RELATIVES
Even more significant in Muhammad’s contacts with
Christianity in one form or another may be three other of
his relatives. Ubaidullah ibn Jash, one of the early Hunafa,
became one of the first Muslims, and he married Umma Habiba,
daughter of Abu Sufyan. He was among the Companions of the
Prophet who fled the first bitter Meccan persecutions and
sought refuge in Abyssinia. There he soon renounced Islam
and became a Christian, and he used to testify to the
Companions of the Prophet who were there, saying, “We see
clearly, but you are blinking,” because a whelp blinks
when it is trying to open its eyes to see (as Ibn Ishaq
relates). Ubaidullah died in Ethiopia, maintaining his
Christian faith to the end, and in due course Muhammad
married his friend’s wife. Umma Habiba no doubt brought
with her something of her first husband’s understanding
if not his convictions. Another of Muhammad’s widow-wives,
Sawda, had also been married to a Christian, but this
marriage may have taken place because she did not espouse
the position of her husband.
The third much-loved relative to consider is Zaid
ibn Harith. He was from a southern Syrian tribe, the Bani
Kalb. While still young, he was taken and sold into slavery
and eventually came into the hands of Khadija who gave him
to Muhammad. The Prophet developed such a love for him that
he freed him. He took him to the Black Stone of the Ka‘aba.
There he swore, “Bear testimony, all ye present. Zaid is my
son; I will be his heir and he shall be mine.” Zaid had no
doubt brought with him something of his religious heritage,
and it would surely have been most natural for Muhammad to
have conversed with his wives and with Zaid about the
Christian and biblical stories. In this regard, let us
not forget the possible further influence of the wife
often called Muhammad’s favourite, Maryam the Copt,
given to the Prophet by the Governor of Alexandria.
The tragedy is that with the vision and the natural
revelation that Muhammad had, and with his desire to root
out idolatry and polytheism, his contact with Christianity
and Judaism, and even more so with Christians and Jews, was
so deficient and did not seem to provide a very positive
witness to the truth and grace of God. Christianity then,
as now (especially in the case of Protestants and
evangelicals), was far too divided and gave a much too
diversified and even conflicting testimony. In fact, sadly,
Muhammad may have had every reason to believe that he was
propagating the true religion and the will of God for his
creation when we consider the state of Christianity at
the time. When we talk nowadays of folk Islam, let us
remember that in Arabia as well as Europe at the time,
this seems to have been the period of doctrina publica
rather than doctrina ecclesia, as it has been put. That
is to say, Christian common understanding and superstition
too often carried the day, no matter what the Bible or the
official doctrine the Church said.
It was said by C.S. Lewis (in God in the Dock)
that “Islam is only the greatest of the Christian heresies.”
This could with some reservation be considered a fairly
accurate assessment, since Islam has a lot of the features
of, say, the Jehovah’s Witnesses or the Branhamists. It is
also not all that dissimilar to judaistic thinking. As with
most heresies, Islam’s principal differences from biblical
Christianity relate to the Trinity and the person and work
of Christ. It has a definite leader figure. A consideration
of the Pillars of Islam shows that salvation or acceptance
with God is also very much related to works rather than
grace by faith, as the Bible teaches us.
A reflection on this may help our thinking. It
may also explain something of our difficulty of
communicating effectively among Muslims since, habitually,
Christians seem to have tried by argument to convince and
win over members of the sects. Perhaps it is the “more
excellent way”, that is needed (cf. 1 Corinthians 12.31).
Church history with its divisions had borne fruit in
Arabia. There the Nestorian church was especially strong to
the extent that some historians can say that, at least prior
to A.D. 547, the “Church of the east”, i.e. the Nestorians,
held all of Arabia, as both J. Stewart and Samuel M. Zwemer
maintain. In this regard let us say that although the Nicean
consultations in A.D. 325 had formulated a doctrine of the
Trinity that confessed that God was in Christ reconciling
the world to himself, this had certainly not ended the arguments.
This positive step led to discussion concerning the
relationship between the divine and human natures of Jesus
Christ. In this question, as so often happened,
Alexandrian-Antiochan ecclesiastical rivalry was to take
a prime position. Although the matter is complex, because
it so shaped Muhammad’s thinking we need to give it some
consideration to appreciate the nature of the dispute about
God and Christ of which Muhammad was a witness.
The actual theological questions were phrased in
the form: after the Incarnation were these natures of
Christ fused or distinct? And did the divine nature suffer
on the Cross? Cyril of Alexandria was the hero of the one
united-nature camp, and this involved especially Mary.
For Cyril, Mary was “Theotokos”, the bearer of God, which
he translated as Mater Theo, i.e. mother of God. The
great weakness of his theology was that he did not give
enough account of the role of the humanity of Christ.
There was, according to this group, only one composite
nature in Christ, the divine Word. The monophysites
followed this position, and there was subsequently a
real cult of the Virgin, of which the Qur’an gives
Nestorius of Antioch (428, Patriarch of Constantinople)
was concerned about the gross misunderstanding that such terms
could give to non-Christians and pagans, and in this at least
he was surely right. He was advised in this by refugee
Egyptian monks. He said, “The form that received God, let
us honour as divine together with the Word of God. But the
Virgin who received God, let us not honour as God together
with God...It is sufficient to honour Mary that she gave
birth to the humanity which became the instrument of God.”
Nestorius vehemently opposed the use of the word Theotokos
and preferred the term Christotokos (i.e. bearer of Christ),
if one was not prepared to join to theotokos the word
anthropotokos (bearer of man).
In A.D. 431 the Council of Ephesus took up a
position against Nestorius, and the Council of Chalcedon
basically affirmed the position of Cyril in its historic
decision of A.D. 451. But the daggers remained drawn among
the different followers, even after Nestorius’ death in A.D.
431 and that of Cyril in 444.
Nestorian Christianity was strongly represented in
Arabia at the time of Muhammad, and, most significantly,
mong other things it stressed the Day of Judgment which
became a real leitmotiv of the Prophet’s teaching. Muhammad
bought into the argument concerning Mary and the Godhead,
it would appear, and this probably explains the terms of
the verse 5.72, which may well be the expression of an
opposition to the Theotokos (God-bearer) idea of the
Monophysites: “They surely disbelieve who say: Lo! Allah
is the Messiah, son of Mary.”
We need also to remember that in the historic
Nicean Creed Mary is placed next to the Holy Spirit,
and this may be no accident. At the Nicean Council there
were church leaders who looked on her as the bride of
the Holy Spirit or, worse still, who held to a notion
of her divinity which may not be far from some modern
Catholic views. However, these Marionites thought there
were in fact two gods besides the Father, Christ and the
Virgin Mary, as the historian Eusebius shows. Some of
these adepts seem to have later been in Scythia and also
Arabia where they were known as Collyridians, according
to Ephiphanius. It was this sort of argument which probably
led to Muhammad’s appeal in sura 3.64: “O People of the
Scripture! Come to an agreement between us and you: that
we shall worship none but Allah, and that we shall ascribe
no partner unto Him, and that none of us shall take others
for lords beside Allah.” It is even clearer in sura 5.116:
“O Jesus, son of Mary! Didst thou say unto mankind: Take me
and my mother for two gods beside Allah?” Thus Muhammad
clearly rejects the divinity of Mary.
Looking at the Crucifixion account, Abdul-Haqq finds
the Qur’anic position and language very close to that of the
Nestorians and also the expression of Paul in Romans 8.3.
He translates the important expression in sura 4.157 thus:
“They slew Him not nor crucified Him but only his likeness
of men (or flesh).” By this sort of language, the Nestorians
would have meant that the Jews did not and could not kill
or crucify Jesus Christ so far as his divine nature was
concerned. Muhammad may have been repeating a catch-cry or
even their language. But could he really have been saying
the same thing as they?
It is possible that here, as elsewhere in the Qur’an,
Muhammad gives his understanding of the matter without its
being totally coherent. We have seen that sort of thing in
relation to certain Old Testament stories. Another example
that seems to stand out is Muhammad’s opposition to a trinity
which is not the Christian Trinity (cf. s.5.116, quoted above).
In any case, in his commentary Al-Baidhawi even provides
interpretive options which are hardly normal Muslim ones:
“Some said that he was taken up to heaven; and others that
his manhood only suffered, and that his Godhead ascended
into heaven” (Sale, p.94). The historian Ibn Ishaq says
that part of Muhammad’s calling was to resolve such
disputes: “And He sent down the Criterion, that is the
distinction between truth and falsehood about which the
sects differ in regard to the nature Jesus Christ and
other natures” (p.272).
It may reflect something of Muhammad’s quiet
thinking on these areas that he was at least able the
accept the idea of Jesus being in some sense the Word
from God (sura 3.34; sura 4.171 -- in French, le Verbe).
This is somewhat of an enigma because it is well-known
that he rejects the divinity of Christ. And in this he
has had many friends among “Christians” over the centuries!
Part of his problem concerning the sonship of Christ
seems to come from his firm opposition to associating anyone
with God (called in Arabic the sin of shirk), and more
specifically to the idea of God copulating with anyone
to have a physical Son. Most Muslims seem to object to
the idea of God’s Son basically because of this physical
idea. We therefore need to be very clear about what we mean
as well as always make clear precisely what we mean when we
use the expression “Son of God” within Muslim hearing.
A comment may be added here about the Gospel
differences. Muslims may have all sorts of different
backgrounds. But in initial work with educated Muslims,
it has often been found that Luke’s Gospel shocks them
less with its expressions than Mark’s (cf. Mark 1.1) or
John’s. Even the terms in Luke 1.35 have been accepted
with its explanation of the work of the Most-High.
How different may things have been if Christians had
in the 7th Century been united around the truth of the Word!
We can see illustrated ever so clearly in Muhammad’s case the
importance of what Jesus said in his prayer recorded in
John 17.21: “That all might be one... so that the world might
believe that you sent me.” The disunity of Christians was no
doubt a stumbling block to Muhammad in his time.
Surely the same is true for Muslims today. Islam today
is faced with, on our side, such a confusion of churches and
sects as never seen before. With our multiplicity of churches
and rather perplexing emphases on secondary distinctives, we
Christians found only too often what are in reality rather
legalistic religious organisations and Missions rather than
fellowship communities where believers are really instructed
and built up in their faith. The organism known as the Body
of Christ is everywhere supplanted by an organisation with
rules and regulations. The letter so easily replaces the Spirit.
However, weak and such as we are, we must try to
understand better the Muslims around us. As followers of
Jesus the Messiah, committed to the service of God and to
doing his will, we must intelligently and wisely reach out
to the much more united world of Islam in order to present
Jesus Christ as the one and only Way. This is a task and
responsibility we dare not neglect. Muslims need to be able
to hear and heed the message of the Gospel. After all, our
Lord Jesus once said, “I am the way, the truth and the life;
no one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14.6).
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* * * * * *
(c) 1998, Victor Bissett. CDM@WHO.net
Update and HTML Modifications: 5/07/1998