Thursday, October 9, 2008

What is Islam?

What is the purpose of Islam for Muslims? Why did Allah establish the religion of Islam through Mohammed as a mercy for mankind? The heart of Islam can be described in the following three categories:

1. Outward Conformity: In Islam, “God created humankind innocent, but they have made choices to their own detriment. Nevertheless, human beings are not essentially evil, but basically good. They are finite, mortal creatures, who are honored by God to be his representatives and servants on earth. Even though human beings are not essentially sinful and have no fallen nature, they are intrinsically weak, frail, imperfect, and constantly forgetful of God. Consequently, God sends them prophets to call them to submit to his sovereign will” (Geisler). If humankind is intrinsically weak and prone to make mistakes, then Adam and Eve did not “fall” but simply forgot the law. God in his mercy then gives the Qur’an which is guidance for life, so that Muslims know how to live on the “straight path” and remember the law of God. Muslims must conform to the law; this is perhaps the greatest concern for Muslims everywhere. In Islam Adam and Eve were not created for fellowship with God. If there was no fall, then there is no need for redemption from sin.

2. Social Control: When Christians study the Bible, the usual end result is called “theology.” But when Muslims study the Qur’an and the Hadith, the end result is “law.” Muslims glory in the fact that they have a rule for almost every situation in life. And when these laws (usually called Sharia) are properly enforced, Islamic societies experience peace, prosperity, and blessing. One paradigm to describe Islam is Phariseeism. Islam aims to bless society through the enforcement of rules and laws.

3. Worldwide Political Influence: As a religion of peace from God, Islam is meant to spread and ultimately rule over the whole earth. Mohammed was a political ruler, a statesman. It is perfectly legitimate for Islam to be advanced politically. Mohammed’s military conquests set the example. Islam is as much a political expression as it is a religion (although personal conversion should never be forced on anyone- the Qur’an teaches that “there is no compulsion in religion” (Baqara 2:256)). That is why religion and politics are so closely related in Islam.

Unfortunately, the church has embraced this model at times throughout the centuries. But when Jesus was offered rule over an earthly kingdom, he refused and went to the Cross instead. He said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting” (Jn. 18:36).

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