Sunday, February 28, 2010

Joseph Cumming Papers in Arabic, English, Turkish

Here is a link to three fantastic papers by Joseph Cumming on three critical topics:

1. Did Jesus Die on the Cross? (English, Arabic, Turkish)
2. The Word of God in Islam and Christianity (English, Arabic)
3. The Meaning of the Expression "Son of God" (English, Arabic)

The first is a paper he wrote at Yale. The second and third were originally written in Arabic for Mazhar Mallouhi's Arabic Gospels. I can't recommend them highly enough! Joseph has a knack for communicating with the utmost relevance and sensitivity to a Muslim reader, yet without compromising the kerygma (core) of the Gospel message. All three papers are posted on the Yale Center for Faith and Culture Reconciliation Program website.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Hello from Abdul Asad

I want to thank Warrick for the chance to team up on this blog. I am of the opinion that two heads are better than one. So in this case, I hope and pray that together we can succeed in keeping the glorious Messiah continually visible before Muslims - directly, in our own lives, and indirectly, through the lives of those who we seek to resource on this blog.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Circumpolar Welcomes Abdul Asad

Circumpolar is now a team blog with a new contributor.  Abdul Asad (a pen name) is originally from New York, and studied at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.  He is involved with ministry among Muslims in several different nations, with a home base in the Arabian Peninsula.  His passion is to see Jesus Christ become
incarnate in the darkest corners of the world by living the Gospel in word and deed, and empowering followers of Jesus from the global Church to do the same.

Abdul Asad is cool guy and he is passionate about Jesus.  I am looking forward to learning a lot from him.

In August 2009 St. Francis Magazine published an article written by Abdul Asad, “RETHINKING THE INSIDER MOVEMENT DEBATE: GLOBAL HISTORICAL INSIGHTS TOWARD AN APPROPRIATE TRANSITIONAL MODEL OF C5.”  I highly recommend the article, especially the table/chart at the end showing the difference between what he calls “appropriate” and “syncretistic” C5.  (Maybe Abdul Asad can repost that table/chart so we can read it all on one page?)

I also want to take this chance to remind you about the purpose of Circumpolar.  A “circumpolar” star is one that is continually visible above the horizon.  So Circumpolar exists so that the glorious Messiah would be continually visible before Muslims.  Through postings on this blog we aim to equip and resource followers of Jesus to advance the gospel among Muslims.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Short Video: the Trinity for Muslims

From Dar al-Masih:

Here's a great little video from Crescent Project that may give you some ideas for explaining the Trinity to Muslims.


Minor Note: I don’t really like the H2O analogy.  Grudem says this:

The analogy of the three forms of water (steam, water, and ice) is also inadequate [for explaining the Trinity] because (a) no quantity of water is ever all three of these at the same time, (b) they have different properties or characteristics, (c) the analogy has nothing that corresponds to the fact that there is only one God (there is no such thing as “one water” or “all the water in the universe”), and (d) the element of intelligent personality is lacking (240).

But the video is interesting and worth at least a 2 minute investment of time.  I’m looking forward to more of these from Crescent Project.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Helpful [free!] Resources for Those Ministering to Muslims

From Brigada:

Here’s a website created for expatriate and national believers who are ministering to Muslims in the Arab world.  It seeks to provide a comprehensive on-line database of information and critique of print and audio-visual resources for church planting ministry use.

An https version of the site is available by sending email to

Monday, February 8, 2010

Nine Bible Studies for Muslim Seekers

Here is an evangelistic Bible study you can use for Muslim seekers.  (I don’t know who wrote it- if you do please comment.)  The 49 page word document includes a short description of the study and an outline of points to bring up in each passage specifically for Muslims.  Also at the end of each study is the Qur'anic account of each story or passage.  Here is the general outline:

Nine Bible Studies for Muslim Seekers: Preparing the Ground and Proclaiming the Gospel.

  1. Adam and Eve.  God is Good and Holy; Man was Created Perfect (Gen. 1:1-2:7)
  2. Adam and Eve.  Man is Separated from God Through Sin (Gen. 2:15-3:24)
  3. Abraham.  God Wants to Save Man: Sacrifice and Substitution (Gen. 22:1-19)
  4. Moses.  No One is Righteous in the Eyes of God (Ex. 20:1-17)
  5. Moses.  God Regularly Reminds Man of his Need for a Savior (Lev. 16:1-34)
  6. David.  A Man After God’s Heart (Ps. 51)
  7. Isaiah.  The Promised Savior and His Character (Is. 52:13-53:12)
  8. Jesus.  Who is He? (Luke 1:26-38; 2:1-40)
  9. Jesus.  His Sacrificial Death on the Cross, His Resurrection (Luke 22:63-24:49)

Read the whole thing (49 pages).

Friday, February 5, 2010

Bob Blincoe: The Missionary Advantage

From Desiring God:

The audio of Bob Blincoe's [Blincoe is the US Director of Frontiers] message, "Christian Hedonism—The Missionary Advantage of Desiring God," is now online. You can also read the notes.

Here's how he defined "the missionary advantage":

The missionary advantage is God's clear promise that Jesus Christ will go with us as we make disciples of the "ethnē" (the nations). Jesus will go with us through our Gethsemane. Therefore we can say with the poet, "Riches I heed not nor man's empty praise; Thou my inheritance, now and always…"

Remind your missionaries one hundred times that Jesus has all authority in heaven and on earth. Remind them that they have a heavenly Father who knows their needs.

HT: Abdul Asad

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Video Conversation between Parshall and J. D. Payne

It is hard to find a book on Muslim ministry these days without finding Phil Parshall’s name somewhere on the front or back cover.  And readers of this blog know that I am reading a book by J.D. Payne called Discovering Church Planting.  So when a recent post at The Missional Mind featured a conversation between the two I couldn’t pass it up (I only wish they would have discussed some deeper ministry issues regarding church planting and contextualization!):

We continue to be faced with the question "what is the best way to reach Muslims for Christ?" Many voices have joined this missional conversation, but one of the most respected is Phil Parshall.

He served as a missionary in Bangladesh for 21 years. He founded the Bangladesh Bible Correspondence School, and served as Vice-president of the Bangladesh Bible Society. He has also served Muslims in the Philippines with SIM for almost 20 years, as Director of the Asian Research Center.

He completed his Doctor of Missiology degree from Fuller Theological Seminary in 1980, and also studied at Yale and Harvard and has authored nine books on Islam, including The Cross and the Crescent.

Many today look to Parshall when it comes to wisdom for navigating the challenging waters of contextualization (living incarnationally in the Muslim cultural reality).

I invite you to watch and listen carefully to this fascinating conversation between J. D. Payne, author of Discovering Church Planting, and Phil Parshall.

[Click through to Circumpolar to the get the video.]

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Muslim Inventions that Shaped the Modern World

Important information most Westerners don’t realize.

London, England (CNN) — Think of the origins of that staple of modern life, the cup of coffee, and Italy often springs to mind.

But in fact, Yemen is where the ubiquitous brew has its true origins.

Along with the first university, and even the toothbrush, it is among surprising Muslim inventions that have shaped the world we live in today.

The origins of these fundamental ideas and objects — the basis of everything from the bicycle to musical scales — are the focus of “1001 Inventions,” a book celebrating “the forgotten” history of 1,000 years of Muslim heritage.

“There’s a hole in our knowledge, we leap frog from the Renaissance to the Greeks,” professor Salim al-Hassani, Chairman of the Foundation for Science, Technology and Civilisation, and editor of the book told CNN.

“1001 Inventions” is now an exhibition at London’s Science Museum. Hassani hopes the exhibition will highlight the contributions of non-Western cultures — like the Muslim empire that once covered Spain and Portugal, Southern Italy and stretched as far as parts of China — to present day civilization.

Here Hassani shares his top 10 outstanding Muslim inventions:

1. Surgery

Around the year 1,000, the celebrated doctor Al Zahrawi published a 1,500 page illustrated encyclopedia of surgery that was used in Europe as a medical reference for the next 500 years. Among his many inventions, Zahrawi discovered the use of dissolving cat gut to stitch wounds — beforehand a second surgery had to be performed to remove sutures. He also reportedly performed the first caesarean operation and created the first pair of forceps.

2. Coffee

Now the Western world’s drink du jour, coffee was first brewed in Yemen around the 9th century. In its earliest days, coffee helped Sufis stay up during late nights of devotion. Later brought to Cairo by a group of students, the coffee buzz soon caught on around the empire. By the 13th century it reached Turkey, but not until the 16th century did the beans start boiling in Europe, brought to Italy by a Venetian trader.

3. Flying machine

“Abbas ibn Firnas was the first person to make a real attempt to construct a flying machine and fly,” said Hassani. In the 9th century he designed a winged apparatus, roughly resembling a bird costume. In his most famous trial near Cordoba in Spain, Firnas flew upward for a few moments, before falling to the ground and partially breaking his back. His designs would undoubtedly have been an inspiration for famed Italian artist and inventor Leonardo da Vinci’s hundreds of years later, said Hassani.

4. University

In 859 a young princess named Fatima al-Firhi founded the first degree-granting university in Fez, Morocco. Her sister Miriam founded an adjacent mosque and together the complex became the al-Qarawiyyin Mosque and University. Still operating almost 1,200 years later, Hassani says he hopes the center will remind people that learning is at the core of the Islamic tradition and that the story of the al-Firhi sisters will inspire young Muslim women around the world today.

5. Algebra

The word algebra comes from the title of a Persian mathematician’s famous 9th century treatise “Kitab al-Jabr Wa l-Mugabala” which translates roughly as “The Book of Reasoning and Balancing.” Built on the roots of Greek and Hindu systems, the new algebraic order was a unifying system for rational numbers, irrational numbers and geometrical magnitudes. The same mathematician, Al-Khwarizmi, was also the first to introduce the concept of raising a number to a power.

6. Optics

“Many of the most important advances in the study of optics come from the Muslim world,” says Hassani. Around the year 1000 Ibn al-Haitham proved that humans see objects by light reflecting off of them and entering the eye, dismissing Euclid and Ptolemy’s theories that light was emitted from the eye itself. This great Muslim physicist also discovered the camera obscura phenomenon, which explains how the eye sees images upright due to the connection between the optic nerve and the brain.

7. Music

Muslim musicians have had a profound impact on Europe, dating back to Charlemagne tried to compete with the music of Baghdad and Cordoba, according to Hassani. Among many instruments that arrived in Europe through the Middle East are the lute and the rahab, an ancestor of the violin. Modern musical scales are also said to derive from the Arabic alphabet.

8. Toothbrush

According to Hassani, the Prophet Mohammed popularized the use of the first toothbrush in around 600. Using a twig from the Meswak tree, he cleaned his teeth and freshened his breath. Substances similar to Meswak are used in modern toothpaste.

9. The crank

Many of the basics of modern automatics were first put to use in the Muslim world, including the revolutionary crank-connecting rod system. By converting rotary motion to linear motion, the crank enables the lifting of heavy objects with relative ease. This technology, discovered by Al-Jazari in the 12th century, exploded across the globe, leading to everything from the bicycle to the internal combustion engine.

10. Hospitals

“Hospitals as we know them today, with wards and teaching centers, come from 9th century Egypt,” explained Hassani. The first such medical center was the Ahmad ibn Tulun Hospital, founded in 872 in Cairo. Tulun hospital provided free care for anyone who needed it — a policy based on the Muslim tradition of caring for all who are sick. From Cairo, such hospitals spread around the Muslim world.

For more information on muslim inventions go to: For more information about the exhibition at London’s Science Museum go to: science

HT: Muslim Matters

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Short Video on Mohammed for Christians

From Dar al Masih:  “Crescent Project has created this great little video about some of the positive things Muhammad did that Christians can appreciate. These are great talking points you can use with your Muslim friend that will not offend him or her and will create common ground and positive feelings without denying the Christian position. I can't wait for more of Crescent Project's video resources!”


[Click through to Circumpolar if you can’t see the video.]

Related: Twelve Proofs that Mohammed is a True Prophet

Monday, February 1, 2010

Islam’s River Analogy: Prayer Purifies

On multiple occasions Muslims have shared with me this analogy of the river to explain why they reject the idea that faith in the substitutionary death of Jesus makes us pure/clean before God: 

“What do you think if there was a river at the door of one of you in which he bathes five times a day: Does this leave any dirt on him?’ They answered, ‘Nothing is left.’ The Prophet (PBUH) said, ‘That is like the five prayers with which Allah remove sins.” (Bukhari & Muslim)

Read the whole post (very brief).

See also The Essence of Ramadan (and Islam) and Hajj Paves Way to Paradise for examples of how fasting and pilgrimage provide purity. 

Does anyone know of any references to alms-giving (zakat) or the shahadda serving in this function?