ISLAM-01 - Introduction: What is Islam?
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INSPIRATION & USE OF THE BIBLE
The Scripture says, “Prove all things. Hold fast that which is good,” 1
Welcome to our study of the religion of Islam.
What do you know about Islam?
I've heard a lot about it in the past. You've heard a lot about it. World
events that have occurred that have been directly linked to Islam. But what
facts and what do I really know about the history and the teaching of Islam?
In this series of lessons we want to examine what Islam really is.
Then we will look at its tenants, its beliefs, and examine critically whether or
not it is from God.
We want to look at the evidence and see- does it support the facts as
many Muslims will say that Islam is the book from God and the religion of
God. Or is it another hoax that has been perpetrated on man and that is
really not from God?
We begin by asking- why? Why study the religion of Islam? Why do
we need to look at this as Christians? We need to study it because there
are a lot of souls who are important to God that are involved in this.
Did you know that Islam is the religion of 1/5 of the world's
population? One out of every five people in the world is caught up in Islam.
It is believed to be one of the fastest growing religions even in the United
States. Because there's so many people involved in it, we want to learn
about it. It's now the second most popular religion on the planet with more
than a billion followers. Second only to Catholicism is the religion of Islam.
It is growing faster and faster every day. Like it or not you're going to run
into Muslims. I'm going to run into Muslims, and I need to be ready to talk
to them about the gospel and point out why Islam may or may not be from
In the towns in which we lived there are going to be mosques,
temples, and there are going to be places of worship most likely in a very
short vicinity to us relating to Islam religion. When I think about studying
Islam, we need to learn about Islam and be ready to talk about it because
of its exponential growth rate even in the United States. For example in
1970 in United States of America there were only 100,000 Muslims. In a
study done in 2008 there were 9 million Muslims. In 38 years Islam grew
from having just 100,000 all the way up to 9 million Muslims. I want to learn
about this, and I want to know about it. I want to be prepared to talk about
it. In countries throughout the world, Islam has grown greatly. In fact, some
estimates will show that there are 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide. What a
growth rate it's had! In fact this growth rate, if it ever gets a start in the
country, it grows and always goes in an upward gathering. For example in
Turkey in the year 1300 there were 0% Muslims. Right now in the country
of Turkey there is 100% Muslims-99.5 to 100%. How did it grow from
having 0% all the way up to 100%? That's the way Islam works! It has a
growing presence in every country in the world, and we need to be
prepared to talk about it.
Let me give you another illustration. In the United Kingdom 1910-
1920, maybe 2% were the population of Islam in the UK. By the year 2020
it is estimated that there will be 5 million believers in Islam in the United
Kingdom. Look at that growth rate! How does it grow so fast? That is why
we need to study it because it's a growing world religion, and I need to be
prepared to talk to others about it.
We also need to be prepared to talk about Islam because of world
events that have occurred or maybe will occur that are directly related to
Islamic beliefs and some Muslim factions. Many terrorist events are
performed in the name of Allah. When you think about the events that
occurred in 9/11, the events that occurred at those World Trade Towers in
New York City, what caused that? Who was behind that? We realize that
Islam at least a faction in Islam was directly linked to that. All those people
who lost their lives! All these Muslim countries, how do they feel about
Christians and the United States of America? 9/11 is example of how some
of them feel about us. More recently the attacks that occurred in Benghazi
on the diplomatic center on our ambassador there why did that occur?
Some of it is directly linked to Islam. The way they feel about America, the
way they feel about Christians, the way they feel about our government and
our state-it's directly linked to their beliefs.
We also want to study Islam to the follow the biblical command to
search and prove all things. Do you remember Acts 17:11? The Bible says,
“These Christians were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica in that
they received the word with all readiness and searched the Scriptures daily
to find out whether these things were so.” If I'm going to have a good and
honest heart and if I'm going to be pure in heart before God, I have got to
examine the evidence. I just can't blindly say ‘this is the way we've always
done; it must be right or I don't like that so it must be wrong.’ No, I've got to
examine the evidence. I've got a search the Scriptures, so that I can give a
ready defense from what I believe.
Maybe just as importantly, I need to study this so I can prepare
myself to teach the gospel to the lost. Mark 16:15 Jesus said to take the
gospel to every creature. Matthew 28:18-20 we’re to go to all nations. If
that's true and I know it is because the Bible says so, if that's true and the
second fastest growing religion in the world is Islam- then friend I need to
be ready to talk to them about the gospel. I need to be ready to point out
that Islam is not from God and that it is not true even to its own teachings in
Maybe you've heard of Islam. Maybe you've kind of got an idea of
what it is. I want to just a few moments to define some terms that will give a
background so that we can be better familiar with it when we talk others. In
Islam you often hear the word Allah. What does that mean? In Islam Allah
simply means the God or it is that description of God that encompasses all
of his supreme attributes. It would be like saying Jehovah. It will be like
saying Almighty God to the Christian. Allah represents to Islam the Muslim
the greatest name you could ever ascribe to God showing all his qualities
What is Islam? The word Islam simply means submission. Islam
therefore is submission to Allah meaning and stating the person who claims
to be a Muslim is in full submission to that the God Allah and to the
teaching of the Quran. Now Muslim then of course is one who submits to
God, who submits to Allah, and intends to give his life even at the point of
death to Allah.
One of the key parts of Islam, and maybe you've seen pictures of
people walking around this, is the cube -the cabal that they often walk
around. It is a site they go to sometimes yearly sometimes more than that.
The cabal simply means the cube. It’s a shrine, a place of worship in
Mecca where Muslims will go on a pilgrimage at least once in their life and
inside the shrine are supposedly holy artifacts. As they walk around it, it
supposedly brings them closer connection with God.
Now it's also impossible to accurately describe the history of Islam
without relating the story of the main prophet Mohammed. All of us have
probably heard about Mohammed. Who is he really and what do we know
about his characteristics? What type of person was this man? Mohammed
was born in the year 530 in Mecca in Arabia. He was considered by
Muslims to be the last of a continuing chain of profits to restore the true
religion of God. Think about that- a last the last in a continuing train of
profits? Again there seems to be a little contradiction there. When you talk
about Mohammed to someone who believes in the Islam faith, you're
talking about someone similar to the Christian like Jesus. He is the major
prophet. He's believed to be their Savior in many ways. He is held right up
there with God, with Allah in many ways. He's key to understanding this.
The history Islam is a lot like Judaism and Christianity in some ways-
that it has ties back to Old Testament figures. Islam takes its history back to
the patriarch Abraham. Supposedly Ishmael, the son of Abraham as we
know from history, was born to him born by Hagar. He was born by an
Egyptian slave we know as Hagar. The Bible tells us of course that when
Sarah gave birth to Isaac, Ishmael and Hagar were sent away into the
desert of Perran into Mecca. And so concerning these events, Islam will
look to Ishmael and Abraham sending Hagar and her son Ishmael out.
They will say that's where our history goes to. According to the Quran
Abraham and Ishmael built together the holiest sanctuary in Islam known
as the cabal. This was thought to be the original site, they say, of Adam’s
place of worship. And thus in the southeast corner of this cube there is a
meteorite called the Blackstone, supposedly some stone fell out of heaven.
They got the stone in the shrine, and it's embedded in the silver frame.
They walk around and worship. They think this is the holiest place. In fact
the Quran says God told Abraham that the cabal would be a place of
Now again this is not found Bible. These events concerning Abraham
and Ishmael are not found the Bible. This is simply the history of Islam.
Here is an interesting fact about this cube that they often go to, the
Blackstone is believed to have been a gift from God, they will say, to Adam
when he and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden. It later became
a symbol of God's covenant with Abraham, Ishmael, and thus the Muslim
community. Muslims believe it was originally white but went black by
absorbing sins. It thus serves as a symbol of human degradation and the
need for God's forgiveness.
Now you think about this. When Adam and Eve were cast out of the
garden, what did God do? Well God give them a gift. I don’t think God was
in a real gift-giving mood when God sent Adam and Eve out of the garden
after their sin. They will say the stone which is in this cube was originally
white, but it took upon itself supposedly seeing and it became black. It
represents all that. You know it sounds a lot like Jesus taking the sins of
the world. We will again see some mixing of these things by Mohammed
and some other things we will mention. This cube is central part of every
Now concerning its history and the history of Mohammed, at an early
age Mohammed became orphaned. He was taken in by his grandfather
and then his uncle. Tragedy struck his life. When he was a teenager,
Mohammed was identified by a Christian monk as having marks on his
body that signified his status as a prophet. As best we can tell, this was
some type of birthmark and somehow this monk believed this to be a sign
that Mohammed was a prophet. How? We don't know. We don't know all
the details on that. Then at the age of 40 Mohammed made a spiritual
retreat during the month of Ramadan to a cave. While he was in this cave
during this retreat, Mohammed alleges the angel Gabriel began to reveal
the Quran to him. Over the next 23 years of Mohammed's life, the Quran is
continuously revealed to him through the angel Gabriel. Here is one of the
main teachings of the Quran, the Koran teaches that Jews and Christians
have distorted the pure monotheistic religion of God and thus God gave
Mohammed this message and sent him to restore and supplement the
prophets and the apostles’ teachings. And so in the days of Mohammed, it
is a reaction to what he believed Jews and Christians how they were
worshiping more than one God which we’ll see other lessons. He thought
Christians, when we talk about the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit were
talking about multiple gods- although we recognize there's only one God
with three unique personalities.
Now as it relates further to the history of Islam, it was during this
retreat also that Muslims claim Mohammed received this first of an ongoing
series of revelations that were later compiled into the Quran. After
Mohammed received these revelations, he was then told by his angel to
preach them publicly. It was these public proclamations of this revelation
that brought Mohammed great persecution. So supposedly the angel gives
in this message, tells him to write it down go preach it and when he
preaches it, he was persecuted for doing so. The curettes some of their
aristocrats of Mecca eventually ridiculed, stoned, and banished Mohammed
for his teaching. Nobody wanted to hear it, and it was at the height of these
trials when he is facing intense persecution that Mohammed allegedly
experienced the night of Ascension. In this supposed vision, Mohammed
went through seven heavens into the divine presence himself. He spoke
with prophets of old. He was blessed with the divine presence. The year
622 is significant in Muslim history. It was in this year that Mohammed was
invited, actually he was forced to leave Mecca, he came to Medina and it's
this year, 622, that changes the status of Mohammed from being that of
persecuted to that of a prophet. The people in Medina began to accept his
message. They begin to recognize his status, and thus the Muslim calendar
and the Muslim era is calculated from 622 the events took place that year.
A single central part of Muslim reenactment starts its calendar and its
timeframe in this year.
Now a little more about the history, because of Mohammed's
acceptance in Medina war breaks out between Mecca and Medina. These
two cities are now fighting. One likes Mohammed. One hates him greatly.
Medina defeated Mecca, and yet because there are constant battles
between these two each side claiming victory- there was always a little bit
of war. Finally in the year 630, Mohammed returned to Mecca. The cube,
the central shrine, was purged of idols and Mecca now becomes the center
of Muslim worship as it is to this day. In the year 632 Mohammed died.
Before and during the time of his death, Mohammed made one fatal
mistake that has haunted Islam to this very day. He forgot or either he
wasn't able to appoint or dictate how the new spiritual and political leader of
Islam was going to be appointed. He was that leader. He dies abruptly and
there's no one left to lead.
You wonder why is there so much division in Saudi Arabia? Why is
there so much division in these countries where Islam is popular? Much of
it goes back to who's in charge. Are we going to follow Mohammed or are
we going to follow the spiritual leaders? Because of this fatal error of not
electing a new leader, Muslims have been divided ever since Mohammed's
death. There are two main factions in Islam and these are, as you may
have heard in history and in news reports, the Sunnis and the Shiites.
There are Sunni Muslims and Shiite Muslims. The Sunnis hate the Shiites,
and the Shiites hate the Sunnis. They both believe the other is trying to
steal power, but really it's all about not just power but money. When you
think about the Sunnis and the Shiites and their fights, we kind of have to
understand little bit about them and their background to really appreciate
what's going on and see how difficult it is.
After Mohammed's death his best friend Abu Bakr was elected as the
first Caliph that is the successor to the prophet. The only problem with this
man, his best friend, being elected to lead was there was another legitimate
option. The courageous and trustworthy cousin of Mohammed, Ali, who
was married to Mohammed's favorite daughter Fatima, could have been
chosen. And so you've got two lines of thought. One says we need to elect
his best friend and the other says his daughter and her son, her husband
need to lead. Tradition has it that Mohammed transferred his spiritual light
to his daughter before his death. Yet in the midst of his funeral
arrangements, his sudden death Fatima and Ali didn't participate in this
election. Thus the Sunnis claim that the Caliph's are their leaders. That is
the Caliph is the community that comes together and generally they elect a
spiritual leader. So the Sunnis believe we need to get together
democratically and elect somebody. The Shiites believe that the only
spiritual leaders must be a direct descendent of the family of Mohammed.
And so, there's always been war over these two.
Now there are some common beliefs that both of them share. Both
branches are a part of Islam. Both follow the five pillars, follow the Quran,
and believe that Allah is the only God. They both believe Mecca is the
sacred place for the religion. They complete a pilgrimage there at least one
point in their life. There are also some very differing beliefs. The Sunnis
believe that their leader would be elected by the community which differs
from the Shiite belief that Mohammed's descendants should rule. The
clothes that they wear are also different. Shiites- the men wear a tie and a
black or white turban. While Sunnis- the men wear a headpiece and have a
long beard. The Sunni follow the elected caliph, and they believe the matter
of a successor is left to the Muslim community. They consider themselves
traditionalists, and they emphasize the authority of the Quran. Most
Muslims are Sunnis. They believe the community gets together and elects
a leader. Only 10 to 15% of Muslims are Shiites. Shiite faith people are
adamantly devoted to the memory of Mohammed's family, to Ali, to Fatima
to Hassan and Hussein, their sons. The martyrdom of Hussein which is
enacted yearly by the Shiites this is what brings them together, the killing of
some of their own. Their catastrophe, their martyrdom often brings them
together. Rather than recognize the caliphs the elected leaders, the Shiites
pay allegiance to a succession of imams. Now as you think about Shiites,
they believe that there are 12 imams these are known as 12 or Shiites. The
Shiites place their authority in this belief based on the statement made by
Mohammed. Mohammed said, ‘I leave two great and precious things
among you, the book of Allah and my household. If you keep hold of both
of them, you will never go astray after me.’ And so they look at the
statement by Mohammed and they say ‘Mohammed intended for his
household to lead us.’ Shiites believe that the 12th imam was commanded
by God to go into hiding, and he will return publicly at the day of
resurrection. They believe this 12th descendent of Mohammed is
miraculously still alive today. Now you stop and think about this a moment.
They believe there's a final imam that has been hiding and that he's
miraculously preserved day by day, living beyond what anybody else lives
today. They believe it so much that 1/5 of Shiite Muslims yearly profits are
given to this hidden imam. Now where is he? How is he using that money?
Who knows! This is a big division in Islam.
Now let's talk about some countries and their variation- whether their
Shiite or Sunni. Iran is overwhelmingly Shiite-89% of them are Shiite. Shiite
Muslims also form a majority of the population in Yemen, Bahrain, and 60%
of the population of Iraq. There are also sizable Shiite communities along
the East Coast of Saudi Arabia and in Lebanon. The well-known
organization has Bala which has forced Israelites out of southern Lebanon
in 2000 is Shiite. Shiites are very war minded. They are ones who would
attack others very quickly. Worldwide Shiites constitute about 10 to 15% of
the overall population. But listen carefully, these 10 the 15% make up the
majority of the radical, violet element in Islam. They are the ones who are
antagonistic and aggressive. They're the ones who often blow themselves
up in many ways. There are also some well-known Sunnis. Osama bin
Laden was a well-known Sunni. The leader of Iraq and all those who go
along with that were well-known leaders of the Sunni religion. Osama bin
Laden, Saddam Hussein they were both of the Sunni background. A
well-known Shiite today would be as we think about those who are on this
belief Ahmadinejad the president of Iran. He is Shiite very adamant, very
aggressive with a lot of his statements to take the United States off the face
of the map.
Our study of Islam has revealed that this is a very serious religion. It's
growing at a fast pace throughout the world. When I think about this I asked
myself as a Christian, ‘What am I going to do about this?’ Am I just going to
go on with the flow and do nothing? Or am I going to equip myself? Am I
going to learn some of these things that are little unfamiliar and maybe a
little harder to grip around? Am I going to learn in such a way that I can be
prepared to tell others about the gospel of Jesus Christ?
In our next few lessons we are going to talk about Mohammed. Islam
revolves around Mohammed. We are going to ask the question- Is
Mohammed really a prophet of God or was he a religious imposter? Is
there any evidence that will show either way? I want to take a critical,
analytical look at the evidence. We’re also going to look at the Islamic view
of Jesus Christ. How do Islam's view the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? We
want to look very critically at the Quran. We will examine its prophecies,
look at it historically, and see if it lines up. Is the Quran a book that will hold
up to scrutiny?
Maybe you're thinking today what good will this do me? I hope and
pray today that you will continue to join us and the material will show that
Islam is not from God. Mohammed was not a prophet of God. The evidence
is overwhelming that such is not the case. I want to prepare myself to talk
to others about that.
Maybe you've never obeyed the gospel. We invite you to study God's
book, the Bible. Test the Bible. We want to encourage you to examine this
book and see if it's from God. See if it will hold up to scrutiny. If it will, won't
you give your life to the word of God which promises eternal life to all who
Study Questions for: “Islam: Lesson 1”
1. What does 1 Thessalonians 5:21 tell us to prove?
2. According to 1 Thessalonians 5:21, what should we hold fast to?
3. According to Acts 17:11, why were they more fair-minded than those in
4. According to Mark 16:15, who are we to take the gospel to?
5. Where are we to go with the gospel according to Matthew 28:18-20?
6. Why is it important for us to study Islam?