How to Lead a Muslim to Christ (Lecture 2)
|By: Dr. Anis Shorrosh; ©1991|
|Before you can effectively witness to a Muslim, it helps to understand something about what he believes, especially about God, about Jesus and about salvation.|
John Ankerberg: The information in this program was taped live at the Ankerberg Theological Research Institute’s Apologetics Conference in Orlando, Florida. Our instructor for this session is Dr. Anis Shorrosh. Dr. Shorrosh received his Master of Divinity degree from New Orleans Baptist Seminary, and the Doctor of Ministry degree from Luther Rice Seminary. He also holds a PhD in Religion from Oxford Graduate School, the American Institute. Dr. Shorrosh is a Palestinian Arab and directs the Anis Shorrosh Evangelistic Association in Spanish Fort, Alabama. Dr. Shorrosh is an author of several books and is a popular lecturer on Christian/Islamic issues. His book titles include The Liberated Palestinian; Jesus, Prophecy and the Middle East; and Islam Revealed. I know that you’ll be challenged and stimulated by his thoughtful and enthusiastic love for Jesus Christ and the precision with which he declares and defends the gospel. Dr. Shorrosh’s topic for this session is “How to Lead a Muslim to Christ – Part 2.” As you listen to this information it’ll be my prayer that God will increase your faith and draw you closer to our Lord Jesus Christ.
How to Lead a Muslim to Christ – Part 2
Witnessing Tips to Use with Muslims
Dr. Anis Shorrosh: This afternoon I need to conclude our first session which was an endeavor to explain the Muslim religion. Remember, please, Islam is the religion; a follower of Islam is a Muslim. And the word means a person who surrenders his will; and, of course, it entails to God Almighty, Allah is God. We have covered part of my book which is entitled Islam Revealed, and my conviction is with its third printing it will do you well to get it because we could not cover every topic we needed.
In fact, I need to remind you that in connection with the topics themselves, we dealt with the religion of Islam; the life of Muhammad; Jesus Christ according to Islam; the crucifixion: fact or fiction; and practically stopped in the middle of Islam Unveiled, having not been able to cover the Qur’an exposed. Nonetheless, I have emphasized in this book the distinctives of and the differences between Christianity and Islam. This great debate, in my opinion, will continue. Others, both Muslim and Christian, will continue to write and speak. This is the way it should be. Let us continue to reason together with our minds and hearts and turn away from violence.
Sadly, in my native Middle East today, some Muslims, Christians and Jews live as warring neighbors. Know that I say “some”; most Muslims, Christians and Jews deplore violence and desire to live in peace. They want to live in freedom from fear. They want only the opportunity to share their beliefs with fellow believers in one God. My purpose here is not to discuss Middle East politics. They always ask me about that sooner or later in the debates. Jews say that where you find two Jews you find three opinions. That is also true of Muslims who are divided into more than 150 sects, and Christians who are separated into numerous denominations.
The Bible lands where Abraham, Moses and Christ Jesus walked are racked with division, bitterness and warfare because some professing Jews, Muslims and Christians seek to enforce, I repeat, seek to enforce their beliefs by violence. This is not God’s will, but it is the way things are.
Let me, however, touch briefly of three major issues still fanning the flames of strife. First, our Jewish friends point to the Christian persecution of Jews through the centuries since Christ. Alas, this is true. But I would also ask them to remember that the persecution has been more political than religious. In the past and today journalists and historians glibly refer to certain nations as Christian nations. There has never been a truly nation can be called Christian nation, though there have been and are today nations with Christians among their citizens. Jews should not blame Christians, in whose hearts the Messiah of love dwells, for the evil deeds dictators and other political leaders have done in the name of Christ.
I can testify that I am a Palestinian who loves the Jews because I love Jesus. By the grace of God I would not persecute Jews even if I had the power to do so. The Christ who lives in me will not permit me to inflict evil upon anyone, including the children of Abraham, whether Jews or Arabs.
The persecution of Jews by political Christians has largely ceased. Indeed, Christians are the greatest supporters for Jewish rights in the world today. Christians, for example, call upon the Soviet Union and in the last several months thousands upon thousands of them have immigrated to Israel. Here and there small pockets of animosity do remain between Christians and Jews. But the contention is not generated solely by the Christians. Some fanatical Jews in Israel would like to drive all the Christians out of that land and even expel the minority of their fellow Jews who accept Jesus as their Messiah. But my Jewish friends assure me that these fanatics are not the majority in Israel, and I believe them.
The real warfare and terrorism in the Middle East is being waged among Muslims, Jews and some who profess to be Christians. Know that I use the phrase “profess to be Christians.” These so-called Christians who deal in terrorism and war are only Christians by culture. Their ancestors converted to Christianity many years ago. And their Christian identity has come down through families, not necessarily conversion. They are Christians in the same sense that some Americans are called Southerners—because they live in a certain part of the country and practice certain southern customs.
Our Muslim friends continue to bring up the subject of the Crusades. This we must deal with. Between the 11th and 13th centuries Europeans, who were called Christians because they lived in “Christian countries,” waged the Crusades to take the Holy Land from Muslims who had conquered this land by force in previous years. In other words, the Crusades were wars in response to previous wars. Many Crusades were religiously motivated, wrongly so, I think, but many others had worldly aims and hoped to capture land and loot and open new trading opportunities in the Middle East. Muslims rightly see the Crusades as a black page in Christian history. I and all true Christian agree these barbarous acts by so-called Christian armies cast shame upon the gospel of peace that Jesus Christ brought to the world.
Islamic history, however, is hardly innocent of the same wrongs. Following the command of Muhammad to fight all non-Muslims, his followers conquered the Holy Land by the sword and forbade Christian pilgrims access to holy sites in Jerusalem or demanded exorbitant fees for safe conduct to the sites. Thus the Crusades were not an all out war against Islam. Originally they were launched to force Muslims to let Christians visit and worship at sacred sites associated with Christ. The Muslims were wrong to deny or take advantage of Christians wanting to visit sacred sites. The Christians were also wrong to take up the sword against the Muslims who controlled these sites. It is wrong on both counts today.
Today, to the credit of Israel, the sacred sites are open to everybody who would like to come in. We shouldn’t be surprised when Muslims control the Holy Land. Before the Crusades no one could question the decision of right and wrong. They made themselves the judge and the jury and they ruled by the sword. They declared might to be right and they made Jews and Christians second class citizens. History attests to that.
Since the bloody early centuries of Islam many Muslims have come to reject the sword. These moderate Muslims want to live in peace, but the warlike Muslims intimidate their fellow peace loving Muslims by terrorism. They hijack planes, kidnap innocents, murder and maim travelers, even little children in airports, to accomplish their rule or ruin purpose, all while the atheistic Soviet Union, which is no friend to Islam or Christianity, still continues some of these systems despite the fact they are changing their ways.
Revenge for Israeli bombings and exploitation motivates many terrorist acts. As a Palestinian who lost his home and his father to Israel in 1948 I can understand this passion for revenge because I once burned with it too. I wanted to get a gun and explosive and cross the Jordan River into Israel and kill every Jew in sight. Thank God, terrorist weapons were not as easily available and accessible then as they are today. I might have eventually obtained a weapon and set off on a mission of death and destruction, but Christ the Messiah intercepted me instead. Only when I surrendered to the King of kings and the Prince of peace did the hatred for Jews begin to drain from my heart. Thanks to God’s grace I reached the point in November 1973 where I was able to say on a television and radio interview in Israel, “I love you because of Jesus.” Jesus of Nazareth solved my hate problem. He kept me from becoming a terrorist.
God Almighty had promised the land of ancient Canaan or modern Palestine to Abraham first, and the Lord said to Abram after Lot had separated from him, “Now lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are northward and southward and eastward and westward; for all the land which you see I will give it to you and to your descendants forever. And I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth so that if anyone can number the dust of the earth then your descendants can also be numbered.”
I do believe that even today, and last night as some have asked me about that, that I believe that Arabs and Jews, being the descendants of Abraham, are qualified to be residents of the land of Palestine. The Arabs have been blessed with 23 countries, three million square miles, and it is sad for me as a Christian Arab that instead of welcoming them with hospitality we welcome them with hostility. And just trying to have 1% of the land that we have and we begrudge them that. And I think it is time that we forget the past and try to apply the truth of the greatest Man that ever lived which is involved in the Sermon on the Mount, about loving, forgiving, and forgetting. Indeed, for God so loved the world that He sacrificed His only Son that anyone believing in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
I end up by saying that as far as I’m concerned we are right now in the midst of the greatest revolution the world has ever known. The walls of Communism have crumbled. After 70 plus years they’ve discovered that what Lenin brought them is not so. I challenge the Muslim world to allow us to continue debating even in the countries. I challenge them to open the doors so we can exchange ideas, because as they build mosques in America, we’re not allowed to build a single church in Saudi Arabia. It is amazing that although we are practically in the 21st century we’re trying to push back to the days of Muhammad of the 7th century. We don’t want to go backward; we want to go forward.
And it is my prayer every Friday, and some of you may be surprised when I tell you I even have asked thousands to join me, as well as fasting, on the day of prayer for the Muslims, to pray that the same God who crumbled the walls of Berlin, who moved the walls of Communism, so that the people who have been bondage can hear the truth and the message of God’s love, will do the same thing in the Muslim world by crumbling the mightiest wall man has ever known, the wall of Islam. And it is my prayer that God would remove that wall so our dear people, our dear friends whom we love, for whom Jesus died, can have the opportunity to hear the other side, not just the same side they have always heard. For Jesus indeed came to love us all. And this is why for God so loved the world, not one race, not one people, one denomination, but every one of us.
I conclude this and come now to the seriousness of what we refer to as invitation to witness. We’re talking about the importance of how to witness and win Muslims. It is necessary to mention to you at the outset that there may be a helpful thing in presenting you with what I would call the Ten Commandments in sharing the gospel with your Muslim neighbor. May I begin by saying, number 1: don’t ever underestimate the power of the Word of God. Muslims by and large, respect the sacred books, the Law of Moses, Psalms, Gospel and Qur’an. Let the Word of God speak for itself. The Gospels are the best portions to start with, particularly Matthew and Luke.
Number 2: be constantly in prayer. It is the Holy Spirit who wins people to Jesus. Seek His guidance and power as you present the word. Nobody is saved unless the Holy Spirit touches him. This is why we are told that the god of this world has blinded their eyes so they may not see the truth. And we have to pray that God may bring this to pass. Nobody, no matter what his background is, can be saved until the Holy Spirit brings the conviction and the convincing and the conversion.
Number 3: be genuine friend. Saying hello is not enough. You see, if you really care, show it by inviting them into your home, sharing your time and helping with their problems.
Number 4: ask thought-provoking questions. Do you expect to go to heaven? Do you have the assurance that God will accept you? What does the Qur’an teach about forgiveness? May I show you what the Bible teaches? Questions like these show that you have an interest in the important things of life.
Number 5: listen attentively. When you ask a question, courtesy requires that you listen to the answer no matter how long it takes. You’d be surprised at how much you will learn.
Number 6: present your beliefs openly. State what you believe clearly and without apology, showing scripture passages that support those teachings whether they agree with you or not. Thus you place the responsibility for doctrine where it belongs, on the Word of God. See, God didn’t say He was going to bless my word. He said My word—His word—shall not return until it has done its purpose. So when you use the Word of God, God will bless what you say because it is the Word of God.
Number 7: reason, don’t argue. Argument may win a point, but lose a hearing. There are some points on which you can argue forever without achieving a thing, except closing a mind against you.
Number 8: never denigrate Muhammad or the Qur’an. Although there are many truths about Muhammad, his character and so forth and so on, it is better to leave that alone and deal with the importance of the message you bring. For, to a Muslim, denigrating or belittling the Qur’an or Muhammad is an offense to them, and when you speak disrespectfully about him, they feel very offended because they do not say such things about Jesus; although they deny His sinless life; they deny His death on the cross; they deny His resurrection, and all of these matters, still this is a matter of belief without being hurtful.
Number 9: Respect their customs and sensitivities. Don’t offend—now this will be an interesting, very unusual thing to you—don’t offend by putting your Bible, the holy book on the floor, or appearing too free with the opposite sex, or refusing hospitality, or making jokes about sacred topics such as fasting, prayer or God.
Number 10, and finally: persevere. Muslims have a lot of rethinking to do when they are confronted with the gospel. But rest assured that the word of God will do its work in His good time. You see, the fact is, our Muslim friends usually are frightened of missionaries and evangelists and teachers coming to their countries; because if indeed they are standing on solid ground, they have no reason to fear. See, the Word of God tells us Jesus announced you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you what? Free, not enslaved, not in a straightjacket. And this is why we are willing to deal with these matters and quite often they are not willing.
Now, in presenting you with some of the ideas that we can utilize in the practicality of the matter, I need to mention to you, please, that we have to overcome barriers. Overcoming barriers is very important if we are really to be affective witnesses for our Lord. Notice, number 1, the historical barriers. We cover a little bit about that, which is basically, of course, the Crusades, the sword and so on. It’s far better for us to use the sword of the Spirit than the sword of just words.
And I think that one of the other barriers of importance is the theological. The doctrine of God. “Kalimah Allah became flesh” is more palatable to a Muslim than saying God became flesh. You notice the difference. Because even in John 1:1 where we are told, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God,” when we come to verse 14 it says, “and the Word became flesh.” He did not say “and God became flesh,” although it is the same thing. But in their minds they have a block and you need to overcome that block. I think it’s easy for you to see that.
Directing our prayer to Jesus instead of our heavenly Father also is a confusing thing to them, you see. So we can, remembering that God being a Triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, you can pray to God our Father, in the name of Jesus. It becomes easier to handle.
Thirdly, the doctrine of Jesus is actually a matter of a leap of faith as far as a Muslim is concerned, because you and I, most of us at least, have been raised up in a Christian culture in a Christian situation, home. It is much easier for us, having heard this most of our lives, to accept it. But for him it has to be a jump of faith from one side across the chasm to the other, to believe the Man Jesus, the Man of Nazareth, is really God in flesh. And the Holy Spirit can reveal that to him with your help.
Something else, venerating the virgin Mary in our Catholic circles is a very big problem to them. Bowing down to her, praying to a statue, kissing her hands or feet, this is a problem, because they don’t accept statues or pictures. We need to overcome that if you have that background as a Christian.
Methodology; sometimes, I’m sorry to say, that we sometimes come along with the idea of triumphalism, like we want to triumph over a Muslim and put him down and declare that the Word of God is true and the Bible is the final Word of God, which is in many ways all right, but the attitude is not to be that of arrogance, but of humility. Because if the person notices that you are really loving him and caring about him, he will listen to you. But when you come with “we’re going to get you,” you know, it is not really a very handsome and palatable manner to deal with people.
Something else methodological: prejudice of religion, race, culture, creed or gender. Are you guilty of that? And if you are, you need to overcome that if you want to witness to a Muslim, whatever his color or background is.
A Western Christ sometimes is pictured. Even when I was in India, a journey I made 10 times to India, and my several times around the globe, visiting every continent in the world, I have noticed time and again that Easterners come to me and say in, be in Pakistan or elsewhere, “When we hear you, we don’t feel there is a separation and a need for interpretation of what you’re saying, because you are an Easterner speaking to Easterners.”
Now here’s what you need to remember. Some of the black Muslims—notice my qualifications—some of the black Muslims are given the idea in American that Jesus is for the white people and Muhammad is for the black people. The fact is if you ever go back to the land of my birth, you will notice that the Arabs and the Jews who have been raised there like I have been raised are so close you can hardly tell them apart. The first time I went to the Holy Land, took my wife with me, who is an American from Alabama, she asked me, “Is he a Jew or is he an Arab?” I told her I couldn’t even tell. I’d been away 19 years and didn’t see these people before, didn’t know who they were and could not really tell.
But Jesus was an Easterner. He came for the east and the west, the south and the north, and I like to remind you that in many ways when you look at the cross you must remember that it has four directions. It becomes a bridge for every human being, from every corner of the earth, from every creed, from every tribe, from every people. And one day the Bible says this will be the case, that they will come to Him from every tongue, tribe and people and bow to Him as the King of kings and Lord of lords. So please remember, don’t present them with an American Jesus, or a Western Jesus. Remember who He was.
Attitudinally: the attitudes that we have. Do you have a negative attitude? Do you sense a spirit of animosity or superiority, or do you really come along with a heart that is in tune with the Lord and in love with Jesus and that’s why you care about others? A great man said in a conference that I heard, that when he went to the Philippines in order to witness for the Filipinos, after about three years or so he was washed out. Sitting at the beach looking at the Pacific Ocean he testified that he was crying, telling God, “Here I have come. I’m washed out. I haven’t done anything. I haven’t won anybody.” And he said he almost heard a voice saying to him, “Do you love the Filipinos?” And he retorted by saying, “Why do you suppose I’m here?” And he hears the voice again. “Do you love the Filipinos?”
You see, his motivation was coming over to be a missionary. That’s a great thing. Leave your country, leave your people and come down and witness to people. Well, great! But do you love these people? What has motivated you? Do you really care about them? And if you do, then God will guarantee your success, because without love you cannot do very much.
The church, unfortunately, in many ways and sadly, I say, is unwilling to accept the Muslim convert wholeheartedly because they think he has an ulterior motive. As a pastor in the Middle East once I was able to appease to the Muslims and they would start coming to our services, to our church. The leaders of the church took me aside and informed me they thought that those young men particularly were coming because they wanted to look at our girls, because in the culture where I was raised sometimes you didn’t even see your wife if you’re a Muslim till the day you get married. Although in Jordan they don’t wear the veils. But I ended up by trying to help them out, by having a curtain between sitting the men on one side and the women on one side, trying to deal with the problem, you know.
But, you see, the attitude of the church has not been a wholesome attitude and needs to be changed toward the Muslim convert to invite him, to welcome him, to incorporate him in their lives, because they are just like anybody else, lost who need Jesus. We, even though are called Christians, many of us are lost. They’ve never been converted, never been born again. Their action proves that. Their words prove that. Their whole life proves that.
Something else, the church must become the New Testament koinonia. What do you mean by that? Koinonia means fellowship, where we enjoy each other. One of the grandest things in the world is to recognize that when you become a child of God you are a member of God’s family. God, being your heavenly Father, who has adopted you, and now you become a part of that family where you are an active part and an equal part with others, not somebody above you and one under you. And this is very important.
Cultural, the cultural barrier; Christianity viewed in terms of a Western religion within a foreign culture. In some areas I’m happy to tell you that this has been overcome because missionaries and evangelists have come to realize we are not transporting a Western Jesus, we are bringing salvation through what He offers so that we deal with what we call sometimes, contextualization, where you live, how you live, and I will cover that further in a moment.
But while I was in one of the conferences in Europe I was quite impressed. For instance, in this particular situation the missionary told us that they would take their shoes off before they came in. The Muslims do that because, you remember the story in Exodus where God told Moses, take your shoes off because it’s holy ground? Well, they model that idea. And shoes are in the streets and everything and with not as clean as some places are, so they leave their shoes and come into before the Lord. So, all equal ground. And then along with that, they stand up and place their hands like this as they pray to God. It’s an interesting thing. And then, bowing down humbly, as well as greeting each other with a loving hug, as we do. You know, if you go to Pakistan they almost break your ribs. They just hug you so hard, but it’s an interesting and very helpful manner in which to overcome these problems.
Contextualization refers to the fact that, in trying to talk to a person, use the terminology he is familiar with in his own land, in his context, in his culture, in his language if at all possible. And one of the greatest things I have learned is when I travel to other countries, when you can even learn a greeting in their language, or a verse in their language, they feel so grateful that you’ve taken the pain and the time to learn something like that. And I encourage you very much to remember this.
Now, how about the material? When we talk of material barriers, we talk about something pretty sensitive. Take, for instance, a Muslim and ask him in a Muslim country, alright, “What does it mean to you to become a Christian?” Now, notice what happens. Honestly he would say to you, “Well, it means you eat pigs and drink wine.” See. Something else. “Well, I think they are immoral because they dance and they drink.” What else? “Well, if I become a Christian I expect them to give me money, a car, a house, and find me a wife.” Some of them think that way. So the presentation of the Christian gospel becomes materialistic as if, well, my goodness, anybody would become a Christian if that’s what you’re going to give me, you know, and these are things I’m going to get.
Now we turn that around and ask, alright, to a Christian, “What do you think of a Muslim?” And this is very shocking. They tell me they think they’re insincere and cannot be trusted. They are dishonorable. They worship Muhammad who was an immoral man; therefore, so are his followers, taking many wives and concubines. And, of course, this is not totally true. So what do you do? You try to learn how to accept each individual on his merit. Do not generalize. Each person, made in the image of God, has the privilege of hearing the gospel in the best way you can put it to him.
Something else; the Bible that we have in the Arabic language is not as eloquent as the Qur’an in the Arabic language. The reason of course is the Qur’an was written in Kufic Arabic in the days of the greatest glorious of the Arab world. The poetry was so sublime that several of the great poets would hang their poetry in Kaaba, even before Muhammad came around, and they were eloquent and powerful. The Arabic language is one of the most prolific, beautiful languages in the world.
Now in the New Testament and the Old Testament of our Arabic, as Arabs reading the Bible, we endeavor to do one or two things. In the translation of the Bible, this is very important for you to remember this please in dealing with them, because they often say, “Well, your Bible, I cannot, you know, appreciate it because it’s not as good as the Qur’an,” is this: the question was, as the translation was being made, whether are we going to make a book so eloquent like the Qur’an that not many can understand it. You know, ask any honest Muslim if he can read one surah and explain every verse. It’s very hard. It has to be translated, explained.
One of the most shocking thing to me was I bought a massive concordance by Dr. Kassis, and in this massive concordance, right off the bat in the beginning he states, “The Qur’an is untranslatable.” What are you going to do with that? In fact, some other scholars suggest that to read the Qur’an and understand it better you need to begin from the back and go to the front. So you can see the problems even there. So what in the world are you going to do then?
Well, we were endeavoring, in the effort of trying to make the Bible understandable, to write it in a language that an Arab would understand. This brings me back to the original text of the New Testament. How do you know the word kione Greek? Alright, for a number of years, some of you may be quite surprised at this, Christians thought that kione Greek, which they did not know, was a heavenly language in which God gave the disciples to write the New Testament, until later on they discovered many manuscripts in which they found out the koine Greek which actually was actually the common language of the people. It was not the classical.
You see, today in Arabic I can talk both the classical Arabic and the regular Arabic. And if you hear Arabs together, you can tell a person is from this country or that country or that country because of his dialect. Even in Palestine they can tell I’m from Nazareth, just like the days when Peter was in the circle warming himself and said, “We know you are a Galilean” because of what? “Your dialect,” you see. Now, in the New Testament therefore, just like in the days of the apostles, the Bible, the New Testament was written in koine Greek, the language of the people so they could understand it. What is the use if I give you a message, my brother, and you cannot read it? You cannot understand it? Even if you can read it you cannot understand what I’m saying. So what was the option? The option was, we would write the gospel in that language.
However, I must say that as a result of this particular problem we have tried to accept the challenge of our Muslim friends by producing a book in which the language is like the Qur’an, and it is called The Life of Christ in Classical Arabic. This has been published now for about five or six years, quite popular. You can get it from none other than Cyprus. I was on the beginning of the checking of the translation. It was done by about 16 different scholars over in the city of Jerusalem. And in it you can read practically the same thing as you would read the Qur’an. Now, I checked this out. This will intrigue you. I’ve given it to some people without saying much and they said, “Well, this is not the Qur’an, but it sounds like the Qur’an. Well, what is this?” You see, because using the same language of classical Arabic.
And we have now a New Testament being prepared, will be released shortly, which will be a surprise to you. It’s a wonderful tool, written to the Muslims particularly, where instead of reading the word “Jesus” we use the word Isa, Isa bin Miryam, like the Muslims use; and terminologies like about the disciples instead of using the word for “disciples”, we use the word which means actually a servant, a follower, a disciple, an apostle of Jesus. Some of these are methods to overcome the barriers.
Now, moving onward, I need to remind you that we live in a day where you have so many tools you can use. Would you consider, please, first of all, that because of our high technology you can use videotapes? We have some available of debates, of teachings that you can order and share with your friends. One of the most remarkable things that happened is that right after my first debate in 1985, December 15 at Royal Albert Hall in London, in which we had over 5,000 people inside, 2,000 outside who couldn’t come in, I was rejoicing in the opportunity God gave me in debating, “Is Jesus God?”
Months after that I received a call from New York and the voice said—I could tell he was an Egyptian from his dialect—“You do not know me, but I know you. I’m calling you to tell you that we have received your video.” I don’t know from where they got it. “And we have watched it, and lately a young Muslim woman, quite sharp in intelligence, who had gotten her college degree at 18 or 19, from a distinguished family from Egypt, had become a Christian. The family had become disturbed. They sent her religious leaders, sent people to convince her, and finally they sent her your tape in which you debate Mr. Deedat of Durbin, South Africa.” And I waited for the answer. He said, “Now we want to tell you she states that having heard and watched your video, she is the more convinced she made the right decision for Jesus Christ.” I rejoice for that.
I also received from the city of Ibadan in Nigeria, a wonderful letter in which the writer indicated to me that on the campus, mind you, of Ibadan University, they had within the time that they were able to present to the students and four professors the story of Jesus as depicted and as explained as well as Islam in the book, Islam Revealed, which I’m sure a number of you have already seen and gotten, if you haven’t gotten it. He states that 30 Muslim students have been converted and four professors. Now let me read to you the very words. What does he mean by this? This is handwritten, mind you, alright, and I just take this excerpt by saying “All these gospels sent to me are very useful for soul-winning miracle, especially inside our campus. Many students are rushing into our hall called Independence Hall by name, at the University of Ibadan to listen to your lectures on cassette. Equally some Muslims are invited daily to hear you lecture, especially the debate cassette. And with this method we have converted up to 30 Muslims into Christianity within our campus alone.” On the last page, second page, he says “Not only that, we have four lecturers who are always antagonistic of Christ and the Bible, but having listened to your cassette, ‘The Qur’an or the Bible,’ they have embraced Christianity wholeheartedly.”
You see, our endeavor is not to put them down. It is not to make ourselves look better, no sir. Our endeavor is to love them into the kingdom of God and present the truth. Again I remind you, “you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.”
What else can you use beside videos, cassettes, records and so forth? Books of former Muslims who have been converted and their testimonies, these are available from various organizations. Tracts, brochures and pamphlets; I have brought a number of these which have been written by a converted Muslim from Varanasi, India, whom we had the pleasure and privilege of helping get through his entire education with even two doctors degrees.
A doctor who lives in California, has a system of witnessing to these people by mail. He gets phone books from around the world. That’s from 75 countries. And he picks the names of the Muslim dear people and he has churches write letters to them and send tracts offering them a gospel, Injil Muqaddas, a holy gospel. And he’s been able to hear from 75 different countries as he tries to share with them the love of Jesus in this manner. Films such as the film on Jesus, some of you may have seen it, by Campus Crusade for Christ, has led millions to the Lord. It’s one of the most successful movies of all times in which the story of Jesus is presented according to gospel Luke in a very powerful manner.
Now, what about the methods we need to use? I need to urge you please to consider in witnessing. One of the best methods is one on one. Do not witness to a woman if you’re a man. Do not witness to a man if you’re a woman. It is not acceptable in that particular culture. Public debates where Muslims, would you believe, who do not go to church, who will not care about your revival meeting, would flock to a debate. And I’ve seen that when over 11,000 flocked to the wonderful exhibition hall in Birmingham, England. Think of it: over 11,000 sitting for 5 hours in a debate with Mr. Deedat. They like it, and I think it’s a wonderful method to use.
Notice also that public discussions in which we have questions and answers and a dialogue, rather than one trying to beat the other, is significant. Special church functions, they would like to come to a concert, a Christmas program, to Easter program, to Thanksgiving program, to a function of that nature, they would like to. And invite them and they would come.
Something along the line of the methods is that of pen pals. I do not know if you have ever discovered this. I received one of the longest letters in my life, 18 pages long, from Egypt. It was from a young man who was a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, who led up prayers, would you believe, on Fridays? And yet through this pen pal in America who eventually went to see and spend time with him, this young man was gloriously converted, although attacked by the Muslim people in his town. His dear mother kneeled down and kissed the shoes of the man who was leading the group who was trying to come and beat him up.
Finally, they took all the gospels and holy books that he had, burned them up, took him and beat him up, put him in jail for several days, then let him go. He went over to Cairo. He was not from Cairo. Counseled with other Christians, and what transpired was this—I know there are some of you who are Muslims, but I’m sharing this with you because we live in America. We can share this—and here’s what happened. They counseled him, for the sake of his staying alive, to go ahead and do what they said, which is they wanted him to denounce Christ. In order to live he denounce in his mouth. In his long letter he said to me, “When I kneel down in the mosque and pray, I am praying to Jesus, not to Allah. And I am trusting Christ as my Savior, not saying that Muhammad is the apostle of God.”
This young man is alive and well, and he wishes to leave his country if he can. He may eventually do, because many of them have to because their countries, although they declare they have freedom, the freedom is basically—not all of them, praise God—but in several of these Muslim countries, is the freedom to practice Islam, not any other religion. He is one.
I received a letter from him lately in which one of his friends has been taken to prison and some of them are still in prison in Cairo. One of them is a dear doctor, Muslim doctor, who became a Christian. He’s been in prison now for three years. They will have no case against him, just because he became a Christian.
Now I need to remind you that, in this matter, this in many ways may encourage the faith of a person because we under persecution are drawn closer to the Lord. Sometimes in the life of ease, where everything is available to us, we don’t feel our faith is worth fighting for and suffering for. But Jesus said so have they, the ones earlier than you, the prophets and so forth, suffered for My sake.
Please remember when you deal with Muslims to recognize who you are talking to. There are university students who are pretty brilliant. Don’t try to tackle them unless you are on equal footing. There are individuals who are peasants in some countries. It’s unfortunate that when some organizations try to say to witness to Muslims they depict them as, you know, with camels and so forth. Well, they now live in palaces. I mean King Fahd has a palace $2.5 billion worth, you know. How do you witness to that man? Send him the book in the mail, or a video, but you cannot go talk to him.
Remember please, that in many cases some of the university students today—and I read this quote from a magazine just last week—say, note, “Islam does not have what I need.” Many of the young Muslims today feel that they have passed the Islamic era and they are in the post-Islamic era. We believe, they say, that Islam is not moving forward, nor answering the questions we are asking at the end of the 20th century. So I asked them, what is your hope? Notice now: science and self-reliance may be the answer.
Now, here’s my projections. By this singular openness for science and for what they consider to be reliance on themselves, we have an openness to encourage us to share the gospel with these dear people. Ordinary people, homemakers, and others, you have to use a different approach. But as long as you have the love of Jesus and you’re approaching them by not looking down on them and as Deedat said, ramming the gospel to their throat, I believe you can receive a hearing.
The social ministries in disaster area as we are demonstrating in Africa and elsewhere, are a tremendous help. One of the nicest things I heard about Mali in Africa was that a great host of these people, village after village, turned to Christ lately because they said in the time of the terrible drought no Muslim country came to help us. It was the Christians who came, brought us food, brought us what we need, and they did not ram the gospel down our throat. We invited them to come. What motivates them to come care about us when we don’t believe like they do, we’re not from the same culture and country? And I’m happy to report to you, dear friend, scores of villages have turned to Christ as a result of this.
In fact, if you watched the news during the height of the Kurdish crisis you noticed the leaders speaking on television in Washington on SPAN and probably other stations how grateful they were to the Western world for coming to help them, because it didn’t seem the Muslim countries around paid their attention to their suffering and their tragedy. It was the Western nations, influenced by the teaching of Jesus Christ our Lord, who taught us to care for the poor, the hungry, the sick and the needy.
Also in some areas where you live you may establish literary classes where you can teach the newcomers the language as it is spoken and help those who have come recently to learn the American way, because it is very difficult to come with a cultural shock and hope to survive when somebody is not there to help you learn the language, where to go, what to buy, how to speak and so forth. And sometimes we use even tapes where they can hear the language and can speak it.
Cultural, and in this case this may be a totally strange methodology for you, but in a cultural setting you can bring about a group of people who are interested in poetry recitation and competition, whether it in English or their language. This may be a rare thing but it can work. Also using storytelling, and they love to tell stories. I mean, they’ll spend the night telling stories from back, superstition and what have you, but kids would like to hear that. Utilizing drama also would be helpful. And one of the greatest that has been used is what we refer to as Bible correspondence courses.
Now, in the time that is remaining, I need to say that it will be very helpful for you and for me to dedicate yourself from now on to pray every Friday for the Muslim world. Pray for those who minister among them. I’m so thrilled to tell you that with the influx of many Muslims to America, numbering now 4.5 million, God has brought them to doorsteps; instead of going to their countries, the Lord brought them to our country. It is our privilege, our responsibility to see to it that we share with them effectively the message of the love of Jesus, whereas back there they could have been in danger if they come to Christ, here they are honored, they are welcomed and they are encouraged.
Some of the remarkable things that are going on, of course, is the fact that we have more organizations in the past five years that have come up to have a burden for the Muslim world than practically any time we have ever had in history. And for that I praise God with all of my heart. Please remember, you are on the right side as long as you are on Jesus’ side. Jesus loves them. He died to set them free. They don’t know this because they haven’t had the opportunity.
When Billy Graham asked me while I was living in Jerusalem—most of you know I lived there before I moved to America—he asked me at dinner, while he was visiting there some years ago, he said, “Anis Shorrosh, tell me, how can you win a Muslim to Christ?” Without batting an eye I said to him “Win the Christians first.” You see, in Jerusalem, when you say the question, “Are you a Christian,” and a person says yes, it means he is neither a Muslim, nor a Jew, because everybody has a religion. But is he a Christian? Does he live that way? Has he had trust in God? Does he read his Bible? Does he live by the teachings of our Lord? Is he loving? Is he caring? Is he kind? Is he self-righteous?
These are the things; for the Word of God says “by their fruit you shall know them.” And the “fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, kindness, meekness, faithfulness, and self-control.” And the Lord wants to shine through your life, because you are His ambassador. You are His light. You are His salt, and by that people will be attracted to the gospel. Amen.
Now, you may wish to have some questions answered so I will give you a few moments for that. If you have a question you would like to ask, please.
Question: Would you please explain to us the story of the Kaaba and the stone?
Answer: It is my conviction, as I have received very recent information, that the Kaaba was indeed built by Jews who escaped the persecution after the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple, as most of you remember by Nebuchadnezzar. It is believed that along with that they brought—as the Bible teaches you how David prepared different kinds of stones for the building of the temple—and it is believed they brought one of these stones with them, which was embedded in the Kaaba. Now, Muslims don’t know this. You talk to any Muslim like Dr. Badawi, this morning he was here. He would just shake his head because he doesn’t know that. I mean, who among us who knows everything? Just because we find fresh information you don’t know about you cannot, just simply negate it or reject it. But we believe that the earliest part which is a thousand years or more before Muhammad came on the scene, it was called Baytula, which means the house of God long before Muhammad came. And even in Muhammad’s days they call it Baytula.
The Kaaba is indeed a cube and in it is embedded this stone. Now, the tradition the Muslims say is this, that it came from God as white and because of the sins of many it became black. But the fact is, it’s more a bluish-black stone that was brought with the Jews who felt it was part of the temple and began to resurrect their faith there, feeling they are so far away from other countries and other armies who could bother them. In fact, the city of Yathrib, which later became known as Medina, was populated mainly by Jews. This is why Muhammad refers to rabbis and the people of the book, because they were there, you see. Now the stone itself is to be believed so holy and therefore they like to kiss it or touch it and it is considered to be a stone about this size.
Question: How do you explain the growth of Islam among black Muslims?
Answer: How do you explain the, shall we say, the growth of Islam among black Muslims? This may be a proper way to say it, especially, they’re black Muslims. For many of us we believe this is more or less a political rather than religious, using the term you see, as such. I do not want to cast aspersion or degradation against anybody, but it’s almost like the Ku Klux Klan who claim in the name of Jesus burning crosses, you know, that this is the way that God wants this and this is the way it ought to be, when they are actually a political group that does not identify with the Bible, neither do identify with them you see.
And so therefore, you’ll notice something else, and I’d like to raise a question in this context, that a number of the black Muslims who are coming to this organization do not even know what in the world is Islam itself. It’s just an organization which in reality builds them up, you see, and gives them better identity.
Another thing, in the prisons this is a question of importance. In the prisons; you will find the largest growth among the black Muslims is in the prisons. And why in the prisons? I mean, what is that appeals to a criminal, you see, aside from the fact that he will have his own food, doesn’t have to eat pork; you have to eat steaks, that he has his time-out to pray five times a day and so forth and so on? I’m happy to report to you that Chaplain Ray, some you may have heard of him, who has prison ministries, had actually ordered 100,000 of the book about my life called The Liberated Palestinian to distribute it in the prisons, believing it will help people learn the importance of forgiveness, rather than being bitter against the world, against the white man, or against the black man or against even God. Because we are in desperate need of love and reconciliation instead of hostility and bitterness. So I conclude by saying that it is more or less a political organization, using religion as a vehicle. And this is my conviction about the whole business of Islam.
You see, Muhammad was a military leader. He was a brilliant leader. And he utilized his convictions and beliefs of religion to promote his political ambition. And therefore, he actually became three in one. He became a political leader, religious leader, military leader; and this developed in the lives of the kalifas and now we don’t have any kalifa you see. The closest man who came to that position is Khomeini, and he is dead, as you know.
But I encourage you to remember, please, that we in some ways are to blame; because we have not been apparently able to overcome the prejudices in our hearts to love these people and let them know that Jesus loves them as they are. It is not a matter of religious background or a creed or color or race. Jesus loves them all and if we demonstrate a greater love than what these other people are doing, they would come to the Lord.
Question: Why do Muslims say that Muhammad is an apostle?
Answer: Yes, I think in the way that you can use it, inasmuch as the apostles were deliverers of messages, rather than prophesied about the future. See, you must remember we’re talking about Muhammad and utilizing his name as an apostle rather than a prophet. And what we’re looking at it the disciples of Jesus you see were the bearers of the message of Jesus, the ones who explained it, who preached it, who shared it. Therefore, in the context of Islam you can say that Muhammad delivered the message and this is the message. And from there I would think it would be very helpful to take every passage you can find about Jesus, and present Jesus from that angle.
I will tell you a very remarkable story. I was in Syria in a revival meeting when another revolution was taking place. And suddenly the airplanes were in the air. They were announcing to the army, if you don’t set in there we’ll blast you out, and they were just a few miles from us. So, needless to say, we closed the meeting quick and went on home. So the pastor was going to take me across the border to go on back home, and guess what? The border was closed. So his neighbors said, “I’ve always wanted you to come and eat dinner.” His neighbor was a Muslim. So he said, “We’ll take advantage of this, have you come and bring Brother Shorrosh with you.” So we went at an appointed time the following day. And as we sat on the couches, which are mattresses on the floor, suddenly there they come, the neighbors. You see, they begin to prepare coffee and food so they are invited to come and welcome their guests. It’s wonderful, I mean the Arab’s are famous for hospitality.
So the conversation turned about Christ. So I tell them, well, just leave the Bible alone, let me show you what your book says about Christ. Within the hour every one of them left. I was sitting by myself. And here comes the host, grinning. He said, “Brother Shorrosh, I supposed you wondered why everybody left.” I said, yes. He said, “Don’t worry, they will be back when lunch is ready. But you want to know why they left?” I said, “Yes, sir.” He said “Well, they went out murmuring, if we stay another hour we won’t be Muslims anymore.”
You see, because it’s the truth. “We won’t be Muslims anymore,” meaning when you present the gospel of Jesus Christ, which is the good news that God loves you, that He sent Christ to prove it, that He died to set you free, therefore the end result would be that you will have to make a decision. You cannot be neutral once you hear the gospel. You either say yes or no.
Now it is my prayer, like Dr. Hosni Morsi, and Dr. Jamal Badawi and others, it is my prayer that God will reveal to them this truth that He will open their hearts to see the light of Jesus Christ, the love of God. You see, don’t forget, Islam is void of assurance of salvation. It’s void of a guarantee that your sins are forgiven here and now. When I became a Christian, God assured me I’m saved now and forevermore, that my sins are forgiven now and forevermore. Don’t forget that Islam does not present God as a loving father. That is missing. It does not present God as love. God is not love. God is not the heavenly father. With these missing links there is no plan of salvation. You’ve got to work your own way and find the pleasure of God and the approval of God.
Thank you for this time together, and the Lord bless you, inasmuch as our time is over and I would suggest that don’t forget, that one of the greatest weapons we have is prayer. We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers in high places. So stand with the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, and that’s what made Christianity grow, not the sword of steel which made Islam grow.
And I end up by saying to you, without the sword, ladies and gentlemen, you would have never heard of Islam or Muhammad. They would have been swallowed by the sands of Arabia. Thank you, and the Lord bless you everyone.