What Do Muslims Believe?/Program 1

By: Dr. Ergun Caner, Dr. Emir Caner; ©2003
What caused the Caners, devout

Muslims, to turn away from Allah and place their faith in Jesus Christ as God.



What evidence could cause devout Muslims today to leave Islam and embrace Christianity? Today on The John Ankerberg Show, two former Muslims tell why they turned away from Allah and placed their faith in Jesus Christ as God, knowing that their decision would cost them the love and acceptance of their family?

Dr. Emir Caner: And so I told my father, necessarily Allah and Jehovah are not the same gods. I worship Jesus Christ now. And he told us to make a decision between our religion and him, or better said, between our Heavenly Father and our earthly father. So I got up and I left. He disowned us.

These two brothers went on to get their Ph.D.s, and now, Dr. Ergun Caner, is Associate Professor of Theology and Church History at Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA, and Dr. Emir Caner is Assistant Professor of Church History at Southeastern Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, NC. In countries outside of America, if a Muslim leaves Islam and embraces Christianity, what consequences does he or she face?

Emir: In many of the countries, what happens is, on a Friday day, the Jumaa prayer, they will take you to the city square, they will bury you up to your waist in your burial cloth. The indictment is read that you have converted to Christianity, and then everyone picks up the stones and you are stoned to death in the city square – for the sole indictment of being a believer in Jesus Christ.

Everyone in the world should understand what the religion of Islam teaches 1.6 billion Muslims of what they must do to have any hope of going to Heaven; of how they are to treat Christians, Jews, and other unbelievers in Islamic countries; how women are to be treated; the role of Islamic leaders in government, and when jihad, or holy war, is justifiable.

Dr. Ergun Caner: If the numbers hold up right – and 16 percent of the Muslims worldwide believe that the bombing of the World Trade Towers was morally justifiable – if those numbers continue out, we’re talking about somewhere in the vicinity of 100 million Muslims who believe that jihadic acts are morally justified. And so you see that there is this divergence of opinion about jihad, but what we hear here in America, we have never heard anywhere else in the world. We’ve never heard certainly in our background that you would say jihad was only an internal struggle.

Today, we invite you to join us to hear two former Muslims talk about Islamic belief and practice on this edition of The John Ankerberg Show.

Dr. John Ankerberg: Welcome! I’m glad that you’ve joined us today. We have two former Muslims who are our guests. They became Christians, their family disowned them. They went on in their education to get their Ph.D.s. They are now teaching in Christian seminaries. They have two best-selling books out. And our topic is: Is jihad for today? Is jihad really armed struggle?
After 9/11 and the terrorist bombing of the Trade Towers and also of the Pentagon, people wanted to know, “Why are these folks quoting the Qur’an against us? Why do they hate Americans? What’s going on? What’s the relationship of al Qaeda to what Muhammad said and the teachings in the Qur’an and the Hadith (the Tradition)?”
And fellows, let’s talk about this thing of jihad. There are a lot of arguments that jihad is not armed struggle, it’s not for all Muslims.
Emir, start us off. What are all the arguments that they are saying today, that this is not armed struggle, this is just internal spiritual struggle?
Emir Caner: Well, the first thing they say is, “Well, listen, Islam means peace.” And if you look at the word Islam, it does not mean peace. It means submission to Allah. It’s a totally different scenario, then.
But after September 11th, they had to create this chasm between what they wanted to consider extremists and who they were as Western Muslims. And so they allegorized the Qur’an. They said the Qur’an only spoke of an internal struggle. Now, the Sufis are very good at doing this. Or they said, “This is an historical argument, that is, Muhammad himself was a military leader but never called anyone else to military leadership.
Finally, they would say, “Well, yes. But only in self-defense; only if we are attacked do we have jihad.” And so they try to compare it between any of the self-defense arguments within Christendom or secular ideas.
Ankerberg: Ergun, you believe now that, even though that’s what people are trying to promote, that is not the case. And we’re actually going to look at the Qur’an, we’re going to look at the Hadith, and show that you can’t misinterpret that any other way than saying this is physical warfare.
Ergun Caner: And this is something that we’re only dealing with here in America or in the West, because around the world, this is without question. Around the world, the Muslims would listen to these arguments and just scoff. And they do scoff and they mock, because, they say, “This is ridiculous! This is an embarrassment to Islam that you would possibly think this.”
If the numbers hold up right – and 16 percent of the Muslims worldwide believe that the bombing of the World Trade Towers was morally justifiable – if those numbers continue out, we’re talking about somewhere in the vicinity of 100 million Muslims who believe that jihadic acts are morally justified. And so you see that there is this divergence of opinion about jihad, but what we hear here in America, we have never heard anywhere else in the world. We’ve never heard certainly in our background that you would say jihad was only an internal struggle.
The Qur’an is explicit, but the Hadith is even more explicit that there is such a thing as: “jihad al askar,” that there is such a thing a “high jihad.” There is such a thing as acts of holiness, but there is also such a thing as acts of warfare in the name of Allah.
Ankerberg: Yeah, and I think we need to make clear to the people, we’re not trying to promote this. We’re just trying to say what the historical situation is so we will be able to know how to deal with it. Also, it’s an opportunity for Muslims to re-think things. And we want to show the folks the quandary of Muslims in the West who are dealing with these very issues that we’re going to talk about. But let’s get down to the Qur’an and the Hadith. Let’s slow it down for the people. Why are certain verses, why do they trap you into one way of looking at jihad?
Ergun: Well, one of the arguments that we have against us, the Christian community, is, they’ll say, “Yes. But in your Old Testament you had ‘kill all the Amalekites. Destroy them and every living creature.’” And we say, “Yes. This is true. This is exactly what the Old Testament taught. But in that Scripture as you read it, that is descriptive. Prescriptive means that it applies for today, and there’s nothing in Scripture that says, “Go ye and do likewise.” The problem that they have in Islam is, everything is prescriptive. They do not have simply descriptive texts. That which was done in days gone by is still to be done now. This is why, in their culture, they live the same way they did as when Muhammad was alive in the seventh century. And so you do not have a distinction of hermeneutics here where they can say, “Ah, but this was past. We don’t do this anymore. That’s a description. We are not called to do this anymore.” Around the world, the Muslims know if jihad was then, jihad is now.
Ankerberg: Let’s start with the contemporary illustration that actually quotes the Qur’an and work from that angle. Okay? In 1998, you had a fatwa that was signed by five Islamic leaders, Osama bin Laden being one of them. Could you just read us some excerpts of this letter?
Ergun: It’s the famous fatwa signed February 23, 1998, by Fazlul Rahman, Osama bin Muhammad bin Laden, others signed it. I will read just their conclusion. After listing what they believed to be perceived dangers of the Crusader Zionist alliance, they say this:
On that basis [talking about what we have done against them] in compliance with Allah’s order, we issue the following fatwa to all Muslims the ruling to kill the Americans and their allies – civilians and military – is an individual duty [Fard Ayn in Arabic] for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible in order to liberate the al-Aqsa Mosque and the holy mosque from their grip, and in order for their armies to move out of all the lands of Islam, defeated and unable to threaten any Muslim. This is in accordance with the words of Almighty Allah, ‘And fight the pagans altogether as they fight you altogether….’
And so, not only here but throughout the entire fatwa, which is many pages, they quote the Qur’an, they quote the Hadith and they believe that by so doing, they have proven beyond the shadow of a doubt, that this is an act not of geopolitical consequence, not of conquest, but of Islamic duty.
Ankerberg: Alright, let’s take some verses from the Qur’an and give us the context and start us off here.
Emir: Surah 9:5: “Slay the enemies wherever you find them.” People say that means self-defense. That’s after some period and only in reaction to someone fighting them. Well, that’s not the case because Muhammad’s on the aggression. But then he does define it in religious terms. Verse 29: “Those who do not believe in Allah or the last day.” And so your enemy is the infidel, the kafir, the one who does not believe in Allah.
And then you hear in Surah 4:101, what is it? That they are “open enemies to you” and, after that in verse 102 it says that “we’ll provide for them a humiliating punishment.” And so on and on the verses go about the Qur’an. Chapter 8, verses 13-17 deals with it in a very specific manner of jihad and what you should carry out and how you should carry it out. And so Christians can look these verses up and see it for themselves. They can see Surah 5 where you recognize in battle or otherwise: “Do not take Jews or Christians as your friends nor your protectors.”
And you just start listing and listing and listing, and the only way they can defend it is they say, “Yes. But that’s only in self-defense.”
Ankerberg: Why aren’t those verses description and why are they prescriptive?
Emir: Because they are the words of Allah to Muslims, not to a specific people group like the Old Testament is specified for Israel. There is no such thing as a church replacing Israel as some Christian theologians would have it. And it’s specified to specific territory with Israel: The land of Canaan. There is no specific territory. There is no specific people. The world is your territory. The aggression, the self-defense is to have Dar al-Islam, a House of Islam where you conquer. And you see it from Abu Bakr and Uthman and Umar and Ali and all the other caliphs, most certainly and traditionally, they recognized it as an aggressive act that they had to do. And it is still to them was a relief of oppression that they were with them.
Ankerberg: When you argue with Muslims in the West that want to oppose it, what verses do you show them?
Ergun: Not only there, I go to Surah 9 and I will begin walking with them where they… the first verse they will throw out is Surah 2:256, “There is no compulsion in Islam.” I say, “That’s a great verse. Let’s go back 60 verses, Surah 2:190, “Seize them and slay them where you find them.”
You have this constant battle between, “Okay. There’s no compulsion” and yet, “we must conquer.” Either you are called to jihad or you are not. Either you are called to fight battle or you are not. There is no give and take. However, Hadith volume 4, book 52, “Jihad” – the entire chapter is called, “Jihad: Fighting for Allah’s Cause.” And through it are the protocols by which Muslims operate when they are engaged in such battle.
Emir: And when Osama bin Laden declared the fatwa, he was declaring it from Hadith, that Book 52 of Volume 4, verse 42 where it says, if you are called forth by your leader, “go forth immediately.”
So these are the tenets, the commandments of Allah to the people of Islam, even to this day and until the end of time.
Ankerberg: Alright, we’re going to take a break and when we come back, we’re going to talk about: What do Muslims think about Christians? What do Muslims think about Jews? And third, did the hijackers that took the planes and flew them into the World Trade Center towers, did they expect paradise according to the Qur’an? Okay? We’re going to talk about all that when we get right back. Stick with us.

Ankerberg: Alright, we’re back, and if you’ve just joined us, we’re talking with two former Muslims who left Islam, became Christians, their family disowned them. They went on in their education to get their doctorates, and they’re professors in Christian seminaries. And they’re here as our guests and we’re talking about, What does Islam, what does the Qur’an and Hadith, say about Christians and Jews and others that are non-Muslims?
Emir: Well, one of the verses in the Qur’an which is very salient is Surah 5:51: “Take not the Jews or Christians for your friends or protectors. They are but friends and protectors to each other. Any amongst you that turns to them for friendship is of them.” And then it says, “Allah does not guide a people who is unjust.”
And so it starts out, this is the eternal battle between Ishmael and Isaac. Isaac is the promised son from Genesis 12 and Genesis 15. Ishmael has a curse placed on him. So Muslims place their own lineage from Ishmael and the Jews to Isaac and they say, “See, we had the right to the land in Israel, and the Jews took it from us. And now they took it and since 1948, with the Balfour Declaration with the Brits, and then overtaking after World War II.” And the Jews are despised! They are the ones who have perverted the gospel, perverted the land, corrupted what it was to be a believer, where Ishmael was a Muslim – and Ishmael was never a Muslim. Many Christians buy into the very fact that Ishmael somehow that his descendants were the cursed Arabs, the Muslims that came to be. And they’re given really a false perception of who Ishmael was because if you look in Genesis 16, God also promises to bless Ishmael. The first Muslim was not until Khadija and Abu Bakr converted to Islam.
Ankerberg: Behind this admonition to not be friends with Christians and Jews, Ergun, is it the fact that the Christians and the Jews have a different religion, a different belief; therefore, you can’t associate with them? This goes back to keeping Islam and the things that Muhammad promulgated “pure.” Is that really the bottom basement line here?
Ergun: Absolutely! And there are certain sects within Islam where they will not even shake the hand. There is a group in Washington, DC that exposes businesses to this type of Islam where, you know, “Don’t extend the hand to shake their hand because they will not take your hand.” They will not greet you because of this teaching and because of the belief system that you will become somehow made less than pure by contact. However, it is important, yes, that this type of teaching, this type of influence and influx of Judaism and Christianity is very, very important for our discussions.
In our debates, where we will speak with the media and such, they will eventually get to the question, we call it the “trigger question,” which is, “Are you saying that a good Muslim goes to hell?” And inevitably, my brother and I will say one of two things. We will first say, “I’m saying a good Baptist goes to hell. It’s not your denomination; it’s what you do with Jesus Christ.” But secondly and perhaps more importantly for this discussion, I’m saying a Muslim thinks you and I are going to hell. See, the only thing in our culture that is no longer absolute is those who believe in absolutes. And our culture has now made everyone into one big huge “group-hug.” Islam teaches that there are seven levels to hell-fire, the lowest is for the hypocrites. Level 6 and level 5 are for the Jews and the Christians who do not accept Allah. And so, whether you want to believe it or not, whether you want to like it or not, Muslims believe in absolutes and so do Christians.
Ankerberg: Okay, how can Christians who are listening, they say, “Hey. I’ve got Muslim neighbors and I really love them. I want to reach out to them. Are you saying that they’ll never become my friend?”
Ergun: I’m saying that there is a belief system in Islam that if you become friends with the Jews and the Christians, you are somehow hurting your chances for paradise with Allah.
Ankerberg: Yeah, let me just follow up. Here’s something about the infidels.
Surah 4:89: “Seize them, slay them wherever that you find them and in any case, take no friends nor helpers from their ranks.”
Surah 4:101: “For the unbelievers are open enemies to you.”
Surah 4:102: “For the unbelievers Allah has prepared a humiliating punishment.”
Again, behind this is keeping the faith “pure” and if you associate with others, you are going to defile the faith?
Emir: At the least! Well, they say “that’s warfare!” Well, does that mean a Muslim in the military cannot befriend a Jew or a Christian in the military? Do you not trust it? The inherent contradiction is the fact that there cannot be any separation between mosque and state and there is no such thing as a “good infidel army.” There are only those armies that Allah blesses and those are the blessings that come from him – Muslim armies. And so those verses go outside of the military.
Ankerberg: Let’s go one step further. Muhammad in Hadith 9.57 talked about what should happen to any Muslim who would convert to Christianity or Judaism. Okay? Which is what you guys did. What’s the Hadith?
Ergun: It’s Hadith 9.57, Muhammad speaking: “If anyone changes his Islamic religion, kill him.” It’s the same chapter where it says, “No one can be killed for killing an akafir” no one can be killed for killing an infidel. Right after the bombing, we put up $25 million, for somebody to turn over bin Laden. No one would ever turn over bin Laden to the infidel who will try him as a capital offense for killing the infidels.
Emir: And it comes from the Qur’an, Surah 3:85, “if you have another religion outside of Islam, it will never be accepted of you.” So what the Qur’an puts in principle, the Hadith places out in practicality.
Ankerberg: You guys, with your eyes open, you switched sides.
Ergun: Yes.
Ankerberg: You faced this one. Did you think about this?
Ergun: When you’re young you are immortal, you think that the world’s going to fall at your feet.
Emir: And our father was kind. I mean, our sisters are peaceful. Our whole family is peaceful. This is not an argument that all Muslims are violent. This is an argument that Islam is inherently violent, that the religion purports an aggressive faith that is in its way political, military. This is not to say that 1.3 or 1.6 billion Muslims are this violent. In our own family, I don’t think there was as much worry because our father was more merciful than Muhammad would even allow.
Ankerberg: Let’s talk about the Muslims in the West here who are caught between a rock and a hard place. Okay? Explain this.
Ergun: Well, I mean, on the one hand, they like America. They came here the same way we came here, which was for the prosperity that you have. On the other hand, they are good Muslims, and they are being told by the Muslims in the Middle East, they’re being told by the Muslims of other cultures, “You have been obliged, you are obligated to holy war. You must fight. You know? The Qur’an is very explicit on this. You have been obliged to holy war. If you do not go on holy war, you are in endangering yourself of hell-fire.”
And so, they are in a public relations nightmare, but they’re also in a spiritual nightmare. The public relations nightmare is: Affirm jihad and face the wrath of America, you know, the American media; deny jihad and face the wrath of the Muslim community.
The same thing with their spiritual issue. If you do not fight, you can be a good American but you’ll be a bad Muslim. You do fight, you may be a good Muslim but you will not be a good American.
Ankerberg: Let’s go right down that path. Were the suicide pilots and hijackers expecting forgiveness of sins and a certain degree of honor in paradise because they did the horrific deeds, according to the Qur’an?
Emir: Hadith 1:35 promises that when you die as a martyr, you’ll go, not to heaven, but to the highest, the hundredth level of heaven. They weren’t expecting some portion of reward; they were expecting the highest reward of sitting on couches and perpetual virgins passing by them, serving them sexually. And so, they are picturing that the more devout you are to jihad, the higher your reward is in heaven. There is no question that they thought when they rammed those planes into the World Trade Center that the next thing they would see is this paradise that was very sensual, very physical, and when it exploded, sadly, they saw something else.
Ankerberg: What does the Qur’an say about Muslims who are slothful Muslims and do not endeavor in jihad, that do not take that line?
Ergun: The Qur’an is very explicit that if you do not fight in jihad, Surah 4:95, “not equal are those believers who sit at home and those who strive and fight hard in the cause of Allah with their wealth and with their lives.” A slothful Muslim is considered a poor Muslim.
Ankerberg: Is it true that no person who has enlisted in holy war can be found guilty of murder?
Ergun: Yeah, Hadith 9.50. This was our issue, because you cannot be killed for killing an infidel, an akafir.
Ankerberg: So, there would be no leader in the Islamic world that would turn over one of the terrorists to us because actually, he had done a good thing in Islam and you shouldn’t do that over on our side of the fence.
Ergun: Exactly.
Emir: And probably the preeminent example is if we remove ourselves from the World Trade Center into the hot spot of the world today, it’s Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. It’s Israel. And you’ll never hear Muslims get on Fox News or CNN or anything else and say, “What’s going on with the suicide terrorist bombers, homicide bombers, is wrong.” It’s justifiable to more than 80 percent of the Muslims there in Israel, and they want to fight for what was “Palestine,” they say. The problem, there is no Palestine. It’s my contention that the Palestinians should have as much territory as they have ever had: zero!
Ankerberg: I’ve got to ask you guys, I mean, when you were growing up, it seems to me that the hatred toward the Jews in Israel is off the charts! I mean, it’s not tied to logic in certain ways. I mean, did you guys feel this when you were growing up?
Ergun: We were taught that the Jews drink the blood of Palestinian children. We were taught that the Jews are the money mongers, the horrible, mean, conniving, mean-spirited people. And here’s the hard part for us. This is difficult for us to say but it’s a fact of our lives, and that is, many who come from our background, many who have been saved out of Islam still have this vestigial distaste for Israel. Now, we have come to the point, my brother and I have come to the point where we see Israel as the children of God. The Church hasn’t replaced them. We are grafted, but you know, they are still the children of God – “to the Jew first.” But we see among our people a real dislike for them, and thus they develop theological systems based on a replacement or a coffining of the Jew.
Ankerberg: Keep going.
Emir: This is not to say that Jews are saved, but that they are chosen by God.
Ankerberg: Right.
Emir: In fact, not only that, but we are remind ourselves, if God could throw away His promise to the Jews, He can in likewise manner throw away His promises to us. It is an unconditional covenant to the Israeli people. Not to justify every minutia and detail of what they’re doing in Israel, but to recognize biblically and as a nation, with Britain, with the Balfour Declaration, and others that we promise to stand by these people. We cannot leave them hanging. It is their right to be there. They were there first. They were kicked out so many times. They have a right to their homeland.
Ankerberg: Two questions. Number one is the illustration about the elderly, those that are sick that cannot participate in jihad, what is that verse? Because it shows those people that are elderly and are sick, they could have internal spiritual struggle. But they cannot participate in jihad in that section of the Qur’an? What is that?
Ergun: It’s [Hadith] Volume 4 and book 52, the one I cited about jihad itself. There is a list of people who are excluded. One is those who are looking after their parents, those who are the infirm and the elderly. And so they are excluded. A woman is not allowed to fight jihad, according to Islam. Her pilgrimage, her hajj, becomes her jihad.
You know, if only one percent of the Muslims worldwide believe in jihad, if only one percent do, and the rest of the 99 percent are peaceful, we’re still dealing with an army of 16 million warriors.
Ankerberg: Give me a word of hope as we go out of this program. Compare Christ with what Muhammad was saying.
Emir: Well, what we need to recognize is that actually suffering and violence has done us good in this world, but only in one time. At a cross sitting there on Golgotha, a man shed His blood, not just for Christians, not just for part of the world, but for the entire world. And in so doing, all the blood that was necessary and sufficient was shed on that one day. And so when Jesus Christ claimed victory at the resurrection, He claimed victory not only for Americans, or not even for Americans, but for the entire world, including 1.3 billion Muslims, all of whom Jesus died for. And this is why we’re doing this, to share the Gospel of unconditional love to them.
Ankerberg: Alright, next week we’re going to talk about the five pillars of Islam. What these guys did, believed, what Muslims around the world believe, what the foundation stones are for Islamic belief. It’s fascinating. I hope that you’ll join us.

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