Why Sharia Law Threatens Freedom and Human Rights?/Program 2

Ed. Note: Unless otherwise indicated, footnoted Qur’an quotes are from the Yusef Ali transition, and Hadith quotes are from Bukhari’s Hadith.

By: Dr. Ergun Caner, Dr. Emir Caner; ©2013
In this program, Dr. Emir Caner and Dr. Ergun Caner join Dr. Ankerberg to explain how the Muslim beliefs that form the basis of Sharia Law teach a works-based religion that leads to frustration and discouragement among many Muslims.


Today on the John Ankerberg Show: In the aftermath of the Arab Spring, the world has watched nation after nation in North Africa and the Middle East turn into Islamic States and embrace sharia law. This has raised many serious questions including what is sharia law? Is sharia law a threat to people’s free speech, their freedom of religion, and basic human rights? How are Muslims to treat Christians, Jews, and other minorities in Islamic countries? How are women to be treated? And what groups and organizations in America are trying to institute sharia law here?

To answer these questions, my guests today are two former Sunni Muslims who grew up in Columbus, Ohio, where their father built mosques. When they made the decision to leave Islam and convert to Christianity, their father disowned them. Dr. Emir Caner went on to earn his PhD in history from the University of Texas and is now the President of Truett-McConnell College in Georgia. Dr. Ergun Caner received his Doctor of Theology from the University of South Africa and is Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs at Arlington Baptist College in Arlington, Texas. We invite you to join us for this special edition of the John Ankerberg Show.


Ankerberg: Welcome to our program. My guests are two former Muslims who have come to Christ. They’ve gone on to get their PhDs, and now Dr. Emir Caner is the President of Truett-McConnell College in northeast Georgia. Dr. Ergun Caner is the Vice-President of Academic Affairs at Arlington Baptist College in Arlington, Texas. They’re both professors. They’re bestselling authors.
But what I want them to do today, for many of you that are in the Middle East that are watching, I want to know why it is they left Islam and came to Jesus Christ. And there are teachings in Islam that I want them to talk about. I’ve been fascinated with, in reading the Qur’an, about who Allah hates and who Allah loves. And I want to attach this to, what must a Muslim do to have the chance of going to Paradise, according to the Qur’an.
Ergun Caner: I don’t believe that Christianity is a religion. I believe that Christianity is a faith, and everything that Jesus did inverted the religious impulse. And Islam, as a religion, it has something in common with all the others, Buddhism, Hinduism, etc., and that is, there are things you have to do, rituals, rites, actions and these things. You have to be allowed in or to be accepted. And in Islam, five pillars, six foundations, the reading of the Qur’an, the prayers five times a day. But all of that can be summarized in the Qur’an in surah 23, and with your permission I’ll read surah 23, and the verse I will begin with is 102. And it says, “Only those whose scales are heavier in the balance will find Paradise. But those whose scales are lighter will perish and abide in hell forever.” The scales that the young man and the young woman understands: that you must do more good than bad, that on one scale will keep the good deeds, the good thoughts, the motivations. The bad scales are the things that you have done wrong, for the wrong reasons, wrong time, wrong place. At the end of your life you have to have more good than bad. There’s times where the scales are balanced, wiped clean, like when a woman gives birth. But for the most part everything you do is accounted for. And the day of judgment—the day of resurrection is called the day of judgment in Islam—that’s when the counting takes place. And so, as the Muslim, this is a cradle-to-grave accumulation of my works. I’ve got to be better than I am bad.
Ankerberg: When you guys were Muslims yourself, and you knew other Muslims, did you think that you were ahead of the game? Did you think that your good works were outweighing your bad works?
Emir Caner: Well, we tried to give an account, but you couldn’t know. Not even Muhammad knew. You know, in Bukhari’s Hadith, volume 5, number 266, he says “What Allah will do with me I do not know.”[1] There’s another Hadith that says, “Do not be so sure of heaven, nor be so hopeless of hell.” So, there is to them a humility, to us a great uncertainty. And that’s the beauty of Christianity is that there’s a certainty; not because we are good, but because He finished the work on the cross. He bore the sins for us; past, present and future. So, where in Islam, Allah loves those who do righteous deeds—in the Qur’an chapter 2 in verse 190[2]—that is wholly different, that conditional love, to the Bible in Romans 5:8, that “God compels His love towards us that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.”
Ankerberg: Is it a true statement that Allah in the Qur’an does not love a person until that person does things for Allah?
Ergun Caner: It is. And there’s a number of terms in the Arabic for love. You have the hubb, you have the mawaddah; the terms, that are interchangeable, are always conditional, always. Allah loves those who do good; Allah hates those who do wicked. An unconditional love, a sacrificial love, we use in Christianity because we say it’s a reflection of the marriage. You know, you’re to be sacrificial; you’re to give all. “Wives, submit yourselves unto your husbands,” but “husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it.” I’m supposed to go further and do more. I’m supposed to be as sacrificial as our Lord. Love dies. Love gives. In Islam, Allah doesn’t love back. He just loves what you do. It’s different to say Allah loves what you do than to say Allah loves you, because you can go be a good Muslim and still go to hell fire. Emir writes much on the issue of fatalism. You can be good your whole life and yet still not be good enough because he doesn’t want you there.
Ankerberg: Yeah, I think of that and I compare it with the Bible, that “while we were still helpless Christ died,” not for the good people, “for the ungodly.” In other words, He loved us when we were ungodly. He loves us while we are ungodly. And He wants us to come to Him because He loves us. It’s unconditional love that’s continuing to be given by God to us, He provided His Son to die on the cross to pay for our sins, and He’s offering a gift constantly to those who are sinners: “If you’ll just take this gift I’ll cleanse all of your sins. You do not have to do something for Me to cleanse it; I’ve done all that’s necessary, and I’m offering it as a gift.” Did that make sense to you somewhere along the line?
Emir Caner: It did. You know, 1 John 4 talks about that we didn’t love Him first, but He loved us first and gave Himself to be a propitiation for our sin. That’s that issue that I finally got, that God loved me. It’s the issue we have to share with every Muslim around the world, that we can tell you with certainty God loves you. God died for you, that you may have a relationship with Him.
Ankerberg: Yeah, people that are sitting in Alexandria or Cairo or in Tehran or in Jordan or someplace, and they’re listening, and they’re saying, it’s hard for me to believe that the God of the Bible loves me like you’re talking about. Was it hard for you to believe that?
Emir Caner: It was freeing. It was literally something where I realized all the things I tried to do good, I couldn’t. Because God can either be just or merciful, but He can’t be both in the realm of Islam, because if He’s just He has to punish sin; if He’s merciful then He forgives sin. But how is He both? And then I realized, that’s why “God became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory,” John 1. That’s the point of Christianity. That answers, for the Muslim, why did God become man? He became man so that God, both just and merciful, can forgive me of my sin and cleanse me from all unrighteousness.
Ankerberg: Yes, the God of the Bible doesn’t let any sin get by. You’re either going to pay for it yourself in hell, or the fact is, He’s put all of your sin on Christ, and if you’ll ask Him and accept His gift, He’ll transfer all that sin from you to Jesus, and He’s punished Jesus in full for what you and I have done. That is just the most amazing thing. And then He imputes back to us, He credits back to us, the righteousness of Christ. So if you say, could I stand in front of God with a good track record? What if you had Jesus Christ’s track record to put in front of you and say, “this is how I’ve lived, perfect in everything”? That’s what Jesus said, “I’ve always done the will of the Father,” alright. If you had Christ’s track record, could you stand before God and have confidence? Yes. That’s what He gives. He takes your sin and He credits the righteousness of Christ so you stand surrounded in His righteousness, alright. Now, He puts the Holy Spirit of God into our lives, and the fact is then we start to grow, and we become what God has made us in terms of our position in Christ, okay. But in terms of Islam, I think that folks have such a hard time understanding the goodness of God. What else struck you fellows as you were contemplating coming from Islam to Jesus Christ? What were the obstacles that you had to go through here?
Ergun Caner: There’s weariness to us. A weariness that, for the average Muslim, if I’ve got to do good, think good, be good, I can’t do this. And you know your heart, and you know your thoughts, and you know you can’t conquer this. And it ends up either weary or desperate or just futile. Here’s the major difference that made sense to me, just my little, silly little mind as a young man; Christianity is the exact opposite of religion, because Islam has works and so do all the others. As a matter of fact, in Christianity—if in all the other religions I have to do these things to be allowed in, I have to do these works—Christianity is a rejection of works. In Christianity, if I think I can work to become a Christian, I’m not ready, because Christianity is marked by the end of work. I’m allowed in when I surrender, when I repent, which means every work I’ve ever done didn’t make it. The gap is too big. So when I say I can’t, He does. It’s the measure of grace. I accept, by repenting of my sin, His gift to me, because I have to admit my work isn’t enough. My work couldn’t make it, can’t make. Now I need something other than me. And that’s where Jesus comes in.
Ankerberg: Alright, we’re going to take a break. When we come back, I want to talk about one of the key stumbling blocks, and that’s who Jesus Christ is, and was He actually crucified on the cross? And you guys had to cross that barrier yourself, and I want you to share how you struggled with those two questions, alright. So stick with us, we’ll be right back.


Ankerberg: Alright, we’re back. We’re talking with two former Muslims who became Christians; they’re professors. And we’re coming to a key question. You have two major world religions. And we come to a point of Jesus Christ: Who is He? One of those religions has got to be right; the other one’s got to be wrong. And you fellows faced that question. In fact, you wrote a book about it, and that was More Than a Prophet. And the question is, Islam says that Jesus was a prophet, okay, He was just a prophet. And you finally came to the decision that He was more than just a prophet. He was actually God the Son. Now, how did you arrive at that, and set the stage for me on that struggle between Islam and Christianity.
Emir Caner: Well, Islam is a complete repudiation of Christianity. Everything that we, as Christians, hold near and dear is rejected by Islam. Jesus is not God; and to call Him such is a thing most blasphemous, chapter 19 of the Qur’an.[3] Jesus didn’t die on the cross, chapter 4 and verse 157 of the Qur’an.[4] All of those things. Then you have to ask the question: is the Qur’an true or is the Bible true? The Qur’an really has no prophecy in it; the Bible over and over again proves itself with prophecies of the Old Testament, then proven in the person of Jesus Christ. He’ll be born in Bethlehem, Micah 5:2; He’ll be born of a virgin, Isaiah 7; and on the list goes. And the Muslim, considering, should I become a Christian, has to ask the question: Which of these two books is true? Is the Bible the Word of God, or is the Qur’an the word of Allah? And relationally, the Muslim’s got to ask this question. Chapter 35 of the Qur’an, verse 18, says you must bear your own burdens. You who are heavy laden, it even says.[5] While Jesus in Matthew 11 says, “Come unto Me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” And they personally have to ask the question: Am I willing to try to bear my own burdens with no guarantee, and really without hope, or am I willing to lay it all down and let Jesus bear the burdens for me?
Ankerberg: Yeah, Emir, historically you’ve got to say if Muhammad comes 500 years after the time of Jesus lived, alright. And you have the eyewitnesses of Jesus’ life saying this is what He said. Why is it that anyone would accept a testimony 500 years after the fact and cancel out the eyewitness testimonies? And let’s talk a moment about the eyewitness testimonies. What did they hear Jesus say about Himself that just astounded you when you realized Jesus actually said this?
Emir Caner: Well, that He said He was God—“Before Abraham was I am,” John 8:58; the fact that He loved me unconditionally; the fact that He died for me, in my place, that I may have life; the fact that it wasn’t that I could be good enough, but I had to come through Him and His sacrifice; that He is an all-loving, all-knowing God who is a personal intimate God. And that’s not something that’s in Islam. The way you know Allah is to do good. That’s not Christianity. I wake up each morning; I have a personal, intimate relationship with my God. I speak to Him and He speaks to me. That doesn’t happen in Islam. Dead gods don’t speak.
Ergun Caner: It’s almost like we’re having a culture war, isn’t it. I mean, our culture wants all religions to be equal and wants all of us to sort of hold hands and sway back and forth and light a candle. But Christianity and Islam are so apodictically different, they’re so absolutely opposite. The opposites can’t be true, not simultaneously. Either Islam is true or Christianity is true. Christianity talks about the resurrection, and the crucifixion before; Islam denies the crucifixion, surah 4:157-158.[6] But, it says somebody was crucified in Jesus’ place, which means the indictment still has an attestation in the Qur’an. The indictment, in Jewish culture and in Roman culture, you would be crucified for treason, blasphemy: treason, to claim another king; blasphemy, to claim to be God. So the Jews wanted Him dead for blasphemy, and the Romans wanted Him dead for not following their lord, their Caesar. At least you could point to this and say to a Muslim, “But somebody heard Him say [He was] more than just a prophet, had to, because as least they tried to crucify Him.” It’s our culture war. You don’t have an unconditional love in Islam. You don’t have a Father relationship. When I got saved, He didn’t just save me, forgive me and clean me, He entered into a relationship with me. I am His child, He is my Father. Whereas the Qur’an, in surah 112 says, Allah does not begat nor is he begotten.[7] That’s, to them, the highest crime to say that you’re a child of God.
Ankerberg: Yeah, I think one of the things that is amazing to me is, when I became a Christian, then I thought I had to live all the things that Christ said in my own strength. And I finally found out that Christ came to live in me, to live through me, and to empower me to do what He wanted me to do. It’s not me doing anything here, it’s Him empowering me once I accepted His gift. You have a fascinating story of how you actually made the decision to become a Christian. A pastor sat down and asked you the questions about this topic of Jesus. Take me through that little conversation you had.
Ergun Caner: Well, the pastor, who’s still alive, he was our pastor, all of us in our youth, all three Muslim boys come to this church, come to this man, and Clarence Miller just asked me a very simple question. He just said, “Alright, what do you think about Jesus?” And I said, “Oh well, you know, I respect Jesus. He’s a good prophet. I respect Him.” And Clarence’s point to me is, it still resonates in my heart 30 years later, “You can’t respect Him. He said He was God. There’s a lot of people who say they’re God, a lot of people who think they’re God, delusional, high, messianic complex, etc. But they deserve pity. Somebody walking the streets who’s, you know, psychiatrically bothered, they deserve your pity. If Jesus said He was God, but wasn’t, He deserves your pity. You can’t just modify Him to say He’s just a prophet. But if Jesus said He was God and He is, respect isn’t enough. If He’s truly God, that deserves worship.” And so he put me at the crossroads: reject Him or accept Him, but you don’t have the option of just saying He’s a good guy, or to modify Him into this quest for the “hysterical” Jesus, where everybody wants to make Him into something new. You either accept Him at His claims, or reject Him and walk away. That was the crossroads for us.
Ankerberg: For people that are in Muslim countries that are watching right now, or even Muslims in our country, okay, what’s your advice? If they say, “I’d like to know that Jesus, but you know what I’m facing.” Okay, you guys were brought here to America. Your father disowned you. He didn’t kill you, okay, but other people in other countries don’t have that luxury. And even the fact of having your family disown you is not what you call a good thing. What’s your advice to those folks that would like to invite Jesus into their life?
Emir Caner: Well, they’re asking us the question, “How do I overcome this fear?” And they’re wanting to overcome the fear, and then become Christian, when it’s the exact opposite. The advice to give them is twofold. Number one, you accept Christ and you are free. You’re free from the captivity of sin, but you’re also free from that fear. And you’ll know exactly what to do after salvation, because God will indwell you through His Holy Spirit. The issue of salvation is something that gives you freedom, a life from all of those things. And it is a reminder, when we as Christians are witnessing to Muslims who are going to sacrifice so much, we have to remind ourselves what Jesus said in Matthew 10, “I didn’t come to bring peace, but a sword. I’ll separate daughter from mother, son from father.” So many of these Muslims will sacrifice so much. They’re really heroes of the faith, and some of them wind up being martyrs of the faith. But we have no regrets. We lost so much of our family, but I have no regrets, because I know who my Lord is, and I joyfully serve Him.
Ankerberg: Give me a quick summary of where you’re at with the family right now.
Ergun Caner: All three brothers got saved. All three brothers, sons of our father, who built mosques, a devout Muslim. All three are now preachers. Our middle brother speaks in churches, and he didn’t tell either one of us when he started. Our mom became a Christian. Our mom was part of a church plant. Our grandmother got saved. I got to baptize my mom, Emir baptized our grandmother before she died. Our nuclear family is saved. But still the other family members are not. But we don’t regret it, and neither do we think that, oh, you know, they call us Muslim-background believers. You can call me what you want, but I didn’t switch teams, and I didn’t go from one set of rules to another, or one good book to another one. I rejected and left a system of idolatry to accept the only true, living, redeeming Lord. I accepted Jesus. I’m not religious; I’m a Christian. I don’t follow rules; I follow my Savior.
Ankerberg: Emir, say a prayer for folks that are watching by television and saying, “What do I say to start this relationship? I’m a Muslim, or I’m just a non-believer, and I would like to invite Jesus to be my Lord and Savior.” How can they say that? Say a prayer. And if you folks are watching, say this prayer in your heart to the Lord right now if you mean that.
Emir Caner: So many Muslims, they think it’s so complex, but it’s not. It’s, “Lord Jesus, I believe You died on the cross for my sin. You raised from the dead to claim victory over sin. And I accept You as my Savior. I surrender my life to You. And I repent of my sins and place my faith in You.” If you’ll do that, you’ll be free.
Ankerberg: Amen! Now, folks, next week I hope that you’ll continue to watch. We’re going to talk about another pivotal point and that is, who is Muhammad? We’ve talked about sharia law, we’ve talked about the claims concerning Jesus Christ, but Islam revolves around a man who is supposed to be the most excellent example. He’s the one that we’re all supposed to follow. And the fact is, the question is, should we follow him? What does the historical evidence show? Very few of us know about the life of Muhammad. And so I’m going to ask the guys to take us through that next week. I hope that you’ll join us.


  1. Narrated ‘Um al-‘Ala: An Ansari woman who gave the pledge of allegiance to the Prophet that the Ansar drew lots concerning the dwelling of the Emigrants. ‘Uthman bin Maz’un was decided to dwell with them (i.e. Um al-‘Ala’s family), ‘Uthman fell ill and I nursed him till he died, and we covered him with his clothes. Then the Prophet came to us and I (addressing the dead body) said, “O Abu As-Sa’ib, may Allah’s Mercy be on you! I bear witness that Allah has honored you.” On that the Prophet said, “How do you know that Allah has honored him?” I replied, “I do not know. May my father and my mother be sacrificed for you, O Allah’s Apostle! But who else is worthy of it (if not ‘Uthman)?” He said, “As to him, by Allah, death has overtaken him, and I hope the best for him. By Allah, though I am the Apostle of Allah, yet I do not know what Allah will do to me,” By Allah, I will never assert the piety of anyone after him. That made me sad, and when I slept I saw in a dream a flowing stream for ‘Uthman bin Maz’un. I went to Allah’s Apostle and told him of it. He remarked, “That symbolizes his (good) deeds.”
  2. Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for Allah loveth not transgressors.
  3. Verse 32: It is not befitting to (the majesty of) Allah that He should beget a son. Glory be to Him! when He determines a matter, He only says to it, “Be”, and it is.
  4. That they said (in boast), “We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah”;- but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not:-
  5. Nor can a bearer of burdens bear another’s burdens if one heavily laden should call another to (bear) his load. Not the least portion of it can be carried (by the other). Even though he be nearly related. Thou canst but admonish such as fear their Lord unseen and establish regular Prayer. And whoever purifies himself does so for the benefit of his own soul; and the destination (of all) is to Allah.
  6. That they said (in boast), “We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah”;- but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not:- Nay, Allah raised him up unto Himself; and Allah is Exalted in Power, Wise;-
  7. Verse 3: He begetteth not, nor is He begotten;

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