About 1.5 billion people today profess submission to the will of Allah. That number represents almost a quarter of the world’s population in adherence to Islam, a word (like the word Muslim) formed from the Arabic root slm meaning: submission, acceptance or surrender.
Muslims are not the enemies of Christians. Even if they were, our duty would be clear: love, prayer and compassion (Matthew 5:43-48). No, our enemies are spiritual in nature. Our enemies are the fleshly and demonic powers of this present age (Ephesians 6:12) who seek to devour and deceive those who are enslaved to any religion, whether atheistic, monotheistic, polytheistic or pantheistic.
Our obligation toward Muslims is clear: we are to make disciples of them (Matthew 28:18-20) as we are all tribes, tongues, cultures, races and religions. We do not carry out this commission through the sword of jihad but through the Word of Jesus. We are to speak the truth of the gospel in love hoping that God may save.
The greatest need in evangelizing to Muslims is not a detailed understanding of Islam but rather a deep knowledge of and passion for the gospel. This holds true for any major religion. We don’t need to be experts in particular world religions and cults to engage their adherents. We need to know and believe the gospel in all its glory and fullness. We need to know and love the triune God as He has revealed Himself in the Bible.
If you want to engage your Muslim neighbor, learn the gospel and immerse yourself in the biblical revelation of God’s work to accomplish redemption and reconciliation through the life, death, resurrection and future return of Jesus Christ. It is the gospel which is “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” In it we exult, and with it we engage.
The primacy of the gospel does not imply that we should aim for ignorance of other religions; there is obvious good in studying other faiths in order to better evangelize to those who hold such beliefs. Numerous misunderstandings can be initially clarified if we know the context of another’s worldview. Still, we are not ultimately dependent on an analysis of Islam but instead the anointing of the Spirit.
Hopefully this blog series will give some initial clarity on Islam and prompt a greater passion to be faithful to God’s command to engage our Muslim neighbors with the gospel of Jesus Christ.