As a relatively new believer in Christ, who spent over two decades as a devout Muslim, I am often asked for the best way to introduce the Gospel to Muslims. There are many opinions on this topic, ranging from using apologetics to just being a “good Christian.” Though most Christian’s natural inclination in approaching Muslims is apologetics, it often turns into arguments about doctrine and hurling insults about Islam that alienate the listener. I believe the real power lies in the reality of the Trinity– God the Loving Father, His only begotten Son Jesus Christ, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
God is Love. In over 20 years of being a devout Muslim, I never heard God referred to as being love or commanding us to love others. Islam teaches that God is merciful and kind, but the word love is never mentioned. A Muslim must worship and sacrifice for a God that does not ever tell you he loves you. You cannot rely on him to console you in times of trouble, and he was mainly there to judge you. Quite frankly, it was incredibly depressing since I could never maintain the countless set of rules and laws that demanded strict obedience.
Compare that to the Bible, God’s infallible, living Word where God describes Himself as love.
And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love, lives in God, and God in them. 1 John 4:16
In a life filled with disappointment from people who claim to love you and a God that doesn’t consider love significant enough to mention, the simplicity of this Truth was very appealing. Our Heavenly Father is the originator and fulfiller of everything we know and experience of love. He so loved humanity that He sacrificed His only Son to rescue us. Not only does God extend His love to His children, but love for Him and those around us is the foundation of our faith.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these. Mark 12:30-31
Being loved unconditionally and learning to love others the same way has brought me extraordinary joy. Never underestimate the power of explaining to a Muslim how significant love is to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Jesus is God incarnate. In Islam, you never really know if your good deeds are enough to enter God’s Heaven. On the Day of Judgement, God will decide if you were “good enough” and that terrified me. What if there was one big sin He could not forgive despite my hundred acts of obedience? It was very unsettling to live every day, wondering whether I would spend eternity in hellfire. Then I learned that God would guarantee a place in His eternal Heaven if I put my trust in Christ as God incarnate. I needed to accept that Jesus was God wrapped in flesh, who came to Earth and died on the cross, then rose again from the grave to pay for my sins.
The Divinity of Jesus is the most significant point of contention between Islam and Christianity. However, if you know all the miraculous qualities Christ has in Islam, unpacking what they think happened on the cross may be the key to their salvation. All Muslims believe Jesus was born of a virgin birth resulting from God’s Divine Spirit impregnating Mary. They know Jesus healed the sick, raised the dead, and performed countless miracles during his life. They also believe Jesus ascended to Heaven and will descend from Heaven in the End Times to defeat the Anti-Christ. However, Islam claims Jesus did not die on the cross. Instead, they claim Judas Iscariot’s soul was placed inside Jesus’ body so people would think it was Jesus, but God took him to Heaven. So, Muslims attribute many Divine abilities and manifestations to Christ but only deny the crucifixion because His death and resurrection would prove the integrity of the Bible. When you state these facts to most Muslims, it immediately leads them to question their understanding of Jesus. How can they believe that he had so many God-like abilities, but He is not God incarnate based on some illogical explanation for who died on the cross? Therefore, planting the seeds of doubt about how Islam portrays the crucifixion is essential.
Receiving the Holy Spirit. In Islam, it says God is closer to you than the veins on your neck, but he will not speak directly to you. In fact, it claims it is not befitting of God to do so. There is no intermediary between the Muslim and God, but prayer is a one-way communication. As a Muslim, I had no way of knowing whether he ever heard me or even accepted my prayers and pleas of repentance. There was no conversation between us. Conversely, when we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior, God dwells within the believer in the form of the Holy Spirit who speaks directly to us, continually.
…He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. John 14:16-18
Once I was saved and baptized, I was excited for what would happen next. I kept asking my mentor, “so now what?” She would lovingly but persistently keep saying, “wait to hear from the Lord.” I had no idea what she meant by this. I did not know how to talk with God, and I surely did not expect Him to talk back! It was not until I studied what it meant to receive the Holy Spirit that it made sense. Learning and experiencing the Holy Spirit’s guidance within me is how I know that I am in a relationship with the one TRUE God. Many Muslims have no idea that accepting Christ as their Lord and Savior leads to God’s indwelling through the Holy Spirit. It definitely piques their curiosity to think they would be able to hear from God directly.
Be sure it is clear the Trinity is three manifestations of the one true God and not three separate gods. We have God the Father who loves us; He came down in His Son to save us and leaves us His Holy Spirit to guide us. Muslims accuse Christians of being polytheists because they do not understand this, and unfortunately, many Christians cannot properly articulate it.
Having left Islam, it saddens me to hear even Christians make the false claim that we all worship the same God and each religious path can lead to the “truth.” Do not be content to give false or comfortable versions of a “truth” that leaves the individual without salvation and the love of God that comes through faith in Christ. The listener may not readily accept it, but that is not our concern. There is only one God, and no one will reach His presence except through faith in Christ. I understand and believe that now but I did not think that as a Muslim. I wish someone would have had the courage to say it to me earlier in my life.
Finally, I always end the discussion, challenging a Muslim to pray for God to reveal Himself and the reality of Jesus Christ. Their mind may fight the Truth of what you have told them but if it is His will, trust in the power of our God to lead them.
Pray for Hedieh-Mirahmadi, that her faith be firmly grounded in Christ and His work, even as she undertake dangerous evangelical missions.