3 Muslim-Christian Crossroads
The Gospel Coalition
If you’ve ever had a prolonged conversation with a Muslim on theology, you know that they are generally well-trained in discussing their problems with the Trinity and divinity of Jesus. It’s hard to break through all the prior teaching and get to a heart level when someone is parroting what they learned at the mosque. So why not consider looking for points of discussion off the beaten path and that may even engage us as Christians at a heart level too?
There are three main intersections where Christian and Muslim thought crosses paths and where we might meet for heart-level discussion. At each intersection, our two faiths diverge. What if we could take Muslim friends to one of those intersections and show them how to take the path to Jesus, rather than the road away from him? Those three intersections are law, logic, and legacy.
Both the Christian and Muslim faiths inherited, in one form or another, the Torah. In the 5th sura (or chapter) of the Qur’an, Muslims find a passage that upholds the Torah as revelation from God and instructs them to look to it for “guidance and light.“ Much of Islamic practice is a variation of Jewish law and customs. For example, during Eid al-adha, a Muslim holiday, Muslims sacrifice a goat or lamb to commemorate Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son in obedience to God. Muslim women must refrain from many of their regular activities during a monthly period of “uncleanness.” Muslims absolutely will not accept interest payments on a loan from another Muslim. And “hallal” food preparation and kosher food preparation is
strikingly similar. The list of legal and religious similarities between ancient Judaism and Islam is much longer than most Muslims and Jews care to admit. And it certainly illustrates a shared heritage for Christians and Muslims. Muslims have laws about almost every aspect of life. Their imams, or teachers, are the interpreters and teachers of that law.
As Christians, we can relate to being bound by a law that we cannot faithfully keep. When my friend Fatima told me that she could not open her Qur’an to show me a verse because she was in her unclean time of the month, rather than insist that Islam was oppressing her because she was a woman, I could tell her that she was indeed unclean. I could suggest that God gave women an extra measure of grace by reminding us of our uncleanness every month. Rather than fight the law, as a Christian, I can affirm it and then praise God for making me clean through the blood of Christ. I can meet Fatima at that intersection and then usher her down the path to Christ.
Both faiths have also been affected by Greek philosophy and have longstanding debates about the relationship between faith and reason. Medieval Arabs translated many Greek works and made them available both to Christian and Muslim thinkers…
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