How do you explain Christianity to a black Muslim?
The extremely simple answer is that I would explain it to this
person the same way I would anyone else. I would present the true Jesus,
son of God, fulfiller of prophecy, worker of miracles, sacrificial lamb to
take away the sins of the world.
Of course this may very well be too simple. In fact, the
apostle Paul adapted some of the content of his message, depending on the
cultural and religious background of his hearers, as evidenced by Acts 17
when he was in Athens.
In order to explain Christianity to a Muslim, or more
particularly to a Black Muslim, I would want to understand his or her
basic line of reasoning and assumptions about God–his or her theology. I
would like to suggest an excellent book by Norman Geisler which may give
you some helpful background in Islam and the Koran. It is Answering Islam
: The Crescent in the Light of the Cross, by Norman Geisler and Abdul
Saleeb I also have some fairly good material on Islam at this web
site. Click on: Islam Power Point or the associated notes: Islam notes .
Having given you some references, let me give you an extremely
brief outline of the approach I personally would use. I would focus on
what makes Christianity unique. Your Muslim friend has been taught that
Islam is a newer and better revelation than Christianity, but that
Judaism, Christianity and Islam come from the same root and have similar
teachings. This is not a complete distortion of the truth, but the basic
premise of Islam is absolutely and diametrically opposed to that of
Christianity. It is these distinctions which I would show to my friend,
using the Bible.
Specifically, Islam is a religion which believes in
predestination and fate. Christianity is a religion of choice. I would
point my friend to passages which show that being saved is a matter of a
personal choice to have a personal relationship with a loving and personal
God. This is very different from Islam, with its aloof, impersonal God.
Salvation in Islam is a matter of works. If one follows certain rules,
then one essentially buys one’s way into heaven. In Christianity,
salvation is not by human effort but by the sacrificial gift of God. You
should be aware that the whole idea of a savior dying on a cross to same
mankind is anathema to Muslims. They absolutely deny that Jesus died on
the cross for our sins. This brings me back to my original statement. I
would present to this person the loving, personal God who wants to adopt
your Black Muslim friend into his family, to offer forgiveness of sins,
not based on human effort, but based on grace and the love of God.
In addition, I would point my Muslim friend to the Bible itself
as the inspired Word of God. You can assume that your friend has been
told that there are many mistakes and inconsistencies in the Bible. You
will need to patiently point out that this claim simply does not hold up
to careful study. I would give him a book such as my Reasons for Belief:
A Handbook of Christian Evidences to read in order to establish that the
basis for belief in inspiration for the Bible is far greater than any
supposed evidence that the Koran is inspired.
Let me say what I would NOT do. I would not try to convert my
friend by laying out the dirt on Islam. I would not start by pointing out
the fact that Muhammad was a mass murderer (having executed several
hundred Jewish men for purely political reasons) or that he had at least
twelve wives (violating the limit of three in the Koran itself!). I would
not point out the silly science errors in the Koran or the blatant
mistakes of Jewish history found in the book. I would not confront him or
her on the fact that the Koran glorifies cruelty and killing in the name
of Allah. I believe it is more fruitful to present the truth than to cut
down the lie, as your friend would almost certainly be caused to defend
his faith and to be offended if you attack his most precious beliefs
without first presenting the far better alternative which is salvation
through faith in Jesus.
To summarize, I believe that a Muslim will come to Christ, but
only because God, through the Holy Spirit, has prepared the heart. I
would be patient and loving, giving God time to work, waiting for the
right moment to move to the next step. Patience and prayer will be a
requirement. Good luck.
(note: in the comments above, I have assumed that one would
treat a Black Muslim as any other Muslim. Despite the racist overtones of
the Black Muslim movement, I believe that beginning with the
presupposition that a Black Muslim is an ordinary Muslim is the place to
start. I would advise holding off on dealing with the racism inherent in
Black Muslim theology until more basic groundwork was laid out. That is
my advice, for what it is worth)
John Oakes, PhD