As I was working on the blog and E-Letter this week one of our ministry supporters forwarded an email to me. It was written by a former Muslim, Hicham Chehab, who is now a believer and a missionary to Muslims with POBLO-Chicago (People of the Book Lutheran Outreach/POBLO-Chicago). Hicham and I have had some email and telephone discussions and he has a very powerful testimony which we are considering printing in the summer issue of the Journal. In the meantime I thought you would be encouraged by this recent encounter.
This was the title of a lecture given recently at the Community College of DuPage located in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. The lecture was given at a meeting organized by the Muslim Student Association (MSA) on April 30.
More than 100 people attended this meeting including professors and students. The majority in attendance were Muslims along with some converts to Islam, and there was a self-imposed segregation between males and females in the seating arrangement. Two refreshment tables were also set up on different sides of the room, one for men, and one for women. The Muslim organizations wanted to make sure that the men and women would not mix.
Isra, a disciple of the late well known South African Muslim apologist Ahmed Deedat, was the speaker. She is in her late thirties and wore a veil while she spoke. She lives in New York City. The object of her talk was to prove from the Bible that Jesus practiced the religion of Muhammad, who preached Islam around 600 years after Christ walked the earth.
As is so often the case with minorities in the US, the lecturer was handled with kid gloves by Christians in the audience. Everyone wanted to be sure they were “politically correct”. No one dared ask whether the lady lecturer was being anachronistic or not, especially at the start.
The lecturer asked who understood the title of the lecture, “Jesus is Muslim.” I had to say something, so I said: “First, I am glad that you used the present tense (is) of the verb “to be” in the title of your lecture. By saying “Jesus is Muslim” you are saying that you believe Jesus is alive. Secondly, since Islam means “submission to God and His will”, and seeing that Jesus submitted himself to His Father’s will and went to the cross to die for our sins, yes, in this sense you can say that Jesus was Muslim.” She ignored the point about the crucifixion and reiterated that since Jesus submitted to the will of God in many ways, he was therefore Muslim. The atmosphere became very tense and the m oderator started to look at me with great animosity and ignored my raised hand.
Then the lecturer asked the following question: “What was Jesus’ first miracle?” A Christian in the audience said that it was changing water into wine. Isra’s response was, “No. According to the Qur’an, Jesus spoke from the cradle in order to defend his mother against the accusation of adultery.” The lecturer quoted the chapter entitled “Mary” in the Qur’an:
[19.27] And she came to her people with him, carrying him [baby Jesus] (with her). They said: O Mariam! Surely you have done a strange thing.
[19.28 ] O sister of Haroun! Your father was not a bad man, nor, was your mother an unchaste woman.
[19.29] But she pointed to him. They said: How should we speak to one who was a child in the cradle?
[19.30 ] He said: Surely I am a servant of Allah; He has given me the Book and made me a prophet;
[19.31] And He has made me blessed wherever I may be, and He has enjoined on me prayer […] so long as I live;
[19.32] And dutiful to my mother, and He has not made me insolent, unblessed;
[19.33] And peace on me on the day I was born, and on the day I die, and on the day I am raised to life.
[19.34] Such is Isa, son of Mariam; (this is) the saying of truth about which they dispute.
The lecturer then presented five premises, or arguments, to prove that Jesus was a Muslim:
First Premise: In order to win the sympathy of the female students in the audience, she said: “Note how Jesus defends his mother in the Qur’an, while in the New Testament he rudely calls her “woman.”
Second Premise: Jesus called God his father and the father of his followers but never claimed that he was God. She quoted John 20: 17, when Mary Magdalene saw the resurrected Jesus at the tomb. Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.”
Third Premise: Jesus fasted like Muslims do. She quoted Matthew 6: 16- 18, “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face,& nbsp;so that your fasting may not be seen by others, but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” The lecturer commented that Muhammad gave his followers the same commandments whenever they fast.
Fourth Premise: Jesus prayed like Muslims pray. She quoted Matthew 26: 39
” And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed.” She then said, “Have you seen how Muslims pray? They prostrate themselves like Jesus did.”
Fifth Premise: The speaker then observed, “Jesus greeted his disciple like Muslims do: Peace be with you, which in Arabic is, Assalamu Alaykum, which means “The peace of Allah be upon you.” The lecturer then quoted from the John 20: 19: “ Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘ Peace be with you’!”
After the lecturer finished her presentation, she took questions, but the person who was moderating the questions avoided my raised hand again and again, until people in the audience kept saying, “This guy has been waiting forever.” After waiting “forever,” I thought that there was no point in arguing with her as long as she picked and chose from the Bible. So, I decided to ask the question which was like the proverbial “bull in a china shop.” I said, “The title of your lecture and your premises makes me want to put the thesis of your presentation in a different way. Instead of saying that “Jesus is Muslim”, why don’t you ask the question; ‘Was Muhammad Jewish?'” Then, before she had the chance to answer my question, I quickly added: “At first when Muhammad was still in Mecca and before he migrated to Medina, he prayed towards Jerusalem. Also, while in Mecca, he followed the Jewish custom and prayed twice a day. Muhammad also fasted during the celebration of Yom Kippur, and he fasted twice a week like the Pharisees.”
Then a Christian sitting next to me mentioned that the Qur’an abounds with biblical stories and narratives from the apocrypha. By this time the speaker was fit to be tied, and glared at me saying, “Mister, why don’t you gather some people together and set up a platform and give your own lecture?”
In a sense you could say she was predicting my plan, which is to start a Christian student group at the Junior College. In cooperation with five of the Christian students, I am hoping to begin a Christian student group or club called, “Muslims for the Messiah.” I have already mentioned this student club in a previous e-mail. The primary goal will be witnessing to the Muslim students on the campus. Permission from the college administration is needed to start this work on campus. PLEASE PRAY that permission will be granted and that this group will have an effective witness to the Muslims attending the college.
I wish to thank you for your prayers and encouragement in this ministry of witnessing to Muslims about the love of Jesus Christ.