Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Explaining Jesus to Muslims: Jesus as the Qibla

Many earnest Muslims think they already know Jesus because they know he is a prophet. To know Jesus as a prophet is to know him only in a small way, a partial way. One way to explain how Jesus is more than a prophet is to explain that he is the Qibla, the place where we expect to meet God when we direct our prayers. While the Muslims now pray towards Mecca, they once prayed towards Jerusalem towards the ruins of the Temple. The shrine in Mecca now holds the same place in their mind that Jerusalem's Temple holds for the Jews: they direct their prayers there. But Jesus said that the Temple would not be replaced by some other earthly place such as Mecca, but that he himself replaced the Temple. He is where we go to meet God, he is the direction towards which we pray, he is where we expect miracles and the presence of the Holy One. In the same way that Muslims are aware that bowing to Mecca to pray is not idolatry towards Mecca, in the same way Christians bowing and praying to God through Christ is not idolatry, but simply meeting God where he can be found.

Of course, Christ is far greater than that, but you have to start a conversation somewhere.

4 comments:

DugALug said...

WF,

Cool thoughts (Both this post and the next one). You really have blessed me with a your last few posts.

I really am challenged with people of the Muslim faith: they are hard to convert, but when they do, they are the most on-fire Christians you will ever come accross.

When I was in 9th grade, I began a searching journey, as somewhat of an agnostic. I read the a good bit of the Qur'an, book of Mormon, The Tahlmud, some writings from Ghandi, Confuscious, and ended up reading the Stanic Bible (from Anton Levay).

The conclusion thrust me back into Christianity. Here is why:

Most Muslims recognize that Christians are going to heavan: they are just going about it the long way. This left me scratching my head.

The Jewish faith has been pretty much stagnant since the times of Jesus (as in no prophets, or additional holy scriptures).

Mormons teach that Satan and Christ were brothers, and Joseph Smith esttablished a religion that catered to his own vices (namely women... polygamy).

Ghandi believed in the denial of self to obtain a state of nervana, which ultimate pleasure is derived from. This was odd to me. He also acknowledged that Christians, living the biblical life were living a life of self-sacrifice and would be rewarded for that.

I read the Satanic bible, and in the proverbial sections, everything made a lot of sense: live for the moment; morality is defined by what gets you ahead; you are your own god ===> A whole lot like humanism. Then in the later chapters, it recognizes that God created satan, and that he was makeing a rebelion against God's absolute power...ummmm... well that's a loser.

At the end of the day, a ran back to Christianity. In the webs of lies put before me, Christ was the acknowledged latch-key that none of the false religions could explain away. I repented, got into a church, dedicated my life to Him, and God has lovingly grown me ever since.

Wittnessing to Muslims: there is so much to say. I can't say that I am very good at it, but there is one point that does hit home with some that I have witnessed to. The Christian view of God is a God of love for His people, and in His love, he has given us laws for practical living (the 10 commandments weren't written for us to resent, they were written for us to co-exist with others). Clearly, the Muslim God demands appeasment, makes laws that cripple his people, and expects His followers to grovel before him: yet through all of this, talks about how loving He is. Which one sounds more consistant? As silly as this sounds, it really will get a Muslim... and orthodox Jew to consider their view of God, and listen a little closer to an 'infidel'.

God Bless
-Doug

Weekend Fisher said...

Good stuff Doug.

I'm serious, I'd like to build some more helpful resources and some awareness here. So if you post your stuff on your blog I'll link you as soon as I can.

I'm a convert to Christianity myself, wasn't like born into a Christian home. I first started going to church with a friend of mine in school, and what intrigued me about her was just the purity and warmth of her life. Since then I've gone searching. I've read the Qur'an and some other Muslim writings, Lao Tzu, Confucius, a number of the Hindu writings, of course all the Bible. If you read all of those, I really don't see how you can come to any conclusion except that Jesus is the Way to God, as he said. Lots of people had lots of good insights (Lao Tzu was my favorite of the non-Christian writers), but they were fellow-seekers themselves, and you could tell when they were searching, looking, or even lost their own way.

DugALug said...

WF,

Okay, I have my first two posts on evangelism to Israelis up. It might be a little off-subject, but the parallels are worth looking at! I should have two more before I am done.

God Bless
-Doug

jbd said...

Muhammad repeatedly, throughout the Koran, identified Jesus as the Messiah. But he rebuked the Christian clergy for calling Jesus "God." That is what made Christians of his time dismiss him and his religion as frauds--which they still do to this day. So, when "dugalug" says in his comment that Muslims are "hard to convert," why should they convert? Simply because John said, "the Word was God?" It remains extremely suspicious that such an "all powerful, all important" identification was only made ONCE in the Christian Scriptures! So, Muslims are wise to recognize Jesus as the Messiah--and wise not to identify him as God. Organized Christianity can be as wrong as organized Islam and organized Judaism!