Almost everyone is aware of the revival of Islam. And there are various reasons for this sudden interest in a religion that has been in existence for almost 1400 years. Some are political, some economic and some religious. My interest, however, lies in the area of the Christian mission to Islam.
Since the rise of Islam in the 7th century A.D., it has spread mostly at the expense of Christian lands. The Christians in those conquered areas were weak and divided. The Arab conquerors called Christians and Jews “Dhimmis,” and Arabic word that means protected. This protection, however, did not mean that they were free in the expression of their faith. There were severe restrictions placed on the dhimmis, such as paying the jizya or poll tax. Over the years, many among them Islamized. And by the time of the Ottoman conquest of the Middle East in the 16th century, Middle Eastern Christians became a minority.
Christian missions to Muslims began in earnest early in the 19th century. Great men and women were raised up by God to lay the foundations for missions to Muslims. Then followed the translation of the Bible into Arabic, Persian, and Turkish. Evangelical churches were born, and missionaries consolidated their work by establishing hospitals, printing presses, orphanages and schools that were desperately needed at the time.
It was my privilege to be a radio missionary of The Christian Reformed Church in North America, broadcasting the Gospel to the Arab world from June 1958 until June 1994. After more than 36 years of radio, literature, and correspondence missions, my testimony is "But God's Word is not chained." (II Timothy 2:9b) Through a daily ministry of the Word, on an international scale, I was able to develop a Biblical way of teaching the Christian faith to Muslims, using the Bible itself as textbook. It is a way that, through the working of the Holy Spirit, has proven to be effective.
The style of this book is affected by its origin. It was based on my lectures given to students who did not have an adequate knowledge of Islam. The style was governed by the uniqueness of Islam and its misunderstanding of the Christian faith.
You will also notice that I subscribe to a specific tradition: the Reformed heritage. This does not mean that my understanding of the Bible is prejudiced by a dogmatic approach to its teachings, but rather that my study of Holy Scripture has increased my attachment to the Reformed tradition. I find myself better equipped to bring the Gospel to Muslims because of the major themes of the Reformed faith. It also means that I am totally committed to the unique role of the Bible in missions. It is not Western culture that I spread over the air, but the liberating Word of God. Muslims have seldom heard the Word of God in their mother tongue. Most of them have never seen a Bible.
It is equally my conviction that a formal adherence to the Bible as the Word of God, does not equip a person to be a missionary to Muslims. We need to grasp the purpose of the Word. In this book you will find a special emphasis on the redemptive character of the gospel. Biblical revelation finds its focus in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Islam makes it doubly necessary to emphasize and re-emphasize the fact that the Messiah did not come merely to teach and to heal, but to redeem his people from their sins.
It is also my conviction that our greatest difference with Islam is not merely in the doctrines of God and Christ, but it is also in the area of the doctrine of man. Muslims are taught that man is not really sinful in the Biblical sense of the word, and thus needs no redemption. It is extremely important therefore; that we keep on emphasizing this Biblical teaching that the Messiah came from God specifically to deal with the awful imperialism of sin.
When we have succeeded, by the grace of God, to show a Muslim that he needs a Savior and that God has sent Jesus the Messiah to be this Savior; then the traditional difficulties with such doctrines as the Trinity and the Sonship of Jesus Christ, tend to disappear.
It is with gratitude to the Lord that I present this Revised and Enlarged Edition, February, 2015 of THE BIBLE AND ISLAM.
I would like to acknowledge my indebtedness to my wife Shirley whose encouragement led to the initial production of this book. Both her placing of the material on the word-processor and her editorial help were invaluable in the preparation of this revised version.
As Christians who still cling to the mandate given by our Lord to proclaim the good news to the ends of the earth and to the end of time, we must be concerned about the one billion Muslims whose urgent need is to hear the redeeming message of the Gospel. “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)
Bassam Michael Madany
Middle East Resources