Thursday, October 16, 2014

October 17, 2014

"Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved." Acts 4:12

A third major religion we will review has the second largest number of adherents and it is Islam. One person in five worldwide is a follower of Islam.

Mohammed, the founder of Islam was born in Mecca, near the Red Sea, in 570 A.D to an upper-middle class family. At the time of his birth, his Arab people were polytheistic. Some say they worshiped a different god for each day of the year. Allah, the moon god was one of the many gods worshiped. Allah's symbol, the crescent, is still seen as the chief symbol of Islam today.

In 610 A.D. at the age of 40, Mohammed testifies to having a visitation from a spiritual being he believed to be the angel Gabriel. In the Koran he wrote that this spiritual being told him that Allah is the one true god and that he was the true prophet of Allah. 

Taking courage from this vision, Mohammed began to zealously teach his newly "inspired truth" demanding absolute submission to Allah. A system of moral laws called "sharia" was developed to guide the behavior of adherents to Islam. Those laws prescribe harsh and drastic penalties to those who do not submit to Allah and the central practices of the Five Pillars of Islamic faith:

1) Recite the shahada, ("There is no god but Allah, and Mohammed is his prophet.")
2) Pray (salat) five times a day facing Mecca.
3) Give (zakat) alms to the poor.
4) Fast (sawm) during the month of Ramadan.
5) Perform a pilgrimage (hajj) to Mecca at least once.

Muslims are taught that faithful performance of these Five Pillars of their faith will earn them entrance into Paradise. Their Paradise is a place of great happiness and enjoyment centering around sensual pleasures with virgins.

There is no mention in the Koran of how women benefit from Paradise.

It must be noted that during his lifetime, Mohammed conquered by the sword and commissioned his followers to continue the practice. He said, "Believers, make war on the infidels who dwell around you. Deal firmly with them. Know that God is with the righteous." (Sura 9:123) In at least 18 places in the Koran, Allah commands his followers to fight and kill the enemies of Islam. Sura 5:51 forbids a Muslim to ever take a Jew or a Christian as a friend.

The Muslims are divided into two main sects, the Sunnis and the Shi'ites. The split happened as a result of quarrels over who should succeed Mohammed following his death in 632 A.D. These two branches of the faith have warred against each other over the centuries.

To better comprehend what is happening in the Middle East right now you will need to do some research on the Sunni Shi'ite struggle and their end time beliefs about the Twelfth Imam. Prepare for some OMG moments!

Anyone paying attention to current events is well aware that Islam claims to be the one true way to God and to Heaven. They are so thoroughly committed to that belief they zealous seek to convert or kill all who disagree with them.

But their god, Allah, is not the God of the Bible Whom we worship and serve. So, obviously, since God dwells in heaven, their Paradise cannot be the same as our heaven. Allah is not presented as a personal god to be known in a personal relationship as our God is. 

Islam is gaining tremendous strength and influence  around the world because of the zeal and intensity of their beliefs. They have submitted and surrendered to Allah and count their own lives of value only in their service to him.

How can Christians hope to counter their influence unless we match their level of commitment and dedication?