[Featured above: Masjid Al-Madinah Mosque, greater Philadelphia's most prominent Muslim mosque. Two blocks away, we're doing regular street evangelism in this heavily-Muslim neighborhood.]
Philadelphia, PA has one of the fastest growing Muslim populations of any metropolitan city in America. The great majority of Philadelphia Muslims are African-Americans whose parents and grandparents left the Church. If you have a heart for local church evangelism, you should probably know something about your Muslim neighbors and what they really believe.
Two things every American Christian needs to know about what Islam actually teaches, whether it be the kind that beheads people or the kind that says "let's all just get along": Muslims believe in the need to institute Sharia Law world-wide; preferably by peaceful means (if possible). That's the first thing. But the second thing is that under Sharia Law, the teaching and propagation of "associationism" becomes a crime against the state; it is "shirk" according to Islamic law, and to Muslims the Trinity doctrine is "shirk".
Now it's important for American Christians to understand that most Muslims in this country just want to "get along" and live decent, moral lives and raise their families here.. Their understanding of their faith is that it is a code of ethics by which to live, and not a call to arms against the infidel. The problem, however, is that this view is a popular and convenient "Americanized" interpretation of what the Qu'ran's teaches. But the Qu'ran itself is much more militant than this relatively benign interpretation. The Qu'ran has much to say about (for example), the Muslim sin of "shirk".
Shirk, or associationism is associating "partners" to Allah. It's the equivalence of polytheism (i.e. idolatry) to them. And to them, it is the unforgivable sin. In Islam, God (as in Judaism) is an indivisible unity of one, But the New Testament teaching of God as Father, Son and the Holy Ghost comes under the category of "shirk". One of the big problems that Islam has historically had with Christianity is a problem that started with Mohammad himself.
It's unlikely Islam's founder even HEARD a biblical explanation of the Trinity, or for that matter, the Gospel itself. For example, the Qu'ran's condemnation of both the Trinity doctrine and the sonship relation of Jesus to His Father ... condemns not the orthodox [i.e. "correct"] doctrine found in the early creeds of Christendom, but rather the distorted views of the Christian heresies circulating in Arabia in the 6th Century AD. What the Qur'an condemns, is actually something called "Tri-theism" which the early creeds of Christendom also condemned: it's the view that the three Persons of the Godhead are in fact three distinct Gods, each with an independent center of consciousness and will. Aside from that, many Muslims believe that the what Christians call the "Trinity" includes Mary as part of the Godhead, due in part to her overly-prominent rule in Roman Catholic doctrine as it developed later, near the time of Mohammad's birth, in doctrine, paintings and statuary. Tritheism was an early heresy whose practitioners were banished to Arabia earlier on in history by the Roman Catholic bishops of the Christian Roman Empire. What Islamic scholars have tended to do historically was to read back into the Qur'an the Christian-Islamic controversies that came later, including that of the Trinity.
However, many Muslims in America have never had a clear presentation of the Gospel presented to them personally. All they have heard is rumor and here-say. This time and this place, in 21st Century America is a rare window of opportunity where this can be done with hardly any restrictions and in a cordial atmosphere. Some of us, at greater Philadelphia's 69th Street Station, are seizing that opportunity every week!
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