The Foundations of Islam

In 1908, Dr. Samuel Zwemer underestimated the Muslim Challenge, saying that: “Islam would die out in 100 years” under colonialism. At that time there were 230 million Muslims with only 28 missionaries working among them. One hundred years later, the Muslim population has multiplied seven times to 1.61 billion! There are two Muslims for every born-again, Evangelical (including Charismatic/Pentecostal) Christians at 8-900 million. By 2050, Islam will surpass the total population of Evangelicals, Pentecostals, Orthodox and Catholics (1.1 billion) estimated at 2.58 billion. Islam will be the largest religion in the world Today, there is one missionary for every 420,000 Muslims. A whopping forty percent of all non-Christians are Muslims, 90% have never heard the gospel, and 38,000 Muslims die, and go to hell, every day!

The Qur’an as interpreted in the Life of Muhammad (570-632AD) is the foundation of Islam. These are also the principle sources of history and Islamic law (Sharia) located in prophetic hadith (encyclopedia’s of subjects of what Muhammad said and did) or sunnah. Today these sources of authority are the foundations from which ISIS and twenty-six other radical Islamist groups, including 300 million radical Muslims, and 1.61 billion Muslims in total, turn to for their religious authority: commanding right or forbidding wrong.

Islam is primarily a religion of law, anti-Christian polemic, da’wah (Islamic Mission), jihad, Islamized biblicist prophetology, conquest (al-Futūḥāt al-Islāmiyya), migration for the cause of Allah (hijra) and apocalyptic expectation. Islam means ‘submission’ to Allah and a Muslim is ‘one who submits’ to Islam, Islamic law, Allah’s law. To the Muslim, ruling is only for Allah (ie. not democracy, nor the Kingdom of God in the NT) of which the Ummah, Muslim community, is responsible to jihad to establish the Islamic State (Khilafah) beginning in Syria, according to Muhammad, to the end of the world.

One does not understand Islam by reading the Qur’an because it is eliptical. It is only after having read the earliest biography of Muhammad one understands Islam. For the Qur’an is the ‘word of Allah’ given to the prophet Muhammad in episodic revelation in the last 23 years of his life. But like reading the red words of Jesus in the gospels, isolated from their context, the “book of Allah” (kitab Allah) isolates Allah’s words in one book: the Qur’an. The biography of Muhammad gives the context how and why revelations from Allah fits into Muhammad’s life. Without reading the biography of Muhammad a person doesn’t understand Islam. After reading the biography of Muhammad a person understands Islam.

Muhammad lived from 570-632 AD. The earliest surviving biography of Muhammad (Guillaume, The Life of Muhammad.1-815) was written 135 years after the time of Muhammad’s death and survives in ibn Hisham (833 AD) 201 years after Muhammad!

Compared to the gospels, this is all very late with Jesus dying around 30 AD, Paul’s writings 45-60 AD, and John’s death, the last of the gospel writers only in 95 AD (15-65 years) that include pre-Pauline high-Christological hymns! Eyewitnesses would have still been living when the gospels were written, circulated, preserved, among a persecuted community motivated to preach and keep the early testimony of Jesus.

In the case of Islam, ibn Ishaq (767 AD) would be a great, grandchild of Muhammad’s generation, separated by the chaos of conquests, with no reliable eyewitnesses surviving, and in oft places contradictory, oral tradition. The problems of Islamic traditions are many, as scholars question prophetic traditions. Sahih al Bukhari is the most authoritative, written in 870 AD, 238 years removed from Muhammad’s death, and draws from 600,000 traditions of whom Bukhari cuts these down to 7,397 or 1.2% of which 592,603 traditions were discarded as inauthentic! The challenge for scholars is to construct Muhammad’s life from among thousands of diffuse sources.

The four earliest surviving biographies (Ibn Hisham, Wakidi, Ibn Sa’d & Al Tabari) in the first 300 years record 86 battles, of which, the first biography is replete with a history of killing, assassinations, beheadings, mutilations, stealing, taking wives, concubines, lying, slavery, torture, forced conversions and rape. Indeed, nearly 75% percent of the 815-page “Life of Muhammad” covers the Muslim battle campaigns (maghazi). Muslim armies killed one-million Christians (Jews, pagans and Zoroastrians) in the first ten years of the Islamic Conquests. Within 100 years, 50% of global Christianity was under Islamic rule, including the Middle East, and Northern Africa.

Samples of the 164 Jihad verses in the Qur’an include:

S. 9:5 “Slay the idolaters wherever you see them”

S. 9:29 “Fight those who believe not in Allah”

S. 47:4 “when you meet in battle those who disbelieve, then smite the necks…”

S. 2:216 “Fighting is prescribed for you”

In the Life of Muhammad (Guillaume) battle narratives include: 6-900 Jews were beheaded (p. 464), Abu Sufyan had to accept Islam or lose his head (p. 547), a female poet is assassinated for being critical of Muhammad (p. 676), Muhammad gives permission for Muslims to tell lies in warfare (p. 367), mutilations (322, 387), etc…

Muslims attack the Bible, Christian theology and historical foundations of biblical faith. For if the Bible is true, the Qur’an and Islam cannot be true. The Qur’an challenges the Bible that: Jesus is not the ‘Son of God’ (S. 4:171), was neither ‘crucified nor killed’ (S. 4:157), that salvation is by ‘works’ (S. 5:9, 42:26), Jesus said ‘not to worship him’ (S. 5:116), and God is not a Trinity. Sura 4:171 says “…say not, “Three”. Desist, it is better for you; Allah is only one God; far be it from His glory that He should have a son...” These are ‘revelations’ why Christians believe Muhammad is a false Prophet (Is. 8:20, 1Thes. 5:21, Gal. 1:8, 2 Cor. 11:4, John 3:36).

The ninety-three verses about Jesus in the Qur’an were written approximately 632 years after the time of Jesus! Simply put, no credible historian would use the Qur’an as reliable testimony for the life of Jesus because it is 600 years after His life!

Peculiar stories in the Qur’an include: baby Jesus speaks from the cradle (3:41; 5:109; 19:29-33, First gospel of the Infancy, 4-6th C.) and Jesus creates clay birds coming to life (S.3:49; 5:11, Thomas Gospel of the Infancy, 4-6th C.). Islamic sources include that Jesus will return, break crosses, kill swine, abolish the Jizya-tax, bring about wealth (Bukhari 3: 656). The Jesus in Islam never existed.

What we find in the Qur’an and Islam, secular scholars have described in different ways: ‘evolutionary monotheism’, ‘a cocktail’ of Jewish-Christian polemic, a strong oral ‘echo chamber’, ‘a whirlpool’ of Aramaic and Syriacisms, Jewish-Christian apocryphal sectarian milieu, and a retelling of a much later, different Jesus.

The Qur’an says that none can change the words of Allah (S 6:115, 18:27). Arthur Jeffery’s book Materials for the History of the Text of the Qur’an, details approximately 10,000 variations in the early pre-Uthmanic codices Qur’an codices from Islamic tradition. Today, one student of mine has detailed 900 textual intentional variants in the earliest Qur’an manuscripts.

Eighty-three different regions have at least 1,000 Muslims that have become Christians, or 100 churches planted among them, with about 4.2 million becoming Christians in the last 20 years!

The biggest problem in the world is not radical Islam it is nominal Christianity! The answer to global Islam is a discipled and trained church that loves Jesus!