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Islamic Beliefs and Practices - Glimpses in the Bible



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Islam explained by a non Muslim



Islam teaches pure monotheism. The most fundamental belief in Islam is the Oneness of God, with no partner or sharer in His Divinity and Lordship. Without this belief there is no Islam.

A. The ISLAMIC CREED is expressed in a simple but highly meaningful statement.

"There is no deity except the One True God (Allah), Muhammad is the Messenger of God."

Any person who has a firm belief in this, is a Muslim. This statement of creed comprises two parts:

(i) The first part concerns the Authority and Sovereignty of the One and Only God, that He alone is the Creator, the Sustainer, the Saviour, the Redeemer, and the Deity; and there is none else.

(ii) The second part concerns the channel of communication between the Creator and mankind- known as 'Prophethood'. A Muslim has to believe in the Messenger of God and follow his teachings, because he is the only way to God.

We said earlier that Islam was the religion of all the prophets of God. If such is the case, then the Islamic creed before Prophet Muhammad should include both:

- the belief in the One True God, that none is worthy of worship except Him,

- the belief in the Messenger of God.

(i) The first part (belief in the One True God) is pure monotheism, which has remained as it is throughout history.

Examples of Pure Monotheism

1. The first of the ten commandments: Exodus (20:2-4):

“I am the Lord thy God,... Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I am the Lord thy God.”

2. Deuteronomy (4:39)

“Know therefore this day, and consider this in thine heart, that the Lord he is God in heaven above, and upon the earth beneath: there is none else.”

3. Isaiah (43:10-11)

“…and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. I even I, am the Lord; and beside me is no saviour.”

4. 1 Kings (8:60)

“that all the people of the earth may know that the Lord is God, and that there is none else.”

5. Isaiah (45:21-23)

“…have I not the Lord? And there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Savior; there is none else beside me. Look unto me, and be saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else. I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return. That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear.”

(ii) The second part (belief in the Messenger of God) varied with time. Thus, at the time of Moses it would be:

"and Moses is the Messenger of God".

And at the time of Jesus, it would be:

"and Jesus is the Messenger of God".

This belief also implies that one should have belief in all the previous Messengers of God.

In a single sentence, the complete Islamic creed as stated by Jesus was:

“And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. John (17:3)

What does this verse convey to us? It tells us the life eternal, i.e., salvation, depends on the following two things: a) 'to know the only true God': Here the word 'know' does not mean passive knowledge; it is something more than this. It implies:

- to know that He is the only one worthy of worship, or He is the only deity,

- to know that He is the only Saviour and Redeemer, and

- to accept Him to be the only one worthy of worship, and to reject all others who are worshipped. Mere knowing is of no use. Satan was also knowing God, but he was cursed and rejected because he refused to obey God.

(b) 'to know Jesus Christ as the Messenger of God': It implies that his teachings only should be followed.

The verse John (17:3) can be paraphrased exactly as the present Islamic creed:

“There is no deity except the one true God, and Jesus Christ is the Messenger of God”

An example of the Islamic creed in the Old Testament: 1 Kings (18:36)

“that Elijah the prophet came near, and said, Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God, in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word.”

By paraphrasing, it would be:

“There is no deity except the one true God, and Elijah Is the servant & Messenger of God”

ISLAMIC PRAYERS/WORSHIP

Muslims pray and worship God in a similar way as did the earlier prophets of God. The glimpses of this fact that we find in the Bible are as follows:

(a) Bowing and prostrating on the ground:

(i) Jesus: “And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed” Matthew (26:39)

(ii) Moses: “And Moses made haste, and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshipped.” Exodus (34:8)

(iii) Moses and Aaron (pbut): “And Moses and Aaron went from the presence of the assembly unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and they fell upon their faces:” Numbers(20:6)

(iv) Abraham: "And Abraham fell on his face:" Genesis (17.3)

(v) Abraham's servant: “when Abraham's servant heard their words, he worshipped the Lord, bowing himself to the earth." Genesis (24:52)

(vi) Joshua : “And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship.” Joshua (5:14)

(vii) Ezra and the people: “and they bowed their head,. and worshipped the Lord with their faces to the ground.” Nehemiah (8:6)

(Two) Reciting five times in the daily Prayers, what could be called the Lord's prayer of Muslims (the opening chapter of the Qur'an). Compare this with what Jesus is reported to have taught. Matthew (6:9-13)

Islamic Prayer (in the Qur'an) Christian Prayer (in the Bible)

(Part-1: Praising the Lord and remembering His most important attributes)

"In the name of God, Most Gracious, "Our Father which art in heaven, Most Merciful. All praise be to God, Hallowed be thy name. Thy the Lord of the worlds, Most Gracious, kingdom come. Thy will be done Most Merciful. Master of the Day of on earth, as it is in heaven.” Judgment.”

(Part-2: Seeking His help)

“Thee only do we worship, and thine "Give us this day our daily bread. aid only we seek.” And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”

(Part-3: Supplicating for guidance)

"Guide us to the straight path, the "And lead us not into temptation, path of those whom thou hast but deliver us from evil, for thine favoured, and those whose (portion) is the kingdom, and the power, is not wrath, and who go not astray." and the glory, for ever." 'Aameen' 'Amen'

(c) Praying from dawn to evening, as mentioned in Psalms (113:3)

“From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same, the Lord's name is to be praised.”

(d) Offering the prayers at specified times of day, as did Peter and John, the disciples of Jesus:

“Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer. being the ninth hour (3 pm).” Acts (3:1)

This was equivalent of the Muslims' afternoon (Asr) prayer.

(e) Supplicating, with hands raised:

(i) Solomon: “he arose from before the altar of the Lord, from kneeling on his knees with his hands spread up to heaven.” 1 Kings (8:54)

(ii) Ezra and the people: “and Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God.” And all of the people answered, Amen, Amen, with lifting up their hands.” Nehemiah (8:6)

(f) Making ablution before offering prayers:

“And Moses and Aaron and his sons washed their hands and their feet thereat: when they went into the tent of the congregation, and when came near unto the altar, they washed; as the Lord commanded Moses.” Exodus ( 40:31-32)

(g) Taking off shoes while entering the mosque, as God commanded Moses:

“And he said, draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet; for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.” Exodus (3:5)

(h) Calling the temple of God “the house of prayer” ["Masjid" in Arabic], as Jesus did: Matthew (21:13):

“and said unto them, it is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer.”

(i) Following the lunar calendar:

“And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one Sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the Lord.” Isaiah (66:23)

(j) Fasting is a form of worship in Islam.

It is obligatory for a Muslim to keep fast for a whole month in a year (called Ramadan). Jesus himself fasted for forty days Matthew (4:2). About those who fast, Jesus said, Matthew (5:6)

“Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled.”

His teaching on fasting was Islamic, Matthew (6:16-18):

“when ye fast, be not as the hypocrites of sad countenance:..” etc.

(k) Charity is another obligatory act of worship in Islam, called 'Zakah' (Biblical term: 'tithe'). The laws concerning this are mentioned in Leviticus (27:30-33). Jesus stressed the spirit behind charity (almsgiving), which is exactly the teaching of Islam: Matthew (6:1-4)

“Take heed ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.” C. Some ISLAMIC ETIQUETTES, as seen in the Bible:

(One) Muslims greet each other by saying "Assalam Alaikum", which means 'Peace be upon you'. This was the practice of Jesus as we see in John (20:19, 21:26). Luke (24:36):

“...came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.”

In fact, Jesus instructed his disciples, when he was sending them on the mission, that they should say this when they entered a house. This is an Islamic teaching. Matthew (10:12)

“And when you come into a house, salute it.” (the T. E. Version of the Bible writes 'say Peace be with you' in place of ‘salute it’).

(b) Muslims frequently use the phrase "Insha Allah", which means 'God willing' or 'if God wills'. We find this instruction in the Bible. James (4:14-15):

“whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life; it is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, if the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.”

D. Some ISLAMIC OBSERVANCES, as seen in the Bible:

(One) Muslims do not eat pork. The Bible prohibits eating pork.

“And the swine, though he divide the hoof, and be clove-footed, yet he cheweth not the cud; he is unclean to you. Of their flesh shall ye not eat, and their carcass shall ye not touch; they are unclean to you.” Leviticus (11:7-8), (also Deut., 14:8)

(b) Muslims keep away from whoredom and wine. The Bible gives the reason.

“Whoredom and wine and new wine take away the heart.” Hosea (4:11)

“Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging; and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.”

“Be not among winebibbers; among riotous eaters of flesh: for the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty:” Proverbs (20:1; 23:20-21).

(c) Muslims do not take usury (interest on money). The Bible commands thus:

“If thou lend money to any of my people that is poor by thee, thou shalt not be to him as a usurer, neither shalt thou lay upon him usury.” Exodus (22:25)

(d) Muslims are circumcised. Jesus himself was circumcised (Luke 2:21), and so were Abraham and all the Israelite prophets. We wonder how many of these practices are observed by Christians today. Who can then be called true Christians- the Muslims, or those who call themselves Christians?

Thus, it is clear that what Muslims do is not something new or strange, but is Biblical. It is also clear that Islam was the religion of all the Prophets and Messengers of God. It was very much the religion of Jesus .

Not only this, the continuity of the Abrahamic faith till Muhammad is also seen in the Bible, as we find prophecies, both in the Old and the New Testaments, about the coming of Prophet Muhammad. This matter is a topic by itself and needs a full and separate discussion. (For details please refer to "Mohammed in the Bible" by Dr. Jamal Badawi.)