Looking At Islam
What is your reasoning and personal point of view behind following Christianity?
There are a lot of reasons that I feel that Islam is the right religion. First of all, let me tell you that I have looked at almost all of the major world religions which include Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Sikhism. Now, I did not look at them because I had doubts about Islam but for just the opposite reason that I was fully confident about Islam. The more I looked at other religions the more my faith in Islam increased. I am sure you would agree with me that faith has no limits, and every time I look at another religion, my faith in Islam reaches a new peak.
I am not going to talk about Buddhism, Hinduism and Sikhism because these are not monotheistic religions. That leaves us with Christianity, Islam and Judaism, all of them claim to be monotheistic religions. Jews believe in the Oneness of Yahweh(God), Muslims believe in the Oneness of Allah(God) but the Christians believe that even though there is One God, he is not One in One but Three in One. Now obviously from the three religions above, only one can be the true religion of God. I don't know how much you know about Islam so permit me to give you some brief facts about it. We believe that there is One God. He is All Powerful, All Merciful, etc. Throughout the history of mankind he has been sending prophets to guide mankind towards Him and away from the Devil. Some of the prophets had a higher status among them were Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed. We believe in his virgin birth and in all of his miracles but we don't believe that he was crucified or that he is the Son of God. He did not die but he rose to Heaven. (I am kind of short on time so let me answer your question briefly and I can give you details of Islam later, provided of course that you are interested.)
I think that Islam is right because it is a living religion that is it is more a way of life than a religion. Everything I do according to Islam is just so natural that you have to believe in it. You might think that this is so because I grew up with it, but everything I do is only after I know what is the reason behind it. Islam discourages blind faith and considers knowledge to be the greatest wealth. Seeking knowledge in Islam is stressed time and again. We believe that Science and Islam are the two legs of man, if you stand on one or the other sooner or later you are going to fall. I cannot accept what is in the Bible unless I know the sources of the writers. When I talk to Christians about the Bible, most of them know nothing about the history of the Bible or the Church. I talked to a Christian Pastor and he told me that Moses was the author of the first five books of the OT and the Gospel writers knew Jesus. When I checked the Encyclopedias and other books, I found out that Moses was not the author of the first five books but it was compiled by three different sources and I also found out that none of the Gospel writers knew Jesus. Tell me honestly, who should I believe?
I think I have written enough for now, I hope I here from you soon.
Thanks for writing. Firstly, let me commend you for trying to investigate your faith and how it differs from others' beliefs. The Qur'an itself exhorts you to seek true knowledge, and I'm glad you are. I hope you will investigate a little deeper into the things which we'll discuss here.
I accept your premise that we should confine our discussion to the three main monotheistic faiths. However, because all three believe in a single God does not mean that all three believe in the same God. Judaism teaches that God is Yahweh, the Creator of heaven and earth. He is a single God: "Hear O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is One!" (Deut 6:4). Christianity also teaches that God is One. He is One in essence, but has revealed Himself in three distinct persons.
Let me draw a rather clumsy analogy: When a man and a woman get married the Bible says "the two shall become one flesh" (Gen 2:24). The persons are distinct, but there is one marriage, one union. Now suppose both spouses have complete agreement on everything, to the point that when one speaks, you could be assured that the other spouse would have said or done the exact same thing. Each one also has the authority to commit the assets of the family to any investment or purchase, etc. This comes close to the idea of the Trinity. Each person of the Godhead is distinct, but each are considered God. The man or woman speaking alone can be said to be speaking for the family. God is not limited to a number since He is a spirit (John 4:24), and not limited to the physical world.
We know that Jesus called the Father God. Jesus also claimed to be God (John 10:30, Luke 22:70) and was recognized as such by others (John 20:28). We also know the Holy Spirit is God (Acts 5:3,4). As people who believe in "the Book of God" as the Qur'an calls it, we accept these teachings. Even the Qur'an teaches that one should accept the New Testament teachings. In sura 10:95 it states "If thou wert in doubt As to what We have revealed Unto thee, then ask those Who have been reading The Book from before thee; The truth hath indeed come To thee from thy Lord.7quot; Also, in suras 4:171 and 5:78, the Qur'an states that one should believe the words of Jesus, as He was God's prophet. So I believe Jesus' teachings on His deity.
Now, as to the prophets of God guiding man towards Him, I do believe that. The problem arises when you have two people claiming to be God's prophet, but the messages they deliver are opposed to each other. The Qur'an ,in sura 6:84-86, states that Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Noah, David, Zechariah, Moses, Jonah, Elisha, and Jesus were all prophets of God. If we look at their messages and find them at odds with Islamic teaching, we must believe that only one can be right.
We'll compare Jesus and His teachings to that of Muhammad. Jesus' birth was foretold in hundreds of prophecies. Muhammad has no prophecies foretelling his birth or mission. You state that you accept the virgin birth of Jesus, and so do I. Muhammad, however, was born of the natural union of a human father and mother. Jesus lived a sinless life (2 Cor 5:21) and is considered sinless by the Qur'an (called an all-Righteous one). Muhammad, however was someone who needed forgiveness for his faults (sura 40:55,41:19). Jesus performed many miracles to substantiate His claim (Luke 7:22), but nowhere in the Qur'an does it state that Muhammad performed any miracles. None of Jesus' enemies could find any fault with Him, but even the Qur'an states that Muhammad took his son Zaid's wife from him (sura 33:36-38). Finally, Muhammad is dead today. His grave is in Medina. Jesus is alive forever. He ascended to the right hand of the Father.
Now, concerning the history of the Bible, I think you need to dig a little deeper. The single source which you found ( the encyclopedia) isn't necessarily the end of the story. Throughout most of the history of Christianity, the writers of the Gospels and the rest of the New Testament were accepted as those who you've heard. In the 1800's some skeptics tried to undermine the bible by claiming that the ascribed authors weren't the real authors. (If the authors were eyewitnesses, then the Bible would have to be true, and if you're trying to disprove that, then this just won't do). So several critics from Germany formed what has become known as "the documentary hypothesis". Starting with an unproved assumption, coupled by an anti-supernatural bias, they worked backward to come up with this idea. These same critics will claim that Muhammad did not write the Qur'an, but men hundreds of years later. If you accept their premise on the Bible, you must also accept their premise on the Qur'an.
The fact is, there are so many copies of the New Testament which are only 30 to 100 years later than the originals, we can safely say that we know the actual text which was originally written by the writers. Nothing has been changed, corrupted, or left out. All of the letters by the early church fathers (those who would have been alive to know the Apostles) also substantiate the authorship and content of the New Testament. The Old Testament has also proven to be reliable with the discovery of the Dead Sea scrolls.
Now, I have a question for you. You state that the Qur'an instructs you to seek knowledge. What happens if that knowledge doesn't match what the Qur'an teaches? The Qur'an in suras 7:54 and 10:3 agrees with the Bible that the world was created in six days. But, in sura 41:9 to 12, if you add up the days there you will count eight days for creation. This seems to be a contradiction. The Qur'an also states that Alexander the Great followed the setting sun (sura 18:85-86) until the sun sank in a spring of muddy water! Also Jinns, what the Western world has known as genies, play an important part in the Qur'an, right from the first line.
There are many instances where the Qur'an teaches about people from the Bible, but gives inaccurate data concerning them. Noah's flood did not take place in the days of Moses (sura 7:136 compared to sura 7:59); Moses was adopted by Pharaoh's daughter, not wife (sura 28:8-9 compared to Exodus 2:5); and crucifixion was not used in Moses' day (sura 7:124), but wasn't even invented until one thousand years later. These are only a few of the places where the Qur'an diverges from the Biblical and historical record.
I hope you've found this dialog enlightening, for nothing else than to clarify the Christian perspective on a few points. Please let me know what you think, for thinking rationally should never hurt the cause of truth, but only strengthen it.
Baker Books, Grand Rapids Mi. 1993
Morey, Robert The Islamic Invasion
Harvest House Publishers Eugene ,Or. 1992