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Islam: Basic Aspects TT1

Islam: Basic Aspects TT1

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Published by Joe Carey
One of three manuals for those who wish to understand Islam more in depth. Designed for Christians who want to teach others about Islam and understanding Muslims better with a view to evangelizing among Muslim people.
One of three manuals for those who wish to understand Islam more in depth. Designed for Christians who want to teach others about Islam and understanding Muslims better with a view to evangelizing among Muslim people.

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Published by: Joe Carey on Sep 12, 2011
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01/16/2013

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3.3.1The Socio-Economic Leap

The economic systems of all Muslim nations are presently undergoing changes both in form
and content. Even in countries like Saudi Arabia, this socio-economic leap is visibly
experienced. The process of secularization and the material prosperity, which resulted from
the oil revenue, are a powerful influence. Secular education, technological advancement,
urbanization with the resulting loss of identity, modernization as well as vocational success
and wealth mould the minds and lives of many Muslim people everywhere. It can hardly be
predicted where this will lead. Fear of the Islam of tomorrow causes religious leaders to
struggle with the issue of a Muslim identity, particularly in countries where Muslims are
exposed to a Western value system.

42

History-makers Shaping Nations

Western goods including luxury items are invading the markets and are advertised in TV
commercials. Material prosperity promises not only comfort, but also means success, and
success means power and self-confidence. The pull of all this is very strong for any group
and also for Muslims.
Of interest is the footnote to a Hadith about ‘the present English-educated Muslims’:

Muslims are now following the Christians and Jews step by step in dress, manners,

eating, talking and in every particulars. The influence of these two nations (sic) have
caught the imagination of the upper-class Muslims so much so that even Arabia, the
cradle of Islam, could not but be a prey to these tendencies.

Mishkat Vol. 1, p. 170, Fn. 106

Forces of change are present all over the world. Islam grapples with the impact of changes
on its religious structure and its practice. Christianity had to face ‘modernity’, which
challenged the Bible as Scripture, questioned the historicity of the Bible and its sources, and
was able to convince many nominal Christians that faith in the truth of Scripture is an
outmoded belief. Islam is facing these forces now.

3.3.2Modernity

So far Islam has vehemently and relatively successfully resisted the forces of modernity and
its attempt to secularize religion. It did not permit text-critical work on the Qur’an or the
Hadith. Unlike the biblical texts, the Islamic scriptures will be doomed by a text-critical
analysis. But with the essential opening of the Islamic markets and society to the Western
world with its information explosion, Muslims will not escape the exposure of their
scripture’s multiple deficiencies. Fear of that process may delay, but cannot stop a critical
assessment of Islam even from among their own members.

3.3.3Fundamentalism

The strongest resistance against progress comes from the orthodox and ‘fundamentalist’
lobbies. To stress the maintenance of traditional forms is one attempt to ward off ‘outside’
influences. Any innovation (bid’aa) or change will be seen as a threat to the established rule
of the Shariah. Will orthodox Islam with the majority of rural Muslims who are part of the
traditional hierarchy and structure be able to maintain the status quo?
Unwillingness to succumb to a world that is constantly changing will yield one of two
reactions. The West is viewed by many Muslims as utterly corrupt and by that the greatest
moral opponent to Islam. Its advances must be stopped at any cost. Many Muslims have been
persuaded to fight what seems to them to be threatening progress, if considered necessary by
force. A multitude of Islamic Jihad groupings do that. They are called ‘fundamentalists’ or
‘Islamists’.

3.3.4Liberal Muslims

Many Muslims begin to rebel at least inwardly against demands of the Shariah to conform to
its often medieval concepts. Others, like many in Iran and Afghanistan, are so shocked about
a repressive expression of their faith, that they reject allegiance to such a backward religion
altogether. Many a Muslim in recent decades has encountered tremendous confusion and
bitter disappointments with his religious institutions, and their leaders.

3.3.5The Other Option

With such disappointments, fears and confusion in their hearts and minds a number of
Muslims have independently begun to search for the meaning and purpose of life. Actually
several factors need to be considered as one reflects on what causes Muslims to turn from
Islam to Christ (see ‘Called from Islam to Christ’, by Jean-Marie Gaudeul) Dr Gaudeul
investigated hundreds of conversions from Islam to the Christian faith. He grouped these
under five headings:

History-makers Shaping Nations

43

Those who feel drawn by Jesus’ personality
Those looking for inner certainty
Those who discover a community of believers in Christian churches
Those who seek forgiveness and are drawn to the central message of the Gospel
Those who hunger for a personal experience of God in prayer

Dr. Malek adds his own observation: “Muslims themselves are looking at things in new
ways. People who once clung to long-lasting traditions now have different attitudes...The
face of Islam is indeed changing. Christians need to understand what is happening and what
positive benefits it can have for Christian witness.” (‘Islam – Introduction and Approach’, by
ICI)

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