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Islam Revival

ISLAM'S WORLDWIDE REVIVAL (Part One in a series on Islam from Forward magazine)
by Joseph P. Gudel

La ilaha illa Allah, Muhammadu Rasool Allah. There is no deity except God, Muhammad is the Messenger of God.1 This is called the Kalima and is the Islamic confession of faith in a nutshell. They are the first words that every Muslim baby hears and they are often the last words a Muslim utters upon his deathbed. For nearly one billion people this is not merely a doctrinal creedit is the foundation for every facet of their lives. The Islamic faith is not simply an exotic Arabic religion. For many centuries it was virtually dormant, but over the last 50 years it has awakened and is spreading worldwide at an almost unprecedented rate. If the Lords "Great Commission" is to be fulfilled it is essential that we, as active, concerned Christians, understand what Islam is. We must know both how to relate to the Muslim, and how to "contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints" (Jude 3), "with gentleness and reverence" (1 Pet. 3:15). Josh McDowell, well-known Christian author and apologist, has succinctly summarized the situation: There was a time when only specialized Christian missionaries needed to be able to defend the gospel of Jesus Christ against the attacks of Islam. Today every Christian has an opportunity and obligation to present the gospel effectively and in Christian love to the Muslims who have permeated our Western society. When your neighbor, your mechanic, your favorite basketball player, your employer or employee, or even your childrens friends could very well be Muslims, the need for proper understanding and an effective Christian witness is abundantly clear.2

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND Before we begin our examination of Islam and its burgeoning worldwide influence, we need to have some understanding of Muhammads call to prophethood and the subsequent origin and growth of Islam. it is not possible to investigate the Muslims truth claims simply by looking at the Qur'an (pronounced Kor-an) and the teachings of Islam. The reason for this is twofold. First of all, much if not most of the Qur'an is unintelligible without an understanding of the background against which the surahs

(chapters) were delivered. The Qur'an, unlike the Bible, has very little historical background within its pages. Therefore, to really understand the Qur'an one must know Islams early history. In the second place, a great deal of Islams apologetic rests on various historical events connected with its origin and growth. Hence, in order to know why they believe what they believe we must first of all know Islams "roots." Muhammad was born in Mecca (in Saudi Arabia) around AD 570 and was raised by his uncle, Abu Talib, a traveling merchant. Muhammad often accompanied his uncle on caravans to Syria and possibly to other locations as well. Little more is known with certainty about Muhammads childhood. At age 25, he married a rich 40-year-old widow named Khadijah.3 Muhammads marriage to the wealthy widow "gave him rank among the notables of Mecca"4 and, as the years passed by, allowed him more and more time to devote to spiritual matters. He began to retire regularly to Mt. Hira, a solitary place where he could pray and meditate. One night, during the month of Ramadan (a sacred month for the pagans which was also made sacred for Muslims), Muhammad was on Mt. Hira praying when he heard a voice which commanded him to "proclaim" or to "read."5 Later he heard the voice again speak, saying, "Thou art the messenger of God, and I am Gabriel."6 This was the beginning of Muhammads ministry: at this point he realized his calling and prophetic mission. The early message of Muhammad was that there is only one God, and that a judgment was coming upon the people of Mecca if they refused to turn away from their idolatry and polytheism. Also included in his preaching was a catalog of some of their other sins, such as female infanticide.7 A slowly-growing but intense persecution began after Muhammads public preaching commenced. The locals were antagonistic to his message because Mecca was the main religious center throughout the Arabian peninsula. Their only substantial source of income was the many pilgrims who would come from all over to worship the multitude of idols in the Ka'aba.8 John B. Noss, in his widely-used textbook Mans Religions, summarizes the feelings of the people in Mecca at the time: Unimpressed though they were at first, his hearers, especially those of the Quraysh tribe, at last became seriously disturbed. They did not object so much to Muhammads insistence that there is but one God and he (Muhammad) was Gods prophetthat might be laughed offbut they stiffened with hostility at his forthright denunciation of the worship of their idols. He could talk all he liked about his belief in the resurrection of the dead, but when he condemned the religion of Mecca and the worship of the Ka'bah idols as leading to perdition, their ancient traditions (and the revenues of the Ka'bah) were thereby threatened.9 Things remained like this for several more years. In spite of increasing persecution and danger, the indefatigable Muhammad continued his preaching in Mecca, albeit with only a few people becoming Muslims. It was at this time that some residents of Yathrib, a city a little over 100 miles north of Mecca, invited Muhammad to come and

live in their city. He agreed to do so and began to make plans to leave.10 Hostile elements of the Quraysh tribe in Mecca became aware of what was happening. They decided that Muhammad would be much more dangerous as the leader of a neighboring city than he had been in Mecca, so they planned to kill him. Alerted to the situation, Muhammad and Abu-Bakr (one of his earliest followers, who became his first successor or "Caliph") fled and hid in a cave of Mt. Thaur, located only three miles from the city. They remained there for three nights while the Meccans fruitlessly searched for them.11 After this they continued their journey to Yathrib, using "unfrequented paths" until after many days they reached their destination safely.12 This flight is called the Hijrah, which literally means "emigration." Muhammad began this flight on June 16, AD 622. The Muslims date their calendar from the Hijrah, just as the Christian world dates its calendar from the birth of Jesus. So, in the Muslim world "AD 622 is 1 Anno Hegirae (AH)."13 Yathrib was later called "Madinat alRasul," literally "the city of the Prophet," and is the modern city Medina.14 Over the next eight years the Meccans waged an intermittent war with Muhammad and his growing group of followers. Finally, in AD 630 Muhammad marched on Mecca with a force of 10,000 men and entered the city almost unopposed. Only 28 Meccans and two Muslims were killed in the fighting. Muhammad magnanimously declared a general amnesty for the entire city, with just a few exceptions.15 He then proceeded to the Ka'aba and destroyed all of the idols one by one. The inhabitants of Mecca swore allegiance to the prophet and for the first time the "Muslim call to prayer" was heard in the "holy city."16 Two years later, in June of AD 632, the tenth year of the Hijrah, Muhammad died at his home in Yathrib.

ISLAMIC BELIEFS Dr. Robert Ernest Hume, in his book The Worlds Living Religions, defines the names "Islam" and "Muslim" for us: The name which the founder himself used for designating this faith expresses exactly the central principle"Islam," meaning "submission" to God. Another word derived from the same Arabic verbal root is the participle, "Muslim"... which is used as a technical term to designate "those who submit."17 The main tenets of Islam are listed as "articles of faith." I will discuss them here in the order that most Islamic sources give, although the Qur'an itself does not specify any sequential order.

1. God (Allah) The Qur'an has many beautiful passages describing the varied attributes of God. However, the most important single quality that the Qur'an stresses when speaking of God is His absolute unity. The term for the opposite of the unity of God is called

"shirk" in the Qur'an: this is asserting that others share Gods attributes or that He has a partner. This is such a detestable sin that it is considered unforgivable.18 Whoever joins other gods with God, God will forbid him The Garden, and the Fire Will be his adobe. There will For the wrong-doers Be no one to help. They do blaspheme who say: God is one of three In a Trinity: for there is No god except One God. (Qur'an 5:75 76)19 Concerning this, Alhaj A.D. Ajijola, the former Attorney General of Nigeria, wrote that, "The greatest service Islam rendered to humanity was the exaltation and purification of the concept of God. Islam strove to deliver humanity from a multiplicity of gods on the one hand and from incarnationism on the other and to bring man back to the Unseen God."20

2. Angels Islam, like Christianity, believes in the existence of angels, though some of the qur'anic teaching on this differs from that of the Bible. In Islam angels are intelligent creatures who have been created of light, do not possess free will, and have a multitude of duties to fulfill. "They are sent to protect men, to administer Gods punishments, to carry His messages, and to perform various other functions."21 Each human being has two angels who list all of his or her deeds, both good and bad, to be brought forth on The Day of Judgment.22 Besides angels God has created, according to the Qur'an, other beings called jinn. They are intelligent, sentient creatures, possess freedom of choice, and are able to propagate their species. Some are good and others are evil. "According to Islam, Satan (Iblis or Shaytan) and his kind are jinn (not fallen angels) to whom God gave leave to try to tempt man, to lure him away from submission and obedience to Him."23

3. The Scriptures The Qur'an mentions in various places that God had previously sent down revelations or Scriptures to man. The Qur'an says that God "sent down the Law (Of Moses) and the Gospel (Of Jesus) before this," that is, before the Qur'an.24 It states elsewhere that God gave the Psalms to David. These three revelations are called the Taurat (Torah), the Zabur (Psalms), and the Injil (Gospel).

However, the Qur'an is believed to be Gods final and complete revelation to man. For Muslims it supersedes these previous Scriptures in beauty, depth, and authority.

4. The Prophets The Arabic word "rasul" means "one who is sent" or "a messenger," and the word "nabi" means "one who carries information or proclaims news...." There is no implication of "prophecy" or knowledge of future events in the word "prophet" as used in the Islamic sense.25 The Qur'an enjoins every true Muslim to believe in and honor all of the prophets of God. According to Alhaj A.D. Ajijola, "The number of the apostles of God is said to be more than a hundred thousand but 25 of them are more important than the others and these are distinctly mentioned in the Holy Qur'an."26 These 25 consist mostly of the Old Testament patriarchs, prophets, and kings, with only three coming from the New Testament (Zacharias, John the Baptist, and Jesus). It is interesting to note that of the non-biblical prophets two who are accepted by many Muslims are Alexander the Great and Aesop (of Aesops Fables).27 There are many places in the Qur'an where stories of Old Testament personages are given, though oftentimes changed from the biblical accounts.28 Nowhere, however, are there more differences between the Qur'an and the Bible than in the sections speaking of Jesus. His proper name in the Qur'an is Isa, perhaps coming from "the Syriac Yeshu which derived it from the Hebrew Yeshua."29 He is always spoken of in the Qur'an with great respect and honor, as are all of the prophets of God. Indeed, when referring to any of these prophets the Muslim will always add a phrase of respect, such as "Jesus, peace be on him." In the Qur'an three surahs are named after references to Jesus, and He is spoken of in 15 surahs (93 verses) altogether. The Qur'an has much to say about Jesus, but the one thing that it emphasizes more than anything else is that He was only a man, a messenger of God, not the Son of God, or God in human flesh. O People of the Book! Commit no excesses In your religion; nor say Of God ought but the truth. Christ Jesus the son of Mary Was (no more than) An apostle of God, And His Word. (Qur'an 4:171) The Jews call Uzair a son of God, and the Christians Call Christ the Son of God. That is a saying from their mouth; (In this) they but imitate

What the unbelievers of old Used to say. Gods curse Be on them: how they are deluded away from the truth! (Qur'an 9:30)30 Orthodox Muslims maintain that Jesus did not die on the cross, believing instead that another person was substituted for Him, and that He was taken up bodily into Heaven by God. Most Muslims also believe that He will "come again at the last day, slay antiChrist, kill all the swine, break the Cross and remove the poll tax from infidels. He will reign as a just King for 45 years, marry and leave children, then die and be buried near Mohammad at Medina."31 Of course all Muslims believe that Muhammad was the greatest apostle and prophet of all, being the messenger of Gods final revelation. Maulvi Muhammad Ali states, in a footnote within his translation of The Holy Qur'an, that the "excellence of the Holy Prophet over other prophets was... immeasurable."32 The Qur'an states that: Muhammad is not The father of any Of your men, but (he is) The Apostle of God, And the Seal of the Prophets. (Qur'an 33:40)

5. The Hereafter All orthodox Muslims believe in the resurrection of the dead, a terrible "Day of Judgment," the existence of hell with eternal punishment for all non-believers, and in Heaven, where true believers will exist forever in a garden of beauty and joy. Concerning the sometimes very sensual descriptions of heaven that we find in the Qur'an, J.N.D. Anderson, a Christian who is a renowned expert on Islam,33 believes that "it is only fair to add that the sensual delights of paradise are interpreted in metaphorical terms by more spiritually-minded Muslims."34 This is confirmed by looking at the comments on these verses by both Maulvi Muhammad Ali and Yusuf Ali in their own translations of the Qur'an.35 However, as we read the verses, letting them speak for themselves, these descriptions appear to speak of very literal rewards for the righteous. In them will be (Maidens), Chaste, restraining their glances, Whom no man or Jinn Before them has touched; Then which of the favours Of your Lord will ye deny?

(Qur'an 55:56-57) And We shall join them To Companions, with beautiful, Big and lustrous eyes. (Qur'an 52:20)36 Samuel M. Zwemer, the Christian churchs greatest missionary to the Muslims and a man who lived almost his entire life among them, comments on this, and then quotes from a revered Muslim scholar: What commentators say on these texts is often unfit for translation. The orthodox interpretation is literal, and so was that of Mohammad, because the traditions give minute particulars of the sanitary laws of Heaven, as well as of its sexual delights. According to Al Ghazzali (AH 450), Mohammad said: "The believer in Paradise will marry 500 houris,37 4,000 virgins and 8,000 divorced women" Al Ghazzali is one of the greatest theologians of Islam, and no orthodox Muslim would dispute his statement."38 And finally, salvation in Islam is based on good works, primarily on the true repentance of ones sins and fasting. Suzanne Haneef sums it up: "The Living and Merciful God is able to and does forgive sins if repentance is sincere, and every human soul has direct access to...His forgiveness without any intermediary or intercessor whatever. Consequently there is no need for a Savior, and in any case God Most High alone can save."39

6. The Divine Decree The last article of faith pertains to the total sovereignty of God. Since He is allpowerful and controls all things then "Nothing can take place without His ordaining it, nor is there such a thing as a random, chance event."40 Now surely Allah makes err whom He pleases and guides aright whom He pleases.41 (Qur'an 35:8) Concerning this "Divine Decree" Al Ghazzali wrote the following: He willeth also the unbelief of the unbeliever and the irreligion of the wicked and, without that will, there would neither be unbelief nor irreligion. All we do we do by His will: what He willeth not does not come to pass....In creating unbelievers, in willing that they should remain in that state; in making serpents, scorpions and pigs: in willing, in short, all that is evil, God has wise ends in view which it is not necessary that we should know.42

Thus in Islam God is the author of both good and evil. Muslims loudly deny the biblical doctrines of the fall and original sin, leaving them with no other alternative than that which we have just seen.

THE FIVE PILLARS OF ISLAM There are five "pillars" of Islam or ways in which the Qur'an enjoins the Muslim to worship God. The first we saw at the beginning of this article, the Kalima or "declaration of faith": "There is no deity except God, Muhammad is the Messenger of God." This is the only declaration of belief needed for one to be accepted as a convert into Islam. The second pillar is prayer (salat). The devout Muslim is called upon to pray five times a day, facing Mecca. The day of public worship is on Friday, when all the adult males gather together at the mosque.43 A period of fasting, called sawm, is the third pillar of Islam. It is to be observed throughout the entire month of Ramadan (the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar) from dawn until sunset. Zakat or the "poor due" is the fourth pillar. This is a type of institutionalized almsgiving which consists of two and a half percent of the Muslims total savings. The money may be given to the poor or go towards furthering Islam (e.g., mosques, religious schools, salaries for the mosques imam or teacher, etc.). The final pillar is the Hajj or the pilgrimage to Mecca. This is required of all Muslims at least once during their lifetimes, provided they have the means to do so.

ISLAMIC SECTS Before we turn to a consideration of Islams current worldwide expansion, we need at least to mention that there are a multitude of different Islamic sects. The two largest groups are the Sunnites and the Shiites, of whom the Sunnites make up about 90 percent of all Muslims. Most Muslim countries, such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, are largely Sunnite. They derive their name from Sunnah, which "refers to the deeds and words of the prophet."44 Hence, they are the traditionalists of Islam, following the traditions of Muhammad (which were passed on orally for 200 years before they were committed to writing) as authoritative only behind the Qur'an itself. The Shia or "sect of Ali" broke off from the main body of Muslims in the first century A.H. The division arose over a dispute concerning the succession of leadership after Muhammads death. The Shiites, who favored Muhammads son-inlaw and nephew Ali, believed that the caliph should have been divinely appointed, not elected by mere men."45 Besides the bitter controversy over the caliphate a second major difference between the Sunnites and Shiites concerns the doctrine of the imam. For the Shiites imams are "divinely appointed and divinely guided" leaders, and new ones appear from time

to time when most needed. Several times in Shiite history men have claimed this position. The Sunnites believe the imam to be merely the leader of the Friday prayer service.46 Today the Shiites are most populous in Iran, Iraq, Lebanon and parts of Africa. The consequence attached to the office of ayatollah shows the tendency Shiites have of putting "confidence in a charismatic figure rather than in a book."47

WORLDWIDE REVIVAL In the Middle East Less than a decade ago the emerging world power appeared to be the Arabs. Between 1973 and 1979 the price of a barrel of oil rose from less than $3 to as high as $39. "With daily production of 32 million barrels the 13 countries of OPECThe Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, six of which are Arabwere earning $8.7 billion a day, $262 billion a month in 1979."48 The Camp David accords hinted at the possibility of an eventual peace with Israel. In addition, "the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini of neighboring but non-Arab Iran had treated both the US and Soviet governments with contempt and gotten away with it."49 Things could hardly have appeared more promising for them. However, things did not work out as expected. The Los Angeles Times recently commented on this in a front-page article entitled "What Went Wrong?": Oil did not produce political power. The Camp David accords and other initiatives did not bring peace to the Middle East. Today, Lebanon is engulfed in self-ignited flames. Iraq and Iran are using poison gas and aerial bombardments to destroy each other. The Palestinians are in their third diasporafirst expelled from Israel in 1948, then from Jordan in 1970 and from Lebanon in 1982. Five wars with Israel have brought 3,000 square miles of Arab land under Israeli occupation but yielded not an inch of Palestine for Arabs. Khomeini, who briefly symbolized the hope of the Islamic revival, has become, in the eyes of most Arabs, little more than a scoundrel, a brutal old man who manipulates religion for political purposes. And the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, dominated by the Arabs, is unable even to agree on how to shore up world oil prices or how to maintain its own slipping share of the market."50 Most of the 157 million Arabs in the Middle East are not financially well off. Of the 18 Arab countries only five (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Libya) can be considered super-rich. The rest of them are struggling to get by (e.g., the per capita annual income in Egypt is only $560). Nevertheless, in spite of all these problems, the Middle East is experiencing a revival of Islamic fundamentalism which is the harbinger of a worldwide Islamic revival. The resurgence varies from country to country. In the countries dominated by Shiites it is much more militant. The Shiites, with a predisposition towards martyrdom and following charismatic leaders, are usually the ones who dominate the headlines. They believe in the jihad or

"holy war." For example, the recent hijacking of the TWA Flight 847 was executed by members of the radical Shiite group Hezbollah or "Party of God." After the ordeal was ended one of the two hijackers lamented that they were not killed during the crisis: We did not think that we would go back to our kin and brothers, but we were hoping that God would allow us martyrdom for the sake of defending our nation and pride.51 However, the majority of the Muslim countries in the Middle East are most heavily populated and ruled by Sunnites. The Islamic revolution or revival in these countries is more moderate in temperament, although just as deep in zeal. The excesses and crimes of some Shiite groups (and even Shiite countries, such as Iran) are not a genuine reflection of the character of the majority of Muslims.

Worldwide A recent survey of world religions states that Islam is the worlds fastest-growing religion with nearly one billion followers. Thus, Islam is the faith of one-fifth of the worlds population. Over the past 50 years Islam has increased by about 500 percent. During this same period Christianity, also with about one billion adherents, grew by only 47 percent.52 According to Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi, the director of the Islamic Society of Orange County (California), 85 percent of the worlds Muslims are non-Arabic.53 Today 67 different nations, encompassing a seventh of the worlds total land mass, make up "The House of Islam." Amazingly, there is no indication that Islams growth has reached its apex. Forty percent of Southeast Asia is Muslim. In South Asia 31 percent of the population is Muslim. Over 92 percent of the Middle East and North Africa is Muslim. Nearly 50 percent of West Africa is Muslim. The largest Islamic nation in the world is Indonesia with 153 million Muslims. The next four largest are Pakistan (86 million), India (82 million), Bangladesh (78 million), and the USSR (50 million). Demographic studies of the Soviet Union indicate that by the year 2000 their Muslim population will be about 100 million." Great inroads also have been made in the West. In Western Europe Islam is the second largest religion. Two years ago Al Islam, an Islamic magazine in West Germany, confidently predicted that within two decades Europe would be won over to Islam. In Greece there are now nearly 300 mosques. In France, there are about one and a half million Muslims, "about six Muslim residents in France for every born again French Christian."55 Even in Great Britain impressive inroads are occurring. Saudi Arabia has bought an Arabic language paper in London called The Middle East. Backed by an annual budget of $75 million, the magazines purpose is to spread the Arabic political view

and to propagate Islam. England now has about 300 mosques, many of them former Protestant churches which were bought by Muslims. In 1983 Queen Elizabeth attended the dedication of a newly-constructed $7.5 million mosque in the affluent Regents Park.

In the USA The United States has not been immune to Islamic expansionism. The first mosque in this country was built in 1934 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. 56 Today there is at least one mosque in virtually every major American city. There are an estimated three million Muslims in America, nearly two million of which are converts." Detroit alone has 250,000 Muslims. In Chicago a new $15 million mosque was just recently completed. In all there are more than 200 mosques and Islamic groups in this country. The Muslim Student Association is probably the most active Islamic organization in America. Their stated objectives are: ... producing and disseminating Islamic knowledge, establishing Islamic institutions, providing daily requirements, initiating daawah (the propagation of the faith), recruiting and training personnel, [and] promoting and nourishing the unity of Muslims.59 Several years ago a fledgling Islamic community, named "Dar al-Islam" or the "Place of Islam," began in northern New Mexico. It is a former 1,100-acre horse ranch which is being converted into a "showplace of Islamic culture in America."60 It features a kindergarten, grade school and high school, and there are plans for a college and a postgraduate school. The multi-million dollar project is being funded by numerous wealthy Muslims, mostly Saudi Arabians, including members of King Fahds own royal family. Dar al-Islams president is Abdullah Nooridin Durkee, previously known as Steve Durkee, a former Catholic who converted to Islam in 1973. The funding of Islamic outreaches in the US may be most evident in the large gifts and grants given to numerous American universities. A few examples: $l million to endow the King Faisal Chair for Arab and Islamic Studies at the University of Southern California, from the government of Saudi Arabia; $200,000 for a program of Islamic and Arabian development studies to Duke University, from the government of Saudi Arabia; $750,000 from the government of Libya for the alMukhtar Chair of Arab Culture at Georgetown University, and $88,000 to help fund an interdisciplinary program on Arab development at the University of Utah;An annually endowed chair at Harvard University, the only chair in the history of Islamic science in the world, from the government of Kuwait.61 We could continue our examination of Islams penetration into this country at great length. However, from even the few cases we have noted it should be more than evident that Islam is rapidly becoming a significant religious force in America.

OUR RESPONSE Is Islam then an unstoppable juggernaut? Can the church of Jesus Christ reach the Muslims? The answer to these questions is that Islams continued expansion is not inevitable: Muslims can be reached with the gospel. The fact is that "Muslims are not so resistant to Gods love as they are neglected and uninformed!"62 The Christian church has never seriously attempted to reach the hundreds of millions who are Muslims. The great missionary Samuel Zwemer stated, "One might suppose that the church thought the Great Commission did not apply to Muslims."63 This is easily demonstrated by looking at some statistics concerning missions. Only one percent of the churchs entire missionary force is ministering to Muslims. This means that there is about one Christian missionary for every one million Muslims. The church has more missionaries working among Alaskas 400,000 residents than in the entire Muslim world! But even if we devoted more time and energy to reaching Muslims would they respond to the gospel? The answer is yes. Over the last few years the church has just begun to increase its work among Muslims. With this new attention more Muslims have become Christians over the last four years than during the previous 20 years.64 The "typical" Muslim is not an imposing, bearded sheik floating in oil, nor a militant, gun-toting terrorist, nor a modern-day "Sinbad the Sailor." Rather, he or she is usually a devout person, attempting to reach God through a man-made religious system, totally unaware of the grace available through Jesus Christ. The apostle Pauls words echo down to us today with an unmitigated urgency: How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? (Rom. 10:14).

Joseph P. Gudel is a professor in the M.A. in Christian Apologetics program at the Simon Greenleaf School of Law in Anaheim, California.

NEXT ISSUE: An analysis of Islamic apologetics in the light of Christian apologetics.

NOTES Suzanne Haneef, What Everyone Should Know About Islam and Muslims (Chicago: Kazi Publications, 1979), p. 3. 2 Josh McDowell in a foreword to a manuscript this author has written, presently being considered for publication.

Abd-al-Rahman Azzam, The Eternal Message of Muhammad, trans. Caesar E. Farah (New York: The New American Library, 1965), pp. 27-30. 4 Mohammed Marmaduke Pickthall, The Meaning of the Glorious Koran (New York: The New American Library, 1963), p. ix. 5 Azzam, op. cit., p. 30. 6 Pickthall, op. cit., p. 10. Also, Azzam, loc. cit. 7 Qur'an 81:8. 8 Azzam, op. cit., pp. 32-33. 9 John B. Noss, Mans Religions (New York: The Macmillian Co., 1956), p. 695. 10 Azzam, op. cit., p. 39. 11 Abdullah Yusuf Ali, The Holy Qur'an: Translation and Commentary (Qatar: Qatar National Printing Press, 1956), p. 452. 12 Pickthall, op. cit., p. xv. 13 Azzam, op. cit., p. 40. 14 Ibid. 15 W. Montgomery Watt, Muhammad: Prophet and Statesman (reprint ed.; London: Oxford University Press, 1967), pp. 204-205. 16 Pickthall, op. cit., pp. xxiv-xxv. 17 Robert Ernest Hume, The Worlds Living Religions (New York: Charles Scribners Sons, 1950), p. 213. 18 Maulvi Muhammad Ali, The Religion of Islam (Lahore, Pakistan: The Ahmadiyyah Anjuman Ishaat Islam, 1950), p. 145. 19 All quotations from the Qur'an are from the translation by Abdullah Yusuf Ali unless otherwise noted. This is important to remember when looking up specific quotes from the Qur'an because the numbers of the verses often differ from one translation to the next. 20 Alhaj A.D. Ajijola, The Myth of the Cross (Lahore, Pakistan: Islamic Publication Ltd., 1975), p. 170. 21 Haneef, op. cit., p. 16. 22 Qur'an 50:17-18. 23 Haneef, loc. cit. 24 Qur'an 3:3. 25 The Muslim Students Association of the United States and Canada, The Prophet of Allah (Chicago: Medina Printers, 1976), p. 5. 26 Ajijola, op. cit., p. 160. 27 A. Yusuf Ali, op. cit., p. 763. Also, Maulvi Muhammad Ali, The Holy Qur-an: Containing the Arabic Text with English Translation and Commentary (Lahore, Punjab, India: The Ahmadiyya Anjuman-I-Ishaat-I-Islam, 1935), p. 802. 28 Cf. Qur'an 11:25-49 and Genesis 6:9-10; 7:1, 5. 29 Geoffrey Parrinder, Jesus in the Qur'an (New York: Oxford University Press, 1977), p. 16. 30 Also, cf. Qur'an 43:59; 5:19; 10:68; 19:35; 88-92. 31 Samuel M. Zwemer, Islam: A Challenge to Faith (New York: Laymens Missionary Movement, 1907), pp. 93-94. 32 Maulvi Muhammad Ali, op. cit., p. 118. 33 J.N.D. Anderson is the Professor of Oriental Laws and the Director of the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies at the University of London. In addition to his teaching responsibilities he has also authored numerous books and articles dealing with Islam and other world religions. 34 Norman Anderson, The Worlds Religions (Grand Rapids, MI: William B.

Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1977), p. 117. 35 A. Yusuf Ali, op. cit., p. 1352. Also, cf. Mauivi Muhammad Ali, op. cit., p. 1009. 36 Also, cf. Qur'an 56:22-24. 37 The "Companions" just mentioned in the above verses are literally "houris" in the Arabic. 38 Zwemer, op. cit., pp. 94-95. 39 Haneef, op. cit., p. 183. 40 Ibid., p. 38. 41 This is taken from Maulvi Muhammad Alis translation of the Qur'an, The Holy Qur-an: Containing the Arabic Text with English Translation, op. cit. 42 Quoted in Abdiyah Akbar Abdul-Haqq, Sharing Your Faith with a Muslim (Minneapolis: Bethany Fellowship Inc., 1980), p. 152. 43 In some countries the women also may gather together with the men for public prayer. Where this is allowed the women are required to sit together at the rear of the mosque. 44 C. George Fry and James R. King, Islam: A Survey of the Muslim Faith (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1980), p. 112. 45 Ibid. 46 Ibid. 47 Ibid. 48 David Lamb, "Arabs-No Climate for Intellectuals," Los Angeles Times, July 18, 1985, part 1, p. 12. 49 David Lamb, "What Went Wrong? Arab Power on the Wane Despite Oil," Los Angeles Times, July 14, 1985, part I, p. 1. 50 Ibid. 51 "U.S. Bowed to Demands, Hijackers say," Los Angeles Times, July 1, 1985, part I, p. 4. 52 "News," Christianity Today, January 8, 1985, p. 61. 53 John Dart, "Assimilation Perils Immigrant Muslims," Los Angeles Times, November 24, 1984, part II, p. 4. 54 "The World of Islam," Time, April 16, 1979, p. 46. 55 "Islam: Its Their Turn," Frontiers, Urbana 84 Issue, p. 13. 56 Philip Harsham, "Islam in Iowa," Aramco World Magazine, Nov.-Dec., 1976, p. 35. 57 Yvonne Y. Haddad, "The Muslim Experience in the United States," The Link, Sept.Oct., 1979, p. 2. 58 Ibid. 59 Ibid. 60 Charles Hillinger, "Islam Center Aims to Bridge Cultural Gap in America," Los Angeles Times, December 26, 1983, part VII, p. 1. 61 "America as Alma Mater," Aramco World Magazine, May-June, 1979, p. 9. 62 Don M. McCurry and Carol A. Glasser, Muslim Awareness Seminar (Altadena, CA: Samuel Zwemer Institute, 1981), p. 13. 63 Ibid. 64 Sharon E. Mumper, "New Strategies to Evangelize Muslims Gain Effectiveness," Christianity Today, May 17, 1985, p. 75. This article first appeared in the Fall 1985 issue of the Forward magazine (which became the Christian Research Journal).
CRI, P.O. Box 7000, Rancho Santa Margarita, CA 92688 Phone (949) 858-6100 and Fax (949) 858-6111

Islam Revival
TO EVERY MUSLIM AN ANSWER (Part Two in a series on Islam from Forward magazine)
by Joseph P. Gudel

Islam and Christianity are the two largest and most missionary-minded religions in the world. Their beliefs are very similar in many areas. They are both monotheistic, were founded by a specific individual in a definite, historically verifiable setting, are universal, and believe in the existence of angels, heaven and hell, a future resurrection, and that God has made Himself known to man via a revelation. However, there also are many obvious differences between them, particularly in relation to the person of Jesus Christ, the way of salvation, and each faiths scripture or scriptures. These differences encompass the very foundational tenets of each religion, and therefore, while Islam and Christianity can both be false, they both cannot be true. Our task is to examine each religions apologetic, or defense of their faith, to see if the claims of either religion are verifiable. Particular attention will be paid to the founder and the scripture or scriptures of each faith. The reason for this should be self-evident: it is very easy for someone to make claims regarding himself, proving them is an entirely different matter.

ISLAMIC APOLOGETICS Islam, like Christianity, believes that a persons faith must be reasonable as well as subjective, that we must worship God with our minds as well as our hearts. In sharing this common ground with Muslims let us then examine why they believe what they believe.

The Miracle of the Qur'an The Islamic Claim We must start our study of Islamic apologetics by examining their highest source of authority, the Qur'an. For Muslims, this is the pure word of God with no admixture of human thought or content Indeed, many Muslims have such an intense jealousy for the Quran that they keenly resent its being possessed by a non-Muslim. The word "Quran" comes from "an Arabic word meaning reading or that which is to be read."1 Muslims affirm that the Quran was given to Muhammad in the Arabic language, piece by piece, over a span of 23 years until his death (Quran 43:3; 44:58;

17:106). Muslim apologetics for the Quran cover four main areas: its preservation, eloquence, alleged prophecies, and compatibility with modern science.

1. Preservation of the Quran Concerning the present authenticity of the Qur'an, Maulvi Muhammad Ali makes the following grandiose statement: As regards the authenticity of the Holy Qur'an, I need not detain the reader very long. From one end of the world to the other, from China in the Far East to Morocco and Algeria in the Far West, from the scattered islands of the Pacific Ocean to the great desert of Africa, the Qur'an is one, and no copy differing in even a diacritical point is met with in the possession of one among the four hundred millions of Muslims.2 There are, and always have been, contending sects, but the same Qur'an is in the possession of one and all...A manuscript with the slightest variation in the text is unknown. 3 Thus Muslims not only believe that the Qur'an is Gods word in toto, they also are confident that no error, alteration, or variation has touched it since its inception. This, then, is one of their "proofs" that the Quran is a "miracle" from God.

2. Eloquence of the Quran A second claim made to prove the supernatural origin of the Quran, found in surah (chapter) 17:88, is that its beauty and eloquence is self-sufficient proof that the author is God: Say: "If the whole Of mankind and Jinns Were to gather together To produce the like Of this Qur'an, they Could not produce The like thereof, even if They backed up each other With help and support." In a footnote within his translation of the Qur'an, Yusuf Ali states, "No human composition could contain the beauty, power, and spiritual insight of the Quran."4 However, Muslims do not believe that the Quran is a miracle solely because of its eloquence and beauty, but also because in surah 7:157 Muhammad is referred to as "The unlettered Prophet." Believing that he was illiterate, they ask how such a man could produce the Quran. A final claim concerning the Qurans literary achievement is that it is so consistent throughout that no human could have devised it Suzanne Haneef asks "how the whole Quran could be so utterly consistent" if it did not originate from God.5

3. Prophecies In the Quran The Quran speaks prophetically very little, if indeed it does prophesy at all. Hence, few Muslim apologists use fulfilled prophecy as a proof for their faith. However, there is a series of verses in the Quran which promise that the Muslims will be victorious, both at home and abroad.6 Maulana Muhammad Ali discusses these prophecies at length in his work The Religion of Islam: we find prophecy after prophecy announced in the surest and most certain terms to the effect that the great forces of opposition should be brought to naughtthat Islam should spread to the farthest corners of the earth and that it should ultimately he triumphant over all religions of the world.7

4. Science and the Quran Finally, there is one recent work, written by a French surgeon named Maurice Bucaille, that attempts to vindicate the divine origin of the Quran by showing its supposedly remarkable affinity with modem science. After citing a number of examples, Dr. Bucaille concludes that it is inconceivable for a human being living in the seventh century A.D. to have made statements in the Quran on a great variety of subjects that do not belong to his period and for them to be in keeping with what was to be known only centuries later. For me, there can be no human explanation to the Qur an.8

The "Miracle" of the Quran The Christian Response

1. Preservation of the Quran? Mohammed Marmaduke Pickthall, in The Meaning of the Glorious Koran, tells us that at the time of Muhammads death the surahs (or chapters) of the Quran had not yet been collated. This was accomplished during the Caliphate of Abu Bakr.9 The second Caliph, Omar, "subsequently made a single volume (mushaf) that he preserved and gave on his death to his daughter Hafsa, the Prophets widow."10 Finally, under the Caliphate of Uthman all copies of the Quran were ordered to be brought in and any that deviated from Uthmans text were burned. We have no quarrel with the Islamic position that since the Recension of Uthman the Quran has remained intact. However, because of the destruction of all deviant copies no one can know with any certainty if the present Quran is exactly the same as what Muhammad gave them. Islam teaches that the only reason Uthman had all the other collections of the Quran burned except his was that there were slight dialectical variations in the different texts.

However, there is some evidence which tends to refute this. First of all, it is very significant that the Qurra, the Muslims who had memorized the entire Quran, were vehemently opposed to the Recension. And second, the Shiites, who are the second-largest Islamic sect in the world, claim that the Caliph Uthman intentionally eliminated many passages from the Quran which related to Ali and the succession of leadership which was to occur after Muhammads death. L. Bevan Jones, in his work The People Of the Mosque, succinctly answers the Muslim argument for the alleged miraculous preservation of the Quran: "But while it may be true that no other work has remained for twelve centuries with so pure a text, it is probably equally true that no other has suffered so drastic a purging."11

2. Eloquence of the Quran? Concerning the Qurans beauty, style, and eloquence, any unbiased reader would have to admit that this is certainly true of much of the Quran. However, eloquence itself is hardly a logical test for inspiration. If this were the criteria used to judge a work, then we would have to say that the authors of many of the great works of antiquity were inspired by God. Homer would have to have been a prophet for producing the magnificent Iliad and the Odyssey. In the English language Shakespeare is without a peer as a dramatist, but it would be ludicrous to say that because of this his tragedies were of divine origin. Likewise for the eloquence of the Quran. But what about the consistency of the Quran can it be used to show that this Muslim scripture was inspired? To begin with, it can be shown that the Quran is not totally consistent, but rather has some major contradictions in it.12 Even if we granted the thesis that the Quran was totally consistent this still would not prove anything. In an essay entitled "How Muslims Do Apologetics," Dr. John Warwick Montgomery demonstrates this for us: This apologetic is likewise of little consequence, for the self-consistency of a writing does not prove that it is a divine revelation. Euclids Geometry, for example, is not self-contradictory at any point, but no one claims that this work is therefore divinely inspired in some unique sense.13 And finally, what about Muhammads alleged illiteracy? First of all, there is a good deal of evidence against it. But even if we granted the fact that Muhammad could not read or write this still would not make the Quran miraculous. Why? Because all Muslims know that he had at least several amanuenses or scribes: and therefore, he could easily have composed the Quran in this fashion. This would not be unique, as there are precedents for this. One that most people will be familiar with concerns Homer. He was blind and thus, in all likelihood, could not write. Yet he was the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, the two greatest epics of the ancient world. In like fashion the question of whether or not Muhammad was illiterate really has no hearing on the case in question.

3. Prophecies in the Quran? Can we say that Islams vast expansion, predicted by Muhammad, is a fulfillment of prophecy? If we think this through for just a moment, I believe we can easily answer no. To begin with, a leader promising his troops or followers a victory is not the least bit unique. Every commander or general does this in order to inspire his army and build up their morale. If they are then victorious, he is vindicated; if they lose then we never hear of his promises because they, along with his movement, are forgotten. Also, the Muslim had several important incentives to consider while fighting to further the cause of Islam. If he died, he was promised to be allowed into paradise. If he lived and they were victorious in battle, the Muslim soldiers would divide up fourfifths of all the booty. There is another reason why Islam initially expanded so rapidly. If we look at some of the Quranic injunctions about what the non-believers could expect at the hands of the Muslims, it is easy to understand why so many "submitted," as found in surah 5:36:14 The punishment of those Who wage war against God And his Apostle, and strive With might and main For mischief through the land Is: execution, or crucifixion, Or the cutting off of hands And feet from opposite sides, Or exile from the land. The polytheists had two choices, submit or die. The Christians and the Jews had a third alternative, paying heavy tribute (Quran 9:5, 29). A final point to be considered is that if the fast and far reaching growth of a movement indicated divine favor, then what about such conquerors as Genghis Khan? He consolidated the Mongol tribes and in a time span shorter than early Islams conquered a much larger geographic area. Was his military success evidence that he was led of God? And what of Islams own growth which was stopped in the West by Charles Martel A.D. 732) and in the East by Leo III (A.D. 740)? Does this mean that they lost favor with Allah? What of the later history of many Islamic countries who suffered the indignity of becoming colonies of the then world powers? No, we can find nothing mysterious or supernatural about Islams amazing early growth or subsequent fall.

4. Science and the Quran? A very recent Islamic polemic. The Bible, the Quran and Science by Dr. Maurice Bucaille, attempts to demonstrate that the Quran must have been divinely inspired

because it allegedly states many things that were unknown in the seventh century and have subsequently become known only in our twentieth century. In answering Dr. Bucaille it must first be pointed out that the bulk of the book does not deal with the Quran and science. Rather, most of it is an attempt (using the techniques of higher criticism) to disgrace the Bible. The portions of his book which do attempt to show that the Quran is in amazing agreement with twentieth-century scientific knowledge are very vague. However, what if we were to grant his thesis that the statements in the Quran are in total agreement with modern science? Dr. Bucaille states that if this were true, then "it is unthinkable that a man of Muhammads time could have been the author of them."15 I agree with his conclusion, assuming his thesis is true. If the Quran has detailed scientific statements which we have only recently discovered to be true, and yet it was written in the seventh century A.D., then it could not have been merely the product of Muhammad. But this does not identify the source of the information, it only shows that no human being could have written it without superhuman help. If indeed the Quran had a supernatural origin, then we are still left with the task of finding out who its source was. Dr. Bucaille assumes that it must be God, but why? If we pause and think for just a moment, we realize that there are other supernatural beings besides God. One of these beings is referred to as Satan in the Bible, as well as in the Quran. The Bible tells us that he has been on the earth as long as man has, that he has powers and intelligence far superior to ours, and that be is "the father of lies" (John 8:44). To whisper some scientific facts into someones ear would be no great feat for him. As a matter of fact the Bible says that he does appear to men from time to time: "For even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light" (2 Cor. 11:14). It is interesting that this is exactly the initial fear that Muhammad had the first time he heard the voice speak to him.16

5. Sources of the Quran In concluding this section on the Quran the reader may be interested to know that many of the stories or accounts found within the Quran are traceable to very similiar (sometimes almost identical) stories found in pre-Islamic writings. I would direct the reader to Clair-Tisdalls classic The Sources of Islam, Rev. W. Goldsacks The Origins of the Quran, and Samuel M. Zwerners Islam: A Challenge to Faith.

Is Muhammad Prophesied in the Bible? Virtually every religion that began after Christianity attempts to show that it is compatible with the Bible. They also endeavor, usually quite laboriously, to show that their founder or faith is referred to in the Bible.17 Thus it comes as no surprise to find that Muslims also claim that their founder was prophesied in both the Old and New Testaments. Our question still needs to be answered: Although Islam is not unique in claiming to be verified by the Bible, might not its claims be nonetheless true? There are some

minor, less detailed verses which Muslims claim are "prophecies" related to Muhammad. However, the verses which most Muslims cite as the most explicative are Deuteronomy 18:15-18 and John 14:16; 15:26; and 16:7.

1. Deuteronomy 18:15-18 The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear. According to all you desired of the Lord your God in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, "Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God, nor let me see this great fire anymore, lest I die." And the Lord said to me: "What they have spoken is good. I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him." This is universally held by Muslims as a prophesy pertaining to Muhammad.18 There are a number of reasons why they believe it cannot be referring Jesus. First, the Promised Prophet was to be a Lawgiving Prophet.... Jesus laid no claim to giving a new law.... Secondly, the Promised Prophet was to be raised not from among Israel but from among their brethren and Jesus was an Israelite.... Thirdly, the prophecy was: "I will put my words in his mouth." But the gospels do not consist of words which God put in Jesus mouth. They only tell us the story of Jesus and what he said in some of his public addresses and what his disciples said or did on different occasions. Fourthly, the Promised One was to be a Prophet, while the Christian view is that Jesus was not a Prophet, but the son of God. 19 The Muslim will then point out the many ways in which Muhammad and Moses were alike. Each appeared among idolaters. They were both lawgivers who were initially rejected by their people and had to flee into exile, only to return later to lead their nations. They both married and had children, and were military leaders as well as spiritual leaders. After both of their deaths their successors conquered Palestine. The Muslim conclusion is that this prophecy was fulfilled only by Muhammad: "If these words do not apply to Muhammad, they still remain unfulfilled."20 Before we continue any farther, let us first analyze these points. The first objection raised against this prophecy having been fulfilled in Jesus was that Jesus was not a lawgiver. Muslims who claim this only show their own lack of understanding of the New Testament, as shown in John 13:34 and Galatians 6:2: A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love another. Bear one anothers burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ

The next objection to this prophecy having been fulfilled in Jesus was that "brethren" must refer to the Ishmaelites, not to the Israelites themselves. This argument can easily be refuted by simply looking at how the term "brethren" is used in the Bible. One cogent example is found in Deuteronomy 17:15. Moses instructs the Israelites: "You shall surely set a king over you whom the Lord your God chooses; one from among your brethren you shall set as king over you; you may not set a foreigner over you, who is not your brother." Now, did Israel ever appoint a foreigner as king over them? More specifically, was an Ishmaelite ever appointed king over Israel? Of course not. To choose a king "from among your brethren" refers to choosing someone from one of the 12 tribes of Israel. Likewise, the prophet spoken of in Deuteronomy 18 was to be an Israelite. Another objection to Deuteronomy 18:15-18 being fulfilled in Jesus is that the Gospels allegedly do not consist of words which God gave Jesus, vitally important in light of verse 18. However, to say that Jesus did not speak what God the Father gave Him again betrays an abysmal ignorance of the New Testament: "For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak" (John 12:49)21 The final objection raised against Jesus fulfilling these verses is that Christians supposedly only view Jesus as the Sun of God, not as a prophet. Once again we see that the Muslim too often has little familiarity with the New Testament. Jesus Himself, prophesying His impending death, said that He must continue His journey to Jerusalem "for it cannot be that a prophet should perish outside of Jerusalem" (Luke 13:33). 22 The Muslim will point out that I still have not explained the many similarities between Moses and Muhammad. It is true that they have many correspondences, but there are also many differences. For example, if Muhammad was illiterate as virtually all Muslims assert, then he was not like Moses who "was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians" (Acts 7:22). Muhammad is said to have received his revelations from the angel Gabriel, while Moses received the Law directly from God. Muhammad performed no signs or miracles to verify his calling, yet Moses performed many signs. Also, Muhammad was Arabic, while Moses was of Jewish origin. If one were to peruse the Gospels, he would see that although Jesus was unlike Moses in some ways, in other ways He was very much like him. They were both Jewish, which is very important in light of what we have learned about the term "your brethren." They both left Egypt to minister to their people (Heb. 11:27; Matt 2:15). Both also forsook great riches in order to better identify with their people (Heb. 11:2426; John 6:15; 2 Cor. 8:9). So we see that both Jesus and Muhammad had similarities with Moses. In what special way then was this coming prophet to be "like unto Moses"? The answer is found in Deuteronomy 34:8-10 where two distinguishing characteristics of Moses are listed: But since then there has not arisen in Israel a prophet like Moses, whom the Lord

knew face to face, In all the signs and wonders which the Lord sent him to do in the land of Egypt, before Pharaoh, before all his servants, and in all his land, And by all that mighty power and all the great terror which Moses performed in the sight of all Israel. This is a direct reference to Deuteronomy 18:15-18. Notice that two specific things are mentioned about Moses here in referring back to the earlier prophecy. The first is that the Lord knew Moses "face to face. "23 Muhammad never had this type of relationship with God; indeed, in Islam God is so transcendent that except for the unique case of Moses He never spoke directly with men. Jesus, "the Word made flesh" (John 1:14), is the only one who ever had a relationship with God like Moses had. In fact, Jesus relationship far surpasses that of Moses: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" (John 1:1). The second characteristic feature of Moses, that he came with many "signs" and "wonders," hardly needs to be expounded on. The many miracles that both Moses and Jesus worked are well known. The Quran itself testifies that Muhammad worked no miracles.24 And finally, Jesus Himself tells us who the prophet is that Deuteronomy 18:15-18 is prophesying: "For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me" (John 5:46). 25

2. John 14:16; 15:26; 16:7 Muslims claim that the verses speaking of the coming "Comforter" ("Paracletos" in the original Greek) are actually references to the coming of Muhammad. The reason for this is that in the Quran Jesus is made to say that after Himself an apostle would be sent, "Whose name shall be Ahmad" (Quran 61:6). The following is Yusuf Alis commentary on this verse: "Ahmad," or "Muhammad," the Praised One, is almost a translation of the Greek word Periclytos. In the present Gospel of John, xiv. 16, xv. 26, and xvi. 7, the word "Comforter" in the English version is for the Greek word "Paracletos," which means "Advocate," "one called to the help of another, a kind friend" rather than "Comforter." Our doctors contend that Paracletos is a corrupt reading for Periclytos, and that in their [sic] original saying of Jesus there was a prophecy of our holy Prophet Ahmad by name.26 Thus Muslims believe that all of our Bibles have been corrupted and that the apostle John really used the word "Periclytos" in these verses, not the word "Paracletos." In examining the Muslim claim that the text has been corrupted the textual critic would quite rightly look to the actual textual evidence. There are over 24,000

manuscript copies of portions of the New Testament which date from before A.D. 350. Not once in any of the manuscripts which contain these passages do we find the word "Periclytos" used. The word that we find used every time is "Paracletos." Thus, there is absolutely no textual evidence which would back up their contention that the text was corrupted. The Muslim position is even more lamentable when we carefully read these verses to see what Jesus was saying. There is a great deal which could be said about each verse; however, we will limit our review to the obvious discrepancies between the Islamic position and what is actually being said: "And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Comforter,27 that He may abide with you forever" (John 14:16). First of all, Jesus said that the Father "will give you another Comforter." Who was Jesus addressing in these verses? The Arabs, or more specifically, the Ishmaelites? Of course not. He is speaking to Jewish believers. Hence the "Comforter" would be sent initially to them. This cannot be referring to Muhammad. Second, this verse states that the "Paracletos," the "Comforter," would "abide with you forever." How can this apply to Muhammad? The Muslim prophet has been dead and buried for over 1,300 years. "Even the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you" (John 14:17). Here "the Spirit of Truth" is used as another title or synonym for the "Paraclete." We see from this verse that the "Paraclete" would be "in you." Again, it is impossible to reconcile this statement with the Islamic position. John 14:26 completely devastates the Muslim hypothesis that Muhammad was actually the one being prophesied in the verses dealing with the coming "Comforter" (or "Paraclete"): "But the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you." Jesus said that the "Comforter" is "the Holy Spirit." This is the reason why all of the Muslim apologists stay away from this verse, only quoting the verses they like. Jesus commanded His disciples in Acts 1:4-5 not to "depart from Jerusalem," for they would "be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now." Do these verses really apply to Muhammad appearing 600 years later in Mecca? Only a person already biased and completely credulous could believe this. The fulfillment of Jesus words occurred 10 days later on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4), not six centuries later, hundreds of miles from Jerusalem. Prof. Abdu L-Ahad Dauud, in Muhammad in the Bible, states that this alleged prophecy "is one of the strongest proofs that Muhammad was truly a Prophet and that the Quran is really a divine revelation"28 (emphasis added). If these verses constitute one of their "strongest proofs," then I will not belabor the reader with "lesser proofs." I believe that Blaise Pascal succinctly summarized the situation: "Any man can do what [Muhammad] has done; for he performed no miracles, he was not foretold. No man can do what Christ has done."29

CHRISTIAN APOLOGETICS In the remaining space it will be impossible to give more than an overview of the evidences for the Christian faith.30 The two areas we will examine are the evidences for the reliability of the Bible and the person of Jesus Christ.

The Reliability of the Bible For Muslims the Bible is virtually worthless as far as being an authentic revelation from God. They believe it has been totally corrupted and is therefore not trustworthy. However, if we examine the biblical documents, using the same thorough standards any historiographer would use, we discover that its reliability is unimpeachable. The New Testament documents, for example, have more manuscript authority than any 10 works of antiquity put together. As mentioned earlier, we have over 24,000 manuscript copies of portions of the New Testament dating from before A.D. 350. In comparison, the number two book in all of ancient history for manuscript authority is the Iliad with 643 manuscripts. Dr. John Warwick Montgomery, dean of the Simon Greenleaf School of Law and a noted theologian, comments on this: "To be skeptical of the resultant text of the New Testament books is to allow all of classical antiquity to slip into obscurity, for no documents of the ancient period are as well attested bibliographically as the New Testament."31 When we turn to the text of the New Testament itself we see that the writers of the New Testament books claimed that they were eyewitnesses, or close associates of eyewitnesses, of the events they narrated.32 We also have excellent external evidence confirming this. Papias, a disciple of the apostle John, confirms the fact that Mark did indeed write the Gospel which is ascribed to him, obtaining his information from the apostle Peter.33 Polycarp, another disciple of the apostle John, taught his own disciple Irenaeus that the men to whom the four Gospels are ascribed were in truth their real authors.34 In addition to these evidences we can also add the findings of modern archaeology. Time after time archaeology has vindicated biblical accounts which had previously been ridiculed as being grossly inaccurate.35 Concerning this, Nelson Glueck, a worldfamous Jewish archaeologist, went so far as to say that "it may be stated categorically that no archaeological discovery has ever controverted a Biblical reference."36 In any responsible examination of the biblical documents the evidence for their reliability comes out positive. Even well-known secular historians accept the biblical accounts as being historically reliable. A.N. Sherwin-White, a non-Christian, accepts without question the essential reliability of the Gospels and the Book of Acts: For Acts the confirmation of historicity is overwhelming...any attempt to reject its historicity in matters of detail must now appear absurd. Roman historians have long

taken it for granted.37 It is very interesting to note that Yusuf Ali, in his widely used English translation of the Quran, twice cites Sir Frederick Kenyon as a renowned authority.38 Kenyon, formerly the principal curator of the British Museum, was one the worlds greatest authorities on textual criticism of ancient works. Concerning the textual reliability of the Bible, he concluded that "the Christian can take the whole Bible in his hand and say without fear or hesitation that he holds in it the true Word of God."39

The Death and Resurrection of Christ Muslims, denying that Jesus died on the cross, hold that no resurrection occurred. They do this not on the basis of the historical evidence but because the Quran simply denies that Jesus was crucified. However, once again their beliefs fly in the face of all the evidence. The following references are a listing of just some of the Old Testament prophecies concerning the sufferings of the Messiah and of their fulfillment in Jesus. We are told the Messiah would come in humility (Zech. 9:9; Matt. 21:6-9), would be sold for 30 pieces of silver (Zech. 11:12; Matt. 26:15), would suffer tremendously (lsa. 50:6; Matt. 26:67), would be pierced and scourged (Isa. 53:5; Matt. 27:26: John 19:34), would not speak in His own defense (Isa. 53:7; Matt. 27:12-14), would be slain (Isa. 53:8; Luke 23:46), would die among thieves and intercede for the transgressors (Isa. 53:12; Matt. 27:38; Luke 23:34), would be mocked (Ps. 22:7 -8; Matt. 27:31, 39-40), would have his hands and feet pierced (Ps. 22:16; John 20:25-28), would have lots cast for his garments (Ps. 22:18; John 19:23-24), and would not have his bones broken (Ps. 34:20; John 19:33). In the New Testament Jesus claimed to be God (John 8:58). Those closest to Him made the same claim for Him (1 John 5:20; 2 Pet. 1:1). Jesus said that the ultimate proof validating His claims would be His resurrection from the dead (Matt 16:21; 17:9; John 2: 18-21). If these events did not occur (Jesus death and resurrection), one is faced with tremendously difficult questions. What accounts for the change in Peter, from being a coward who denied even knowing Jesus, into being a martyr? What accounts for the change of Saul, the greatest persecutor of the early church, into the apostle Paul, the greatest missionary of the early church (who also suffered martyrdom)? What accounted for the birth of the Christian church itself? Christianity was not spread by force. The first Christians had no worldly incentives to preach Jesus death and resurrection. Conversely, all they could expect were revilements, persecution, and martyrdom. The only satisfactory answer that can be given to these questions is that Jesus did indeed rise from the dead, just as He promised. Near the end of the eighteenth century La Revelliere-Lepeaux, a determined nonChristian, was attempting to replace Christianity with Theophilanthropy (a form of deism) as the religion of France. When he told Talleyrand his plans, "the cynical politician replied, All you have to do is get yourself hanged, and revive the third

day."41 Indeed, Talleyrand very perceptively showed the main difference between Christianity and every other religion of the world. Jesus Christ raised Himself from the dead, thus verifying His claims to deity. Muhammad and all of the other founders of the various religions are still in the grave. Only Jesus has the power of life over death, as He said in John 11:25-26: I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if He dies, and everyone who lives and believes In Me shall never die.

NOTES Suzanne Haneef, What Everyone Should Know About Islam and Muslims (Chicago: Kazi Publications, 1979). p. 18. 2 This was the approximate Islamic population when this book was published in 1921. Today the Muslim population is estimated be between 800 million to one billion. 3 Maulvi Muhammad Ali, Muhammad and Christ (Lahore, lndia: The Ahmadiyya Anjuman-i-Ishaat-i-Islam, 1921), p. 7. 4 Abdullah Yusuf Ali, THE HOLY QURAN: Text, Translation and Commentary (Qatar: Qatar National Printing Press, 1946), p. 401. 5 Haneef, op. cit., p. 30. 6 Qur'an 3:12; 41:53; 14:13-14. 7 Maulana Muhammad Ali, The Religion of Islam (Lahore, Pakistan: The Ahmadiyyah Anjuman Isha'at Islam, 1950), p. 249. 8 Maurice Bucaille, The Bible, The Qur'an and Science, trans. Alastair D. Pannell and Maurice Bucaille (Paris: North America Trust Publication, 1978), p. 125. 9 Mohammed Marmaduke Pickthall, The Meaning of the Glorious Koran (New York: The New American Library, 1963), p. xxviii 10 Bucaille, op. cit., p. 130 11 L. Bevan Jones, The People of the Mosque (London: Student Christian Movement Press, 1932), p. 62. 12 Due to lack of space this argument cannot be pursued here. The interested reader may write to the author in care CRI for further information on this. 13 John Warwick Montgomery, Faith Founded on Fact (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1978), p. 94. 14 Also, cf. Qur'an 4:47. 15 Bucaille, op. cit. p. 251. 16 Pickthall, op. cit., pp. x-xi. 17 e.g. Mani, in the third century, claimed to be the "Paraclete" or the "Comforter" spoken of by Jesus in John 14:16, 26. The Baha'is, originating from within Islam itself, likewise believe that their founder Bahaullah was foretold in the Bible. And the Mormons believe that Ezekiel prophesied the coming of one of their scriptures, The Book of Mormon. 18 They also believe that the Qur'an refers to this in surah 7:157. 19 Hazrat Mirza Bashir-Ud-Din Mahmud Ahmad, Introduction to the Study of the Holy Quran (London:The London Mosque, 1949), pp. 84-85. Also cf. Ulfat Aziz-UsSamad, Islam and Christianity (Karachi, Pakistan:

Begum Aisha Bauany Wakf, 1974), p. 96. 20 Abdu L-Ahad Dauud, Muhammad in the Bible (Kuala Lumpur: Pustaka Antara, 1979), p. 2. 21 Also cf. John 7:16, 8:28. 22 Also cf. John4:19; 6:14; 7:40; 9:l7; Matt. 21:11; Luke 7:16. 23 cf. Exodus 33:l1. 24 cf. Qur'an 17:59; 17:90-93; 6:37; 6:109. 25 Also d. Luke 24:27. 26 Abdullah Yusuf Ali, op. cit., p. 1540. (Also, cf. p. 144) 27 The Greek word "Paracletos" may be translated as "comforter," "counselor," "advocate," or "helper." 28 Dauud, op. cit., p. 216. 29 Blaise Pascal, Pensees, number 599. 30 The interested reader might consult the following works for a more in-depth understanding of Christian apologetics: John Warwick Montgomery, History and Christianity, InterVarsity Press, and Faith Founded on Fact, Thomas Nelson; Norman L Geisler and William E. Nix, A General Introduction to the Bible, Moody Press; Wilbur M. Smith, Therefore Stand, Baker Book House; Josh McDowell, Evidence That Demands a Verdict, Heres Life Publishers; and Don Stewart, The Bible, Heres Life Publishers. 31 John Warwick Montgomery, History and Christianity (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press 1976), p. 29. 32 e.g., 2 Pet. 1:16; Luke 1:1-2; Acts 4:19-20; 1 John 1:1, 3. 33 Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History III, 39. 34 Irenaeus, Against Heresies III, I. I. 35 e.g., William M. Ramsay, The Bearing of Recent Discovery on the Trustworthiness of the New Testament, Baker Book House, and Was Christ Born at Bethlehem? Baker Book House; Kathleen M. Kenyon, Archaeology in the Holy Land; Thomas Nelson Publishers; and E.M. Blaiklock, The Archaeology of The New Testament, Thomas Nelson Publishers. 36 Nelson Glueck, Rivers in the Desert (Philadelphia: Jewish Publications Society of America, 1969), p. 31. 37 A.N. Sherwin-White, Society and Roman Law in the New Testament (reprint ed.; Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1978), p. 189. 38 Abdullah Yusuf Ali, op. cit., pp. 285, 287. 39 Frederick G. Kenyon, Our Bible and the Ancient Manuscripts (New York Harper and Brothers, 1941), p.23. 40 cf. Quran 4:157, 158. 41 Eric Foner, Tom Paine and Revolutionary America (New York Oxford University Press, 1976), p.253. This article first appeared in the Winter 1986 issue of the Forward magazine (which became the Christian Research Journal).
CRI, P.O. Box 7000, Rancho Santa Margarita, CA 92688 Phone (949) 858-6100 and Fax (949) 858-6111

Islam Revival
SUFIS: THE MYSTICAL MUSLIMS (Part Three in a series on Islam from Forward magazine)
by Elliot Miller

A popular expression of Muhammads religion in the Western world today is Sufism, Islams mystical way. The current interest in Sufism can be largely explained by pointing to the same factors which account for the popularity of several diverse Eastern mystical traditions among Westerners. These factors include a hunger for lifetransforming spiritual experience, and an attraction to monistic belief systems. British orientalist Martin Lings comments: "A Vendantist, a Taoist, or a Buddhist can find in many aspects of Islamic mysticism, a home from home, such as he could less easily find in Christianity or Judaism."1 Not only is Sufism making an impact on Western shores in its own right, it has also profoundly influenced such notable founders of new religious movements as George I. Gurdjieff and Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. Also, several personalities who have made their mark outside of the field of religion acknowledge the influence of Sufism on their lives, including novelist Doris Lessing, actor James Coburn, poets Ted Hughes and Robert Graves, psychologists Erich From and Robert Ornstein, and the late Secretary-General of the United Nations Dag Hammarskjold. Sufism (Arabic Tasawwuf) is a name which probably has its origin in the wearing of undyed wool (suf) as a mark of personal penitence. The Sufis are also known as fakirs and dervishes, both words originally denoting that these were people who believed in being poor (in spirit). Sufis do not constitute a separate sect of Islam (as do, for example, the Shiites), but can be found within both the Sunni and Shia sects (although Sunnis tend to be more tolerant of them). Historically, Sufism has encompassed a wide gradation, ranging from devoutly orthodox Muslims to mystics who viewed their connection with Islam as little more than incidental. All Sufis stress the supreme importance of religious experience, and distinguish themselves among Muslims by their insistence that experience of God (who is often viewed in Islam as remote and unapproachable) can be achieved in this life.

EARLY HISTORY There are three distinct but overlapping periods in Sufi history generally recognized by historians: classical, medieval, and modern. Sufism can be traced back to a pious minority within the early Islamic fold who felt that the more austere aspects of the

Prophets teaching were being lost sight of in the midst of political expansion. Within Islams first century the Muslim leaders found themselves in possession of a vast empire, and, living off tribute money from the conquered, they "surrounded themselves with captive concubines and slaves, and lived on a scale of luxury unknown to their ancestors."2 The movement of protest against this worldliness ultimately resulted in both the legalistic and mystical schools of Islam. For early Islamic ascetics fear of eternal punishment in hell was the primary incentive to piety. Eventually however, a fervent love for God, displayed by such early Islamic saints as the woman Rabbia al-Adawiya (d. 801) became a central theme, and provided a basis for emerging Sufi mysticism. Professor E.G. Browne notes that early Sufism was characterized by ... ascetism, quietism, intimate and personal love of God, and disparagement of mere lip service or formal worship. This ascetic Sufism...if influenced at all from without, was influenced rather by Christian monasticism than by Persian, Greek or Indian ideas.3 Over two centuries after the time of Muhammad, gnostic influences began to appear in some expressions of Islamic spirituality. Junayd of Baghdad, (d. 910), a transplanted Persian, was especially instrumental in the shaping of Sufism into a pantheistic system. He wrote: "Whatever attains to True Being is absorbed into God and becomes God."4 Another Persian, al-Hallaj (d. 922), executed for blasphemy, became celebrated as a martyr among medieval Sufis, particularly Persian poets. Hallaj, who traveled extensively and developed quite a following, scandalized the orthodox with statements like "I am the Truth." Quietism, with its emphasis that God is all that matters and man is merely an instrument in His hands, provided fertile ground for the pantheistic beliefs that God is all there is, and man and the phenomenal world are merely shadows or emanations of His being.


Ghazali Likely the most important figure in the history of Sufism is al-Ghazali (d. 1111). Prior to his appearance, Sufisms success had been partial. To be sure, it had become a powerful force among the common people, as it offered a more personal and emotionally satisfying approach to religion than that exhibited and prescribed by the orthodox interpreters of the Quran. However, it had not won acceptance from the religious establishment. The theologians and legalists had gone to great pains to develop an orthodox interpretation of the faith that would protect it from heretical innovation. They perceived that the Sufis emphasis on experience as a superior source of truth, and their tendency to neglect legal prescriptions, could lead to the corruption of

Muhammads religion. They also feared that their own positions as religious leaders of the people might be supplanted by the popular Sufis. Consequently, the Ulama (religious authorities) sought, unsuccessfully, to silence the mystics. This conflict between doctrinaire legist and follower of the Inner Light was fundamental and seemed irreconcilable."5 Enter al-Ghazali. "The accepted position of Sufism, whereby it is acknowledged by many Moslem divines as the inner meaning of Islam, is a direct result of Ghazali's work."6 Al-Ghazali was orphaned at an early age, and raised by Sufis. Of Persian descent, by the age of 33 he was appointed a professor in Baghdad, where he became recognized as an authority on canon law In spite of his success, Ghazali entered a period of spiritual crisis. Concerning this he wrote in his autobiography Deliverance from Error: "I examined my motive in my work of teaching, and realized that it was not a pure desire for the things of God, but that the impulse moving me was the desire for an influential position and public recognition." 7 In 1095 Ghazali became a wandering ascetic, returning to the Sufism of his youth. He spent 11 years in meditation and retirement, until a Sultan persuaded him to teach again. In the public teachings and writings which followed his retirement, Ghazali set forth a synthesis of orthodox theology and mysticism. His greatest work The Revivification of the Religious Sciences, argues that only the Sufi emphasis on inner devotion can fulfill the strict demands of the Quran. Ghazalis arguments did much to relieve the hostility and suspicion that had developed between the Ulama and the Sufis. He has been widely regarded as Islams greatest theologian, and the acceptance of his synthesis resulted in a large measure of tolerance (though never a full acceptance) between the legalists and the mystics. The two traditions came to regard each other as having necessary roles to fulfill within the larger Islamic community. The acceptance of Sufism into the orthodox fold had monumental consequences. Islam "acquired a more popular character and a new power of attraction."8 Some historians credit Sufism for Islams success at establishing itself in points beyond the Middle East. However, once Sufism achieved orthodox status the general distinction between what was and was not lawful became blurred, and several popular ideas and practices, previously kept under restraint by the Ulama (i.e., the cult of the saints, astrology and divination), became commonplace in the Islamic world.

Arabi Another important Sufi from the same era is al-Arabi (d. 1240). Raised by a Sufi family in a Spain that had been under Islamic control for more than 400 years, Arabi studied law and Islamic theology before establishing himself as one of Sufisms greatest poets and esoteric philosophers. He created a Sufi literature which did much to promote the cause of Islamic mysticism in many cultures. While Ghazali stayed within an outwardly orthodox framework, Arabi offered a clearly monistic, gnostic system. "His commentary on the Koran is a tour de force of esoteric interpretation."9 With Arabi the emphasis on the Sufi path "was shifted from

moral self-control to metaphysical knowledge with its sequence of psychological ascent to the Perfect Man, the microcosm in whom the One is manifested to Himself."10 In his Bozels of Wisdom Arabi explains: "When you know yourself, your Iness vanishes and you know that you and God are one and the same."11 Arabis poetic usage of erotic language to signify the relationship of the soul with God set the tone for much of medieval Sufism. Poetry became a favorite medium of expression, the imagery sometimes becoming so sensuous that it is difficult to distinguish whether the "Beloved" being referred to is heavenly or earthly. For the Sufis, this made little difference, since they believed that "Whether it be this world or that/Thy love will lead thee yonder at the last!"12

Rumi The most important of the Sufi poets is Jalaluddin Rumi (d. 1273). Born to a noble family in Bactria (located in modern Afghanistan), he settled in Asia Minor (Iconium) where he taught, founded the Mevlevi Order (popularly known as the Whirling Dervishes), and wrote poetry in Persian. Rumi was as much an esotericist as Arabi. He held that the teachings of the Quran are allegorical, having seven different meanings. The description of his search for God, which he gives in the following excerpt from one of his poems, reveals his gnostic and pantheistic convictions: Cross and Christian, from end to end I surveyed, He was not on the cross. I went to the idol temple, to the ancient pogoda No trace was visible there. I bent the reins of search to the Kaaba, He is not in that resort of old and young. I gazed into my own heart; There I saw him, he was nowhere else, In the whirl of its transport my spirit was tossed, Till each atom of separate being I lost.13

THE MASTER-DISCIPLE RELATIONSHIP The master-disciple relationship is a facet of Sufism that was laid down by Ghazali, and has remained central to this day. Ghazali sets forth the reasoning behind it: The disciple [murid] must of necessity have recourse to a director [shaikh or sheikh: in Persian pir] to guide him aright. For the way of the Faith is obscure, but the Devils ways are many and patent, and he who has no shaikh to guide him will be led by the Devil into his ways. Wherefore the disciple must cling to his shaikh as a blind man on the edge of a river clings to his leader, confiding himself to him entirely, opposing him in no matter whatsoever, and binding himself to follow him absolutely. Let him know that the advantage he gains from the error of his shaikh, if he should err, is

greater than the advantage he gains from his own rightness, if he should be right. 14 Once the seeker is initiated, his shaikh subjects him to a rigorous spiritual regimen, designed to induce the desired enlightenment. The discipline can come through a variety of forms, including assigned activity (e.g., sacrificial service of the master), oral instruction (including the use of "teaching stories"), and various spiritual exercises (we shall consider examples later). The precise training that the shaikh employs will vary from disciple to disciple, according to the perceived needs of the individual.

THE SUFI ORDERS Charismatic and/or devout shaikhs (often possessing pronounced psychic powers) frequently attracted large followings. These gatherings of initiates constituted brotherhoods, or communities, growing around the residence of the shaikh. Gifts from lay supporters enabled the members of these budding monasteries to devote all of their time to spiritual concerns. Succeeding generations would highly venerate the founders of the orders as saints (their tombs becoming monastery focal points), and the successors to the headship of the orders would either be through family line, or by election. Additionally, disciples who achieved a high level of initiation would often bring their masters teachings to new areas, where they would attract disciples of their own, and found new sub-orders. In this way, from the twelfth and thirteenth centuries onward, Sufi orders spread throughout the Islamic world. The two most important Sufi orders are the Qadiri Order, founded by Abd al-Qadir (d. 1166) in Baghdad, and the Shadhili Order, whose founder, al-Shadhili (d. 1258) lived in Alexandria, Egypt. The Qadiri are known for their moderation, while the Shadhili are more given to extravagance and emotion. An important order in India is the Chishti, founded in the thirteenth century. As would be expected, it bears several marks of Hindu influence. Sufi orders differ from Roman Catholic orders in that they are not under the control of an outside authority and also in that they often do not require celibacy.15 The chief differences between the orders themselves involve variations in ritual and litany (dhikr), and also in attitude (e.g., orthodox/unorthodox; militant/tolerant). Professor AMA Shustery affirms that the current number of Sufi orders reaches above 175.16 In addition to the established orders, itinerant, independent fakirs, reminders of Sufisms less organized days, persisted throughout the medieval period, and continue down to the present day. They have been described as" holy fools, spiritual ecstatics who were also social eccentrics, openly flaunting the norms of acceptable behavior...."17 During the period spanning the sixteenth through the eighteenth centuries, the Sufis reached the height of their influence in the Islamic world. The number of Muslims affiliated with Sufi brotherhoods at that time has been estimated to have been anywhere from 50 to 80 percent of the total population.18 The Sufis were also Islams greatest missionaries during these centuries.

DISTINCTIVE SUFI BELIEFS Based on experience rather than doctrine, Sufism has always been more open to outside influence than other forms of Islam. Because it took root and developed in the centrally located Middle East, it has quite naturally absorbed ideas and practices from several of the worlds notable religious and philosophical systems. In addition to early influences from Christianity, one can find elements of Zoroastrianism, Neoplatonism, Hinduism, and other diverse traditions, around its Islamic kernel. As we proceed to examine Sufi beliefs and practices, these non-Islamic influences will be abundantly evident. In the Quran, Allah (God) is not only absolutely singular (barring the Trinity of Christian theology), he is also radically transcendentseparate from his creation. How then can anyone claiming to be a Muslim possibly hold to a pantheistic conception of God in good conscience? Martin Lings, himself a practicing Sufi, gives us an example of how such reasoning is typically carried out: It is necessary to bear in mind that each of the Names of the Divine Essence comprises in Itself, like Allah, the totality of Names and does not merely denote a particular Divine Aspect. The Names of the Essence are thus in a sense interchangeble with Allah, and one such Name is al-Haqq, Truth, Reality. We can just as well say that there is no truth but the Truth, no reality but the Reality as that there is no god but God. The meaning of all these is identical. Every Muslim is obligated to believe in theory that there is no reality but the Reality, namely God; but it is only the Sufis, and not even all those who are affiliated to Sufi orders, who are prepared to carry this formulation to its ultimate conclusion. The doctrine which is based on that conclusion is termed "Oneness of Being," for Reality is that which is opposed to that which is not; and if God alone is Real, God alone is, and there is no being but His being. 19 As do all pantheists, Sufis run into a morass when they attempt to resolve the problem of evil. In their effort to reconcile the existence of evil with belief that God is all there is, they end up associating evil with the process of creation. E.G. Browne illustrates: A thing can only be known through its oppositeLight by Darkness, Good by Evil, Health by Sickness, and so on.... Thus Eternal Beauty manifests itself, as it were, by a sort of self-negation; and what we call "Evil" is a necessary consequence of this manifestation, so that the Mystery of Evil is really identical with the Mystery of Creation, and inseparable therefrom. But Evil must not be regarded as a separate and independent entity: just as Darkness is the mere negation of Light, so Evil is merely the Not-Good, or, in other words, the Non-Existent. All Phenomenal Being, on the other hand, necessarily contains some elements of Good, just as the scattered rays of the pure, dazzling white light which has passed through the prism are still light, their light more or less "coloured" and weakened. It is from this fall from the "World of Colourlessness" that all the strife and conflict apparent in this world originate.20 Corresponding to their pantheistic denial of actual evil, the Sufis affirm the inherent goodness of man. The human soul is the microcosm of the Universal Macrocosm (God), related to God as rays are to the sun. It is restless because of its unnatural

relation with matter and seeks union with its origin.... Its weakness is in its being tempted by the wrong notion of its being material."21 With such a gnostic-like definition of mans problem (the spirits false identification with matter), we might appropriately expect a gnostic solution, and this is precisely what we find. Commenting on the most standard Sufi text, the Gifts of the (Deep) Knowledge, by Shaikh Suhrawardi (d. 1235), Idries Shah affirms: "By divine illumination man sees the world to be illusion."22 Browne adds: Evil is, as we have seen, illusion; its cure is to get rid of the ignorance which causes us to take the Phantoms of the world of Sense for Realities. All sinful desire, all sorrow and pain, have their root in the idea of Self, and Self is an illusion.23 To the above summary of Sufi doctrines we can add belief in both the preexistence of the soul, and the souls survival of physical death. Unlike Indian mystical systems, this is not generally viewed in terms of reincarnation. The souls sojourn on earth is one stage in a long progression through various worlds of existence. Sufis believe that their homeland is beyond the stars, and to there they will ultimately return. For their time here on earth they purposefully submitted themselves to a state of forgetfulness, although one of the aims of Sufi discipline is to awaken from this sleep. At various. points in the souls evolutionary journey it may take on the nature of an angel, a jinn, a human, a Master, etc.

DISCIPLINE, PIETY, AND MYSTICISM Sufis have done their best to make a science of the subjective. They have developed perhaps the most systematic, charted, and regulated progression into the mystical there is. For the serious seeker of mystical experience this aspect of Sufism is appealing, for it conveys the impression of a venerable tradition that can be trusted to produce authentic spiritual knowledge. Believing in the perfectiblity of man, the Sufi way is very much concerned with the perfecting of the individual disciple. This endeavor is known as work (those familiar with Gurdjieff will recognize his debt to Sufism here). The work is prescribed by the Shaikh, performed by the Sufi, in the context of the community. It aims to break the hold of conditioned patterns of behavior which inhibit the desired spiritual awakening. Most Sufi orders consider the first work of the disciple to be the observance of traditional Islamic piety: to perform the "five pillars." The Sufis exceptional spiritual hunger, however, will characteristically drive them to go far beyond the prescribed observations. For example, in addition to observing the nightly fasts required during the month of Ramadan, Sufis frequently engage in voluntary fasts. The use of dance for spiritual purposes has become one of the most distinctive characteristics of Sufism, though not all of the orders observe it. According to Martin Lings, many Sufis are under the conviction that "the body stands for the Axis of the Universe which is none other than the Tree of Life. The dance is thus a rite of centralisation... intended above all to plunge the dancer into a state of concentration

upon Allah."24 Meditation is an essential part of the Sufis work at self-perfection. Repetition of a dhikr or sacred formula (e.g., the name of Allah) is often combined with breathing exercises to induce altered states of consciousness. As the natural (and, from the Christian perspective, God-given) mental barriers to psychic intrusion are broken down, and a link is established to the spirit world, the Sufi may see visions, hear the voices of angels and prophets, and gain from them guidance.... It is a condition of joy and longing. And when this condition seizes on the "seeker," he falls into ecstasy. The dervishes in the monasteries may be seen working themselves up into a condition of "ecstasy."25 Such spectacles will not be viewed in the same favorable light by all observers. John Alden Williams points out that the observer may encounter things which seem to belong in a case book of abnormal psychology, or witness what looks remarkably like demonic possession. But unless he is wholly unsympathetic, he may find also in these sweating ecstatics examples of pure and devoted attendance upon the Holy.26

SUFISM IN THE MODERN ERA By the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries Islam had accumulated an amazing diversity of religious ideas and customs; several of them quite extraneous to the faith Muhammad had long before bequeathed to his followers. As we saw earlier, the acceptance of Sufism into the orthodox fold had no small part to play in this discoloration of the faith. Accompanying this proliferation of peculiar beliefs and practices was a multiplication of bizarre ecstatics within the Sufi orders: "With the passing of time and the social decline of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, almost every pervert entered a Sufi order, and almost every madman was accounted a saint."27 Eastern historian S. Ameer Ali points out another aspect of Sufism which contributed to the decline of Islamic civilization: To the bulk of humanity the call to abjure the world and to betake ourselves to complete absorption in the contemplation of the Divinity is an inducement to mental lethargy. The responsibility for the present decadence of the Moslem nations must be shared by the formalism of the Ash'ri [orthodox theologian] and the quietism of the Sufi Mystical teachings like the following: the man who looks on the beggars bowl as a kingly crown And the present world as a fleeting bubble He alone traverseth the ocean of Truth

Who looks upon life as a fairy tale can have but one result--intellectual paralysis.28 In eighteenth century Arabia, a puritanical revivalist movement known as Wahhabiya arose which has done much to turn contemporary Muslim sentiment against the Sufis. For reasons such as those mentioned above, the Sufis were blamed, not only for the pollution of the historic faith, but for the weakened political position of Islamic nations, as contrasted with expanding European imperialism. In the twentieth century Sufism has lost the political influence it once enjoyed, and, in Wahhabi-ruled Saudi Arabia, it is officially prohibited. While still tolerated in other Muslim countries, Sufism generally in the Muslim world is hard-pressed because of a resurgence of Islamic fundamentalism and according to some sources, because of the activity of bogus sheikhs and Sufi orders."29 Certainly, Sufism has known better days in its native lands. However, "for the last forty years the direct and indirect influence of the East has prepared the ground in the West for the seed of the Sufi message."30 Idries Shah, the "Grand Sheikh of the Sufis," whose family has reputedly reigned in Indias Hindu khoosh since 1221, has devoted his life to demonstrating the applicability of Sufi ideas and practices to today's life in the West. "He has achieved the difficult task of being accepted by the Western scholars as well as by those of the East."31 In 1916 the Sufi Order in the West was founded in London by another important Indian Sufi, Hazrat Inayat Khan. His Chishti Order master sent him to the West specifically to spread the Sufi message. Khan died in 1927, but his son, Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan, has succeeded at establishing 88 centers in America and 166 worldwide. Pir Vilayat, who turns 70 this year, is a frequent, highly respected speaker on the New Age circuit. In spite of its popular acceptance, the Sufi Order is looked upon with disapproval by Shah and other more traditional Sufis. This is because, in keeping with its selfdetermined mission to promote unity among all religions, the Sufi Order does not insist that its members identify with the Islamic faith. It has been rightly described as "one of the most thoroughgoing syncretistic movements in history."32

A CHRISTIAN APPRAISAL The emergence of Sufism in Islam, its historic popularity and its long-term negative effects upon that religion, could all have been predicted beforehand by an informed, perceptive Christian. The reasons for this will become evident as we proceed. First of all, this Christian observer of world religions would have recognized from history that there have really only been two paths traveled by human beings to the realms of spiritual experience. The first could be described as "natural spirituality," not because there is nothing supernatural about it, but because it is generally accessed by very natural, methodical means (e.g.; meditation, chanting, or ecstatic dancing). The second might be characterized as "supernatural" or "revelation" spirituality, for it is not entered upon by natural methods of altering the consciousness, but opens up to all who respond in faith and obedience to the revelation found in Jesus Christ and the

Bible. To simplify matters, I shall summon the imagery Jesus employed in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 7:13-14) and refer to the first path as the "Broad Way," and to the second as the "Narrow Way." Those on the Broad Way usually assume that what is natural is also right: that the way we humans are now is essentially how we were originally intended to be. Therefore, to be "spiritual" all we have to do indeed, what we must do is develop our own inherent spiritual potential. As this "natural spirituality" is cultivated, certain phenomena typically follow, including psychic powers, contacts with spirit entities, and ecstatic or mystical experiences. Being universally accessible, the Broad Way appears, in some form, in virtually all religious traditions. The very universality of these experiences convinces the advocates of mysticism that it is the one true religion of mankind, and the various religious traditions are merely the cultural packages which contain it. Since monism and pantheism are philosophical by-products of the mystical sense of oneness with all things, the proponents of natural spirituality also conclude that these world views, coming so naturally, must be the correct ones. Consequently, they often attempt to show that monism and pantheism lie at the esoteric heart of all the worlds religions. This thesis is challenged and ultimately destroyed, however, by the historic reality of the Narrow Way (a reality which often escapes the notice of these "natural men" see I Cor. 2:14). In it, careful investigation will uncover a rich tradition of spiritual experience fundamentally different from that of the Broad Way. This tradition is centered in the redemptive activities of the one God who made a covenant of promise with Abraham, gave His law to Moses, spoke to His people through the prophets, and personally fulfilled these promises, laws and prophecies in the man Christ Jesus. On the basis of information that would have been unavailable had God not historically acted to reveal it, followers of the Narrow Way understand that mans natural state is fallenhe is not now as he was originally created to be. Thus the only spiritual realm that he can contact by natural means is likewise fallenand extremely dangerous. To "see the Kingdom of God" he needs a new nature; he "must be born again," supernaturally, by the regenerating work of Gods Holy Spirit (John 3:3-8). As the believer passes through the narrow door of Jesus Christ (John 10:7-9) an incomprehensibly vast realm of spiritual experience opens up to him. It is the kingdom of the infinite-personal God of revelation, and it is distinctively "not of this world" (John 18:36)including that kind of spirituality which comes natural to this world. The Narrow Way can lead to very profound encounters with the presence and glory of God. However, no matter how far one advances along it, he never experiences his "Iness" vanishing, nor is he drawn toward belief in the oneness or divinity of all things. God is experienced as distinct from His creation, though omnipresent and intimately involved with it. God is also revealed as both awesomely righteous and holy, unwilling to tolerate or overlook sin, and yet also as infinitely loving and merciful, unconditionally forgiving and accepting those who come to Him through Jesus, the

sin-bearer. In contrast to the autosotericism or self-purification which typifies the mystical traditions, the dynamic force behind this supernatural spirituality is the activity of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer, convicting him of sin, teaching, comforting, and progressively conforming him into the image of Jesus Christ. This work of the Holy Spirit and the teachings of the scriptures perfectly complement each other, pointing to the same truths, which are focused in Jesus. In addition to identifying these two distinct varieties of spiritual experience, our Christian observer would also have recognized that there would be no authentic theism had there been no authentic divine revelation. Indeed, any student of mans religions should acknowledge that truly theistic world views can only be found in the "revealed" religions (i.e., religions that claim to be based on truths directly disclosed by God at particular points in history). The Christian can (and I believe should) argue from this fact that the theistic world view is too exalted to have been conceived by unaided human reasonit had to be revealed.33 Islam is the only fully theistic religion apart from the Judeo-Christian tradition. Whereas the New Testament fulfills the Old Testament, the Quran contradicts both Old and New Testaments, as we saw in Part Two. Therefore, the Christian maintains that Islam is theistic, not because of any direct revelation granted to Muhummad, but because he borrowed heavily from biblical sources. Nonetheless, Islamic culture stood to gain certain benefits from its borrowed theism, unavailable to pagan cultures. Not the least of these was an absolute basis, in a moral, transcendent God, for defining good and evil; resulting in a firm, comparatively lofty moral structure to uphold society. As a theistic religion, however, Islam is incapable of delivering a vital spiritual experience. This is because, on the one hand, the Broad Way, which generates pantheism, is inherently incompatible with theism. On the other hand, that which is compatible with theism, the Narrow Way has its origin in the revelation of God. To participate in this supernatural spirituality, one must remain in harmony with true revelation. The work of the Holy Spirit is to glorify Jesus Christ (John 16:14). Therefore, theists like the Muslims who resist His work turn aside from the Narrow Way. In other words, the Narrow Way is so narrow that it can only be entered through the grace of Jesus Christ (John 14:6; Acts 4:12; 15:11). Those who deny that grace and seek instead to win entrance into Gods presence through good works will find themselves haunted by a spiritual void and a lack of assurance concerning their personal salvation. Since theism originated in revelation, a theism in conflict with revelation is doomed to spiritual impotence. Bereft from beginning to end (by rejection of the gospel) of any participation in the ministry of the Holy Spirit, the Islamic tradition was left with only one recourse for filling this spiritual void: common occult mysticismthe Broad Way. This explains the rise and popularity, not only of Sufism in Islam, but also of similar

mystical movements in other theistic traditions which either deny or largely ignore the gospel of grace.34 Each of these movements, hungering for something more than a dead, legalistic externalism, has fed on that spirituality which is available to all men. As a direct result, in each case the monotheism which originally upheld them degenerates into pantheism, and pantheism predictably opens the door to a wide range of pagan beliefs and activities. Only conservative Protestantism, which on the whole has faithfully emphasized the cross of Christ and personal salvation, has remained almost impenetrable to the inroads of the Broad Way. The reason for this is clear: a personal relationship with Jesus Christ leaves no spiritual void.35 In the context of Islams rejection of the Christian gospel, then, the rise of a mystical movement like Sufism was quite predictable. But mysticism is a dead endas our previous consideration of Islamic history has indicated. Nowhere is the bankruptcy of mysticism more evident than when mystics address ethical issues, such as the problem of human evil or sin. Owing to Islams Jewish and Christian influences, an emphasis on morality runs through Sufism that cannot be found in such purely pagan mystical traditions as Hindu Vedanta or Tibetan Buddhism. However, Sufis are unable to come up with a satisfying, sustaining basis for ethics out of their monistic, pantheistic world view. As we saw earlier with E.G. Browne, "Evil is merely the Not-Good, or, in other words, the Non-Existent." Thus we find that the seemingly endless array of evils which stalk human history, mock mankinds potential for greatness, steal hope away from the human heart, and tempt a man to sell his soul in a moment of darkness, are all casually written off as unreal "colourings," necessary "self-negations" of Beautyin-manifestation. Such shallow explanations of something as existentially profound as human evil fail to possess the sensitized conscience. Why should we commit our lives to resisting evil if in fact it is necessary, and, finally, unreal? The Sufis understanding of human sinfulness is painfully deficient. Ultimately, the true nature of mans dilemma was lost sight of amid the rapture of intoxicating mystical experience. This blindness can be discerned in Nasrollah Fatemis affirmation that Spiritual perfection leads to the gnosis of the divine unity and the bridging of the gap between God and man when the latters soul transcends the confines of personality by losing the conditioned self in the intuition of the one." 36 Such talk of attaining spiritual perfection (typically mystic) is self-delusion (see 1 John 1:8), resulting from a bankruptcy of authentic "gnosis" (i.e., self-knowledge). The unpleasant but necessary truth was pointedly stated by the prophet Jeremiah: "The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick: who can understand it?" (Jer. 17:9). Man is stricken with a moral sickness that runs to the depth of his being, defiling even his most sincere efforts to apprehend God (Isa. 64:6; Rom. 3:9-19; 7:21). The "gap between God and man" is the result of very real transgressions of the divine law (Isa. 59:1-2). The Bible, then, defines sin in moral and legal terms (1 John 5:17; 3:4), not as

ignorance of a "divine unity" which in fact does not exist (the world and/or the human self are not a part of GodPs. 113:4-6; Rom. 1:18-25; Ezek. 28:2). Therefore, subjectively man needs to be healed by a force external to himself, while objectively he needs to have his sins forgiven. Both of these are available only in the new covenant made by God Himself in Christs blood (Jer. 31:33-34; cf. 1 Cor. 11:25). If the Sufi trusts so strongly in his subjective intuition of the one" that he does not sense his desperate need to take advantage of Gods merciful provision in Christ, he has not begun to attain useful knowledge. "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge" (Prov. 1:7), and such a one needs a healthy dose of it. Historically the Sufis have always been caught in a bind. It is clear that most of them have desired to be true to the one God of revelationthe God of Abraham, whom Muslims claim to worship. At the same time, their earnest quest for an experience of that God has led them into the realm of pagan spirituality. They need to be shown that the only way to what they have sought for is the Narrow Way. They must face the realities of their own creaturehood and sinfulness, and the acceptance of Jesus Christ which these realities demand. Then they will know an inner fulfillment, peace and joy that neither Islam nor mysticism could ever provide (John 7:37-39; 10:10; 14:27; 17:13).

NOTES Man, Myth, and MagicAn Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Supernatural, s.v. "Sufis," by Martin Lings. 2 John Alden Williams, ed., Islam (New York: George Braziller, 1962), 123. 3 E.G. Browne, "The Sufi Mysticism: Iran, Arabia and Central Asia," In The Suit Mystery, ed. N.P. Archer (London: The Octagon Press, 1980), 175. 4 Ibid, 175. 5 H.A.R. Gibb, Mohammedanism, 2d ed. (New York: Mentor; 1953), 106. 6 Idries Shah, The Sufis (Garden City, NY: Anchor Books, 1964), 167. 7 Williams, 183. 8 Gibb, 110. 9 Ibid., 115. 10 Ibid. 11 Williams. 141. 12 Nasrollah S. Fatemi, "A Message and Method of Love, Harmony, and Brotherhood," in Sufi Studies: East and West, ed. L.F. Rushbrook Williams (New York: E.P. Dutton & Co., 1973),51. 13 Ibid., 70. 14 Gibb, 116-17. 15 Man, Myth and Magic. 16 A.M.A. Shushtery, "Philosophy, Training, Orders and Ethics," in Sufi Mystery, 71. 17 Abingdon Dictionary of Living Religions, s.v. "Sufism," by Bruce B. Lawrence. 18 Abingdon. 19 Martin Lings, What is Sufism? (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1975), 64-65. 20 Browne, 187. 21 Shustery, 70.

Shah, 297. Browne, 88-89. 24 Lings, 84-85. 25 S. Ameer Ali, "The Mystical and Idealistic Spirit in the Islamic Expression," in Sufi Mystery, 210-11. 26 John Alden Williams, 155-56. 27 Ibid., 177-78. 28 Ali, 208. 29 John Dart, "Islamic Sufis Blend Dance, Poetry," Los Angeles Times, 21 Mar. 1981, part I-A. 30 From an untitled brochure published by The Sufi Order in the West. 31 F.X. OHalloran, "A Catholic Among the Sufis," in Sufi Mystery, 26. 32 Eddie Noonan, "A Random Sampling," Update 5 (Aug. 1981): 16. 33 "By saying this I do not mean to imply that there is no evidence in nature for a transcendent, holy God. Rather, human depravity characteristically gravitates toward lower, baser concepts of the divine, and this has resulted in a pervasive intellectual blindness (see, e.g., Rom. 1:18-32). 34 For examples, in Judaism we find such mystical traditions as the Cabala (a Gnosticlike theosophy formulated in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries) and the Hasidim (a movement founded in eighteenth century Europe), both of which are enjoying a tremendous revival today under the name "New Age Judaism." In Roman Catholicism many of the medieval mystics and mystical movements appear to have been mystics indeedin the Broad Way sense. These include the Brethren of the Common Life, Meister Eckhart, St. Teresa of Avila, and St. John of the Cross. Today, twentieth century mystics such as Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and Thomas Merton enjoy large followings. Additionally it should be pointed out that the New Age movement has made extensive inroads into both Roman Catholicism and liberal Protestantism. 35 This fact can be documented by a literally endless supply of personal testimonies (see, e.g., Escape from Darkness, comp. James R. Adair and Ted Miller, Victor Books). On the other hand, the claim that mysticism is spiritually satisfying is open to challenge. Many who have experienced both natural spirituality and supernatural spirituality (including this writer) agree that while mystical experiences can be extremely stimulating and pleasurable, over the long term they do not so much fill ones spiritual void as numb his capacity to feel it. In other words, the Broad Ways answer to the fears, loneliness and other pains and longings of personal existence is depersonalization. The Narrow Way, on the other hand, affirms and fulfills personal existence. It does so, first by showing that the Ultimate Reality is personal, and second, by granting a meaningful relationship with that infinite Person. 36 Fatemi, 71.


autosotericism: Belief in and pursuit of salvation by self-effort. gnosis: Knowledge. Commonly used with reference to an intuitive knowledge wherein the seeker is believed to discover his true, divine identity. Belief in and pursuit of unification with ultimate reality through trained intuition or mystical experiences. "An experience is not held to be mystical if the divine power is apprehended as simply 'over-against' one - wholly distinct and 'other.' There must be a unifying vision, a sense that somehow all things are one and share a holy, divine, and single life, or that one's individual being merges into a Universal Self, to be identified with God or the mystical One." (The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, s.v. "Mysticism, Nature, and Assessment of," by Ronald W. Hepburn.) Belief that everything that exists is one, partaking of the same essence and reality. "All is God" - belief that God and the world are ultimately identical. Belief in and practice of passive contemplation on God as man's highest attainment. It has appeared historically in Christianity as well as Islam. Belief in one personal creator who is independent from, and sovereign over, the world.


monism: pantheism:



This article first appeared in the Spring-Summer 1986 issue of the Forward magazine (which became the Christian Research Journal).
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