The Nature of Islam

The largest manhunt in history is underway. President Bush, in an unprecedented action, gave the order to kill Osama bin Laden. Meantime, the Muslim world (meaning in this case the almost entirely Islamic nations of the Middle East) seeks to strike a balance with UN, NATO and U.S. pressure and their own restive populations. Riots in Pakistan and elsewhere bespeak more complicated issues than reported in the news and official government statements. Contradictions and ignorance abound in information that attempts to delve into Islamic thinking and beliefs.

What drives the hatred of America and the West among many Muslims in the Middle East? Is it the simple effect of a madman and his horde of followers on the radical fringes of a peaceful religion, as the mainstream media and American Muslim community seem to portray? Or is jihad (Holy War) part and parcel of a religion that views the world as split into two camps: Muslims and infidels? What sense can be made of seemingly contradictory Qur'anic texts (some found herein)? Some point to a side of Islam being downplayed and at times misrepresented--that of a holy book commanding destruction of non-Muslims who don't convert, while other passages speak of respecting the "people of the Book" (Jews and Christians). Muslim apologists and everyday adherents continually invoke the meaning of the term Islam,"peace," as implied proof of its abhorrence of terrorist tactics like those used on September 11. But what kind of peace?

This collection includes articles by authors who have lived and worked within Muslim cultures (in fact, Muslims do not see a separation, as do many Westerners, between religious, civic and other areas of life). Some of the contributors were Muslims themselves. We do not seek to disparage Islam, but only to portray a balanced picture in a confusing mass of sometimes contradictory ideas. Get a broader picture of this important religion and compare it to biblical Christianity in our Special Focus.

—Byron Barlowe, Editor/Webmaster, Leadership University

Feature Articles:

What Is Islam?
Rick Rood
The history, current status, basic beliefs and practices of Islam are surveyed. Also, a Christian response to Islam is offered.
[Spanish Version]

Islam Partially Perceived
Bernard Lewis
Lewis reviews "The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern Islamic World" (4 vols.) which is edited by Joseph Esposito.

Personal Pages at World Religions Index
The personal testimonies of Muslims (along with those of other traditions) who changed to faith in Christ. Features men and women from many lands, from Pakistan to Palestine.

Ministering to Muslims
Charles D. Egal
The author has been serving as a missionary in a Muslim country. He has attempted to apply the principles in this article and has found them to be helpful.
[Spanish Version]

Terrorism and Islam
Professor Otto Helwig
Dr. Helweg, who studied Islam, classical Arabic, and the Middle Eastern culture while living in the Middle East for more than a decade, writes a straightforward article regarding the mindset of Muslims, particularly the terrorists among them. First, he describes the sharp differences in the worldview and culture of the West and Middle East, then briefly explains the effect that the Qur'an and other sacred writings have on radical Muslims. He disputes the characterization of Islam as a peaceful religion and concludes that attempts to stamp out the evil of terrorism are naive.

Bloody Borders: Islam Hijacked?
Charles Colson
Although politically expedient and "correct," the popular cast given to Islam in the Western press and culture as a hijacked religion of peace defies the true nature of much of its teaching. It also belies the reality of the current brutal persecution in the Muslim world.

Questions About Islam
Sam Schlorff
"Can you explain for me the Mindset of the Islamic Terrorist?" Correspondence answered by Sam Schlorff, Arab World Ministries

The Western Mind of Radical Islam
Daniel Pipes
Pipes digs into the philosophy and practices of "Islamists"--modern-day radical Muslims whose version of Islam tosses out a millennium 1,300 years of interpretation of law and the Koran. They are thoroughly modern and Westernized, but seek to recreate the days of Mohammed. [Editor's note: References to "the World Trade Center bombing" refer to the 1993 terrorist attack. This article was written before September 11, 2001.]

Related Article:

Learning About God
Rick Wade
We need to know about God in order to truly know Him. Muslims do not believe that He is personally knowable, but the Bible explicitly claims that He can be known by individuals. This essay explores the subjects of revelation, the trinity (strenuously denied by Islam), God's sovereignty, and idolatry.

A Telling Exchange Regarding Muslim-Christian Dialogue:

The Approaching Century of Religion
"The Public Square," First Things, October 1997
Richard John Neuhaus
Keying off Bat Ye'or's, The Decline of Eastern Christianity Under Islam: From Jihad to Dhimmitude, Neuhaus challenges the notion of Islamic tolerance so often invoked in discussions with and about Muslims. Jihad ("holy war") and slavery are centuries-old features of some Islamic peoples, along with doses of rape, pillage and other atrocities. Much of so-called Islamic culture, according to Ye'or, was actually preserved by those under conquest of Muslims. He wraps up by contrasting the prospects for Islam and Christianity in a postmodern world.

Islam and Religious Dialogue
Correspondence, First Things, January 1998
Toby E. Huff
A sharp critique of one major point of Richard John Neuhaus' commentary in the journal First Things, in which he drew from a book by Bat Ye'or, The Decline of Eastern Christianity Under Islam: From Jihad to Dhimmitude. Contrary to the conclusions of Ye'or and Neuhaus, Huff cites evidence that Muslim culture, law and science was quite advanced and did not simply borrowed from the West.

Islamic Encounters
"The Public Square," First Things Journal, February 1998
Richard John Neuhaus
Neuhaus' reply to critics of his review of The Decline of Eastern Christianity Under Islam: From Jihad to Dhimmitude, by Bat Ye'or. His review/essay spawned a global response, chiefly from members of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which generated an "Internet alert" in response. Neuhaus calls for what he sees as a difficult but necessary dialogue between Islam and Christianity--one dissimilar to the tactics of CAIR. He writes, "We can help by not equating Islam with the evil done in the name of Islam, while, at the same time, not letting an 'ideal' Islam obscure the Islam of historical and contemporary fact."

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