This month I am particularly writing to those of you who, as friends among our readers, are of the Islamic faith. If we are to believe recent statistics, you are now among ten million Muslims here in the United States, and among close to one billion Muslims worldwide--nearly one of every five persons on this planet! Your faith is obviously very popular. It is growing quickly in this country. Many more mosques are being built every year. And even here in Maine I have noted and read of your increased presence. An enlightening article and photo of a very beautiful Moslem family appeared in our local paper some time ago. Mahmoud El-Begearmi, having grown up in Egypt, now holds a doctorate in nutritional science and is employed by the University of Maine. The Begearmis live in Bangor --not far from our own home. During the time of the 1991 Gulf War some of us Americans received a crash course in Islam. We could easily see the high degree of your dedication and surrender (the very meaning of the word Islam) to Allah. The fervor with which you hold to your five Articles of Faith and the way in which you follow your five Pillars of Faith is very remarkable. But a great deal of misunderstanding probably remains. In the article referred to above, Dr. El-Begearmi is quoted as saying, "It is a misfortune that people in this country don't have a better understanding of Islam. It's very important that people in the United States know about Islam." That may also be true in reverse. For instance, it may be hard for you to comprehend that God would ever reveal Himself personally to mere humanity. But Christian believers have come to know that God is personal as well as infinite, both transcendent and intimate in His relationship with those who receive Him by faith. The Bible (in Hebrews 1:1-3, KJV) says, "God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high:" I know that you believe Jesus was one of the greatest of the 25 or so prophets mentioned in the Koran. But I sincerely wish that I could introduce you to Jesus as I have come to know Him. You see, He lives today. I am convinced that He lives in my life. He is personal and real to me. He is warm and gracious and merciful. He is just and true, but He is also full of compassion and love. Jesus as I have come to know Him reflects all of the attributes of God ...because He is God. At first, that may also seem to be an almost impossible paradox to you. But the Bible (al-Kitab) does say that God actually became incarnate in the Person of Jesus. You may regard many of the Christian Scriptures to have become corrupt over time. You may believe that only the Qur'an has truly been preserved free of error. Yet the Qur'an itself in Sura 6:115, Cattle, says: "...none can change His Word. / For He is the one Who / Heareth and knoweth all," In Arabic: To say that God's Word has been changed or corrupted is really to call God a liar, is it not? But the Taurat, the Injil, and the Qur'an all make it clear that God would never lie (see Numbers 23:19, Psalm 119:160, Matthew 5:18). I welcome your response to this paper. Or if you would be interested in further material about Islam and Christianity, I would recommend that you write to: Dr. Ed Joseph, Fellowship of Isa (Jesus), 4601 Excelsior Boulevard, Suite 301, Minneapolis MN 55416. He has wisdom in these matters, and he would be most helpful in his response.
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