Introduction to Islam (4)

A Moslem’s Faith

The Five Pillars of Islam

According to a Hadith, Mohammed declared that Islam reposes on five pillars which represent the requirements imposed on every Moslem. These are :

1. The Profession of Faith

This is the declaration pronounced by every Moslem and by any non-Moslem converting to Islam. Loosely translated it can be rendered: “There is no other god but Allah and Mohammed is his prophet.” The flag of Saudi Arabia has for its emblem this declaration in white Arabic script on a green background. Any individual who pronounces this profession of faith in the presence of any Moslem religious authority has taken an irreversible step. He is eternally a Moslem and to change his mind, say only five minutes later, renders him an apostate under sentence of death.

2. Prayers

Most readers are accustomed to scenes of Moslems kneeling in long rows performing prayer rituals. This of course is in a collective way and usually in the mosques each Friday at noon. But individually, every Moslem is required to pray five times a day. The Moslem will lay a mat on the floor, remove his footwear and accomplish the different gestures which accompany his ritual prayers, all in the direction of Mecca.

3. Almsgiving

The giving of alms in Islam is more than generosity to the poor. Islamic law prescribes the giving much in the same way as the tithes of the Old Testament. It is an expression of solidarity with those in need and has been described as a “social tax.” These alms are destined to those in need and particularly in relation to those suffering because of their Islamic faith. It is not unusual to see a rich business man discreetly giving money to a lame beggar in a busy street as he passes by. In this way he accomplishes a religious duty and it is an integral part of his faith.

4. The Fast of Ramadan

Throughout the world, one of the characteristic features of Islam is the month-long fast of Ramadan, in the ninth lunar month of the Moslem calendar. This fast lasts 29 or 30 days. Thus, every year Ramadan regresses something like ten days so that in 2005 it commenced the 6th of October but in 2006 it will start about the 26th September.

During this period, from sunrise to sunset the Moslem must neither eat nor drink. Any infraction of this law is severely punished. In Morocco, one of the most moderate of Moslem lands, a Moslem seen eating during the day in the period of Ramadan is sentenced to three months in prison. The observance of this law creates a sentiment of solidarity amongst Moslems and each evening, at the end of the fast, there are joyous meals in each home lasting till late into the night.

The consequences of this fast are far reaching. Having spent the night in feasting, the Moslem is not always in a condition of maximum efficiency during the day of fasting, especially in the summer months when the fast commences in the early hours of the morning lasting till late in the evening. Economists consider that Ramadan constitutes a full month of loss to the economy of any Moslem country.

Advice to those envisaging a visit to a Moslem country during the month of Ramadan – don’t go. During the day you will find nothing to eat and as the month progresses people are increasingly irritable.

5. The Pilgrimage to Mecca (the Hajj)

In his lifetime, every Moslem is required to make the pilgrimage to Mecca. Once there he will perform the numerous rituals which will take him from Mecca to Arafat and then to Medina (250 miles north of Mecca). On his return to his home country he will wear the title of Hajj and enjoy the respect of other Moslems.

He will encounter others from other countries who have made considerable sacrifices to be able to perform the pilgrimage. The sight of tens of thousands of Moslems, from a multitude of Moslem lands, walking around the Ka’ba in the heart of Mecca chanting the various prayers imposed by Mohammed will confirm him in his conviction that Islam is the true religion come from God.

The Jihad, the Holy War

Moderate Islamic theologians insist that the word Jihad means a peaceful struggle to overcome sin. In recent times this theory has been taken up by Western leaders, more concerned with diplomatic harmony than divine truth; actually, though, when the Koran speaks of the Jihad, it is not talking about metaphorical battles or about moral crusades but almost exclusively of wars conducted with swords and spears.

At the outset, Mohammed waged war against infidels and against apostates. His Jihad was motivated by religious considerations and his followers perpetuated the principles preached and practiced by Mohammed. Most contemporary Moslem theologians explain that the Jihad is directed in two ways, offensively and defensively: offensively in propagating Islam as took place in the early years of Islam and then defensively when Islam is threatened by infidels.

The present political context leaves us in no doubt that Jihad is the motivating force behind nearly all terrorist activity in our day. Throughout the world, fanatical Islamic preachers stir up the emotions of young Moslems with scant regard to the disastrous consequences when their hearers, fired by the notion of a divine vocation and assured of a place in a paradise reserved for martyrs, conceive and perpetuate fearful attacks, killing and maiming countless individuals, all in the name of Allah. This is the fruit of Islam and of its founder.

The holy war is the pretext invoked by every militant defender of Islam. Anything that does not conform and submit to the exigencies of the Koran and Mohammed constitutes a legitimate target for destruction and murder.

On this score, Moslems have frequently raised with me the fact of the Crusades of the Middle Ages. In their eyes these crusades were Christian “Jihads” and in character no different from the Islamic holy wars.

Now it must be understood that the popes who launched the crusades had no theological interest in the errors of Islam. The popes were not Christians and their motives were those of political and territorial domination and the expansion of their rule in the world. Crusades were launched against any dissidents as can be seen by the crusades against the Cathars of Languedoc in the south of France in the 12th century and against the Baltic states in the 14th century. Had Jerusalem been occupied by Genghis Khan and his Mongol hordes, the ambitions of the Papacy would have been just the same. No pope ever sought to justify the crusades by consulting the teachings of the Lord Jesus and without exaggeration we can say that the popes of the Middle Ages were a succession of antichrists (1 John 2:18) and the very antithesis of the person and the teachings of the Savior that they arrogantly claimed to represent.

The Sharia

The Shariais the legal constitution of Islam, the law which governs the life of every Moslem. Drawn from the Koran and from the Sunna, the Sharia legislates in every aspect of life of the Moslem. The question may be asked: Who determines the legislative rulings of the Sharia? In each country Moslem jurists set out the requirements of the Islamic law. Much is determined by the degree of penetration of Islam in the country in question. Thus in certain states of the Persian Gulf including Saudi Arabia, the thief will have his hand cut off as Mohammed ordered whereas, in more moderate countries, the penalty would be a fine or imprisonment. In general, Moslem fundamentalists would seek to apply the Sharia in all its rigor in every country of the world.

The Shariais particularly harsh in its legislation concerning the place of the woman. In the law courts, in the domestic sphere, and public life, the Sharia virtually reduces the woman to that of an object at man’s disposal deprived of many fundamental rights. Moslem historians protest that Mohammed considerably improved the lot of the woman when compared with pre-Islamic conditions in Arabia. This may well be true but in no way justifies the treatment inflicted on the Moslem woman in Islamic society. While many Moslem women are frustrated by the misogynistic attitude that prevails in Islamic society, there are those that feel protected by their veils and display a modesty that puts to shame the immodesty prevalent in the Western world. The Christian should refrain from making any comments on this subject in conversations with Moslems.

Islam and the Person of Christ

Islam is totally opposed to the Biblical teaching concerning the Lord Jesus Christ. The Koran states that He is neither God nor the Son of God. Moslems emphatically declare that this is blasphemous teaching, what they term the sin of association, that of seeking to associate some other person with the person of God. Thus Islam teaches that those who believe that the Lord Jesus is the only begotten Son of God must be punished. The same is true concerning His death on the cross. The Koran affirms that He did not die, suggesting that the Lord either fainted or else that another died in His place. For such men, the language of Paul is incomprehensible and even blasphemous: “The Son of God Who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Gal 2:20).

The Christian cannot yield up one iota of these precious truths; they are not open to discussion. The teaching of Mohammed in the Koran is an affront to the Godhead. In a few words he would dismiss vital Biblical truths set forth in numerous prophecies and unequivocal declarations throughout the Holy Scriptures. The sententious statements of the Koran cannot disguise the ignorance and unashamed scorn of Mohammed for the blessed truths of the gospel.

In conclusion, Islam is founded on the life and the teaching of Mohammed, (there is no other source) and the place accorded to him by Moslems is nothing short of idolatrous. The whole edifice of Islam reposes on what he said and what he did and on no other person. The Moslem will argue and advance what Islam teaches as though it were a theological system established by a school of godly, learned scholars. The truth is that the whole system stems from one single man who imposed his teaching on his followers. Despite his wicked and violent life, he is the object of their veneration.

Nothing can replace the plain truths of the Gospel and the setting out of God’s way of salvation through faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross. The political issues of our day and age do not simplify the task of the child of God in his testimony.