What is the Appeal of Islam?

Hanegraaff, Hank-Quran Jesus Not Crucified

What is the appeal of Islam?

I think one of the things that happened is that Islam has been airbrushed, and therefore it has become palatable to Western Civilization. In many cases people think, “Well, the God of Islam, the God of Israel, not a whole lot of difference, it is the same God.”

The problem here is that the God of Islam is not the God of Israel nor is it the God of Christianity. For example, the Master Jesus Christ taught His disciples to pray, “Our Father in heaven” (Matt. 6:9). Devotes of Muhammad, or those who are involved in Islam, find the very notion of praying to “Our Father in heaven” offensive to their way of thinking. Calling God “Father,” and for that matter Jesus Christ “Son,” suggests sexual procreation. And they would say that believing that Jesus Christ is God or that God has a Son is the unforgivable sin of shirk. The Christian belief that Jesus is the only begotten Son of the Father full of grace and truth and that all the fullness of deity within Him in bodily form (John 1:1-5, 14; Col. 1:15-20; Heb. 1:3-4) for them is an unforgivable sin.

A lot of people unfortunately as Christians are unable to make the distinction between the Allah of Islam and the God of the Bible, and therefore it sounds like there’s neither distinction nor little difference.

I think it is also really important to recognize that the Qur’an is not the same as the Bible. If you’re reading neither, you don’t really see that there’s a big distinction.

The Qur’an, from a historical standpoint, makes all kinds of mistakes. For example, the Qur’an says that Jesus Christ was not crucified (Sura 4:157-158). In Islamic circles, it is believed that God made someone look like Jesus, and the look alike was crucified in place of Jesus Christ. All the historical evidence, however, points beyond a shadow of a doubt, to the fact that Jesus Christ was indeed crucified, and that crucifixion was for our sin. It was the atonement by which we are reconciled to God (John 3:16; Rom. 3:21-26; 5:8; 1 John 2:1-2).

Another thing you have to recognize is that Islam is growing in terms of birth rate. As a result it is becoming widespread and moving all over the world in that sense as well.

—Hank Hanegraaff

For further related study, please see the following:

Is the Allah of Islam the God of the Bible?

Is the Qu’ran Credible?

Allah Does Not Belong to Islam (Helen Louise Herndon)

Who are the Shia? The Other Islam (Patrick Cate and C. Wayne Mayhall)

“Be All Things to All People:” Surmounting Cultural Barriers in Presenting the Gospel to Muslims (Robert Scott)

Muhammad and Messiah: Comparing the Central Figures of Islam and Christianity (David Wood)

The Son of God and Muslim Idiom Translations (Michael F. Ross)

Chrislam: Insider Movements Moving in the Wrong Direction (Joshua B. Lingel and Bill Nikides)

 (This blog was adapted from “What is the Appeal of the Religion of Islam.”)

5 Responses to What is the Appeal of Islam?

  1. Any Christian who is truly interested in understanding the appeal of Islam should begin with Sufi authors–for example:

    Martin Lings (What is Sufism?)

    Hazrat Inayat Khan (e.g. the daily ‘Bowl of Saki’ email list)

    Once one’s heart is open to the possibility that the Way, the Truth, and the Life might be accessible in an Islamic context, one can then begin to see the appeal of more mainstream Islamic scriptures and teachings. But even from the standpoint of a Christian missionary, the appeal of Islam can be seen by reading “The Letters of a Modern Mystic”. Quoting Frank Laubach:

    “January 20, 1930 – Conscious listening to the inner voice Living in the atmosphere of Islam is proving – thus far – a tremendous spiritual stimulus. Mohammed is helping me. I have no more intention of giving up Christianity and becoming a Mohammedan than I had twenty years ago, but I find myself richer for the Islamic experience of God. Islam stresses the will of God. It is supreme. We cannot alter any of His mighty decrees. To try to do so means annihilation. Submission is the first and last duty of man.

    “That is exactly what I have been needing in my Christian life. Although I have been a minister and a missionary for fifteen years, I have not lived the entire day of every day in minute by minute effort to follow the will of God. Two years ago a profound dissatisfaction led me to begin trying to line up my actions with the will of God about every fifteen minutes or every half hour. Other people to whom I confessed this intention said it was impossible. I judge from what I have heard that few people are really trying even that. But this year I have started out trying to live all my waking moments in conscious listening to the inner voice, asking without ceasing, “What, Father, do you desire said? What, Father, do you desire done this minute?”

    “It is clear that this is exactly what Jesus was doing all day every day. But it is not what His followers have been doing in very large numbers.

    “January 26, 1930 – Open your soul and entertain the glory of God You who will read these letters will know that I am here exploring two lands which for me are new. One of them is within my own soul, the other is in the soul of the Moros.

    “. . . . . . For the past few days I have been experimenting in a more complete surrender than ever before. I am taking by deliberate act of will, enough time from each hour to give God much thought. Yesterday and today I have made a new adventure, which is not easy to express. I am feeling God in each movement, by an act of will – willing that He shall direct these fingers that now strike this typewriter – willing that He shall pour through my steps as I walk – willing that He shall direct my words as I speak, and my very jaws as I eat!


    “But why do I constantly harp upon this inner experience? Because I feel convinced that for me and for you who read there lie ahead undiscovered continents of spiritual living compared with which we are infants in arms.

    “. . . . . . And I must witness that people outside are treating me differently. Obstacles which I once would have regarded as insurmountable are melting away like a mirage. People are becoming friendly who suspected or neglected me. I feel, I feel like one who has had his violin out of tune with the orchestra and at last is in harmony with the music of the universe.

    “As for me, I never lived, I was half dead, I was a rotting tree, until I reached the place where I wholly, with utter honesty, resolved and then re-resolved that I would find God’s will, and I would do that will though every fibre in me said no, and I would win the battle in my thoughts. It was as though some deep artesian well had been struck in my soul or souls and strength came forth. I do not claim success even for a day yet, in my mind, not complete success all day but some days are close to success, and every day is tingling with the joy of a glorious discovery. That thing is eternal. That thing is undefeatable. You and I shall soon blow away from our bodies. Money, praise, poverty, opposition, these make no difference, for they will all alike be forgotten in a thousand years, but this spirit which comes to a mind set upon continuous surrender, this spirit is timeless life.

    “March 9, 1930 – Boundless joy broken loose For the first time in my life I know what I must do off in lonesome Lanao. I know why God left this aching void, for himself to fill. Off on this mountain I must do three things: 1. I must pursue this voyage of discovery in quest of God’s will. I must because the world needs me to do it. 2. I must plunge into mighty experiments in intercessory prayer, to test my hypothesis that God needs my help to do his will for others, and that my prayer releases his power. I must be his channel, for the world needs me. 3. I must confront these Moros with a divine love which will speak Christ to them though I never use his name. They must see God in me, and I must see God in them. Not to change the name of their religion, but to take their hand and say, “Come, let us look for God.”

    “A few days ago as we came on the priests, they were praying, in one boat with thirty-five Moros, many of whom called to me to join. So I held out my hands and prayed with them, and as earnestly as any of them. One of them said “He is Islam,” and I replied, “A friend of Islam.”

    “My teacher, Dato Pambaya, told me this week that a good Muslim ought to utter the sacred word for God, every time he begins to do anything, to sleep, or walk, or work, or even turn around. A good Muslim would fill his life with God. I fear there are few good Muslims.

    “But so would a real Christlike Christian speak to God every time he did anything – and I fear there are few good Christians.

    “What right then have I or any other person to come here and change the name of these people from Muslim to Christian, unless I lead them to a life fuller of God than they have now? Clearly, clearly, my job here is not to go to the town plaza and make proselytes, it is to live wrapped in God, trembling to his thoughts, burning with his passion. And, my loved one, that is the best gift you can give to your own town.

    ~ “Letters By A Modern Mystic”

    Excerpts from letters written at Dansalan, Lake Lano, Philippine Islands To his father by Frank C. Laubach, Ph.D.

    • Here is a worthwhile read on the subject of Sufism, which was written by Elliot Miller: http://www.equip.org/articles/sufis-the-mystical-muslims/ Please take this as food for thought.

      • Yes–I saw the long article on Sufism after I left the comment above. The first 2/3 of it was quite good. I have not had time to get back to the last part of it to evaluate the critique that seemed to building up toward the end. But the first part seemed pretty well researched. Will have another look…

        • Just looked at the last 3rd of that article on Sufism… Whereas the first part of the article seemed well researched and rather even-handed, the last part — the “Christian Appraisal of Sufism” — is anything but… It’s not even fair to the other Christians:

          “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 way the question is initially framed poisons the well from the get go… You define your own point of view as the narrow way and then judge everyone else in that light as being (in one degree or another) on “the broad way”.

          I have no doubt that those who are honest with themselves and sincere in their dealings with others can begin with some version of “sola scriptura” and still find the narrow gate that leads to life (i.e. real sanctification and not just egoic identification as a “Christian”). Unfortunately, being on the narrow way does not make one infallible when it comes to long held beliefs–they can still be beset by hosts of particular, provincial opinions which they may never have occasion to reexamine in the light of the truth that is authentically seen. I don’t have time to address all of the problems that I see with the author’s “appraisal” of Sufism, but will offer a quotation from the Upanishads and link to a comparative analysis of Christianity, Sufism, and Buddhism, by Thomas Merton:


          We have the mind of Christ. The question is do we recognize and honor it/Him? Here is how this UNIVERSAL TRUTH is presented a favorite Hindu scripture:

          “Like two birds of golden plumage, inseparable companions, the individual self and the immortal Self are perched on the branches of the selfsame tree. The former tastes of the sweet and bitter fruits of the tree; the latter, tasting of neither, calmly observes. The individual self, deluded by forgetfulness of his identity with the divine Self, bewildered by his ego, grieves and is sad. But when he recognizes the worshipful Lord as his own true Self, and beholds his glory, he grieves no more.” ~ Mundaka Upanishad 3:1:1-2

          As I see it, this is Christ-in-you, the hope of glory. As a Christian, however, I would council reading the word “identity” loosely–we are One with the Father and member one of another in the body of Christ. Nevertheless, Christ-like, we can say, “I and my Father are One” (cf. John 17:18-22)

          The alternative (from the sola scriptura point of view) would seem to be to believe that an all powerful, all knowing — supposedly all loving — God sanctions a scheme whereby the perfection of eternal life (for the benefit of the saints) is purchased through the eternal conscious torment of the dammed (those who God knew in advance would not receive enough grace to convert their rebellious hearts and minds). This is logically incoherent and morally repugnant. But the solution is to be found NOT in pantheism, but in a Trinitarian PanENtheism whereby we are understood to be participants, with Christ, in the One Life, Divine. And if you want to understand how the One Way can be found in many traditions, google: “…Can Many Religions All Be True? – An Orthodox Perspective (James Cutsinger)” It’s not the Sufi’s that have trouble with the problem of evil–it is those who believe that those who do not know or believe the stories of Jesus’ life, as reported in the New Testament, cannot, for that reason, know him in Spirit and in Truth (and will, for that reason, be condemned to hell). In contrast, Jesus said that it was possible to “see his day” without knowing him after the flesh (since, “before Abraham was, ‘I Am’ — truly, whosoever will may come and drink of the water of life freely).

  2. Ron Schul says:

    None of this is to say that Muslims in general are murderers, plunderers, hedonists, or misogynists. It is to say, however, that Islamic law