FAQs

How do you wish a Muslim 'Happy New Year'?

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How do you wish a Muslim 'Happy New Year'?

From Mahabba Peterborough

Happy New Year!

Or in Arabic: al-sanat al-jadīdah.

Or in Urdu, a familiar language to many of our Pakistani heritage neighbours: nayya saal mubarak.

You could say that to many of your Muslim neighbours, as most have Pakistani roots, but are also British and observe the western new year as well.

You may not know, but in 2017 the Islamic Year 1439 started between the evenings of 21st and 22nd September.

The Islamic New Year occurs at different times of our year because Islam uses a lunar calendar that started from the Hijra, the Flight of Muhammad from Mecca to Medina in 622AD.

Muslims mark their New Year quietly, with prayer and reflection.

What is Mawlid all about?

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What is Mawlid all about?

From Mahabba Peterborough

We have just passed a Muslim festival celebrated by many if not all Muslims.

Mawlid, or Milad, marks the birth of the Islamic Prophet in the year 570 of our calendar.

Sunni Muslims observe the Prophet's birthday on the 12th day of the Islamic month of Rabi' al-awwal, while Shi'a Muslims mark it on the 17th of this month.

Islamic calendars can differ so the Prophet's Birthday for most Muslims was on one of 30th November or 1st or 2nd December.

Mawlid is celebrated with large street parades in some countries. Homes and mosques are also decorated. Some people donate food and other goods for charity on or around this day.

Others listen to their children read out poems about events that occurred in the Prophet Muhammed's life.

Many Muslims do not participate in celebrations but they may mark the occasion by spending more time to read the Qur'an.

Muhammed is said to have been born on a Monday and some scholars see fasting during the hours of daylight on Mondays as another way to celebrate his birth.

How can I share Jesus with Muslims at Christmas?

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How can I share Jesus with Muslims at Christmas?

Here are some resources, courtesy of Answering Islam, to share the love of Christ with Muslims during Christmas and New Year season.

There are recommended links to articles, tracts and even a Christmas card insert for Muslims in English, Turkish and Tamil.

They can also be used via social media, e-mail, etc.


Christmas card inserts

Share a Christmas card: https://www.mahabbanetwork.com/blog/greet-muslim-friend-christmas

Share about the star at Christmas: https://www.mahabbanetwork.com/blog/following-the-star

 

Christmas articles

A Muslim perspective on Christmas: Don’t cancel Christmas on behalf of Muslims like me – I love it

Finding common ground with Muslims in the Christmas story: https://christianityexplained.net/to/muslims/christmas-quranic-commonalities/

Can I wish a Muslim Merry Christmas? http://www.answering-islam.org/authors/oskar/merry_christmas.html

Explaining the real Christmas to Muslims: http://www.answering-islam.org/authors/oskar/christmas_crime.html

 

New Year’s reflection

Talking with Muslims around New Year about life's questions: http://www.answering-islam.org/authors/oskar/good_enough.html

How do I greet my Muslim friend at Christmas?

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How do I greet my Muslim friend at Christmas?

Looking for a Christmas card with a difference to share the Gospel with Muslims in a culturally relevant way?

Christianity Explained has put together an evangelistic Christmas card for Muslims in various formats.

It contains a link to a more detailed article which is also found in the attachment.

The project aims to explain the Gospel to Muslims in a culturally relevant way.

There are a number of ways you can use the Christmas card, such as putting it on social media.

Time spent in prayer will yield more than that given to work. Prayer alone gives work its worth and its success. Prayer opens the way for God Himself to do His work in us and through us. Let our chief work as God’s messengers be intercession; in it we secure the presence and power of God to go with us.
— Andrew Murray 

Feedback

Whoever designed the Christmas Card has done a excellent job. The words gets right to the psychic of a Muslim mind… FANTASTIC :-)
— From a Muslim Background Believer

Can I give Christmas presents to Muslim friends?

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CAN I GIVE CHRISTMAS PRESENTS TO MUSLIM FRIENDS?

A Mahabba member asked the following question on The City: 'Is it a sin in Islam to give Christmas presents?'

I had a wonderful time of sharing over Christmas with my Muslim friends. I visited one friend who told me that the mosque is saying it is sin to give Christmas presents. This is the first she has heard of this and is very confused. She feels that this could be very divisive. Have you heard of this teaching?

She added that she still got a Christmas present from her friend as a ‘thank you for all you’ve done over the year' gift!

Thanks to some of our specialists on The City, here are some comments to consider.

If you want to join The City and be part of the conversation, you can sign up here.


Some Muslims do not celebrate birthdays

This may not necessarily be a teaching that you have come across, but for some persuasions in Islam it is a logical conclusion.

If you say Christmas is not something that Muhammad celebrated, it is therefore not sunna (accepted practice) .

Indeed, Wahabi and Deobandi (strict sects within Islam) teach that celebrating birthdays is haram (forbidden).

That includes Jesus’ and, sadly, the little girl’s who lives round the corner.

However, it was nice that she gave you a present, and often the fun of parties and presents is more powerful than dull doctrine.

 

Incarnation is seen as heresy

Many Muslims will even say that it is wrong to celebrate Muhammad’s birthday, although this celebration is becoming more common in certain parts of the UK.

You may have noticed more green lights and displays in the windows of Muslim houses during December.

Given that Christmas is also a celebration of the incarnation of God in human form on earth, it is a particularly severe heresy in Islam.

Therefore, giving Christmas presents is participating in, and affirming, something that is un-Islamic and wrong.

 

Is giving Bibles to Muslim refugees a good way to evangelise?

Is giving Bibles to Muslim refugees a good way to evangelise?

Alice asked us about the merits of distributing Bibles to Muslim refugees:

I have heard that giving bibles to Muslim refugees is a good way to evangelise. Do you think so?
 

OUR RESPONSE

Thanks to the help of some specialists on The City (have you joined yet?), we can relay the following advice.


Be appropriate

I would never give a whole Bible to a Muslim I didn’t know. I might give a New Testament in an appropriate language, but I would certainly give a gospel – probably Luke, because it starts with the birth narrative. Everyone loves a story. The gospels are brilliant stories, so different from the Qur’an. If you give a gospel to a Muslim he will probably read it cover to cover in one sitting, then there is so much to discuss.

The Gospel of Luke alone is the most powerful tool to use for a Muslim mind to digest.

Muslims are led to believe that Bible has been corrupted. So, if you give Bibles to Muslim refugees the first time you meet them, they may take it from you but chances are they are not going to read it. I think it’s very important to make friends first, get them thirsty, and then offer the Bible.

It’s all about putting time and effort into developing close friendships. The question is, do believers have the passion to do this, or do they just simply give a Bible and hope for the best?

 

Be specific

God can speak through his word! But even better would be someone engaging with them and the bible.

At least give a suggested list of bits to read (Creation to Christ perhaps) and questions to think about when reading.

Best of all, a recommendation of somewhere to go with questions.

 

Be discrete

Giving out Bibles to all like sweets is probably not a good idea.

It is certainly helpful to have them available and visible so that they can be picked up should someone be curious or interested.

We have a range of Bibles out on a shelf in our community cafe and sometimes one or two disappear. We pray they are being read. 

When someone asks for a Bible an offer to read it with them may be seen as awelcome invitation.

 

Be relevant

Ensure that the Bible is in the appropriate languages. If not, then they need to be - it is a must, if someone is to be able to read the word and understand it.

 

Related FAQs

What does Mahabba do to meet, engage and ultimately convert Muslims to Christianity?

What does Mahabba do to meet, engage and ultimately convert Muslims to Christianity?

Phil asked us about our work and approaches to seeing Muslims come to know Jesus:

I believe most Muslims have heritage in places where there is not freedom to consider Christianity, and we have the opportunity to fulfill that need now that they are in a free country
 

OUR RESPONSE

Thanks to the help of some specialists on The City, we an relay the following advice.


1. What do you do to meet, engage, and ultimately convert Muslims to Christianity?

We help sow and establish local prayer groups, as we believe that for the Gospel to breakthrough among Muslims, there needs to be a strong foundation of prayer.

We believe that people do not convert Muslims, rather God will cause people to turn to him via Jesus Christ.

As such, persistent prayer is vital, so we invest heavily in fostering this activity in the Network.

As groups get establish, we support them with resources, materials and advice for the plans and visions they have to do practical outreach.

We do this in various forms and according to local needs, such as facilitating Friendship First courses or Meetings for Better Understanding.

2. Do you have any Mahabba groups outside the UK?

We are currently focussed on work in the UK, but there is much interest internationally.

We are looking to set up Mahabba officially on the international stage, at which point we will be able to respond more intentionally to requests.

3. How do you use donations to further your mission. What do you buy and how do you deliver it?

The majority of funds received is directed locally, as we seek to support and equip local expressions of outreach to Muslims.

We have a group of regional reps that we fund in order to help, advise and counsel local prayer groups as they outwork their heart to see Muslims come to know Jesus.

 

Inspiring stories of our impact

How to inspire people to pray for Muslims

How to inspire people to pray for Muslims

This resource was shared at the 2016 National Gathering by Heather from Mahabba Oxford.

It is designed to help local coordinators foster prayer in local Mahabba prayer groups, but can be used elsewhere!

Resources

Keep informed

  • Stay connected with those in your prayer group/location who are working in Muslim contexts
  • Invite them to share when that’s possible
  • Build relationship between intercessors and those they’re praying for

Muslim world

  • There are masses of resources!
  • Too much information can make it difficult to pray, so be selective

Local knowledge

  • How many mosques in your area?
  • What sort of mosques?
  • Who are the imams?
  • Pray for them by name

Muslim communities

  • Ethnicity?
  • Brand of Islam?
  • What are their issues or challenges?

Special events

Your community

  • What’s going on in Muslim communities that you can pray for?
  • What are churches doing that you can bring a Muslim focused aspect to?

New believers

  • Pray for those who have come to faith from Islam
  • Invite any locally to meet with you if appropriate

Practical Ideas

  • Have a plan – you can always change it!
  • Vary the menu (eg., personal/local, national, international)
  • What do people in your group care about? Pray for Muslim friends by name
  • Incorporate worship – big requests require us to remember we have a great God
  • Remember to be thankful – feedback on answered prayer where possible
  • Develop persistence/perseverance – we may never know how our prayers are answered but we keep praying

Vary styles and patterns

  • Stay in a large group
  • Pairs/3’s/small groups
  • Move around
  • Don’t be afraid of silence
  • Give time to listening/reflecting
  • Speak out together
  • Declaration
  • Imagination (e.g., how do you think it feels to be a Muslim woman unwelcome at the mosque? How does it feel to be a moderate Muslim in Britain today?)
  • Be visual – use maps, pictures, short video clips
  • Scripture
  • Pray positively – choose to bless

The final word

  • Know your prayer group
  • Work with who you’ve got, not with who you wish was there!
  • Those who are there want to pray – aim to send them away encouraged!
  • Remember, everyone else’s prayer meeting isn’t more interesting/dynamic/successful/fruitful than yours!

Prayer resources for the Night of Power

Prayer resources for the Night of Power

Prayer resources for the Night of Power

Many local Mahabba prayer groups put on a Night of Power prayer meeting each Ramadan, not to mention other church small groups. With this in mind, we have put together some resources to help you structure your time and provide some focal points.

If you have any recommendations or feedback, please leave a comment below!   

 

Presentation

This is based on a PowerPoint developed by the Mahabba Cheltenham group for its prayer meeting on the Night of Power. It looks at themes of open heaven associated with this holiest night of Ramadan and John 1:51 - Jesus the link between God and humanity. The presenter notes can be found as comment 'bubbles' on each page of the PDF. The group used it to reflect on how Jesus presented Himself as Jacob’s ladder.

 

Prayercast videos

A series of videos that you can use to help you and your group focus your prayer time. Elliot in The Hub recommends the film on Ishmael, which can equally be used as the basis for prayer. 

 

Assorted web resources

Elliot in The Hub also put together these items from websites.

 

A prayer for The Night of Power

A Mahabba member commented that she really liked the Lovefast prayer for Night of Power, written by Gordon, which is equally good as a primer for prayer.

Father, tonight I am standing in unity and agreement with millions of fellow believers, and we thank you on this special night for an outpouring of your spirit across the whole Muslim world. As they seek you, will you reveal yourself to them in dreams and visions, and may countless millions have a life changing encounter with you, where they will come to know you as “Father” and Jesus as “Isa Al-Massih” - Jesus the Messiah
— Gordon

How do I start a Mahabba group?

How do I start a Mahabba group?

How do I start a Mahabba group?

It's dead easy, so don't worry! We've listed six simple steps below that we recommend you take.

Step One

Step Two

  • Contact The Hub (Mahabba's central office) and ask to be put in touch with your nearest Regional Facilitator
  • One of our friendly reps will then help you take the next steps to start a local Mahabba prayer group and support you as you develops and grow

Step Three

Gather

  • Gather people into your local Mahabba prayer group
  • This relies on God, so it has to begin and be sustained by, persistent prayer
  • Don’t worry if it starts with only a few people
  • Keep making the group known and invite new people to join you
  • It is better to have a few committed people then many who are not

Get support

  • Seek to get the backing of local church leaders
  • Invite people from different local churches to participate
  • Mahabba works best as an activity of the wider church in your area, not only your local church

Build team

  • Designate someone, or better two or three people to coordinate the prayer meetings and other activities that emerge later from the prayer group

Be regular

  • Set a regular time to meet as a local Mahabba prayer group
  • Some Mahabba groups meet weekly, some monthly
  • The frequency is up to you, but it’s good to be persistent in prayer
  • There is no set way of praying, but again there are a few guidelines:
    1. We pray with the motivation of the love of God for Muslims
    2. Pray for everyday church member’s contacts
    3. Pray for the work among Muslims in the local area
    4. Pray for national and international prayer needs

For more ideas on how to inspire prayer in your group, see the following blog:

Interfaith dialogue

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Interfaith dialogue

A topic from the World Cafe session of the National Gathering 2017.

Interfaith should be faith-sharing and dialogue rather than mutual monologue!

Unity is important; create an inter-denominational base as a foundation to inter-religious dialogue (stronger together).

How do you get beyond superficiality to higher level of interfaith?

Is there an alternative to debate vs. dialogue?

Values-driven  

  • Seek truth together
  • Mutual respect
  • Relationship-building
  • Seeking truth
  • Ask what they would like
  • Ask Questions, listen to answers, don't impose opinions
  • Breaking down barriers; building friendships and confidence
  • Issue of prayer - can this be joint?

Methods and techniques

  • Scriptural reasoning; Bible and Qur'an together
  • Meetings for Better Understanding (MBUs)
  • Dialogue groups creating safe space for conversations
  • Rules of engagement helpful - CMF Ethical Guidelines for sharing faith in Britain

Two models of Gospel proclamation

  • Road to Damascus - conversion experience
  • Road to Emmaus - conversation encounter

If you are involved in interfaith dialogue then it will mean going deeper into your own faith and becoming ‘deeply rooted and profoundly open’.

Start small, think big.

Church guest services for Muslims

Image: Mike Wilson,  Unsplash

Image: Mike Wilson, Unsplash

Church guest services for Muslims

A topic from the World Cafe session of the National Gathering 2017.

Two basic types:

  • Invite Muslims to usual church events, e.g. worship service, baptism, wedding etc.
  • Put together ‘Muslim friendly event’, e.g. breaking the fast meal (iftar) during Ramadhan

Suggestion

  • ‘Lent service’ at start of fasting period in Ramadhan, Muslims open to attend weddings, baptisms

While we should be careful not to cause offence, e.g. dress code, hugging between genders, treating the Bible with ‘disrespect’, we should also remain authentic, e.g. sing, read Bible, keep mixed gender seating

  • We have something to offer in our worship that speaks to the heart
  • Multi-language scripts/Bibles helpful and someone to sit with visitors to explain activities – when to sit, stand, pray etc.
  • Several testimonies of Muslims who were affected by promises of baptism, songs, hospitality
  • Teaching is important, but it’s the Love that draws them in

See also a helpful topic on The City about Muslim-friendly guest services [requires login]

How to reach young people?

Image: Brooke Cagle,  Unsplash

Image: Brooke Cagle, Unsplash

How to reach young people?

A topic from the World Cafe session of the National Gathering 2017.

  • Trust is precarious - be careful not to go outside of parents’ authority
  • Chance for young Muslims to get to know Christians first-hand rather than misconceptions taught
  • Children provide natural connection to build relationship

Examples:

  • Informal sports, e.g. football/cricket in park; Tae Kwon Do
  • Parenting and Play groups opportunity for parents and children to socialise
  • Some activities that have helped: Youth clubs, Messy Church (mind gender arrangements)
  • Opportunity to share Bible Stories, e.g. school assemblies (Open the Book), Christmas and Easter events in community

Qur'an: friend or foe?

Image: metropolislights,  Flickr

Image: metropolislights, Flickr

Qur'an: friend or foe?

A topic from the World Cafe session of the National Gathering 2017.

Foe:

  • Muslims believe Bible has been corrupted
  • Our interpretations may be misused/turned against us
  • If we start using Qur'an to quote anything of God, it may damage Christians
  • We may not have enough knowledge of the Qur'an to engage fruitfully

Friend:

  • Muslims not encouraged to ask questions in their own tradition, appreciate the opportunity to discuss and learn
  • Gives us chance to explain meaning and challenge preconceptions of corruption
  • Opportunity for Muslims to learn about meaning of Qur'an and contradictions between it and traditions
  • There is more about Jesus than Muhammad in Qur'an
  • Chance to let the Bible tell its own story

 

How to engage church leaders in reaching Muslims

Image: Mathias Jensen,  Unsplash

Image: Mathias Jensen, Unsplash

How to engage church leaders in reaching Muslims

A topic from the World Cafe session of the National Gathering 2017.

  • General comment that this was ‘difficult to do’
  • Reason put down to the busyness of church leaders
  • Not perceived as an issue for their particular congregations

Suggestions

  • Meet with local Imams; leaders often carry more weight in eyes of community
  • Help to promote social cohesion, e.g. Refugee/Syrian resettlement programme
  • Arrange events to which Muslims can be invited
  • Pastor to pastor is more effective. Help leaders who are on board to be ambassadors with peers
  • See where God is working in your locality, and show how we may join Him
  • Don’t ask them to do anything/take on more. Discuss initiatives but offer to do them/coordinate them yourself
  • Draw on, and promote, the power of prayer

What is the Best Arabic translation of the bible for refugees?

Image: Mr Cup / Fabien Barral, Unsplash

What is the best Arabic translation of the bible for refugees?

Jay asked us about recommended Bible translations in Arabic the other day:

Can you recommend a good Arabic translation of the Bible for a refugee?

Dear Mahabba,

I know the YouVersion Holy Bible app is very good in terms of its range of other languages available. Could you give me some pointers on which of the Arabic translations would be best to use with which Arabic speakers when sharing with Muslims I meet? E.g., for Iraqis and especially Syrians. P.S. it was good to see that there is now a Dari audio version!

 

Our response

Thanks to the help of some specialists on The City, we an relay the following advice.


Sharif Arabic Bible (SAB)

For Arabic speakers of Muslim background the Sharif Arabic Bible comes recommended.

The Sharif is written using Muslim vocabulary, e.g. isa, not yasua, and so is good as it is more accessible to Muslim seekers.

Conversely, it is not popular with Middle Eastern Christians because of its use of majority Arabic not Christian Arabic.

Incidentally, it also has a good (but maybe not widely known) reputation, being a set textbook for the Christianity subject in one or two Islamic universities.


Van Dyke translation

The van Dyke translation is written in 19th century vocabulary, but is considered to be the best by the long-established Christian Arab community in the Middle East (similar to the love of white British church-goers for the 1662 prayer book and KJV).


Kitab al Hayah (NAV)

The al Hayah translation is written in clear, modern Arabic, similar to the Good News Bible. You can buy a hard copy on Amazon etc. with parallel English/Arabic text (the English is the NIV). This is advantageous if you want to do a one-on-one Bible study, reading along with your Arabic-literate friend.


Audio in local Arabic dialects

Look out for audio materials in local Arabic dialects such as from Global Recordings - with over 100 in Arabic alone.

Some of the recordings were made decades ago for the old 78 rpm records, so quality may be poor! As such, have a little listen before you pass it on to your friends.

http://globalrecordings.net/en/search/language?search=arabic&filter=contains#fndtn-panel2

If you’re looking for languages other than Arabic, or audio-visual etc, start here: http://globalrecordings.net/en/resources


See also

Chapter Two Books https://www.chaptertwobooks.org.uk/foreign.html (use the pull-down menu on the right-hand side to select the language)

No Frontiers https://nofrontiers.org  (N.B. the website is currently unavailable 25/04/17 because of a rebuild, but check back).

Don't forget to try Word of Life http://www.word-of-life.org, which has lots of foreign language resources, including Arabic.


Check out other FAQs from Mahabba

You might find the following helpful in relation to asylum seekers and refugees:

Do you have any info on new Testaments and Gospels in other languages suitable for refugees and asylum seekers?

Bibles for refugees

What English translation of the Qur'an and introduction do you recommend?

What English translation of the Qur'an and introduction do you recommend?

John asked about a good English translation of the Qur'an and a helpful introduction or commentary: 

Can you recommend a good translation of the Qur'an and introduction?

Dear Mahabba,

“What English language translation of the Qur’an would Muslims considered the most reliable? Would that be the best version for a novice like me to read? What English language introduction to Islam and the Qur’an would you recommend? I would like to understand how to bridge from the Qur’an to the Bible. And an introduction that is not too simple.”

OUR RESPONSE

The easiest to come by is most probably Yusuf Ali which also contains the Arabic script but the translation is archaic.
 
AJ Arberry tries to give a sense of the rhyme and rhythm in English and is a sensitive translation (available on subscription to Oxford Islamic Studies online).
 
There is a Qur’an website on the Internet that contains several translations with which to compare whenever available quran.com.
 
Neal Robinson’s Discovering the Qur`an (2004) is a sympathetic introduction to the Qur’an by a non-Muslim while Muhammad Abdel Haleem’s Understanding the Qur`an: Themes and Style (2001) is a Muslim’s introduction to the Qur’an.
 
It will be difficult to find one source that both introduces Islam as well as bridging Qur’an to Bible.
 
I’ve always found P.K. Hitti’s History of the Arabs (10th repr. 1991) a comprehensive overview of Islamic history that has a scholarly take on Islam before relations were so extremely polarised as now.
 
Kenneth Cragg’s The Weight in the Word – Prophethood: Biblical and Quranic (1999) compares and contrasts Muhammad with biblical prophets and, broadly stated, shows how the Qur’an applies biblical ideas for its own purposes.
 
See how you get on with these for the moment – there is so much out there to choose from!
 
Do let me know how you get on and whether you can get hold of resources.


SINCE YOU'RE HERE...

... we have recently reached a total of 40 local Mahabba prayer groups in the UK - awesome news!

With your help, though, we would like to continue to sow, plant and support Mahabba groups.

Our work involves a small team of regional reps and central hub personnel investing in local coordinators and groups, as well as spreading the word.

To continue this vital mission to Muslims, we need to increase our regular monthly income.

Our initial target is to raise up 100 individual regular donors, giving an average of £10 to £15 per month.

Could you be one of the 100?

How can I help someone facing divorce in Islam?

Image: Jad Limcaco,  Unsplash

Image: Jad Limcaco, Unsplash

HOW CAN I HELP SOMEONE FACING DIVORCE IN ISLAM?

Emma asked a tricky question about supporting Muslim families in her community:

How can I help someone facing divorce in Islam? 

Dear Mahabba,

I know of a lady who has recently experienced what I'm told is an Islamic divorce. It is quite a difficult and complicated situation, but do you know anything about her human rights, in terms of her divorce, and whether she is entitled to anything, or if anyone knows of anyone that might be able to give her some advice.

Thank you!

Our response

This is another question to which it is hard to give a definitive answer, but again individuals from our online community, The City, have had some helpful suggestions.


Contact the Muslim Women's Network

You can find some information from this solicitor, but my advice is to contact the Muslim Women’s Network. It has challenged traditional Islamic practices with regard to women and also has a helpline that deals with these issues constantly. It has a helpful factsheet on Islamic marriage.

There is an active parliamentary enquiry into Shariah councils and their effect on women. It is collecting evidence and cases such as the one you mentioned are crucial to its investigation. Naz Shah, the MP for Bradford West, is very active on this committee and in her constituency.


Hope Projects

I know this charity, Hope Projects, that supports asylum seekers and refugees has good solicitors - maybe they know about Islamic divorce.


Citizens Advice Bureau

It may be the case that the Islamic divorce (talaq) is invalid under British law, depending on where the marriage occurred. She should certainly get legal advice as a first step before accepting or signing anything. 

She should also seek advice from Citizens Advice to check her rights to social housing or Job Seekers Allowance, again, depending on her circumstances. 

Citizens Advice is probably the best place for her to talk to someone in the first instance, as there are many variables here. She should take her documentation (passport, Home Office papers, divorce document etc). One visit will not usually be enough to sort things through.

Many offices will have Urdu/Punjabi/Mirpuri-speakers, if her level of English is an issue.

https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/about-us/how-we-provide-advice/advice/search-for-your-local-citizens-advice/


Offer Christian love and accommodation

An alternative to referring her to Islamic agency would be to provide her with accommodation from fellow believers and show her the love of Jesus.

This lady needs love and safety, so this is an opportunity to to show Jesus to her. There are many Asian Christians to ask regarding how to relate to her, and love in practice speaks volumes.


Refer to specialists for help, but pray

This lady needs love from fellow believers, as Emma has already shown through her concern. At the same time, this issue needs specialist help from people who are dealing with this problem daily, such as MWN (see above). The organisation is in contact with government agencies (they brought this problem to the government’s attention initially). 

As we’ve seen with other cases where women and Islamic values are concerned, the government and its agencies are not always confident to deal with what they call ‘cultural issues.’ Working through a Muslim organisation that is against injustice towards women because they can help overcome PC sensitivities.

This does not mean that Christians should absolve themselves. It means that they continue to walk this road with her while they try to get the best help they can. MWN can look after the technical and legal aspects while Christians provide material and spiritual support, together with immense prayer.


A further note on Islamic divorce (talaq)

The triple talaq is mainstream, and many people suffer a lot of anguish as a result of it.

The thing that’s not mainstream is the halala (marrying another man, sleeping with him, being divorced by that man, and then re-marrying your first husband). Think of the shame (if it gets out, which it probably will) of allowing/encouraging your wife to have sex with another man in order to be reconciled – after your own rash words in a fit of temper. However, according to Shariah, it’s the only way that a man and his ex-wife can get back together. 

A mufti (scholar who gives rulings on specific issues) has shared with me that he often has enquiries from husbands and wives who want to be reconciled after a triple talaq. They often ask that he declare that the talaq is invalid. He usually has to rule that it is valid and halala is the only solution. He does so with a heavy heart…

I understand that this law was actually designed for the protection of wives. Apparently, in Arabia at that time, wives were being divorced with just saying the word “talaq” once. Later on the husbands would take their wives back at their whim. This could happen many times. So Shariah ordains that:

  • One talaq is not enough, three are required
  • Talaq a serious business, not just reversible at whim

There is disagreement among scholars as to whether all three talaqs can be spoken or written at exactly the same time, or whether three separate occasions are required.

Is it right to allow Muslim prayers or Qur'an readings in church?

Image: Daniel Burka,  Unsplash

Image: Daniel Burka, Unsplash

Is it right to allow Muslim prayers or Qur'an readings in church?

Carl asked the following question off the back of a meeting for better understanding (MBU) with local Muslims:

Is it right to allow Muslim prayers or Qur’an readings in church?

Dear Mahabba,

MBUs have built good relationships and sown the Gospel among Muslims. It has also resulted in requests for the use of our places of worship for Muslim events. One of them was for an Eid el Adha event.  This would include the reading of the Qur'an and Muslim prayers. What would your response be to this request?

 

Our response

This is a tricky one, and has caused quite a bit of debate and controversy recently, as we explored in a blog, 'Islam in church: some questions'. Rather than lay out a definitive answer, here are some responses from individuals on our online community area, The City.

 

How strongly do you feel?

"I’d be quite happy with the idea, although I know that some Christians strongly feel that such acts are totally unacceptable. Maybe believers from a Muslim background might be more strongly of the latter persuasion."

What is your perspective on the consecration of space?

"We have churches that meet in schools and pubs. We also have church traditions that consecrate space. I think to invite Muslims to confess that Muhammad is God’s messenger in consecrated space violates that consecration.

"Whether we like it or not, we tend to be secular Christians, and so we don’t take the consecration of space very seriously. We don’t do symbolism. But Muslims do, much more so than us anyway.

"I think the question is much more about how we regard our church space. Would you invite a Jehovah’s witness to preach there? How about a militant atheist? Would you allow Hindu gods to be praised in it?

"The question of whether to allow or invite Muslims to pray and confess their creed needs to be set alongside this sort of question to give it context. If space is just space, then you have no problem. If consecration means something, that is another matter."

Provision for personal prayer

"If the space is consecrated: I would not make provision for another deity to be worshipped. I would tend not to give a platform for another religion to be preached and lifted up without a counterpoint or moderation by a Christian.

"But someone who wants to personally pray, I would have no problem with, especially if they are meaning to seek the God of Abraham, Isaac, & Jacob, even if their idea of Him is corrupted.

"If their prayers are together in community and include a led confession or declaration about Muhammad, in a Christian consecrated space… that's another question."

A former Muslim's viewpoint - what does God say?

"My response would be: 'what is God asking me to do?' Bearing in mind Scripture such as Peter’s vision that all food was now clean or that circumcision or non-circumcision was not the deeper spiritual issue. Is God trying to lead us to think and react differently to the changing society we now live in?

"Having come from a Muslim background and being able to see both sides, I would drench that church in prayer and plead protection over it through the blood of Christ and then invite another faith to hold their event. If just one heart is changed through that event, if seeds are sown, would it not be worth it? I think the answer to this dilemma lies in prayer and isn’t that what we as the Mahabba Network do? And do so well, might I add!"


"I agree that we need to pray without ceasing, for discernment and for God to use the relationship to His glory. Here is an example of a church that opened its door to its Muslim neighbours on a more permanent basis."

What does Muslim tradition say?

"According to traditions, the Prophet invited Christians to worship in his mosque.

"As to whether this is a practice that Muslims emulate, Muslims have been known to say this too.

"Some Christians have often prayed quiet individual prayers in a mosque, explaining that they are making their own dua, and had no problems.

"I have known this to happen in a more public or congregational way. 

"In a dialogue meeting, Christians had an impromptu prayer meeting in the mosque, while the Muslims perform their prayers (salaat). The Muslims did not have a problem with that."

Gracious hospitality vs. faithfulness to truth

"I think there are two quite different themes at play here. One is gracious hospitality and the other other is faithfulness to truth.

"If we come across people who are marginalised and excluded, trying to find space to honestly meet their religious obligations, how could we not offer them space? That is an application of loving our neighbour and we do so in the name of Christ.

"However, if we so order things that our actions seem to communicate that obedience to Muhammad is the same thing as faith in Christ, if we seek to join the two, blurring the differences then we are being unfaithful and no longer witnesses to the truth. Nor do we witness to the Muslim guest.

"Our love for the other and our security in Christ should enable us to be hospitable, but it should not lead us to bend over backwards so that we affirm the denial of Christ."

 

Since you're here...

... we have recently reached a total of 40 local Mahabba prayer groups in the UK - awesome news!

With your help, though, we would like to continue to sow, plant and support Mahabba groups.

Our work involves a small team of regional reps and central hub personnel investing in local coordinators and groups, as well as spreading the word.

To continue this vital mission to Muslims, we need to increase our regular monthly income.

Our initial target is to raise up 100 individual regular donors, giving an average of £10 to £15 per month.

Could you be one of the 100?

What are the best websites for Muslims seeking Jesus?

Image: Chen Yichun,  Unsplash

Image: Chen Yichun, Unsplash

What are the best websites for Muslims seeking Jesus?

Chris approached us, wanting to know about the best websites for Muslims who are seeking Jesus.

What are the best websites for Muslims seeking Jesus?

Dear Mahabba,

The internet is a great place to share faith with Muslims, wherever they are and with anonymity, which some may need.

Can you suggest where to direct Muslim friends so that they can explore the Christian faith further, view a testimony or an FAQ to address their burning question?

I would be interested in finding the best sites that offer any or all of the following:

  • Testimonies
  • Most ‘frequently asked questions’ addressed
  • A presentation of the Christian faith in a Muslim friendly style
  • Resources in different languages such as an online Bible
  • Ideally, it would be great to find this all on one site!

Thanks!

Chris

 

Our response

Hi Chris,

We asked our online community on The City, and had a good response with suggestions for you. Here we go!

 

Websites

www.bible.com

  • A simple, versatile online and smartphone Bible (also known as YouVersion)
  • Features more translations – including ones that are easier for Muslims to understand like the Urdu Geo Version and Sharif Arabic Bible
  • Worth using its tools to hyperlink every Bible verse you quote in an e-mail, post on social media or a website

www.al-kitab.org

  • An online Muslim-friendly English Bible

www.biblegateway.com - CAUTION. SEE NOTE BELOW

  • Although Bible Gateway has a wide selection of translations, it is probably best for Christian use alone
  • Some of its adverts, which are pro-Israel or Zionist, could be viewed negatively by Muslims and be a distraction
  • Use with plenty of caution, or else we recommend other Bible sites
  • Thank you to Duncan for the cautionary note in the comments

 

    Presentation of Christian faith to Muslims

      info.al-kitab.org

      • Al-Kitab Scripture Research Institute offers Muslim-friendly English Bible correspondence studies

      www.word.org.uk

      • A basic correspondence course for Muslims
      • One former Muslims commented on the word.org resource:
      I found it helpful to send to a Muslim friend who quoted from the Qur’an 19:36-37 that refers to God not needing a son. Rather than argue the point it was great to lovingly direct her to a resource where she can find out for herself
       

      Frequently asked questions

      www.answering-islam.org

      • 'My favourite site', according to Sam!

      www.unchangingword.com

      • A very good website with many articles and video clips giving apologetic lectures on the key subjects that Muslims often discuss
      • The website has most articles and some of the video clips in English, Bengali, Urdu, Indonesian and Mandarin Chinese
       

      Testimonies

      www.muslimjourneytohope.com

      • For testimonies this is hard to beat!

      haveyouseenthemaninwhite.com

      • An interesting approach - 'the man in white'
       

      Other

      A comment from Fred (a former Muslim) on the online approach:

      A very good approach