Muhammad

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.

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?

Jesus & Muhammad

Image: Adam Przewoski,  Unsplash

Image: Adam Przewoski, Unsplash

Jesus & Muhammad

Local Mahabba members were involved with another Meeting for Better Understanding (MBU) between Muslims and Christians the other night.

The discussion was to do with Jesus and Muhammad.

Individuals had been praying hard for the Holy Spirit to move in this particular mosque, which practises a strict form of Islam.

There have been a number of previous MBU’s, but little outward signs of warming to the Gospel.

On the night, about 80 people, mainly Muslims, heard a clear Gospel presentation and took evangelistic literature.

Questions and discussion about Muhammad and Jesus clearly gave Muslims present much food for thought, some of them a little troubling, as they challenged their current beliefs about Jesus.

Christians continue to meet up with their Muslim friends, so please pray for them as they build relationships and share Jesus, particularly as the Gospel stirs people's hearts and minds with questions and promptings.

Your turn

Have you been inspired?

Why not get in touch with your local Mahabba prayer group, get praying and see where God leads you?

How to answer key questions from Muslims

Image: Emily Morter,  Unsplash

Image: Emily Morter, Unsplash

How to answer key questions from Muslims

Denise has been building relationships with Muslims, and sent in the following question, wanting to know how she can bring her faith into conversations with grace and truth.

How can I get equipped to ask - and answer - the right questions when talking to Muslims?

Dear Mahabba,

I have a good Muslim friend, and we have been talking about faith and building friendship for several years. I was recently invited to the mosque open day, and spoke to the imam and my friends for two hours.

However, although I came away feeling much more informed, I felt ill-equipped to ask the right questions - especially to do with the fundamental differences between Islam and Christianity.

These included, the sonship and divinity of Jesus;  the Trinity; reliability of the Qur'an and Bible; and more besides!

Can you help or point me in the right direction? I would really appreciate it!

Many thanks,

Denise

 

Our response

Hi Denise,

Thanks again for your message, and great to hear that you are building relationships and have been able to visit your local mosque successfully.

In terms of your questions, there are a handful of suggestions:

  1. Connect with someone at your local Mahabba group
     
  2. Browse the helpful articles on Christianity Explained website
     
  3. Join The City and enquire of others there
     
  4. Connect with Applied Biblical Christianity (ABC)
 

Local Mahabba group

There are individuals in local Mahabba groups who are doing exactly the same things as you and working through the same challenges. A local group is an excellent place to get support from others with more experience.

 

Christianity Explained website

There are many websites available with articles and resources on how to answer common questions and points raised by Muslims. Check out the articles on explaining Christianity to Muslims and various hot topics.

 

Join The City

You can also apply to join The City, the Mahabba online community area, where you can pick the brains of lots of other Christians who are engaged in the same issues as you. This is good if there is no local group near you, and there is a wider pool of people to ask.

 

Connect with ABC

Acts of kindness definitely help to build new relationships, but what do you do when the Qur'an says:

Jesus did not die on the cross, neither was he the Son of God, the third person of the Trinity, or God

'How to share the Gospel with Muslims' is a useful document from ABC which can help lead to opportunities to share the Gospel, as well as answering the usual questions.

Also available from ABC as a PowerPoint for teaching in small groups or churches. [N.B. scroll to bottom of downloads page.]

I hope that helps!

Let me know if you need any further help,

Simon