Qur'an

Quenching hunger

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God is moving among Muslims

This is a real-life story of recent events from one of the local Mahabba groups in the Network. Names and details have been deliberately removed to protect the identity of those involved, but praise God - he is working in the lives of Muslims to reveal Jesus!

Quenching hunger

We were inspired by another Mahabba group and are hoping to put on a discussion with some mosques inviting believers and Muslims.

At the event, the Qur’an is read then discussed, then the Bible is read and discussed.

We are hoping this will provide a chance for Muslims to ask questions and open up the word.  

I have spoken to two mosque leaders about it: one was keen, one is speaking to their imam about it.

The one that is keen also seems very spiritually hungry and a couple of us have done some one-to-one Bible study with him and have given him scriptures.

We are praying that he will come to know Jesus and lead his congregation to follow him.

Please pray that the practical details all get sorted and that many come to know Jesus.

 

Your turn

Have you been touched by this story? If so, you can play your part.

  • Share the amazing news of God moving among Muslim with your friends via e-mail or social media, using the links below
     
  • Support Mahabba in its work to equip everyday Christians to build relationships and share Jesus with Muslims

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?

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?

Elliot's weekly round-up: Immigration, Integration & Islam

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ELLIOT'S WEEKLY ROUND-UP: IMMIGRATION, INTEGRATION & ISLAM

The election  held in The Netherlands this week  was dominated by the theme  of immigration, integration and Islam.

Geet Wilders party which wanted to ban the Qur'an and mosques has only gained a few additional seats and so will be ruled out of talks about forming a coalition. 

The European Union has ruled that employers can ban visible religious symbols in the workplace. This has potentially huge implications for hijab wearing Muslim women all over Europe. Some have welcomed the ruling others have feel it discriminates against Muslims.

 

For Muslim women a headscarf is not an accessory; rather, it is a part of their belief. So, just like one’s ethnicity, it can’t be changed or replaced. The headscarf ban will keep Muslim women out of jobs and business

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2017/03/eu-hijab-ruling-affect-muslim-women-170316073040916.html

The final episode of Extremely British Muslims was shown this week on Channel 4. It was about how Muslims live by the rules from the Qur'an and Hadith.

It featured brothers Shaun and Lee, who couldn't be more different. Shaun has become a Muslim and is now known as Abdul. His wife is Pakistani. His brother, Lee, is/was a member of the English Defence League.

On their visits to each other, with their families, having frank chats in the back garden, they reminisce about the good old days.

“We liked going out and getting wrecked, didn’t we?” says Lee. Abdul, you didn’t! Oh, but he did. “The party was always at our house,” he smiles – is that nostalgia or regret?

They laugh together about Abdul’s ginger beard, while Lee admits he used to think Muslims were baddies and that, by attending EDL rallies, he was “sticking up for his country”. Asked if he would ever go to the mosque with his brother, Lee gives an honest no, prompting Abdul to say:

If any of his friends saw him in a mosque, that would look bad

https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2017/mar/17/extremely-british-muslims-review-the-only-extreme-thing-round-here-is-the-size-of-the-rats

How can we respond to en election, a European ruling, a TV documentary set in Birmingham. I have been reading a book this week - it has a suggestion.

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

Islam in church: Some questions

Image: defenceimages,  Flickr

Image: defenceimages, Flickr

Introduction

Islam in church, the sacred space and interfaith is a divisive topic. By opening up the discussion here, Mahabba Network is seeking to help Christians to pause, consider the facts and pray before commenting.
 
We trust that as you read you will weigh Scripture and invite the Holy Spirit to bring you discernment in the issues.
 
Mahabba seeks to make space for those who are more interfaith and ecumenical-minded as well as the evangelically-minded who want to see Muslims discipled to Jesus.
 
Mahabba’s vision is to see Jesus unveiled to Muslims, but we believe that dialogue and understanding of ‘the other’ are important on that journey.
 
The two are not mutually-exclusive, but it does mean that there is tension in holding both together.

 

What is church?

How do we think about church space, nevermind Islam in church: is it simply a building that homes us while we join together for communal worship, so that we may even meet in a school and call it ‘church’?
 
To what extent do our churches belong to the community as a whole – whether they’re Christians or not – so that they may visit and learn about our Christian history?
 
Is the church the house of God in the sense that we all may enter but only the sanctified may express themselves?

 

Qur’an and adhan in church

This January saw two events where Islamic presentations took place in a church space, causing uproar and raising some of these questions again.
 
First there was the Qur'an reading at an Epiphany service in Glasgow and then there was the adhan at Gloucester Cathedral.

[See below for more on the Qur'an reading in Glasgow from the Pfander Centre]

There has also been controversy surrounding Rev Giles Goddars and St John’s Waterloo where a progressive Muslim group was invited to use the St John’s space.

 

Fed up of religious people

On January 14, I visited the launch of an art exhibition at Gloucester Cathedral by a self-proclaimed atheist artist.
 
He had painted 37 huge portraits depicting people of different faiths, explaining that he had become intolerant of ‘religious people’ and this project was his way of connecting with people of different persuasions: Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Rastafarian, Wiccan and others, so that he may understand them better.

 

Fire-eating vicar and the pagan rock band

I don’t usually attend these kinds of events, but had a personal stake in this one. My friend, a Muslim, was the subject of one of the portraits.
 
The launch promised a variety of demonstrations by different religions, and of course, there was food.
 
The portraits were placed around the cloister walls and the launch events took place in the Chapter House, a side room off the cloister area.
 
I only stayed long enough to hear the Jewish Klezmer band, the Buddhist meditation and the Muslim call to prayer, adhan. I missed out on the fire-eating vicar and the pagan rock band.

 

Cathedral attracts criticism

Sadly, neither I nor my Muslim friend were surprised the next week when local papers reported that the cathedral had removed a video clip of the adhan from its Facebook page because it had attracted abuse.
 
The cathedral attracted further criticism and the issue then made the front pages, was reported on regional BBC TV news and went national.

 

Constructive approaches to different faiths

Interfaith contact often causes debate or accusations of syncretism. But the Gloucester controversy differs from the Scottish furore in ways that might help us think about constructive approaches to different faiths:

  1. The Gloucester event did not take place in the usual Christian worship space but in an adjacent room which is also available for hire to the general public. In contrast, the Glasgow cathedral event had the Qur'an reading as part of the worship service
     
  2. The Muslim call to prayer was one religious expression among many, including Buddhists, Wiccans, Rastafaris and others so that people could learn, not only about similarities between faiths, but the fundamental differences between them
     
  3. The call to prayer was made in Arabic and translated afterwards in English so that everyone could understand what was being said

The event was not part of regular Christian worship, but an open educational or artistic event hosted on the cathedral grounds

 

Media-consuming public

Rather than revealing something about the state of Christendom in Britain, it says something about us as a media-consuming public when the Muslim call to prayer is singled out from a list of other religious expressions to make headlines.
 
I was certainly glad that I had a long established relationship with this same Muslim friend in Gloucester so that we could continue meeting the next Saturday, where we reflected on the comfort promised to us in Psalm 121.

 

A different perspective

Our friends at the Pfander Centre had an interesting perspective on the reading of the Qur'an in church.

Here are a few points, and do read their blog in full.

  • Christians should e encouraged to sit down with Muslims and study the Qur’an and the Bible together
     
  • If we believe the Bible to be God’s word, why is the Qur’an given the same status as the Bible, when it teaches the opposite of core Christian doctrine?
     
  • Ayahs 35-36, which were read out, are direct denouncements of Jesus' divinity and sonship, in a gathering where people were worshiping him as the unique Son of God
 

Your turn

Do you want to find out more about Islam and Muslims – request someone from Mahabba to come and speak at your church.

Name *
Name
 

The author

Georgina is part of the Network Team and is involved with her local Mahabba prayer group. She also wrote all the entries for our recent Mini-Lovefast campaign during Eid al-Adha! (Find out more about who’s who in Mahabba.)

 

Community

We welcome comments and discussion, but please read our Comments Policy before posting a reply in the comments section below.

Can you recommend a good book to understand the Qur'an?

Image: Ersan Urganci,  Flickr    

Image: Ersan Urganci, Flickr

 

CAN YOU RECOMMEND A GOOD BOOK TO UNDERSTAND THE QUR'AN?

A friend of mine is trying to read the Qur’an and has asked for a good and short book to help her understand what the Qur’an is saying; does anyone have any good recommendations for this?

This is a common question, and do see the existing entry below: ‘Recommended English translation of the Qur’an and introduction’.

 

Find a translation first 

We suggest that you first start with a translation and then move onto commentaries and secondary books.

  • Find a translation of the Qur’an first (see below), which allows it speak for itself and its nature to become apparent
  • Read from back to front (surah 114 back to surah 2) is helpful for giving a sense of how ideas develop. The ‘back section’ is mostly older ‘revelations’ from Mecca while the front section is mostly newer ‘revelation.’ (The heading of each chapter should tell you whether it’s a Meccan or Medinan surah.)
 

Use a commentary to help you understand

Once you have had a chance to engage with the text itself through a translation (if you need it), have a look at the following:

  • Neal Robinson’s Discovering the Qur’an (see below), although it is quite academic
  • James White’s What Every Christian Needs To Know About The Qur’an (2013)
  • An archived online course by the Qur’an scholar (non-Muslim), Gabriel Said Reynolds of Notre Dame in the USA, which discusses themes of the Qur’an, its role within Islam, meaning to Muslims, and relationship with the Bible
  • Chapter two in Malise Ruthven ‘Islam: A very short introduction’ gives a good an readable overview. It’s an excellent small book, that is readily available, accurate content, and a good starting place
  • A six-page chapter from John Azumah’s book ‘My Neighbour’s Faith’ which is on the qur’an and hadith
 

Other resources

Qur'an course by Jeremy Hinds from Word of Life

  • Excellent introduction for the Christian who wants to seriously study the Qur'an itself
  • A little archaic now, but still an accurate self-study course
  • Designed for use with 'Meaning of the Glorious Qur'an' by M Pickthall, but can be used with any English translation of the Qur'an
 

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