Essentials of Islam
This course serves as a summary of the beliefs and practices of Islam by Dr. Timothy Tennent.
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About this Class
There are seven messages that will introduce readers to the historical context, key tenents of the Muslim faith, distinctions and divisions found within Islam, and a basic strategy for engaging Muslims with the gospel.
You may purchase an mp3 CDROM containing the audio of the lectures from this class by clicking here.
The geography and cultural influences in Arabia during the 6th century a.d. had a significant influence on the beginning and development of the religion of Islam. Muhammad's early life was normal. When he was 40, he claimed to have a revelation from the angel Gabriel about worshiping the one "true" God, Allah. He receives further revelations that he records in what has become known as the Qur'an. Because of his revelation, Muhammad destroyed the family idols and then fled to Medina with a group of his supporters. There were significant military battles in which Muhammad and his followers defended themselves even though they were greatly outnumbered. Some of the Muslim mosques that were built have great religious and historical significance.
The Muslims believe that the Qur'an is a divine revelation from God given directly to Muhammed beginning in about 610 a.d. The Five Pillars of the Islamic religion are the confession of faith, ritual prayer, almsgiving, fasting and pilgrimage.
Muhammad's successors were call caliphs. From the beginning, there was disagreement about what characteristics would qualify someone to be a caliph. The four "Rightly Guided Caliphs" were in power in successive years from 632 to 661. The two major divisions in Islam are the Shia and Sunni Muslims. One of the major differences between these two movements was over how the successors to Muhammad would be determined. A third movement in Islam is known as Sufi.
Along with the Qur'an, the Hadith is another source of revelation for the Muslim religion. The Hadith addresses many social and economic issues that come up in daily life. The Sunna is a collection of oral tradition about Muhammad, and the Hadith is a collection of narratives about Muhammad that are written. The Sunnis also have a provision for the community coming to a consensus about something new being agreed to as having equal authority with the Qur'an and Hadith. In the Shia community an Imam can declare something as revelatory truth. These components combine to make up Sharia law, which governs the Muslim community.
If we look at this as an exegetical statement, we can see that from looking at the teachings of the Qur'an, Islam is not a religion that at its root, advocates peaceful propagation. If we look at this as a historical statement, Islam has not historically been a religion of peace, even though some of its followers may advocate living at peace with others. The two contradictory principles that exist in tension in the Muslim religion are Da'wah and Jihad.
It is timely to explore the rise of Islamic fundamentalism and how that has resulted in the rise of Osama bin Laden and recent terrorist activities. An effective response to this movement will require a Christian presence among Muslims around the world.
Islam and Christianity have major theological differences including their view of Scripture, the nature of God, who Jesus is and what is required for salvation. There are specific strategies that can help us witness to Muslims genuinely and effectively.