Even though Christians and Muslims disagree on a number of major issues, there are areas where we can learn from each other. As I have stressed elsewhere, just because two groups of people disagree, doesn’t mean they need to hate each other.
In my previous post, we discussed what Christians can learn from Muslims in regards to “prayer.” In this post, I want to look at 4 things that Christians can learn from Muslims in regards to views of “the Holy Book.”
The Muslim View of the Holy Book
Christians view the Bible as the essential Holy Book and believe that this alone is the authoritative Word of God. Christians do not accept the authority of any other Holy Book and I am not suggesting that Christians need to accept everything the Quran teaches. If, in any religion, a Christian finds something that agrees with the Bible, then it is perfectly acceptable to agree in this area (e.g. if one finds another religion which states to ‘love your neighbour’ then there is no need to disregard this aspect of that religion).
Muslims view the Quran as the essential Holy Book and believe it was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad over the course of 23 years. They also believe that previous revelations from God – including the Torah, the Psalms and the Bible – have been changed and corrupted over time, which made it necessary for God to issue a ‘final revelation.’
There are 114 chapters (Surah’s) in the Quran written in Arabic. The Qur’an is sometimes divided into 30 roughly equal parts, known as juz’. Muslims are encouraged to read/recite the entire Quran especially during the month of Ramadan and these divisions make it easier for Muslims to read one juz’ each day.
Muslims respect the Quran so much that they are encouraged to behave in reverence and refrain from speaking, eating/drinking, or making a distracting noise when it is being read aloud. There are stories of when a baby is born, the first words they hear whispered in their ear are a verse from the Quran. From an early age, they are encouraged to memorize large portions of the Quran and be able to recite it in the original language even if they do not speak that language fluently. Portions are also recited during their daily prayers.
4 Lessons to Learn from Muslim’s View of the Holy Book
1. The Entire Book. How many times have you read the whole Bible? Do you just read sections of it here and there or do you read it in its entirety? While the size of the Bible and the Quran may be different, it is interesting that they will read the whole Quran in a month and yet it is difficult to convince Christians to read the whole Bible in a year. Many Christians claim to be just too busy to read the Bible every day and can’t be bothered to even read small portions at a time unless it is opened for them on a Sunday at church.
If we really believe that God has revealed Himself through a book (the Bible) then why don’t we take more time to read it daily? Why don’t we at least make sure we’ve read it cover to cover in 365 days? Don’t just read parts of the Bible that you like or find interesting, read the whole thing!
2. Respect for the Book. Christians and Muslims agree that the words on these pages are intended to be God’s way of speaking to us. Christians believe in Sola Scriptura which means that Scripture alone is authoritative for the faith and practice of the Christian. The Bible is complete, authoritative, and true. “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). This is a book which deserves some respect! I’m not suggesting that we worship the Book itself; rather, we worship the God who the book points us to.
Given the fact that Muslims are to be completely quiet and reverent when the Quran is being recited out loud, it is a shame when certain Christians couldn’t care less when hearing the words that give life from the Bible! A modern day example would be an encouragement to stop texting on your phone when someone is taking the time to quote Scripture.
From what I understand, the Quran is not merely a piece of furniture in the Muslims home which collects dust; rather, it is an important part of their life. Christian preacher, C.H. Spurgeon once said, “There is dust enough on some of your Bibles to write ‘damnation’ with your fingers.” Sadly, this is too true for some Christians who do not respect the Bible and it simply becomes another book collecting dust on a shelf that never gets opened.
3. Memorization. Muslims are encouraged to memorize portions of the Quran from an early age. This coincides with their daily prayers. Christians, do you memorize Scripture? I get it, memorization is harder for some people than others; however, there are benefits to being able to quote the Bible to yourself or others depending on the situation you’re in. If we believe that the Bible is God’s Word which guides our daily lives, then it is good to have Scripture at the forefront of your memory. Additionally, when you are faced with a false teaching, you can cling to the truths of the Bible which are fresh on your mind. Start off memorizing small portions and work your way to larger portions (a whole paragraph or a whole chapter).
Here is a good 5 part blog series from the Gospel Coalition on memorizing the Bible. This will speak more in-depth of the why/how of Bible memorization. Let the Muslim’s devotion to Quran memorization be an encouragement to us to memorize large portions of the Bible.
4. Defending the Book. It is interesting to note that Muslims are taught that the Quran is intended to correct errors in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. There are a number of Muslims who spend significant amounts of time learning ways to attack the so-called corrupted Bible. Therefore, it is important for us as Christians to be ready to give a defence for the hope that is in us (1 Peter 3:15). Often times, this means being able to defend the Holy Book that we should be reading, respecting, and memorizing.
Are you prepared to defend the Bible as the authoritative, inspired Word of God?
– Tyson Bradley
Read Part 1 here