An Apologetics Primer:
GEM ’85, this rev. Aug. 2002a.1.2.2
"Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect . . ." (1 Peter )
Islam in the
is now being strongly promoted in the
The Islamic Challenge
is rapidly growing as a
spiritual challenge in the
is then inferred that the majority of Jamaicans are descended from Islamic Moors,
who were brought
here as slaves by the Spanish or the British, so that: “[c]ontemporaneous to the autonomous Muslim Maroon ummah, hundreds of thousands of Mu’minun
(the Believers of the Islamic faith) of African descent worked as slaves on
the plantations in Jamaica.” Specifically, the
Maroons are viewed as resisting the British invaders of 1655 by jihad,
as Saladin resisted and finally defeated Richard the Lion Heart and the other
Crusaders in the
Jihad became the religious and political ideology of these crypto-Muslims, who became members of the various denominational nonconformist churches since being sprinkled with the water by the rectors of the parishes. Despite the experience of the most cruel servitude and the likelihood of a swift and ruthless suppression of the rebellion, the spiritually inspired Mu’minun collectively responded to the call for an island-wide jihad in 1832. Commonly known as the Baptist Rebellion, the Jihad of 1832 wrought havoc of irreparable dimension to the plantation system and hastened the Emancipation Act of 1833. [Afroz, p. 227. NB: This claim is most improbable .]
it is concluded by Islamic advocates that the
Responding to the Islamic Challenge
The shaky historical and cultural foundation for the above claims should be quite evident: the overwhelming historical and anthropological evidence is that our “crypto-Muslim” African ancestors were in fact predominantly and very actively animistic, and that Islam first gained a significant institutionalised presence in the region with the settlement of Indian indentured labourers in the mid-nineteenth century. As for the concept that the Maroons were Moorish/Islamic to the point of constituting an Islamic community under Islamic law (i.e. an ummah), one should start by considering the fact that they have been famous, from Spanish times, for Jerk Pork — a major Islamic no-no!
But, while it would be relatively easy to challenge the above in a Seminar Room, it is another matter to take it on in the streets, or even on middle class verandahs, given the unhealed wounds of our unfinished history of oppression and injustice at the hands of “Christian” Europeans and North Americans.
is, just as has been the case with Rastafarianism, mere argument is not enough.
For, until and unless the Church takes
the lead, and demonstrates successful reformation
and renewal of the cultures of our region towards sustainable
prosperity and development, Islam will have a powerful appeal to many
As a part of our overall response to the growing regional Islamic challenge, it is necessary to understand and respond to Islam in general:
(1) In the early seventh century, the Angel Gabriel reportedly appeared to Muhammad, a merchant from
in Mecca SW Arabia, and initiated a series of revelations that have been handed down in the Quran [“Recitation”] and the Hadiths [traditions and sayings of the Prophet]. These revelations and traditions are the foundation for Islamic teachings/belief and faith [iman], law [sharia] and community [umma], all of which are to be integrated, instituted and enforced in a properly established Muslim state.
(2) Muhammad first hesitated — he wondered if he was going mad under demonic influence, and had to be encouraged by his wife, Khadijah — but then began to preach in Mecca, where he made but few converts. While his basic sincerity was clear, he found that his claims were rejected by the Christians and the Jews, and by the majority of the pagan Meccans; some of whom threatened his safety and persecuted his followers. So, after being invited to be its ruler, he fled to Yathrib in 622, which was renamed
, the City of the Prophet. Medina
(3) From the base in
, Islam then spread by alliance, conversion and military victories. Within a decade, Medina Arabiawas under Islamic rule. Jews and Christians were reduced to subject people status as dhimmis [protected persons], and were ultimately expelled from Arabiaunder Umar. It also seems that pagans were often viewed as having no religion, and were at least sometimes offered the options of conversion to Islam, or being put to the sword. All of this was in accord with the temper of the times, and it seems that at least some Christians in saw the prospect of Islamic rule as an improvement over “Christian” Byzantine rule! Syria
(4) After Muhammad’s death in 632, at the [approximate] age of sixty-three, the process of conquest continued under Abu Bakr and the other early Caliphs. Islamic armies swept over the Persian and Byzantine empires, spreading across the
Middle Eastand North Africa, and on into Europeand by 711. In the West they were stopped by Charles Martel at India , about a hundred miles from Tours , in 732. Reportedly, Islamic sea raiders attacked the Irish coasts as well. (NB: This footnote discusses the crusades and related issues, with links to discussions by Bernard Lewis and Bat Ye'or. This link, the 463 years of continual Jihad-associated attacks [not the often assumed "peaceful coexistence"] leading up to the first Crusade of 1095. Here, one may explore links on the related issues of slavery, the slave trade and abolition.) Paris
(5) Beyond those regions, Islam has been predominantly spread by traders and the teachings of Islamic holy men, especially the mystical Sufis. Thus for instance,
became the world’s most populous Muslim country, and sub-Saharan Indonesia Africasaw a gradual Islamic penetration from the North from about the tenth century on. (In recent decades, there has also been a large-scale, well organised Dawa, a missionary campaign to proclaim and establish Islam in all nations.)
(6) Islamic believers famously practice the Five Pillars of Islam: (1) Confession that Allah alone is God and Muhammad his Prophet/Apostle — Authoritative Spokesman; (2) Prayer to Allah while prostrated towards
, five times per day; (3) Fasting (especially during Ramadan); (4) Almsgiving; (5) where possible, Pilgrimage to the Kaaba in Mecca . Some add a sixth pillar, Jihad, or struggle: classically, in the sense of religiously motivated military conflict to extend the sphere of Islam, but the term is also used in the “higher” sense of spiritual/moral struggle. Mecca
(7) In the process of its initial territorial expansion, Islam viewed the world as divided into two zones: Dar al Islam [the house of submission to Allah]; and Dar al Harb [the house of the sword/war]. In the former domain, those who hold to other religions — most notably Judaism and Christianity — may continue to practice their belief, but are often subjected to the conditions of the Pact of Umar, and are Dhimmis [“protected persons”] with sharply restricted Civil Rights relative to Muslim men. From the Seventh Century on, this has materially contributed to the conversion of subject peoples to Islam, as people sought to gain the status of full members of the community.
(8) Treaties with non-Islamic states, on this classic Islamic view, are inherently temporary truces, and the expansion of Islam by military means is always an open option. (According to some observers, the classic example of this was set by Muhammad himself, who they say broke a peace treaty between
and the Quraysh of Medina , and so conquered his native city, putting to the sword key opponents and critics, including a poetess who had composed satirical poems challenging his integrity.) However, from the Middle Ages on, there have been Muslim scholars, jurists and statesmen who have argued for a more permanent character to such treaties. Mecca
(9) Islam views the Old Testament prophets and Jesus as Prophets of Allah, and regards the Bible as inspired, to the extent that it has not been corrupted. In particular, the concept of the Trinity is viewed as an attempt to elevate Mary — yes, Mary — and Jesus to divine status alongside Allah, that is Shirk, and Christianity is therefore often viewed as idolatrous. Muhammad, as Allah’s final Prophet, has the last say on matters of revelation and fact.
(10) As Surah 4:156 – 158 records, the Quran specifically denies the crucifixion of Christ: “they killed him not, nor crucified him . . . . Nay, Allah raised him up unto Himself.” Thus, the Quran’s message is explicitly incompatible with the core gospel message: “on which [we Christians] have taken [our] stand. By this gospel [we] are saved if [we] hold firmly to the word . . . . that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures . . . . And if Christ has not been raised [from the dead], our preaching is useless and so is [our] faith . . . [we] are still in [our] sins.” [1 Cor. 15:2 – 5, 14, 17.]
(11) As Dr Patrick Sookhdeo — who is familiar with Caribbean Islam from his upbringing in his native
— also reports, “Muslims believe that Jesus will come back to earth as a Muslim, will marry and have children, then die and be buried near Muhammad. Some traditions assert that at this second coming He will destroy every cross, kill all Jews, convert the Christians to Islam, and reign as king of all Muslims.” [Sookhdeo, p. 22.] Guyana
(12) Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam [NOI] is somewhat divergent from mainstream Islam, as it is rooted in the rejection of racism in the
, and views Islam as the answer for the Black man. It is somewhat syncretistic between Muslim, Jehovah’s Witness and more orthodox Christian beliefs, has Afrocentric elements and views the White race as the product of breeding experiments over six hundred years by an evil scientist. In some cases, NOI spokesmen reportedly may go so far as to view white people as incarnate devils. United States
Responding to Islamic Theological Claims
Clearly, the critical theological divergence between Islam and the gospel is that Islam does not accept the need for Christ as the Redeemer/Saviour and reconciler between the Holy God and sinful, rebellious and morally defiled man. Consequently, Islam redefines Jesus as a merely human Prophet of Allah, and rejects the biblical testimony to Christ’s Eternal Sonship, Incarnation, atoning death on the cross, and his resurrection — by raising the charge that the texts have been corrupted.
However, there is no real evidential basis for such corruption of the text, since we can directly trace its history, and that of the teachings of the Church Fathers, to the edge of the First Century. Indeed, this history is also externally supported: for example Pliny the Younger, Roman Governor of Bithynia circa 110 AD, in discussing trials of Christians, confirms the doctrinal picture we read in the New Testament. Josephus, a Jewish historian, and Seutonius, a Roman historian, allow us to carry this recognizable picture back to the 30’s to 70’s. Pagan graffiti in Roman Arenas mocks early Christians for worshipping a crucified Christ (who is sometimes mockingly caricatured with an Ass’ head). Even the Talmud, by accusing him of blasphemy and demonic powers, provides inadvertent support to the historicity of Jesus’ teachings, claims and miracles.
In short, biblical, orthodox Christian teachings and beliefs are, beyond reasonable doubt, rooted in the historic New Testament Faith. Paul summarises the core of that Faith as he sets out the theme of his Epistle to the Romans, which dates to the 50’s in the First Century — within thirty years of Jesus’ ministry:
[T]he gospel of God — the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God, by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. [Rom1:2 – 4.]
Thus we may see the critical contrast between authentic Christian faith and Islam’s underlying principles: a gospel of salvation that leads to righteousness through personal spiritual transformation by the power of the indwelling Spirit vs. a framework of religious laws, traditions and precedents that seeks to bring people and communities to submission and, through conformity to its rules, to reform them towards righteousness.
Unfortunately, such a law-centred framework for achieving righteousness simply will not, and cannot, work. The agonized, lived-out words of the Apostle Paul — who started his life as “a Hebrew of Hebrews . . . as for legalistic righteousness, faultless” — explain why:
We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do . . . . When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. Who will rescue me from this body of death?
In short, knowing and delighting in the righteous requirements of God is good, but it is utterly incapable of breaking through our underlying problem: enslavement to sin. Is there any hope for us?
Thank God, yes! Paul, speaking from experience, explains why the gospel lives up to its name — Good News:
Thanks be to God — through Jesus Christ our Lord . . . . because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set [us] free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit . . . . And if the Spirit of him who raised Christ from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit . . . . if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
Thus, while it is appropriate to point out to our Muslim friends that there are significant misunderstandings in the Islamic picture of Christianity, that there is good historical evidence for the claims that Jesus suffered under Pontius Pilate, died on a cross and rose from the dead, and that there is solid reason to reject the claims that the New Testament is fraudulent or corrupted, these are not the heart of the matter.
Instead, let us focus on the core issue: sin, enslavement to sin even in the teeth of delighting in laws that identify and command what is good and right, and our consequent profound need for radical Salvation and transformation from within by the Spirit of God. To access that hope and transforming power, we must put our trust in the Incarnate Christ and Eternal Son of God, who came in love, humbled himself and became obedient to the point of dying on a cross for our sins as our sinless substitute, and then rose in power on the third day as Son of God and Lord, in order that he might fill all things with his grace and glory.
Consequently, we conclude, on a note of both warning and hope:
All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the law.” Clearly no-one is justified before God by the law because, “The righteous will live by faith.” The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, “The man who does these things will live by them.” Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.” He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the ethne [Nations] through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.
 Drawn from several recent academic papers, newspaper articles and exhibitions by Dr. Sultana Afroz of UWI, and others. Cf. Prof. Maureen Warner Lewis’ devastating response: http://www.jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20021020/focus/focus3.html
 The OED notes: (1) “Moor: a member of
a Muslim people of mixed Berber and Arab descent, inhabiting N W Africa”;
(2)“Berber: a member of the indigenous mainly Muslim Caucasian
peoples of N. Africa”; and (3) “Arab: a member of a Semitic people
inhabiting originally Saudi Arabia and the neighbouring
countries, now the Middle East generally.” For, arising from the Islamic
conquest of The Middle East and
 Afroz, S.: “The Jihad of
1831–1832: The Misunderstood Baptist Rebellion in
 NB: Highly unlikely, as such Anglican rectors as a rule frowned on non-conformists, especially Baptists — “immersionists.”
 Similarly, Nanny is far more readily understood as an adept of African Religions than as a miracle-working Sufi Saint.
 Over the past five centuries, once the Scriptures were
put in the hands of the ordinary man, Christianity has frequently played a leading
prophetic role in cultural and social reformation, not least in the abolition
of slavery. Even the modern democratic nation-state is largely a heritage
of the Protestant Reformation. [Cf. The Dutch Declaration of Independence,
1581, Duplesis-Mornay’s 1579 Vindiciae Contra Tyrannos,
 Summarised fom various sources, especially Chapman’s Cross and Crescent, Cooper’s Ishmael My Brother, Sookhdeo’s A Christian’s Pocket Guide to Islam, the Caner’s Unveiling Islam and the Web site http://www.answering-islam.org.uk/ .
 That is, Islam traditionally seeks territorial control as a legally established religion, through state power.
 As a false prophet teaching doctrines contrary to the Jewish and Christian traditions and Scriptures.
Crusades, strictly speaking, were therefore counter-offensives; however despicably
carried out in contravention of the letter and spirit of the Gospel. They were
apparently initially provoked by the harassment of Christian pilgrims in the
 This is why in many African nations in the band from
 Originally, the Kaaba was a Pagan shrine, reportedly dedicated to 360 gods, including Allah. The three goddesses, Al Lat, Al Uzza and Manat — who in the “Satanic Verses” Muhammad allowed prayers to be directed to — were apparently traditionally identified as Allah’s three daughters, in the native pagan religion. (Cf. Sura 53:19 – 23, subsequently abrogated and modified to read very differently in the current version.)
 The root meaning of the word “Islam” is submission; such
submission to Allah then results in “peace.” A “Muslim” is one who has submitted,
and thus has found peace. This contrasts with the Christian/Hebraic message
that there is a radical alienation from God due to sin and guilt, which must be
 For instance, their testimony in Court is regarded as not credible relative to that of a Muslim. This sharply restricts the ability of dhimmis to engage in commerce with confidence, to own property or to hold responsible positions. Thus, since this condition is deeply rooted in Islamic tradition, even where it is not officially the law of the land, it leads to a distinct second class citizen status for such dhimmis. Cf. http://www.dhimmitude.org/archive/by_lecture_10oct2002.htm for Bat Ye’or’s detailed review.
 The consensus of the four main schools of Islamic law, Hanifi, Maliki, Shafi and Hanbali, is that adult males who leave Islam are subject to the death penalty. Even where this is not enforced through the state, such converts are often isolated from their families, sometimes under threat to their lives, and need the understanding and ongoing support of the Christian community.
 Islam regards deception in war as religiously justifiable.
Thus, Muhammad’s treaty with
 Others assert that the Meccans provoked Muhammad’s assault by attacking his allies. (It should be noted that such disputes over who first started hostilities are common. But the most salient points for our attention are that: (1) what may constitute a “provocation” in Islamic eyes is extremely flexible, and (2) “temporary truces” is a clear Islamic model for dealing with powerful opponents in the short term while preparing for renewed hostilities at a more favourable time. For, in Islamist eyes, true peace is only possible when the world is reduced to submission to Allah — the root meaning of “Islam.”)
 The ambivalence in the commitment of Islamic nations to the UN Charter on Human Rights is a most important case in point.
 Thus, attempts to use NT or OT texts to demonstrate the Deity of Christ will often be dismissed as instances of corruption of the text. The secularist-influenced biblical criticism of the past several centuries may also be pressed into service to support such claims, compounding the argument. Although the historical and textual critical evidence, in fact, do not support such a corruption thesis, the issue rapidly becomes one of the Authority/Credibility of Muhammad as God’s final Prophet, and so it is very hard for the evidence to be heard. Thus, relationship and trust must come before argument and debate: the truth, in love.
 See Surah and 171, and 5:116. Shirk is viewed as the
most deadly of all sins,
describes it as unpardonable: “Allah forgiveth not that
partners should be set up with Him; but He forgiveth
anything else.” However, the Islamic view on the Trinity reflects Muhammad’s
encounters with heretical sects in
 Cited, Patrick Sookhdeo, A
Christian’s Pocket Guide to Islam [
 Cf. Gal. 5:1 – 6:10.
 Cf. Rom. , Gal. 3:1 – 14 & , Eph. 4:17 – 5:21 and
 Philippians 3:5 – 6.
 Rom – 15; 21- 24.
 Rom 8:1 – 14.
– 14; Cf.