"Islam is NOT a Peaceful Religion"
Think you know what Islam is all about? What former-Muslim-turned-Christian-theologian Ergun Caner reveals may shock you.
CBN.com - Born into a family of Muslim clerics, Dr. Ergun Caner is now a professor of Christian theology and has written a new book called Unveiling Islam. In this interview, Caner shares the truth about the Islamic faith.
Pat Robertson: It is a pleasure to welcome to The 700 Club Dr. Caner. You have a Muslim background.
Dr. Ergun Caner: My father was the one who would do the call to prayer. In a mosque the only person who has a title is the imam. My father was very active and helped found the mosque in Columbus, Ohio, after we came to America.
Pat Robertson: What happened to you? You were brought up as a good Muslim boy. What happened?
Ergun Caner: I was the equivalent of a preacher’s kid, if you can imagine, and then I came to the point where I was invited to church by a friend who didn't care how I dressed or what I looked like. I found the Lord on a Thursday and went back to the mosque on Friday assuming they wanted to hear about this grace that I had received from Christ. That was not the case.
Pat Robertson: What did they do to you?
Ergun Caner: They beat me up.
Pat Robertson: When you say beat you up, what does that mean?
Ergun Caner: Exactly what it sounds like.
Pat Robertson: With fists or clubs?
Ergun Caner: With fists.
Pat Robertson: Who did this, the leadership or your fellow employees? Ergun Caner: The ones who were in the youth jihad. Pat Robertson: Really? That drove you closer to the Lord, I guess, didn't it?
Ergun Caner: What's wonderful is that day my father disowned me, but both of my brothers accepted Christ. My younger brother teaches at a seminary, I teach at a Christian College, my middle brother is a strong Christian and a member of a church, our mother accepted the Lord and is married to a church planter, and my grandmother accepted the Lord right before she died.
Pat Robertson: The president of the United States has said over and over again that Islam is a religion of peace, but these terrorists are an aberration. Tell us about that.
Ergun Caner: I have heard it over and over, as have you, 'How can they do this? Islam is just a religion of peace.' We are taught jihad from our youth. We are taught jihad in the hadith and the Koran from our youth. As a matter of fact, I am under the sentence of death, as is any Muslim who finds Christ, because the Koran says and the hadith teaches that anyone who changes his Islamic religion must be killed. Pat Robertson: Just like that?
Ergun Caner: Hadith 957. It is one thing to say that they don't accept jihad. They can say that. They can be the equivalent of liberal Muslims, if they wish. But it is another thing to say that the Koran and Muhammad and the hadith does not teach it, because we are taught to convert or to conquer.
Pat Robertson: Jihad is explained as resist evil.
Ergun Caner: No.
Pat Robertson: You say not true.
Ergun Caner: Muhammad's last words were 'Push the infidels out of the Arabian Peninsula.' Those were the last words that he said. Anyone who does not worship Allah in the last day, it will not be accepted of him, paradise is under the shades of the sword -- these are the teachings of the Koran. The promise of forgiveness for men like Muhammad Atta was that you would be translated to paradise if you died in Allah’s cause.
Pat Robertson: Why don't Americans know this? Why doesn't our president know this? He has advisors. Surely someone up there has read the Koran.
Ergun Caner: I wish he had more contact with you, Dr. Robertson. Pat Robertson: Regrettably he doesn't.
Ergun Caner: Last week while you were in China, he sat at a Ramadan iftaar, the meal that they have after they break the fast at night. This is the Muslim equivalent of a closed communion. Anyone who sits at that table has to pledge allegiance to the Muslim faith. Thus, at that meal, our president professed Allah.
Pat Robertson: Did he know he was doing that?
Ergun Caner: I do not know.
Pat Robertson: Everybody says Allah and God are the same.
Ergun Caner: I consider it the Oprah-ization of our culture. You know the national cathedral and the prayer service at the stadium and they said, 'I pray in the name of Allah and Jehovah and Jesus.' It was offensive to me as a Muslim to say that Allah and Jehovah are the same. It is blasphemous to us as Christians. It is not an issue of semantics. Allah has no son. The Koran teaches that. There is no way an intellectual and honest Muslim would ever say that they are the same.
Pat Robertson: I have heard that Allah was one of the genies that hung out at Mecca. He was sort of like a demonic spirit. Were did he come from?
Ergun Caner: I think the terminology is as you said. But Muhammad had this view of a god who is remote and removed. The most amazing thing to me as a Christian, when I became a believer in Jesus, was the intimacy and the relationship with Jesus and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. And so a Muslim views Allah as remote and as judge. As a matter of fact, the only intimate term that Muslims know about Allah is as a threat. Allah is as close as your jugular.
Pat Robertson: So, the God of love, there is no such thing?
Ergun Caner: No.
Pat Robertson: How does a Muslim get saved besides blowing up the World Trade Center?
Ergun Caner: Since the events at the World Trade Center, I have spoken at the United Nations and I have preached around, and I get the same question from the media that you do: 'When did you switch?' I didn't switch anything. I got saved. The distinction is that I found grace, where as before I had lived with works. Muslim boys and girls and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said they train us from youth to die for our faith, hoping to shed our own blood so that we can find forgiveness, the release from our scales. Pat Robertson: What about the concept of kismet? It is fate. Isn't that deeply involved in the Muslim religion?
Ergun Caner: Absolutely. I always say to my students that Islam is hyper Calvinist. Islam believes that if you are a believer in Islam, a believer in Allah, great. If not, it is our job to kill you and send you to hell faster. If you kill us, we go to paradise. It’s the only eternal security that a Muslim has.
Pat Robertson: That's it? In other words, if you live your life and you die, you have no knowledge of where you are going to go eternally? Ergun Caner: Muhammad even said, 'I don't even know where I will go.' He said, 'Only Allah knows.' The founder of the faith in which I was raised had no assurance of his own salvation.
Pat Robertson: What about the satanic verses? Salman Rushdie said that in the Koran Muhammad admitted that certain of it came from Satan. I have not read the Koran and certainly not in Arabic. Is that true?
Ergun Caner: He started to have seizures at the age of 40 and his wife assured him it was from god and not demonic. What Salman Rushdie did was he switched it. He asked, What if the seizures and the visions that Muhammad received were from Satan? That's why it is called the 'Satanic Verses'.
Pat Robertson: I was under the impression that Rushdie found something where Muhammad was questioning if it was from Satan.
Ergun Caner: He did. Muhammad did question that. His wife said it was from god. She is the one who told him, 'God is trying to reveal something new to you.' Muslims who become Christians who speak Arabic, they don't even use the word Allah. When they speak of God, they call him 'Khoda,' a Persian word, because we are so terrified of confusing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ with Allah, the false god that we served as Muslims.
Pat Robertson: There is so much misinformation in this nation about Islam. We have been given a massive public relations snow job, and unfortunately at the highest level of our country.
These are questions from the Internet:
Internet Question: What do you think is the best way to encounter a Muslim and by God's help and grace lead him or her to Christ? Ergun Caner: For me, the most liberating thing was hearing about grace, not the fear of the scales. You have to earn a hearing with a Muslim. But hearing that Jesus Christ not only died for me but that He did for me what I couldn't do for myself and promised to give me peace was huge.
Internet Question: Does the Koran contradict itself in the area of violence to other human beings?
Ergun Caner: It doesn't contradict itself. Islam at its core is a religion of warfare. Muhammad was a warrior. We are taught to conquer. We are taught to fight. If anyone says in the media that Islam is a religion of peace, they either don't know their faith, don’t know the Koran, or they are lying.
ROBERTSON: It was said by our President that Islam is a religion of peace. I mean, where does he get that?
CANER: The very word Islam. It does mean peace.
ROBERTSON: Peace in submission?
CANER: It means peace with or submission to Allah. It has nothing to do with the Infidels. It does not mean peace with the Infidels. It means peace with Allah. The Qur’an is very clear about how they feel about you and myself. It says, we are open enemies with the Infidels.
ROBERTSON: What about this jihad? They say jihad is something you fight in your heart and mind. It has nothing to do with real war? What does the Qur’an say about that? It (Caner’s Qur’an) is a big, thick thing.
CANER: It is in English and Arabic. And the reason I brought this is because men such as yourself, Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr. at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Mac Brunson in Dallas, you guys have come under attack for saying that jihad is founded in the Qur’an. The apologists will say the word was never in the Qur’an. Yes, they have the Qur’an which is supposedly the words of Allah and then the words and teachings of Muhammad. I will cite two verses I had to memorize as a child that are taught to young Muslims. I hope this puts an end to the problem they have. They don't have a problem with you Dr. Robertson. They have a problem with their own Qur’an. There are Muslims who say they don't believe it say if anyone desires a religion other than Islam, it will never be accepted of him. Let me show you:
"If anyone desires a religion other than Islam, it will never be accepted of him."
- Surah 9:29
Muhammad’s last words recorded in the Hadith were ‘turn the Pagans out of the Arabian Peninsula.’ The reason that I and others like me are not well liked in the Islamic community is the belief that anyone who changes the Islamic religion, kill him.
ROBERTSON: Just like that, kill him?
CANER: One word in Arabic. And two word in the English. Kill him.
ROBERTSON: Somehow we are not bringing that out in the religion of peace business. In other words, think about history because for the first hundred years after Muhammad's death, Islam swept like a fire across North Africa and destroyed all of the Christian churches there and caused everybody to be submitted. Tell us about how they started that.
CANER: You understand that Islam is based on conversion. But it is either by conversion by heart or by sword. When someone says Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world, first, one must remember that it is biological. You are born to a Muslim family. Your father whispers the Kaleema in your ear and you are a Muslim. Secondly, it is conversion by the sword. Slay them where you will find them. And so it spreads like a wildfire.
ROBERTSON: Slay them where you find them?
CANER: That is directly from the Qur’an itself.
ROBERTSON: Slay them where you find them? How do they say that is peaceful?
CANER: I understand why our president said what he said. He doesn't want us fighting Muslims here in America. And here in America this is a very important point. In America, jihad as it is Holy War, is a doctrine. It is a teaching. But from where I come from in Turkey, Islam is more than doctrine, it is ethic. We live with it day and night. Everyone says Turkey is so advanced and modern yet 26 Christian churches have been closed in the last three months, and a thousand Christians have been slain in the last decade.
ROBERTSON: For example, in Saudi Arabia can there be a Christian church?
CANER: That is a tremendous question. You travel the world so you know this. According to the Pact of Oma, They believe every Islamic State believes in religious toleration not religious freedom. Religious toleration says you can be by yourself but if you win a Muslim to Jesus Christ as we are called to do, you can be put to death on the spot.
ROBERTSON: For winning a Muslim to Jesus you can be put to death?
CANER: As a matter of fact, Hadith 9:50 says no one can be killed for killing an Infidel which explains why they will not turn (Osama) bin Laden over.
ROBERTSON: No one can be killed for killing an Infidel? That is what Muhammad said?
CANER: From the Hadith. That is why everyone becomes so worried when bin Laden comes on television. I am thrilled because the first group that bin Laden speaks to are the other Muslims who have not joined the jihad. And bin Laden quoting from the Hadith and quoting from the Qur’an always says you have been called to jihad. They signed the Fatwa on February 23, 1998. He says, "I have called you. You have been called to jihad." It is one thing to say they don't believe in it. There are Muslims who legitimately don't believe in it. And it is another to say it is not taught in Islam.
ROBERTSON: We have a 1.1 billion Muslims in the world. How many of these people honest to goodness believe in Qur’an and believe in the teachings of Muhammad?
CANER: They would say all of them. How many of them follow it is another question. But right now as we speak there are 300,000 who are like me. They are being trained in jihad. They are being trained in the schools. We memorize the verses of the Hadith, we memorize the Qur’an, and we are holy warriors. You know, they always bring up the question to you … well, Christianity and the Old Testament -- we have Christian militias. But for someone to set up a compound in some state and fire off rounds and say we are doing it in the name of Christ. They have to do so in spite of the teachings of Jesus Christ. But a Muslim who does so, does so because of the teachings of Muhammad. It is not descripted, it is prescriptive in the Qur’an for a Muslim to be called to Holy War.
ROBERTSON: We have a last slide that says seize them and slay them wherever you find them. It says:
Seize them and slay them wherever you find them: and in any case take no friends or helpers from their ranks." - Surah 4:89
Tell us about this one.
CANER: They call the Christians people of the book and Jews people of the book. So the idea for a Muslim, who is an apologist this is a nightmare. For someone to quote the Qur’an on national television and around the world because they say it is passive and always is in response. You are taking it out of context. There are over 120 verses that call Muslims to Holy War in the Qur’an not withstanding the Hadith which has all of the protocols by which bin Laden operates.
ROBERTSON: Didn’t Muhammad say in one of his writings, speaking that the last days wouldn't come until the Jews were all killed by the Muslims?
CANER: Isn't it interesting that during our former administration they were offered over 80% of the Holy Land and they turned it down. They don't want part of Israel. They want all of Israel. I find it interesting when I am talking to Jewish friends, I say were it not for Jesus Christ we would be across the line for one another.
ROBERTSON: We have questions that have been sent in to us on the Internet. Peggy asks, "Thank you for presenting an informed Muslim-based perspective on Islam. Can you tell us what part Jesus plays in Islam?"
CANER: Well, I teach this at my college, at Criswell College. Muslims say they believe in Jesus, they say sometimes they believe more in Jesus than we do. But to a Muslim, Jesus is a prophet and nothing more than a messenger of Allah. They think he will be sort of like the angel coming and getting us at the end of times but that Muhammad is the final prophet and the seal of the prophets. And Jesus was just among one of 25.
ROBERTSON: The word Ayatollah, is that spirit of the Lord? Prophet of the Lord?
CANER: Depending the sect, you have the spirit of the Lord and in some sects there is a Mullah.
ROBERTSON: But that is spirit of Allah. So, the Ayatollah Khomeni would be deeply venerated if he was the spirit of Allah. Is that not correct?
CANER: Here in America, Muslims are different. I tell people all of the time that Muslims in America were genuinely shocked by the bombing of September 11th because again, here, they have gotten used to our country. You came under incredible heat for saying they have come as missionaries and many of them do. So here I am as a former Muslim and I say Dr. Robertson, you and Dr. Mohler, and Dr. Brunson are speaking the truth and getting beaten up for no reason. But the reason is we are in a culture now that is so synchrotistic. They want us all to have a big group hug and to light a candle, sing a theme song, and have an Oprah (Winfrey) love affair. The thing is, the only thing they believe, the only absolute, that they don't accept is that there are no absolutes. We as Christians and Muslims make this point as well. The culture wants everybody to be the same. Muslims say we are not the same as the Christians. Christians say we do not worship the same God.
ROBERTSON: One last question. This one says, "I am thinking about becoming a Muslim. Before I do that, however, I would like to ask why you changed from being a Muslim to being a Christian?"
CANER: Well, I love that question. I get that in the secular media all of the time. I didn’t change anything. I got saved. I was made righteous with Jesus Christ. I am not religious by nature. You look at me, I don't particularly look like a professor or a pastor. I look like a motorcycle guy. I was saved and it was the preaching of two things. Mercy and grace. As Muslims, we live in fear of the scales their entire life. Fear to get to paradise you must be 51% good.
ROBERTSON: You never know?
CANER: Even Muhammad didn't know. In the Hadith he said, ‘I don't know where I am going. Only Allah knows.’ When someone told me that grace, Christ’s death on the cross and atonement would free me from the fear of scales and what Jesus did for me that I could not do myself. That was a brand transforming new day.
ROBERTSON: So the man who wants to be a Muslim, what do you tell him?
CANER: I tell him that Jesus Christ didn't come to be a way, Jesus Christ came to be THE way. And Jesus Christ came to do for this man what he cannot do for himself regardless of how religious he is. People ask me all the time, do good Muslims go to hell? Yes, and you know what? Good Baptists go to hell, too. It is not your denomination, it is what you did with Jesus Christ.
ROBERTSON: This book "Unveiling Islam" by our guest is available to you. Get it from www.cbn.com or you can call us at 1-800-759-0700 and we will tell you how you can get a hold of it. We appreciate you for your stand. And we hope, brother, they don't get you. So far so good.
CANER: You face the same type of heat I do. You are much higher profile than little old me.
ROBERTSON: They are after me but we'll trust the Lord for his protection. God bless you and thank you for being here.
DALLAS (BP)--Ergun Caner spent the first half of his life devoted to Islam. Raised as the son of Acar Mehmet Caner, he practiced the Kalima, Islam's creed; the Salat, praying to Mecca five times a day; the Zakat, contributing a specified portion of his income to the faith; the Sawn, fasting during Ramadan; and awaited the opportunity to participate in the Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca.
Seventeen years later, Muslims would call him a "kafir" of the worst type, he told an overflow crowd at First Baptist Church in Dallas, using the term for an infidel declared to be as good as dead. Several hundred Kurdish Muslims were among those invited to hear Caner describe how his life changed in 1982 when he converted to Christianity.
Citing the Koran's words in Hadith in 9:57, Caner said, "Mohammed says anyone who changes his Islamic religion, 'Kill him.' But I also know, my Kurdish friends, that you have given me this hour the greatest gift that I have ever had in my ministry -- your presence here."
Caner told the Christians in the audience, "For 17 years of my life, I assumed you hated me." Similarly, Muslims living in America have similar expectations, he said, in light of the recent attacks justified by members of the Islamic Jihad. "
There are those that expect retribution. They expect revenge. But, believers in Jesus Christ, do you know what they do not expect?" Caner asked. "They do not expect you to love them in spite of themselves. And why would you do so? Because that's exactly how he [Jesus] loved you."
Such an outward expression of love won Caner over when he accepted a friend's invitation to Steltzer Road Baptist Church in Columbus, Ohio. "I didn't walk in there and see them spit upon me. They didn't smack me down or call me a sand nigger. Instead they loved me. And when I asked them why they loved me, they said it was because Christ first loved us."
Refusing to back away from a gospel message in the presence of diverse religious groups in his Sept. 16 message, Caner said, "The one thing good Muslims and good Christians agree upon is that we are confounded by the media that keeps insisting that we all offer up prayers to the same God."
He added, "I did not switch religions nor did I trade teams. I was saved by the precious blood of Jesus Christ and thus I am born again. What has happened to me was done to me, not through anything I have done. And it is that gospel, that hope in that name that I preach tonight."
All of the television network affiliates sent camera crews to the church service in downtown Dallas. A local Muslim prince offered words of condolence to Americans during the service. Caner, who serves as assistant professor of theology and church history at Criswell College, has spoken in mosques and debated Muslim scholars.
He turned to Book of Habakkuk to describe another time when people asked, "Where is God in all of this?" While stating that there is no sin in asking such a question, Caner said the answer can only come by asking the right person. "Even in the midst of this cacophony of questions, the plethora of issues that he [Habakkuk] asks, with every worry and every pain, he says, 'The Lord is still in his temple. Let all the earth be silent before him.'"
Habakkuk's passionate prayer stands in contrast with the "pundits pontificating on television in dry tones as if this is some sort of political or cultural issue,"
Caner said of the passage. "Habakuk takes his question directly to a God who is listening. Don't think for a moment that we have all the answers. We don't," Caner insisted. "But I know the One who does. And be he silent or revelatory, I'm just going to have to trust him on this. And so we believe in victory, but we only trust in God."
Caner empathized with the rage that Americans feel over the acts of terrorism. "We ask the question, 'How could a religion do this?'" And yet, Christianity has in its history a time when warriors were promised that Jesus would forgive all their sins if they died on the battlefield during the Crusades.
"While we may have forgotten the Crusades, they have not," Caner said of the Muslims. "We must admit that we, on our side, have had the same testimony of our own type of Christian jihad."
Such accounts from the history of religion reveal the distinction between "man seeking God" through a religious activity and "God seeking man" as expressed in Christianity, Caner explained. "Religion is trying to do things to earn God's favor. But Christianity says there is nothing you can do to make God love you any more."
While practicing the pillars of Islam, Caner said he began to realize that the terror he felt was "the terror of religion" as he sought to earn God's favor. "And before you think that's only a Muslim thing, oh, no, no," he reminded. "There are those of us in this room who think, 'God, if I just lose weight, if I read my Bible a little more, if I pray a little bit more, if I'm a nicer person,'" such works can earn salvation.
"The wages of sin is death and the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord," Caner said, quoting Romans 6:23. "There are no works that could save me. There is nothing to equal out those scales. And while I may have followed the five pillars and said my rak'ahs and followed my imam, I was desperate."
Caner said he tired of a fear that Allah would not accept him. "When I heard about mercy and grace, I felt a release of love and liberation that I cannot explain."
In subsequent years, his brother, Emir, accepted Christ and now teaches Anabaptist history at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in North Carolina. Another brother, Erdum, also professed Christ and now lives in Indianapolis.
"In 1991, my mother got saved and I got to baptize my mamma in the water," he said to an applauding crowd. "But it gets better. In 1995, at almost the age of 100, my grandmother, speaking no English, with a Bible that Emir duplicated and enlarged, came forward on a walker and accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior."
From the third chapter of Habakkuk, Caner found hope in God's promise of eternity. "Christianity is not just getting your soul into heaven, but getting heaven into you to become salt and light to a world that is putrifying and dark." He asked, "Why do you think God has left you on this earth? Why do you think that you have breath and nigh unto ten thousand do not?"
And from Habakkuk 3:18-19, Caner appealed to Christians to "rejoice in the God of my salvation." He urged them to "do war on the floor" by expressing their desperation for God. "We're wanting revival, but there has never been a revival on this earth that did not begin with repentance."
To the Muslim visitors, Caner reminded, "Jesus will do for you what you cannot do for yourself and liberate you from the bondage of works and give you grace and salvation the moment you repent and turn to him."
While Caner's first copy of the Koran was given to him at age 13, his second copy was presented to him by his father in 1989 who urged in an inscription to "read each and every word for you and for me." As a muazzein in the local mosque, Caner's father took a role of helper and aid, comparable to a servant deacon in the practice of Christianity.
"The day that I surrendered to the gospel ministry was the last time that I saw my father until three days before his death. My father was a good Muslim, but according to his testimony, he went to a devil's hell."
Acknowledging the horror of such a statement, Caner added, "Good Baptists also go to hell. God doesn't care whether you're a good Baptist, Methodist, Catholic or anything else. God cares what you did with his Son, Jesus Christ."
Adding that his father died in the shadow of three churches, Caner said, "Not a one of them ever came to his door in the 15 years that he lived there. Who lives in the shadow of this church and has not heard the precious gospel of Christ?" Caner asked. "Who lives next door to you on their way to a devil's hell and you haven't told them?"