The Nature and Challenge of Islam

By Jason Carlson

A few years ago my father and I had the privilege of holding a week of apologetic seminars in Tokyo, Japan. During our time there we were introduced to one of the leaders of the Japanese Muslim community. He was a middle-aged man from a Muslim country in Asia. He had been a Muslim his entire life, and for the past decade he had lived in Japan working to spread Islam’s influence in that country. My father and I had the unique opportunity to spend over an hour inside the heart of the Tokyo mosque, sharing the truth of Christianity with this leader of the Muslim community.

During the course of our conversation, this Muslim authority repeatedly declared, “Islam is a beautiful and peaceful religion”. Have you ever heard this claim before? If you’ve watched any news commentary shows or read any editorials in your local newspaper recently, I’d be willing to bet you have. Ever since the tragic events of 9/11, the Islamic propaganda machine and the secular media have been doing everything they can to convince the American public that in-spite of what we see on the news virtually every night, Islam really is a “beautiful and peaceful religion”. Unfortunately though, this claim is simply not reflective of the truth of Islam’s history and teachings, nor of its present day fruit.

When considering whether or not Islam is an inherently beautiful and peaceful religion, one must ask some basic questions. For example, where in the world is the beautiful and peaceful Muslim country that millions of people are trying to immigrate to? Where in the world is that beautiful and peaceful Muslim culture that other nations so strongly admire? Where in the world has the beautiful and peaceful religion of Islam created a society characterized by freedom, justice, and human rights for all?

The sad truth to the above questions is that there is no such beautiful and peaceful Muslim country anywhere in the world. Rather, when we look at the fruit of Islam around the world we find societies characterized by the limitation of basic freedoms, the suppression of basic human rights, and the widespread oppression of dissenting voices.

What makes this reality even more indicting is that Islam has had every opportunity and advantage necessary to produce a so-called “beautiful and peaceful” religion and culture. Islam has had the time- this religion has been around for roughly 1400 years. Islam has had the geographical territory- much of Africa, the entire Middle East, and many parts of Europe and Asia are predominantly Muslim. Islam has also had the financial resources- many of the most influential Muslim countries sit on the world’s richest oil reserves and are wealthy beyond imagination.

And yet, in spite of all of these favorable circumstances, what has the religion of Islam truly produced in the lives and societies of its adherents? Terrorism, human rights abuses, repression, slavery, warfare, subjugation, hatred of Jews, Christians, and other non-Islamic cultures… these are the actual fruit of this religion.

Now, admittedly, highlighting the above realities is certainly not politically correct today; and doing so is definitely not going to fit our culture’s prevailing ethos of uncritical tolerance. However, we cannot ignore the consequences of the foundational history and teachings of Islam for fear of being offensive.

We cannot brush over the fact that there are over 100 verses in the Koran directing Muslims to fight and kill Jews, Christians, and other Infidels. We cannot ignore the history of the life of Mohammed, the founder and prophet of Islam, in whom we see an example of conquest, subjugation, and the elimination of those who stood in his way. We cannot pretend that Islam doesn’t clearly segregate the world into two distinct camps: the Dar al Islam (house of Islam) vs. the Dar al Harb (house of war). How can these realities be viewed as anything but the motivation and justification for the jihad we see being waged by Islamic radicals today? Especially when the Muslim terrorists themselves tell us that these are the source of their inspiration.

Now to be fair, it is important to understand and state emphatically that not every Muslim is a terrorist. Our ministry has worked throughout the Islamic world and we have known many good and kind Muslim people. Most Muslims are not the radical terrorists that we see on the nightly news. In our experience, the vast majority of Muslims are simply cultural Muslims whose basic interests are the same as those of most people in the world- making a living, raising a family, and trying to live a positive and productive life. Unfortunately though, Islam has enslaved these people into a false religious system that cannot ultimately save them and does nothing to truly empower them. In fact, as was true in the time of Mohammed, the only people who truly benefit from the religion of Islam today are the ruling autocratic authorities. Everyone else must simply submit.

Truly beautiful and peaceful religions produce societies characterized by freedom, human rights, morality, justice, and prosperity; and they strive to share these characteristics with others, even those outside of their faith tradition. We do not find these values or the desire to advance them in the foundational history or tenets of Islam. We do not see them in the present day fruit of Islam. It is simply misleading to describe Islam as an inherently beautiful and peaceful religion.

While there are many beautiful and peaceful people within the Muslim world, Islam itself is a veil of deception. Satan has used this religion to blind the eyes of millions of people for the purpose of leading them away from the truth and the fullness of life that God wants for them (John 10:10). As a result of this spiritual deception, Islam poses a genuine challenge to the world today; it is the source of much global and inter-personal conflict. However, we must remember to distinguish those caught up in Islam from the religious system itself. The fact is, God loves Muslims very much (John 3:16); and as Christians we must love them too. And we need to pray that the Holy Spirit would bring revival to the Muslim world so that they too might know the joy and peace that comes from knowing that you are a “child of God” (John 1:12).