11/1/13 Muhammed, Omar, ? 30’s
There was a brochure on the counter of my Palestinian-owned mechanic shop that said “Ask Me About Islam”, so I did. I was picking up my car at the end of their work day, and owners/brothers Muhammed, Omar, and a third brother had some time on their hands, so I said “I noticed this brochure here, so I want to ask you about Islam”. They were all ears. “I understand that whom I would call God, the Creator of the Universe, you call Allah, Praise be upon Him” This is not the correct expression, but at least I was trying to show some respect for their beliefs. “And I’m sure that you would agree that God, or Allah, is perfect in every way.” They were comfortable with me referring to Him as God, and agreed with me. “And I’m sure that you agree that God’s purpose is to receive all the glory He truly deserves, and that He is glorified when His attributes are displayed, like His perfect love, kindness, mercy, and justice.” They had some clarification questions, but we were in agreement so far. “So my question is, where in Islam does God display His perfect justice? In a courtroom, if a man received a $100 fine for killing the wife and mother of a family, they would say there is no justice, that she was worth far more than that. If justice means the punishment must fit the crime, what should the consequence be for our sins against an infinitely holy God?” This began a lively debate, all very respectful, about God’s love and justice. I learned some things about Islam. According to these brothers, Islam is not simply a religion of good works as I’d assumed. They kept referring to the need to prove the sincerity of one’s repentance through religious acts. Their idea of God’s justice is that God forgives us for our sins if we can demonstrate that we are really, really sorry. It is like that same man in court slamming a finger in a door to demonstrate to the judge how sorry he is. No wonder we hear of fanatical religious actions in Islam like the self-flagellation of the Shi'ites. In Islam, no consequence for sin is required except for sincere repentance. I told them “This is why we Christians insist that Jesus is God’s Son; Creator, not creation, because no created being would be worthy to take the punishment we deserve for our sins against the Creator”. They insisted God forgives without any consequence, beginning with Adam. Omar read a verse from the Qur’an, first in Arabic, then in English, in which angels are told to bow down to Adam who is said to have a place in heaven even after his sin. I responded, “But the Bible is consistent all the way through, that no created being should be worshipped, only the Creator and His Son. To do so would be idolatry” They reallydidn’t know what to say to that. I kind of felt like I won this debate, but I know it’s not about winning arguments. I just feel I made some valid points that the Holy Spirit might use in their lives, and I’m thankful for the inherent logic of Christianity, the only religion that satisfies the requirements of a God who, through the cross, demonstrates both His perfect love and His perfect justice at the same time.