Shirk and the Story of Muhammad

In reaching out to Muslims, we must remember the unseen ways that Islam  can control and influence those whom we are trying to reach with the Gospel. The sin of shirk, explained below, is only one of the potential barriers that can hinder our Muslim friends.

Some years ago my wife and I served as missionaries in a Middle Eastern country. After language study we moved to a village not too far from the capital city. We moved, because 98% of the people were Muslims. Also, English was not used as widely as in the city, and we thought it would be a better opportunity to practice our Arabic.

We made friends in our new village, and eventually forged a close relationship with an orthodox Muslim family. Muhammad was from a large Arab clan and Fatima’s father and two brothers were imams (prayer leaders) in mosques. When I finally revealed that I was a pastor (we did not use the word missionary), they seemed interested to learn about us and about what we believed. We agreed to help one another learn each other’s language. We did this by reading the Bible in English and Arabic! I was surprised at how easily they agreed to that, especially Muhammad.

The Bible reading led to deeper discussions about Jesus. I shared sensitive books with him, and my wife gave Fatima books to read. Some of the books that we shared were forbidden in the country. One book described a Muslim man named Hasan, who was a student in a university here in
America. Hasan came to put his faith in Christ through great opposition. He mentioned at one time that he felt like a bird in a cage, longing to escape and be free. Muhammad said to me, “I feel just like Hasan, like a bird in a cage.” He said, “I believe, but how can I become a Christian?”

Muhammad attended English church services with me and even witnessed baptismal services. He was careful not to be seen in an Arabic service. One time while he was visiting he complained of a painful shoulder. He could not raise his hand above his head. I told him that we believed that Jesus heals. He said, “I believe that.” I prayed for him in Jesus’ name. My faith
needed to be bolstered. The next day the door bell rang and when I answered Muhammad stood there moving his arm in circles over his head. He joyfully exclaimed, “Jesus healed me!”

I had studied Islamic belief and had learned the about term “shirk”. The Islamic use of this word means the sin of association. For Muslims, the most blasphemous sin is associating anything with Allah. Usually, this is used in connection with Jesus being the Son of God.

Muhammad eventually prayed the sinner’s prayer and put his faith in Jesus. He would not agree to water baptism yet. He said he was not ready. Soon after that we left to come back to the USA for a year of deputation. Upon our return to the land of our calling, we immediately contacted our friends. They were cordial, and we were so happy to be back in our country. The next day Muhammad drove up to our house and got a blanket out of the trunk of his car. When he came into the house he put the blanket on our
dining room table and unwrapped it. There on the blanket was all of the books and Bibles that we had given them. I told him, “I do not need those books. They are gifts.” But he insisted that he did not need them any longer.

Join us next week for Part 2 of Muhummad’s story.

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One Response to “Shirk and the Story of Muhammad”

  1. johnny pangelinan says:

    im a missionary to Thailand reaching the Muslim Comunity. I love the stories, very inspiring.

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