They’re building a mosque near you?

Friday, October 5th, 2018

Here’s what you can do.

‘We thought of you, we’re from the church down the street, we would love to engage in dialogue with you, and welcome to the neighbourhood!”

The matter of the mosque in a moment. But firstly…..

Abdu Murray is well qualified to comment on all things Islam, and scholar would be a good word to tack onto his name alongside the word Bible.

Mind you Bible scholar would come in handy, especially if you’ve been appointed to the role of North American Director with RZIM, Ravi Zacharias International Ministries.

Abdu was a speaker at a recent Apologetics Symposium in Sydney along with Ravi and RZIM’s Director, Vince Vitale, and like Vince it was Abdu’s first time to Australia.

Along with scholar, attach speaker, thinker, communicator and author, and the gates into RZIM territory may just swing open for you.

They did for Abdu, who would never have thought in his wildest imaginations he’d one day become an exponent of a faith other than Islam.

Abdu Murray grew up a Muslim and has described himself as a former devout follower of the religion.

Whatever is true for you is truth for you

Abdu was raised in the United States in the northern state of Michigan in the Detroit area.

“I believe firmly in this idea that true is truth even if no one believes it and falsehood is falsehood even if everyone believes it.”

Abdu clarified the statement to say there is an objective truth that’s opposed to the subjective truth many espouse today.

Whatever is true for you is truth for you and my religion is my religion and yours is yours, and just keep it to yourself and I’ll keep mine to myself.

For Abdu Murray growing up there was no room for any of that progressive relativism.

“I thought Islam was true and everyone should believe Islam is true,” Abdu confirmed, saying he had a few Muslim friends in a homogenously white area of the once great motor city.

Today there’s a greater diversity of peoples within the location including an increase to the Muslim population in his Detroit suburb.

It was fashionable to say you were a Christian

As a Muslim Abdu would become engaged in many conversations with those wanting to know what it was all about.

“I really fundamentally cared about Islam and would talk to people about what it meant to be a Muslim and to people who were at least nominally Christian.”

Back then it was fashionable to say you were a Christian even if you didn’t mean it. Nowadays it’s not.

As for those who would say they were Christian, Abdu would respond with a fundamental question.

“Why are you a Christian and essentially they’d say tradition.”

They would comment about how they grew up in the church and the church they had  attended at Christmas and Easter and that determined their denomination.

That said, Abdu would respond with his next question.

Abdu’s nine-year long journey

“Wait a minute. You would trust your eternal soul to a worldview that somebody else thought through. Have you thought through it because tradition can’t be good enough?”

New Book “Saving Truth” by Abdu Murray Now Available rzim.org

Abdu would start to show them the problems that he thought were problematic to Christianity. This approach worked well for Abdu, but not so well when he struck Christians who actually knew what they were talking about.

That began what amounted to a nine-year long journey to studying a lot of other systems including Christianity to see where the truth lies.

“I remember reading a passage of Scripture when I was doing my investigation. John the Baptist was talking to those who came to him to be baptised and he said to them, “Who told you to flee from the wrath to come?”

This was referring to God’s judgment on the people for their sinfulness.

“He said to them, ‘Do not even say to yourself you have Abraham as your father,’ as if that would save them.”

“For I tell you God can raise up children of Abraham from the stones.”

The Bible – ‘No intention of believing a word’

“What John the Baptist was saying was that tradition won’t save you. The truth will.”

This is what Abdu Murray was saying to Christians at the time.

“Why are you a Christian? They’d say tradition, and I’d say, not good enough.”

These were the words of John the Baptist from the Bible Abdu was reading as a Muslim. But he had no intention of believing a word of it, only to see what was wrong with it. However, he hadn’t reckoned upon the Bible being a book totally inspired by the Holy Spirit. The Word of God.

It was those words that convicted me. Maybe I was believing in Islam and had gathered enough evidence to justify my tradition, but not to see if it was true.

“Over the course of those nine years it was the evidence of the Bible, of its transmission down through the centuries, of the resurrection of Jesus as an historical event.”

“Ultimately the Gospel showed me that what I was wishing was true about God in Islam was actually true about God in Christianity.”

‘I don’t know. But I’ll get back to you.’

Abdu’s nine-year search for truth was to carry him out of high school, on through his college years and into his under-graduate days, when came a knock at the door.

“There was a couple of Baptist guys who came to the door when I was at university and they wanted to talk to me about Jesus,” Abdu shared.

Several long conversations led Abdu to do some more study. His intention was to verbally combat these guys who were no easy pushovers.

“They would often have an answer for me, or they’d have the best answer you can give a person. They’d say, ‘I don’t know. But I’ll get back to you.’ And they would!”

“They’d come back and say, ‘We thought about your question and here’s how we think we would answer it.’ That’s when I really began to study.”

In hindsight Abdul admitted he had begun to consider Christianity might be true as early as his college days but still confident Islam was true above and beyond Christianity.

‘I do like to argue the issues’

“But it began to mount through those nine years and when I was in law school.”

Abdu’s a qualified attorney who became a trial lawyer in the year 2000. He was a trial attorney who loved to present argument in the business litigation sector.

I do like to argue the issues. I’m kind of built that way.  I do like to argue the facts.

“And being a litigator and an attorney really helped me to scratch that itch.”

Abdu’s investigative predilection was about finding the evidence, understand how evidence works, understand how argument works, and use it in real life.

Importantly for Christians in general who have the desire to reach out to their Muslim neighbours, Abdu’s advice is to develop a love for them and not a fear of them.

Develop a love for Muslims

“I’ve seen people who engage in outreach to Muslims not because they love the Muslims and hope they go to heaven, it’s because they fear Islam and want to minimise the chances that these people become radicals.”

The first thing we have to do is harness and fan into flame our love for Muslims,

Abdul said it’s the first and foremost thing we should do.

“The best way is to actually get to know them on a friendship level and not on a missionary project level.”

Abdu was talking from personal experience. The missionary method was not high on his list.

“They liked me as long as they could keep talking to me about the Bible. Those were good relationships but they weren’t solid or genuine relationships.”

“It was people who still engaged with me very much on religious and theological issues, but I knew that even if I never became a Christian, they would always be my friend.”

Demystify Islam, demystify its followers

“When you do that you demystify someone. The media certainly won’t do that for you.”

“They’ll make it look like every Muslim is a peace-loving person who doesn’t care about violence. Or they’ll say the opposite. Every Muslim is a bloodthirsty animal who only cares about killing you.”

Abdu described the two as either complete fear-mongering or a whitewashing of things that might not be totally true.

So, getting to know a person is the best way to demystify.

Abdul gave an example. A mosque was opening down the road from his church and many people asked him how they could oppose it. How can we stop this mosque being built?

“I said, ‘Do you have any good reasons for it? Do you have knowledge of bad activities happening there? ‘No’. So I said, ‘Do you have a legal reason?’ ‘Well, no.’”

“Well, here’s a good thing then. Maybe you shouldn’t oppose it.”

“Maybe what you should do instead is say nothing, or even support it, and then, go down the street when they open up, and bake a bunch of sweets, with no animal shortening in the sweets whatsoever.

‘We thought of you, we’re from the church down the street, we would love to engage in dialogue with you, and welcome to the neighbourhood!”

Abdu said they may or may not be fanatical Muslims but you’ll have no idea until you get to know them.

“And I think that’s one of the best ways to demystify them.”

“If we think of Muslims as people who are always sitting behind the stairwells, twisting their moustaches and thinking of ways to blow the place up, they’ll always be mysterious to us.”

“But if we get to know them as people, and we realise that the Bible is true, then all people are inherently simple but they’re also people made in God’s image, I think that helps to demystify things quite a bit.”

Lastly Abdu recommended we be lovers of questions.

Ask them questions over and over again. Not to get ammunition but to get actual answers so that you can see what kind of a Muslim they are.

They have varying degrees of devotion, and many Muslims who claim to be strong Muslims are proud of being a Muslim, but there’s no evidence they actually practice Islam in their life.”

If you would like to listen to the full audio interview click play below

Footnote

Abdu Murray is North American Director with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries and is the author of three books, including his latest, Saving Truth: Finding Meaning and Clarity in a Post-Truth World

For most of his life, Abdu was a proud Muslim who studied the Qur’an and Islam. After a nine-year investigation into the historical, philosophical, and scientific underpinnings of the major world religions and views, Abdu discovered that the historic Christian faith can answer the questions of the mind and the longings of the heart.

Abdu has spoken to diverse international audiences and has participated in debates and dialogues across the globe. He has appeared as a guest on numerous radio and television programs all over the world.

Abdu holds a BA in Psychology from the University of Michigan and earned his Juris Doctor from the University of Michigan Law School. As an attorney, Abdu was named several times in Best Lawyers in America and Michigan Super Lawyer. Abdu is the Scholar in Residence of Christian Thought and Apologetics at the Josh McDowell Institute of Oklahoma Wesleyan University.

https://store.vision.org.au/

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