Five things Christians can learn from Muslims

[Another article from ‘King’s Servant’]

During the time I have spent sharing the Gospel with Muslims and doing research to do so, I have discovered many things I hate about Islam, but alongside that there are several things I appreciate about Muslim practice which I think Christians can learn from.

1. Brotherhood

It’s true that Muslims often do not agree as to who is a real Muslim and who is not. Similarly, Christians have the same difficulty, disagreeing among themselves whether believing a certain false doctrine etc is proof that a person is not born again. However, what is particularly noticeable among Muslims is that when they recognise one another as Muslims there is a brotherhood among them. They treat one another as family. How much more should all those who have been given ‘power to become the sons of God’ (John 1:12) ‘love the brotherhood’ (1 Peter 2:17)? Indeed, Christ commanded us to do so: ‘He who loves God, love his brother also’ (1 John 4:21)!

2. Praying in Public

Religious Muslims are often to be seen (including in the west) praying openly in public places: in parks, car parks, and even in city centres. How often are Christians to be seen doing this? Certainly our Lord Jesus did warn us about the dangers of praying to be seen by others:

“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. (Matthew 6:5-8)

….and this is certainly relevant, but we must also remember his warnings not to be ashamed of him. Let’s not pray to be seen, but let’s be willing to be seen praying and unashamed. As Paul wrote to Timothy: ‘I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling’ (1 Timothy 2:8)

3. God Willing

Religious Muslims often use this phrase ‘InshaAllah’, which translates to “God willing” in English when speaking of future plans and events. It is mentioned in these Quran verses; 

“Never say of anything, ‘I shall certainly do this tomorrow,’ without adding, ‘if God so wills.’ Remember your Lord whenever you forget and say, ‘I trust my Lord will guide me to that which is even nearer to the right path than this.’” (Quran, 18:23-4)

We recognise that Islam is very fatalistic and their understanding of this phrase is different from how the Bible would speak of it. However, I feel that Christians often forget, or are unaware of this teaching in the Bible. Let’s take a look at it – James 4:

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into this or that town and spend a year there and do business and make a profit.” You do not know about tomorrow. What is your life like? For you are a puff of smoke that appears for a short time and then vanishes. You ought to say instead, “If the Lord is willing, then we will live and do this or that. But as it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil’ (James 4:13-16).

As Christians we must remember the truth of this and live with an appreciation that we are to live for the Lord, according to His will, not ours. And it’s a good habit to say “God willing”, especially when speaking of our future plans. You may hear some use the expression “D.V.” which is the Latin translation ‘Deo Volente’.

4. Memorisation

Memorisation is an important part of Islam with all Muslims repeating memorised prayers in Arabic and some Muslims even having memorised the entire Quran. While often they do not know the meaning of what they memorise and would certainly be classed as “vain repetition” by our Saviour, there is a positive lesson for Christians here. 

It takes dedication and effort to memorise large passages of scripture, especially in a language you don’t know. How much more should we be committing to memory the living Word of God? This is not just to be a mental exercise, but has very practical and positive effect. Consider how the psalmist says: ‘Thy Word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee’ (Psalm 119:11).

5. Regular Prayer. 

Religious Sunni Muslims pray 5 times a day at set times, facing a cube in Mecca, and repeating words in Arabic. In comparison, we have the privilege of praying to the Eternal, Almighty God at any time, and in any language we choose. This privilege was won for us at Calvary when ‘Christ died for our sin, was buried, and rose again’ (1 Corinthians 15:3-5). When we consider the precious value of coming to the throne of grace, how often do approach unto the Lord in prayer?  How regularly?

We see set regular times for prayer several times in the Bible. Consider how Daniel prayed 3 times a day, and we are told that Jesus and other prophets rose up early to pray and that Jesus blessed food before he ate it or gave it to others. But the Bible also encourages us to ‘pray without ceasing’ (1 Thess 5:17) and while it is good to have specific times set aside for daily prayer, let us seek to live our lives in a constant attitude of prayer.

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