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“Please don’t judge all of us on the basis of some radical sects of our religion.” (Spoken by a Muslim student visiting at College Park)
Last year, College Park sponsored a Saturday conference with Crescent Project that I attended. The organization seeks to serve and equip churches on how to reach Muslims with the Gospel. I went to the conference to get a better understanding of the Muslim religion and of how I could have a conversation about Jesus with Muslim neighbors.
During the first part of the morning, we received a quick education of Islam. Then, three Muslim guests came in and sat up front for a panel discussion. We were able to ask them questions about their faith and culture. It was pretty sobering to hear one young woman admonish us not to judge all Muslims by the bad ones. She said that her former opinion of Christians in America was from watching “Desperate Housewives” and “The Jerry Springer Show.” Ouch!
I wondered what the even playing field was, where I could share my faith. And then it happened. You could call it my “Aha moment.” I call it my “Adha moment.”
The root word, “Adha” is an Arabic word which means, “sacrifice.” Each year, Muslims celebrate the Feast of Sacrifice to commemorate an event recorded in the Quran that sounds pretty familiar to us.
In Genesis 22:1-19, we read about Abraham taking his son, Isaac, onto the mountain to sacrifice him to the Lord. Ultimately, God provided a ram for a sacrifice in his place. Even though Muslims believe it was Ishmael who was to be sacrificed and not Isaac, the story is similar.
Many Muslims are familiar with the Jewish Passover, too. The Gospel (the Injeel, in Arabic) and the Torah (the Tawrat, in Arabic, the books of Moses), are two of the four Islamic holy books that the Quran records as revealed by God— the two others are the Zabur (the Psalms) and the Quran itself.
The common ground of sacrifice is a great starting place when speaking with a Muslim. It allows for a great conversation, which can move toward talking about the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.
In truth, sacrifice—and any celebration of it— should truly be a celebration of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Through the concept of sacrifice, we can share the love of God and help our Muslim neighbors see that Jesus was the Lamb that was sacrificed in our place, as in the story of Abraham. We know that the Christian Adha is available to everyone. And we can share that hope with all people, from all nations, and all races.