Christian Muslim Dialogue #1 – Dr James White
Channel: Yasir Qadhi
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Episode Transcript ©
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I have been looking forward to this evening for a very, very long time. It has been my desire to engage in a dialogue like this. And when the opportunity came that I'd be coming into this area, I contacted Dr. Kotti. And I put out the call, and the church here was, was so kind to respond and to join with us and providing a place for us to have our conversation this evening. I want you to understand what our motivations are this evening in coming together. This is not a debate, some of you have seen debates that I have done around the world. This is not intended to be a debate, we are going to have necessity, discuss differences that we have.
The thing that makes us wonderful, and the reason that I sought out Dr. Kotti, aside from the fact that I've learned so much from him, over the years, that he's been a primary influence in my study of Islam, I am a student of Islam, and I've learned much from him. But the reason I specifically sought him out, is because I sense in him such a kindred spirit on the other side of the chasm that divides us in regards to our theology and our beliefs. He is a consistent Muslim, he believes what he says he wants to seek for consistency amongst his people in his own practice. And so when you have to believing people, one Christian, one Muslim, come together and say, we need to discuss not
only what divides us, but also where do we have similarities? How can we live in the same community. And the most important thing is this. If we do what we, if we do what I hope happens this evening, we're going to do something absolutely unique. It hardly ever happens. And that is to communities where unfortunately, there is a lot of fear on both sides. There is a lot of misunderstanding on both sides. And as a Christian, I want to see doors opened. As a Christian, I want you as if you're a Christian here this evening, to not have fear of the Muslim people, but to have love for the Muslim people. I want the Muslim people to understand that we care, and that we want to have
dialogue. And that we're not seeking this evening to sweep our differences under the rug and say they don't matter. Dr. kadhi cannot present an Islam. That is just simply one view amongst many. I believe in divine revelation, he believes in divine revelation. So how do we get along? How do our communities talk to one another? The sad fact of the matter is that conversation isn't happening. And I want to start tonight, and I want to start here. So if you're a praying person pray that we will have understanding that as if you're a Christian, I want you to hear what this man has to say, I want you to understand why he believes the things he does what his life is like here in the United
States as a Muslim. And I want you to hear especially when he talks about what Islam is and what it is not and who speaks for Islam and all these types of things I want you to hear so that we can have better communication with one another. That's why we're here this evening. I hope that's why you've come here this evening. Please
know audience reactions or participation. Let us do the conversation. We're going to have the audience questions later on. But I very much appreciate you coming here. Dr. Kotti, is a Muslim scholar, he has written books I for example, was very, very happy to receive from him a 16 CD series called light and guidance. And it tremendously helped me to get a basic understanding of you know, sort of get the lay of the land. He has, he is an expert and Hadith. I think I've sort of scared him a little bit by telling him that sometimes in August, in Phoenix where I live, I have to ride it literally 233 o'clock in the morning if you can even survive. And I have distinct memories. At that
time the morning of riding my bike in the desert listening to him lecture on Hadith sciences. I think even the Muslims will go that is really weird, because I don't even I don't even think they do that. Can you get no they don't know. They don't do that. I don't think
that's really weird. But he is an expert in in those areas. We're gonna be talking about a lot of these things. We're gonna be explaining what we're talking about. We want to bring everyone along. And hopefully at the end of this evening, when we go over there to have refreshments.
The Christians and the Muslims together will be able to have conversation. And many of the misunderstandings that separate us right now will be laid aside.
There won't be any compromise, because we both believe very firmly in what we believe and what we profess. So how in light of that we get along. That's why we're here this evening, Dr. Kati, Sir, You honor us with your presence. Thank you very, very much for being with us. Thank you for inviting me. It's an honor and a pleasure to be here.
I hope this is the first of many future dialogues. One of the main motivations for us to come here really was that and I was expecting expressing this to
James, should I call you Mr. James, Reverend James, James is just fine. Okay, James, and you can call me out if you'd like it to be formal that Dr. Conte here. So I was expressing to James that in the interfaith dialogues that Muslims typically ended up having, it's with people that I would consider to be a different type of Christians than then the predominant strand here in Tennessee, if you get what I'm saying. In other words, most of the people that are engaged in interfaith
are really not minding the fact that we have differences in theology, they don't really express any type of discomfort with us, they're very nice to us. The fact of the matter is that there is a segment of this population that has a lot of misconceptions and a lot of fears. And when we try to dialogue with them, we find that they're not really that interested to come to the dialogue table to the interfaith events, they, they they have these notions that translate into misunderstandings translate into misconceptions. And you know, it takes two hands to shake, you know, you can't just shake a hand that's not extended to you. So it's very important that people understand we are
committed the both of us to our faith traditions, our commitments are not going to be watered down. But that doesn't mean that we can't get along and have genuine genuine love and care and concern for one another right here. And now, that doesn't mean that we can't live together as peaceful neighbors. That doesn't mean that our children are it it gets, in my case, my children and his grandchildren, because you're talking about his grandchildren, that they can't get along and play together. Because you see, theology is one element, yes. But there are other elements as well to being a human and for me, and for James theology is the most important. That's what I like, we're
not going to water that down. We are very committed to our faith traditions. I passionately believe in my religion. And so does James and I do not doubt his sincerity. I do not doubt his intentions. I do not doubt his commitment to his faith. And I know that he feels the same about me. So if we can get along and have a fruitful dialogue and conversation, and show that, you know, it's okay to disagree, even if we disagree passionately, I don't have to hate him. I don't have to feel fear against him. I can wish for guidance for him. And he can wish for guidance. For me. One side of me can feel a sadness or remorse that he's not fully there yet. But I can still break bread with him.
Like we did today. For lunch, we had a great lunch together. It's really spicy Mexican.
Ethnically, I'm Indian, I can't help liking spices. So it's like,
we can break bread together, we can crack jokes together, we can watch Monty Python together. So it's okay.
Always Look on the bright side of life. But
it's there is also quite a lot that conservative Muslims and conservative Christians have in common. So even as we understand and appreciate the differences, we don't water them down. Let us also look at the similarities so that at least at least, we can remove the fear and distrust and hatred and suspicion of the other because it does no one any good. If my heart is full of anger, and fear and hatred of anyone else, it doesn't help me. It doesn't help him. It doesn't help our kids. It doesn't help our society. So really, that's the purpose of this dialogue is just to begin the building of bridges. And I hope that this is the first of many future dialogues to take place. So let's tackle
one of the first things that causes the problem. When I speak, in many places, I say, you know, one of the biggest problems I see amongst my fellow Christians when it comes to Islam is that most of their knowledge of Islam comes from Fox News, or even worse MSNBC but you put the two of them together. It's really bad. Yeah.
And so they see pictures, they're bombarded with images every single day. There's been the truck in the Christmas thing and Germany I think it was and all the rest of this type of stuff. Got to understand what is Islam and why is it that this evening?
right here in this area are one of the the primary leaders of Islam, but there'll be people would say, Well, you don't really speak for Islam. ISIS is more consistent, etc, etc.
Help us to start understanding. Because you remember, you called me once? I think you emailed me once, and you're going to be at an event. And you said, Could you help me out? What's what's the difference between a Lutheran and a Presbyterian or something along those lines? From your side of things, things look sort of confusing over here? Well, from our side of things, things look confusing as well. Help us to understand what is Islam for you. So the way that I feel a lot of times when addressing when I'm addressing audiences.
The example that I give is imagine somebody who's never been to America, never stepped foot in America, never met an American. And their only source of information about America is years and years of watching the Jerry Springer show.
Let that sink in.
Now, this person has never met or visited or seen, but they're consistently bombarded with a certain type of America and the Jerry Springer show is American in the end of the date, if you understand what I'm saying. And that's the only image they have. Now, if they meet an actual American, this uneducated foreigner will think that he knows everything about America, because he's seen over and over and over and over again, years and years of episodes, right, of a show that portrays things that are atypical in America, but they are a part of the land known as America. That's the way I feel when I approach congregations or audiences or Electoral College. I'm a professor, that I we
have to begin with this with this notion that
obviously, the primary source of information about religion should be the broad, mainstream people who follow that religion. So if you haven't visited a mosque, if you haven't socialized with a Muslim, then you really need to understand what you see on television is, but the Jerry Springer equivalent, it is but one, you know, miniscule strand. And I don't even know how to say this other than the the the Islam of ISIS, or the Islam of terrorism is not an Islam that any one of us in this audience has grown up with. Honestly, we have the we are just as shocked as you. That's not the Islam of my parents. That's not the Islam of my mosque. This is as alien to us as it is to you.
Unfortunately, the problem comes that the perception is that this is the normative or this is the mainstream. And we're going to come eventually into questions that gets to some of the causes of why this is happening. But what exactly is Islam? Well, in a nutshell, very simply, very simply, Islam is the admittance and recognition that there is one supreme god in being who is almighty, all powerful, all loving, all knowledgeable, there is only one God, that is the God of Abraham, of Moses of Jesus of Muhammad, that that God is almighty, all powerful and worthy of being worshipped and venerated. No other beam is worthy of being worshipped. Islam tells us that God continued to send
prophets to mankind with the same message. So for the Muslim, the Muslim is one who is following the religion of Islam, for the Muslim Islam is not new. It's not an Arabian religion. It didn't begin with the Prophet Mohammed, Moses, Abraham, Jesus, Adam, they're all teaching the same essential message with some fine tunings. But the message is the same. There's one God, love Him with all your heart, worship Him to the best of your ability, and praise God, and follow the law. And if you do so you shall live peacefully, at least heart, your heart will be at peace in this world, and you shall attain God's kingdom and God's grace in the next world. This in a nutshell is Islam, that there is
but one God, the this God is worthy of veneration and worship, and to be a good person, you have to believe in Him, worship Him, follow the law, obey the commandments, and if you do, so, there will be a life after that, and there is heaven or hell, where there's accountability. In a nutshell, Islam is the same religion that Abraham and Moses and from our perspective, I guess we'll come to this as well, Jesus and the Prophet Muhammad taught, it's not something that began 1500 years ago in Arabia.
I guess I want to talk a little bit about as being a Muslim, there are certain things you have to do. There's rituals that are mandatory. I'll just mention three of them. And there's actually five or I can actually measure very quickly the five The first is the testimony of faith. And the testimony of faith is two sentences. I testify that there is no God worthy of worship other than the one true God. We call him an Arabic Allah. Allah is not a foreign god. Allah is the Semitic term for God. Christian Arabs use the term Allah Jewish Arabs and yes, there are Jewish Arabs use the term Allah, Allah is a Semitic term, and in Aramaic and Hebrew it's there are similar cognates that
mentioned the name of God. Elohim Elohim is essentially Allah
So there is no God but Allah and Muhammad is the messenger. That's the first of the five pillars. The second pillar, a Muslim is required to pray five times a day, every single day. There are no exceptions. In fact, holy days, you do more prayers five times a day, at particular time intervals, you have to pray. The third pillar is charity, a Muslim is required to give charity to the poor, annually. So once a year, Muslims have to calculate there's a calculation depending on what you own, and what not, and you have to give to the poor. The fourth pillar is to fast the month of Ramadan. So the one of the months of the Islamic calendar, from sunrise to sunset, you abstain from food and
drink, and from intimacy with one spouse if you're married. And that is done to appreciate God's blessings, and also with the food and drink aspect to sympathize with the poor, to force yourself to recognize that food and drink is of the greatest blessings that God has given you. So that's done once a month, and then the fifth and final for those who are financially and physically capable. They have to undertake a pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca once in their lifetimes. And from the Muslim perspective, Mecca is the city of Abraham and Ishmael Maccha is the city where Abraham left Ishmael the Bible mentions leaving Ishmael in the valley of paraan. Well, for Muslims, the valley of
peran is the Valley of Mecca. And the Islamic faith basically takes its its its heritage from the Ishmael excite of the progeny of Abraham, the five pillars that you just mentioned. The first one is the Shahada.
And so for for people to understand, I normally show a video of people saying the shahada so they can see this is how a person becomes a Muslim. So anyone who has an A, there are seven, I think, seven requirements for a true Shahada. Would you still hold? Because I heard you? Yeah, so. So the point is that the shahada are the testimony of faith that must be uttered with sincerity with belief with understanding. So these are so the fact that I've said it in Arabic doesn't mean anything, because it's not joined with a professor of Arabic or Islamic Studies utters the shahada to teach his students what it is. Obviously, that's not it's not a magical thing. Exactly. The things go with
exactly. But that is what makes you there's there's nothing else beyond that there is no maximum ism, even though Islamic law strongly encourages, but it's not mandatory to take a bath and cleanse yourself before embracing Islam, but there is no baptism. There's no other ritual for a non Muslim to become a Muslim. All they have to do is to verbalize the shahada, I testify there is no God but Allah, and I testify that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah. Okay. Now,
where does this derive from? So the primary sources of Islam now, they're the five pillars, by the way, would would the Shiites recognize the same five? Oh, yes. Oh, yes. Yes. The five pillars are universal in all strands of Islam. Shiites have the shahada, the prayer everything is exactly the same. So it is it is universal in all strands of Islam, that's non negotiable. If someone denies any of the five, would you say that fundamentally would would place them clearly from a position of clearly
there are no classical mainstream groups that deny the five pillars. I mean, now, obviously, there are people that are not committed to the five pillars, right. I mean, Muslims aren't allowed to drink well, unfortunately, some Muslims do drink, but if you were to see them and say, Oh, aren't aren't you not supposed to drink? Hopefully they'd say, you know, this is a sin. May God forgive me, so they'd recognize that it's a sin there, they're falling short. Obviously, not all Muslims pray five times a day, right? By the way, FYI, interesting point um, pew, you know, the polling thing pew. Pew did a survey two years ago, about rituals as practiced by all the mainstream faith
traditions of the world. And according to their statistics, the number one observed ritual across all religions and civilizations by far was the fast of Ramadan, over 70% of the Muslim world was faithful and observing the fast of Ramadan. The next statistic was like in the 30s, or something, you know, so So the faster Ramadan for some reason, I honestly don't know why myself, the faster Rodon seems to have a very powerful effect on the Muslim world and anybody who's visited any Muslim nun in Ramadan, you will see the social customs and the mores change, office hours change street traffic changes mean you cannot but no, notice that it is the month of Ramadan in any Muslim society
across the and it's hard for us to keep up with it because it keeps moving 10 to 11 days up in our calendar because you use calendars Islamic calendar is lunar. And so what that means is that is based on the sighting of the moon. And so the Islamic calendar consists of around 355 days, so every single year, the month of Ramadan is pushed back by 10 or 11 days. So this means, you know, 15 years ago
So right now whereby the Ramadan is in July, try fasting from sunrise to sunset in July in Saudi Arabia of water, not a drop of water from in Memphis that's around 4:30am to 8:20pm. Okay, so we wake up at around 330 or so or something and have a somewhat too heavy of a breakfast but cut us some slack.
And we observe complete fast up until 828 30 where we have somewhat of a lavish dinner cut us another slack over there, but yeah, during the daytime, absolutely. I've heard studies that say that. On average, you take in more calories during Ramadan, you don't need studies you can ask me and
on average, I gained like three to five pounds
I'll be honest to why because I mean, it's human nature. It's not good and I'm ashamed to say this but you kind of overcompensate you know when when when you're hungry all day. So and another thing is, in the month of Ramadan, the best dishes, for some reason are always prepared, right? So every day is a festival. So in our mosque, it's free food every single day for anybody who walks in, we have on average, two, three on weekends, five 600 people coming and it's free. I mean, anybody can go we all sponsor everybody sponsors in different days. It's a very festive occasion, right? You barely you rarely break the fast alone, inevitably, you're invited to people's houses, you go to the
mosque. So there is an environment of and the point is, nobody is supposed to go hungry. Now, once upon a time, the spirit of that was that the poor should partake along with the rich, our wealth in this land is so much that everybody has surplus to food, you know, so unfortunately, that spirit is kind of lost. But when I was in Saudi Arabia, that was the point that you go to the mosque and everybody I mean, I remember clearly even the street cleaner would come and break fast with us. You know, we're all sitting together and eating the same food that's the spirit I would say there's a commercialize a you guys complain of the commercialization of Christmas Right? Right. Well, we
complain that the commercialization Ramadan, especially in America so you see there are there's quite a lot of in common between Christians and Muslims here that we can actually agree agree upon. Unfortunately, I'd love to talk about Laylatul Qadr and all sorts of other stuff we just don't have time.
The sources Oh, yes, the sources that's where we were my bad. Yes. The sources of obviously first and primary is the Quran. Very briefly, what is the Quran to a Muslim? The Quran is the primary source of Islam for all Muslims, it is considered to be the divinely inspired Word of God it is in the Arabic language, it is always in the Arabic language any translation of the Quran is not considered to be the Quran is simply a translation of the Quran and the Quran, there is only one Quran there are no various versions or whatnot is one standard copy of the Quran across the Muslim world. And the Quran is a document a book that is that is literally considered to be the word of
God. Now, Western academics and of course, there's always pros and cons with this Western academic say that the way Christians view Jesus is somewhat analogous to the way Muslims read the Quran. Now that's very simplistic. And you and I both know this, but it's very common to find this, this comparison. Now the Quran is eternal. The Quran is considered to be the speech of God. And so the speech of God is eternal. So it's uncreated. So the Quran as the speech of God is created, but the book that I have in my hands right, is simply a recording of that eternal speech. So there's a it's recorded in heaven, and I believe it was sent down on the night of power to the angel Jibreel
Muslims believe that yes, the Quran was revealed in the month of Ramadan, the beginning of the Quran was revealed, and it was then revealed piecemeal bit by bit for the next 23 years. So passages were revealed here and there and then put together in the lifetime of the Prophet and really there's not been any variant versions of the Quran. The Quran is the Quran for all sects and prisms and groups of Islam. And it is as you also know, a memorize document Muslims memorize the entire book cover to cover in the Arabic language which you've done.
Thank God Hamdulillah I have also memorized the Quran. But it is not just me here in Memphis, I would estimate at least at least what 2030 People have also done it. And so wherever you are in the world, you always find people that have memorized the entire book cover to cover. Now if I could just throw in some information here for people's I'd be really interested other than our Muslim guests, how many of you have read the Quran
that's what I always get. I just wait for somebody to go parts. Because that's that's that's very normal.
For everyone's information, the Quran is, I believe, 54% the length of the New Testament and 14% the length of the entire book. I wouldn't know the percentages but I guess well, I broke down the number of words. Sounds about right.
And so it's it's smaller in length than what we have in the Bible. And I hope you don't mind if I tell the story because I, you found it to be interesting and I think educational. But I was listening to Dr. Kati lecturing once. And I could tell it was in the morning, he had made some comment about being in the morning. And he was, you know, quoting the text as he normally does very quickly, both in Arabic and in English. And he came to one and just, it happens, you know, it just just it just wouldn't, wouldn't come out. He couldn't remember where that he couldn't get that get it started. And so in sort of in frustration, he said, Well, it's in Surah, it was one of the
shorter SIRs toward the end. Because in the Quran, the surah is are arranged, basically by size. I mean, the first Surah is only seven verses. But then the second sir is hundreds of verses and they get a little bit shorter, basically, as you go through until you get there 114 And get toward the end, they're only like four verses long, or something along those lines. But he said, Well, it's in such a such a surah, right hand page at the top.
Right hand page, the top. Now think about that for a moment. That was a valid reference for Muslims, because they all have the same Arabic Quran. And so if you find the right Surah, if it's the right hand page at the top, there it is. We could never do that. Because of the nature and it really goes back to our view of what inspiration is because what I wanted to ask was from the assumption perspective, there is nothing of the human touch to the words of the Quran. This is this is not Muhammad's reflections. Exactly this is this is there's nothing of him in it. Exactly. The words are on linguistically means recitation. And it's viewed as being the recitation of God to Mohammed or
via the Archangel Gabriel, how because Gabriel plays a very prominent role in our religion as well. Because it is Abrahamic religion. So Gabriel came with the recitation of God to the prophet, the prophet recited it to the people. So essentially, we believe there's an unbroken chain of transmission to God Himself directly, and the Quran is viewed as being the recitation of God. So, when we look at our scriptures,
Peter said that men spoke from God, as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. So we have, we have Paul saying, Bring, bring me the cloaks and the parchments. We have that kind of personal statement that is coming from him. And yet from our perspective, that's exactly what God intended to do. But that element of the human nature is there's nowhere is the commodity of God in the Quran, that's guided no Quran is the actual word of God in Arabic only and that's why we Muslims firmly believe that you have to recite the Quran in Arabic and we also all Muslims take pride in the fact there is but one Quran there's no variants of the Quran so, so it does quote other people you know,
lot and things like that, but it is yes, but it is God reciting Yeah, okay. So you have the Quran. But that's not the only not the only source for the majority of Muslims. And here we have to begin a little bit of sectarianism. As with other groups and religions, Muslims are divided into various Shia isms and sects. And perhaps most of you have heard of the two most common sects of Islam, Shiites and Sunnis. Sunnis represent around 85% of the Muslim world, and therefore they are the majority I myself, I'm also from the Sunni background. And for Sunnis, there is a second source after the Quran, and that's where they get the name Sunni from and that is the Sunnah or sunnah is
the concept Sunni is the one who follows it. In Arabic, the e sound is the equivalent of the America English apostrophe s. So you ascribe to so Sunni is somebody who follows the Sunnah. What is the sooner the sooner are the sayings and teachings and actions of the Prophet Muhammad. So the second source of Islam are the sayings and teachings of the Prophet Mohammed as recorded by his disciples we call them in Arabic or English companions, as recorded by his companions and later scholars after that, now the Hadith other sunnah, Let's not mention how the three guests because same thing, well, it's Hadith and Sunnah are synonymous for our purposes. So the Sunnah we believe, has been preserved
by humans, not by directly by God. So the sayings of the Prophet are found in different collections. And they are multiple attempts and multiple collections, the equivalent of the Gospel according to right, so the prophets life and teachings according to and we have a number of classical books that have attempted to record the sayings of the Prophet and we sift through them we have some criticism like some people have biblical criticism, we have some new criticism. We don't have Quran critics
Islam, because we believe the Word of God is separate. The word of the Prophet has been recorded by humans and is separate. And it's a human attempt. And human history and early Islamic history is yet a third genre. So the word of God, the words of the Prophet, and what happened to the early Muslims are three separate genres, from the perspective of Muslims. And again, I know this is from our perspective, the Bible is a mixture of all three,
you have bits of the Word of God bits of the words of the prophets, and bits of human history, from the Islamic perspective, and again, this has obviously biased perspective, we have these genres in separate books, there's one book of God, there are many, many books of sunnah, because these are human attempts. And there's even more books of history because these are what people recorded of the early times. So we respect the Quran like no other book, because that is the one preserve book of God and the Hadith if we, if our scholars have viewed it as authentic, the Sunnah is the Sunnah of dispute as authentic, we respect it as well. But we don't sanctify the Arabic text. We don't recite
the Arabic text as we recite the Quran. So the words of the Prophet are theology and law, but they're not recited. They're not set in prayer, they're not liturgy. Whereas the Quran is liturgy, the Quran is recited the Quran is, is it's a live document, every Muslim opens up the Quran almost daily, the committed Muslims and recites from it. You don't do that with the sayings of the Prophet. The sayings of the Prophet are sources of theology and law of etiquettes and morals of manners. They're not read for blessings, they're not read for, for just, you know, daily stuff. These are read by scholars. And of course, history is history. So but But wouldn't it be true though, that the
interpretation of the Quran is deeply influenced by the schools of jurisprudence, and that those depend on
the interpretation of the Sunnah.
Different different different groups will emphasize different elements. And that actually does end up impacting the interpretation of the true when it comes to interpretation. Humans are humans, and there's a spectrum of interpretation. And historically speaking, there's been a spectrum of acceptable interpretation. And these are the the main schools of Islamic law. And they have, you know, there's never been any type of sectarian warfare between these schools of Islamic law. These are the minutiae of the law, the finer details of the law, I would dare say that the main gist of Islamic law is pretty much agreed upon by by the majority of schools within Sunni Islam, of course,
Shiites have a different theology and a different source and a different law. And that's a different topic altogether. But within Sundays, and by and large, most of Islamic law is within a spectrum of interpretation. You've mentioned the Muslim view of the prophets that they were Muslims. And in fact, my understanding is that, from the Muslim perspective, God has always sent a prophet to each people group, and that they're all united by monotheism. Exactly. There is one God, right, exactly the way I phrase it a bit of a theological joke. For God so loved the world, he continued to send prophets, this is the way I phrase it. So we believe that God continues to send prophets to mankind
with the exact same message, because from our perspective, theology does not change, God does not change. What might change are the finer details of the law, perhaps one prophet prohibited one food item, and the other prophet allowed it, these types of things are negotiable. But theology does not change from Prophet to Prophet, Moses and Adam and Noah, and Solomon and David, the same God is the same God, and the same attributes with the same attributes, theology does not change. And so from our perspective, and again, this is important to note, and I say this with utmost respect, but we have to know our differences as well. The fundamental difference between Muslims and Christians is
obviously over the persona of Jesus Christ. That is where obviously we have very different understandings. We kind of sort of agree on Abraham and Moses and Solomon and David both of us view them as mighty messengers and prophets and people who came to you know, spread monotheism at Teach the law. And these are names mentioned in the Quran, people are surprised to discover that the most common Prophet mentioned in the Quran is the Prophet Abraham and the Prophet Moses. These two are mentioned more than any other prophet. Jesus is mentioned almost 25 times by name Jesus, the son of Mary, the only woman ever mentioned in the Quran and entire chapter named after her is Mary, the
mother of Jesus. And the Quran is very explicit, that God says to Mary, through the angel Gabriel, that Oh Mary, God has chosen you and sanctified you and blessed you over all the women of the entire world meaning of the entire creation. This is a verse in the Quran I just quoted you the English translation. So
we sanctify one up sanctifies an ambiguous term we respect as the veteran term, we respect all the prophets. And we consider them to be role models. And for our perspective, Jesus is a prophet of God, whom God sent in the same with the same message that he sent all the previous prophets with. And he was sent to the children of Israel. And he was born of a virgin called Mary. And he was to be the final prophet to the children of Israel, because this is something I think the New Testament and the Quran agree upon. The children of Israel were veering away from the law, and they were disobeying the commandments, and they were finding loopholes or whatnot. And from the Islamic
perspective, and I think the New Testament also mentions Jesus a bit irritated with some of the children of Israel, that you could put it that way. Yeah, yeah. Just to be to be to be nice about this. But yeah, Matthew chapter 23. Yeah, that irritation might be a proper term. Yeah, you get my point here that there seems to be a frustration that they're not following what they're supposed to follow. So from our perspective, Jesus was sent as their final hope of salvation. Jesus is called in the Quran, two things Either Jesus, the son of Mary, or Jesus the Messiah, because for us Muslims, Jesus is the Promised Messiah, He is the Messiah sent to the children of Israel, and he was born of
the Virgin Mary. And he came with the exact same message and teachings as the previous prophets, monotheism, worship and love God with all your heart, and obey and follow the law. This is the fundamental difference that Christians and Muslims out that it is important to recognize. And I'm not here to convert, even though honestly speaking, we would be happy if you know conversion takes place. Because we have to be honest here, we're not going to mince our words. I'm not here to convert. But it is important we understand these differences. From our perspective, Jesus is a mono theist, he is a Jewish Messiah, who followed the law, observed kosher, was circumcised did not come
to abolish the law, but to fulfill and affirm the law. And Jesus never ever taught any doctrine that gave him a sense of divinity. Alongside with or with, or however you want to phrase it. Jesus taught that he was a mortal, and a human. Now, when I mentioned this in churches, people get very surprised because never never heard this. But to be a Muslim, you have to believe in Jesus, you can't be a Muslim, the way we believe, obviously, meaning, if somebody says, I don't believe Jesus was born of a virgin, he's not a Muslim. If somebody says, I don't believe God sent Jesus, he's not a Muslim. If somebody says, I don't believe Jesus is a mighty messenger, he's not a Muslim. You have to love
Jesus and and respect Jesus as a prophet of God. And we assume, or we understand, excuse me, we understand. And obviously, this is where we disagree. We understand that notions such as redemption, and abolishment of the law and the Trinity. And all of these crucifixion, the Crucis. Well, the crucifixion we'll come to in a while, we understand all of these concepts as having been introduced by other people. Muslim historians mentioned Paul, they mentioned Constantine dimension, the Council of Nicaea, dimensioned, this and that, that's besides the point, the Quran is very explicit that Jesus did not preach the Trinity. And he did not preach his own any type of divinity. And he came to
fulfill the law and preach to the children of Israel, he wasn't really meant for the non children of Israel. So the Quran a number of times, primarily in Surah is four and five, specifically says Do not say three. And it uses this specific Arabic word for three doesn't use the word for Trinity, it says three, would you interpret that word three as as an attempt to specifically refer to the Trinity, the way you were just explaining it? Well, that is how it has been understood historically, by exegesis of the Quran, okay. And one of the main differences as well is that the Quran, and this is really bizarre from a secular perspective, like, I mean, I have trained in a seminary and my PhD
is from Yale. So I have the religious side, and I have the secular side. And it's interesting to compare and contrast to do which I'm sure we've had discussions about this as well. From a secular perspective, people who don't believe in any religion, they're perturbed and intrigued by the Islamic stance on the crucifixion, because it seems very bizarre and atypical. Like why would an Arabian man 500 years after Jesus hold these views about crucifixion? And they don't really have a solid answer for that. The Quran we didn't explain this
before 157 Okay. All right. All right. Yeah. The Quran says that. Do not say he was crucified. They
neither killed him. They meaning the children of Israel, they neither killed him, nor crucified him. But rather, and this is really ambiguous even if
it was made to appear to them. So I just transmitted the earth and what does that mean? It was made to appear to them. So now that's what the Quran says, Muslim exegesis. And this is not from the Quran. This is their interpretation. So I don't consider their interpreters to be divined. But yes, we are sympathetic to it. I am sympathetic to it. Muslim exegesis have interpreted that Jesus was not crucified, nor even placed on the cross, but rather that God saved him. Now this is an interpretation that is mainstream, and they claim this is not from the Quran. As I said, this is from later Muslim historians and theologians. They claim that Judas, the trader, was punished by
God, to resemble Jesus so that when the Roman soldiers entered the garden, they saw Judas the trader, and they assumed him to be Jesus, and they killed and crucified Him. And that's a befitting end to a traitor. And so people assumed that Jesus had been crucified. And that's what the Quran says it was made to appear to them. So Muslims believe that this is the chakra that every time I say this Christian is like what you guys believe this, Muslims believe. Not only did Jesus not was not killed or was crucified, he's still alive right now. Muslims believe Jesus is alive. And he shall come back towards the end of times. And his return is going to signal one of the last great signs
and the great Armageddon and judgment they will come after his coming back. Muslims are looking forward to Jesus's return. Because when Jesus comes back, we believe his soldiers and his army will be us Muslims, we believe we will follow Jesus Christ. And we also believe and this isn't the Hadith or the Sunnah of the Prophet, that every true Christian will then recognize that they were incorrect in the Trinity and then follow Jesus as well. So we actually believe Muslims and Christians will not fight against one another in the Armageddon contrary to what some strands of Christianity are preaching, we believe that there's going to be a pagan or Yeah, Judah, Jews a little bit advanced, I
a foreign or a paganistic, you know, groups of people with the Antichrist behind them, and Muslims and Christians will be monotheists, fighting behind Jesus Christ. So this is the respect and honor we give Jesus, Jesus is of the mightiest prophets and messengers, but from the Islamic perspective, he's not in any shape, fashion or form, divine. Now, really briefly, because I told you 90 minutes was going really fast. And we haven't even gotten close to where we're supposed to be. I told I told you exactly how it happened. I told them, how are we going to talk for 90 minutes on stage? I guess I said, it's gonna go so fast that I could leave it but
we want to get to some of the social issues and things like that. But you're right. But
I do want to
just interact with you for a moment, obviously, from our perspective, with the Quran, coming or at least appearing historically 600 years after the time of Christ,
denial, the crucifixion, and especially in regards to its view of Jesus, the specific thing that the Quran finds to be extremely offensive, literally, I mean, if you say the mountains fall down, the earth trembles when someone describes the sun to God. I'm not sure what the surah on that is, I'm sure you do the last page on the left hand side. So there you go.
And I don't know if any of the rest of you've been watching this. But you've been avoiding using the Arabic but it's harder for you to quote the English without doing the Arabic first I've been watching this over here going, he's going to the Arabic first Okay, here comes the English it's it's fascinating to watch, but the specific issue is ascribing a son to God. And from by the time the Quran was written all the Christological controversies historically, were already in the past true. The nature of sonship would you agree that's one of the key issues and in the Quran.
That because of of the idolatry in the Kaaba, against which Mohammed was preaching as a minority Prophet in those first years in Mecca.
There were gods who had children and so on and so forth. Isn't isn't the nature of what that sonship is one of the key issues between us and especially when it comes to, could you briefly for us define the word shirk and because
Is that's one of your areas. You've you've got a book on the subject. Could you define what shirk is? And let's talk just briefly about whether what we as Christians do, qualifies as shirk from your perspective. Sure.
The Arabic word shirk is spelt the same as the English word shirk as in shirker responsibilities, but obviously there's no correlation. shidduch
is defined as the cardinal sin in Islam, there's no sin greater than shook. And essentially, well to be very simplistic, it's polytheism, or to worship false gods. But the precise definition is to give the rights of God to other than God, okay, so that is the one unforgivable sin, to give the rights of God to other than God, only God has certain rights, the right of creation, the right to be worshipped, etc, etc. If anybody says that, oh, that entity created us, or that being is worthy of being worshipped, then these are manifestations of shidduch or associating partners with God. And this is the one unforgivable sin in Islam. Now, unforgivable in the sense that you can good point
very good point. Unforgivable in the sense that if you die without having repented right from it, repentance and Islam forgives all sins. Repentance means you feel penitent, you turn to God, you ask for forgiveness. God forgives anybody who turns to him without exception. But if you don't turn to God, and you live your life of inequity, and especially in shirk, and you know, that, that, you know, you God is one of you've heard the message that God is one, and you refuse to accept that message, and you continue to worship false gods or other than God, or give the powers of God to other than God, than in the Islamic perspective, that is unforgivable. Now, the The difficulty comes
in this was politically incorrect, but But James wants us to talk about this. And I agree that we do need to be frank here from the Islamic perspective, the mainstream Christian understanding of the Trinity constitutes a type of *. Not the worst type. It's not carving an idol and, and prostrating because, obviously Christians actually say Protestants don't do that. Let's just leave it at that. Yeah, but we don't, you know, wait, you know, there's no like actual images that you bow down to or something. So it's not like the worst type of shirt because the worst type of shirt which I think Christians and Muslims and Jews would all agree to, is to take an idol and sacrifice
something to the idol. That is the worst. And that was the type of shirt that was prevalent in Arabia, when the Prophet came. And the Quran obviously, completely abolished and eliminated that, but there are other types of shirk, as well. And from the Islamic perspective, to believe in any type of shared divinity amongst entities, you know, more than one. So again, here's where we get technical, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, God the Father. And I understand we're going to areas that are beginning the debate, which we're going to hold back on, but from the Islamic perspective, that is against monotheism. That's, let's just leave it at that. Well, could I just show you need to give
you a perspective, let me let me let me just let me see, I, I learned, my initial training in what shirk was, and the categories of Aruba, BSL and so forth, comes from you. Okay, so you're, you're my mentor here. And I remember the first time listening to lecturing on that I was going, Oh, how I would like to be able to say, what asked you the question. See, from a biblical perspective, we believe that Jesus has eternally existed as a divine person, and yet the Father, the Son, the spirit, share, the one being that we identify as Yahweh. We believe that Jesus has eternally been identified as Yahweh. The New Testament identifies him in that way, the spirits, the Spirit of God.
And so we don't believe that we are giving worship to a created being who has not eternally been God. We are not trying to divide worship and in fact, one of the early church fathers said my mind cannot contemplate the three without automatically being drawn back to the one because we distinguish between being and person. In light of that. I understand that there are some modern Islamic scholars here in the United States
that don't believe that we commit shirk, they accept our profession of monotheism. One of the arguments they use is that the Quran would not allow Muslim men to marry Christian women. If we were legis if we were despicable and in God's in God's sight as idolaters emotionally Kuhn generally are considered to be, but just from a Christian theological perspective, I fully understand
And we believe idolatry is a horrible thing. But in the strictest definition of shirk, don't you have to assume as part of that, not only one being of God, but only one person of God. In other words, a Unitarian monotheism is assumed from the Islamic perspective. And from our perspective, we believe in one being of God, but we believe that there are three persons that share that one being this is where, again, you know, Christians and Muslims are gonna have to agree to disagree. Obviously, Christians as well viewed themselves as being one a theistic, and that's what you're referring to here. And it's, we understand that is the assumption that Christians have, from the
Islamic perspective, how many Muslims really understand, because I'll be perfectly honest with you. If I and I've said this many times, and those of you who've listened my program, no, I do this. If I were to give a quiz, after the Sunday morning service at most Protestant churches in United States and the doctrine of the Trinity, I don't have much of a confidence and more than 25% of the pass it.
And so the probabilities, that someone such as yourself has had in depth dialogue with someone who would give you a truly accurate and historical and biblical understanding of the doctrine, the Trinity isn't, say, We, the first thing we are afraid of is the division of God's glory and division of God's being, and so on. So we share with you that's why when I'm hearing you just pounding away on shirk, I'm going, I understand that
this is where this is where we acknowledge the differences. I'm not trying to debate them this evening. But I also want to make sure that we understand really what their notions are fair enough, these are our positions, they are definitely mutually exclusive. They're not both valid and correct. And they can't both be correct. At the same time, we're gonna have to agree to disagree. At this point, we're running, oh, my goodness, I cannot believe the time here. But I want to tell you a story and get your reaction to it.
When I travel around, and give presentations on Islam, and you know what I know you don't have time for this, but if you ever, and I don't want I'm not wishing this on you, but if you ever get laid up for a while and you have to sit around watch YouTube videos,
I would I would love to have you watch because it's on YouTube all over the place my presentation on Islam and critique it and and also hopefully recognize there's someone who's really trying to accurately represent where we're coming from, I've had many Muslims attend, and go thank you for trying to accurately represent us. But one of the things I like to do is I like to show people, the Arabic Quran, the very one you're referring to with the blue pages.
And I pass it around the audience and stuff like that. And so I, I normally put it for obvious reasons, in my checked luggage, because as you know, I made an incredible mistake. About six months ago, as I took on the plane to read an Islamic book on the discussion of Sure. That was not a good idea. I'm sitting there hiding it down here like this, you know, and needed to have a cover for it. So you're going why asked Dr. Kati why that would be. But two times, I got to my hotel, and I opened my check luggage. And here's that little piece of paper that says we've checked your luggage. And guess where it was right who time a copy of the Quran right in the middle of the Arabic Quran.
Now what happened the first time I was just sort of like,
but when it happened a second time, obviously, someone is sending me a message very clearly sending me a message. Now I want every Christian in the room to imagine if you are in a minority position, religiously, in a country, and you got to your hotel, and that inspection thing was inside your Bible.
What would you interpret that to me? How would you understand that? So with that,
what's it like to be a Muslim in America? Post 911? Where does one begin?
Let me just tell you something that's still troubling me and my wife just told me about it. And she's in the audience.
Now, it's been troubling me immensely. And I don't even know what to do about it. I just heard about it because it happened yesterday.
My daughter's basketball tournament. So she plays basketball for our school, the Islamic school Pleasantview school, and they play with other you know, schools and there's also a church that they play with as well. You know, the tournaments. You know, that girl, she's 11 years old, she goes and plays around, just just happen. I just found out about it that the church that they're playing with, so this is the Islamic school in the playing with the church, or they're, they're playing a basketball game with the church. And so the referee is a part of the church and he says, let's all come together and pray which I don't mind. Very good. Okay, let's pray. So the Muslim girls when
they're on their hijab, and the Christian girls they all come together, and these are 1110 year old girls and he
He says that, you know, he thanks God and praise God, that's fine. And then he goes, the God of Christianity, that's the only true God and anybody who doesn't believe in the God of Christianity is gonna go to hell. Now, I understand theology is a passionate thing, I understand that this person wants to somehow convey to people that they should embrace Christianity. I don't have a problem with that. What I do have a problem is to do it on a basketball court with 11 year old girls. I mean, that's just not right. You're intimidating. My the girls were like, did he just say that, like, there is a time and a place to preach and teach. And, you know, I love Jesus Christ. And I know all
of you, I am sure that's not the way he would have taught whatever version of theology he had. There's so what we notice is that there is this there is this fear, this paranoia This, this. This, this sense of we are the other. The assumptions are made about us as being a fifth column, we're out here to destroy the country, every Muslim is a potential terrorist, and there's no desire on the part of many of these people to come and visit our mosques or interact with us. Their presumptions are coming straight out of Fox News or the equivalent of the Jerry Springer show. I don't even know where to begin the amount of hate crimes that are taking place. I myself, have an experience have
experienced a number of things, security measures, you are made to feel
not even a dignified human being forget an American, you are stripped of your dignity, when people view you as somehow always being a potential threat, or somebody who's full of evil or hatred. And ironically, in attempting to fight bigotry and hatred, I feel the people that are doing that are expressing bigotry and hatred, and their fear of Muslims being terrorist. They ended up terrorizing Muslims. And let's let's lay out something that I think is important for people to understand about you. Because many people are told
that Well, you see, Muslim Muslim representatives are supposed to say these things. They're engaging in takia. They're giving you a story. That's not really true. And I cannot tell you how many people look at me and say, you just can't believe what these people are saying. Folks, what you need to understand is that a number of years ago, Dr. Kati was threatened, his life was threatened by Ultra right wing groups, not Muslim groups. But that one of the reasons that I especially wanted to have him here this evening is when ISIS began to become a tremendous
news item. I watched a presentation that he made in Norway, where he gave a theological maybe we'll be able to summarize just a few of the things about the paradise and things like that. But he gave a an Islamic theological argument against ISIS. And what was the name of the of the document that was that was a letter to the calyx, the Caliph Al Baghdadi, a letter to the leader of ISIS. So a number how many 100 and 125 theologians from across the world drafted and signed, and these are all very prominent, very mainstream theologians across the world, drafted and signed a document which essentially critiqued ISIS in a exhaustive Islamic manner. It was a legal document where we
deconstructed their arguments and showed and showed them that they're just being very, very shallow and not faithful to the teachings of our religion.
There were like four or five, four, I think American clerics on that. And I was one of the American clerics that signed the document. And as a result, twice now
ISIS in their magazine if you haven't seen it, it's this slick online. I imagine there's print versions of it too. But there's there's a slick online version of it and things like that. Twice have printed a doctor Cody's picture and called for his assassination. And so, there are obviously many places in the world where
you probably would not want a vacation right now.
And when you when you put yourself on the line like that, to say this is not what I believe, folks, this is what you need to understand I have taken heat from people on my side. Because those of you who know me know I have a I have a mantra consistency, consistency for example, when when I interact with with Muslims in debate,
I do not use many of the arguments that are popular out there, because I believe we have to have even scales. And so for example, there Orientalist who questioned even the existence of the historical Mohammed or things like that.
I will not utilize that
I have radical deconstructionist type argumentation, even though sometimes it's used against me,
I have to use the same standards in defending my faith that I use in disagreeing with someone else's position. I think that's necessary for a Christian for the simple reason that we follow Him who is the WAY the TRUTH and the LIFE therefore my arguments have to be what truthful, they have to be representative of what the other side is saying. And so, in light of that,
when we look at how many billion Muslims are there in the world, point 6 billion, okay, 1.6 billion people, we do not like it, when we are all thrown into one big basket. And people, for example, most of you know that I have dealt with the issue of homosexuality have done debates on the subject of homosexuality. For for many years, I'll go back to 2001. And yet people will hold me accountable for the Westboro Baptist Church people and things like that. And I'm like, wait a minute, that's not my life. That's not how I've approached people. That's not my perspective, I do not want to be painted with that brush. I demand the right of self definition of what my faith is. We all demand that,
right. And yet, for many Christians, we refuse that right to Muslims. And because there are Muslims who do bad things, and give theological arguments from it, and quote from the same sunnah that you quote from, because of that, then there are many Christians that will say, they are the consistent Islam. This is the aberration, and we need to treat them all in the same way. And I consider that to be hypocrisy, we can't do that. I recognize the fact that there are different perspectives amongst the Muslim people. And if and folks from a Christian perspective, if we want to express the love of Christ, other people, then we have to listen to where they are, and address them where they are, and
accept what they say is their faith and meet them where that where they are, we can't demand demand that they hold the views that are not theirs in the first place. And so when someone is willing to risk their lives, to stand against what ISIS is doing the way the doctor Kotti does, I have such a tremendous respect for that. That's why I want you to hear what he's saying now as to what it's like to experience life. And I want us to be people who recognize that and can therefore come alongside and can pray for individuals and can extend the hand of friendship.
Because folks, in case you haven't noticed, our culture is becoming much more secular. And I know we're down south. And you might say, well, Massachusetts, yeah, okay. Northern California. Okay, no, it's coming everywhere. And the fact of the matter is,
we all may be facing being a religious minority.
How are we going to get along in that situation? Are we going to want someone to come alongside us, then we need to extend the hand now. And so I appreciate the fact that not Now I do want to say this.
What you need to do,
is there needs to be, here's what I would invite you to do, if you ever if you ever have the time to do it. My community needs to have someone with your ability to clearly present things. Take what you've written about the carriage Eight's about these things, who speaks for Islam, and produce a youth an hour long YouTube video that we can understand that would say, this is how you know what the true Islam is? These are our sources. And these who are these people have not? Not a lot of people can do that. And I'll be honest with you, some of the stuff that's out there is stultifying ly boring. And I mean, honestly, I saw a cleric sitting there and one camera shoot, and I fell
asleep after five minutes. And I know at least I knew what he was saying.
Someone with your ability to communicate with your passion. We need something like that. We really, really do. Would you agree? Go ahead. It's all right. Thank you.
Thank you. Well, let me just let me just add here. All you need to do to get an idea of what Islam is and who speaks for Islam is to look at the mainstream normative tradition, visit a mosque interact with local Muslims. So you look at ISIS and you think that is Islamic. ISIS at max at Max has 15 to 20,000 people in that cult and that movement. If you do the math out of 1.6 billion people this this crazy, Caleb has called the entire Muslim world to come and said join us I am the truth.
A live, if out of 1.6 billion barely 15,000 have taken up that call do the math, that's and I did 0.0003% You are going to consider 0.00003% to be the normative. I mean, I calculated at 919 25. When the k k k was at his pinnacle, the K K K represented around 5% of America. Now, the k k k is therefore 3000 times more American than ISIS is Islamic. Think about that. Let me play the devil's advocate on the basis of a YouTube video that's very popular out there. Let's say okay, yes, the specific numbers, the people, they're very small, but when they do polls of Muslims, do you support what ISIS is doing? Do you support the establishment of Sharia law, etc, etc. The numbers are much,
much higher, and they say see, that's that shows you that there are literally millions and millions and millions of people who would if they won't act on it, at least feel at the center. Those two questions are totally they are I agree, support ISIS know, the Gallup poll. And ISP, which is a think tank in Washington has done a very exhaustive survey some of the most exhaustive surveys done in 20 Muslim countries. And they have shown demonstrated this is a three year long survey done, that the positions that the Muslim world has on almost all issues of violence and whatnot, is similar, if not less than in the Western world. Now, the question, do you support Sharia? That is a very ends of
the language question that interpretations of what Sharia is between Muslims and non Muslims is so varied, Sharia has become a bogeyman. Muslims, by definition, support Sharia. But what is Sharia? It's like asking a Christian, do you believe in Jesus? It's asking that you do you believe and it's like, it's like asking a Christian? Do you believe that God's law is good? Do you believe that God's law is good? For me? Sure. He is saying good to my parents is giving to the poor. And so what do you mean by Sharia, it's become a bogeyman. It's become this this vicious, you know, understanding that is alien to the mainstream Muslim world, they see it as the establishment of what the Taliban does,
when they take over an area. That's what they say that the Taliban is a typical, is demonstrable, demonstrative of the fact that it's not the normative tradition of Islam, the very fact that we have never seen in our 14 and a half centuries, a cult like ISIS, we've never seen anything like this is demonstrative of the fact that this is not typical. And again, I encourage all of you to listen to my lectures that I've given and others, but I mean, I know my lectures online about the rise of ISIS and I spoke here in Memphis, two years ago, about the rise of ISIS. And what I do, and I teach a class at Rhodes College, it's a semester long class. It's called Modern Muslim fundamentalist
movements. By the way, I joke when somebody says, What do you do? So I teach this class at Rose? What do you do? I say, I teach jihad in Tennessee.
In reality, I do teach jihad in Tennessee, but at Rhodes College. So
I have explained in a lot of detail in it, and my university class, I can go into a lot more detail. These movements are coming out of a particular social and political context. It is simply unfair, and unjust to ignore the context of those regions, and to ignore the political, the systematic and endemic violence that has been sustained by those people. I mean, Iraq and Syria have been at war, you know, internally and externally. You know, we invaded Iraq twice. And the Syrian regime right now, you know, for the last 30 years massacres upon massacres, from those, you know, many Armageddon ins from those, you know, bloodshed, bats that are continuing over and over again, it's not
surprising that you get this bizarre, apocalyptic messianic End of Times movement that is responding in kind to what they've seen the very fact that the Muslim world has not seen anything like this. And a simple example, I mean, simple reality. Iraq, and Syria, had no radical and jihadist tendencies, you know, 20 years ago, 30 years ago, seven years ago, 100 years ago, if there was any radicalism, it was in some pockets of Egypt, in some places in the 60s and 70s. Iraq had never seen a suicide bombing in its 2000 or 1500 plus year of Islamic history until the 2004 American invasion. Now you cannot you cannot ignore the political circumstances from within which this anger is coming.
I'm not justifying. I am contextualizing. So it's so easy to blame the religion. It's so easy to say oh, those Muslim
hymns, go read a few books, listen to some lectures, ask an Iraqi, ask somebody who's been in seen there. And you will realize it's much more complicated than that. And religion is using as a post facto justification, they do the deed. Now they need to figure out how are we going to justify the turn to religion and the language of religion? Speaking of complicated, we only have 15 minutes before we take audience questions. If you have questions, please utilize the URL up there. We'll try to look at our phones here and figure out what we're going to do. And I'm not sure how it's gonna work with the cards either. So But speaking of complicated
our worldviews you mentioned to me that that one of your frustrations is that
our worldviews share much more in common in regards to how they impact social issues, governmental issues, things like that, than many of the Christians who are willing to talk with you. And yet they have a very liberal, almost secular worldview when it comes to those things. And that the very people that you should have the most in common with there tends to be the greatest amount of distrust. Where do our worldviews intersect? I mean, for example, one of the things I mentioned to you and I just mentioned moments ago is, I've done a fair amount of written a book called the same sex controversy, I've done a number of debates on the subject of homosexuality, I understand that
homosexuality is considered to be a grave sin, within Islamic theology. And from a Christian perspective, it is particularly grave because it is based upon
a rebellion against Gods right to define what is appropriate sexual behavior, what is a male, what is a female, the whole transgender movement is a rejection of Gods right to say, this is male, this is female, this is what is good for male and female, etc, etc. So we have, you know, where are the areas of intersection? And does that mean that there's grounds for cooperation when people are trying to shove a particular worldview down our children's throats? Basically? Very good question. And this is really one of my main reasons for wanting to dialogue with
Christians who are committed to the values of classical mainstream Christianity, because the fact of the matter is that yes, we have a lot of disagreements. But we have a lot in common with one another, in terms of morality, in terms of decency in terms of family values, committed Muslims and committed and Christians really are seeing eye to eye we both decry the the the liberalism, the secularization, the sexualization of our societies, we both mourn over the loss of the family structure, we both want the man to be the man, the woman to be the woman and one of the verses of the Quran, Allah, God says, The man is not like the woman. And yet in another verse, it mentions
that, you know, you know, praise God who created you from a man and a woman. And from the two of them, he created multitudes of men and women, there is no third gender or cisgender, or transgender for us, as Muslims, and as many committed Christians, a man is a man and a woman is a woman. And there is no competition between the two genders. It's not as if there's any any type of wrestling match going on, and one has to prove the identity of you, the other God honored men and God honored women. And for a man to be a man and a woman to be a woman is their honor, there is no competition in against each other. A family unit is the building block of society. And when family is preserved,
society is preserved. So in Islam, yes, marriages are supposed to flourish, and you're supposed to have a man and a woman, you know, have children together, we don't espouse or agree with these alternative ideologies. And we do feel that they are simply not the norm that God created mankind upon. We also were very, you know, sad that these changes that have taken place, the Supreme Court ruling of whatnot, and I gave a sermon and lecture about this online, and if you don't if you're listened to or not, and in it, we clearly said that, even if it's purely politically incorrect to say, as a Muslim, I have to say this, that I don't view this as being healthy for society, that
these types of changes are going on. And they're becoming normative and legal. And, you know, if committed Christians and Muslims had come together, if we had joined hands and forces, maybe we could have effected a stronger change. I've never asked this question of the Muslim before, so I'd never even thought of it. So here we go. This could be dangerous, but from my perspective, I believe that God's wrath abides upon a nation that flouts his law, that literally knowing what his law is, rejects that law, and in essence, spits in his face. from a Christian perspective. I think there's plenty of evidence in the Old Testament that God's
wrath will come upon a people who consistently reject his way. What's the Muslim perspective or a your your your understanding, James, you will get away with saying things that I can't get away saying, of course you're right. You're right. You're right. Like I hadn't even thought about let me just leave it at that I hadn't even thought about that. I did not I was not having to think of my safety. I know and my career. That's why I hope you all understand what he's saying. Actually, actually, I'm just semi kidding with you in the sense that I see God's refuge from ever being a coward to speak the truth. I'm just half joking with you. half joking, because there's no there is
an element of truth there. But I think you're right, I have more freedom to say that yes, you do. There are certain privileges. That
would not come in my case, but it's because I have a goatee and not a full beard. Exactly, exactly. Yes.
We also have a similar sentiment in our faith tradition. And we do believe that lie sensuousness and immorality, damage society at large.
And it's just not healthy for people to you know, in our tradition, in our tradition, our prophets, that there's a saying of the Prophet, God shall forgive all sinners, except one category of them.
I mean, sinners, meaning those who repent, because you have to repent it Islam, God shall forgive all sinners, except one category. They said, Who's that category? So he said, Those who flout their skin, their sins, the ones who committed a sin at night, and nobody saw them. And the next day they go, and they tell people Oh, you know, last night, I did this last night, I did that. So you see, we as Muslims believe, you know, we're all sinners in the end of the day, we are all sinners. But if I commit a sin, I should have a sense of shame. In front of God and yes, in front of my fellow man, to not flout it to not put it on Facebook to not normalize the sin. Facebook. Yeah. Yeah. So psalm,
Psalm 12. Eight says, The wicked stret, about when that should not, which is vile is honored amongst men. Exactly. We don't want to publicize evil, if evil does take place to keep it under wraps, because when you publicize evil, you encourage other people to to commit those same offenses. So we do believe that public decency and morality is a virtue. And when that virtue is flouted, everybody suffers. There are two other questions we had on the list. I noticed you never even looked at the list, but I had it up. So there are two questions I want to make sure we got to and we have just enough enough time to do it toward the end.
You and I spoke on the phone a number of years ago, you hadn't finished your doctorate yet. And I was trying to talk you into writing a book with me.
And so you were sort of going through the ideas and you said, Okay, James, let's say we get to the end of the book.
And our theology says, Okay, I think you're going to hell and you think I'm going to hell, what do we do now?
So in other words, we need to have a chapter on the fact that theologically, Christians believe that one way of salvation is in and through Jesus Christ. Muslims believe that we're committing shirk, and that the one way of salvation is submission to Allah and there, you allow for some possibilities. I'll let you expand upon that in the moment. But the reality is,
for most people, this is where the conversation ends.
And you and I both are continuing the conversation. That's what makes us weird, evidently.
Excellent. Um, so firstly, I need to rephrase that statement, to refuse to reflect mainstream Islamic theology.
Muslims do not ever assign anybody to heaven and hell, any individual to heaven and hell, Muslim speak, in generalities and in descriptions, not in individual people. And no Muslim can ever say, I'm going to heaven and you Oh, non Muslim or Christian or Jew or Buddhist is going to help no Muslim can ever say that if they do, they're not the origins they're not reflecting Islamic theology. They're just lay people. This is an Islamic theology according to any mainstream Sunni even Shiite interpretation here. How Muslim speak is in descriptions in terminal and adjectives Muslim will say and this is what I believe that the path to heaven, the path to God is one path. And
that path is in submitting to God which is Islam. Islam means submission to Him. So monotheism, faithfulness, being good and kind, loving, caring rituals, that is the one path. There is no other path to God. And anybody who rejects that path
is not going to end up in the kingdom of heaven. However, we
also acknowledge that on Judgment Day, there will be people who are not on that path, but have legitimate excuses in front of God. I do not have the right to consign them to hell. Only God is the one who judges Heaven and Hell, Nobody judges heaven in hell other than God, I have no right to say, I'm going to go to heaven because I don't know what if there's something in my heart that God knows that is not righteousness. What if there's arrogance? What if there's something that shouldn't be there? So I, I'm hopeful, I pray to God that I'm gonna go to heaven, but I cannot guarantee as well, a person outside of my faith tradition. Maybe he'll come on judgment day and say, Oh, God, and this
is an Islamic excuse, which is explicit in the Hadith. And the Sunnah. Oh, God, I never heard of your message. I lived a righteous life. I tried to be good. But I never heard of your Prophet Mohammed, I never heard of Islam. We actually believe that this person has a hope of salvation. We believe that this person has a hope of salvation, because God does not punish the one who was not exposed to the message. What if somebody says that God, I never heard of the real religion of Islam, let's say semi facetiously, I watched Fox News my entire life. That was my image of Islam. You know, I mean, honestly, as a Jokes aside, maybe this person might be forgiven, because if his image of
Islam was ISIS, that's all he thought of Islam. Well, nobody wants to convert ties this so maybe he's excused. Maybe he is, who am I? To assign Heaven and Hell, that's, that's only God's right to do. So Muslims do not speak in terms of specifics. Therefore, I do not believe you're going to help. But it's not my prerogative to say what I will say. I believe that anybody who knowingly rejects knowingly, that's the key term, who unknowingly rejects God's message, through all the prophets, including the Prophet Muhammad has decided his own face, but I cannot take that generic description and apply it to James or Thomas, or Harry or Richard, I can't do that. Because on Judgement Day,
every one of us has to answer to God directly. And you have the opportunity to defend yourself. And God, we believe is not just all just he is also All Merciful. So perhaps, and we Muslims believe this, there will be people who are saved, who are not Muslim. But we firmly say, and I will not mince my words, you're just like you didn't mince your words, there is one path to God. And if you're on that path, the chances to get to heaven, are infinitely more. And all other paths don't lead to heaven, you might end up there. But those are the exceptions and not the normative rule. That's how we would phrase and So from your perspective, wouldn't be wise to make the to take the
risk exam in any way. And of course, from our perspective, one of the things I think is probably ringing in many people's ears right now is the term chances. Because the from from the Christian perspective, the only reason that I can ever have peace with God, or any confidence of entering into His presence, is because I'm in possession of the righteousness of Jesus Christ given to me. And that's why I've talked to some Muslims, and they sort of have the idea that, and I think there's a
an ayah in the in the Quran that sort of like just thinking about it, the Christians say that only we are going to get there say, Do you have a treaty with God that He has given? And I think, and I think there's, you know, that would be that would be one of my problems is that, you see that the Christian understanding of why only Christians go to heaven is because it's not we don't view ourselves as a group that is some somehow better than anybody else. We believe that a Christian is a person who has fled to God for His mercy, and that they recognize he is the only the only one that God has given to where his righteousness is perfect in God's sight. That's why it's not just a
chance, I'm not taking a chance. I have a righteousness that is perfect in God's sight. And that's why I can have peace with so again, this is one of the fundamental disagreements, agree to disagree from our perspective, from our perspective. It's an element of arrogance to say, I am going to enter heaven and I'm certain about it. Rather, I am very hopeful. I'm very optimistic. I know God is loving. I know God loves me. I know God will forgive me if I turned to him. But there is a small element of fear. What if I'm not sincere enough? What if something I did was displeasing to God? So I'm battling between ear and hope NDC where we're not trying to say that we're being we're not being
arrogant because what we're saying is, my hope is completely in the ability of another to save me, I understand that. We're gonna have to agree to disagree with you or when we agree to disagree. Can we still exactly talk about those things amongst everybody else? The way that I phrase this is very straightforward.
Suppose you think I
I am going to hell. That's your prerogative and your legal right to think, by the way, I don't think you're going to hell unconditionally. I like I said, That's not the way we talk. But suppose I say, the path that you have chosen is a path that is not leading to heaven. Let's put it that way. Okay. Okay, let's this path is leading to help. The question is very simple. Do we have to make this world a living hell because of that? That's the question. Let God judge on Judgement Day, I honestly am not insulted when you say this to me, I'm not. Because I'm so confident in my faith in God, that your confidence doesn't negate my confidence. I am not insulted. Quite the contrary, a part of me
admires you for your faithfulness to your tradition. And I hope you feel the same about me. So the question is, then, if you feel this way about me, and I feel that you're not correctly on guidance, but I still hope for forgiveness for you. And I hope that God guides you in this world or forgives you in the next I don't have a problem saying that theologically. But suppose even that, you know, I believe your path is incorrect. Can't we be good neighbors together? Can't We? Can't we work together for better schools to minimize crime, to fight against pornography and drugs to to to affirm family values? Why must we hate one another in a civil society we're coming together will
bring about so much potential good, why can't we look at what we have in common, even as we understand and appreciate and are honest about our differences. That is my goal for conversations with Japan. Obviously, from the Christian perspective, any Christian in the room recognizes that when you have a relationship with someone based upon respect, recognizing in them, we use the term image of God, I realized that's not a Muslim concept, but it's that we are created by God, when you recognize and someone else a fellow image bearer. Obviously, it is, it is far easier to model the love of Jesus Christ and to have the opportunity of modeling the gospel in front of someone. When
you have a relationship with them. There's based upon respect and kindness and, and everything else rather than I think the greatest barrier for Christians, and reaching out to the Muslim people is fear. We have fear in our hearts. It's based upon ignorance, it's based on other things. That's one of the reasons I wanted to do this. And so the final question before we, we go to questions if I've actually gone three minutes over, but
the last question we had in our in our in our little list, is what we want for each other. And we sort of just talked about that just a little bit. But we'll, we'll conclude with this.
from a Christian perspective, obviously, and this is this is why we can have these conversations I would be very uncomfortable.
Just talking about our similarities, if we weren't honest about where we are what we really believe that's that's the kind of dialogue that that I think a lot of people think we're doing, and it's not obviously the greatest thing that I can hope for any person, if the greatest thing I can hope for my children
is that they have the is that they bow the knee in repentance and faith, Jesus Christ and they receive a new heart, and they have eternal life. They have His righteousness, and they're going to have eternal life because of what Christ has done. If that's the greatest thing can hope for my children. That's a great thing and hope for anybody else, for anyone else. And so I can have friendships with Muslim people. As long as we've had that conversation. They know where I stand. They know what I'm praying for. But I know what I'm going to be doing and have been doing for years. And that is I pray for Yasir qadhi.
If I pray for Yasir qadhi, I'm not changing God's heart, God's changing my heart. He is making me to be the type of person that is going to be concerned about your welfare, concerned about your health, concerned about your safety concerned about your family. He's changing me, that's, you know, we're not trying to convince God to be better. God's already good. He's changing us. And so what would it mean? If the Muslim people in your neighborhood knew that you love them, cared for them prayed for them and were willing to do anything for him? It would change everything. But unfortunately, that's not generally how they view us. And so my desire what I wanted, the final question was what is our
greatest desire for the other? And I know that that obviously I want your health and your your happiness and all these things, but the greatest thing a Christian wants for anyone is that they come to know Jesus Christ personally and bow the needy him and from I would imagine, from your perspective, you would love to see nothing more than for me to embrace Islam and say the shahada, and that would make me very whole nine yards so