I could have easily written this editorial on the 100 ways Adventists are more biblical than Muslims, but I haven’t. If we’re serious about wanting Muslims to consider the claims of Jesus, we need to begin with an attitude of humility, and that means accepting that there are things we can learn from Muslims.
These “rigid” Muslims put many Christians to shame when it comes to their prayer life—regular, committed, sincere.
1. Inshallah: . . . you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that’ (James 4:15).
In the past Christians regularly used the phrase “God willing”. But today there’s very little thought given to how we include God in our day-to-day plans. But Muslims regularly modify their statements with inshallah—God willing. It’s a reminder that God is sovereign.
2. Respect for God: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding (Proverbs 9:10).
Muslims have a very high view of God and are usually careful to discuss spiritual matters with respect. When we rush to criticise their out-of-reach deity, we miss the opportunity for some self-examination.
Contemporary Christians too often take God for granted. In an attempt to connect with the divine we invent a false God in our image—“Jesus Dude”, who will never call attention to the vast differences between our tiny humanity and God’s eternal majesty. The Muslim doctrine of submission offers something of value.
3. Modesty: But every woman who prays or prophesies . . . she should cover her head (1 Corinthians 11:5-6).
Modesty among Adventists in the West is a dying art. Historically we promoted “dress reform”—modesty, quality and simplicity as well as good health (looser, less constricting clothing was recommended).
In contrast, Islam is seeing a resurgence of hijab, particularly among women—although it should be pointed out that Muslim men are also expected to dress modestly. In the mosque and during prayer, women cover their hair—not such a strange practice when we consider the words of Paul, quoted above.
4. Sharia: Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers? (1 Corinthians 6:5).
In these individualistic times, the greatest social faux pas is to “judge” somebody. It’s becoming harder to deal with church discipline matters; it seems impolite to delve into private difficulties. Under sharia principles however, congregational discipline continues. Disputes around ceremony, theology, diet and marriage are heard and decided by a panel of religious leaders. Too formal and legalistic? You be the judge.
5. Prayer and fasting: She never left the temple but worshipped night and day, fasting and praying (Luke 2:37).
It’s hard to deny that Muslims are people of prayer. And the Ramadan fast, far from being a month of miserable self-denial, seems to be a time of spiritual focus, fellowship and celebration.
These “rigid” Muslims put many Christians to shame when it comes to their prayer life—regular, committed, sincere. And despite the many biblical mentions of fasting, it’s a practice that’s almost unknown in
many Adventist congregations.
Food for thought?
Kent Kingston is assistant editor of Adventist Record.