In this episode Kurt speaks with Nazam Guffoor about Islam. Nazam explains what Islam is, then he and Kurt discuss 4 points of differentiation between Islam and Christianity. New segment on the show: What Do you Meme?
What Do You Meme?
Kurt: Good day to you and thanks for joining us here on another episode of Veracity Hill where we are striving for truth on faith, politics, and society. It’s a pleasure to be with you here. This week I’m very much looking forward to today’s topic. We’re looking at, this is the first Saturday of the month, and so what we started last month was a worldview series and so today we’re going to be looking at the topic of Islam, but before we get into that we’ve got just a few announcements. Let me thank a number of folks that listened to last week’s episode. It was very much listened to so thank you to all those who tuned in. It was the spiritual condition of infants. Coming up in two weeks time actually is Reliable: Can you Trust the Bible? Presented by Defenders Media. We’re going to be doing a one day seminar in Wheaton, Illinois at Faith Covenant Church. We’re going to be looking at myself and Ted Wright of Epic Archaeology, we’re going to be speaking on a number of different topics such as what the evidence might be for the Exodus and the Conquest, What is the Old Testament story line, why are there differences in the Gospels, and other issues like the New Testament canon and such so we’d love to see you there in Wheaton and we’re hoping to livestream so we’d love to have you tune in as well so that’s on March 18th. One point of note here is that for our regular listeners, you’ll know that we usually have a call-in line, however, today because our guest is in the U.K., we’re using Skype in order to communicate with him and so we’re not going to be taking calls during this episode, however you’re always welcome to leave a message if you want to have your voice heard on the show. You can do so so just give us a call. The number is 505-2STRIVE. That’s 505-278-7483 and so you can leave us a message during the week. We’ve actually got a voice message earlier this week that we’ll be playing at the end of the show and I’ll be addressing the question there. You can also text me though if you want to get in touch with me. That’s a great way for you to contact me. All you’ve got to do for that is text the word VERACITY to the number 555-888. It’s totally free and it’s a texting list that I have where I can communicate to you guys, let you know what’s coming up on the show or if you maybe missed something, and you can reply back in those text messages. I will see those in the system that I’m looking at right now on our computer. Last week we had a couple of texters text in so it’s great to engage with listeners like that.
We’ve also got another segment. I don’t want to surprise you so when we have our break, after the break normally our tradition for 33 episodes has been to do a segment called Rapid Questions. We’re going to take a break from that segment for the time being and we’re going to do another one called “What do you meme?” I will be looking at a couple of memes out there. In the future if you want me to address or help you explain some of the memes or really even just respond, how do we respond to this, that’s what that segment of the show is going to be devoted for, so I’ve got a couple of those for you today, and we’ll be touching on that after the break.
I think that does it for the announcements and now it’s my great joy to welcome on the show Nazam Guffoor, who is a Muslim apologist and he lives in London. He is very knowledgeable in New Testament criticism and here today, we’re not getting too much into New Testament criticism, we’re going to be talking about Islam because he’s a Muslim and he’s going to help us understand what Islam is and some of the questions that we might have for him, so Nazam, thank you so much for coming on the show today.
Nazam: It’s a pleasure to be on, Kurt. Thank you for having me.
Kurt: Great. For our listeners, Nazam and I have actually met in person, we’ve had a number of different conversations, whether I’ve visited London or even when I lived there, Nazam, you’re very active in the Muslim apologetic community there in London. You go to Speaker’s Corner like every week and I imagine you’re still doing that. Is that right?
Nazam: Yeah. That’s right. It’s changed over the years. It’s a bit different from how it was when you were there before. It’s become more religious and less political.
Kurt: Interesting. I guess maybe they’re more political especially with Brexit and all that being the talk of the town for probably a couple of years for you guys, huh?
Nazam: That’s right. And it’s a good time to visit the U.K. because apartments are quite cheap now.
Kurt: That’s right. You’ve been a long time participant in these discussions and what’s really nice is you even attend the Christian events if I can say that. I know a lot of apologetic events are open to the public, but you sort of are devoted to attending really almost any local event just so you can talk to people and learn more and so I want to say thank you for doing that because I think that’s a good thing for folks to do that.
Nazam: I appreciate the organizers for allowing me to be there and being hospitable as well. It works both ways.
Kurt: Okay. Let’s get the conversation rolling here a little bit. Again, this show is on Islam. We haven’t really covered Islam on the podcast yet, so for our listeners, perhaps let’s start off with a broad question and that will lead us into a nice conversation. How would you describe Islam to someone?
Nazam: I can only describe Islam and the life of Islam from what I understand rather than what others understand Islam to be, so for me Islam is basically a combination of the teachings of all the prophets and faiths of the world and that Islam is commonly understood to be beginning with the life of the prophet Muhammad who was born in the 6th century, but he began his mission in the 7th century, but really Islam began with the first man and with the first prophet on Earth who was Adam and basically it’s submitting or surrendering yourself to the will of God and being in relationship with the one true God and not associating partners or others equal to God or making others higher than God.
Kurt: Gotcha. So when it’s about submitting oneself to God, what does that exactly look like?
Nazam: Submission to God would be keeping his commandments as well as worshiping God alone and not making any graven image of God or taking other Lords besides God. Really the Islamic teaching is nothing new. The Koran refers to itself as a reminder so it is there as a confirmation of what was already known or taught by previous prophets and messengers that were sent by God and really the message of the Koran is to remind people about the previous messages that God communicated by the vessels of prophets of messengers over time.
Kurt: Okay. For a lot of people, Islam in terms has this emphasis of Muhammad being the last prophet. Is that right?
Nazam: That is a part of the core beliefs in Islam. If someone believes there’s another prophet after Muhammad that would take them automatically outside the fold of Islam.
Kurt: Sure. Okay. For Muslims, in term of how it connects a little maybe to Christianity, there is a correlation so for you guys some of the other prophets were, say, Adam, Moses, even Jesus was a prophet, right? So tell me a little bit more about that.
Nazam: Sure. I mean, concept of prophet in Islam is more than just prophesizing, but a prophet is someone who comes to confirm the previous law that was revealed by God, but in addition to prophets, prophets are given Scripture as well, so those are also known as messengers so every messenger is a prophet, but not necessarily ever prophet is a messenger, so messenger in addition to confirming what was previously revealed will come with some new law so it wouldn’t be any new theology or a new concept in God, but it would be a new kind of ritual law so maybe making something lawful what was previously prohibited or vice-versa.
Kurt: Okay. Interesting. What are some of the core beliefs and these are typically called the pillars of Islam and there are five of them, right? So what are those core beliefs in Islam?
Nazam: Most commonly there are the five pillars of Islam, and the first four are the creed of Islam which is to testify that there is no God but the one true God and that Muhammad is a messenger of God, but within the creedal formula, there’s more branches of belief such as belief in the afterlife, belief in God’s Scripture which would include not only the Koran, but also the Gospel of Jesus and the Torah of Moses and the Psalms of David, and also to believe in all of God’s prophets and messengers, which would also include Jesus, Moses, Abraham, David, as well as belief in the angels. After that, it’s establishing the daily prayers and God mentions that in the Koran. The purpose to establish the prayer is to remember God in our daily lives as well as giving charity to the poor which would not go to the mosque, but it would go towards helping the widows and the orphans and the chaplains and the needy and this would be 2.5% of someone’s capital and this would be someone who can afford it, so it wouldn’t be for people that are on the poverty line. Those people would be the recipients of receiving the Zakat as it’s known. Then there’s making the pilgrimage once in a lifetime for…and fasting…for us and the purpose of fasting so that we may learn God….
Kurt: Nazam. You’re breaking a little bit there so hopefully we can keep a good connection here.
Nazam: Sure. Okay. Do you want me to speak up a bit more?
Kurt: The connection seems good now. Could you repeat a couple of those last two points?
Nazam: Sure. Fasting in the month of Ramadan. It’s mentioned in the Koran that fasting was prescribed in the previous nations so that you may learn God consciousness and piety as well as making the pilgrimage for thoe that are physically able to and can afford it and this applies to both men and women.
Kurt: Okay. Alright, so I know for me as an American, there’s a lot in the news and people might have a certain agenda in terms of how they want Islam to be perceived and so one of the…
Nazam: Sure. And vice-versa as well.
Kurt: Of course. Yeah. At least for, my audience is chiefly American here although we do get listeners from all over, I’m sure that something some people might be interested to learn is what is your perspective on the word “Jihad” and what does that mean because for a lot of Americans, that word is associated with terrorism and so perhaps you can help maybe clear up some misconceptions about that.
Nazam: I mean it’s understandable, especially when you constantly see Muslims and Islam in the media and conjures up images of bloodshed and killing, but the word Jihad linguistic meaning has no association with violence or killing. The linguistic meaning of the word Jihad just simply means to strive or to struggle and anything that involves a form of struggle is a Jihad, so that could also be fighting for the weak and the oppressed, to defending your life, but it also could be just simply getting out of bed in the morning or even just appearing on this talk show for example is a form of Jihad for myself, but the Muslims were a religiously persecuted community in Mecca and the hometown of the prophet Muhammad and so eventually they migrated from the place of violence and so initially the first migration was which was actually a Christian country in which the Christian king warranted Muslims asylum where they were allowed to live in peace with others, however the prophet Muhammad remained in Mecca and eventually he was invited to Medina which was about over 200 miles north from the place of Mecca, but the Meccan pagans wouldn’t leave him alone and so they went to Medina and they started fighting a war and so some of the first verses were revealed because of this was permission had now been granted….
Kurt: During that Medina period.
Nazam: Exactly. To fight back.
Kurt: Okay. So sort of in a nutshell, Jihad can be a broad term. Sometimes it refers to the personal struggles we have, the spiritual battles. Other times in historical context it does refer to physical battling and fighting. Would that be a fair assessment of the word jihad?
Nazam: Actually there’s a hadith or report of the prophet Muhammad in which after he was returning an onslaught in which he said that now we’ve left the small or the minor jihad and now we’re going to the greater jihad which is the inner struggle or fighting with one’s own demons.
Kurt: Sure. Yeah.
Nazam: So not to deny that linguistically the verb can be used to refer to fighting in war, but it also has a broad meaning as well.
Kurt: Sure. Sure. Okay. Cool. I think that probably helps to answer what might be the biggest question on folks’ mind and of course, I’m sure and you and I both know because we’ve talked about this, we’ve discussed even on Facebook, that we could delve deeper into it, but we’ll have to do that at another time.
Nazam: I would like that.
Kurt: For the sake of moving along here, what would you say are the key differences between Islam and orthodox Christianity?
Nazam: In my understanding I see they’re more similarities rather than differences, however the differences that do exist, those are significant differences. The key difference would be the divinity of Christ, the concept of the Trinity, and also original sin, if you believe in original sin. I know not all Christians do, but yeah.
Kurt: Right. And what that means. I didn’t mean to cut you off.
Nazam: That’s fine. Also the crucifixion of Christ as well, whether Jesus was crucified, but for me, that’s not as significant as say the divinity of Christ or the divinity of God.
Kurt: Maybe we can talk about that last one first. So the crucifixion, explain to us why that would be maybe a point of contention. For Christians, there it is in all four Gospels and even a number of extra-Biblical historians, even non-Christian historians, talk about that, so why is that a point of contention between the two worldviews?
Nazam: Sure. Would it be a point of contention because even when the Koran mentions the crucifixion of Jesus, it does so not within the context of criticizing Christian theology, but it does so within the context of criticizing the Jews that were demanding for some sort of miracle and in that context the Koran says that they indeed ask Moses for a great miracle and they ask Moses to show them God face to face as well as to kill the prophets that were sent to them. As mentioned like in Matthew 23 when Jesus says you stoned or assaulted those that were sent to you, and in that context, and they say that we killed the Messiah, Jesus, Son of Mary, messenger of God. The Koran says they never killed Him nor crucified Him, but it appeared as though they had crucified Him.
Kurt: From your perspective then, Jesus didn’t actually die on the cross. Is that right?
Nazam: The Koran doesn’t go into the manner of which Jesus didn’t die or wasn’t killed so there have been a number of different interpretations with regards as to how Jesus survived crucifixion, so the popular one that exists among Muslims today is that Jesus wasn’t put on the cross, but instead He was substituted with someone else in His place, but even then there have been a difference of views as to who the substitution was. Was it Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed Jesus or was it a volunteer who took Jesus’s place? Another possibility is that Jesus could have been crucified but just not killed because the word crucifixion has an ambiguous meaning. It could mean that the person was hanged on the cross, but it could also mean that the person actually died by crucifixion like in Mark’s Gospel it says that Jesus is crucified in the ninth hour, but there it means that He was simply put on the cross in the ninth hour, but they also mention in Mark’s Gospel that the Jews wanted to crucify Him and there the verb means to kill Him and not just simply hang Him on the cross and take Him back down.
Kurt: Okay. Let’s move along in reverse order here to original sin. This is actually my bread and butter. This is what I study for my doctoral dissertation. There are different views on this within Christendom, but from your perspective since was one of the four points where you saw differentiation, what do you understand by original sin and why is that a point of contention for you?
Nazam: Original sin, I think it was originally defined by Augustine and from what I remember, original sin is the sin of Adam, Adam eating from the tree, but then Adam inherits some form of moral guilt which is passed down to his offspring.
Kurt: So specifically the guilt being passed down.
Nazam: Yes. Is that correct? I know there are different models of original sin and I know different Christians disagree like William Lane Craig and Douglas Jacoby as well.
Kurt: I would say original sin is a doctrine of sub-doctrines. Guilt is one of those aspects. Basically, original sin asks the question, what did Adam pass on to us? The most controversial one is guilt, but other things Christian widely agree on, so for example that Adam passed on mortality and we inherit a propensity to sin. A more extreme position on the propensity would say we’re unable to do anything objectively good without divine grace and a lot of Christians reject that idea as well, but some do embrace that as being part of original sin, and so there are a couple of other things as well, but just to give in a nutshell that’s it. So it sounds like from your perspective, in terms of your, here’s a big term, theological anthropology….
Nazam: I don’t know what means.
Kurt: The theological study of man. The nature of man.
Kurt: What does Islam then think about human freedom for instance?
Nazam: That would be one of the reasons I would reject original sin because of free-will. For us to be judged, we have to have the choice to either sin or not to sin, and also this is just a bit of a side note. This is also why I reject the death penalty for apostasy as well because people should be free to choose in whatever religion or no religion as they please because the Koran clearly says whoever wants to believe in chapter 18, whoever wants to believe lets them believe and whoever wants to reject Islam, let them reject it.
Nazam: It doesn’t specify, and also this the day of judgment, and how would judgment be passed if people were simply forced to believe in something that they didn’t or did so because they were being forced to?
Kurt: Okay. So I guess maybe a more specific question is in Islam is there a doctrine like original sin? Maybe not identical to, but basically the idea that we inherit some things from the Fall? Is there something like that in Islam or is each person sort of like a blank slate? Is each person just like Adam or Eve?
Nazam: Basically everyone starts out with a clean slate so whether you’re born in a Christian home or Muslim home or atheist home for that matter, everyone is born sinless, however we do recognize that sin does have consequences and ramifications so when people commit sins, it does have consequences on other people’s life as well and so Adam eating from the forbidden tree, it has consequences for future generations, but our understanding is that God knew that Adam was going to eat from the tree, but this was to prepare Adam for life in this world, but God placed him in the Garden in order to teach him a lesson that the devil is his enemy and he should be on guard and when the devil does tempt him or lead him astray, he should repent to God and God will forgive him and this is a moral lesson for us as well. The devil will try to lead us astray, just like he did with his foreparents, but we should turn back to God and seek His forgiveness and God will forgive us as He forgave Adam and Eve.
Kurt: Alright. Well Nazam, we’ve got to take a short break here and then we’ve got another segment after that, but I’ll touch base with you in a few minutes on Veracity Hill after we take a short break from our sponsors.
Kurt: Thanks for sticking with us through that short break from our sponsors. Now we’re going to enter into a segment of the show called What Do You Meme? To usher in this inaugural point here, Nazam, I’m wondering, we’ve got a meme we’re going to be dealing with that I’d love to get your thoughts on. First, let me introduce this new segment and I’ll talk about your meme and the second one I want to get your tips on. Would that be alright on?
Kurt: Great. Awesome. Here’s this, I love playing these clips on this show here. Here we go. Here’s What Do You Meme?
Kurt: Alright. Yes. If you are pop culture afficiandos that is Justin Bieber with What Do You Mean? But of course, the word there I mean, he’s not super strict with the n in Mean, so you might mistake him to be saying meme. What do you meme? At any rate, we’re going to be covering memes here in this segment. The first one I want to go over and we’re going to see if Chris can get the post here on the livestream comes from Facebook from a Facebook page called Unvirtuous Abby and Unvirtuous Abby is a Facebook page with over 100,000 likes and they’ve shared this meme here and I’ll read it for you and it’s sort of tongue in cheek. It’s a parody off of Matthew 25. “For I was hungry and you said, ‘Drug test those who would ask for food.’ I was thirsty and you said ‘Oil for us is more important than water for them. Build a pipeline.’ I was a stranger and you said, ‘He could be a terrorist. Don’t let him in.’ I was sick and you said, ‘Take her health insurance.’ I was in prison and you said, ‘Those people disgust me, we should bring the death penalty.’ Truly I tell you whatever you did to one of the least of these, you did to me. So here this is a parody off of Jesus’s teaching and what I want to respond to is this. Most of these posts are political statements. They are an attempt to implement or support a political philosophy. Drug testing for those going on welfare. Right? Oil is about profiteering. Taking away health insurance. We need to draw a fine distinction between government policy and personal piety and Jesus’s teachings are about personal piety, so when you read these verses in context, remember that Jesus is not saying the government must do these things, but we as individuals must do these things and help people out. That doesn’t necessarily mean we collectively should to these things. At any rate, that’s all I want to have to say on that meme and for those of you not watching on the livestream if you’re catching it on download, we’re going to throw this image up at the web site as well for the post for this so you can address that as well.
The next, now Nazam, I want you to listen in on this one because a listener named Matt submitted this meme and I think you’ll have some comments about this. This next meme, it’s a picture of a Muslim woman in a hijab and it looks like she says here, “In my country, I am forced to keep my mouth shut. Here”, I think the implied meaning America, “I’m free to talk trash about this country in hopes it changes into a country where I’m forced to keep my mouth shut.” The implication being here that she likes Sharia Law, but she’s able to talk freely. Of course, this was not a Muslim that made this meme of course and so my own thoughts are that, first of all, I think we should be careful in the memes that we’re making and so sometimes memes are, they can be provocative and even insulting so we need to be careful in how we do these things. Nazam. What would be your thoughts about a meme like this where they are portraying a Muslim who supports Sharia law sort of I guess in this very strict sense, you might think a middle eastern country, where this woman has rights in America or even in the U.K., but not necessarily the same rights in those middle eastern countries. What are your thoughts on that?
Nazam I think it’s a stereotype of the middle east because in the middle east, you do have Muslim women politicians, even Muslim judges. America still hasn’t had its first female president whereas in the Muslim countries we’ve had that such as in Pakistan and Indonesia and Bangladesh as well, but also there’s nothing in Islam that says women are not meant to speak. Women did speak during the time of the prophet of Muhammad. Women did speak in the class of….the period of the companions of Muhammad. They even stood up and criticized and complained. There was even a woman that was in charge of the treasury if I’m not mistaken either during the time of Muhammad or the time of…There is something in the New Testament about Paul saying I do not permit women to speak in churches and he says this is the teaching of the law, and he should try to explain that verse, how he would interpret that in a modern context.
Kurt: I see. At least in terms of your defense then, you would say, this comes from a misconception about how countries which have Sharia Law treat women. Is that right? In terms of your defense sort of against this meme, that women do have places, even have authority and are able to speak freely, so there maybe there’s a bit of a misunderstanding there. At the same time, I mean it seems that there is in comparison to America at least, there is a much stricter view of freedom of speech and freedom of press. Is that a correct observation from my view?
Nazam: I have not spent a lot of time in the Middle East. I prefer not to say something wrong and be not too fair on the people living in those countries, but definitely in the west, I was born in the west and I grew up in the west, and definitely there’s freedom of speech in the west and I definitely feel comfortable and am happy living in the west and I don’t want to cause or force my beliefs on others. Just as I have a right to criticize other peoples’ beliefs, likewise people have the right to criticize my own beliefs as well.
Kurt: Okay. Cool. That does it for our segment, What Do You Meme?
Nazam: I’m sure America will eventually have its own female president, soon I’m sure. Maybe Michelle.
Kurt: It could be a number of folks. Elizabeth Warren perhaps I know is a firebrand. That might appeal to a number of voters. So Nazam, before the break, we were talking about, you had first introduced to us what Islam was, your understanding of it, and just shortly before the break you had told us four points where you found a differentiation between Islam and Christianity and so those four points were the divinity of Christ, or divinity of Jesus, the Trinity, original sin, and the crucifixion of Jesus. We were working backwards through crucifixion and original sin, and so now I’ve got some questions about the Trinity, if I may. How do you understand what the Trinity is? What are your concerns against that concept?
Nazam: The Trinity as I understand it is, three persons that are divine and co-equal to one another, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Each person has His own independent will, but they are all co-equal and share the same substance, but it’s not three gods, but one God, according to the teaching. My issue is that it’s not taught in the Old Testament, it’s not clearly defined nor is it taught in the New Testament, nor is it taught in the Qur’an. Jesus, when He was asked about the greatest commandment, Jesus’s usual habit was saying “It was said in the ancient that such and such, but now I say unto you”, but in the case of when He was asked about what was the first commandment, He just simply repeated word for word what Moses said, “Hear Oh Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.”
Kurt: Okay. So for you, you just don’t see enough evidence for the concept of the Trinity in the Bible, and correct me if I’m mistaken, someone like yourself might also say, “But if there does appear to be something like that, maybe the text was corrupted or it was written by heretical Christians,” because from your perspective the New Testament has been corrupted, and you might find passages that are compatible and consistent.
Nazam: There actually was a passage like that which was an approximation to the Trinity…
Kurt: In the King James Bible, that’s right, but it’s not in the other editions, and part of that’s because these other editions are using the earliest sources we have and so they’ve taken out that verse out of integrity for scholarship and accuracy, but yes, you are right. Is that in 1 John that that passage?
Kurt: But even if there are other things, someone like yourself, I think, and I know we’ve had these conversations, especially with Paul, you know, from the Muslim perspective…
Kurt: That could be. So for our listeners who don’t have much of an awareness, the way that someone like yourself might interpret certain passages in the New Testament, might be contingent upon almost what the Qur’an says. Right? Because the New Testament teaching has to be compatible with the Qur’an in order to be viewed as from, for example, the Injil, which was a revelation given from Allah, so how is it, am I mistaken in my observation that for you some things in the New Testament are good and accurate, but other things are not?
Nazam: They have different levels or weights of evidence. It’s not like equals or like sayings of Jesus would have more authority to value than say the sayings of Paul in his epistles, and then even within the sayings of Jesus, there will be some sayings which will be more authoritative than say some other sayings. Like you have sayings which are multiply attested and independent from one another than say a saying that was reported by only one writer and not another writer, but it’s like the hadiths, like the sayings of Muhammad as well. Those sayings that have been multiply reported and in independent sources are more likely to be authentic or accurate than compared to some that are just reported by one authority.
Kurt: Gotcha. And again maybe you could explain to our listeners, what are the hadiths and what place do they have in Islam with theology?
Nazam: Hadiths are important. They’re like extra-Qur’anic material and they give us a background of life of the prophet Muhammad. Hadiths are basically traditions or sayings that people reported about Muhammad. Sayings of Muhammad or his deeds or actions and usually they’re not narrations, but they’re usually like snippets of information that are disconnected from one another. A majority of them are based upon probabilistic knowledge so they carry different levels of authenticity and different levels of grading, so you find some Hadiths just carry a single testimony whereas other hadiths may carry multiple testimony, but may still be different wording, but the meaning may still be the same, and then there’s other hadiths which may have the exact even word for word the same, but those hadiths are few unfortunately.
Kurt: Gotcha, and so where could someone go to learn about the life of Muhammad? Is the Qur’an a great source for that or the hadiths a better one? Where can explore more and learn about the life…
Nazam: I would say the Qur’an itself since the Qur’an itself is a complimentary document to the life of Muhammad as well as his earliest source documents. The Qur’an gives us the characteristics of a Muslim and the first Muslim was Muhammad and Muhammad himself followed by the Qur’an so by following the Qur’an or reading the Qur’an you get to learn about who was Muhammad, what he preached, and what he practiced and taught? Even in Western academia, the Qur’an is the bedrock in order to study the foundation of life of Muhammad because it also makes reference to life events that were taking place during his life because as you know, the Qur’an wasn’t revealed in one time, but it was revealed over a period of 23 years during his prophetic mission. A large portion was revealed in Mecca and then another large portion was revealed in Medina and some of the verses come upon events that were taking place as well as they contain information about what people were asking questions and then the Qur’an would mention the question as well as give the answer that was given to the questioner, so I would say the Qur’an is the best place to start.
Kurt: Gotcha. Alright. So we’ve only got a few minutes left here. I want to touch on the divinity of Christ here which was sort of the first objection or point of differentiation between Islam and Christianity. Explain why is it that the divinity of Jesus is something that Muslims reject?
Nazam: They see it as a form of idolatry or polytheism because for Muslims, the most important thing is the belief in one God and not to associate any partners with God regardless of who it is whether it’s Muhammad, Jesus, or Mary, so in the same way as Protestants would criticize Catholics for venerating Mary and Joseph and angels, Muslims will critique their Christian neighbors for venerating the prophet Jesus.
Kurt: Gotcha. Okay. So for someone like yourself, how do you understand then a number of the sayings where Jesus appears to be making claims of divinity or when He talks about the Father-Son relationship? How does someone like yourself understand those passages, or are they later additions by the Christian community?
Nazam: Both basically. Whenever a Muslim wants to prove the messengership of Jesus they would quote something from the Gospel of Mark, like Jesus didn’t know, that Jesus was limited, but at the same time, Jesus affirming belief in one God such as Mark 10 where Jesus says “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone.” Whenever Christians want to prove the divinity of Jesus, they would normally quote from the Gospel of John which is the last of the four Gospels to be written and also regarded to be the least historical among the four.
Kurt: And that’s because there tends to be more theological language in the Gospel of John. Right?
Nazam: Exactly, and it makes sense if there was a period of time you had more time to kind of reflect about your beliefs about what you wanted to say and preach about Jesus.
Kurt: And for the listener, the Gospel of John, the vast majority of scholars think that John is the last of the four Gospels to be written and so when Nazam here talks about that period of time what he’s talking about here is that there was a longer time even between the Synoptics, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, and the time that John was written, so there was an opportunity for the Christian community to reflect upon those beliefs and so we see those beliefs written down more so in John than in the Synoptics? Is that a fair assessment of your position, Nazam?
Nazam: Yeah. Sure. I’d agree to that.
Kurt: Okay. Unfortunately we’re already running short on time for today’s show and we’ve got another segment to get to Nazam, so maybe I can just close out then with this final question. What would you say, if you were to talk to a Christian, how would you convince them, so Christians have their way of sharing the Gospel, there’s the Romans Road or there’s other tactics, how would you sort of approach a Christian and invite them to become a Muslim? What would be some of the things you would say?
Nazam: I’d start from the similarity from the points that we agree upon and then not to shy away from the differences, but to do so in a loving, in a concerned way. At the end of the day, we’re not trying to win an argument. Okay? Regardless of whoever comes to the truth first, as long as both of us we end up coming to truth. That’s the main concern.
Kurt: Okay. Cool. Nazam Guffoor. Thank you so much for coming on the show and I’m glad that we can talk again. It’s been awhile since we’ve chatted and I’m sure we’ll keep up the Facebook conversations so thanks so much.
Nazam: I hope so. Thank you, Kurt.
Kurt: Of course. We’ll have you on again. Thanks Nazam.
Nazam: Thank you. Cheers.
Kurt: That is the topic of Islam and you’ve heard it then from the perspective of a Muslim and so it was nice to get his thoughts on today’s show. Of course, I’m not going to agree with a number of his points, and of course I’m hoping perhaps at a later date we’ll have sort of a response episode, but my first intention with the worldview series is to help you and inform you of what these worldviews hold and so in order to best do that, although not necessarily, I’m trying to find folks that represent these views and so I say not necessarily because we can still learn about Islam even if we’re not Muslims. We can learn about positions other than our own. Some people think we can’t do that or we might be biased. Well, we might be biased, but we can even read their sources and read what they’re saying, and there might be points of miscommunication, but that’s why dialogue’s important, but I still think that we can learn about alternative perspectives, even if we don’t hold to those perspectives, and that’s a point that I see and experience myself in the culture talking to people. They think if you want to learn about Islam, you’ve got to become a Muslim. That’s simply not true. You can learn about these things and not have to become them. Now it is my great pleasure to play this tune.
Kurt: That’s right. We’ve got someone who has sent us a voice message this week. We’re opening up the mailbag and we’re going to play this minute long clip, it’s a question and the gentleman clarifies what he means by the question, so take a listen here.
Kurt: Thank you caller for that question and leaving that message for us. You’re certainly right that there a lot of nuances and definitions that need to be addressed here so broadly speaking, could someone go a day without sinning or rather could someone even go a single second without sinning? Now Christians have had a couple of different ways of answering this question so basically let me just explain two positions. One camp basically holds that a sin is a transgression of the law and not necessarily the Mosaic Law, but God’s Law, God’s holy law. Could someone go a single day or rather could someone go a single second without sinning? This first camp would say, yes, that they could. They could go without sinning. There’s another camp, especially in Reformed theology, sort of the Augustinian background, that would say that sin is not merely a transgression of the law. It is, but it’s more than that. It’s a state of being, and so for Augustine, infants are born into a state of sin. They’re really conceived in a state of sin, they are sinful in the womb, and so it’s a status. So this camp would say, no. You couldn’t go a single day or a single second without sinning. Now to this second camp, let me say this. I think if the second camp is to be consistent with other branches of theology such as sanctification, such as baptism and what effects there might be for that, especially for Augustine who believed that baptism washed away the effects of original sin and even more so provided the means for divine grace which led to salvation, then you could, if you’re to be consistent, I would say then a Christian could go a single second without sinning. You’re talking about a Christian. But what is just the state of unregenerate man or the non-Christian? Could someone go like that without sinning for a single day or rather a single second? I think that they could so I’m more apt to hold the transgression as an action, that sin is a transgression, sin is an action against God more so than a state of being. I think we’re in a fallen state, but I don’t that’s necessarily a state of guilt in front of God’s eyes. Caller, to your comment there about the answer that you and your brothers, I’m guessing Christian brothers there, perhaps you’re talking about, the collective answer is only by the grace of God. Well this lends itself to another issue too. How much grace does a non-Christian have and this is one of my, shall we say, personal issues. I’m apt to think that the grace of God is greater than what we might think and so what I mean by that is this. We have a number of different perspectives in theology about the nature of man and so some Christians believe that man can do no, I mentioned this earlier on the show, that man can do no objective good and so it’s only by God’s grace that he can do an objective good. Here’s my concern with that position. I think if you’re talking about the nature of man doing some action, devoid of divine grace, you’re no longer talking about man. You’re not talking about a human being because the grace of God is also found in the created order so when even a non-Christian is eating breakfast he’s only doing so by the grace of God because God has created humans in such a way to pick up food and put it in our mouths so that we can nourish our bodies. That’s God’s grace, so this concept that man can’t do anything except from the grace of God, well then you’re not talking about man. You’re talking about something else and so that was one thing that I would sort of want to brush up against. This could lead then to another nuanced discussion about God’s grace and what does that look like. There’s general or common grace and then there’s efficacious grace, what’s necessary for salvation, and that is a very good discussion. I like getting into that and you might be able to see where I stand just by what effect I’ve explained thus far, but that might be a discussion then for another day. Thanks again for your call. If you’re listening to this either live or on the download, you can call any time during the week and most weeks during the show as well so if you’ve got a question for me, I love to get your calls. You can call. The number is 505-2STRIVE. That’s 505-278-7483.
I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s episode continuing on with our worldview series on Islam. The next couple of weeks we’re going to be dealing with Lent, what is the Christian concept of Lent. What is that about? We’re going to be talking about that next week and we’ve got that coming up some episodes, there’s an episode on sort of nationalism, is being a nationalist idolatrous? We’re going to be talking to a pastor about that, Keith Giles. We’ve got some interesting topics coming up. If you have something that’s on your mind and you want us to talk about or you have a specific guest you’d like to appear on the show, please send me a message, write a comment to me, I’m happy to take your considerations and would love your valued input. That does it for the show today. I’m grateful for the continued support of our patrons and the partnerships that we have with our sponsors, Defenders Media, Consult Kevin, The Sky Floor, Rethinking Hell, The Illinois Family Institute, Evolution 2.0, and Traffic Buffet. Thank you to the tech team today. Chris, I appreciate the work that you’re doing running the board and we’re still continually working on the livestream and so we seem to be making progress each week so thanks for your efforts on that. Thank you to our guest today. Nazam Guffoor. I appreciated having your thoughts and your perspective on Islam and thank you for listening in and for striving for truth on faith, politics, and society.