The first to speak sounds right – until the cross-examination begins. (Proverbs 18:17)
This is the second part of a series examining some of the common claims Muslims make about Christianity. I am using a video I was referred to. This video is by a famous Muslim apologist named Zakaria Naik. He is supposed to be a doctor and an expert on the differences between Christianity and Islam. So far I have found his understanding of Christianity to be sadly lacking. Either he is being deliberately deceptive or he knows far less than he thinks he does.
Let me explain. First off, Naik makes the challenge for someone to quote from the Bible where Jesus makes a claim to be God. He says that if anyone can point to one, he will accept Christianity and leave Islam. I pointed to an abundance of scriptures in CE #1.
Second, Naik says that Christians claim to follow the teachings of Paul not Jesus when they say Jesus died on the cross for our sins. I showed that this is patently false. Time and again Jesus shows that He knew of His coming death and resurrection. Even more, Jesus Himself talked many times of the redemptive necessity of His coming sacrifice. See for yourself in CE #2.
Let us now continue on with the video:
Starting at four minutes in, Zakaria Naik makes his third claim that Christians are not following the teachings of Jesus like Muslims do. He mentions things like eating pork and drinking wine and points to multiple scriptures:
Ephesians 5:18 – Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit
Proverbs 20:1 – Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise.
Leviticus 11:7-8 – The pig, though it has a divided hoof, does not chew the cud; it is unclean for you. You must not eat their meat or touch their carcasses; they are unclean for you.
Deuteronomy 14:8 – The pig is also unclean; although it has a divided hoof, it does not chew the cud. You are not to eat their meat or touch their carcasses.
Isaiah 65:2-5 – All day long I have held out my hands to an obstinate people, who walk in ways not good, pursuing their own imagination, a people who continually provoke me to my very face, offering sacrifices in gardens and burning incense on altars of brick; who sit among the graves and spend their nights keeping secret vigil; who eat the flesh of pigs, and whose pots hold broth of impure meat; who say, ‘Keep away; don’t come near me, for I am too sacred for you!’ Such people are smoke in my nostrils, a fire that keeps burning all day.
Luke 2:21 – On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived. (Muslims are all circumcised but apparently most Christians aren’t.)
Naik then drops his accusatory bomb at about 4:50. I quote “If Christian means, ‘a person who follows the teachings of Jesus Christ’ (pbuh) I am proud to say, ‘we Muslims are more Christian than the Christians themselves.’ ”
Can somebody please say double standard? Naik just made a claim that Christians are following the teachings of Paul, not the teachings of Jesus. Not one minute further in, he goes and does the exact same thing Himself. Are Leviticus and Deuteronomy, in prohibiting pork quoting Jesus? Is Isaiah? Did Jesus write about alcohol in Proverb 20:1 or was that Solomon? What about Ephesians 5:18? Did Jesus write that or was it… wait for it… PAUL!?! For shame!
To be fair, Jesus was circumcised on the eighth day but that was something His parents did to Him, not His own teachings. Outside of mythology, we do not have any true words from Jesus until He is twelve years old and even that is merely a brief conversation (from which we can learn much)
So, about wine and pork, what did Jesus actually really say? Well, first of all his very first recorded miracle was turning water into wine for a wedding celebration. I am curious, if Jesus forbids it, why on earth would His very first miracle be putting such a great temptation (in abundant quantities) before them?
What about pork? Jesus doesn’t mention the food in particular but He does make a very strong statement about the concept in general:
Mark 7:18-23 – “Are you so dull?” he asked. “Don’t you see that nothing that enters a person from the outside can defile them? For it doesn’t go into their heart but into their stomach, and then out of the body.” (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean.) [Jesus] went on: “What comes out of a person is what defiles them. For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.”
Here is a fundamental statement Jesus is making that will be reiterated by Paul and other writers later on. What you do is far, far more important than what you eat or drink. Naik’s claim isn’t just false, it demonstrates that he entirely misses the point in focusing on foods rather than on lifestyle.
Now that we have that taken care of, the question still remains, what are the teachings of Jesus and who is following them better? Since I want to at least make an attempt to keep this short I will focus in on Jesus’ most famous sermon rather than going through everything He taught in the 80+ chapters the gospels write about Him. You can find this sermon in Matthew 5-7.
Jesus says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit… those who mourn… the meek… the merciful… the peacemakers… those who are persecuted… Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad,because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
The Quran says, “And fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is all for Allah. But if they cease, then lo! Allah is Seer of what they do.” (8:39)
“Whoever then acts aggressively against you, inflict injury on him according to the injury he has inflicted on you and be careful (of your duty) to Allah and know that Allah is with those who guard (against evil).” (2:194)
Jesus says, “ For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.”
The Quran itself calls the Bible the “Books of God”, a “sign”, “light”, “guidance”, and a “mercy”. It commands us to follow it. (5:71, 7:156-157, etc) However common Muslim doctrine is that the Bible has been corrupted and changed and so it is no longer reliable. In making this claim are not Muslims calling Jesus a liar?
Jesus says, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.”
There are 36 references to enemy (عَدُوٌّ) in the Quran. Any guess as to how many of those are in reference to loving, forgiving, or praying for them? No. The quran teaches to be on your guard against your enemies, do not slow up in pursuing to the death your enemies, and ultimately kill them all. (4:101-104, 8:12-15, etc)
Jesus says, “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.”
Do Muslims pray in private or do they gather together to all pray in one place? Do Muslims pray in their native language or are they commanded to all pray in Arabic?
Jesus says, “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them.”
If the lifestyle and words of another prophet do not match up with the life and teachings of Jesus, does He not warn us to be on our guard against them?
Jesus says, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!”
I agree with Zakaria Naik that there are many who claim to be Christians who are not actually following the teachings of Jesus. We all, Christians and Muslims and everyone else, fall so far short of our own standards let alone the standards Jesus puts forth. The question is, are we even making an effort to follow Him or are we simply justifying our failures while still performing our outward duties? Whether it is prophesying, driving out demons, and performing miracles, or if it is living up to the five pillars, it is not enough. Whether it is going to a church or attending a mosque, it is not enough. The true test is not in the appearance but in the heart. Like Jesus said back in Mark, it isn’t what is on the outside but what is in the heart that matters. Let us stop with the comparison game and look inward. Am I truly trying to follow after Jesus? Are you?
I love this series and appreciate the insight.
LikeLiked by 1 person
The thing that sets Christianity apart from all other religions, is that in Christianity we are not saved by how well we follow Jesus, or by our adherence to religious tenants, but by what Jesus did for us completely unearned and undeserved.
LikeLiked by 7 people
Powerful post! Necessary for all to understand but few will try too understand.
LikeLiked by 3 people
I almost wish I didn’t see that video. What a tremendous missed opportunity. That Muslim speaker was so sharp and learned…how I wish the Christian pointed to the crucial point: Jesus is the Son of God, born of divinity. That is the overriding contention of Islam. On their temple in Jerusalem is inscribed “God Has No Son”. Jesus said “I and the Father are one ” John 10:30 So sorry this brother didn’t point to the virgin birth and miraculous acts of Christ that reveal Him as God incarnate.
Thank you for your inspiring post.
LikeLiked by 2 people
Actually, he is a good public speaker, but he is not that knowledgeable with what he is saying. That is my whole contention. Have you seen cross examination 1 and 2 as well or only three?
LikeLiked by 1 person
I think you Jesus was referring to His work and words are the same as the Father, not literally being as one. He also said: John 14:28 The Father is greater than I am.
Hello again, I just saw exam 1 and 2 and I see your perspective. These posts should challenge us to dive deeper into the word of God. May the Lord continue to encourage and inspire you.
LikeLiked by 2 people
Very encouraging post!
LikeLiked by 2 people
One agrees with your conclusion completely. But a different perspective. Since Muslims do not believe or allow Jesus to be the Second Person of the Trinity and therefore God, they do not ‘follow’ Jesus. For that reason alone, they are not ‘followers’ of Jesus and hence cannot be ‘better’ followers of Christ than ‘Christians’ who follow Jesus, however imperfectly.
This realization brings up the possibility perhaps they are using ‘Christian’ in the manner of many, equating it with ‘good person’. Of course, defining a ‘good person’ in secular terms. Perhaps in some cases.
I’ve known several people (over the years) who are seeming Christian – redeemed by God – and who are just miserable people with whom to deal. Some are contrary by nature, some are just pig-headed.
I know at least one Muslim – by his own claim – gentleman; worked with him. He is a truly decent human being and I trust him explicitly.
Which had nothing to do with believing in, relying on, depending on, and adhering to Jesus’ teaching and vicarious sacrifice for us.
I’ll not address the misinformation.
When my Muslim students repeat what they have been told (that the Bible has been corrupted), I remind them that Mohammed said in the 8th century People of the Book should obey the book. Since the Bible wasn’t corrupted in the 8th century, just when did it get corrupted? They never reply to this, and I try not to be argumentive with them.
LikeLiked by 3 people
Do we know what was in the Bible back in the 8th Century
Great post! Devout Muslims and Orthodox Jewish are so hard to reach.. You have made so many great points, that are true.. I feel they are to stubborn to consider examining truth..
LikeLiked by 1 person
The three countries in the world right now where the church is growing the fastest are Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.
LikeLiked by 2 people
I appreciate your insight. Thank you for this post.
Blessings on you!
Yes, most of my internet converts are in Afghanistan. They tell me 95% of Afghans hate Islam. The countries where Islam is the strongest and meanest are the countries who are looking for something besides Islam.
Great points! While I don’t drink alcohol myself, I can only say that I WISH there was a complete prohibition against it from the words of Jesus. There is no such prohibition. There is a lot of grace and forgiveness, though. Keep this up!
Brilliant post! I love your insights, keep it up!
You said: “Either he is being deliberately deceptive or he knows far less than he thinks he does.”
I think he’s being deliberately deceptive. This particular platform is not one with a learned Christian apologist next to him on stage. If it were, he would not ask for a reference of Jesus himself claiming to be God. He wouldn’t set himself up for failure that way. He took a chance that the medical doctor who was speaking with him didn’t have a quote off the top of his head. If Naik’s bluff was called, and a red-lettered quote produced, then Naik would most certainly not convert on the spot- that would be just too sweet. Instead, he would begin arguing about the validity of the quote, or the meaning of the words in Greek, or the “true interpretation” and probably even appeal to Muslim writings as a superior source of information than the New Testament.
I believe he is sincerely Muslim, but is deceptively discrediting the deity of Jesus.
This post spoke to me. I am Christian and recently attended a neighborhood meeting among Christians, Jews, and Muslims in my community. The guest speaker was a prominent religious leader from an Islamic mosque who spoke of Jesus as someone we all shared. But his descriptions of Christ were not similar to my understanding of Him; and, his statements about Christ’s teachings were incomplete, misleading, or inaccurate based on my understanding of them. I do not know whether he misunderstood the teachings of Christianity, whether he unintentionally was misleading in a sincere effort to find common ground among our faiths, or whether he was intentionally deceptive on important foundations of Christian beliefs. I will give him the benefit of the doubt that he was not intentionally deceptive and leave any judgment to God. Consistent with your post, however, the differences he highlighted between Islam and Christianity (although it was unintentional on his part, I believe) were: 1) Islam does not teach the divine trinity of God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit; and, 2) Islam does not teach that forgiveness and eternal life are “gifts” arising from God’s mercy and love made possible by Christ’s sacrifice; Islam teaches that spiritual rewards are “earned.” To deny these fundamental differences, to try to minimize them or dilute them or say they are inconsequential, is misrepresentative of Christianity and Christ. If we are to peacefully coexist among our various faiths, let us not be afraid to acknowledge there are fundamental differences among us. Peace based on misconceptions and misunderstandings is no peace at all. Thank you for your post. It was thought-provoking.
I would strongly recommend reading Seeking Allah Finding Jesus. It was written by a devout Muslim who, in an attempt to convert his friend to Islam ended up becoming a Christian himself. He gives a very knowledgeable presentation of Islam and the differences with Christianity.