To introduce this series I have engaged the same paragraphs, this time I am shortening it to focus on the nature of Christianity - love, repentance, forgiveness and compassion with a world view taught by Jesus and expounded in the New Testament that ultimately there will be a divine reckoning for those who reject this astonishing measure of Grace - the Cross.
Jihad and Salvation
In Islam, the term "jihad" means "effort" or "struggle". The struggle recognised by Muslims is with the enemies of Islam – Shaitan (satan) and infidels (non-Muslims) and one interpretation actually has four parts: jihad of the tongue – to share the faith, jihad of the hand – to do good deeds, jihad of the heart – against temptation, and jihad of the sword – to fight and die.
However, the Encyclopedia of Islam states that "the spread of Islam by arms is a religious duty upon Muslims in general.... Jihad must continue to be done until the whole world is under the rule of Islam ... Islam must be completely made over before the doctrine of jihad (warfare to spread Islam) can be eliminated".
Jihad and emigration are central to the expansion of Islam. Migration is part of the doctrine of jihad. Migration is so important that the Islamic calendar is based upon the Hijrah, Mohammad's migration from Mecca to Medina.
Why? Because it was migration that led to the creation of the Islamic state in Medina and it was jihad that made the Islamic state triumphant.
It was Allah who commanded the migration and Muhammad received the following verse: "And whoso goes forth from his house as an emigrant to God and His Messenger and then death overtakes him, his wage shall have fallen on God". Qu'ran – Sura An-Nisa 4:100.
Muhammad spread Islam with the sword. The Quran states in Sura Al-Baqarah 2:193 "Fight against them until idolatry is no more and God's religion reigns supreme. But if they desist, fight none but the evil-doers". Muhammad himself led many battles. But the conquest of Mecca was achieved without warfare – the Meccans were so terrified of Muhammad and his troops that they surrendered without a fight!
As Muhammad himself said "I have been made victorious by terror." (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 52, Number 220).
The motivation for jihad is the promise of Paradise. Martyrs are guaranteed in the Hadith that the soles of their feet will not touch the flames of hell but they will immediately be admitted to the Islamic Paradise.
The Quran is full of descriptions of hell as a place of fire, torture, punishment. Paradise is a place where there is no end to the pleasures of the senses.
Muslims live with the fear of going to hell and facing its tortures, or the incentive of being a good Muslim and anticipating the joys of their soul in an eternity of bliss in paradise. Muslims believe that ultimately they can do nothing for their salvation as everything depends on the will of Allah. The philosophy is to do many (good, righteous) deeds and hope that Allah would look favourably upon them.
Lack of assurance
In Islam there is no assurance of salvation. In fact there are two angels – one angel (Atid) sits on your right shoulder and records all your good deeds while another angel (Raqib) sits on your left shoulder and records all your bad deeds.
On the Day of Judgment the results are read out before Allah who then decides if you are going to paradise or hell.
Christians can agree with Muslims that the book recording our bad deeds is far heavier than the book recording our good deeds for even our most righteous deeds are as "filthy rags" before God (Isaiah Chapter 64, verse6, and Romans Chapter 3 verses 10 – 23).
For the Christian, no one can save themselves but God in his great love took away our sins. He has seen our inability to earn our salvation and sent us a savior – Jesus.
Only by believing and accepting Christ's sacrifice can we escape judgment on the day of judgment. Today, God invites us all to come to him (Romans Chapter 10, verses 9,10).
Again we see these stark differences. Islam the : must do, must submit, must deeds, must jihad. In one sense it is so easy to be Muslim. It's all set out from the time you're born.
On the flip side, following Jesus – resonates of love, forgiveness, release, comfort, compassion, assurance – yet Christians are aware that following Jesus is not necessarily an easy journey, but it's worth commitment. We invite you to check these things out.
Today the fifth
NEXT - Response by followers of Jesus – Monday 22 February
Dhimmitude, Sharia Law, Persecution – Wednesday 24 February
Aira Chilcott B.Sc (Hons), M. Contemp Sci, Cert IV in Christian Ministry and Theology, Cert IV in Training and Evaluation, Grad Dip Ed., began her working life at the John Curtin School of Medical Research, investigating characteristics of cancer cells. Turning to teaching in the Christian school system provided opportunities to learn theology, more science, mission trips and explore the outdoors through bushwalking and other exploits. Now retired, Aira is a panelist for Young Writers and volunteers at a nature park. Aira is married to Bill and they have three adult sons.
Aira Chilcott's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/aira-chilcott.html