Summit Lecture Series: Understanding Islam

Summit Lecture Series: Understanding Islam March 5, 2021


Understanding Islam

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Abdu Murray: Well, good morning. My name is Abdu Murray and the first thing you have to ask me when you look at my name is, what’s the deal with the Lebanese Scottish name? Abdu and Murray, how did you get that? I’m not Lebanese Scottish. I’m Lebanese, but when we came over to this country, they asked us, “what’s your last name?” And our great grandfather said “Murray.” He said, “What now?” He says “Murray.” They said, “Okay, Murray.” And that’s what it is now. So they anglicized our last name. So now I’m Lebanese Scottish, which means I like to fight with everybody. There’s no one who doesn’t make me mad.

I want to share with you guys, as we study Islam this morning. Now Islam is a 1400 year old religion with a huge amount of detail. You could spend hours and hours and hours studying one small section of Islam and you still wouldn’t really scratch the surface of it.

But frankly, you don’t really need to do that to get a good grasp of what the worldview’s all about. And as I do this, as I talk about it this morning, what I want to talk to you about is not just Islam in sort of a dry academic sense. I want to bring in my story because I was raised as a very serious Muslim. I took it very seriously as a child, as a young child. I was encouraged to study the Quran, which is the Holy book of the Muslims, to understand Islamic doctrine and theology and history. And to share it with people around me. I was raised in America and the town I grew up in was largely white. Back then it wasn’t very diverse, it wasn’t a very diverse town. Now it’s got tons of diversity, there’s Hindus and Muslims, you name it, they’re there in this town that I grew up in, but it wasn’t that way before.

So my family and I, we were sort of exotic. We were like this sort of dash of pepper in the salt, as it were. We were, “Oh, look at the little Muslims running around.” We were the only Muslim family. This is before 911 of course, and before he started taking Islam a little more seriously, but we were the Muslim family. Among, there was a few others, but not that many. So I used that because I have this bizarre belief that truth should be believed by everybody, not just some people. This whole true for you, not for me thing, I didn’t buy into that. Most Muslims don’t buy into that. Most Muslims are actually, when it comes, they’re not relativists even remotely. They believe in absolute truth, they believe in objective truth and they believe that Islam is that objective truth.

And I believed that fervently and I wanted non Muslims to believe it. So I would go about my life, teach non Muslims all about Islam and I had plenty of an audience, because most of the people around me were Christians or at least nominal Christians. They were Jews and they were an atheist or skeptics or whatever they were. It didn’t matter to me who you were, I talked to you about why you were wrong. And I was right. Now, I say there was a lot of Christians around me, they were sort of low-hanging fruit. Now my view of what a Christian was, and this is actually very common for most Muslims about what a Christian actually is. Here’s the definition of a Christian for a Muslim, someone who’s white and not Jewish.

Basically, you just kind of assume that they’re Christians and they mean it. Because to understand something pretty important about what Islam is all about and why Muslims believe the way they do or why they act the way they do, you have to understand that Islam is not about just adherence to a religious system and say, “Yes, I happen to subscribe to this particular religion.” It is who they are. It is who they are. That’s the most important part about what being a Muslim actually is. That’s why it’s important to understand sort of the roots of what it means to be a Muslim. You see, in the West… Sam Solomon is also a former Muslim, he’s did this, he drew a diagram. He said, if you drew a circle with a dot in the middle, in the West the circle is who’s your life and the dot is religious expression. This is a very small part of who you are.

In the East, it’s exactly the opposite. The circle is religious identity and the dot is you. Your identity saturates everything about you, your religious identity. Whether you’re a Muslim or a Christian or a Hindu or whatever it is, it is who you are. That’s why most Muslims, many Muslims will get in a verbal slug fest with you over whether Christianity is true or false, and Islam is true or false, and they will fight with you to the death, verbally, over this, even though there’s no evidence of them actually being a practicing Muslim. They’re nominal Muslims at best.

They don’t perform the things that make you a Muslim, which we’re going to go into it a little bit. Why is that? Why would they sit across the table from you and argue with you, why Islam is true and Christianity is false with such vehemence, with such sort of stridency, even though their life doesn’t display anything like the idea that they believe this stuff is true. Why?

It’s because it’s their identity. It’s who they are. Despite their nominalism, despite they’re not practicing it. The culture shapes it and says, look, you’re a Muslim, that’s what you were born into, that’s what you should stay. It is your identity. To do anything else, to change anything else, has dire consequences.

It was sort of reminds me of a story. And as I tell you my story, I want you to keep that in mind, okay? It reminds me of a story. Now I’m going to tell a lawyer joke and I can tell lawyer jokes because I was trained as a lawyer. I practiced for 14 years as a trial lawyer. Now I do full-time ministry, but I was a practicing trial lawyer for 14 years. So I can tell lawyer jokes and it’s okay if I do it.

It’s a story of this lawyer who is walking in the woods and he’s enjoying nature and all this. And he’s lived his life as a swindler, as a cheat, the kind of guy who would do anything to win a case to even, sort of, cheat his own clients if he had to, he’s just a bad guy. And he’s walking through the woods and just having sort of admiring nature around him. And he doesn’t have any particular beliefs, whether there’s a God or not, he doesn’t kind of care, but he’s just out there and he comes across Kodiak bear. Now in this city, yes it might happen if you do this here in Colorado, but back in Michigan it’s unlikely. But anyway, he comes across the bear and the bears hungry, and the bear begins to chase him. And as the big bear begins to chase him, it’s gaining on him and gaining on him. And it tackles him, it pounds them down to the ground and raises its huge paw.

And he says, “Oh my God.” And then the bear stops. And a light comes down from heaven and the bear is frozen there. And this lawyer says, “No, God save me.” And God says in his big booming voice, “You have acted as if I never existed, you have flouted my rules, you know what they are and you reject me every day. Why should I save you now?”

Now he’s a lawyer so he finds a loophole. He says, “Okay, it’s hypocritical for me to become a Christian. Could you make the bear a Christian?” And God says, “Very well.” And the light goes back up and the bear starts to move slowly. And he puts his paws together and says, “Thank you Father, for this food I’m going to receive.”

Now, the point of that is that sometimes when you try to run from truth, truth knocks you down. Truth has a consequence. Sometimes we ask for truth and truth as a consequence. If there’s one thing I could talk to you about today, that you get out of this, is that truth ultimately has a price. But it also has a reward, there’s a tremendous reward for it. And I want to go into that as I share my story from Islam to Christ.

Now I say that specifically, I don’t say Islam to Christianity, I didn’t pick one set of rules and exchange them for another set of rules. I didn’t do that. Islam has got plenty of rules.

If you look in Islam, they have rules for how you put on your pants. When you should use the restroom, how you should use the restroom, should you shave? Should you not shave? Should women dress this way or dress this way? How often do you pray? When do you pray? How do you pray? What direction do you face when you pray? Do you wash before you pray? How do you wash before you… All these things. Tons of rules. The regulations are amazing. How you should give to charity? You can’t just have a rule like 10%. You have to have rules about the rules. I didn’t want… I saw that as I used to love it, actually, I used to love this whole idea, but eventually I saw sort of the futility of it all.

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(This podcast is by Summit Ministries. Discovered by Christian Podcast Central and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Christian Podcast Central.)

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