Let me begin by saying this: I teach the Quran to people who have left Islam to follow Jesus. Sure, it’s odd – a Christian teaching those from Muslim backgrounds about their own religious book! “Surely,” you object, “the time would be better spent teaching them the Bible!"
Well, listen to “Noo’s” story:
As a young Muslim, Noo had searched for God in many places, even making the pilgrimage to Mecca. Eventually, a friend shared the Christian gospel and Noo came to faith in Jesus.
Unfortunately, as is common in our area, his family and friends totally rejected him and his new faith. They questioned, accused and threatened him, and he had no answer or response.
“How can you believe such a worthless book? How can you follow an inferior prophet? Are you a total fool?” These are the kinds of questions that new believers like Noo are often barraged with after they decide to follow Jesus. But they are questions based on particular ideas about what the Quran teaches.
For most Muslims in this area, the Quran is unspeakably holy – and totally unknown. Arabic, the original language of the Quran, is considered God's language. Where we live, most people cannot understand Arabic: it borders on magical.
They are told reading the Arabic Quran brings merit; reading in the local language is of no value. Since most cannot understand what is read to them, the imams and religious teachers who interpret the Quran for the people are unchallenged.
Unfortunately, many things that are taught do not reflect what is written in the Quran itself and seem designed to prevent anyone from ever considering the case for following Jesus. For example, almost all Muslims here inaccurately believe the Quran teaches:
• The Bible has been corrupted and changed and is no longer reliable.
• The Bible is outdated and has been superseded by the Quran, God's latest book.
• On the judgment day, only Muhammad will be able to intercede for and save his disciples.
• Muhammad was sinless.
• At the second coming, Jesus will return to earth to become a Muslim.
When Noo tried to share about his new faith in Jesus he was influenced by the same inaccurate facts that led his family and friends to attack him and this left him powerless to defend the dignity of his decision.
Things went from bad to worse and he fled his village and landed in the capital. Eventually, he found his way to our training centre.
The very first course he took was on the Quran and Hadith. He began to learn in his own language what those books actually teach.
For example: God's word – including the Bible - can't be changed (6:115, 10:64, 18:27). Nor does the Quran supersede the Bible (2:136, 5:68, 10:94). The Quran describes the prophets, including Mohammad, as asking God to forgive their sins (Noah 11:47; Abraham 26:82; Moses 28:15-16; David 38:24-25; Mohammad 40:55, 47:19, 48:1-2). The one exception is Jesus, who is described as holy (3:46, 19:19). Jesus is given honours shown to no other. He is called the Messiah and the Word of God (3:45-47).
Now Noo could do as 1 Peter 3:15 says: “Give an answer to everyone who asks a reason for the hope that is in [him].”
When he returned to his village, he began to interact with neighbours, friends and relatives. Empowered by accurate information and a fire for Jesus, he answered people’s questions and explained things from the Quran and Bible that people had never heard before.
Today there are 15 people in the area who have come to faith over the last two years. All because Noo became a Christian and studied the Quran.
Top picture: Many people in Muslim communities of South Asia depend totally on religious leaders to interpret the Quran for them since they cannot understand Arabic. Photo courtesy of Armand Rajnoch.
Inset picture: Kids reading the Quran during Ramadan. Although some people learn to read the Quran most either cannot read it in Arabic or aren't able to understand it for themselves. Photo courtesy of IHH Humanitarian Foundation.