An Overview of Islam (Part 2)
Written by John Macleod
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Reformed Worldviews - Islam


In the last article Rev John MacLeod asked, Do we know what we’re dealing with in Islam? He gave an explanation of beliefs and history. Here he looks at why it is important to study and be aware of the tenets of Islam.


Islam is, in terms of the teaching of the Bible, a false religion. Now in one sense, that is so self-evident that it may seem pointless to point it out. But that fact is so fundamental that it really has to be the starting point for all our thinking with regard to how we approach Islam.

i.    There are many common points with Christianity, but that makes Islam all the more dangerous, all the more deceiving and all the more liable to lead to confusion.

ii    Islam uses the substance of much of the OT but effectively supplants its authority.

iii. Islam rejects the NT Scriptures except insofar as it ambiguously refers to the Gospel of Jesus.

iv.        Islam dishonours and degrades Christ.

v.         Islam elevates Mohammed to a greater status than Christ.

vi.        Islam substitutes ritual for a living faith. 

Islam is an integrated religion. By that I mean that religious life and every other aspect of life are very closely interlinked. Now, if the religious belief were sound, having every aspect of life interlinked with it would be exactly what you’d want to see, but the trouble is that every aspect of life is in this instance integrated with false religion. Islam emphasises belonging rather than believing.

Islam rejects outsiders – dhimmis (those under control of Mohammedan authorities) and harbis (those living in dar al-harbnon-Mohammedan territory). These are to be treated as outsiders, shut out from the life of Mohammedans and second class individuals. They generally go to great lengths to shut outsiders out from every aspect of their lives. Where they have control they do not want outsiders to integrate; where they are in a minority themselves, they go to great lengths to prevent the integration of any of their own people into the culture or cultures in which they’re actually living. They take great steps to avoid integration largely through:

(i)  Arranged marriages

(ii) Avoidance of learning the language for many of them

(iii)      The burka /niqab (face veil) keeps women totally isolated from the society they live in. 

Islam is an intolerant religion, making a basic division of the world into daar al-islaam and daar al-harb. Within daar al-islaam where Mohammedans are in control, there is no question of equality of treatment for other religions – the aim is to have every area of life subjected to Islamic rule and practice. And the overall aim is that the whole world should become part of daar al-islaam. The very existence of daar al-harb is like a thorn in the flesh. It’s there to be destroyed and it’s regarded as part of the reason for their existence that they should extend daar al-islaam so that daar al-harb is wiped out. The concept of toleration is an idea that’s foreign to most of mainstream Mohammedan thinking. It’s a fairly basic concept to them that non-Mohammedans are the enemy which must be destroyed. And non-Mohammedan religion must be destroyed. And non-Mohammedan culture must be destroyed. To most Sunni Muslims at least, there’s no thought of it being inconsistent that they should take advantage of religious freedom in the West, but be unwilling to grant religious freedom within daar al-islaam and that they should work towards removing religious freedom for others within daar al-harb. Daar al-harb is the House of War – the war zone.

Islam is a religion of conformity. The emphasis is on outward conformity, going through the rituals, fulfilling the legal requirements, and within Shi’a Mohammedanism, obeying the rulings of the Imams and even more so, the Ayatollahs (top Imams). There’s no room for independence of thought or challenging of authority. Apostasy is prohibited, and the punishment for apostasy is death. 

Islam is a militant religion

The daar al-islaam and daar al-harb distinction makes Mohammedanism militant by its very nature. The concept of those parts of the world which are not under Mohammedan control being a war zone is very deep-rooted. Mohammedans reckon they belong in daar al-islaam, in spite of the fact that they may be located in daar al-harb. If they’re in daar al-harb it’s still their responsibility to further the interests of daar al-islaam and it’s part of their mission in life to do so. The concept of jihad also makes Mohammedanism militant. You will remember that Jihad means ‘to strive’ or ‘to struggle’. To Mohammedans, Jihad is war against the devil, on behalf of Islam. You will remember too that Jihad is the only form of warfare permissible under Islamic law, and the ultimate aim is to establish the universal domination of Islam. When you appreciate something of the concept of Jihad, you realise that it is no use looking at things in Western terms and asking Why do they do it when the short term costs are horrendous and the gains very questionable? By definition, a struggle is something that may take a very long time indeed. It’s not a Blitzkrieg that they are involved in – it’s a struggle that has been going on for 14 centuries and they will keep going on. And we are, by definition, the enemy.

Islam is a wealthy religion. It would be very foolish indeed to imagine that all or even most Mohammedans are wealthy – the opposite is undoubtedly the case. However, the fact of Arab oil wealth has certainly transformed the economic situation of that religion in that there is a constant inflow of Arab funds, especially for prestige projects and for military purposes. Arab Mohammedan nations are armed to the teeth and have the military ability to enforce most of what they want. 

Islam is a religion with a vast number of people under its influence. I mentioned a figure of 1,000,000,000, but of course statistics are almost always misleading and are very often used with a view to distortion of the truth. Additionally, of course, in a state of war – which is what the whole idea of daar al-harb is about – statistics are likely to be an even greater distortion of the truth. If you took the high-end figures which some Mohammedans would produce, they claim that there are about 1,300,000,000 Mohammedans in the world. Being realistic, that’s probably a significantly over-estimated figure. If you take a low-end figure from people who might want to minimise the number they quote, some people quote a figure as low as 900,000,000. So 1,000,000,000 – a billion in European parlance – is a fair enough round figure – out of which there are 30 million in Europe – six times the population of Scotland. 30 million working, officially at any rate, for the destruction of everything non-Islamic, and paying to finance Islam – and, officially at least (in religious terms), owing no loyalty to the states within which they live. But most of all, 30 million souls in Europe and 1,000,000,000 souls worldwide in the tight grip of a religion which is vastly different from Biblical Christianity and leaves them outside of any Christian concept of a right relationship with God through Christ.

This is a situation we cannot afford to ignore because

i. we’re under attack – we’re in the daar al-harb

ii. we’re commanded by God to order our lives and our society in a way that honours Him in Scriptural terms

iii. we’re commanded by God to preach the Gospel to the whole of creation. However hard it may be (and indeed it may seem impossible) to bring the Gospel to the Mohammedans in our midst, we simply don’t have the right to set aside a command which the Bible lays quite clearly in front of us.

Rev. John Macleod is the pastor of the Tarbat Free Church of Scotland Continuing, in Portmahomack, Scotland, UK.   This article was previously printed in the Free Church Witness and is republished here with permission.