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Bridging the Gap with Muslims

Main Point of Discussion: Yahweh and Allah are not the same God, but a discussion about the differences provides a great opportunity to share our faith.

Introducing the video:
The discussion we are having tonight is based on a recent event in Grand Junction, CO in which a high school student quit his high school choir after being asked to sing a song written in praise to Allah, the god of the Islamic faith. The story quickly entered the national spotlight, and it has subsequently stirred up a firestorm of controversy. The fact that Christians and Muslims disagree is not surprising, but how a Christian handles these disagreements and uses them to share the gospel is a topic not often discussed. Let’s watch the video coverage, and as you view it, think about how you might respond both as the student and as a Muslim.

The Clip:

Transitional Statement:
The reaction to this story has been interesting. One of the main tenets we hold to (as Christians) is that Allah of the Koran and Yahweh of the Bible are not the same Being. Many Christians hail this kid James Harper as a hero, while many others believe he is doing it for the attention and media coverage. Either way, it definitely brings up the critical topic of how Christians should respond when their beliefs and convictions are challenged. Let’s take a look at what the Bible teaches and how we should use this information, then re-group for a final word.

Divide into Small Groups
Let’s go ahead and split up into our discussion groups, and then afterward we’ll come back together for a final word.

CLICK HERE for a quick training article on how to maximize your small groups using our small group format—a great resource to equip your small group leaders.

Discussion Questions:

  1. AROUND THE CIRCLE: Before we dive in, can you think of a time when you totally disagreed with a teacher or a school policy? How did you respond?

  2. ASK A FEW: What is your initial response to the way James Harper handled the situation with his choir?

  3. ASK A FEW: How would you respond in the same scenario?

  4. ASK A FEW: Do you agree with his conviction that singing a praise song to Allah is breaking the first of the 10 commandments (which says “You shall have no other gods before Me”)?

  5. ASK A FEW: What are other ways he could have responded?

  6. ASK A FEW: How do you think Muslims feel watching this video?

  7. ASK A FEW: Do you know if there is a clear distinction between the God of the Bible whose name is Jehovah (or Yahweh) and the God of the Koran named Allah? If so, what?

  8. Say: Let’s take a look at some specific passages from both the Bible and the Koran to see if there are any differences between Yahweh and Allah. Then we’ll talk about how this exercise can create open doors to share our faith. As we look at these passages, try to put together what the Bible is teaching about God’s nature, or personality, or identity.

    Read the following passages from the Bible:

      The Father is God:

      God the Father knew you and chose you long ago, and his Spirit has made you holy. As a result, you have obeyed him and have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:2)

      The Son is God:
      We look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed. (Titus 2:13)

      The Holy Spirit is God:
      Then Peter said, “Ananias, why have you let Satan fill your heart? You lied to the Holy Spirit, and you kept some of the money for yourself. The property was yours to sell or not sell, as you wished. And after selling it, the money was also yours to give away. How could you do a thing like this? You weren’t lying to us but to God!” (Acts 5:3-4)

      The unity of God:
      Listen, O Israel: The LORD is our God, the LORD is one. (Deuteronomy 6:4)

      Nature of God:
      Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. (1 John 4:8)

  9. ASK A FEW: When you put these passages together, what does the Bible teach about God? (Leaders - God exists as the Triune God: Three Persons as One essence. Also, that this God is a God of ultimate and perfect love…as demonstrated on the cross.)

  10. Say: Now let’s look at what the Koran teaches about Allah. (We’ll assume you don’t have a copy of the Koran laying around, so we’ll include the passages and references below.)

      Allah is not a father:
      He is God the One, God the Eternal. He fathered no one nor was He fathered. No one is comparable to him. (Ikhlas 112: 1-4)

  11. ASK A FEW: How does this passage make Jehovah and Allah sound the same…and how does it make the two sound different? (Leaders – Both claim to be the “one and only” but only the God of the Bible claims to be like a father.)

  12. Say: Additionally, when we compare the nature of Yahweh and Allah in other areas, the distinctions become even more clear:

      Allah’s instructions:
      Fight in God’s cause against those who fight you, but do not overstep the limits: God does not love those who overstep the limits. Kill them wherever you encounter them, and drive them out from where they drove you out, for persecution is more serious than killing. (Baqara 2:190-191)

    Read the following passage from the Bible:

      But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.”

      (Romans 5:8)

  13. ASK A FEW: What is the basic conflict you see when you compare the verse from the Koran and the one from the Bible?

  14. ASK A FEW: Could the same God want His followers to “kill the enemies” AND AT THE SAME TIME also send His Son to die for them? Why or why not?

  15. Say: So far we’ve laid out the obvious differences between Yahweh and Allah, but let’s look at one more.

      Allah and truth:
      The unbelievers schemed but God also schemed; God is the Best of Schemers.
      (Imran 3:54)

    Read the following passages from the Bible:

      Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. (John 17:17)

      Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)

  16. ASK A FEW: What is the major difference between the God of the Koran and the God of the Bible as revealed by these passages? (Leaders – Allah seems to be OK with lying and scheming, while the God of the Bible tells the truth and IS the truth!)

  17. Say: These are just a few of the distinctions between the God of the Koran and the God of the Bible. Now that we know there is a difference between the two, let’s focus on how we can share our faith with Muslims.

  18. ASK A FEW: Do you think that pointing out these differences is helpful or unhelpful when it comes to sharing our faith with Muslims? (Leaders – Some students may argue that it can go both ways. Just make sure you stress that whatever we do MUST be done in love!)

  19. ASK A FEW: In what ways could we take the James Harper story and use it to share our faith with a Muslim?

  20. AROUND THE CIRCLE: If you have a Muslim friend, how will you use this information this coming week?

Wrap Up:
Tonight we looked at a difficult story revolving around a young man’s decision to try and honor the God of the Bible. Little did we know that in trying to understand his story, we would find a reminder from our God to share our faith with all those around us, including Muslims.

James Harper acted on his convictions in following Christ, even at a cost, which is a great reminder for us to act on Christ’s command to “make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:18-20). One way we could do that is to be ready to discuss differences and similarities in our faith and pray for an opportunity to engage with a Muslim. Tonight we’ll take the first step in that direction.

If you hear nothing else we’ve talked about tonight, hear this! We don’t want you to go running around your school or your neighborhood trying to look like a spiritual know it all. That’s NOT why we shared this information with you tonight. We shared it with you so you could use it in a humble and loving fashion to help Muslims gain eternal life through Jesus Christ.

Let’s spend the last few minutes of our time together in prayer for the Muslim students in our community. Let’s thank God that these people are already people who consider faith important, but let’s ask God to use us in mighty ways to help them understand and embrace the truth.

Close in Prayer

Written by Lane Palmer

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Comments on this post

   Ammon         10/28/2013 2:16:01 PM

Lane & David, I revisited this lesson today because I was looking for a good example of how NOT to teach about the differences/similarities between Yahweh and Allah. I do not think I had seen your comments until now and I find them both very interesting. David, I'm sorry you feel my comment was bordering "hyperbolic nonsense," but I think if you go back and look at your comment, you will see that you took me out of context with your quote. Lane, thank you for the reminder that the word "god" is a general word, which can take on many different meanings. Please remember also that when Moses (or the writers of Genesis, which I see you ascribe as being Moses) uses Elohim, there was NO Islamic faith. Therefore your reference to Genesis has NOTHING to do with Muslims. I agree that there were many other gods during that time, Allah not being one of the other gods (especially seeing that I believe Allah to be Elohim). Since you shared a website, I thought I'd share one as well. This give a very detailed description as to how the Arab people - and consequently the Islamic faith - came about. It seems to me that both of you are unaware of this. This lesson encourages us to pray for Muslims (students) in our communities. It goes further making a backhanded comment that yes they are people who consider faith important, but clearly they do not know the truth (which is that their faith is wrong). I rather ask for prayers of compassion and understanding. Prayers for all faiths in our communities to seek commonality and peace, so that we may be living examples of God's light in this world.

   Lane Palmer         11/14/2012 9:32:22 AM

Ammon, Thank you for your comment and concern regarding our resource material that addresses reaching Muslims for Christ. I believe that I need to make a distinction between the Allah to which many Muslims pray and the Allah that is described by the Koran. It seems to me that if a Muslim is directing his/her prayers towards the transcendent Creator of the universe as described in Genesis, then yes, we are talking about the same God. However, if a Muslim prays to the ‘god’ Allah that is depicted by the Koran, then no, these two cannot be reconciled. Here is a great link that further outlines my position- Also, remember that ‘god’ obviously is a general word that can be used of any deity, but Moses specifically uses Elohim in Genesis so the Hebrews would be able to differentiate from the other ‘gods’ of that day. Blessings, Lane

   David R Smith         11/7/2012 8:16:48 AM

Ammon, I’m afraid we’ll just have to disagree on this one. The author of this resource is not only a devout Christian, but a learned man who’s also an educator. But the important thing is, he’s correct in what he says. Moreover, technically speaking, an exegetical study of Genesis won’t reveal a single mention of “Islam” or “the Muslim religion.” (I’m not doubting Ishmael’s role in modern day Islam, but that’s not information we glean from a true “exegetical study of Genesis.”) Concerning your charge about proof-texting, I personally asked Lane (the writer) to use various passages from the Bible and the Koran to show an OVERALL and CONSISTENT picture of the differing natures of Yahweh and Allah. Finally, I highly doubt that Lane’s piece of curriculum is “why there is such division between the Christian and Muslim faiths.” That seems to be an unnecessarily inflammatory statement that borders on hyperbolic nonsense.

   Ammon Lane-Ramsey         11/4/2012 1:56:40 PM

I was not able to get past the first line of this lesson "Yahweh and Allah are not the same God..." If one does a quick exegetical study of Genesis, they will easily find out that the Muslim religion is a descendant of Abrahamic lineage. Ishmael, Abraham's 1st son is traced to the origins of Islam. Yahweh and Allah are in fact the same God, just different ways in which God is perceived. The scriptural references used in this lesson are a great example of proof texting and not allow room for the context. One could easily do the same thing with Biblical scripture. Lessons like this are reasons why there is such division between the Christian and Muslim faiths.

   George         5/14/2012 8:00:25 AM

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