Four Faces of Islam: Before and After the Terrorist Attack upon America -- By: George W. Braswell, Jr.

Journal: Faith and Mission
Volume: FM 19:2 (Spring 2002)
Article: Four Faces of Islam: Before and After the Terrorist Attack upon America
Author: George W. Braswell, Jr.

Four Faces of Islam:
Before and After the Terrorist Attack upon America

George W. Braswell, Jr.

Distinguished Professor of Missions and World Religions Director,
Doctor of Ministry Program
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
Wake Forest, North Carolina 27588


After teaching Muslim clergy at the Faculty of Islamic Theology of the University of Teheran, Iran, during 1968–1974, and after attending preaching and praying events in dozens of mosques around the world, and after hours of discussions with Muslims in their homes and mosques and around tables of food and cups of tea, I am in agreement with Nobel Prize in Literature winner V. S. Naipaul when he writes, “Islam is not simply a matter of conscience or private belief. It makes imperial demands.”2

Religions facilitate the display of many faces among their followers and to outsiders. After the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack upon the United States, many around the world quickly affirmed the religion Islam as a peaceful one. And so it is. However, one of the faces of Islam is that of warfare. After the attack, some pled the case that Islam is a religion of freedom. The Islamic holy book, the Qur’an, states that there is no compulsion in religion. Yet, the history of Islam is replete with the lack of religious freedom and grave penalties for apostasy. After the attack there was great publicity of the orthodoxy of Islam and its deep meaning for Muslims in prayer life, fasting in the season of Ramadan, in the hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca), and in serious commitments to a disciplined way of life to honor their deity, Allah. How true this religious behavior is. Yet there is the face of tens of millions of Muslims who combine their orthodoxy with folk practices in which they seek folk heroes and saints to answer their prayers and to console them amid the difficulties of life.

After the attack there was much discussion about comparisons of Islam with Judaism and Christianity. Some insisted that on the essentials of religions the differences were small. However, in a comparison between the core teachings of Christianity and Islam on matters dealing with the nature and purpose of the life of Jesus Christ and on the idea of salvation, there are some similarities and some great differences. Islam may accept the Virgin Birth of Jesus and consider Him a prophet and a messiah; however, it emphatically denies the

divinity, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus. Thus, it does not affirm the Christian doctrine of salvation.

Face One: Islam an Aggressive Mis...
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