Islamic Eschatology: Implications for Christian Witness -- By: Warren Larson

Journal: Journal of Ministry and Theology
Volume: JMAT 14:1 (Spring 2010)
Article: Islamic Eschatology: Implications for Christian Witness
Author: Warren Larson

Islamic Eschatology: Implications for Christian Witness

Dr. Warren Larson

Director ofZwemer Center for Muslim Studies

Columbia International University

Columbia, South Carolina

Since Muslims have spent considerable time and energy thinking about future things, it behooves us to look carefully at what they do believe. This article will first of all examine the prominence of last things in Islam, a doctrine Kenneth Cragg says, Muslims view as only judicial.1 This he feels reflects on the very nature of God as simply an omnipotent judge with little thought of his divine love.2 Second, select signs of “The End” will be laid out, followed by a discussion of the horrors of hell and pleasures of paradise. Finally, we will look at the role of Jesus as judge in Islamic eschatology. The study will be buttressed throughout with references from the Qur’an and Hadith. In the various Islamic-Christian eschatological comparisons3 it will soon become apparent that the gospel addresses many felt-needs—particularly in light of the Muslim uncertainty about death and the hereafter. Due to space limitations, the paper will have little to say about current events in the Middle East, but it will briefly demonstrate that both Christianity and Islam look to the coming Messiah for ultimate peace on earth.

Prominence And Description

It might come as a surprise to some just how vital the doctrine of last things is in Islam. Montgomery Watt makes the point that after the doctrine of tauheed (God is one), belief in the Judgment is second in importance.4 This emphasis is seen by the great amount of attention given to the topic in the Qur’an (primarily in the Meccan chapters) and the Hadith, but also how much this subject has always occupied their minds and their pens.

Vivienne Stacey, a veteran missionary among Muslims, says this is particularly true of women, who may not know much about the Qur’an and Traditions, but are quite well-acquainted with the Judgment.5 A description of punishment and paradise will be covered in detail below, but it is worth repeating Stacey’s further comment here that many Muslim women have the idea from the Hadith that for every 1000 men, only one will be in hell, whereas for every 1000 women, only one will be in heaven. The rest of them will be in hell.6

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