The Trinity And Christian Missions To Muslims -- By: Bassam M. Madany

Journal: Reformation and Revival
Volume: RAR 10:3 (Summer 2001)
Article: The Trinity And Christian Missions To Muslims
Author: Bassam M. Madany

The Trinity And Christian Missions To Muslims

Bassam M. Madany

Islam has engaged the attention of Christians ever since its rise in Arabia in the seventh century. One obvious reason is the fact that most early Muslim conquests took place within Christian lands. “The People of the Book,” as Jews and Christians were called, faced the choice of adopting the faith of their conquerors, or of remaining in their particular religion. Those who persisted in their Christian commitment gave a reason for this decision. They could not, and would not forsake the biblical Messiah, their Lord and Savior. By implication, they refused to believe in the “heavenly” mission of Muhammad who claimed to be God’s final messenger commissioned to call the world to Islam. From the beginning of the Christian-Muslim encounter, the main debate centered on these fundamental teachings: the authenticity of the Christian Scriptures, the person and work of Jesus Christ, and the doctrine of the Holy Trinity.

The Qur’an makes several references to Jesus Christ, calling him the son of Mary and regarding him as a prophet sent by God to the people of Israel. The details of the birth of Christ, his teachings, as well as his miracles, as recorded in the Qur’an, are apocryphal when compared with the Biblical narrative. What were then Muhammad’s sources for his accounts of the person and mission of the Messiah? In dealing with this subject, Professor Neal Robinson, a British scholar, wrote in his book, Christ in Islam and Christianity:

Despite our extensive knowledge of Byzantine Orthodoxy and of the principal forms of Christianity which flourished in Syria and Persia, we know all too little about Christianity as practised in Najran1 and Abyssinia2 in the seventh century and even less about Arab tribal Christianity. The external evidence and the evidence of the Qur’an itself both point to a predominantly heterodox influence on the early environment of Islam. Although the external evidence would favour Nestorianism and Monophysitism, the internal evidence is equally indicative of some form of Jewish Christianity. We should probably think in terms of a variety of rival sects some of which may have vanished without trace.3

As Islam developed across the centuries, it manifested a tremendously anti-Christian attitude. Its polemics were directed against the distinctively Christian doctrine of God. Muslim theologians ridiculed the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, claiming that it was irrational, and had no basis in God’s tru...

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