Sunday, August 08, 2004


Today my language tutor and I got into an interesting discussion. It began with her mentioning that she'd asked my boss' wife (the other person she tutors) whether or not Jesus drank wine. Drinking alcohol is strictly prohibited by Islamic law, but Jesus is one of their most highly-regarded prophets. I never really found out how that made her feel, but that discussion led us into one where she was talking about Jesus and the other person Muslims think will return one day - the 12th Imam - Imam Mehdi. What was interesting was that she kept calling Jesus "Messiah." I asked her if she knew what the name "Messiah" meant and she just said it was another name for Jesus (like a nickname), similar to the many variations of Mohammed (Ahmed, Hammed, Mahmoud, etc.). What was most interesting about that was that she believes that both Jesus Messiah and Imam Mehdi will come back one day to bring peace to the Earth - but she would never call Imam Mehdi "Messiah." Now, I'm no ancient Hebrew/Greek scholar, but my understanding is that "Messiah" means "savior" or "one who will save" so for that to be a name of Jesus, even in Islam - and _not_ be a name of Imam Mehdi who is expected to do the same thing - is somewhat telling.

One other thing that was rather interesting was that she said that until very recently, she wasn't even really aware of a difference between Christianity and Islam. Her Christian friends would come to the mosque with her, and she would go to the church with them. They were the same, they just prayed in different buildings. But something recently has awoken her awareness of the differences and now she's really curious to see what they are.

Anyway, our conversation ended with her asking for a book outlining, I guess the best way to describe it is as the practices of Christianity. I have friends who are very much into "contextualized" work, so they may be able to help me some. Their premise is that one does not have to become the Western idea of a "Christian" in order to be "saved." In fact, Jesus never said the "A, B, Cs" of "conversion" (accept that you're a sinner, believe Jesus died in your place, confess Jesus as Lord)...all He ever said was "follow me." So if you accept being "Muslim" as a culture instead of as a religion (similar to the difference between being Jewish in heritage while not actually being a practicing Jew) could continue to stay within their culture while following Jesus' teachings instead of Mohammed's. Anyway...they could help some, but another friend also just mentioned that either reading Paul's letters or even simply reading through the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7) would be the absolute best thing - basically, hearing it straight from the horse's mouth.

But I'm very excited about this. Please be thinking about Mahasin and our future conversations. Also, hope with me that the proper resources will be found to help her in her study, and that I'll wait for the right words from Him instead of just talking from my own knowledge or understanding.

One interesting by-product of this conversation was the fact that she'd already read the New Testament through. As far as I know, she's only been reading through it as "language study" with my boss' wife for a week or two...but she's already read it through completely. How sad is it that it takes many of us months or even years to read through the NT - and many Christians never actually _have_ read the whole thing - but a Muslim girl has read through it in a matter of days and is asking for more.

Anyway, her having read through _my_ Scriptures made me really want to be able that I'd read through hers. So, the Qur'an that I purchased many years ago is now going to be my "devotional" book for the next few months probably. I'll read about one surah (chapter) a day, depending on the length, so it'll take several months, but I'm gonna do it. I'll probably wait to re-read "The Purpose-Driven Life" until after I've finished with this, but will be doing some other studies in addition to this. I want to devote some time to reading this, but I don't want to take away from my other studies.

Anyway, I'll let you know what I think as I come across interesting things.

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