Updated: May 11
I decided to make some comments on James White’s excellent book, in small articles as time allows, on portions that I think are the most important.
Comment on the Introduction (pages 9-17)
I appreciate Dr. White’s goals and desires to witness to the truth of the gospel (Injeel = انجیل ) of Jesus Al Masih عیسی المسیح to Muslims.
He states his goals in writing the book:
1. To honor Jesus, my Lord, my Savior, my King, through the defense of His gospel2. To bless the people of God by providing sound biblical and historical responses to Islamic claims in general and of the Qur’an in particular3. To be used of God to bring the glorious message of salvation in Jesus Christ to the precious Muslim people who honor the Qur’an. (page 11)
What is really great about Dr. White’s method is that he uses orthodox believing Muslim sources. See the endnote # 1, on page 17, the quote from Imam Malik ( the earliest extant compiler of Hadith and Islamic Jurisprudence = “Malik’s Muwatta”,) from Yasir Qadhi’s book. Yasir Qadhi is a believing orthodox Sunni. If only Muslims would show that same consistency in dealing with Christianity, and stop using liberal scholars for the basis of their attacks! Most Muslims rely on liberal scholarship to try and say the gospels were written in 70 AD or afterward (Shabir Ally, Paul Bilal Williams, and most others that I have seen follow this line. They are forced to this because they have to believe the true gospel message was corrupted between 30 – 45 AD, before any of the NT books were written. Dr. White’s endnote # 3 – he lists the Muslims he has debated with and they are orthodox Muslim believers (not liberal Muslims), whereas Muslims usually quote from liberal higher critical scholars in order to attack the Bible. Also, Dr. White shows respect by using a Qur’an that was translated by Muslims – see endnote # 5.
Using that quote of Imam Malik’s about the “kalaam” (کلام or کلم word, speech) of Allah –
“The Qur’an is the kalaam [کلام ] of Allah, not created, and whoever states that it is created is a disbeliever. Imam Malik was asked concerning one who says the Qur’an is created, what should be done to him? He replied, “He should be forced to repent, and if he refuses, then his head should be cut off!” (quoted on page 9 of James White’s book, referencing Yasir Qadhi’s book and Imam Malik.)
This shows a high respect that Muslims have for the Qur’an and the belief that the Word of God and God are both eternal. (except for the group deemed heretical called the “Mu’atazilies” and apparently doctrinal Shi’ites are not supposed to believe that either. Most Iranian Shiites I have dealt with are not scholars and not even very committed Muslims. Many Iranian Shiites are disillusioned with Islam today. Personally, I have found many Iranians from Shiite background who seem to agree with this idea; that God’s word is eternal with Him; and many Iranians are open to the gospel and the Deity of Christ, because of this background that they have.) So, John 1:1 is a key verse to show and emphasize and focus on with Muslims. As others have said, the closest parallel of the incarnation in Islam is the Qur’an – instead of “The Word became Flesh”(John 1:1 & 1:14), in Islam, it is, “The Word became a book”. (see Norman Geisler and Abdul Saleeb, Answering Islam, Baker, 1993 edition, p. 179. This book has been updated, so the page number may be different in the new addition.)
One of the most powerful witnesses that Christians can make is that Arabic word kalaam کلام (word, speech) or kalameh کلمه (word, singular for “word” – the word used for Jesus in the Qur’an in 4:171- but the verse denies the Deity of Christ, that Jesus is the Son God and it denies the Trinity ) and the orthodox Sunni belief that the Qur’an is Allah’s word and that word is eternal. John 1:1-5 and 14 clearly speak to the eternality of the word being both with God and God Himself, and that word became flesh.
Christians should study Dr. White’s book and go talk to Muslims and accept their hospitality to drink coffee and tea together and eat shish kebab, etc. and find out their heart language – whether it is Arabic, Farsi, Turkish, Kurdish, Urdu, Indonesian, Fulani, Punjabi or Malaysian – and get a New Testament in their language and give it to them and discuss John chapter 1 with them and the meaning of the eternality of the word (kalaam/Kalemeh کلام or کلمه Christians should realize that most Muslims are very hospitable and relational and men can easily talk to Muslim men, and women can talk to Muslim women; and Muslims usually respond very nicely to a kind smile and greetings and a respectful attitude. Western Women who are Christians should not try to witness to Muslim men as a general rule. And Christian men should get their wife or other Christian women in their church to reach out to the Muslim women. Muslims are very family and community and group oriented; they are not as individualistic as westerners. Once you meet one Muslim, and they let you into their life, you are sure to meet many other Muslims and your witnessing opportunities increase.
Because the Qur’an does call Jesus “the Word” (کلمه = kalameh – the singular for “word” for “kalaam” کلام ), we can use this as a springboard to John 1:1 and getting them to think. Ask your Muslims friends – “Did God have His word within Himself from all eternity?” “Was God ever without His word and His own thoughts?” Get the discussion going, and use John chapter 1 and show it to them.