Deen means “religion”, reciting the Shahadah is how a person converts to Islam and begins obeying the Five Pillars. Islamic Dawa (Muslim evangelism and propagation) is all about getting people to recite the Shahadah in hope that they would adopt Islam as the supreme Deen for mankind. RT news recently released several videos and reports documenting the incredible surge of Islam in the UK even claiming that Islam could become the number one religion in the UK in as little as 10 years— a staggering statistic! Indeed, as the report points out, Muhammad is now the most popular name for newborn baby boys in London. One Imam was asked why Islam is growing so fast, and he pointed to the solidarity of the faith and the strong family values Islam promotes. Immediately, after the video is a link “how to convert to Islam.” This made me think of the man-centered nature of Islam.
Islam is really a cultural, man-centered, moral reform where what is adopted is not so much doctrine but culture, pre-Islamic Arabic culture to be exact. Unlike the testimony of Scripture with regards to Regeneration and conversion through repentance and faith, in Islam there is no need for a personal encounter with God, a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ because, of course, Islam denies the Son of God altogether. But Islam does have the solidarity spoken about in the reports. When the Muslims do their prayers, waves of Muslims in mosques and especially in Mecca on hajj (pilgrimage) can be seen bowing in unison. They have a strong objection to alcoholism, gambling, and immodesty. To natural man seeking for religion, this may all seem good enough to get religious and join with something— adopt a new way of life and a new community. In other words, it appeals to the mind of the natural man. But Scripture is clear that salvation is not about personal reform (Is. 64.6), becoming religious and zealous for something (Phil. 3.1-6), or simply identifying with a religious community (John 6.70), and with religious activity (Acts 8.18-20).
All of these things can be had without salvation. Islam could be the perfect religion for the natural man because it promises paradise through personal effort. Paradise is something man can obtain simply by reciting a few Arabic words, and adopting five basic tenets of life (the Five Pillars of Islam: Shahadah, alms giving, prayer, pilgrimage, fasting during Ramadan). The natural man looks at this as something that is well within his grasp. The biblical worldview presents true salvation in a way diametrically opposed to Islam. Salvation is of the Lord not man (Jonah 2.9), there must be a turning from sin (Mk. 1.15; Lk. 13.3; Acts 26.20), and a turning to God in faith (Acts 20.21), whereby God comes and makes His personal presence to dwell within us (1 John 4.13), and leads us into a life of holiness and sacrificial love (John 13.35; 1 John 3.10).
At the end of the day Islam is an auto-soteric religion where man saved himself with a few simple steps; at least that is what is promised. Islam appeals to the humanistic center of man’s heart (as do all false religions!). Man’s desire to better himself, man’s desire to save himself, and man’s desire for a manageable God who wants nothing more than empty moralism and cultural norms without really knowing who or why you worship. Christ on the other hand knew the Father and disclosed Him to us so that we would worship not in Mecca, not in Jerusalem, that we would commune with Him not in a temple but become the very temple of God where we experience God’s personal empowering presence. Our worship is in spirit and in truth (John 4.24). Islam simply has to corresponding reality to this. Genuine salvation is rooted in the sovereign power of God not in man’s volitional accomplishments. The natural man, naturally, hates the true religion (Rom. 1.30), does not understand it (1 Cor. 2.14-16), does not have the ability to obey it (Rom. 8.7), and is not able to come to it on his own (John 6.44, 65). Salvation is not matter of reciting the Shahadah or the Christian altar call prayer equivalent; it’s about a personal encounter with Jesus Christ through repentance and faith (Acts 3.19).
Emilio Ramos is the preaching pastor of Heritage Grace Community Church. Pastor Emilio is committed to the expository and exegetical teaching of the Word of God. Emilio is also the author of Convert, From Adam to Christ and the founder of redgracemedia.com- a media ministry devoted to the glory of God’s redemptive grace through Jesus Christ. He and his wife Trisha live in Dallas, TX.