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Articles by Gary Fallesen

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Gary Fallesen

Project Prayer: Ramadan 2018

Islam FAQs

By Jordan Rowley, spiritual coordinator, Climbing For Christ

Day 1: Asking the right questions

Climbing For Christ has been honored to stand with numerous ministries and individual believers in prayer during the Islamic celebration of Ramadan every year since 2011. We have spent this 30-day period lifting up our Muslim neighbors from all around the globe.

Ramadan begins today and continues until June 14. For the next four-plus weeks, we’ll be taking a look at some basic questions about Islam, such as:

  • Who is Allah?
  • Is Islam a religion of peace?
  • How do Muslims view Christianity?

We’ll pray for Muslims, ministries committed to reaching them, believers living among them, and Climbing For Christ’s upcoming mission to the most populous Muslim nation in the world: Indonesia, which will take place during Ramadan. 

This being our eighth year (and eight being the number of new beginnings) for Project Prayer: Ramadan, I think it’s fitting that we put a new spin on how we pray. As a staff, we recently completed Pastor Mark Batterson’s Draw the Circle: The 40-Day Prayer Challenge. In this excellent resource, Batterson eloquently encourages us again and again to pray circles around the things God puts on our hearts. In other words, we are told to take a page out of the playbook of the persistent widow found in Luke 18, and continually pursue the Lord for the blessed burdens He’s placed in our souls. In Jesus’ words, “keep on asking… keep on seeking… keep on knocking” (Matthew 7:7, NLT). 

We’re going to keep asking, keep seeking and keep knocking just like the persistent widow. We’re going to keep circling. We’re going to lift up the same prayer each day, whole-heartedly agreeing in Jesus’ name that we might see God respond in great and mighty ways. Let’s begin right now:


Father in Heaven,

You alone are God. You alone are perfect in wisdom and justice. You alone are full of such rich compassion and boundless love. There is none holy like You. There is none worthy like You. We worship You and give You reverence. You alone are God – our great God and Savior.

During these 30 days of Ramadan, we pray for followers of Islam from all over the world. We lift to You those who are trapped in tradition and demonic deception. We ask for deliverance for them, Lord. We ask that You would shine the light of Jesus Christ into the darkest corners of every soul. We ask that, by Your incredible love, You would save.

Bless our brothers and sisters in Christ who live and serve among Muslims. May they be used powerfully in Your hands. We pray for protection and provision for them. We pray for wisdom and understanding for them. And we pray that each would be a beacon of Your beautiful truth.

Finally, we lift up Climbing For Christ’s Mission: Indonesia 2018 (May 29-June 11) to You. Our prayer is for lasting fruit as the Gospel is declared to those who have yet to hear. Our prayer is for the Holy Spirit to lead and guide every word and deed of this expedition. Our prayer is for Your hand to be powerfully upon Your servants. And our prayer is for You, Lord God, to be glorified.

We give thanks, Lord, that You have heard our prayers. Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as in heaven.

In JESUS’ name, amen.

Day 2: What is Islam?

Percentage of Muslims in each country worldwide.

With nearly 2 billion people in the world who identify as Muslim, “What is Islam?” is a question we must answer. Yet it is a question that must be answered carefully.

There are numerous and varying beliefs, cultures, walks of life, levels of devotion and so on. Furthermore, how can so many Muslims claim that Islam is a religion of peace, while so many others claim that the teachings of Islam justify violence against any who oppose Muslim doctrines? (More on that later.) For now, let’s answer “What is Islam?” in general terms:

The word Islam literally means “submission.” The plain message of Islam is just that: submission. It is a religion primarily about fulfilling obligation. Allah is to be obeyed. The “heart” is more or less irrelevant so long as one’s duties are fulfilled. In fact, in Georges Houssney’s book, Engaging Islam, he writes: “Ironically, Muslims treat the shahada [Islam’s most basic declaration of faith] as an action even though it is a statement of faith.” In other words, reciting the shahada is more about checking the religious box than it is about genuine faith. It is a duty to be fulfilled and a command to be obeyed much more than a truth to be believed.

For Christians, however, the Bible declares that “with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:10). May the Lord open the hearts and mouths of many Muslims to believe and confess that Jesus is Lord. 

The Word

“He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” – John 3:36

Day 3: How did Islam begin?

The vast religion of Islam traces its roots to one man living on the Arabian Peninsula during the seventh century. In a vast sea of polytheism (the belief in multiple gods), Islam’s prophet, Muhammad, boldly claimed there was only one true god.

He would soon face great opposition for this assertion.

Though at first Muhammad thought he was being oppressed by demonic spirits, he was later convinced that the angel Gabriel was visiting him and delivering what would eventually be called the Quran. This “revelation” is said to have taken place over the course of 23 years.

Two years passed from Muhammad’s initial “revelation” and his first public mention of it. Initially, he was persecuted for his call to abandon the polytheistic practices of the day. Receiving so much opposition, in fact, he and his band of followers fled Mecca and found safety elsewhere in Medina. Over time, his teachings gained more followers and his practice of raiding Meccan caravans gained him more power. Muhammad eventually returned to Mecca. This time, he conquered all those who opposed him and his message.

Islam came to dominate the social, economic and political institutions well beyond the Arabian Peninsula and Arab world in general, eventually becoming the world’s second-largest religion.

The Word

“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, says the Lord, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” – Revelation 1:8 (NKJV)

Day 4: What is the Quran?

The Arabic word Quran is literally translated as “the recitation,” or “the reading.” 

Although the Hadith (a record of some of the words and deeds of the prophet Muhammad) is also heavily sourced in Islamic culture, it is the Quran that is believed to be the authentic message from Allah. Transcribed from years of Muhammad’s “revelations,” the Quran was not completed until after his death. 

Despite having been translated into many languages, only the original Arabic text is believed to be the true words of Allah. This is why, in spite of its numerous translations, it’s only the Arabic text that is recited and memorized – even when the people don’t understand or speak the Arabic language.

In addition to the Quran, Muslims also acknowledge the Torah, the Psalms of David, and the Gospels as holy books. Although originally inspired revelations from Allah, these books are said to have been corrupted over the numerous generations since their original writing. Thus, Muslims believe the Quran is the only remaining and unchanged text from Allah. Furthermore, the validity of the Quran versus these other writings lies in the simple fact that it is the last and most recent revelation.  

The Quran is so revered in the Islamic world that it is often placed on a high shelf in one’s home. No one is ever permitted to write in the book. Desecrating the Quran in any way is a serious offense to devout Muslims.

In one extreme and recent case, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (commonly known as Ahok) was found guilty of blasphemy over accusations that he insulted Islam during his 2016 campaign for re-election as governor of Indonesia’s capital city, Jakarta. Ahok caused public uproar after quoting a passage of the Quran to prove to his supporters that a Muslim was allowed to vote for a non-Muslim.

The Word

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” – John 1:14 (NKJV)

Day 5: Are there different ‘denominations’ in Islam?

Islam is not a monolithic religion. Much like Christendom, there are many sects within the Islamic world – some of which, the majority of Muslims would say, are not truly representative of Islam. There are many forms of Islam that are heavily influenced by location, culture and tradition.

Sunni and Shia (or Shi’ite) are the two main branches of Islam. About four out of every five Muslims view themselves as Sunni, while about one out of every 10 identify as Shia. These two groups have much in common. Both parties proclaim that “there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is his prophet.” Both sides hold to the absolute “oneness” of Allah and his sovereignty over mankind.

However, there are numerous differences between Sunni and Shia beliefs as well. To many, these differences are irreconcilable. Although there are sharp divides over some doctrinal matters (such as “end-times” beliefs) and practical matters (such as how leadership/clergy should be structured), the greatest division was the result of a discrepancy over who should have been the rightful successor of Muhammad.

There are smaller sects as well. Sufism, perhaps one of the better known, is Islam’s most mystical and ascetic branch. In an attempt to purify oneself and become more pleasing to Allah, Sufis often deprive themselves of physical pleasures or necessities. 

Within the larger sects of Islam, a form of “folk Islam” is often practiced. This is where a culture or people appear to accept the basic teaching of Islam, but rather than convert completely, they simply add, mix and incorporate Islamic practices and principles to their own traditional, folk belief system of ancestor and spirit worship.

The Word

“There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” – Ephesians 4:4-6 (NKJV)

Day 6: Who is Allah?

To understand Islam and its adherents, we have to understand a bit about the god of Islam: Allah. He is the singular and sovereign god of all Muslims. As mentioned on Day 3, Islam was birthed in the middle of a polytheistic culture, meaning there was a general belief system in place of numerous gods, goddesses and other deities. One might be the creator-god, while another would be the goddess of fertility, and another could be the god of the harvest.

This “one god” concept is so ingrained in Islam, that the “tawhid,” or absolute unity of Allah, is a fundamental doctrine. As the shahadah declares: “There is no god but Allah…”

This is what set Muhammad’s message apart from the other neighboring religions the most: the assertion that there was only one god. In fact, what has become the name of the god of Islam, Allah, wasn’t really a name at all. Allah was originally derived from the combination of the Arabic word al, meaning “the,” and ilah, meaning “god” or “deity.” This phrase, “al-ilah,” would eventually become Allah.

Allah is said to have 99 other names as well. Perhaps the most commonly used are al-Rahman and al-Rahim, meaning “the Merciful” and “the Compassionate.” There are numerous phrases common to Muslims as well, such as in sha Allah, Subhan Allah and, of course, Allahu akbar, which mean “if Allah wills,” “holiness be to Allah,” and “Allah is greater.”

The Word

“Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” – Philippians 2:9-11 (NKJV)

Day 7: Who was Muhammad?

The Prophet Muhammad is greatly revered and fiercely defended in the Islamic world. He is second in status only to Allah himself. Although all past prophets of Islam are deeply respected and highly honored, including Jesus, the preeminent prophet is Muhammad. He is often referred to as the “seal of the prophets,” meaning that his message was the final message.

Allah is believed to have spoken through numerous prophets to numerous generations – such as Adam, Abraham, Moses and even Jesus – but his revelation to Muhammad is his final message to mankind.

Born in the Arabian city of Mecca in about 570 A.D., Muhammad was orphaned at a young age and taken in by his uncle. As a young man, he would periodically retreat to a mountain cave to pray for days at a time. At the age of 40, Muhammad began to receive his first “revelations,” and in a couple short years he would begin sharing them publicly.

His message revolved around the oneness of god and a call to submit to Allah. Of course, he also declared himself to be the messenger of Allah.  

While the Quran is the supposed message from Allah, details about Muhammad’s life were recorded by other sources. The Hadith is a collection of Muhammad’s teachings and traditions generally accepted by the Muslim world. Thus, Muhammad’s life is the source for much of the Islamic tradition and way of life not found in the Quran. He is said to be the ideal man to whom we should all model our lives.

The Word

“For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” – 1 Corinthians 3:11 (NKJV)

Day 8: What are the core doctrines of Islam?

The principles and practices of the religion of Islam are vast. Any honest imam or Islamic scholar should admit there is much that even he or she doesn’t know. One could spend a lifetime of study and still have a lot to learn. But there are six key doctrinal beliefs within Islam:

One God. Muhammad preached the absolute oneness of Allah in the midst of idol-worshiping and polytheistic peoples.

Angels. It’s taught that each person has two angels assigned to them: one to record good deeds and another to record the bad. There are other “higher” angels like Gabriel (called Jabril) and Michael (called Mikail). In addition, there are evil spirits that regularly interact with the human realm called jinn.

Prophets. The Quran teaches that Muhammad is the “seal of the prophets” after a long line of Muslim messengers. In fact, it’s believed there have been more than 100,000 prophets. Each prophet has essentially preached the same Muslim message: worship the one god to whom we must submit.

Scriptures. The Quran is believed to be the final revelation from Allah. Prior – but corrupted, according to Muslims – messages include the Torah (Taurat), Psalms (Zabur) and the Gospel (Injil). Because the Quran is the most recent and final of these four revelations from Allah, wherever discrepancies are found, the Quran prevails. 

Judgement. Like Judaism and Christianity, Islam teaches that the physical death of the body is not the end of our existence. As mentioned above, Muslims believe all of their good and bad deeds are recorded throughout their lives to be judged by Allah on the great Day of Judgement.

Fate. Qadar is the Muslim idea of divine predestination – or fate. This is a concept asserting if Allah wills it, it is done, regardless of human will or effort. Some Muslims believe Allah exercises more of this authority over human lives, but all agree that in sha Allah (if god wills) it will be done. 

The Word

“Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; on You I wait all the day.” – Psalm 25:5 (NKJV)

Day 9: What are the main practices of Islam?

Every belief system contains a set of rituals or practices that are to be performed by its followers. Islam is no different. In fact, Muslims have taken any mystery right out of it. The essential duties Muslims are to do are commonly referred to as the “five pillars”:   

Shahada. This is the Islamic declaration of faith: “There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is his messenger.” This creed is often whispered into the ears of newborn babies or spoken as one’s last words just prior to death.

Salat. Muslims are to offer prayers five times each day (sunrise, mid-morning, noon, mid-afternoon, and sunset). Each prayer time begins with ritual washing and consists of reciting specific phrases while standing, sitting, and bowing.

Zakat. Each Muslim is typically expected to give approximately 2.5 percent of his income. Zakat means “to be pure,” and signifies the purification of the soul by giving.

Sawm. This is the Islamic practice of fasting. Although it is not limited to the observance of Ramadan, sawm is most commonly associated with this Islamic holy month. The Hadith states that “whoever observes fasts during the month of Ramadan… all his past sins will be forgiven.”

Hajj. This pilgrimage to Mecca – the birthplace of Islam – must be done at least once in each Muslim’s lifetime (assuming physical and financial ability). The journey, taking place only in the final month of the Islamic calendar, is said to cleanse the soul and wipe away sins. 

The Word

“Jesus answered and said to them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.’” – John 6:29 (NKJV)

Day 10: Do Muslims worship Muhammad?

It’s clear that there is one god in Islam. He is Allah. He doesn’t share his deity with anyone. It is a grave sin in the Islamic world, known as shirk, to associate Allah with any partner or other god. This is why any images of Muhammad have always been ferociously forbidden. The fear has been that people would begin to worship him. 

Muslims do revere Muhammad above any other man in history. Although they don’t physically bow to him, they do exalt him, perhaps even to the point of unintentional idolatry. They must share Allah, the god of the universe. They must share other prophets, such as Adam, Abraham, and Jesus. But Muhammad is theirs and theirs alone. Perhaps that fuels their fervent devotion.

Unlike the prophets of Christianity, whom we view as imperfect men, the prophets of Islam are elevated to a level above all others. This is especially true of the prophet Muhammad. So, although Muslims certainly don’t bow to Muhammad in worship, many may just venerate him to a level of idolization. 

The Word

“For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.” – 1 Timothy 2:5 (NKJV)

Day 11: Is Islam a religion of peace?

Any religion – or belief system in general – will always have different interpretations. Islam is no different. For example, many argue today that Islam is a religion of peace. Many others, however, argue that Islam represents anything but peace.

Anyone can look to the Quran and find numerous examples that could be interpreted as encouraging peace. Similarly, anyone can look to the Quran and find numerous examples that could be interpreted as encouraging violence. 

Rather than asking if Islam is a religion of peace (and then cherry-picking portions of the Quran that support one side or the other), a better question might be, what is the truest expression of Islam?  In other words, what is the most accurate representation of Islam as it was originally conceived?

To answer that, we only need to look to its prophet, Muhammad. I would encourage you to do that. Then, compare those findings with the life of the “founder” of Christianity, Jesus. While Muhammad raided, plundered and killed, Jesus spoke of peace, love for one’s enemies, and submission to authority. 

So, the answer to the question “Is Islam a religion of peace?” is ... it depends. It depends not only on who you ask, but also what standards are used to guide that answer. Certainly, there are many millions of peace-loving Muslims. In addition, there are many portions of the Quran that appear to encourage peace. However, neither of these points truly answers the question. The answer, I believe, is found in the life of Islam’s prophet, Muhammad.

The Word

For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” – Isaiah 9:6 (NKJV)

Day 12: How do Muslims view Jesus?

Muhammad and his Quran were deeply influenced by the Christians of his day, or those he simply referred to as “people of the book.” Because of this, Islam and Christianity have a number of things in common. For example, Islam and Christianity both share a belief in one singular and sovereign god (versus the belief in multiple gods). Many key “characters,” such as Adam, Noah and David, are shared. Even Jesus is acknowledged in Islam. However, Isa al Masih, as the Quran calls Him, has some very important differences from the Jesus worshiped by Christians.

Isa al Masih is revered as one of Islam’s greatest prophets. Muslims believe in his virgin birth, sinless life, and many miracles. However, the most important facts taught by the “people of the book” of Muhammad’s time – and firmly believed by Christians today – are fiercely denied by Muslims.

The Quran teaches that Isa al Masih was not the “Son of God.” To claim otherwise is a very serious offense in Islam known as “shirk.” Muslims are also taught that Isa was not crucified on a cross and therefore did not die for the sins of mankind. Thus, because he didn’t die, he certainly didn’t rise again in victory over sin and death. Muslims do, however, believe that Isa ascended to heaven – only he and Enoch are thought to have never tasted death.

It’s deeply disheartening to see a people, many of whom are deeply devoted, come this close to the Truth. The name Masih actually means “messiah,” yet Muslims fall far short of fully understanding and embracing the One who came to save them. 

The Word

“The woman said to Him, ‘I know that Messiah is coming’ (who is called Christ). ‘When He comes, He will tell us all things.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I who speak to you am He.’” – John 4:25-26 (NKJV)

Day 13: How do Muslims view Mary?

As mentioned on Day 12, Islam and Christianity have a number of things in common – even a belief in Jesus (called Isa al Masih in the Quran). Although His existence is clearly agreed upon in both camps, His nature is very much in dispute. Jesus’ earthly mother Mary (or Maryam, as she’s called in the Quran), is another figure common to both Christians and Muslims. Here’s what the Quran has to say:

“And when the angels said: O Maryam! Truly, Allah has chosen you and made you pure and preferred you above all the women of creation. O Maryam! Be obedient to your Lord and prostrate yourself and bow down with those who bow down… O Maryam! Truly Allah gives you glad tidings of a Word from him, whose name will be Masih, Isa (Messiah, Jesus) the son of Maryam, held in honor in this world and the Hereafter, and will be one of those who are near to Allah. He will speak unto mankind in the cradle and in his manhood and he is of the righteous. She said, ‘O my Lord, how can I have a child when no man has touched me?’ He said, ‘so (it will be) for Allah creates what he will. If he decrees a thing, he says unto it only: be! And it is.” – Surah 3:42, 43, 45-47

Many Muslims honor Maryam as a great example of the faith. In fact, some debate whether she could have actually been one of Islam’s many prophets. Either way, she is a key character in Islam. It’s interesting to note that the Quran calls Isa (Jesus) a Word from Allah and even calls him righteous (a title not even given to Muhammad). If only more followers of Islam would follow the true Righteous One, Who is called “the Word” from the beginning. 

The Word

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” – John 1:1 (NKJV)

Day 14: How do Muslims view the Trinity?

Although Christianity and Islam are both monotheistic religions (holding to the belief in one, singular god), many followers of Islam have been misinformed on the Christian doctrine of the Trinity. They think that we worship three separate gods.

When it comes to the Trinity, even Christians can be easily confused. It should come as no surprise that those outside the faith, including Muslims, have struggled to understand. The Christian teaching, of course, is that there is one God, eternally existent in three co-eternal, co-existent, co-equal persons. Each is distinct, yet not divided. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Many Muslims misinterpret this three-in-one concept as polytheistic (worship of multiple gods). Thus, in many Muslim communities it’s taught that Christians worship three gods: the father, the son, and Mary. 

The Word

“For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one.” – 1 John 5:7 (NKJV)

Day 15: What is Islam’s view on salvation?

Common to both Christianity and Islam is the belief that in the life to come we will be judged on things done in the life that is now. It’s then, that we will be rewarded or punished accordingly. The key difference, of course, is that Christians believe that Jesus shed His blood to pay the price for the salvation of all who will put their faith in Him, while Muslims generally believe that their own human efforts can “earn” their way to paradise.

In Georges Houssney’s Engaging Islam, he tells this story:

In the early 1990s, I was delivering a talk about Islam at Cherry Hills Community Church in South Denver. In the audience of more than a thousand people were thirty Muslims, accompanied by their imam. Afterward, the Pakistani imam invited me to his house to discuss the contents of my lecture. During the four-hour visit we talked about the differences between Christianity and Islam. As I shared my testimony and how Jesus had transformed my life, he interrupted me. “My business is not to believe or understand anything,” he said with great passion. “As a Muslim I am commanded to obey and do Allah’s bidding.” He did not want to hear about the possibility of a personal and intimate relationship with God. When I asked him what God expected of him, he did not hesitate to name the “Five Pillars of Islam.”

Although this is just one story, it seems to represent Islamic culture well. The way to please Allah is simply to do your duty; to fulfill the religious obligations. Not necessarily “to believe or understand,” but to submit. 

The Word

“No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.” – John 15:15 (NKJV)

Day 16: Does Islam have an ‘end times’ view?

Christianity and Islam share the idea that Jesus (or Isa) will return on the Day of Judgment. The similarities, however, seem to end there. The Bible teaches that upon Jesus’ return, He will judge all those who have not believed in His atoning death on the cross. Islam, however, teaches that Isa will judge all those who do believe in His atoning death on the cross. One writing in the Hadith (a collection of Muhammad’s teachings ) says the following:

Allah’s Apostle said, “The Hour will not be established until the son of Maryam descends amongst you as a just ruler, he will break the cross, kill the pigs…”

Many Muslims believe Isa will break the cross to declare that he never died on it and all who have believed have been greatly led astray – to judgment. The Quran describes this judgment, that all unbelievers will suffer, as follows:

“People ask you about the Hour. Say, ‘God alone has knowledge of it.’ How could you [Prophet] know? The Hour may well be near. God has rejected the disbelievers and prepared a blazing fire for them. There they will stay permanently, with no one to befriend or support them. On the Day when their faces are being turned out in the Fire, they will say, ‘if only we had obeyed God and the Messenger.”Surah 33:63-66

The Word

Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.” – Matthew 24:11-14 (NKJV)

Day 17: What does Islam teach about the afterlife? Part One: Jahannam

Every religion and belief system must answer the question: What happens when I die? Answers vary widely across the world’s religions. Islam teaches that every human soul will enter one of two eternal destinations: Jannah (heaven) or Jahannam (hell). Evildoers and those who have rejected Islam will be sentenced to suffer in a place that is referred to by various names: The Fire, The Blaze, The Blazing Fire, The Abyss, and That Which Breaks in Pieces. 

The Quran claims that on the “Last Day,” after the earth and all creation are destroyed by Allah, every soul will be resurrected and judged. They either will be sent to Jannah (for those who have earned the favor of Allah by submitting to his message and messenger) or Jahannam (for those who have incurred his wrath through disbelief or disobedience).

In Jahannam, the punishment will vary depending on the “sins” committed. Whatever the level of wrath Allah pours out, the Quran describes the “welcome” to Jahannam as follows:

“But those on the Left, what people they are! They will dwell amid scorching wind and scalding water in the shadow of black smoke, neither cool nor refreshing. Before, they overindulged in luxury and persisted in great sin… ‘the earliest and last generations will all be gathered on a predetermined Day and you who have gone astray and denied the truth will eat from the bitter tree of Zaqqum, filling your bellies with it, and drink scalding water, lapping it like thirsty camels.’ This will be their welcome on the Day of Judgment.” – Surah 56:41-46, 49-56

This is merely the “welcome” to hell; further descriptions of Islam’s place of eternal torment are often much more graphic and unsettling. There is nothing welcoming about hell. 

The Word

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort.” – 2 Corinthians 1:3 (NKJV)

Day 18: What does Islam teach about the afterlife? Part Two: Paradise

We looked on Day 17 at Islam’s concept of Jahannam (hell): a place of immense suffering for all its eternal inhabitants. Today, let’s look at the Muslim concept of heaven.

“Those on the Right, what a people they are! They will dwell amid thornless lote trees and clustered acacia with spreading shade, constantly flowing water, abundant fruits, unfailing, unforbidden, with incomparable companions We have specially created – virginal, loving, of matching age – for those on the Right, many from the past and many from later generations.”Quran, Surah 56:27-40

Not only does the Quran’s view of heaven, known as Jannah, starkly contrast hell, it is also a clear contrast to the desert life of Islam’s first followers. In fact, the Arabic word “Jannah” literally means “garden.” Certainly, a lush garden with its associated “shade,” “flowing water,” and “abundant fruits” does sound like Paradise to a desert-dwelling culture. And, of course, the specially created, virgin “companions” would be very appealing to them as well.

Jannah also bears Quranic descriptions like “The highest Garden,” “The Home of Peace” (Dar al Salaam), and “The Garden of Delight” (Jannat al-Naim). According to Hadith teachings, there are eight distinct doors for those who gain entrance to Jannah. There is a door for those who fasted. There is a door for those who took part in jihad. And there is even a door for those who were punctual to prayer.

In the end, however, it doesn’t matter how much someone believes something to be true. Neither does it matter how many others may believe something to be true. What matters is only this: is it true? And sadly, for the billions of followers of Islam, this paradise is merely a mirage. 

The Word

“But whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” – John 4:14 (NKJV)

Day 19: How do Muslims and Westerners view each other?

A 2011 survey completed by the PEW Research Center asked Westerners and Muslims (from Muslim-majority nations) about their views of one another. Among Westerners, the No. 1 trait associated with Muslims was “fanatical.” In fact, 58 percent of those polled described Muslims as such. Other negative traits high on the list were “violent” (50 percent) and “arrogant” (39 percent). Only 22 percent viewed Muslims as “respectful of women.”

Other, more positive traits were on the list as well: Fifty-one percent said they view Muslims as “honest”; “generous” (41 percent) was the second positive trait, while only 23 percent labeled followers of Islam as “immoral.”

Among Muslims (again, from Muslim majority nations) the results were just as interesting and the top six traits associated with Westerners were all negative, including “selfish” (68 percent), “violent” (66 percent), and “immoral” (61 percent).

“Generous” bottomed out the list with only 29 percent of those surveyed selecting that description, followed by “tolerant” (31 percent) and “honest” (33 percent).

I was initially surprised to see “respectful of women” at only 44 percent. Certainly, those of us in the West feel that we’re much more respectful and empowering toward women in general. However, when the entertainment industry is taken into consideration, it’s more understandable why many Muslims might feel the West is not respectful of women. 

Regardless of one’s views toward a particular group of people (whether Muslim or Westerner), it’s of the utmost importance to remember that each person – regardless of background – is a unique individual crafted in the image of God, who thankfully doesn’t paint any of us with a broad brush. 

The Word

Search me, O God, and know my heart… – Psalm 139:23 (NKJV)

Day 20: What is it like to leave Islam?

In most Muslim communities, leaving Islam is not only seen as a direct path to Jahannam (hell), it can be viewed as a betrayal of family, community and even country. Of course, some Westernized Muslims may embrace this freedom of choice, but many – if not most – in the Islamic world would be compelled to essentially disown a person who leaves Islam.

Families are divided. Sons and daughters are disowned. Friends are separated. Jobs are lost. Careers are destroyed. One’s life may be in jeopardy.

All that is familiar, comfortable and safe can quickly be taken away from those who forsake Islam.

This idea of leaving Islam is referred to as “apostasy,” or irtidād.  The description of and ultimate punishment for a murtadd (Arabic for “one who turns away”) is referred to several times in both the Quran and the Hadith. Here’s one such example from the Quran:

“With the exception of those who are forced to say they do not believe, although their hearts remain firm in the faith, those who reject God after believing in Him and open their hearts to disbelief will have the wrath of God upon them and a grievous punishment awaiting them.”Surah 16:106

In spite of the pain of sacrificing so much to follow Jesus, the Bible makes it abundantly clear that Jesus is worth every ounce of pain. In Romans 8:18, Paul wrote, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” Amen. 

The Word

Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. – Matthew 5:11-1 (NKJV)

Day 21: How do followers of Islam respond to the Good News? Part One

The spiritual darkness in many Muslim-majority nations is immense. Our adversary, the devil, seeks to divide, destroy and devour every individual or group who would dare stand up and stand out for Jesus. Satan fights for every inch of ground he’s gained over the ages, and for every soul he has in his hell-bound grip.

Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow. And it happened, as he sowed, that some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds of the air came and devoured it.” – Mark 4:3-4 (NKJV)

From using government authorities to create and enforce laws against converting from or speaking out against Islam, to using demonically inspired individuals and organizations to persecute Christians (and even those simply considering becoming Christians), Satan uses many tactics to keep followers of Islam from the truth of Christ.

May the Lord protect Muslims who are seeking a relationship with the true and living God. May the Lord not allow any weapon formed against them to prosper. May He shield them from attack and allow their faith to take root.

The Word

And He said, ‘Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father.’ – John 6:65 (NKJV)

Day 22: How do followers of Islam respond to the Good News? Part Two

The vast majority of our Muslim neighbors around the globe have been indoctrinated with Islam from birth. It’s very common for the first thing whispered into a newborn baby’s ears to be the shahadah: “There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is the prophet of Allah.”

Some fell on stony ground, where it did not have much earth; and immediately it sprang up because it had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up it was scorched, and because it had no root it withered away.” – Mark 4:5-6 (NKJV)

To turn from Islam is to turn from something that has been a large part of forming a Muslim’s basic morals, beliefs and world view. In other words, to turn to Jesus is to turn from nearly everything they’ve ever known and believed to be true. One can imagine the inward wrestling of the heart that must take place to follow Christ.

May God cause those seeds to grow strong roots that would break through the hardness of their hearts that have become stony from many years of false teachings. May the Lord open their eyes and soften their hearts to the falsehoods of what they have been taught, that they might exchange the lie they believe for the truth they need.

The Word

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” – Ezekiel 36:26 (NKJV)

Day 23: How do followers of Islam respond to the Good News? Part Three

As mentioned on Day 20 (“What is it like to leave Islam?”), turning from the Muslim faith to Christianity amounts to treason in some of these Muslim-majority nations. The same is true even within smaller communities and individual families. If one were to turn to Jesus, they would likely be seen as forsaking their country, their community, and in many cases their families as entire cultures and traditions are based around the practices of Islam. In addition, the pressures of maintaining social status can impact the likelihood of a Muslim converting to Christ.

“And some seed fell among thorns; and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no crop.” – Mark 4:7 (NKJV)

Jesus once rhetorically asked, “What would a man give in exchange for his own soul?” No earthly thing is worth our souls. No career, family, tradition, social standing – not even one’s safety – is worth trading one’s soul for. May the Lord give Muslim seekers strength to stand against the cares of this world. Jesus said that he who desires to save his life must lose it. May the Lord impress upon their hearts the need to count all things as loss and rubbish for the excellence of the knowledge of Jesus.

The Word

For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? – Matthew 16:26 (NKJV)

Day 24: How do followers of Islam respond to the Good News? Part Four

Every soul that comes to Christ must recognize his or her sinfulness and humbly acknowledge their inability to cleanse themselves of it. Muslims face this challenge just like everyone else. There are many in Muslim nations who are ripe and ready to receive the Gospel of Jesus Christ, they just don’t know it yet. Why? Because they need someone to share it with them.

But other seed fell on good ground and yielded a crop that sprang up, increased and produced: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred.” – Mark 4:8 (NKJV)

This is a huge challenge because many Muslim nations have a very small percentage of Christians who can witness to them. And sadly, even where there are a handful of Christian believers, fear often prevents them from sharing the truth of Jesus. Yet another factor leading to limited opportunities for Muslims to learn about Jesus is the fact that only about two percent of Protestant missional effort is focused on Muslims.

May the Lord send more laborers into the harvest. The challenges are great, but our God is greater. May the Lord bless Muslim people everywhere with more and more of His witnesses who will boldly share the Gospel – especially with those who have yet to hear. 

The Word

And He said to them, ‘He who has ears to hear, let him hear!’ – Mark 4:9 (NKJV)

Day 25: How can we pray for Muslims? Part One

If we’re to be prepared for the ever-growing opportunity to share Jesus with followers of Islam (which we should be), we must begin on our knees. As we reviewed in the last handful of days, there are so many challenges that can stand in the way of our Muslim neighbors coming to Christ. So many of those things are far beyond our control. So, the best thing we can do – something we all can do – is pray.

Pray that Christians around the globe (yourself included) will be gentle and loving witnesses for Christ. After all, God’s Word says that it’s His kindness that leads to repentance.

Pray for the readying of Muslim hearts. Many may be hardened by a lifetime of adhering to a strict religion. Many others may be dissatisfied with the impersonal god of Islam. Still others may carry deep inner wounds.

Pray for open doors to share the truth. In His sovereign authority, only the Lord can provide the perfect circumstances, so wait for His timing.

We must be persistent in our prayers – and patient, too. After years in Islam, it may take a great deal of time. In fact, it’s not uncommon for Muslims to press into Islam even deeper as Jesus begins knocking on the door of their hearts. This knee-jerk reaction is understandable, given that one’s entire worldview is being shaken.

The Word

Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men” – 1 Timothy 2:1 (NKJV)

Day 26: How can we pray for Muslims? Part Two

Prayer is so critical! Though it can never take the place of obedience to the Lord’s Great Commission for us to GO and share the Gospel, it should take the priority. After all, God alone can save.

Only God can move the mountains of the mind. Only He can part the waters of the soul. Only He can loose the things which bind and deceive the heart. Only His Word is able to pierce the spirit. Only He can sovereignly orchestrate the circumstances of a life. Only He knows what’s needed for one to confess Jesus as Lord.

God grants us the opportunity and responsibility of praying for the lost. If not you and I, then who? And when?

This is life and death we’re dealing with. The eternal destination of 2 billion souls is on the line. As we approach the Lord on behalf of those following the religion of Islam, our hearts must be fully engaged. Just imagine you were praying for the salvation of a family member – your own child perhaps. I believe this is how God would have us intercede – both passionately and personally.

The Word

“… Lord, teach us to pray…” – Luke 11:1 (NKJV)

Day 27: How can we witness to Muslims? Part One

When sharing our faith with followers of Islam, it’s helpful to remember that although there are many stark differences between us, there is much in common as well. There are numerous things we can agree on. Sometimes it helps to start there.

Starting with our shared beliefs – while not compromising on the truths of Christianity – can be a great way to build a bridge and open a dialogue. Here are just a few general points that most followers of Islam and Christians agree:

  • There is one God;
  • He created all things;
  • ·There is a heaven and a hell;
  • ·There will be a judgment for wrongdoings;
  • ·Adam and Eve were the first human beings;
  • ·Noah, Abraham, Moses, and David were men of God;
  • ·Jesus was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, and is to be highly revered.

Although we would disagree on who exactly this “one God” is, the details of the afterlife, what Noah and those other men of God said and did, or the true nature of Jesus and His purpose on earth, what a great starting point the similarities bulleted above could be for many conversations.

Now, regardless of the starting point, the end goal should be to share the Gospel of Jesus! As we have open doors to speak with Muslims, rather than assuming we know what they believe, a better approach would be to ask questions. Then, when the Lord provides an opportunity, take them from a point of shared belief to the truth as revealed in Scripture. Kraig Meyer, in Turkish World Outreach’s “Sharing the Gospel with Muslims,” puts it this way:

“Muslims fear God. Therefore, rather than argue about religion, try to appeal to the conscience by talking about the need to be forgiven of sin. After the religious arguments are over, each of us is still faced with the problem of moral failure and sin. Muslims believe they are sinners because they don’t always follow all rules of Islam. Jesus’ words about evil coming from the heart and need for inner change will deeply touch their consciences. Mohammed never promised forgiveness or a place in Heaven, even for those who follow his religion. These are the promises of Christ alone.” 

The Word

And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” – John 11:26 (NKJV)

Day 28: How can we witness to Muslims? Part Two

I – and others – have said many times that when we’re talking about witnessing for Jesus Christ, truth and love must go hand in hand. They are two sides to the same coin. We absolutely cannot compromise love for the sake of truth. And neither can we compromise truth for the sake of love.

We must know the truth to share the truth. Truth is essential. Sharing it doesn’t simply mean declaring what’s right, it also means exposing what’s false. However, before we go out into the world with a bullhorn in hand to “preach” (shout) the Gospel, we have to remember one thing: “Though [we] speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, [we] have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal” (1 Corinthians 13:1). In other words, without love we have nothing. Without love even the precious and powerful truth we offer can quickly become abrasive and hostile.

It goes without saying then, that love – like truth – is essential. But love isn’t simply being nice. Genuine love involves sharing truth, even when it hurts or seems offensive. Even when it appears to be abrasive and hostile. That’s why they are two sides to the same coin. And in sharing the greatest news of all time we must be careful not to separate the two: love and truth. 

The Word

“Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ.” – Ephesians 4:15 (NKJV)

Day 29: How can we witness to Muslims? Part Three

In Islam, there are two main sects: Sunni and Shia. Sunnis account for 80-to-90 percent of the world’s nearly two billion Muslims, and Shias make up the majority of the remaining 10-to-20 percent. There are other Islamic offshoots like the Baha’i, Sufi and Wahhabi as well. 

In addition to these different sects, followers of Islam may have varying degrees of devotion ranging from those who are Muslim in name and in regard to their cultural identity only, to those who are very devout and sincere in their practice. We could also look to liberal, moderate and fundamental Muslims as another point of distinction.

Reaching from North to Sub-Saharan Africa, from the Middle East to South and Southeast Asia, there are a variety of nationalities and ethnicities expressed through Islam.

Simply put, there is an immense amount of variety within Islam. Even within each of these subgroups or subcultures, there are smaller community and family structures. These many distinctions remind us that each and every follower of Islam is different. Each is an individual. Each is crafted differently by the Master Potter and influenced by the life they’ve lived. It’s so easy to fall into generalizations and stereotyping (however harmless some of those may be), but that won’t help us reach the Muslims around us. What will help us is understanding and appreciating the things that make each person special. It’s then, that God might see fit to reach down through us to touch them. 

The Word

I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made…” – Psalm 139:14 (NKJV)

Day 30: The greatest question

First things first: Thank you for joining us for Project Prayer: Ramadan 2018. It has been an honor to stand with you in prayer for our Muslim neighbors around the globe. God has heard us. I believe He has and will continue to answer our petitions.

Throughout these 30 days of Ramadan we’ve looked at questions ranging from “What is Islam?” to “Is Islam a religion of peace?” to “How can we best witness to Muslims?” These are questions that I hope we can all answer now. However, there is one greater question that remains unanswered. This is a question straight from the heart of Jesus.

“But who do you say I am?” – Mark 8:29

This is the most important question that all of mankind must answer. Our duty, as Christians, is to deliver the Good News of Jesus to the ends of the earth so that every man, woman and child can give the correct answer.

Many in the Muslim world have heard the truth about Jesus and responded like Peter, who said:

“You are the Christ.” – Mark 8:29

Others have been dissuaded from the saving truth of Jesus by another question – a wickedly deceptive question.

“Has God said?” – Genesis 3:1

The cunning serpent first asked this question in the Garden of Eden. In a way, he poses similar questions today: “Has God said… that He has a Son, that He sent His Son to the earth to be crucified and die, that through believing in Him one can be saved from their sins?” Throughout the Quran our enemy answers those questions himself with a clear and emphatic, “No!” Sadly, millions are being deceived into believing these untruths about the One who loves them so much that He came to redeem them.

But there is always hope. His name is Jesus. He is moving in the Muslim world. He is sending His servants and answering the prayers of His people. He is working. He is speaking. He is saving. 


Father in Heaven,

You alone are God. You alone are perfect in wisdom and justice. You alone are full of such rich compassion and boundless love. There is none holy like You. There is none worthy like You. We worship You and give You reverence. You alone are God – our great God and Savior.

During these 30 days of Ramadan, we pray for followers of Islam from all over the world. We lift to You those who are trapped in tradition and demonic deception. We ask for deliverance for them, Lord. We ask that You would shine the light of Jesus Christ into the darkest corners of every soul. We ask that, by Your incredible love, You would save.

Bless our brothers and sisters in Christ who live and serve among Muslims. May they be used powerfully in Your hands. We pray for protection and provision for them. We pray for wisdom and understanding for them. And we pray that each would be a beacon of Your beautiful truth.

Finally, we lift up Climbing For Christ’s recently concluded Mission: Indonesia 2018 to You. Our prayer is for lasting fruit as the Gospel was and will continue to be declared to those waiting to hear. Our prayer is that the Holy Spirit led and guided every word and deed of this expedition. Our prayer is for Your hand to be powerfully upon Your servants in Indonesia. And our prayer is for You, Lord God, to be glorified.

We give thanks, Lord, that You have heard our prayers. Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as in heaven.

In JESUS’ name, amen.

The Word

“And a cloud came and overshadowed them; and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!’” – Mark 9:7 (NKJV)


Gary FallesenGary Fallesen

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