3 Guidelines for a Christ-Centered Approach to Evangelizing Muslims
Southern Seminary’s Jenkins Center for the Christian Understanding of Islam hosted an international potluck and lecture to help Christians witness to their Muslim neighbors, April 28 in Heritage Hall.
Ayman S. Ibrahim, director of the Jenkins Center, encouraged attendees to treat Muslims as people rather than projects, summarizing the key themes of his latest book, Reaching Your Muslim Neighbor with the Gospel (Crossway, 2022). In the recent lecture and through his accessible book, Ibrahim drew from his personal experience and love for the local church to encourage Christians to build relationships with Muslims.
“We need to distinguish Islam and the Muslim,” Ibrahim said. “Islam is a religion and set of beliefs, but Muslims are a people. A people in need of the gospel. We need the tools to connect with Muslims on a relational level and begin the friendships many Muslims are looking for.” Ibrahim also said the diversity of Islam presents a challenge for Christians wanting to reach Muslims with the gospel. According to Ibrahim, there are at least three categories of Muslims: radical, religious, and nominal. But Christ works in all three categories.
“Most Muslims around Louisville are cultural Muslims,” Ibrahim said. “They may not know a lot about Islam, but they are Muslims because they were born into Muslim families. Students here often know more about Islam than cultural Muslims because we teach the doctrine and history of Islam.”
To reach these Muslims and glorify Christ, Ibrahim presented three guidelines for Muslim evangelism that Christians need to consider:
1. Pray that God will bring Muslims to you.
“If we don’t pray, we aren’t expecting God to use us to reach Muslims,” Ibrahim said. “We love them by praying for opportunities to witness to them. We have the good news and the greatest message of hope.”
2. Ask and raise questions.
“Muslims enjoy talking about politics and religion,” Ibrahim said. “We ask and raise questions
because this is what Jesus did. We need to be proactive and initiate conversations, but you need to ask good questions.”
Some good questions Ibrahim recommends Christians ask Muslims are: Why do you wash your hands before prayer? Can you guarantee paradise in Islam?
3. Don’t argue to win.
“If you are competitive, you will lose,” Ibrahim said. “You are an ambassador of Christ and always need to be calm. We need to critique the religious claims of Islam while reaching Muslims with the gospel. Be focused and loving. Do not be angry. We are not representing ourselves but Christ.”
Prayer for Muslims during Ramadan
The evangelism training followed the Jenkins Center’s month of praying for Muslims during Ramadan. For the whole month of Ramadan, students, staff, and faculty gathered and prayed for the salvation of 1.8 billion Muslims around the world. Ramadan is the holiest month for billions of Muslims, as they fast from sunrise to sunset to please their deity, hoping to receive his favor.
“We prayed every weekday for one thing—that God would break through in the nations with the gospel,” Ibrahim said. “We specifically prayed for Muslims in Nigeria, Egypt, and Pakistan. We need to share the great fact of Christianity that God is love. In Islam, God is unapproachable. Muslims read the Quran to please God, not know God. The best thing Allah can do is send prophets. But our God came himself and experienced what we experienced in all things except sin. We need to help Muslims learn about following Christ.”
For more information on the Jenkins Center and upcoming events visit here.