I have created this webpage for the many Muslim friends and acquaintances I have, as well as for those who may happen to surf in here.
My interest in Islam is threefold:
I have many Muslim friends from a wide variety of cultures: Malaysia, Indonesia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Israel/Palestine, the United Kingdom and the United States. One thing that has struck me about them is the different ways in which they interpret and live their religion. Though there may be said to be certain "divisions" of Islam (e.g. Shia and Sunni) and a number of schools within these, there are also various competing sects claiming to be the unique representatives of Islam. It is not possible, therefore, to paint Islam with a single brush. So in identifying what "authentic" Islam is I shall confine myself largely to what its prophet and the Scriptures and sayings that came through him says it is. I leave Muslims to argue amongst themselves as to what they shall do with the original Islamic vision, and judging from what I have read on the Internet, they are already doing that with great passion.
(1) I am a Christian and wish to share my faith;
(2) I was born and raised in a Muslim country - Malaysia and am interested in Islam; and
(3) I am interested in the reasons why people come to faith.
My schooling in Islam has come from four principal sources:
I do, of course, avail myself of other reference works on Islam from public libraries and the Internet.
- 1. Islamic Vision, an evangelising organisation based in Birmingham, England, which has an extensive literature;
- 2. The Islamic Propagation Centre International, an evangelising organisation based in Durban, South Africa, which likewise has an extensive literature;
- 3. A very good ex-Christian Muslim Palestinian Arab friend from Jerusalem, now resident in Oslo, Norway, who is conversant in Arabic, Hebrew, English and Norwegian, thus making him an especially useful resourse; and
- 4. A number of private sources in my own library which I list below:
- a. Professor 'Abdu 'L-ahad Dawud, a convert from Christianity, who has written a very thorough book called Muhammed in the Bible (A Publication of the Presidency of Shariyah Courts and Religious Affairs, Doha, Qatar, 1991);
- b. Muhammad 'Ata ur-Rahim, a Muslim who argues the Islamic view of Yah'shua (Jesus) in his book, Jesus, Prophet of Islam (Diwan Press, Darqawi Institute, England, 1977);
- c. Abul a'lá Mawdúdí, a Muslim apologist from the Institutional Islamic Federation of Student Organizations who has written a book called, Towards Understanding Islam (Al-Faisal Printing Co., Kuwait, undated);
- d. An extensive literature of the Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam, including Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad's key work, The Teachings of Islam (Tabshir Publications, Pakistan, 1953);
- e. Literature on esoteric Islam or Sufism, and especially the writings of Titus Burckhardt and Idries Shah, of which the latter's The Way of the Sufi is my favourite;
- f. The scholarly works of W. Montgomery Watt (Muhammad: Prophet and Statesman, OUP, Oxford, England, 1964) and William H. McNeill & Marilyn Robinson Waldman (The Islamic World, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1973);
- g. Clive Irving's book, The Sayings of the Ayatollah Khomeni: Political, Philosophical, Social and Religious (Bantam, 1979);
- h. Probably the best book on Islam from a Christian point-of-view, Robert Morey's The Islamic Invasion: Confronting the World's Fastest Growing Religion (Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Oregon, USA, 1977);
- i. Various reference works such as the Encyclopedia Britannica; and finally
- j. The Koran, Islam's chief reference book. I use two English translations:
If any Muslim thinks these are deficient and would like to make me the gift of other translations, these will be gratefully received!
- i. J.M.Rodwell (Dent, London, 1977); and
- ii. Arthur J. Arberry (OUP, Oxford,1985).
Before we get into a discussion on Islam I do want to make a few things clear to our Muslim readers:
If you would be so kind as to remember these three points then few misunderstandings will arise should you choose to enter into a dialogue, which you are of course cordially invited to do.
(1) I am not here to be disrespectful to Islam or to individual persons' beliefs. However, it is inevitable that when presented with uncomfortable facts that some people are going to get upset. This happens no matter what religious belief is being discussed and no matter how diplomatic, kind, thoughtful and respectful you try to be. For some Muslims any criticism of their faith is tantamount to blasphemy and meritorious of the death sentence. Such must remember, though, that I live in the West where freedom to express one's personal opinion is taken for granted, especially if they themselves live in the West. In many Eastern countries I would not have that freedom and would probably now be dead were I to say what I am about to say there. We must deal with realities. When I am in Eastern - and in particular Muslim - countries I am circumspect, but when I am in the West I jealously guard my freedom to express my beliefs no matter who may threaten me. Said another way, I will not be intimidated on my home ground. Remember also that the materials you are reading here exist in Cyberspace which is a Western creation and operates on the basis of free speech. If you find material in cyberspace offensive you perhaps ought to reconsider why you are using the worldwide web in the first place;
(2) I am not going to throw insults at Islam or Muslims on this site. My purpose it only to present historical, archaeological, and social facts which cannot be disputed, quote the Koran and other Muslim writings, and let these four speak for themselves. Please do not make me accountable or get upset with me if these facts contradict your cherished beliefs - go to the museums and look at the archaeological artefacts and see for yourself, check out the history, address the social situation, and argue with the Koran or the Haddith - I am merely passing on what these say;
(3) Do not assume that I am your average Catholic or Protestant, and point to the contradictions and hypocrisies and failures of the history of Christendom. I do not represent "Christendom" but only the Bible and its teachings. I repudiate all the errors of "Christianity" as far as they are shown to be errors from the Bible. The Crusades, the observation of pagan traditions, non-biblical ideas about the Godhead, etc., are of no interest to me. If you wish to know what my beliefs are (and those are the only ones I intend to defend here, and not the errors of Christendom), please see the main homepage at http://www.nccg.org.
Finally, a little personal background. I was born in Singapore, raised in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, educated at Oxford University, England, and am today a Christian minister living in Scandinavia. I am Anglo-Irish by descent though I regard myself as a 'Eurasian' in my way of being because of my upbringing in the East. I am able to understand both the Western and Eastern mindframes and am quite internationalist in my outlook. My vision of family and authority is Asian, my belief in free speech Western European. This may also help you understand the social lenses through which I view Islam.
I began life as an atheist, devoted most of my spare time during my university years and afterwards to studying comparative religion, and became a Christian in 1977. For my personal story, see, A Glimpse into Heaven. I was for a time interested in Buddhism and have spent much time studying Islam at the invitation of Muslim friends. I actively involve myself in Muslim Chat Rooms and Bulletin Boards on the Internet both to learn more about Islam and to share my own faith. My academic training is in Biochemistry, Information Technology, and Theology.
May I conclude this short introduction by welcoming you to a further investigation of Islam as revealed by its own writings, history, archaeology and sociology. The Muslim is enjoined by his religion to find common ground and I hope that we will be able to do that here.
This page was created on 23 March 2001
Updated on 23 March 2001
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