Last week, Fox News posted a report that Heartsong Church in Cordova, Tenn., and Aldersgate United Methodist Church near Alexandria, Va., have made their church buildings available to Muslims to use as places of worship.
Critics of these outreach initiatives, such as Mike Huckabee, have been accused of ignorance. However, the contents of Muslim prayers and teachings about Isa, the Islamic Jesus, give reasonable grounds for churches to reject such arrangements.
A prominent element in Islamic daily prayers is the recitation of Al-Fatihah (the Opening), the first chapter of the Koran. Often described as a blessing, Al-Fatihah has a sting in its tail. After introductory praises, the final sentence of Al-Fatihah is a request for guidance “in the straight path” of Allah’s blessed ones, not the path “of those against whom You are wrathful, nor of those who are astray.”
Who are the ones who are said to be under Allah’s wrath or to have gone astray from his straight path? According to the revered commentator Ibn Kathir, Muhammad himself gave the answer: “Those who have earned the anger are the Jews, and those who are led astray are the Christians.”
Al-Fatihah is as central to Islamic devotion as the Lord’s Prayer is to Christians: It is recited at least 17 times a day as part of daily Muslim prayers. Yet according to Muhammad himself, this prayer, which is on the lips of every pious Muslim day and night, castigates Christians as misguided and Jews as objects of Allah’s wrath.
Another good reason for churches not to host Muslim worship, paradoxically, is their veneration of Isa, the Islamic Jesus.
Muslims venerate Jesus, but as a Muslim prophet. In the pages of the Koran, the disciples of the Muslim Jesus declare, “We are Muslims” (Sura 5:111). The Islamic Jesus is not the Christian Son of God, the divine suffering Savior who died on the cross for the sins of the world.
Certainly there are some similarities between Isa of the Koran and Jesus of the Gospels. The Koran calls Jesus “al-Masih” – the Messiah – and both figures are said to have been born of a virgin, to have performed miracles of healing and to have raised the dead. Yet here the similarities end. Isa of the Koran was not crucified and did not die but was raised up by Allah (Sura 4:157-158).
It is in Muhammad’s vision of the end times that the role of the Muslim Jesus comes into sharp focus. Muhammad taught that when Isa returns, he “will fight for the cause of Islam. He will break the cross, kill pigs, and abolish the poll tax. Allah will destroy all religions except Islam” (Sunan Abu Dawud 27:4310).
What does this saying mean? The cross is a symbol of Christianity. Breaking the cross means abolishing Christianity. According to Islamic law, the poll tax, or jizya, buys protection of the lives and property of Christians (and Jews). Abolishing this tax will mean that jihad will be restarted against Christians and no more protection shall be afforded to those who do not submit to Islam.
The Egyptian jurist Ahmad ibn Naqib stated in his compendium of Shariah, “The Reliance of the Traveller,” that the toleration of Christians living under Islamic law only applies “before the final descent of Jesus. … After his final coming, nothing but Islam will be accepted from them, for taking the poll tax is only effective until Jesus’ descent … for he will rule by the law of Muhammad … as a follower of our Prophet” (translation by Nuh Ha Mim Keller, pages 603-4).
In this end-times scenario, the Islamic Jesus becomes the ultimate destroyer of Christianity, when, by his sword, he compels all followers of the Christ of the Gospels to become Muslims and live in accordance with the Shariah of Muhammad.
Churches should not welcome into their buildings the veneration of Isa the Islamic Jesus, who, as a true Muslim, is intended to bring about the final, violent destruction of Christianity. By all means, let Christians show kindness to their Muslim neighbors, but the sentiments embedded in Islamic daily prayers, which curse Jews as the target of Allah’s wrath and Christians for going astray, can have no place in a Christian church – even if recited in the cadences of classical Arabic.
By Rev. Mark Durie, an Anglican priest and the author of Revelation: Do We Worship the Same God? and The Third Choice: Islam, Dhimmitude and Freedom.