The Church of Ireland held a national in-service training day in Dublin in 2006
at which Chris Hewer spoke and later contributed the following paper to the
Church of Ireland Journal, June 2006. It serves as a useful first introduction to
Muslims never understand Islam as a new religion that began with the
revelation of the Qur’an to the Prophet Muhammad in the 7th century CE.
Rather, to understand Islam, we need to go back to the starting point of all
theology, that is the doctrine of God. According to Islamic understanding, God
is one, indivisible, eternal, transcendent, omniscient, and omnipotent (Q. 6:59,
34:22). God is like no other being and does not share divinity with any created
being or thing (Q. 112). Indeed the sin of shirk, that is to associate partners
with God, in the one sin that God will never forgive (Q. 4:48)….
Let me set you a challenge: how would you put together ten sessions to help
secular people with no concept of what religion entails to understand
Christianity? Where would you start? Let’s add to the question: what if the
people followed their own religion and so had some concept of what it is to “be
religious”? Would that make a difference? Finally, what if the people were
Jews or Muslims and so had a direct relationship to Christianity (and maybe
some misperceptions too!). What difference would that make? These questions
help to explore the kind of communication issue with which I have been
struggling for the last twenty years: how to help Christians understand Islam.