Engaging Muslims in conversations about faith

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Many Christians feel that they don't know where to start in conversations about faith with their Muslim friends. They feel that they don't know enough about Islam to really have a conversation. Or they may be afraid of upsetting or offending their Muslim friend by saying the wrong thing.

In fact, most Muslims will be glad to talk about their faith and will welcome a conversation on the subject. Their faith is important to them, and they are usually unashamed of it. You really don't need to know a lot about Islam to engage Muslims in conversations about faith. It is no shame or embarrassment to admit that you don't know very much about Islam. Most Muslims will not expect you to be well-versed in Islamic teaching and will be keen to explain it to you.

In order to engage in meaningful conversations you need to show that you respect and appreciate your friend. Since you are already friends, they will already know this. The Bible advises us to explain about our faith "with gentleness and respect." (1 Pet 3:15). These things are a matter of attitude. You are not aiming to show how clever you are, or how wrong they are, you are aiming to gently explain why Christianity is true.

At the same time, Paul explains that, "We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God" (2 Cor 10:5). The fact is that Islam does set itself up against the knowledge of the true God. The arguments in defence of Islam do need to be destroyed. Mohammad was not a prophet. Salvation is only found through Jesus. Yet, all this can be done gently and respectfully, without compromise.

Conversations usually begin with questions. It is not difficult to ask questions of your Muslim friends. A simple question that requires no knowledge and can help to start a fruitful conversation about faith is: "How did you become a Muslim?" The vast majority of Muslims will not have a conversion story to share. They are Muslims because of their culture or their upbringing. This question may open the door for you to share your own story about how you became a Christian.

Another suggested question is: "What made you decide Islam is true?" In asking this you must be prepared to answer how you decided that Christianity is true. You will learn about what assessment they have made about the truth claims of Islam and what things are important in their beliefs. You are gently probing and pointing out that truth matters, and that Christianity and Islam cannot both be true.

Another way to start a conversation could be to ask what your friend thinks Christians believe. This is helpful because many Muslims have misconceptions about Christianity. Because Islam is largely a cultural religion, they think that this applies to Christianity too. Because Muslims must try to be good enough for Allah, they think Christians are trying to be good enough for God. You will be able to gently correct any misconceptions and explain what Christians really believe. What a privilege it is to be the person who first explains to someone the essence of the gospel!

Don't expect quick results. Muslims are usually deeply attached to their faith which is a very significant part of their life and culture. Most of their friends and relatives will be Muslims. He or she could face ostracization for leaving the faith. Even if they have doubts about Islam and are attracted to Christianity, it will not be an easy decision to leave Islam. Even going to church will be difficult. Don't forget this is a spiritual battle. Much prayer is needed. You can only do your part, but you can ask God to play his part and to do what only he can do!

On that note, why not offer to pray for your friend in person? Most Muslims will welcome prayer from a friend. Like all of us, they will have concerns or needs that are bothering them. Maybe there is a need for healing. Always pray in the name of Jesus. You might be surprised to see what God does! Praying in person demonstrates the reality of your faith and many Muslims will be touched by the offer and may sense God's presence as you pray. Do also promise to keep praying in private – and keep the promise!

Engaging Muslims in conversations about faith is an exciting adventure. You have the opportunity to be an ambassador for the King of Kings. You represent the gospel and can share the message of salvation by grace through faith. If you love your friend, you will want him or her to experience the love and forgiveness and salvation that Jesus paid the price for.

Pray for opportunities to share about your faith with Muslims. Then expect God to answer those prayers and provide them. A little thinking ahead of time about the kinds of questions you might ask will help. As the Bible says: "Always be ready" (1 Pet 3:15). Take each opportunity as it comes. The more we engage in conversations about faith with our Muslim friends, the more conversions we will see.

Tim Dieppe is co-author with Beth Peltola of Questions to Ask Your Muslim Friends, published by Wilberforce Publications, 2022.