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Are American Muslims a threat to us?

Dr. Jim Denison is a cultural apologist who helps people respond biblically and redemptively to the vital issues of our day. He is also the co-founder and Chief Vision Officer of the Denison Forum, a Dallas-based nonprofit that comments on current issues through a biblical lens.

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Islamic Center of America, the largest mosque in the United States, located in Dearborn Michigan (Credit: Dane Hillard via Flickr)

As the tenth anniversary of 9/11 draws near, more and more people are asking if American Muslims are a threat to our nation.  According to a new study, 30% of Americans believe that Muslims in our country ultimately want to establish Shari’a (Islamic holy law) as the law of the land.  The number agreeing with this statement has grown by a third over the last eight months.  And we are evenly divided over whether the values of Islam are at odds with American values and our way of life (47% agree; 48% disagree, including nearly 60% of white evangelical Protestants).

Since the release of my latest book, Radical Islam: What You Need to Know, I have been interviewed by 17 radio stations on the subject.  Every one, without fail, has asked me if the 9/11 terrorists were following the true tenets of Islam.

The answer is not as simple as their question.  The Qur’an was given to Muhammad in three phases.  The first chapters were received while he was living in his hometown of Mecca (A.D. 610-22).  They are conciliatory in nature, containing these instructions: “Let there be no compulsion in religion” (2:256); “To you be your Way, and to me mine” (109:6).  The second phase occurred when Muhammad established the first Islamic community in Medina (A.D. 622), and encourages Muslims to defend themselves with statements such as, “Fight in the cause of God those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for God loveth not transgressors” (2:190).

Unfortunately, a third section of the Qur’an was written before Muhammad’s death.  Here he encouraged his people to initiate aggression against non-Muslims with statements such as, “Fight and slay the pagans wherever ye find them. . . . Fight those who believe not in God” (9:5, 29).

Here’s the intellectual argument raging in Islam: should Muslims interpret the earlier sections in light of later chapters, or should they view later teachings in light of the earlier chapters?  I have talked with Muslim imams who are convinced that the third section was intended for Muhammad’s day, as Islam was establishing itself, and that it must be understood through the prism of teachings that urge moderation and tolerance.  I have also talked with Muslims who argue just the opposite.

However we view Islam’s intentions for America, we can be clear about our Father’s intentions for Muslims.  He “wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4).  Every Muslim deserves to see God’s love in ours.  Have you prayed for Muslims in America to come to Christ as their Lord?  Have you asked the Father to use your witness as an answer to that prayer?

One of the ways God is redeeming 9/11 is by mobilizing his people to pray for Muslims the world over to know Christ.  More are responding to the gospel than ever before in history, many through visions and dreams of Jesus.  As we pray, the Spirit works.  Is he waiting on you this morning?