Yesterday:Islam, U.S.A. | Are Christians prepared for Muslims in the mainstream?
God-fearing Muslims from every corner of the earth are moving into American neighborhoods. Are we ready to welcome them and tell them the truth about Jesus? This week at ChristianityToday.com, we take a look at the basics of Islam and how Muslims view Christianity, helpful models for relating to Muslims, and how to engage our Muslim neighbors boldly and lovingly.Despite Islam's diversity throughout its history, the role of the Prophet Muhammad and the place of the Qur'an have remained unchallenged.
The role of Muhammad.
For Muslims, Muhammad is the last and greatest of the Prophets, surpassing Jesus. He was born in A.D. 570 in Mecca (in what is today Saudi Arabia). Mecca's heart of worship at the time was the local Ka'bah (shrine), or the Black Stone, and its numerous idols. According to Islamic tradition, Abraham's firstborn son Ishmael and Ishmael's mother Hagar, after being banished by Sarah, ended up in the desert surrounding Mecca, where they were miraculously rescued. Abraham—or Ibrahim, as he is known in Arabic—visited them there and he and Ishmael built the Ka'bah. Muslims believe they are the true heirs, through Ishmael, to the promise God made to Abraham. Jesus and Mary were among the many images—in addition to the goddesses of fertility and power—worshiped at the Ka'bah during Muhammad's day.Muhammad learned about "the People of the Book"—Jews and Christians—in his youth. He felt troubled that his own people, the Arabs, did not have a book of their own. As he reflected despondently on this one day in a cave on Mount Hira (in A.D. 609 or 610), Muhammad said, the angel Gabriel appeared to him: "Recite: In the Name of thy Lord who created ...