“Come to prayer. Come to well-being…”
This is a portion of the adhan, or the call to prayer. All around the world it is issued multiple times every day from the minarets of mosques calling Muslims to prayer.
Muslims. The word in Arabic means ‘those who submit.’ And “Muslim” (those who submit) is a good summary of what Islam claims to be, and understands itself to be. Muslims believe that Islam, rightly practiced, is nothing else thansubmission to the divine and benevolent will revealed in the life and person of the final prophet, Muhammad, and the book revealed to him, the Qur’an. The comprehensive collection of detailed instructions about the entirety of social and individual life is shari’a. Islam understands itself to be offering a comprehensive mode of life in harmony with the eternal and immutable divine will. The people who live according to this divine will should experience that well-being we hear of in the call of the minaret.
But the reality is that all around the Muslim world men and women are asking, “Where is the well-being? Where is that promised peace, prosperity, justice, triumph? Why is that Muslims living in shari’a nations or territories overwhelmingly want to migrate to the West where there is no shari’a (at least not yet)?”
This disappointment with Islam is driving unprecedented numbers of people to ask if there is another, better way. Some give up on God and religion altogether. But others want to find a way to know and live with God but without the Prophet’s sword and the Umma’s jihad.
And then they encounter Jesus Christ. They had already heard a few stories about him in the Qur’an: he was born of a virgin, he healed the sick, he had access to secret knowledge.
But then when they hear a sermon on satellite TV, when they find a website where they can read the Bible, when they make a Christian friend, when they travel abroad and wander into a church–something happens!
Recently I was in one of the largest Muslim-majority cities in the world and I was asked to provide a basic catechesis for the believers of the church. It was a small group, not more than a dozen people. Probably 80% of them had come from Muslim families. Afterwards I had the opportunity to chat with two young ladies who were college students. One was a new Christian, recently baptized. The other explained that one of her parents was a devout Muslim, the other an atheist.
She had been raised Muslim, but was searching. Her main concern was knowing how to live a good live. This is “the law written upon their hearts” of which St Paul speaks. We normally call this flawed compass a conscience. And flawed though it may be, it is from God, and as such can be a conduit of his grace. Which, I believe, was the case with this young woman. She didn’t find that well-being in her former worldview. But here she was seeking a new way. She wasn’t convinced yet, but maybe this Jesus could show her the way to a life of completeness, well-being, wholeness.
And that encounter was possible, humanly speaking, because of Anglican Frontier Missions (AFM). And AFM exists because of people like you–the ones who pray, go and give. Our mission is your mission. Some of us go to catechize in places like that. But others make it possible. And all over the world there are Muslims asking, “Where is the well-being? Where is the wholeness of life and harmony with man and God I was promised?” Millions of ex-Muslims have found (and continue to find) answers to these questions in Jesus Christ, Son of God, the Savior of the world.