Islamic Garden

Islamic Garden
Islamic Garden in Lausanne, Switzerland

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Cross and The Crescent

Phil Parshall is one of the leading authorities on ministry to Muslims. He has lived among Muslims since 1962, first with the International Christian Fellowship (Now SIM) in Bangladesh and most recently in the Philippines. His book "The Cross and the Crescent - Understanding the Muslim Heart and Mind" aspires to inform and educate Christians about Islam so that they can minister to them. Despite this agenda, Parshall does manage to capture the essence of Islam:

"Millions of Muslims have testified to the impact of the Quran on their lives. My intimate Muslim friend, Dr. Ali, about whom I have written in previous books, has testified to a life-changing experience when he began to read the Quran in his own language. Reading and reciting Scripture in Arabic, which he did not understand, made minimal impression on his daily life. But when he was able to comprehend the teachings of Allah, his life was brought to a full point of dedication. Even though he is a busy layman, he still finds time to search the Quran for guidance.

An experience like the following is not at all uncommon in the Muslim world:

They waited now with emotion for that old voice, melodious and worn with age, to utter the opening strophes of the Holy Book, and there was nothing feigned in the adoring attention of the circle of faces. Some licked their lips and leaned forward eagerly, as if to take the phrases upon their lips: others lowered their heads and closed their eyes as if against a new experience in music. The old preacher sat with his waxen hands folded in his lap and uttered the first Sura, full of the soft, warm coloring of a familiar understanding, his voice a little shaky at first, but gathering power and assurance from the silence as he proceeded. His eyes now were as wide and lusterless as a dead hare's. His listeners followed the notation of the verses as they fell from his lips with care and rapture, gradually seeking their way together as they fell from and into the main stream of the poetry like a school of fish following a leader by instinct out into the deep sea (Durrell 1958, 256).

It may be of interest to note that John 3:16 is not the most frequently quoted Scripture in the world. The above-mentioned first Sura of the Quran holds that distinction. Five times a day Muslims bow in prayer while facing Mecca and recite these first words of the Quran:

Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds,
The Beneficent, the Merciful.
Owner of the Day of Judgment,
Thee (alone) we worship; Thee (alone) we ask for help.
Show us the straight path,
The path of those whom Thou has favored;
Not (the path) of those who earn Thine anger
nor of those who go astray." (2002, pp. 61-62).

~Excerpted from "The Cross and the Crescent - Understanding the Muslim Heart and Mind" by Dr. Phil Parshall, who holds a doctorate from Fuller Seminary and has had fellowships with Harvard and Yale universities.

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