Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Muslim: What You Need To Know About The World's Fastest-Growing Religion (2017) by Hank Hanegraaff, Book Review

I love this book! If you’re writing a novel, you don’t have to explain where you get your points - just use your imaginations. But if you want to write an important, fact-based and controversial book (yes, controversial. Our society is aggressive when talking about other religion, but when it come to theirs, they become too sensitive) like this, you have to show your references as much and accurate as possible. Hank dedicated 73 pages of notes and references. Why is this very important? Well, people like Zakir Naik may be very skillful in rhetoric but when it comes to facts, his points can be easily disapproved. Wordplay and imagination are for a novel, not intellectual discussion. But having said that, we have to admit that a book like this (or any books, as a matter of fact) is not free from personal biases. And so, you must be a little bit skeptical.

Many Muslims are peaceful and tolerant,” says Hank, who is the hosts of Bible Answer Man broadcast and the Hank Unplugged podcast, “however, the history of Islam demonstrates conclusively that it is not a peaceful and tolerant religion.” This is not an attack against individual believers but the religion itself. Perhaps for Islam, these two are inseparable, but we really need to make that distinction (for example, good Christians doesn’t mean that Christianity is true). By using acronym M.U.S.L.I.M. Hanks outlines six chapters of this book:

Chapter 1 - Muhammad: From Rags to Riches to Radicalization. Hanks chronicled briefly by quoting Al-Qur'an and early Muslim writings about Muhammad from his birth to prophethood to the conquests and wars and to the nature of his death. I want to give more details but since I’m aware of the examples of threats and intimidation in Malaysia, it is sufficient for me to say that based on these sources, it is not as it seems from popular media today. I would like to suggest you watch any of Robert Spencer’s YouTube videos on Muhammad (again, be aware of biases).

Chapter 2 - Unreliable Revelations: The Emperor Has No Clothes. When I investigated the validity of the Bible many years ago, I read lots of books, researches, and educational videos online from various sources and scholarly backgrounds. The Bible has gone through many criticisms, comparisons, and condemnations. And yet, it is still enduring and stands tall! The Qur'an, however, never been truly tested as such. There are lots of ‘amazing’ claims… but… the emperor has no clothes.

Chapter 3 - Sharia Is State, and State Is Sharia. This chapter is my favorite. Hanks writes, “Sharia or divine Islamic law embodies the will of God [Allah] for every aspect of society. As such, there is no real distinction between sharia and state.” There are lots of explanations about what is Sharia, one that I like in particular is from Dr. Yasir Qadhi, a Muslim preacher. Regardless of what’s good things they say about Sharia, we need to look at the glimpse of its implementation in Brunei, our neighbor. I let you make your own conclusion. A sale man can say anything about the product but the true measure of its effectiveness or not is when you apply it.

Chapter 4 - Levant: Crossroads of World History. Actually, in the beginning, I don’t know what does “Levant” even means! According to Wikipedia, the Levant is “a term in geography that refers to an area in the Middle East which includes the historic areas of Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, Israel, and Syria.” In the book, Hank discusses at length what is the significance of the Levant to Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Obviously, if you know about the Israel-Palestine conflict, you already taste the significance of the Levant to the Jews and (Arab) Muslims. Or think about the claim to Jerusalem and the Temple Mount today. For Christians, Hanks explains, “the Levant continues to have historical and archaeological significance but no longer fuels an eschatological mandate.”

Chapter 5 - Islamic State: Return of the Caliphate. This chapter is very scary. Islamic State (IS) is real and it has a mission to expand its caliphate. “Enduring and expanding.” Unlike previous Islamic Jihadist networks such as the Muslim Brotherhood or al-Qaeda, the IS is not solely dependent on wealthy donors (such as from Saudi Arabia, hello!) but from many other illicit sources. The message of IS is clear and consistent writes Hank, “We will return Islam to its glory days under the caliphate and rightly guided caliphs.” Most Muslims who are involved in the discussion in social media say terrorist groups such as ISI, ISIS, and ISIL are the product of FBI and CIA (maybe); and some say they are “not Islam” (maybe). But what if it is?

Chapter 6 - Major Muslim Misapprehensions. I’m most passionate about this chapter. Knowing or proving Islam is wrong doesn't mean Christianity is right. But by showing what our major differences are we can avoid the false assumption that ALL religions are the same. If we really want or aim to live in harmony, it is not enough for us to accept our differences, we must first know our differences. Hanks highlights that the teachings of Islam are either compromise or confuse or contradict these essential Christian D.O.C.T.R.I.N.E., namely, the Deity of Christ, the Original Sin, the divine Canon (a.k.a. The Bible), the concept of Trinity, the Resurrection of Christ, the Incarnation of Christ, the offer of New Creation in Christ, and the doctrine of Eschatology.  

Although I’m very pessimistic about Islam, I have to admit (together with Hank) that it is the world’s fastest-growing religion and soon - some say by 2070 - it will be the world’s largest religion. The most obvious reasons are the birth rate and migration. I think it is little to do with conversion. In fact, more Muslims are turning to Jesus all over the world. I love Muslim people and I long for them to come back Home to Abba Father, to be my brothers and sisters in Christ. Hey, we have the solution! The Gospel of Jesus Christ! Or as Os Guinness puts it (quote by Hank), “The power of the Gospel however dark the times.” Amen.

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I would like to suggest a series of powerful teachings by Jay Smith on Islam. CLICK LINKS below to watch the YouTube videos:

1) An Introduction to Islam in the West 
2) The Crisis of ISIS and Islamic Radicalism 
3) Muhammad: A Historical Critique P.1 
4) Muhammad: A Historical Critique P.2 
5) The Qur'an: A Historical Critique 
6) Yahweh vs Allah and The Insider Movement 

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