Why This Book? Waking Up To The Islamic Revival
"Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy hill. Let all who live in the land tremble, for the day of the LORD is coming. It is close at hand – a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness. Like dawn spreading across the mountains a large and mighty army comes, such as never was of old nor ever will be in ages to come." Joel 2:1,2
In the days that we are now living, I believe that there are a handful of issues that God is trying to highlight to the West and specifically to the western Christian Church.
Yet sadly, even among those few who do seem to be hearing the trumpet blasts from heaven, there are even fewer who seem to be discerning what it is that they mean. The signs are now literally emblazoned across the front page of the newspapers almost daily, yet few seem to understand where these signs are pointing. It is my hope that this book will contribute to opening the eyes of many to the times that are quickly approaching. Beyond this, my prayer is that this book will add understanding to those whose spirits are already both watchful and discerning.
More End-Times Nonsense?
Before we begin, I need to identify what type of attitude yours is towards the study of end-time issues. If you are someone who is cynical regarding this type of study, then I want to ask you to do something before you continue. I want you to read the Appendix first. The Appendix explains why I believe that eschatology is a necessary aspect of the normative Christian life. If you are unsure of the necessity to fully embrace biblical eschatology, then please read the Appendix first and when you are done, then come back here. If you are already someone who is quite interested in the study of eschatology then please proceed from this point.
The Prevailing Ignorance
This book is first and foremost a study of Islamic eschatology (end time belief) and those specific Islamic doctrines and practices that seem to correlate in quite an astonishing way to the biblical descriptions and prophecies of the last-days. As a result, I find myself presented with the interesting challenge of introducing much of the readership to more than one subject that most people are largely uninformed of. Certainly most people have some vague ideas about what the Bible says about the "last-days" – the difficult times that will encompass the earth, the plagues, the ecological disasters, the eventual return of Jesus. But even many Christians – those who read the Bible regularly – are not exactly sure what they believe about many of the specifics of the last-days. And if it can be said that ignorance of biblical eschatology is common, then consider how many people – particularly in the West – have any knowledge at all about what Islam teaches about the Last-days. Some Christians are aware of the fact that in Islam, like Christianity, there is also an expectation that Jesus is going to return to the earth from Heaven. This excites most Christians who see this as an opportunity to build bridges of dialogue between Christians and Muslims. Indeed, the return of Jesus can be a good starting point for such interfaith dialogue. Unfortunately though, beyond this one point, most Christians generally understand very little about the Islamic end-time perspective, or Jesus’ return, or indeed about the nature of who the "Islamic Jesus" really is. Certainly many Christians who live or minister among Muslims may have some understanding of these issues, but this understanding has certainly not been conveyed to the Church on a broader scale. It is time for this startling information to be released to the non-Muslim world. This study represents the first comprehensive popular study of Islamic eschatology as it relates to biblical eschatology. But beyond a mere academic or theological study, this book is also a wake up call. It is a call for many to realize the degree to which the future of the Christian Church – indeed, the future of the entire world – and the future of Islam are divinely and directly interconnected.
Through this study, which presents an introductory overview of both biblical and Islamic eschatology, a much clearer picture of the future will emerge. The overlapping of beliefs in the two systems and the ways that Islamic eschatology reinforces Christian eschatology is both astonishing and even downright eerie. I believe that this study will help the reader gain significant insight into the nature of the last-days and help many to begin to see and understand the direction that the world is heading at ever increasing speeds. This leads us to the most obvious reason to take notice of Islam; its dramatic and rapid growth and its present worldwide revival.
The Islamic Revival
The clearest reason to study and understand Islam and specifically Islamic eschatology is quite simply because Islam is the future. Yes, you read that correctly: Islam is the future. If present trends do not change dramatically, Islam will bypass Christianity for the title of the world’s largest religion very shortly. In fact, according to most statistics, this may take place in less than twenty years. A majority who read this book will live to see this. Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world, growing at a rate four times faster than Christianity. 1 Presently those who practice Islam make up approximately one fifth of the world’s population. One seasoned Bible teacher from England after reviewing the statistics recently commented that, "if present trends continue, half of all global births will be in Muslim families by the year 2055". 2 Something dramatic and revolutionary is happening right before our eyes, and most western Christians are oblivious to it. The purpose of this chapter is to inform the reader about the rapid growth of Islam. The picture that is about to be painted may surprise some people. Some may be confused. Some may even deny it, but it is the truth and it needs to be told. Even by itself, the growth and spread of Islam is a powerful wake up call to all Christians.
Not only is Islam the fasting growing religion in the world, but also in the United States, Canada and Europe. 3 The annual growth rate of Islam in the US is approximately 4%, but there are also strong reasons to believe that it may have risen to as high as 8% over the past few years. Every year, tens of thousands of Americans convert to Islam. Prior to 2001 most reports seem to have the number roughly around 25,000 American converts per year. 4 This may not sound like that much, but this yearly figure according to some Muslim American clerics has quadrupled since 9-11. 5 Since 9-11 the numbers of American converts to Islam has skyrocketed. As early as one month after the World Trade Center attacks, the reports were flowing in from Mosques all over America. Ala Bayumi, the Director of Arab affairs at the Council for American Islamic Relations (CAIR) on November 11, 2001, in the London daily newspaper, Al-Hayat said this:
Non-Muslim Americans are now interested in getting to know Islam. There are a number of signs… Libraries have run out of books on Islam… English translations of the Koran head the American best-seller list… The Americans are showing increasing willingness to convert to Islam since September 11… Thousands of non-Muslim Americans have responded to invitations to visit mosques, resembling the waves of the sea crashing on the shore one after another…6
After testifying to the dramatic strides that Islam had taken as a result of the 9-11 attacks, Bayumi goes on to say that:
Proselytizing in the name of Allah has not been undermined, and has not been set back 50 years, as we thought in the first days after September 11. On the contrary, the 11 days that have passed are like 11 years in the history of proselytizing in the name of Allah. 7
In an article from the British newspaper, The Times of London, January 7, 2002 just four months after 9-11 we read:
There is compelling anecdotal evidence of a surge in conversions to Islam since September 11, not just in Britain, but across Europe and America. One Dutch Islamic centre claims a tenfold increase, while the New Muslims Project, based in Leicester, [England] and run by a former Irish Roman Catholic housewife, reports a "steady stream" of new converts. 8
And at the time of this writing in late 2004, this phenomenon does not seem to be waning. I recently asked a Muslim acquaintance how many Americans he has witnessed convert to Islam in just the past year. He explained that he has personally participated in at least one hundred conversion ceremonies in the past year alone. I have similarly asked dozens of American Muslims if they have witnessed a dramatic increase in conversions to Islam since 9-11 and the answer every time has been a resounding yes. Newer official data is difficult to come by and analyze for more than one reason. First of all, very few comprehensive studies have been done since 9-11; most studies seem to have been done just prior to 2001. Also, since 9-11, many American Muslims are very hesitant to give information away to pollsters who come to the Mosques. There is a widespread suspicion among the Muslim community that pollsters are merely gathering information for the United States Homeland Security Administration or the FBI. Most converts wish to remain relatively anonymous. But from my own personal, albeit anecdotal, experiences, I have talked to many American converts to Islam who have converted since 9-11.
But here’s the other sad aspect of these figures: Over 80% of these American converts to Islam were raised in a Christian Church. 9 If the higher figures of conversion are accurate, that would mean that as many as 60,000 Americans, who were raised in Christian homes, are converting to Islam annually. I have one acquaintance who, although he was a pastor’s son raised in a deeply religious and traditional Christian family, nevertheless converted to Islam in college. I have read numerous testimonies of priests, missionaries, divinity students, and normal everyday Christians who have converted to Islam. Some are even self-described former "spirit filled Christians". Some may object that this is impossible. If this is the case, some might object, then why aren’t these statistics more widely known? You may be wondering why you do not personally know anyone who has converted. There are easy answers to these questions. One of the primary reasons that these trends have gone largely unnoticed is that most American Muslims are concentrated in the larger metropolitan centers. The greater Chicago metropolitan area for instance is home to well over 350,000 Muslims. Greater New York City has twice that with over 700,000 Muslims. 10 The other important statistic that sheds light on why this issue isn’t more commonly discussed in many white American churches is sadly because 85% of American converts to Islam are African-American. White Christian America has not nearly been as impacted by this phenomenon as African-Americans have. It is a very sad commentary on the discontinuity and disunity of the American Church. Islam is absolutely sweeping through the inner cities. One Muslim authority estimates that by the year 2020 most American urban centers will be predominantly Muslim. 11 But as the number of conversions increases, the face of the Muslim convert is changing as well. Shortly after 9-11, National Public Radio did a special on Islam and those who had converted after 9-11:
One of the most important topics [in an NPR broadcast] was an interview with several young women at American universities who recently converted to Islam through the Islamic Society of Boston. They hold advanced degrees from universities in Boston, such as Harvard, and they spoke of the power and the greatness of Islam, of the elevated status of women in Islam, and of why they converted to Islam. The program was broadcast several times across the entire U.S…12
From an article in The New York Times, October 22, 2001, we read a portion of Jim Hacking’s story:
Nine years ago, Jim Hacking was in training to be a Jesuit priest. Now, he is an admiralty lawyer in St. Louis who has spent much of the last month explaining Islam at interfaith gatherings… He made the Shahadah [Muslim Conversion ceremony] on June 6, 1998. "The thing I’ve always latched to is that there’s one God, he doesn’t have equals, he doesn’t need a son to come do his work," (emphasis mine) 13
A typical testimony of a former Christian convert reads:
As a child, Jennifer Harrell attended church and Sunday school. In high school, she was on the drill team and dated a football player. After college, she became a Methodist youth minister. At age 23, she became a single parent. At age 26, she became a Muslim. "I grew up in Plano doing all the things I thought I was supposed to do," said Ms. Harrell, 29, of Dallas. "I went to church. I went to parties. But I wasn’t concerned about heaven or hell. I took it all for granted." Eventually, she took a job in sales, where she was introduced to Islam by Muslim co-workers. One of them loved to debate religion, which stirred Ms. Harrell to rethink her Christian faith. She studied the Bible, but also Islam in order to do a better job of defending her faith. Instead, she became intrigued that Muslims prayed five times a day, fasted and gave alms as a way of life. "I wasn’t the type of Christian who prayed every morning," she said. She said Muslim beliefs about Jesus made more sense to her because they revere him as a prophet and not God’s son. "When I was a Christian, I never understood why Jesus had to die for my sins," Ms. Harrell said. "I mean, they’re my sins." Before becoming a Muslim, she visited a Christian minister. She said she asked why Christians ate pork, why women didn’t cover their heads in church, and why Christians dated. "I wanted him to defend the Bible," she said. "I gave him everything that I had found wrong with Christian interpretation." His answers didn’t satisfy her.14
Stories like Jim Hacking’s and Jennifer Harrell’s are legion. I have probably read a hundred such stories.
A New Monotheistic Option
In the past whenever most westerners have decided that they believe in a personal God and have made a decision to make this new faith a primary aspect of their lives, they usually have found the expression for their faith in a Christian church. As Islam spreads in the West, many are realizing that Christianity is not the only monotheistic option available to them. Sadly, many are choosing Islam instead of Christianity. David Pawson, a prominent Bible teacher from England recalls the experience of one of his friends:
A Christian friend of mine is a counselor in a state school. He was delighted when a boy he was trying to help find a purpose in life told him he had become convinced that there was a personal God in whom he could believe. To his surprise and disappointment this English boy told him some weeks later that he had become a Muslim. He was one of many thousands who had made the same choice.15
As Islam grows in the West, this story is sure to be repeated many times.
A Warning For England
In David Pawson’s most recent book, Islam’s Challenge to Christians, Pawson sounds what may very well be a genuine prophetic warning not only to England but also to the entire western Church. Pawson, a well-seasoned and well-respected leader in the Church in England recounts a recent experience he had while listening to well-known authority on Islam, Patrick Sookhdeo give a lecture. If a leader of less qualification than David Pawson made the following statement, then it is possible that it would go entirely unnoticed, but instead, we should all be very sobered by what David experienced:
In the middle of his talk, both unexpected and unrelated to its contents, I was suddenly overwhelmed with what could be described as a premonition that Islam will take over this country. (England) I recall sitting there stunned and even shaking. We were not just listening to an interesting lecture about a religion and culture, which others believed and practiced. We were hearing about our future! 16
In the rest of the book, Pawson walks through what he feels are some proper Christian responses to his prediction. Pawson’s recommended course of action includes three primary components: Reality, Relationship and Righteousness. I will not endeavor to expound on these three issues, as Pawson has already done so with conviction. Of course, Pawson’s warning has proven to be highly controversial throughout the Church in England. The real question however, in the opinion of this author, isn’t really whether Pawson’s warning will come to pass or not, but rather: Will the Church in England choose to implement Pawson’s recommended plan of response? This remains to be seen.
Balancing The Facts
Now the point here is not to paint an overly dismal picture. It also needs to be pointed out that Muslims are also converting to Christianity all over the world. Many Muslims will make the claim repeatedly that no Muslim ever leaves Islam. This claim is refuted without much effort. One Muslim Sheikh recently claimed that in Africa alone, there are over six million Muslim converts to Christianity annually. That would break down to about 667 an hour, or 16,000 a day. From January of 2003 to the middle of 2004, the ministry of German Evangelist Reinhardt Bonke has seen over ten million Africans make decisions to follow Jesus. A large percentage of those who made these decisions were Muslims. In fact, Muslims from all over the world are making decisions to become followers of Jesus. 17 Many of these decisions are made following a spiritual dream or a vision. 18 There are many wonderful and powerful testimonies of the goodness of God in the lives of Muslims coming to know Jesus. I believe with all my heart that the Middle East will see a revival of Muslims coming to a biblical faith in Jesus. Christianity in Latin America, Asia and Africa is now experiencing what can only be called revival. But this does not negate the fact that the growth of Islam is still much faster than that of Christianity, not only in America, Canada, England and Europe, but worldwide. Now, it must be stated here that much of the reason for the faster growth of Islam is simply higher birth rates among Muslims. Muslims are just having far more children than Christians. The growth of Islam does not find its primary source from conversions. But again, despite the reasons for its growth, it is nevertheless growing and spreading faster than Christianity. The simple fact of the matter is that we as the western Church have completely missed the undeniable worldwide significance of Islam.
For now, the point that needs to be emphasized is that the beliefs of the world’s second largest and fastest growing religion should matter to us. This is especially true in light of Islam’s potential to soon become the world’s largest religion. A fair prediction is that if the time comes when Islam indeed does bypass Christianity as the world’s largest religion, or even as it merely begins to draw closer to that point, there will be a tipping pointwhereby the rate of growth will increase exponentially. Bandwagon conversions and confusion among faithful Christians will be the rule of the day. We cannot underestimate the power of a worldwide trend. Indeed one of the primary aspects of the last-days is what the Bible calls the "great apostasy," which will be a significant global falling away from the Christian faith. While Islam now exists as an insecure religion wrestling with why Allah has allowed Islam to remain an inferior presence in the earth compared to Christianity, the days will likewise come for Christians, when they too will have to wrestle with why God has allowed Islam to bypass Christianity in terms of both growth and influence. This could begin to happen as soon as fifteen years from now. It could be sooner. I sincerely hope that this is not the case, but at present, there are very little indicators to suggest otherwise. The only hope for a turnaround in this trend would be a significant full-scale worldwide revival; the kind of revival that until now has never been seen. But for now, as the trend is just beginning in America, it is time to become informed and prepared for what promises to be the Church’s greatest challenge ever. As I said earlier, Islam is the future (albeit only temporarily so). It is time for the Church to face reality. As Brother Andrew, the man who became so well known for smuggling bibles past the iron curtain, as told in the modern Christian classic, God’s Smuggler, said as early as 1994, "What Communism was to the twentieth century, Islam will be for the next one hundred years." 19
So maybe you now agree that it is important to become informed regarding Islam, but you may be wondering why it is important to understand Islamic eschatology specifically. It’s a good question. Please think through some of these points carefully: The Bible makes it clear that the Devil’s primary plan for the last-days has been for the past few thousand years, to raise up two men, the Antichrist and the False Prophet, as his primary instruments to deceive the inhabitants of the earth. How do you suppose that Satan has planned to include the world’s 1.3 billion Muslims in his grand end-time deception? Did Satan fail to foresee and strategize regarding the global spread of Islam? Or has Satan included the Muslims of the world in his end-time strategy? Will Islam, the world’s third monotheistic religion, also undergo the persecution of Satan along with Christians and Jews as they all resist the Antichrist together? Or will Islam – the religion that prides itself in resisting any form of idolatry – simply submit to a demonic and false religious leader without putting up any real fight? For years, I questioned the Lord about these issues. In time, as my knowledge of Islam deepened, the answers to my questions became very clear. This book is my attempt to share with you what I have learned. I understand that this may sound like a strong statement to make, but I believe that the information presented in this book will establish the fact that Islam is indeed the primary vehicle that will be used by Satan to fulfill the prophecies of the Bible about the future political/religious/military system of the Antichrist that will overwhelm the entire world just prior to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
- David Pawson, The Challenge of Islam to Christians (London, Hodder and Stoughton, 2003), p. 11
- Bruce a. Mcdowell and Anees Zaka, Muslims and Christians at The Table (Phillipsburg, P& R Publishing, 1999), p. 6
- New York Times, October 22, 2001, Jodi Wilgoren, Islam Attracts Converts by the Thousands, Drawn Before and After Attacks,
- Al-Hayat Newspaper (London), November 12, 2001, as quoted in Middle East Media & Research Institute, November 16, 2001, Muslim American Leaders: A Wave of Conversion to Islam in the U.S. Following September 11
- Al-Ahram Al-Arabi (Egypt), October 20, 2001, as quoted in Middle East Media & Research Institute, November 16, 2001, Muslim American Leaders: A Wave of Conversion to Islam in the U.S. Following September 11
- The Times, (UK) January 7 2002, Giles Whittell,Allah Came Knocking At My Heart
- Mcdowell, Zaka, p. 6
- ibid. p. 6
- ibid. p. 7
- Middle East Media & Research Institute, November 16, 2001, Muslim American Leaders: A Wave of Conversion to Islam in the U.S. Following September 11
- New York Times, October 22, 2001, Jodi Wilgoren, Islam Attracts Converts by the Thousands, Drawn Before and After Attacks
- The Dallas Morning News – November 3, 2001, Susan Hogan,
- Pawson, p. 36
- ibid. 6,7
- Al-Jazeera,December 12, 2000, Christianization in Africa
http://www.aljazeera.net/programs/shareea/articles/2000/12/12-12-6.htm. English translation see: http://www.islamreview.com/articles/fastdemiseprint.htm
- Brother Andrew, Light Force, (Grand Rapids, Fleming H. Revell, 2004), p.140
© 2009 – 2011, Matt. All rights reserved.