Almost five years ago I interviewed Abu Daoud, the legendary Anglican missionary and scholar on Islam. (You can see Part 1 and Part 2 of that interview.) Well, praise be to Allah, he’s emerged from the shadows with a book entitled Sharing Jesus with Muslims in America. This interview was conducted at an undisclosed location.
- What was your primary motivation in writing Sharing Jesus with Muslims in America?
I was speaking with a colleague in South Asia some time ago and we were both disheartened about our experiences when speaking in American churches. We felt like the churches of the USA needed a solid, easy-to-read, practical book on sharing the Gospel with local Muslims. So he, a Baptist missionary, and I, an Anglican, worked together on this.
For security reasons I could not use my birth name on the book, and he decided not to be listed as an author at all. Between the two of us you have over three decades of cross-cultural ministry experience though. I decided to use the name Abu Daoud since I’ve been using that name with my blog and other publications (also here) for a long time.
There is a great deal of material on Islam aimed at a Christian audience. Is it useful in helping people share their faith with Muslims? Why or why not?
You are right that there is a huge amount of material out there. Unfortunately, most of it falls into one of two errors. The first is to overemphasize the commonalities between Islam and Christianity, and suggest that an authentic conversion to a whole new way of life is not needed. The second is to tell you all the nasty stuff about Islam (and trust me, I know that stuff). But knowing everything wrong with Islam doesn’t really prepare you to actually do something positive about Islam—which is to share the Gospel with them.
- What sets your book apart from others?
This book has a hopeful voice. The book is a quick and easy read, and we’ve received very positive feedback so far. Christians in the USA are often not sure what to make of our quickly growing Muslim population. And guess what, it ain’t gonna stop growing! We give a gospel-centered, confident approach that will help individual Christians share Jesus in the context of personal friendship. We also have a whole chapter on what churches can do to reach out to local Muslim populations.
- What kind of education or training do Christians need to help them share their faith with Muslims?
Let me be clear, you don’t need to know anything at all beyond your own Christian faith. That having been said, it really is good to have some basic knowledge about Islamic cultures, societies, and the Qur’anic worldview, and how Muslims in general are trained to respond to Christianity. There’s no magic formula of course, but for such a brief book you get a lot of down-to-earth, practical pointers.
- How do you recommend Christians approach the Qur’an? Can it be used to help share the gospel with Muslims?
This is a good question. Personally, I am clear with my Muslims friends that I don’t believe in the Qur’an, but if we can use the Qur’an to begin a conversation about Scripture, then why not?
- Islam is frequently characterised as a monolith, and yet the Islamic world is diverse. How do you recommend that Christians and their churches deal with that?
This book has a full chapter on how churches that can engage with the local Muslim populations in their cities, and my first recommendation is do your research. Where are they from? There is a big difference between a Pakistani Ahmadi community and an Egyptian Sunni community and an Iranian Shi’a community, of course. Read up on the history of the people, their form of Islam, check out the world news websites about their home country. All of these things will help you to build credibility with them and communicate better.
- How should Christians accommodate the cultures Muslims come out of to aid them in sharing the gospel?
Ultimately we’re working towards evangelizing and sanctifying entire cultures. What does it look like for Yemeni culture to know Christ? What does it look like for Libyan culture to be baptized and sanctified? The challenge is that these cultures are so inextricably intertwined with Islam that it is hard to know where Islam ends and a given culture begins. All of this to say, it is a lengthy, hard work, and we should not expect to be able to answer the question in the lifespan of a single generation of believers. Use Scripture, draw on your own denominational tradition, and be patient as new believers stumble along by the grace of God figuring out how to construct a new convert identity in Christ and his Church.
- What is the single most important thing that Christians need to do when interacting with Muslims with the object of effectively sharing their faith?
I’m torn between two things: First, model it. Second, ask questions.
- If a Muslim does come to Christ, what should the church do to help them in their new life?
The church needs to provide them with a new family. That is hard to hear, but once they embrace Christ it is likely that their whole family and community will reject them. They are all alone in the world. They will need a new family and to build up a new identity.
- What are you doing now? How has that changed since the last interview?
I have been thinking a lot about the word impact lately. So I’m investing a lot of my time and energy right now in teaching local churches in the West and the Muslim world too about how to engage in this ministry. This book comes from that desire for impact. I’m also helping to train workers and mobilizing people for long term mission. Also a number of writing projects.