“… and thou will surely find the nearest of them in love to the believers are those who say, ‘We are Christians;’ that, because some of them are men devoted to learning and men who have renounced the world, and they wax not proud …” Qur’an 5:82
The people of Islam owe its existence to the kindness and generosity of Christians everywhere. Through the benevolent assistance of Christian nations, Muslims have been protected from their enemies. This was true in their prophet’s time and it is true in our present day. We ask that they have the courtesy to return the favor.
All Muslims know that it was an Abyssinian Christian king who provided sanctuary for Muhammad’s persecuted followers. Without the sympathy and refuge of Negus Aṣḥama ibn Abjar there would be no Islam today. There are modern examples, too: In 1979, the French GIGN commando unit provided vital aid to the Saudi Kingdom during the Grand Mosque siege. It was the Americans who spearheaded the 1991 liberation of Kuwait during the Iraqi invasion. A few years later, the Americans came to the aid of the Muslims once again in the Bosnia crisis and against the tyranny of Slobodan Milošević who persecuted the Muslims. These are all examples of Christian nations coming to the support of Muslims in their time of need.
It may be argued that the aforementioned scenarios, save Abyssinia, were secular governments helping Islam
with impure motives. We agree that these nations are Christian in name only, but the point is that the nations are influenced or have been historically influenced by a Christian, non-Muslim worldview. More to the point, we wonder where were the Muslim countries during these crises?
Christianity in Arabia has a rich history, going back to biblical times.
The New Testament writer, Luke, documents that men from Arabia were present at the great day of Pentecost and that the Gospel was heard by them in their own language [i].
The Apostle Paul tells us that he spent time in Arabia during the early years of his conversion [ii]. Undoubtedly he preached there and shared the Good News (الإنجيل) with those he encountered.
including the Banu Taghlib in Mesopotamia, the Banu ‘Abdu ‘l-Qais, the Banu Haris of Najran, Banu Ghassan, and other tribes between al-Medina and al-Kufah. The historian, Philostorgius[iii], wrote that an Indian bishop named Theophilus was sent by the Emperor Constance in A.D. 342 to the Himyarite king of Yemen, having obtained permission to build three churches for those who professed Christianity there [iv]. We are also told by Muslim authors that a Christian church was built at San’a.
Al-Baizawi and other Muslim commentators admit that Muhammad received Christian instruction from learned Christians named Jubra and Yasara [v]. If Muslim tradition can be trusted, we know Muhammad used to stop and listen to these two Christian scholars as they read aloud the Torah and the New Testament.
It should not go unnoticed that nearly all of the Qur’anic allusions to Christianity are contained in the Surahs revealed early in the prophet’s career while he was in Mecca. Christianity had a special place in Muhammad’s early life. Christian teaching could be found almost anywhere throughout the Arab peninsula.
From what has been said so far we conclude that 1) Both the Old and New Testament Scriptures were preached in Arabia at a very early date; 2) Churches sprung up throughout the Arabian peninsula; 3) Muhammad himself listened to and approved of the public reading of the Bible in Arabia.
Despite the fact that the Qur’an states positively that the Jewish and Christian Scriptures were given by divine inspiration, and that Muhammad himself attests that in the afterlife very terrible punishments await those who reject the Bible, we find that today’s Muslim leaders outright ban or hinder churches and the Bible from their countries. It was not always this way.
In theory, but not in practice, Islam accepts Christianity as a divinely-revealed religion. Protection of adherents of non-Muslim religions has been a legal principle from the very beginning of Islam. Christians under Muslim rule cannot be compelled to become Muslims. Their churches are not to be taken away from them. Christians are entitled to civil protection.
In former times, Islam did not persecute Christians, nor did Islam prevent Christians from advancing their faith. But times have changed. The Saudi regime does not permit churches in their midst. Unlike their prophet, Muhammad, the custodians of the holy mosque do not allow Christians to recite the Bible in the open square. In Sudan and Southern Egypt, once part of the very kingdom that protected the earliest Muslims, Christians are now viciously attacked and persecuted by Islam; the Muslim “protectors” do not come to their aid.
Leaders of Islamic countries: Tear down this wall! It is your duty as a Muslim authority to permit missionaries to preach the Gospel just as Muhammad allowed Christians to preach in Mecca and Medina in the past. Christian nations allow the Muslim sheiks vast freedoms to preach Islam throughout the West. You could have the decency to do the same. Why do you fear the Bible?
Today’s Muslim leaders may have forgotten their responsibility toward the Christians and do not share the attitude Muhammad had toward the Holy Bible. God will not forget or forgive the hypocrisies of today’s Muslim leaders. The hellfire awaits these evildoers.
[i] Acts 2:11
[ii] Galatians 1:17; According to F.F. Bruce, Paul was probably in Arabia sometime between 33-36 A.D.
[iii] Greek: Φιλοστοργιος; 368 – ca. 439 A.D.
[iv] The churches were built at Zafar, ‘Adan, and Hurmuz on the Persian Gulf
[v] See Al-Baizawi’s comments on Surah 16:105