5 Pillars: The Muslim Profession of Faith

What are the Five Pillars of Islam?

The five pillars of Islam summarize the daily obedience required of Muslims. Islam teaches that this is how obedience to Allah should show itself in the lives of true Muslims. The concepts of who God is and how he should be worshipped is believed to be found in the teachings of Muhammad. Even at a quick glance, it’s easy to see how obedience to God influences the daily lives of Muslims.

  1. Profession of Faith (shahadah)
  2. Prayer (salat)
  3. Alms (zakat)
  4. Fasting (sawm)
  5. Pilgrimage (hajj)

We’ll take one day to interact with each of the pillars from a biblical perspective. As followers of Christ, our goal must be to love Muslims, and respect their sincerity, but trust the Bible as the final Word of God and pray for their repentance and salvation through Jesus.

Profession of Faith (Shahadah)

“There is no God but God, and Muhammad is his prophet.”

The Shahadah is the one key thing required for someone to convert to Islam. And, it must be recited with utmost sincerity of heart three times, in Arabic. Muslim families traditionally say the Shahadah together, teaching their children the profession in the original Arabic tongue. Someone raised in the teachings of Islam will hold the Shahada in the highest regard—it summarizes the belief of Islam in one, bold sentence.

As one of the Abrahamic religions (along with Judaism and Christianity), Islam recognizes many of the Old Testament figures. It teaches that Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad are all distinguished prophets. But, they hold Muhammad as the last and greatest prophet.

What Does the Bible Teach?

“For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.” (1 Timothy 2:5–6)

Keith Whitfield (SEBTS) speaks directly to the Muslim profession of faith in Islam and North America, a fantastic book that is worth a read by any Christian seeking to better understand and love Muslims with the Gospel.

“Christians affirm that there is one God, and that Jesus is the eternal, divine Son of God who is equal with His Father in every way. Muslims affirm that there is only one divine person. Thus, they claim that Christians worship not one God, but three gods. Muslims also teach that Muhammad has a unique authoritative role as the final prophet of Allah. Christianity teaches that Jesus is the last Word from God (Hebrews 1:2).” – Keith Whitfield

The God of love.

Yes, there is one God…and only one God. But Islam completely misses the identity of who that God is. Jesus said in John 14:9, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” Muslims don’t follow the same God, because they have denied Christ. In denying Christ, they have missed out on some of the most loving qualities of the one true God. The only way Allah can be worshipped, in their understanding, is by human obedience. And, sadly, they truly believe that works-based righteousness is enough to carry them into paradise.

There is simply no replacement for the all-powerful, completely unified, holy, sacrificial, loving, and unchanging God of Christianity. The God of the Bible is simultaneously just and gracious because He humbled Himself by coming to the cross and paying the sin debt that we could not pay.

“In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:9–10)

Jesus is more than a messenger.

“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

Muhammad isn’t mentioned in the Bible, because he wasn’t born until A.D. 570, roughly 500 years after books of Scripture were written. Christianity teaches that the Bible was finalized, closed, and confirmed as true. We aren’t waiting and looking for another prophet to come, because we now have the Helper. The Holy Spirit dwells in the heart of every believer, making us sons and daughters of the King and growing us daily in holiness (John 14:16, 26; 15:26).

There are several key instances in Scripture where the Trinitarian nature of God is clearly on display. Here are a few highlights we need to rest our faith in:

Creation – The Trinitarian God initiated the creation of man, in their own collective image (Genesis 1:26). Likewise, Paul taught of the “beloved Son”: “all things were created through Him and for Him…and in Him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:13-19).

Jesus’ birth – Matthew 1:18-25 teaches us (and Muslims affirm) that Jesus was born of a virgin. While Islam has no understanding or explanation of the Holy Spirit, it is clear that Jesus is God incarnate — Emmanuel (God with us). Normal people are born with a biological father and mother. Even the physical reality of Jesus’ birth points to His deity.

Jesus’ baptism – It’s no surprise that Jesus wasn’t baptized for any benefit of His own, but rather the benefit of onlookers (and ourselves who read the account). In Matthew 3:16-17, the Holy Spirit and God the Father were showing the very sonship and holiness of Jesus. The Father affirmed Jesus: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (Mark 1:11)

Jesus’ transfiguration – Mark 9:2-13 records the magnificent story of Christ’s transfiguration, where the Father once again affirms Jesus as the Son: “This is my beloved Son: listen to Him.” Eight days earlier, Peter had already confessed Jesus as the Christ (Mark 8:27-29; Luke 9:18-22). The obedience and boldness of Peter, James, and John waivered at various points. However, their faith in Christ as the Son of God never faltered because it was in was placed in the Living God. This was a huge instance in the lives of Jesus’ disciples!

Jesus’ resurrection – Dead people stay dead. But, Jesus called His shot. He prophesied of His death and resurrection at least three times in very plain terms (Mark 8:31-33; 9:30-32; 10:32-34). This fact sums up the reality of Christ as the Son of God. He is God with us, Emmanuel. Jesus wasn’t created at birth and adopted by God, but rather was God the Son who became visible and dwelt with man.

“…we must make it clear that genuine faith requires accurate knowledge of, agreement with, and personal acceptance of what God has done for us in Jesus. Faith is not merely reciting the shahada, the Muslim profession that there is but one God and Muhammad is his messenger. Nor is faith merely praying the sinner’s prayer or responding to an altar call, as some Christians believe. Faith is a gift from God wherein the sinner personally entrusts himself to Jesus as Lord and Savior who purchased forgiveness and eternal life through His crucifixion and resurrection.” – Thabiti Anyabwile

Prayer:

Father God, teach to never add requirements of obedience to our faith. There is nothing that adds to the finished work of Christ’s sacrificial atonement on the Cross. Help me to remember that my obedience is joyful worship to you—my loving Creator and Savior. My works are useless to counteract my sinful heart, but the purity of Christ’s sacrifice in my place has reconciled me to yourself.

Show me how to lovingly share this wonderful news with Muslims who I meet. Help me to love sacrificially and intentionally, just as you first loved me and gave yourself for me. Open the eyes of Muslims here and around the world. Show them the glory of Christ that Isaiah saw in Isaiah 6. Enable them to read the Bible with open ears and minds. Help them to see the overwhelming truth of the Gospel message in your Word—and to respond with repentant hearts!

Go & Do:

  • Read John 4:1-45 (Samaritan woman at the well). Pray over and memorize this story today. This woman was a half-breed Jew. It is very likely that she wanted to honor God, but was chained down by the realization that her works of righteousness would never earn God’s favor. She knew her sin well, but she misunderstood the identity of God. We can read the Gospel stories and interact with Muslims in the same way that Jesus loved and engaged this woman. What better person to model our evangelism after than the Savior Himself?  Know this story well enough that you could recite it in a surprise conversation with a new Muslim friend. Or, well enough that you could teach it to your children as a bedtime story.
  • Find an Eastern restaurant in your town today, and grab lunch or dinner there. Pray for favor before you go, and introduce yourself to your waiter. Learning more about their heritage and family in a genuine way can be a big first step to a relationship that drives to spiritual things. Initiate a friendship based on more than mere weather or sports, and see what God will do with the relationship. Here are a few ideas:
    • I’m _____. What’s your name? It’s great to meet you.
    • Where are you from originally? It’s great to have you here!
    • Tell me about your family, do you have brothers and sisters, kids?

“This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” – Acts 4:11-12

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Resources:

10 Things Every Christian Should Know About Islam – Zane Pratt

Is “Allah” God? – SBTS

Islam and North America: Loving Our Muslim Neighbors (chapter 11) – Keith Whitfield

The Gospel for Muslims: An Encouragement to Share Christ with Confidence (chapter 5) – Thabiti Anyabwile