Use media to spread the faith, says Indian preacher

Updated 28 June 2013

Use media to spread the faith, says Indian preacher

The Hyderabad-based Islamic Academy for Comparative Religion (IACR) has been working for the past 15 years to spread the message of Islam in India, removing misconceptions about the divine religion and bringing followers of different religious faiths closer to promote communal harmony.
IACR is also working to confront the massive campaign of missionaries in Andhra Pradesh to convert Muslims into Christianity, said Asifuddin Muhammed, president of IACR. “The missionaries have been exploiting poverty and economic difficulties of Muslim families,” he told Arab News.
He called upon all Muslim organizations in the state to set out a joint strategy to protect the Islamic faith. “Not only the poor, but also many educated and rich Muslims including doctors and engineers have been converted to Christianity,” he pointed out.
Muhammed, who holds MBA and LLB degrees, introduces himself as a student of comparative religion. He was inspired by the dawah works of Sheikh Ahmed Deedat and Dr. Zakir Naik. As a result of his organization’s work across Andra Pradesh, hundreds have embraced Islam. IACR has a special section for women.
“Muslims in India are facing a serious challenge from Christian missionaries,” he said, adding that the missionaries have been receiving full support from politicians. “In some remote districts of Andhra Pradesh, especially coastal areas, as many as 1,000 families are being converted every year. We have documented proof for that,” he said.
Missionaries have six TV channels in the state while Muslims do not have even a single one, Muhammed said, emphasizing the need for launching a television channel as early as possible for the propagation of Islam, with the support of Muslim businessmen and philanthropists.
IACR intends to hold a series of lectures and workshops in various districts after training some 700 preachers, each of them taking the message to at least 50 people in a year. “This will help 35,000 non-Muslims to receive the message of Islam every year,” he said.
“We’ll also establish a network to take care of Muslims all over the state. If any person needs any kind of help including money or medical aid we’ll provide them,” Muhammed said. More Islamic lectures are to be given in Telugu being the language spoken by the majority, especially in the remote areas of Andhra Pradesh.
“Qur’anic Arabic course is a unique program being held by our organization to teach Arabic as a language to schoolchildren as seriously as math and science,” Muhammed said. IACR has designed a set of books and trained several teachers for the purpose. “The nine-year course will help students understand the Qur’an and Hadith without any translation.”
IACR has published a book on Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), compiling what has been stated by prominent dignitaries like Mahatma Gandhi, George Bernard Shaw, Thomas Carlyle, Leo Tolstoy and Michael Hart about the last prophet.
The book quoted Gandhi as saying: “I wanted to know the best of life one who holds today an undisputed sway over the hearts of millions of mankind…I became more than ever convinced that it was not the sword that won a place for Islam in those days in the scheme of life. It was the rigid simplicity, the utter self-effacement of the Prophet, the scrupulous regard for pledges, his intense devotion to friends and followers, his intrepidity, his fearlessness, his absolute trust in God and in his own mission.”
The organization intends to distribute copies of the book among media persons, politicians and other influential people as well as TV channels and newspapers to remove the misconceptions about Islam and its Prophet. “Many non-Muslims have responded favorably after reading the book, saying they never knew that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was a multifaceted personality known for his kindness and tolerance.”
He pointed out that a substantial number of Muslims are not interested in listening to Islamic lectures, including Jumah sermons, a reason that makes them ignorant about their religion and easy prey to missionaries. “Other religions spread their message through films, TV serials, dramas and other attractive programs. We should also follow the same methods to make Islamic teachings more popular and appealing,” he explained.
According to IACR, there are many reasons for the growth of Christianity in the state: The support of prominent Christian politicians, negligence of Muslims toward their poor, Muslims are not well organized and lack good network and capable scholars. “We have lot of Muslim businessmen, professionals, engineers and doctors but we don’t have a vision to bring these resources together to make an impact and change our situation to the better,” the president said. “IACR is not associated with any Muslim groups and tries to bring together all Muslims together on the basis of Islamic principles,” he added.
Speaking about strategies to be followed for the propagation of Islam in the country, Muhammed said: “We have to address individual and regional concerns about our religion by removing their misconceptions, and change the general feeling that Indian Muslims are not patriotic. Some fascist forces try to create a fear psychosis among the Hindus about Muslims in order to provoke them to attack Muslims and we have deal with such situations in a reasonable and convincing manner.”

Gospels lead us to the Qur’an

Updated 23 September 2016

Gospels lead us to the Qur’an

Brandon Yusuf Toropov gives a vivid account of his personal quest to study the most authentic verses of the Bible — the Q verses — and his coming into the fold of Islam. Thhis is the concluding part of his story.

I WAS interested in the research being done that indicated that the oldest strata of the Gospels reflected an extremely early oral source known as Q (the Q source: Q from German, Quelle, meaning ‘source,’ is a hypothetical written collection of Jesus’s sayings) and that each of the individual sayings of Jesus (may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him) needed to be evaluated on its own merits, and not as part of the narrative material that surrounded it. This is because that narrative material was added many years later.

Wresting with the doctrine of the Trinity: The more I looked at these sayings, the more impossible it became for me to reconcile the notion of the Trinity with that which seemed most authentic to me in the Gospels. I found myself face-to-face with some very difficult questions. Where in the Gospels did Jesus use the word “Trinity”? If Jesus was God, as the doctrine of the Trinity claims, why did he worship God? And, if Jesus was God, why in the world would he say something like the following? “Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is, God.” (Mark, 10:18) Did he somehow forget that he himself was God when he said this?

The Holy Qur’an: In November of 2002, I began to read a translation of the Qur’an. I had never read an English translation of the entire text of the Qur’an before. I had only read summaries of the Qur’an written by non-Muslims. (And very misleading summaries at that.)
Words do not adequately describe the extraordinary effect that this book had on me. Suffice to say that the very same magnetism that had drawn me to the Gospels at the age of 11 was present in a new and deeply imperative form. This book was telling me, just as I could tell Jesus had been telling me, about matters of ultimate concern. The Qur’an was offering authoritative guidance and compelling responses to the questions I had been asking for years about the Gospels.
“It is not (possible) for any human being to whom God has given the Book and wisdom and prophethood to say to the people: ‘Be my worshippers rather than God’s.’ On the contrary, (he would say): ‘Be devoted worshippers of your Lord, because you are teaching the Book and you are studying it.’ Nor would he order you to take angels and prophets for lords. Would he order you to disbelieve after you have submitted to God’s will?” (Qur’an, 3:79-80)
The Qur’an drew me to its message because it so powerfully confirmed the sayings of Jesus that I felt in my heart had to be authentic. Below, you will find just a few examples of the parallels that made my heart pliant to the worship of God. Each Gospel verse comes from the reconstructed text known as Q, a text that today’s scholars believe represents the earliest surviving strata of the teachings of the Messiah. Note how close this material is to the Qur’anic message.

On monotheism: In Q, Jesus endorses a rigorous monotheism. “Get thee behind me, Satan: For it is written, ‘Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.’” (Luke, 4:8) Compare: “Children of Adam, did We not command you not to worship Satan? He was your sworn enemy. Did We not command you to worship Me and tell you that this is the straight path?” (Qur’an, 36:60-61)

On Aqaba: Q identifies a right path that is often difficult, a path that unbelievers will choose not to follow. “Enter ye in through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction and many there are who go in there. Narrow is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (Matthew, 7:13-14) Compare: “The worldly life is made to seem attractive to the disbelievers who scoff at the faithful, but the pious, in the life Hereafter, will have a position far above them…” (Qur’an, 2:212)

On Taqwa: Q warns us to fear only the judgment of God. “And I say unto you, my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear. Fear Him, which after He hath killed, hath the power to cast into Hell. Yea, I say unto you, fear Him!” (Luke, 12:4-5) Compare: “To Him belongs all that is in the heavens and the earth. God’s retribution is severe. Should you then have fear of anyone other than God?” (Qur’an, 16:52)

Earthly life: In Q, Jesus warns humanity plainly that earthly advantages and pleasures should not be the goal of our lives: “Woe unto you that are rich! For you have received your consolation. Woe unto you who are full! You shall be hungry. Woe unto you who laugh now! You shall weep and mourn.” (Luke, 6:24) Compare: “The desire to have increase of worldly gains has preoccupied you so much (that you have neglected the obligation of remembering God) – until you come to your graves! You shall know. You shall certainly know (about the consequences of your deeds.) You will certainly have the knowledge of your deeds beyond all doubt. You will be shown hell, and you will see it with your own eyes. Then, on that day, you shall be questioned about the bounties (of God).” (Qur’an, 102:1-8)

Crucifixion: We are left then with an amazing early Gospel, a Gospel that (non-Muslim) scholars believe is historically closest to Jesus, a Gospel that has the following characteristics: Agreement with the Qur’an’s uncompromising message of God’s Oneness; agreement with the Qur’an’s message of an afterlife of salvation or hellfire ... based on our earthly deeds; agreement with the Qur’an’s warning not to be misled by dunya, the attractions and pleasures of worldly life. A complete absence of any reference to Christ’s death on the cross, resurrection, or sacrifice for humanity! This is the Gospel that today’s most advanced non-Muslim scholars have identified for us ... and this Gospel is pointing us, if only we will listen to it, in precisely the same direction as the Qur’an! I became a Muslim on March 20, 2003. It became obvious to me that I had to share this message with as many thoughtful Christians as I could.