Newbold College

Department of Theological Studies






Research Paper

 Presented in the Fulfilment

of the Requirements of the Course

 BDPS 217 Ministry and World Religions



 Allan Falk

 November 2005


I.    ASSIGNMENT  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


II.    INTRODUCTION  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


III.    SHAR'IAH LAW  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


IV.  THE FIVE PILLARS  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


V.   ARTICLES OF FAITH  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


VI.   THE ISLAMIC LIFSTYLE  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


VII.  AVENUES FOR COMMUNICATION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  . . . . . . . . . .


IIX.  CONCLUSION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


IX.  BIBLIOGRAPHY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .




Discuss the doctrines and practices of Islam and consider avenues for Seventh-day Adventist, to communicate with them.


This paper is primarily about the way Islamic people live their lives. It will become clear, that even if the Islamic faith has clear articles of faith or doctrines, that it is more of a practical than a theological religion. Islam has laws and regulations for all aspects of life guiding individuals, families and society.

        Due to the limitations of this paper, Muhammad’s life or the formation of Islam will not be included. The main emphasis will be put on the laws, the pillars and the articles of faith, which are guiding the Muslim, secondly Muslim lifestyle, will be touched and finally avenues for communication between Muslims and Adventists will be explored.



The Shar’iah is a very comprehensive system of laws influencing all aspects of the Islamic society. Guiding individuals, families and public life, the Shar’iah is different from what we know in the West.

        The Shar’iah law is founded on four sources:

1)      The Qur’an that is believed to be divine, and therefore the primary source.

2)      The Hadith which is an account of Muhammad’s life, with rapports of his doings and sayings, and therefore a description of how a Muslim life should be lived.

3)      The Ijma meaning ‘Assembly or consensus of opinion’. This was used when the lawmakers could not interpret the meaning of the Kor’an or the Hadith on a certain matter.

4)      Qiyas, meaning measure, was used when the lawgivers could not find support in the Qur’an or the Hadith.   

        From the root of Shar’iah the word “path” is formed. The Muslim is supposed to follow the path, which includes all Allah’s commands and wishes. Following the path will in turn bring the Muslim salvation. Realising the importance of the Shar’iah it can not surprise that the study of law is more important to them, than the study of theology. Anybody wanting to understand a Muslim mindset must understand that they see their law as Allah’s command and wish for all mankind. That is also why Muslims are bound to make the world their mission.

        The Shar’iah is not only different from western laws, just because it is one law covering both civil, public and religious matters. It is also different because it goes into much deeper detail. It completely dominates a Muslim’s life, down to even table manners, hygiene and the dress code for especially women.

        To fully comprehend the Shar’iah one most imagine a society where religion, politics, business and peoples life is not divided into different categories. ‘The “secular” is not separated from the “holy”.’[2] Understanding the context of the Old Testament might also help understanding Islamic thinking.

        When someone breaks the law in a Western society, he or she transgresses against the social order of the country, but when a Muslim breaks the Shar’iah he or she transgresses a divine law. Westerners might end up characterising the Shar’iah not as a law but more as a guide in morals and ethics. In that sense the Shar’iah is more about obligations than about rights. Or with other words the Shar’iah is used as the modus operandi by the Muslims.[3]



The Muslim is instructed through the five pillars concerning the practical expression of his faith. The first pillar known as the shahada[5] is Islam’s basic ‘creed’. The shahada makes a Muslim, but for a person to remain a Muslim there are some duties to perform, known as the ibadah (‘state of submission or holy slavery’), this submission is explained in the last four pillars.

        The first part of the shahada is the kalima, anybody sincerely reciting the kalima[6]: ‘la ilaha illa allah; Muhammadon rasul Allah’, (I bear witness that there is no god but Allah, and that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah)in front of two witnesses becomes a Muslim. The kalima is the first words whispered in the ear of newborn babies, and the last words a dying person should hear.[7]

        The first half of the kalima called the tawheed[8] is founded on these words from the Qur’an: ‘Say: He is God, The One and Only; God, the Eternal, Absolute; He begetteth not, Nor is He begotten; And there is none Like unto Him.’(112:1-4)[9] The second half is called risallah[10] and is in short telling Muslims to accept Muhammad as the last[11] of 124,000 thousand prophets, whom have all proclaimed the message of tawheed. It is seen that the faith in One God, and his revelations through the Prophet Muhammad is very central to the Islamic faith, as the faith in God the Father revealed through God the Son is central to Christians.

        In addition to these two articles of faith, the first pillar is comprised by five more articles, which I will deal with in the next section.

        The second pillar is obligatory prayer (Salah)[12] which must be performed five times every day. At least the Friday noon prayer must be in a congregation, where men and women pray separately. The Friday noon prayer is followed by a sermon.

        Before responding to the call for prayer the Muslim must go through a process of purification, which includes some washing rituals. The prayers themselves are more a public recognition of the sovereignty of God, than a petition for blessings, which is normal for Christians.

        Another Christian response might be, that inner moral purification is more important than bodily cleanliness.

        The third pillar is the paying of an annual wealth tax to the poor (Zakat). The tax is calculated as one fortieth[13] of a Muslims capital, and is paid by free will, but strongly encouraged by the Qur’an. In addition Muslims will give charity according to his consciences.

         This third pillar resembles very much the Adventist practice of paying tithe of their income.

        The fourth pillar is fasting (sawm) which takes place in the ninth month called Ramadan. The fasting is performed during the day, and includes eating, drinking, smoking and the enjoyment of sex. Very devout Muslims spend the last ten days in continuous prayer, before the feast of Breaking the Fast[14], where Muslims really feast.

        Even if Islamic scholars can not give a precise explanation for the fast, it can have some healthy effects on the body, and might help fight selfishness.[15]

        The fifth pillar is the pilgrimage to Mecca (Hajj) which all Muslims should perform once in a lifetime if possible. 

        The sixth pillar is not official, but some Muslims claim that Jihad should be a pillar. Jihad which means struggle and effort can be a war to spread Islam or a struggle to defend it against dangers.


The Shar’iah and the five pillars outline a lot of obligations for the Muslim believer. Living to fulfil all these expectations, the Muslim expresses most of his or her faith, which might be the reason that they do not have more than five articles of faith. The five articles can briefly be summarized like this:[16]

1)      Article one says there is only one God; all other gods are just human imagination. This first article is incorporated in the first pillar, in the kalmia which makes it very central to the Muslims worship, and therefore important.

2)      Article two is about angels and the jinn. Angles are created out of light; they are intelligent but created without a free will, and therefore completely loyal to Allah’s wishes. The angles have many functions, but the one related to ordinary people is recording. All people are followed by two angles; one is recording good deeds and the other bad deeds. The jinn which is also intelligentis created out of smokeless fire. They have a very long life span, and can be both good and bad. Iblis, Satan, was an angle transformed into a jinn.

3)      Article three is dealing with revealed scriptures. Muslims believe that Allah revealed his will through the Torah,[17] the Psalms and the gospel about Jesus, but because the Jews and the Christians corrupted these writings, Allah revealed the truth through Gabriel to Muhammad resulting in the Qur’an.

4)      Article four is about the prophets ( Nabi). The prophets were people living fully dedicated to Allah, making it possible for them to receive messages directing people towards paradise. Muhammad is the last of 124,000 prophets.

5)      Article five is about the last events and the judgement, resulting in some going to paradise and some to hell.

6)      Similar to the sixth pillar, there are also Muslims suggesting that the doctrine concerning predestination should be the sixth article. The article is in short saying that, Allah is the cause of everything, and that everything is part of his plan.



There are at least two areas which make an Islamic lifestyle different from the Western style.

1)      The faith of Muslim’s is clearly visible through a lot of acts performed daily throughout their lives.

2)      The Muslim society and family structure is based on patriarchy.

In this limited section it would not be possible to go into detail concerning these two statements, therefore I will mention only three issues.

              The first thing I meet, when I got in touch with Islamic religion and culture was the different dress code, especially the women most dress and conduct themselves according to a long list of rules. The idea behind many of the rules, which is to improve the moral standards between male and female, is actually in harmony with old fashion conservative Christian thinking.

        The second thing I noticed was that all the rituals related to the Muslim worship and prayer is very different to Western style of worship. However even Christians teach that God is all powerful, so the Muslim way of recognising Gods sovereignty through humility during prayers should make good sense to us.

        The third issue I have encountered meeting Muslims, is their rules concerning eating and drinking. They eat only clean animals following some rules almost similar to the rules in the Old Testament, and in addition they do not drink. The more conservative is also not smoking. The sense in these rules is probably difficult for most Christians to realise.             


After these studies of the doctrines and practices of Islam, I will like to suggest three avenues for communication in between Muslims and Adventists. Manny more could probably be found, but there are three which caught my interest.

        The first avenue is related to the article of faith concerning Allah. Both Muslims and Adventist put strong emphasis on God as the creator. In a modern world where the idea of creation is ridiculed by many scientists, I thing the common understanding of Gods position in the universe should be able to provide the basis for dialogue.

        The next avenue is related to the pillar concerned with Zakat. Both parties have the general understanding, that they should support their religious organisation, and in addition their religions require them to take care of the poor and needy. The idea that God is the source of all wealth, and humans are the managers is common under standing, which might open for the possibility of joint venture.

        The last avenue is related to the Muslim lifestyle concerned with their diet. Both religions have the concept of clean and unclean food, both discourage alcohol and tobacco. Put in other words, both put much emphasis on a healthy lifestyle. The Adventist teach that they should take care of their body, because it is a Temple for the Holy Spirit, and for the Muslims it is required if they want to enter paradise. This should be common ground enough for Muslim and Adventist families to enjoy each others company.



Going through the doctrines and practices of the Islamic faith, it is seen that Islam is a faith with a lot of regulations, which is outlined in the Shar’iah. Understanding the Shar’iah is the key to an understanding of Islam.It is also seen that the religious rituals and actions is clearly outlined in the five pillars. Concerning the lifestyle, it must be realised that it is radically different from western styles. It is however possible to find avenues for Adventist to communicate with Muslims. The avenues are related to faith and lifestyle, which mean that they can discuss doctrines together and they can also relate to each other in daily life.



Ali, A. Y., The Qur’an Text, Translation and Commentary, (NY: Tahrike Tarsile Qur’an, 2002).

Burke, T. P., The Major Religions an introduction with texts, (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2004).

Andra Cooper, A., com. Ishmael my brother, (England: Monarch Publications, 1993).

Haeri, S. F., The Elements Of Islam, (Dorset: Element Books, 1993).

Hamidullah, H., Introduction to ISLAM, (London: MUH London Publishers, 1979).

Horrie, Chris and Chippindale, Peter, What is Islam?, (London: Virgin Books, 2003).

Kateregga, B. D., Shenk, D. W., A Muslim and a Christian in dialogue, (PA: Herald Press, 1997).

Schantz, B., Islam in the post 9/11 world, (England: Autumn House, 2004).

Schantz, B.,  Your Muslim Neighbour and you, A Manual for Personal Evangelism,

        (England: Stanborough Press, 1993).

Zebiri, K., Muslims and Christians face to face, (England: Oneworld Publications, 2000).

What a muslim is required to know about his religion, (Beirut: Dar Al-Kitab Al Masri).

[1] Much of the information for this section was found in the book of Schantz, B., Islam in the post 9/11 world,

        (England: Autumn House, 2004)  pp. 36-43.

[2] Schantz, B., Islam in the post 9/11 world, p. 38.

[3] Latin, which freely translated means: The measuring stick measuring the life and deeds of a person.

[4] Much of the information in this section was found in these books:

1)      Schantz, B., Islam in the post 9/11 world, pp. 54-65.

2)   Horrie, Chris and Chippindale, Peter, What is Islam?, (London: Virgin Books, 2003) pp. 25-43.

[5] Arabic for witness.

[6] The first two of seven articles of faith expressed in the words: ‘la ilaha illa allah;Muhammadon rasul Allah’

[7] Schantz, B., Islam in the post 9/11 world, p. 55.

[8] Arabic for the unity.

[9] Ali, A. Y., The Qur’an Text, Translation and Commentary, (NY: Tahrike Tarsile Qur’an, 2002) p. 1806.

[10] Arabic for acceptance of prophethood.

[11] Supported by sura 5:3. This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed my favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion.

[12] Arabic for worship and prayer.

[13] Horrie, Chris and Chippindale, Peter, What is Islam?, p. 37.

[14] (‘Id al-Fitr)

[15] Schantz, B., Islam in the post 9/11 world, p. 59.

[16] Much of the information for this section was found in the book of

        Schantz, B., Islam in the post 9/11 world, pp. 67-75.

 [17] Jewish religious law and learning.

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