NOTE: Some of the audio quoted in this piece can be downloaded right here, on a radio broadcast I did on the topic. Some of the names and such have been changed.
Sometimes I assist a ministry called Christian-Islamic Dialogue, which seeks to discuss Islam and Christianity with Muslims with the purpose of having all peoples call Jesus Lord and be saved from their sins. On Friday, December 16th, 2011, I was passing out copies of the Gospel According to St. John on a public sidewalk near the masjid (mosque) north of Orangewood and east of 27th Ave. in Phoenix, Arizona.
I usually ask the men leaving prayer (who are on the way to their vehicles) if they have read the Holy Injil. Most people pass on by but sometimes they take one and say “thank you”, other times they say “no” – in so many words or less. However, if they stop or inquire further I say, “This is Gospel According to Saint John in Arabic and English”. Then sometimes we talk more … one such man was named 'Miraj', who was visiting Phoenix from the midwest. We spoke for about one full hour. The first 50 minutes were very cordial, for example, I told him he was nice and respectful numerous times and even apologized once for cutting him off in my excitement. He was very patient and understanding. This is not to say I was not troubled by some of the things he said. For example, he told me that Muslims had proof for their beliefs while Christians utilized “blind faith”, that mosques had been burnt down in the United States, and that persecution in countries such as Pakistan and now even Ethiopia was not bad at all (in fact, he claimed the laws there usually protect Christians). Most troubling of all was this, though:
Me: “What if I said anything like that [like what a Muslim apologist I had just quoted had said about Jesus] about Muhammad in an Islamic country?”
Him: “You cannot say that because the punishment is very clear, like if you say that such thing, you will be beheaded – that’s the punishment and it is clear - there is no two opinions about it – that’s very clear.”“My name is Mark, what is your name?”
“Yeah.”“We just shook hands and we’re talking, we’re calm, I’m not making fun of you, you’re not making fun of me – this is good. But right now if I said something dirty about Muhammad what should happen to me?”
“Well, because here I don’t have all the …”“What should happen to me under God’s law?”
“Well, then in Islamic law, it’s clear, if you insult Prophet Muhammad, then the punishment is you should be beheaded”.
Shortly after this, a very tall young man came in and interrupted us. I had already spoken with this young man last week briefly – he was not very well informed and rather rude. I did my best to get the conversation with Miraj back on track. I even asked this tall man to please refrain from interjecting and just let me talk to him again next week instead. He said he was going to leave but then did not and dominated the conversation. He also put his rather large hands on me several times as well. Whenever he told me to stop and listen to him, he would place his hands on my shoulders in a semi-less than gentle manner. This other man encouraged him and said the following to Miraj:
“Good job, brother. You handle it. Yeah, just stick to the truth like that. Don’t worry. Don’t be like salty Muslims and be like, ‘oh, no in Islam we don’t have these things’”.
I responded with this to the tall man: “No, no, he said I should I should be beheaded if I say something dirty. He said this; so you would be happy about him.”
The tall man said back to me: “Well, of course - you can’t. In a Muslim state that’s the punishment no one talk about the messenger of Allah.”
I noticed Miraj became much more aggressive the minute this other man arrived. He began saying things like this to me: “It doesn’t matter what you like and don’t like, what matters is what God likes and what he wants. Your opinion doesn’t count – you are no one.” This comment was in regards to my distaste for Sharia Law. This may not seem like a very big deal but Miraj was not saying things like this before then; at one point he even said that Pakistan applied some of its blasphemy laws in an unfair manner against Christians. We continued on like this for a few minutes and the tall man quickly lost whatever patience he had and said the following to me:
“Here’s what: Islam is the fastest growing religion no matter if you like it and it’s going to dominate the whole world – no matter if you like it. You’re going to be paying the jizyah when that time comes. You’re going to be paying the jizyah.”I replied: “And you know who is going to judge you?”
“God. Only God.” “Yes—”
“You’re going to be paying the jizyah, buddy. It’s going to dominate the whole thing.”“And this is your dream.”
“It’s going to dominate everything.”“And this is your dream.”
“It’s not a dream, it is already happening. Yup, it’s already happening.”
Shortly after this, an older man stormed out from the mosque and demanded to know what church I was from. He asked me if I was from Calvary and did not believe when I told him I was not. He told me I could come and talk about Jesus but then he asked me not to quote anything from the Qur’an. He went on further and said I had to make sure people knew what they were getting was not Islamic. He told me I was deceiving people. I asked Miraj if he knew what he was getting and he would not give a straight answer – it did not help that the tall man was throwing his two cents in there. I pointed out that the one article I had actually had printed on it answering-islam.org. He asked me why it had verses from the Qur’an on it. I told him because they could not throw it away that away. Then he got right up in my face and ripped up the paper (five times!) I had given to Miraj. As we continued to speak, he accused me of being a liar several times. He then said I was not welcome here. I told him I was on a public sidewalk and as long as there was no Sharia Law I was allowed to be there. The older man had been present for about five minutes and then turned and left – the other two followed suit and that was that.
After listening to the audio, there are definitely things I would have done differently. For example, I noticed when the man downplayed Islamic persecution of Christians all over the world, I became agitated. He even mocked the idea and said Christians do the exact same thing. Even though this issue is dear to me, I can not let his misinformation cause me to become rude! Still, on the whole, I do want to continue to be bold with these folks and give them a chance to hear the truth in love. I have provided the last five minutes of the conversation so you can hear the bad ending for yourself. There are also a few clips from the parts I referenced in this little report. I have the other parts of the convo; if someone wants it, just ask!