It is important for Christians to research, study and assess the composite facets of official Islam. Even though a variety of fundamentalist movements – focus on a more disciplined, orthodox expression of Islam.
Orthodox Islam is accessible to most inquirers. There is a definite sense in which Christians need involvement in a mission to Islam – to official, orthodox Islam.
It is , however, equally important for Christians to get to know the less-advertised but just as pervasive world of popular Islam. It is a world well-researched by anthropologists, and by some Christians who have lived with Muslims.
It is at this intimate level and in this ‘popular’ world that ambassadors for Christ must learn to recognize what is going on, and how to discuss the issues. Behind the façade of established ritual worship lie beliefs and practices which show a strong commitment to an alternative view of the world.
Rick Love recounts a mission team in North Africa who learned to read the signs of Muslim involvement in the world of spirit powers, charms and amulets —
She couldn’t sleep very well because of terrible dreams…in her dreams, she saw awful things that actually happened afterwards. When we discovered this, we spoke with her and showed her from Scripture that this is not God’s will…sure enough, she had a talisman. While we ministered deliverance to her, one of our team members spent the day praying and fasting for ‘Lydia’. there was no screaming of dramatic physical manifestations during our prayer for deliverance, but Lydia was set free. She stopped having bad dreams. In fact, after this deliverance God started speaking to her through positive dreams.
Intellectual discussions about the crucifixion may not communicate well with the Muslim who believes that because his local magician has been to Mecca on hajj, that man’s magic has greater power.
Missionaries can’t be deceived by the seeming Westernization of many of the Muslims to whom they relate. It is even easy to make false assumptions about the underlying convictions of secularized people, brought up, such as, under a Communist regime, living in an urban centre.
In Christian mission, the aim must constantly be to get beneath the surface and discover the assumptions of ordinary Muslims in their complex, unpredictable and largely hostile world. The ordinary Muslim’s concern for equilibrium leads to activities and allegiances – even reinterpretations of the meanings and functions of orthodox beliefs and customs – which offer clues for understanding and communication.