Reflections on the Past III: The Rise of Islam

This blog post is based on the Covenant Reformed Seminary of Asia’s lesson on Church History Module – Lesson 3: The Rise of Islam.

In our previous reflection on the past concerning the rise of the papacy, we saw how Rome apostatize or fell away from the biblical truth. Now we ask, what happened when the Church went astray, denying Him who had bought His people with His precious blood? The Lord sent trials and afflictions to correct His unfaithful children.

Seventh century marks the rise of Islam. Mahomet/Muhammad/Mohammed (Born: 570 AD, Mecca, Arabia) is one of the greatest challenges of Christianity. Sickly as a child and was suffering from epilepsy. Being orphaned when a child, he was taken into the home of his uncle Abu Talib, whom he once accompanied on a business trip to Syria, where he visited Jewish and Christian settlements. There he saw and heard many things which impressed him deeply.

At the age of 25, he entered the service of Kadijah, a rich widow, and carried on her husband’s trade. In this Mohammed prospered greatly and soon married Kadijah who was 14 years older than himself. In trading, he became still acquainted with Jews and Christians and his own fellow countrymen, and formed the conviction that a new religion was needed.

Mohammad’s Basic Teaching

  • The Unity of God
  • He was God’s herald
  • Give up idols or be damned
  • Worship Allah alone!

In his 40th year Mohammed spent a whole month in solitude in a mountain cave near Mecca called the Cave of Hira. His claim was, while he was in the cave, he saw visions and received messages from heaven. From an alleged message from the Angel Gabriel, he was told, “O Mahomet, of a truth thou art the prophet of God; fear not; I am his angel Gabriel.

He gave his new religion the name Islam, which means “obedience” or “surrender.” Islam [ɪsˈlaːm] ( listen) “submission [to God]” means submission, surrender and obedience and is also connected to Shalom which means peace.

When he came out of his solitude, Mohammed boldly attacked the idolatry of his people, but they laughed at him and ridiculed his ideas. In the year 622 he and his followers were forced to flee for their lives from Mecca to a city called Medina. Their flight, called the Hegira, began on July 16, and that day in 622 became the first day in a new Mohammedan calendar. Actually, in Middle East, it is only 1443 for Islamic Calendar. Afterwards, he triumphantly returned to Mecca where he destroyed 360 idols. Overawed by his success, the inhabitants now shouted, “There is but one God, Allah, and Mohammed is his prophet.”

The new religion taught that everything which occurs has been fore-ordained by an absolute fate, and that after death the evil will be punished and the good rewarded. Islam knows nothing of salvation by the sheer unmerited grace of God. It’s chief tenets are:

Islam’s chief Tenets

The five pillars of Islam are the declaration of faith, prayer, fasting, charity, and pilgrimage.

  1. Shahadah. Declaration of Faith: The “Declaration of Faith” is the statement, “La ilaha illa Allah wa Muhammad Rasul-ullah”, meaning “There is no deity worthy of being worship except God (Allah), and Muhammad is the Messenger (Prophet) of God”.  The Declaration of Faith is more than just a statement; it must be shown with one’s actions.  To convert to the faith of Islam, a person has to say this statement.
  2. Salah. Daily Prayer: Prayer is a method by which a Muslim connects to God and gathers spiritual strength and peace of mind.  Muslims perform five formal prayers a day. 
  3. Zakah: A type of charity.  Muslims recognize that all wealth is a blessing from God, and certain responsibilities are required in return.  In Islam, it is the duty of the wealthy to help the poor and needy. 
  4. Sawm. Fast of Ramadan: Once each year, Muslims are commanded to fast for an entire month from dawn to sunset.  The period of intense spiritual devotion is known as the fast of Ramadan in which no food, drink and sex is allowed during the fast.  After sunset one can enjoy these things.  During this month Muslims practice self-control and focus on prayers and devotion.  During the fast, Muslims learn to sympathize with those in the world who have little to eat.
  5. Hajj. The Pilgrimage to Mecca: Every Muslim strives to make once-in-a-lifetime pilgrimage to the sacred sites in Mecca, in present-day Saudi Arabia.  It is the most intense spiritual experience for a Muslim.  Typically, 2-3 million perform hajj every year.

Islam’s Bible: Qur’an

The teachings of Mohammed were collected in a book known as the Koran, many of his sayings having been first recorded on bones or palm-leaves. The name “Koran” itself signifies “rehearsal” or “reading.” Mohammed claimed that its various sections came down to him from heaven during a period of 23 years. Its pages furnish Moslems with most of their prayers.

Written in Arabic, and ranking as the greatest masterpiece of Arabic literature, Mohammedans claim that it was written originally on a huge table located near God’s throne and calle “the preserved table.” The angel Gabriel is said to have been the agent who introduced Mohammed to divine secrets. Koran claims that when reformation was required among men, God used prophets, the chief of whom were Moses and Jesus, but later Mohammed appeared as the greatest of them all.

ISLAM vs. Christianity

Reading through the history and Islam’s basic tenets, a learned Christian can easily identify that Islam opposes the Christian faith. Qur’an Denies:

  • The Sonship and Deity of Jesus Christ. The Son is the biological son of the Father.
  • The atoning death of Jesus Christ.
  • The actual death and resurrection of Christ
  • Salvation by the unmerited grace of God

Islam’s prophet claims supremacy over Christ. For Islam, prophets were sent by God to illustrate his different attributes. MOSES as God’s clemency and providence. SOLOMON as God’s wisdom and majesty and glory. JESUS CHRIST as God’s righteousness, omniscience and power. But I, MOHAMMED says, “I am the last prophet sent with the sword. Let those who promulgate my faith enter into no argument or discussion but slay all who refuse obedience to the law. Whoever fights for the true faith whether he fall or conquer, will assuredly receive a glorious reward, and be certain of entrance into paradise.” Mohammed is the Greatest Prophet, and Moses and Jesus are simply Great Prophets.

Islam claims merit-based salvation. If prayer leads halfway to God, fasting leads to the gateway of heaven, and alms opens the door of heaven. But Jihad or waging the holy war gives actual entrance into heaven. All Muslims are potentially radical because of Jihad

There’s much that we can say about the history of Islam. The author encourages the reader to watch the lesson linked above. Suffice it to say that Islam sought to eclipse the gospel. We can also see in the history how the light of the gospel was extinguished in Northern Africa and large parts of Asia. Mohammedanism is the only world religion established since the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ into the world, and it has remained the chief of all the enemies of Christianity. Converts from Islam to the Christian faith have invariably been few and hard-won.

A concerning question still comes to mind. What was the church doing during those times? Sinclair Ferguson notes on his book, Church History 101,

So what was the church doing when Islam was on the rise? One of the most famous gatherings of churchmen that took place in the last third of the seventh century was the Synod of Whitby, which met in England in 684. It was a gathering of bishops wrestling with the “significant” issues of their time: the shape of the tonsure worn by priests and monks, and the date of Easter. This historical example shows how sometimes the church can completely forget its mission. While there is a time and season for everything, the church must not forget what matters most: it must remain clear and steadfast on the Great Commission, not just claiming land and nations for earthly gain, but proclaiming the gospel to a lost and dying world."

Nevertheless, the Holy Spirit’s power to save souls with and by the Word is never diminished. May the LORD equip the church to engage in mission. We should also reach the Muslims. So, we must preach the gospel. It alone pierces the heart not our lives. Yes, we have to love them, but without the gospel that accompanies our speech and lives, they won’t hear the message that can make them wise unto salvation. Speak to them and focus on the conscience through the clear preaching of the Word.


Here are some resources available for free online for further study and references:

  • “Jesus’ Ministry and Miracles in the Qur’an [Part 1, Part 2A, Part 2B ].”, Accessed 26 Aug. 2021.
  • WITNESSING to MUSLIMS: THE QURANIC VIEW of the BIBLE.” The Domain for Truth, 16 July 2012, Accessed 19 Aug. 2021.
  • Ferguson, Sinclair B, et al. Church History 101 : The Highlights of Twenty Centuries. Grand Rapids, Michigan, Reformation Heritage Books, 2016.
  • Needham, Nick R. 2000 Years of Christ’s Power. Volume 2, the Middle Ages. London, Grace Publications Trust, 2016.

Published by Jeff Chavez

Sinner saved by grace

3 thoughts on “Reflections on the Past III: The Rise of Islam

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