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In Islam the purpose of mankind is not to know God and to be conformed to His character, but rather to understand Allah’s will and become more obedient to His commands. For Muslims, man is the high point of God’s creation. He is a type of viceroy (khalifa) on the earth. However, man’s most basic relation to God is that of a slave or servant. Man is to serve God the Master, fulfilling His commands and abstaining from His prohibitions. Man is not made in the image of God.
Mankind is seen as being innately religious, and this natural state can be encouraged or discouraged through education. Muslims believe that man’s most basic problem is ignorance. Man is good but imperfect. Muslims think that man was created as a weak and inconsistent being. Man is forgetful and needs to be reminded about his religious duties. Therefore mankind needs more knowledge of religious law to please God. Man does not need to be born again, but to live in conformity to Islamic rules.
Religious activity such as ritual prayer, pilgrimages, alms giving, fasting and reciting the Muslim confession of faith are at the heart of Islamic religious experience. People should always do what is religiously obligatory and shun what is forbidden. Because of the view that man is weak, forgetful and ignorant, sin is therefore seen more as a mistake and not moral corruption in the Christian sense. Muslims believe that they earn merit with God based on their religious practices. Often, Muslims are more concerned about losing face by getting caught not practising religion than with actually breaking moral law. This shame mentality is found in almost all Muslim societies.
Christians believe that man is made in the image of God. God Himself encourages men to reason, to make wise decisions and to rejoice in God and the things which He has made. In the Christian view man was originally created good but became morally corrupt through sin. Therefore, for Christians, sin is not simply a matter of making mistakes, but rather of living in opposition to Godly character. Through the new covenant God wants to transform our very being, bringing us back into conformity with His nature and character (Rom 12:1-3).
Muslims do not easily understand the reason for the cross of Christ partly because they do not understand man and sin. Missionaries and Christians in general need real wisdom, courage and perseverance to explain clearly to Muslims God’s role for man and to clarify the nature of sin.
* Thank God that He has made us in His image and likeness (Gen 1:26). God has renewed His image in us through Christ and we are to be His imitators (Eph 4:31-5:2). God’s design is for us to be His children (John 1:12-13; Rom 8:16, 21; 1 John 3:1-2, 10).
* Pray for Muslims to have a revelation of real sinfulness through the Holy Spirit (John 16:8).
* Pray for wisdom, courage and perseverance for missionaries and Christians in general as they seek to explain the Christian understanding of man and sin to Muslims.