Approaches to Islam: Theological and Practical

Explore Christian faith and Islam and how two communities can be engaged with each other in peacemaking ways
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  • Lectures 34
  • Length 14 hours
  • Skill Level All Levels
  • Languages English
  • Includes Lifetime access
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About This Course

Published 5/2014 English

Course Description

What is Islam? What do Muslims believe? What is the difference between Islam and Christianity? Is there a place for a dialogue between Muslims and Christians?

This invaluable course from an expert in comparative religious studies examines Islam and Christianity at spiritual, cultural and communal levels. It explores the similarities and differences found in Jesus and Muhammad, the Bible and the Qur’an, Jerusalem and Medina, the Church and Ummah.

There are 35 great lectures and about 15 hours of video. This course is designed to enable believers in Jesus Christ to understand the message of Islam and to be equipped to faithfully commend the Gospel of reconciliation in their engagement with Muslims.

Take this course and you will learn the beliefs and practices of Muslims as well as prepare yourselves for informed theological discourse and dialogue with Muslims.

What are the requirements?

  • A desire to learn the difference between Islam and Chritianity, to understand the beliefs of Muslims and to be prepared be prepared for informed theological discourse and dialogue with Muslims.

What am I going to get from this course?

  • By the end of this course you will be able to understand the beliefs and practices of Muslims;
  • By the end of this course you will be prepared for informed theological discourse and dialogue with Muslims.

Who is the target audience?

  • This course is perfect for church leaders, Christian Educator, clergy, laity and religious students
  • Church Leaders
  • Christian Educators
  • Small Group Leaders
  • Missionaries
  • Seminary Students

What you get with this course?

Not for you? No problem.
30 day money back guarantee.

Forever yours.
Lifetime access.

Learn on the go.
Desktop, iOS and Android.

Get rewarded.
Certificate of completion.


Section 1: Introduction

It often happens that Christians and Muslims are afraid to talk with each other about their faith. David W. Shenk shares his life motto from 1 Peter 3:15 to emphasize four guiding principles which will help us look at the issues of this course. So Christians should confess with clarity that Jesus is the Lord, they should be ready when asked to give an account of the hope which is within them, they should do it with gentleness and respect and shouldn't be afraid. Both Muslims and Christians are people who believe that they are called to be witnesses. So we need to learn how to bear witness in a respectful way.


David W. Shenk tells us about his personal journey with Muslims which is the background for what he'll be sharing during the course about. He believed that God was calling him to the world missions, but it didn't occur to him that he would work with Muslims. You will learn about David Shenks's ministry in Somalia and Kenya and enjoy his inspirational stories.


Right at the beginning of this course you are going to have a quiz just to see what you know about Islam. There are 10 brief questions and you need to decide if the answers are true or false. You should stop your video, take the quiz and then listen to the correct answers. David W. Shenk dwells on each of ten questions.

Check your knowledge of Section 1
5 questions
Section 2: Early Theological Formation in the Arabian Background

David W. Shenk invites you to look at the Christian context in which the Qur'an took shape and in which the early Muslim Ummah was formed. The Qur'an developed in the context which was influenced by Christianity, so the teacher talks about influencial Christian communities in different countries at the time of Muhammad. It is important to understand that Islam developed in the world in which Christianity was dynamically present and there were Scriptures in many languages. The teacher dwells on controvercies related to Christology that these churches experienced and explains how they tried to respond to these problems in the polytheistic world.


David Shenk tells us about the Jewish context in which the Muslim community developed and tries to imagine an intense dialogue and confrontation between them when Jews didn't accept Muhammad as a prophet of God. But there are some significant similarities between the Jewish and the Muslim movement that you will learn about in this session.


David Shenk tells us about the time when Kaaba was the place of worship of polytheistic gods in Arabia. In this context Muhammad began to preach against idolatry and injustice. You will learn about the worship of daughters of Allah and unseemly religious practices that Muhammad tried to confront as he believed it was his mission. The hanif contex is the last context you should be aware of. The hanif were the people who worshipped the God of Abraham.

Check your knowledge of Section 2
5 questions
Section 3: The Muslim Community (Ummah)

In this lecture David Shenk gives a brief historical sketch about Muhammad's life, his receiving the revelation from Gabriel, migrating to Medina and establishing the Muslim community with the mechanisms of military and political power. Just because this Muslim community traces its origin to Abraham, the teacher reads from the Bible the story about God calling Abraham to leave the land of polytheism. You will also learn about three Abrahamic movements, including Islam. Islam is the instruction on what you should do and believe and Qur'an is the final clarification of that instruction. And the Muslim Ummah is the community that is committed to embracing the Qur'an.


David Shenk continues the discussion about the Muslim community, the meanings of the words "Islam" and "Muslim". They believe that they are the perfect community and can't go astray. Ummah is called to bear witness over the nations from the position of authority. To wrap up this lecture the teacher opens the book of Exodus to explain that God Almighty is the God who comes down to meet us and save us.

Check your knowledge of Section 3
5 questions
Section 4: Muslim Theology and Praxis.

To introduce the topic of Muslim theology and praxis David Shenk begins with the first chapter of Qur'an where you can find the first prayer of the day. The teacher reads that prayer to the students and ask them if it's OK for a Christian to pray that prayer. You will learn about the way Muslims pray and ask God to show them the straight way. In this lecture David Shenk talks about the House of Islam and helps us to explore the five pillars of Muslim theology (Iman) and learn about the worldview in which these pillars reside.


As we think of presenting the Gospel among any people we need to keep in mind what their worldview is. David Shenk shares his experience of sharing the Gospel among the muslims and developing a special course for them and using Qur'an as a bridge.


In this lecture you will explore five pillars of duty. David Shenk introduces this topic by sharing a story about the man who preached against him in the mosque and how he told him about the five pillars of duty which helped people to get to heaven. Some Muslims also talk about the sixth pillar which is called jihad. David Shenk explains the difference between the greater jihad and the lesser jihad and also talks about the way they are expressed. The teacher also explains how the call to jihad has became an offensive movement in order to preserve the integrity of Ummah.


What do muslims believe about their mission to the whole world? The mission is expressed in the call to prayer five times daily. Muslims feel that they have a mission in regard to a Christian church to help the Christians to recover and preserve unity. David Shenk explains how Muslims try to accomplish their mission.

Check your knowledge of Section 4
5 questions
Section 5: Adam and Eve, Abraham, Ishmael and Isaac

In this lecture David Shenk will move into a different direction and talk about Adam and Eve. The first three chapters of Genesis are extremely important to understand the Christian worldview. These chapters are very pertanent in understanding who we are as human beings. The islamic understanding of the first family of Adam and Eve is also important for their theology and mission. You will discover convergence and divergence within the Biblical account and Islamic understanding.


In this lecture you're going to look at Abraham, Ishmael and Isaac. Christans, Muslims and Jews believe that Abraham is the father of faith and are very impressed by the call of God to Abraham recorded in Genesis 12. All of them believe that they are spiritual progeny of that call to Abraham. David Shenk invites you to explore that idea.

Check your knowledge of Section 5
5 questions
Section 6: Muhammad and Jesus

The Messiah is a mystery for Muslims, even the name of Jesus in the Qur'an has no meaning. In this lecture David Shenk looks at the statements about Jesus in the Qur'an and explains them. He also shares his conviction about the centrality of the Cross by telling another interesting story.


In this lecture you will look at the role of Muhammad in the Muslim movement. Muhammad is the model which reveals true submission to the Qur'an. They also think that when Jesus talks about the Comforter He promises to send Muhammad. David Shenk explains why they are wrong in their speculations.


A question that we need to ask is "What do we think of Muhammad and the Qur'an?" In our conversations with muslims this question always comes up. David Shenk explains the reasons for asking that question and the way we should answer it.

Check your knowledge of Section 6
5 questions
Section 7: The Qur'an and the Bible

Within the Muslim understanding revelation comes down and so it transcends history. After reading the Bible a Muslim might say that it is corrupted because it has historical narratives. The teacher asks the students to come up with the answer to the accusation that the Bible cannot be the Scriptures. David Shenk shows how different our understanding in regard to the nature of revelation is.


Muslims believe that Muhammad was the first one to memorize the revelations received from Gabriel. And the Angel brought it down in Arabic so that the Arab people might understand but it can't be translated. David Shenk explores the Quran to understand why Muslims think that the Bible is corrupted and interpretes what the Qur'an says.

Check your knowledge of Section 7
5 questions
Section 8: Tanzil and Incarnation

Muslims believe that the final Word of God has come down to us as a book, the Qur'an. Within the Christian movement the eternal Word has become human. In this lecture David Shenk spends some time on interpreting the idea of Living Word and what we mean when we say that Jesus is the Son of God. You will also learn why there is misunderstanding about the Trinity and what the Qur'an says about that issue.


In the second part of the lecture speaking about tanzil and incarnation David Shenk continues to explain how to interprete Jesus as the Son of God to our Muslim friends. David Shenk compares the Muslim understanding and the biblical revelation about Jesus.

Check your knowledge of Section 8
5 questions
Section 9: The Hijrah and the Cross

On the cross we are given the gift of righeousness and we become free from the obligations to religious rituals. David Shenk uses a narrative form of describing the migration of Muhammad from Mecca to Medina to explain what it means theologically in the islamic understanding of the necessary political mechanisms to bring about the will of God on Earth. That migration is called the Hijrah. You will also learn about the theology that was forming Iranian-Muslim revolution.


Now you will look at a different journey. People wanted to establish the kingdom of God in Galilee and asked Jesus to become their king, but he refused their invitation. Muhammad received the same kind of invitation while being in Mecca and he accepted it. The kingdom of Jesus is the way to the Cross. You are going to look at one dimension of Jesus's journey to the cross which is the way of the kingdom to embrace and forgive the enemies.


There are many dimensions to the meaning of the cross and Jesus crucified and risen. David Shenk begins this session with the topic of the forgiveness of sins which is also very central to the meaning of the cross. Our Muslim friends yearn for forgiveness but they can't be sure as they haven't received the gift of forgiveness.

Check your knowledge of Section 9
5 questions
Section 10: Medina and Jerusalem

For the first time in history a prophet of God brought together prophetic ministry and political power and put in place a political religious system that potentially could extend to the whole world. That is why the Hijra is so extremely significant theologically, politically and practically. In this part of the lecture David Shenk talks about the Muslim Ummah in Medina and other territories which were under Muslim control or were hostile.


Christians look at Jerusalem experience and it is different from what happened in Medina. Jesus marches into Jerusalem with the army of singing children. Church becomes a body of Christ and a new temple, so geographical center is not needed anymore. Jesus initiated a new movement in which the people of God become the place where God dwells. Christ creates a new community, which begins bereft of any political or economic power. In this part of the lecture David Shenk talks about a huge Constantinian watershed when the church and the Empire in the western world "became married" with a very close relationship. You will also learn about the movements on the edges of the Empire. The teacher will compare the church and the Ummah at the end of this lecture.

Section 11: Tawhid and Trinity

In this lecture you will learn about Tawhid which refers to oneness of God and His will. Muslims believe that the political and religious order must be integrated. David Shenk explains what it means for Christians when they attempt to share their witness concerning the Trinity and the diversity within the church and the relationship between the church and the state.

Check your knowledge of Section 10 and 11
5 questions
Section 12: The Hajj and the Eucharist

The Hajj refers to the pilgrimage to Mecca and Muhammad transformed the polytheistic Arabian experience into the Muslim experience as only Muslims are invited to come to that region. In this lecture David Shenk looks at some significant dimentions of the pilgrimage and then he compares it with Christian Eucharist.

Section 13: Shari'a is Muslim Law

David Shenk begins this lecture by telling an interesting story about the conversion of a Muslim from Ethiopia. The teacher reads from 2 Cor. Ch. 3 to show how Christians can be the most fruitful letters that are read by the people. You will look at the development of Shari'a law and sources of its authority.


This lecture continues the discussion about the formation of Shari'a system. There were four systems of law that were developed and all are respected. After the law system was developed the Sunni Muslims concluded that the doors of ijtihad were closed. David Shenk explains the doctrine of bid'ah which means that there can be no change or innovation. You will learn about the significance of this theology and the problems modern Muslims have with it. The teacher also talks about the law of Christ which is love and about conversion which doesn't expect the change of culture.

Check your knowledge of Section 12 and 13
5 questions
Section 14: The Shi'a or Shi'ite Muslims, Sufi Mystics, Folk and Secularist Islam

After the death of Muhammad it was necessary to decide who would be the leader of the community. David Shenk talks about different leaders of the community and how the struggle between different camps led to civil war.


There were the mystics among the Muslim movements. David Shenk talks about the Sufi who want to experience God and to know and meet Him. As they search the Qur'an they find some helpful themes. They discover that Abraham is a wali, a friend of God. In this lecture you will learn more about the mystics and their theology.


There are a lot of Muslims who are folk Muslims and can be interested in spirit veneration and magic. David Shenk talks about the phenomena of marabout in West Africa. You will hear interesting stories about dealing with demons. The teacher says that in Jesus we have the authority over demons and this became one of the reasons people began to follow Jesus in some countries. There is a difference in a Muslim way of negotiating with demons and the Christian way of dealing with demons.

Check your knowledge of Section 14
5 questions
Section 15: Principles for Ministry Among Muslims

In this lecture you will turn to 1Peter Ch. 3 to learn some principles for ministry among Muslims and discover characteristics which are important for a church that wants to engage in this ministry. As usual, David Shenk tells us interesting stories.

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