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ss nucleus - autumn 1998,  Is Ishmael Really my Brother?

Is Ishmael Really my Brother?

What do Muslims believe? Where do their ideas concerning Christianity stem from? How did my preconceptions derive their existence? Are my images of anger, confrontation and violence a valid picture of Islam?

To find some answers 45 students, graduates and professionals gathered for a CMF 'Ishmael My Brother' conference in Hemel Hempstead.

The weekend's teaching was led by Elsie Maxwell, known for her life spent in Muslim communities, and Jay Smith, renowned for his beard and research into early Islamic history. Their combined experiences and authority are a real testimony to the love of Christ.

Getting a grounding

Teaching covered Islamic history and basic Muslim beliefs. We were given answers to the common accusations levelled at Christianity by Muslims and discovered the value of archaeology and historical evidence. The weekend was not a time to rubbish Islam, but it aimed to raise our awareness of the latest studies on the Qur'an.

Both the Bible and the Qur'an need testing in their claims to be the Word of God. They discuss people, places and events, so a good check is to see if secular records agree. The Bible is confirmed by many historical documents and new archaeological evidence is regularly uncovered. The Qur'an, however, fails badly. Translations of the Qur'an reveal muddled stories and dates, for example placing Jesus' mother as a contemporary of Moses and Aaron.

Where next?

As a witness for Christ, I do badly, yet I left this conference with a renewed desire to be faithful in this area. My confidence was boosted and our trip to Speakers' Corner at Hyde Park fuelled my curiosity. Here in the UK we are privileged with freedom of speech that Christians in many countries do not have. It is the cutting edge of spiritual warfare and I look forward to returning.

Let me challenge you. Get well grounded in Christian apologetics: know the Bible intimately. Next, read the Qur'an and learn what Muslims believe. Visit Speakers' Corner, engage in conversations and meet with Muslim friends in your own environment. Lastly, go to an Ishmael My Brother conference - it could change your life forever!

We all have preconceived ideas about Islam and Muslims. I certainly did, and these affected my expectations for this conference. It was mind-blowing to discover some of the problems with Islam, yet very enlightening. Above all, it was extremely edifying to discover just how solidly Christianity stands when placed under pressure - what a faithful, just and holy God we serve!

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