Today, the Muslim world shifts its eyes to one thing: The lamb.
Today is Eid al-Adha, the Feast of Sacrifice.
the end of the haj, the pinnacle event of this feast is sacrificing a lamb — literally slitting its throat while reciting verses from the Quran. After reserving a portion of meat to give to the poor, Muslims will clean the meat and rub it with fennel seed, turmeric and other aromatic spices. Then they will braise or roast it until the tender meat falls off the bone.
In almost every country, new clothes are a must for this special day. In the Middle Eastern country where I live, local men attend prayers early in the morning, and then receive guests as early as 6 a.m. Women with henna-decorated hands pass out chocolates and money to children who knock on their doors. But the lamb takes center stage, and some Muslims don’t even know why.
The event behind Eid al-Adha is Prophet Ibrahim’s (Abraham) willingness to sacrifice his son. Muslims know that God stopped Abraham as he raised the knife and sent a ram from heaven so the son could go free. But the deeper significance of this story — and how it points to Jesus — most will never know.
Several years ago I had coffee with a South Asian woman near the celebration of this meaning-packed holiday.
A few simple questions led to a topic most Americans would avoid: sin. As a Muslim, Hanna explained to me how she views sin: Everyone sins, at least a little. But the payment for sin is good works.
It gave me the entrance to share about the seriousness of sin, its penalty of death and that no amount of good works are good enough for God. Ever.
The table was silent. Suspense had sufficiently been built. Hanna appeared deep in thought when she looked up from her drink and asked, “So how can anyone go to heaven?”
I was so glad she asked! “You know about Nabi Ibrahim?” I ventured, referring to the Eid ul-Adha story. “The ‘ram from heaven’ was given in place of Abraham’s son, and this sign points us to Jesus.” (As a note, some Muslims insist the son was Ishmael, not Isaac, so I used “son” in general to avoid confusion or an argument.)
After relating the story to Jesus the spotless Lamb of God who gave his life so we could go free, I asked Hanna, “Have you ever heard this before?”
“No. Never.” At the end of our coffee date, Hanna thanked me for explaining about Jesus. She said, “I have always wondered why he came.”
The Quran ends the story of Abraham and his son with this: “And We ransomed him with a momentous sacrifice” (as-Saffat 37:107, Yusuf Ali Translation). So, every year on the occasion of Eid ul-Adha, astute Muslims are left wondering, What is the “momentous sacrifice?” Surely it means more than a ram caught in the brambles.
God in his wisdom tucked this meaning-packed story in the Quran and made it the focal point of the biggest feast in Islam. Having woven this account into the fabric of Muslims’ lives, God has prepared these precious men and women to hear about His provision of the “momentous sacrifice,” Jesus, the Lamb of God.
This Eid, may they not be left wondering.
YOUR TURN: Have you ever taken part in an Eid al-Adha celebration? Do you know any Muslims who are celebrating today?
"Anna" blogs about friendship, culture, and Kingdom-living from her home in the Middle East. She loves Jesus and wants to see Him cherished by her neighbors and people everywhere. Anna will be posting on the Persecution Blog each month. Feel free to ask questions or suggest future topics in the comments section for this post. Anna is a pseudonym, and all names in her posts are changed for security reasons.
The Quran teaches that the Injīl (the Arabic word literally means “Good News,” and Muslims use this to refer to the New Testament) and the Tawrāh (this means “law” and often refers to the Pentateuch and sometimes to the Old Testament) are the words of God, that both are the authoritative books of God, they are enlightenment from God for humankind and that the authors of these books were inspired by God himself. In spite of this high view of the Bible within the Quranic texts, Muslims during Muhammad’s time claimed the Bible was corrupted. They reinterpreted those verses to refer to the “true” Bible before Muhammad.
Is what they say correct? Here are three reasons why it is not.
First, in Surah 5:68 the Quran asks the People of the Book (often refers to both Jews and Christians) to “Say, “O People of the Book! You stand on naught till you observe the Torah and the Gospel…” Islamic scholars understand this verse to be a “message to the People of the Book to follow their own scriptures as well as the Quran”.
Why would Allah ask Christians and Jews during Muhammad’s the time to observe and follow a corrupted book whose true original doesn’t exist anymore? This would be an impossible task. This can only mean that the Bible which existed in the time of Muhammad was the correct (uncorrupted) Bible. Today, we know without a doubt what the Bible that existed among Arabs during the seventh century looked like. We also have many Greek manuscripts that predate Muhammad and others in Arabic from around the seventh century.
Second, if the Bible was corrupted, how would Allah command Muhammad in Surah 10:93-94 to ask Christians and Jews if he is in doubt of the revelation he received? Again, this can only mean that the Bible that existed in the time of Muhammad was the correct word of God. Otherwise, Allah should’ve asked Muhammad not to ask the people of the Book because their book is corrupted, which Allah never did.
Finally, Surah 2:89 reads “And when there comes to them a Book from Allah, confirming what is with them…”, [emphasis mine] the present tense “is with them” used by the author means that at the time of the revelation of the Quran, Jews and Christians had the true Bible. Otherwise, Allah would not have confirmed a corrupted book. Instead, he would have used the past tense “was with them”. How can Muslims claim that the Bible was corrupted when even Allah confirmed its authenticity at the time of Muhammad?
These three questions are a good starting point for conversations with Muslims. After their traditional misunderstandings of the truthfulness of the Bible are cleared up, they are more willing to listen to what we have to say about our faith. From there we can share the Gospel of Jesus Christ, in which “having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1, NASB) with them. However, the next questions are often questions about the manuscripts and transmission of the Bible. At that point, you better be ready to “give an account for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15, NASB).
Dr. Rami Halaseh is working toward his Ph.D. in Islamic Studies.
 (Q 3:48; 5:46; 5:66)
 (Q 2:101; 3:23; 5:44; 28:49)
 (Q 3:184)
 (Q 4:163; 5:111)
 I have used The Study Qur’an translation throughout this article, unless otherwise noted.
 Seyyed Hossein. Nasr, The Study Quran: A New Translation and Commentary (New York, NY: HarperCollins, 2015), 314.
 Abdullah Yusuf Ali, The Holy Qurʼān: Text, Translation, and Commentary (New Delhi: Kitab Bhavan, 1988), 2:89.
 Some English translations of the Qur’an translate the Arabic verb (maʿhom) in the past tense rather than present, even that in Arabic it is a present test.
During my ministry to Muslims, I found that Biblical inerrancy is a frequently raised subject. It is also one of the biggest stumbling blocks that a Muslim must overcome before they are ready to hear the Gospel. Most Muslims believe that the Bible has been changed and corrupted.
The argument that today’s Bible is not the same Bible that “God revealed to Christ” is mainly based on later interpretations of eleven verses in the Quran and on some ḥadīths, and because the Muslims’ understanding of the Quran is the base of such a claim, and the fact that Muslims often refer to the Quran to support this argumentation, I often use the Quran itself to try to prove that the Bible is inerrant.
When discussing the inerrancy of the Bible, remember three things.
1) This discussion does not replace the Gospel and is not the end goal of a discussion. Instead, this is one among several points that one might use in order to build a more complete argument for the inerrancy of the Bible to a Muslim friend.
2) Many Christians argue against using the Quran in dialogues with Muslims, as this might give authority to the Quran that it does not have. This would only be a valid objection if Christians compromised on Biblical truth by using the Quran. Instead, we try to “employ the language [and theology] of the Quran, which Muslims considered the apogee of divine revelation, to articulate a Christian worldview”. We do not claim the Quran has any authority in our lives as Christians, but as we present Biblical truth to an unbeliever, we appeal first to what Muslims consider their highest authority.
3) When in dialogue with Muslims, our attitude should always be one of respect. We should always remember that the goal is not to win an argument or prove someone wrong, but instead to communicate the Gospel and to bring them to realize what God did for them on the cross. All should be done in the spirit of love, remembering that the servant of the Lord must be “kind to all, able to teach” (2 Tim 2:24, NASB).
Dr. Rami Halaseh is working toward his Ph.D. in Islamic Studies.
 Ibn Ḥazm Al’ndalusi, Al Feṣal Fī Al Melal Wa Al Ahwa’ Wa Al Neḥal, vol. 2 (Saudi Arabia: As Salām, 2014), 2.
 J. Scott Bridger, Christian Exegesis of the Qurʼān: A Critical Analysis of the Apologetic Use of the Qurʼan in Select Medieval and Contemporary Arabic Texts (Eugene, OR: Pickwick, 2015), 11.
“Brother Mark” works among Christians in the Middle East and North Africa, training new believers and equipping them to reach out and win Muslims to Christ. This week he’ll share stories of what new believers face after leaving Islam—often starting with persecution from their own families.
He’ll talk about witnessing to Muslims and equip listeners to answer some of the questions Muslims may ask about Christianity and the Bible. Finally, Mark will talk specifically about some of the nations of North Africa, including updates on Christians in Egypt and Mauritania, and how we can pray for Christians all across that region.
What does it mean to be an I Am N Christian in the Middle East right now? How should their stories inspire us as Western Christians? I have had the privilege of meeting and hearing the incredible stories of some of these sisters and brothers during recent visits to Iraq and neighboring countries where The Voice of the Martyrs (VOM) is serving them in their time of great need. There are six themes that emerge from the testimonies of these Christians that every Christian can benefit from. These are themes that we have witnessed repeatedly in hundreds of interviews with persecuted Christians.
When Islamic State (ISIS) militants moved into northern Iraq, they began identifying Christian-owned homes and businesses. Families would find the Arabic letter “N” (ﻥ) painted on their buildings. This single letter, the first letter of the word used in the Quran to identify Christians, conveyed the powerful accusation that the occupants were followers of Jesus.
Our Christian brothers and sisters were tagged in this way and given the choice of either converting to Islam or standing for Christ and losing everything they owned. In the Iraqi city of Mosul (Nineveh, in the time of the Old Testament) more than 100,000 Christians were displaced, abducted or killed in less than one week. That happened more than a year ago, and none of the displaced believers have been able to return to their homes.
I have seen firsthand the way these followers of Jesus live out their faith. When we wrote the book I Am N, we organized it around six themes that capture the essence of their faith and inspire us to stand strong for Christ no matter where we live. God is faithful. He has not abandoned them, and neither should we.
What does it mean to say I Am N?
Standing with our persecuted family members is one of the greatest privileges any Christian can have. Boldly saying I Am N is a commitment to place ourselves alongside our sisters and brothers and to say, “I am not willing to let them suffer in silence. I am not willing to let them serve alone.”
We are all part of the body of Christ. When one suffers, we all suffer. I appreciate the way that Ray Vanderlaan describes it. He asks us to imagine slamming our finger with a hammer while trying to hang a picture. We would never respond, “I’m not suffering, only my finger is suffering!” In the same way, we often view ourselves as detached from our suffering family members.
As we have traveled around the world meeting with our persecuted family members, we have seen six themes that mark their lives. These themes are universal, biblical themes that we must embrace in order to experience spiritual maturity
We will count the cost of discipleship and willingly pay the price because Christ is worth it.
The Apostle Paul directed Christians to “present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1). Jesus Christ is worth any sacrifice!
We will not become paralyzed by fear because God has empowered us to embrace risk.
Richard Wurmbrand said, “Jesus never feared or hated any man.” We are called to live courageously, confident that our God is ultimately in control. “Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart, All you who hope in the LORD” (Psalm 31:24).
We will rejoice in the midst of our suffering in this world because of our eternal hope in Christ.
In Acts 20:24, we read, “But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” Joy is one of the most surprising themes we witness when we sit with Christians who have been persecuted, but it is almost always present!
We will stand firm, resisting any opposition. By God’s strength, we endure and overcome.
Scripture reminds us that “tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:3b–5).
We will allow the Holy Spirit to work supernaturally in our hearts as we obey Christ by loving our enemies and forgiving others as we have been forgiven.
“Then Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do’” (Luke 23:34a). Jesus demonstrated forgiveness — even as He died. Remarkably, by God’s grace, many martyrs supernaturally demonstrate forgiveness today — even as they or their loved ones die.
We will not allow adversity to cause us to be unfaithful to God’s Word or disobedient to His purposes.
In Revelation 2:10, we read, “Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.” The faithfulness of our sisters and brothers who are enduring incredible persecution right now is a model for us.
I Am N (David C. Cook, March 2016) will introduce you to inspirational Christians facing Islamic extremists. We can stand alongside these brothers and sisters, who remain joyful and blessed by their relationship with Christ despite having lost everything they own. The joy they have in Christ is something the extremists cannot take away from them. These Christians are our family members — part of the body of Christ. We will not let them suffer in silence. We will not let them serve alone.
Are you willing to say I Am N?
Dr. Jason Peters serves as Associate Vice President of Connection for The Voice of the Martyrs (VOM). As a global voice for our persecuted family members, Dr. Peters travels frequently to meet face-to-face with persecuted believers around the world, leads VOM’s outreach initiatives, including media development, special events, public relations, and oversees hundreds of speakers and representatives. Peters was Executive Editor of I Am N: Stories of Christians Facing Islamic Extremism and Host/Producer of the I Am N video curriculum (David C Cook, March 2016). He has ministered in 40 countries, as diverse as Sudan, Cuba, Nepal, Saudi Arabia, Kyrgyzstan, Iraq, Sri Lanka, Egypt, Bangladesh and Nigeria. Jason and his wife Kimberly ministered overseas for several years, where two of their five children were born.
The Voice of the Martyrs recently sponsored 12 conferences in eight regions in Niger, giving 120 churches training and resources to respond to persecution and spread the gospel.
Niger, which is 94 percent Muslim and less than 1 percent Christian, has recently seen an increase in persecution. The conferences, part of a church mobilization program, were conducted in June and addressed equipping church leaders to face persecution, women’s discipleship, strategies for church leadership and ministry, training trainers on story telling for evangelism, educating Christian youth on how to live as Christ followers in an Islamic society, and how to develop discipleship curriculum for local churches.
The conferences took place in Agadez, Diffa, Dosso, Maradi, Niamey, Tahoua, Tillabéri and Zinder. In Zinder, the first city attacked January 16 and 17, 2015, 66 pastors and their wives traveled more than 600 miles to attend the conferences.
On Jan. 16, following the publication of a cartoon on the cover of a satirical French magazine that depicted the Prophet Muhammad crying, Muslim protests erupted in French-speaking Niger. Ten people were killed, more than 170 were injured and more than 70 churches were destroyed, along with several Christian schools and organizations.
Following the June conferences, attendees said the conferences had a positive influence on them. Many shared that the training will improve their church planting and evangelism efforts, as well as how they respond to further persecution. The conferences helped them better understand how to be the church in an Islamic country.
Some conferences were delayed by everything from presidential elections to attacks by Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram. Event organizers also overcame issues of security and transportation to ensure the conferences took place.
In Niger, VOM has provided transportation to pastors and aid distribution to churches. We also assisted pastors and churches affected by the January 2015 attacks by providing emergency aid and replacing motorcycles for pastors and church equipment lost in fires.
You can support training for pastors and other Christian workers on the front-lines of some of the most difficult nations on earth.
This story first appeared on www.Persecution.com.
Earlier this month Muslims around the world finished their celebration of Ramadan, the holiest month on the Islamic calendar.
During the final 10 days of Ramadan, The Voice of the Martyrs was one of the ministries involved in a world-wide effort to encourage Christians to pray specifically for a move of God’s spirit to draw Muslims to Jesus Christ during Ramadan. The effort was coordinated by author Tom Doyle and our friends at CBN News, and featured a Facebook Live prayer meeting each evening at 8:38 (EDT) for the last 10 days of Ramadan.
The videos posted have now been watched more than half a million times! Only in eternity will we know how many prayers have been encouraged by this effort, or how many Muslims responded to Christ’s call as a direct result of this prayer effort.
Ramadan has ended, but there is never a bad time to pray for Muslims to come to know Jesus. On the blog we’ll be sharing videos from all of the speakers who were part of this special effort. Today is the final day, and the leader is Isik Abla, a former Muslim who was planning to commit suicide when she met Jesus Christ.
May each of these videos remind you to continue to pray for Muslims, not only during Ramadan but throughout the year.