Understanding Islam in Arabia

Frontier Scan, March 1998

Condensed from the March 1998 issue of the Global Prayer Digest Pray for a Church for Every People in the Arabian Peninsula.

  • "We apply the Laws of Allah and don't pay attention to whoever says anything about that," said Saudi Arabia's interior minister Prince Nayef Bin Abdu-Aziz. Three years ago, this was his answer to complaints from Amnesty International about the rising number of beheading in Saudi Arabia. The high numbers of executions continues today. And the streets of Saudi Arabia are among the safest in the world, although that is beginning to change.
  • To the Saudi Arabs, the Koranic Law is the perfect law given to man by the Almighty Creator. In accordance with the Koran, those who smuggle drugs, kill, or rape must be executed. They feel their government is the guardian of the Islamic faith. They are also the guardians of Mecca, the pilgrimage site that is visited by faithful Muslims during theirHajj.
  • No religion except Islam is tolerated in this land where Islam first emerged. There are almost half a million Christians in Saudi Arabia among the foreign "guest workers." But Saudi religious police regularly roam the streets seeking out secret worship services. Pray that the message of mercy in Christ, which triumphs over judgment, will soon be understood by the Arabs of Saudi Arabia and the devout Muslims who come there on the Hajj.

Historical background

In the summer of 633 AD, the tribes were at peace. Mohammed commanded that Muslims should not war against each other. How long could this last? Something must be done to unify the tribes.

In A Short History of The Arab Peoples, Sir John Glubb says it is difficult to say whether the first caliph, Abu Bekr, appreciated this problem and devised the idea of launching the tribes on a career of conquest. On the Persian front, hostilities were already brewing. Persia and Byzantium (Greece) completed their 26-year war in 628 AD. Anarchy set in after Chosroes Parwiz and all male heirs to the throne had been massacred. Nine claimants ascended the throne, only to be deposed. Finally, Yezdegird stepped to the front, after supposedly hiding during the massacres. He was 15 and too young to wield authority. The Arab tribes seized the opportunity. After five years of war, the Arabs forced this weakened empire to surrender.

But most Arab tribal leaders were much more interested in Syria than Persia because bounty from India and China shipped to Yemen was unloaded and packed to Syria. Mecca and Medina made their living off these caravans. Damascus fell for the first time in 635 AD and Syria fell completely in 636 AD.

On the western front, Arabs conquered Spain and portions of France starting in the year 711 AD. They marched on Vienna, sieged Constantinople, ruled Bukhara and Samarkand in Central Asia, ruled Afghanistan, and even sent a letter demanding tribute from the Chinese emperor. Every region that the Arab tribes subjugated meant another set of peoples that came under their influence: Berbers, Frenchmen and Spaniards in Morocco and Algeria, Central Africans in Egypt and Sudan, and Persia with her many peoples. Many of these groups now speak Arabic and follow the religion of Mohammed.

Once the marauding tribes conquered the armies, they had to administrate their new subjects. They enticed many converts to Islam by saying, "Become a Muslim and you won't have to pay a protection tax each year." What a tax deal!

Sir John Glubb says the Arabic empire lasted until 861 AD when Turkish mercenaries killed the caliph Mutawakkil at the behest of a disinherited prince. Within four years, Turkish commanders completely monopolized power and hand-selected caliphs. Unending tribal warfare between fiercely independent clans and people brought the Arab empire down. Great things were still done in the name of Allah, but the Empire was dead.

The Arab's religion is a powerful rival for the hearts of today's unreached peoples. But it also introduces concepts like adherence to one God to peoples that once were polytheistic. Issa (Jesus) is considered to be a Prophet in the Koran. Could it be that the Lord will some day use Islam to draw entire nations to Christ? Let's pray that He will!

Pray for Muslims:

  • For God to call millions of Christians around the world into united, focused prayer, crying out to God for the revelation of Jesus to spring forth among Muslim people as they go on the Hajj in Saudi Arabia.
  • For cooperation between denominations, churches, and Para church groups in unified times of loving prayer for Muslims.
  • Pray that the Christians of the Arab world will actively take Christ to their Muslim neighbors.
  • For "Daniels" and "Esthers" to rise up in places of influence throughout the Muslim world.
  • For the enemy's plans against the gospel to be thwarted.
  • Islam means "submission to God." Pray for Muslims to become fully submitted to God in Christ.

Copyright 1998 by the U.S. Center for World Mission. May be used freely for educational and promotional purposes. The FrontierScan is a monthly summary of the Global Prayer Digest, both of which are published monthly by the U.S. Center for World Mission.

Muslims are normal sincere people who need the Lord Jesus. Please take the time to pray for them.

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