This December 2009 piece from The Global Conversation really grabbed my attention, given my current devotion to the New Perspective on Paul and its social implications (Gal. 2:11-21).
But can one really remain in a Muslim community and still be a follower of Jesus?
When Nabil had a life-transforming encounter with Jesus, he remained within the Muslim community, participating in Muslim prayers. As his love for Jesus became known to family and friends, some followed his example, but others actually attempted to murder him. After being imprisoned for his beliefs, he decided he no longer considered himself a Muslim. He saw Islam as the system responsible for persecuting him. Today Nabil considers himself a Christian. But some who followed him in faith still see themselves as Muslims. (emphasis added)
Ibrahim was a well-respected scholar of the Qur’an, a hafiz. When he decided to follow Jesus, he closely examined the Qur’anic verses commonly understood as denying the Trinity, denying Jesus’ divine Sonship, denying Jesus’ atoning death, and denying the textual integrity of the Bible. He concluded that each of these verses was open to alternate interpretations, and that he could therefore follow Jesus as a Muslim. Soon members of his family and community came to share his faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior. Ibrahim was also imprisoned for his faith, but unlike Nabil, Ibrahim still wanted to follow Jesus as a Muslim. Nonetheless, some whom he led to Jesus no longer see themselves as Muslims. Ibrahim and Nabil are friends and respect each other as brothers, though they disagree about their identity. (emphasis added; read full article…)
For Nabil, he soon realized that he couldn’t be both: a practicing Muslim and a practicing follower of Jesus (But for those who followed his faith and remained in Muslim communities, I question their faith). How is such possible?
Ibrahim, on the other hand, sought to reinterpret and Christianize the Qur’an to achieve both: a practicising Muslim and a practicing follower of Jesus.
But as his imprisonment proved, Ibrahim reinterpretation was just that, his reinterpretation—one not shared obviously by a pure Muslim community.
Let’s not forget that the Law, which served as a boundary marker for OT covenant people Israel, had to be set aside to ensure full participation of both Jews and Gentiles in the One New Humanity that Jesus created (Eph. 2:11-22, NRSV, TNIV)