My previous posts on Islam have been mainly for the purpose of educating Westerners about Islam, since most Westerners don’t know too much about Islam. However, in this article, I want to come at it from a different angle. I want to attempt to come at it more from a Muslim’s perspective, or as if I am talking to a Muslim. Sort of like trying to look at things through a Muslim's eyes.
I wonder if Muslims sometimes feel sad about the situation in America. Surely they are shocked by the lack of moral standards, the crime and the frequent corruption in government and politics. A Muslim girl once told me that, after 9/11, many people would stare at her with unfriendly looks. Surely some Muslims have sometimes been the victim of racial, cultural or religious prejudice. Maybe Muslims wonder what the future of America will be, especially when they see homosexuals demanding rights and gay marriage being legalized. What do Muslims think when they see so many children born out of wedlock, and so many divorces, and so many abortions happening?
Do Muslims wonder what will happen to their children and grandchildren in such an environment? Do they wonder if their children will be able to keep their faith in Allah when they go to Western schools that teach things that are very different from Islam? What do Muslims think when they see uninhibited sex, violence, greed and lust on TV and in movies, and especially when their children are exposed to that? Do they worry that their children will be humbled and shamed when they refuse to eat foods that are not halal in school lunches, or when they observe religious holidays? What about the Western cultural habits of dating, and the open free association and friendship between men and women? Do they worry that America’s (or Canada’s or Europe’s) secularism will affect their children’s sensitive spirits and turn them away from submission to Allah?
How does a Muslim feel when they compromise what they believe in order to adjust to the foreign society around them? What happens to their traditional modesty? Does the Western high cost of living force them to become workaholics and neglect their family responsibilities?
As long as a Muslim is alive, he can lead his family. But what about when that Muslim is no longer around? What will happen to his family then? Does he worry that his descendants will forget their native language, their culture, and even their religion?
According to the Qur’an, the ancient prophet Zakariya (Zechariah) had similar questions about the future of his relatives and friends. He didn’t let his own personal needs and desires blind him to the needs of his people. He was concerned about what would happen to his family and friends when he died. This is recorded in the Qur’an, Sura 19, verses 2-10.
Could it be that the way Zakariya solved his problem could also be helpful today? Zakariya thought he knew how to help his people preserve their faith and their future. He thought he knew how to bring about the solution.
Zakariya believed that God would send a prophet like himself to continue his work and show the people how to keep their faith.
Zakariya believed in prayer. He believed that prayer was more than just bowing in humble submission to honor God. He believed that prayer could actually move God to take action on behalf of the people. Zakariya believed in prayer because he felt he had always been blessed when he prayed to God, and he believed that God actually heard him and answered him.
Because of his belief in prayer, Zakariya asked God to send the prophet that his people would need. This prayer was in addition to the regular prayers that he and his people offered publicly in the formal worship services. To make this special prayer, Zakariya went into his own room, alone, and closed the door so he could secretly talk to God.
In this secret prayer, Zakariya opened his heart to God and shared his deepest fears and his hopes with God. He prayed, “I’m afraid what my relatives and colleagues will do after I’m gone. Without me here to straighten them out, they might forget about God and become open sinners. God, you know that I’m old and that my wife is barren. But send me an heir---a boy who will represent me and who will represent the continuation of my people. Make him grow into a man into whom you are well pleased.”
God actually heard and answered Zakariya’s prayer. God promised Zakariya that he would have a son whose name would be called Yahya (John). Since Zakariya was very old and his wife was barren, he asked God to show him a sign, so that he would know that God would answer his prayer, and so that he might be sure of God’s word. God gave him a sign: He told Zakariya that he would not be able to speak for 3 nights.
Zakariya was now satisfied. He left his private place of prayer and went out to his people. Since he now could not talk, he made signs to his people that they should continue to worship and praise God every morning and evening.
Don’t you think that was a marvelous way for God to answer Zakariya’s prayer and take charge of the future of his people? According to the Bible, Zechariah’s son, John, was sent to prepare the people for the coming of Jesus. The Bible records that story in Luke 1:5-25. You might notice that the details of the story differ, but both the Bible and the Qur’an mention Zechariah’s age, the fact that his wife was barren, his prayer, God’s answer, and Zechariah’s inability to speak for a time.
Today, we surely feel the need for God to do something dramatic to keep the believers faithful, and to bring unbelievers to faith. In the same way that Zakariya secretly prayed for God to intervene in human affairs, we can also secretly pray that God would act in our day to save our family and our nation from unbelief and from destruction. According to the Bible, which is my authority, Jesus advised, “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” This counsel of Jesus is found in the Bible, in Matthew 6:6.