The Table Podcast

Respectfully Engaging Islam

In this episode, Dr. Darrell L. Bock and Paul Golhashem discuss respectfully engaging world religions, focusing on Islam.

Respectfully Engaging World Religions
  1. Respectfully Engaging Atheism
  2. Respectfully Engaging Sikhism
  3. Respectfully Engaging Shintoism
  4. Respectfully Engaging Animism
  5. Respectfully Engaging Judaism
  6. Respectfully Engaging Hinduism
  7. Respectfully Engaging the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
  8. Respectfully Engaging Islam
  9. Respectfully Engaging Jainism
  10. Respectfully Engaging Buddhism
  11. Respectfully Engaging Scientology
Timecodes
00:15
Growing up in Iran as a Muslim
09:44
Differences between Shia and Sunni Muslims
14:10
Is there a Spectrum of Islamic belief?
23:16
The Islamic Worldview
28:53
Evangelism in a Muslim context
37:10
Establishing Points of Contact with Muslims
42:45
Talking about Jesus with Muslims
Transcript
Darrell Bock
Welcome to the Table where we discuss issues of God and culture. I’m Darrell Bock, executive director for cultural engagement at the Hendricks Center at Dallas Theological Seminary. And we are discussing world religions today, and in particular we are taking a look at Islam. And my guess is Hussein Paul Golhashem, and I probably got that wrong. But anyway.
Paul Golhashem
You did great actually.
Darrell Bock
I did great? Okay. And he is a current DTS student from Iran who became a believer after he came to the United States. And so he’s gonna help us understand Islam on the one hand and also kind of his story about how he became a Christian on the other and the nature of his ministry. He does a lot of translation work of Christian materials into Farsi, is that right?
Paul Golhashem
Correct.
Darrell Bock
And so his ministry here, he’s getting his training to equip him to write more accurately and more deeply in terms of theologically of the stuff that he interacts with.
Paul Golhashem
Yes.
Darrell Bock
So it’s our pleasure to have you.
Paul Golhashem
Pleasure is mine. It’s a great opportunity to be here. I had no idea one day I’m gonna sit around table with you. So it’s a great blessing.
Darrell Bock
Well, it’s a pleasure to have you.
Paul Golhashem
Thank you.
Darrell Bock
So the first question I always ask almost every guest no matter what the topic is, so how did you get here? Which actually is a very complicated question in your case. So talk about your upbringing before you came to the United States, first, and then we’ll go from there.
Paul Golhashem
Well, I’m born and raised in a city of Semnan, which is Northeast side of Iran. Born and raised in a Shia family. My parents, my mother and my father both were shepherds. My father was shepherd and my mother’s side also they were shepherds. So raised and grew up in Iran, 1966 I born. And then, in the revolution, I was 13 years old. 1979. So and that time it was a time or a great change in our country in 1979. So I was in the midst of all of the changes. And then we immediately we started a war with Iraq. And then I serve in the military for 26 months as a national guard. So also serve in war for 26 months. And then confusion start within my heart and soul to see the truth. About the everything. You know about life. About who I am. Why I’m here. And then it was – for me it was a dark time. Probably for many people in Iran it was a dark time, back then. And seeking for truth and finding the joy and peace, a everlasting peace. That was my longing for days and nights. So many thing was happening in Iran as far as the way the governments change immediately of the being – try to be a democrat but immediately they apply the sharia law in Iran, everywhere in Iran, basically.

And then just reading some articles and books and teaching from Russian literatures actually, and from Europe, that draw me to attention to see a different characteristic people in different culture of outside of my culture from Iran. To see there is something going on. I was reading Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Crime and Punishment. Then end of the book end with a love. An expectation to wait for you. And there is a love at the end. We have love in our literature in Iran. But it’s said in poetry. Not in action. Not in love among the people. You know. There’s something so, differences between the cultural background context.

Darrell Bock
So you grew up in the Shia part of Islam. I’m gonna stop – we’ll come back and pick up your story of your testimony. Let’s talk about a little bit about life as a Muslim. And of course anyone who knows much about Islam at all knows that there are the five pillars of faith. Which are central to the Muslim faith or to Islam. And then – so talk a little bit about what it was like to grow up as a Muslim.
Paul Golhashem
You know first of all, I’m gonna just confess this one. I’m not the kind of Muslim scholar. I’m not. _____ _____ in Islamic culture, Islamic tradition, Islamic law, under sharia law.
Darrell Bock
And I take it you’re – you’re more like the average Muslim, if I can say it that way, rather than a Muslim cleric.
Paul Golhashem
Yeah. I just – yeah, the average Muslim in a Muslim family, praying three times. I see my parents are praying. My father wasn’t home mainly. I mean he was, as I said, he was a shepherd. My mother was praying. And 1979 to 1980 when Islamic government took over Iran and then prayer, a call for prayer from the mosque. And the Arabic word, that was very interesting for me to hear the Arabic sound. Confusion. Because I couldn’t understand Arabic words. Pick up little bit here and there because some similarity in words. But always for me was a question was, Dr. Bock, when I was 14 years old, what they saying? What is this? I asked my mother one day, she was praying. I said do you understand what you’re saying? She said, no. I said, so what are you saying? She said, well, son, this is what they taught me. That’s what I’m doing.

So, in living in that environment it’s just not a religion. So we need to understand, Islam is just not a religion. It’s a political and it’s a government system. It’s an economic system. So we’re not talking about just a religious like Christianity.

Darrell Bock
Yeah, separation of church and state doesn’t exist.
Paul Golhashem
Doesn’t exist. Many people try to do that in even Iran in back 1960, Dr. Mudarris and Ayatollah Kashani tried to fight over this one. But Mudarris overcome that one. He said there is no separation of the religion and state. And that’s true. And that’s the foundation in Islam.

So when we’re saying I lived in Islam, Islamic country, it’s not just a religion. It’s everything. Concept in school. Concept of other relationship with others. And the – obligated to go to the mosque. If you’re not going to the mosque you will be questioned by the neighbors. They will pinpoint if you are not involved with some of like Ramadan. If you’re not fasting. If you’re not doing a lot of rituals. So they’re impacting your life. So living answering to your question, living under that environment it was so much pressure. That wasn’t you. You will be dictated to do this one and say this one, act like this one, because everybody was watching you, basically.

And even as a student, you couldn’t talk or have a conversation outside of Islamic conversation. You would be asked, you would go to the office, and you would be basically questioned why you have even this conversation. So everything was monitored, basically. Everything was under the rule of the governing Islamic system. So it’s just not religion.

Darrell Bock
So you know Islam basically is a term, means submission, right?
Paul Golhashem
Correct.
Darrell Bock
And so – and the relationship to God is a god who’s very, very sovereign in the way you think about him. And of course, you know, there’s one prophet, Mohammed. They talk about Jesus Christ, but they don’t talk about Jesus Christ in nearly the same terms that Christians do. Very, very different.
Paul Golhashem
Absolutely. Yeah.
Darrell Bock
And so I take it that this – there’s the prayer, is it five times a day?
Paul Golhashem
Five times a day.
Darrell Bock
And –
Paul Golhashem
Three times a day. Three times. Morning, noon, and afternoon. Total 17. So three times they praying. Morning, noon, and afternoon. Yeah. Then they have one month of prayer, one month of fasting –
Darrell Bock
That’s Ramadan.
Paul Golhashem
Ramadan. And they have Shia holding the Muharram. Month of Muharram, _____ and Ashura. The remembering of the sons of Ali Hussein. Which had been martyred or been killed in Karbala fighting against the Muawiyahs. That’s in the month of the mourning. Which is in Iran Shia country in Lebanon in Iraq is a big, big month for them.
Darrell Bock
Okay.
Paul Golhashem
So everybody wearing black and –
Darrell Bock
Let’s talk a little bit about the difference between Shia and Shiite. Okay. These are the two –
Paul Golhashem
Same.
Darrell Bock
They’re the same?
Paul Golhashem
Same thing. Yeah.
Darrell Bock
Okay. But aren’t there – isn’t there more than one subgroup in Islam?
Paul Golhashem
In fact, it’s interesting. When I am – as I said, I’m not a scholar. But I mean I lived among them. I studied some stuff. So interesting, Muslim accusing Christian, you guys have so many denomination. They have hundred denomination in Islam. You have Shia and Sunni, and under Shia you have Ahmadiyya, you have Safaviehs. You have four prophets. You have five – I mean they have all kind of –
Darrell Bock
So the difference between Shia and Sunni. That’s I think what I wanted to ask originally. What’s the difference? It has to do with which line of succession –
Paul Golhashem
Correct.
Darrell Bock
From Mohammed you follow.
Paul Golhashem
Correct. Well, if you know the history of Islam, when Mohammed suddenly dead, it caused a big disturbance of who is gonna take next of the leadership of the Ummah, of Islam. And Ali, of course was nephews and he had already Mohammed’s daughter. Then we also we have Abu Bakr, Umar and Osman. They were elderly. They were earlier than Ali came to believe Mohammed as a prophet. So then Abu Bakr already gave his daughter to Mohammed, is Aisha, which is she was nine years old.
Darrell Bock
Cause it’s not monogamous. Islam is not monogamous.
Paul Golhashem
It’s not.
Darrell Bock
Yes.
Paul Golhashem
So the different – what differentiating Shia and Sunni as the line as you said, line of the person who will carry out the calling of the prophecy of Mohammed as a Ummah Islamic.
Darrell Bock
So there are two slightly different traditions, basically. Religious traditions. Would that be the way to think about it?
Paul Golhashem
Well, not really because the Quran is coming to both side. Book of Hadith is coming to both sides. I mean they have so much – source are same. Function differently. I mean Shia believe – well, Shia accusing Sunnis, they have the – they don’t have a real Quran. The Sunni claim we have the real Quran because Omar, one of the caliphates, Omar, when they found out they’d been, Quran been written manuscript by many people and everybody says I have the Quran original text. So he decided to collect all of the Quran and he start burning all of them. So he kept the original one in his own and he said this is original Quran.

Shia believe that’s not the original Quran what they have. So they’re confused about who has the original Quran. Shia believes we have it. And we have the Hadiths. And Sunni says, no, we have it. So both of the side accusing each other. Not that what you’re saying is in original Quran. The Shia accusing Sunni and reverse. The same thing.

Darrell Bock
So there are slight differences between the Qurans that they read?
Paul Golhashem
Of course. So Shia says according to Quran, which is original one, the comes to Ali as the next person who lead the Ummah or Islam. And then Sunni says, no, that’s not the Quran what we have, the Qurans says what we have in our hands.
Darrell Bock
Okay. So there’s a difference in the holy book that is being –
Paul Golhashem
Yeah. This is, you know similarity between two sect is – that’s what just you said is the power. I mean both believe Islam and this church and basically mosque and state and power, political powers unseparateable. They are – they both believe this one. They both apply that one.
Darrell Bock
And there’s a responsibility to submit to this power.
Paul Golhashem
Yes. Absolutely.
Darrell Bock
Yeah.
Paul Golhashem
Absolutely.
Darrell Bock
And so what you’re saying is is that it’s not only religion, there’s also a – nationalism’s probably not the right term. But there is an identity that is social, political, ideological as well as religious.
Paul Golhashem
Absolutely. It’s been from day one. It was – you know it’s been – I’m saying it’s from day one. When you go back and check the history of Islam, in the very beginning you see the conflict. And sometimes I’m joking around with some of my Muslim friend saying, well, you guys caused the conflict in Middle East. You guys, western caused. I said, in 700 – Islam is 700 AD, the fights and battle between Shia and Sunnis, Muawiyahs, and all of this caliphates. Back then it wasn’t British or wasn’t UK. It wasn’t US, back then.
Darrell Bock
That’s right.
Paul Golhashem
The conflict was born between yourself because of power. You know. It’s a system of the way the governing the system, it was a very beginning. And it’s common to both sides. And I said it in past and I’m saying again, the Islam ruled not only is not just a religious system. It’s a religious politic system and economy. They have all three of them in their system in their proposal –
Darrell Bock
Now, let’s step back a little bit and then eventually we’ll pick up your story. One of the things that we’ve seen in almost all the religions that we have looked at, so you know I’m talking Buddhism and Hinduism, etcetera, is that there is a spectrum of approaches to the religion. And we’ve already pointed this out in the difference between Shias and Sunnis.

So I take it that there are people who represent a huge spectrum of approach to Islam in at least western Turkey, which is a region of the world I’m familiar with. There are people who are Muslim but they aren’t, if I can use a description, strict Muslims, if I can say it that way. So when we’re thinking about this spectrum of Muslims, so – and the reason I’m asking this question is, when you meet someone and they say, I’m a Muslim, there’s actually quite an array of possibilities as to how they hold their religious belief. Is that fair?

Darrell Bock
That’s – well, yes and no. because I’m saying this one because I think there is a confusion to understanding. I heard this argument many times. We have radical Muslim. We have modern Muslim. I don’t believe this one. I believe any Muslim around the world submitted to one book and that’s the Quran. That’s the source of the understanding about Islam. And then also the book of Hadith. Both of this book is a fundamental to every single Muslim. I’m going to back to the source of their teaching. What you getting this water from? What is the spring you water, you know? I’m looking at the source.

I believe Islam in the Middle East, the birthplace of Islam, and then in a recent time we heard ISIS. Creating a new caliphate system. Going back to original Islamic teaching, Islamic fundamental teaching. I think that’s the true Islam. Maybe offends so many people when they’re hearing this conversation what I’m saying is. But Islam in the Western side is not Islam in the Eastern side.

Darrell Bock
Okay.
Paul Golhashem
I mean we need to think about Islam in the birthplace. Islam has a ground of ruling the government system. That’s the Islam is. What I’m trying to say is they’re all, you know within the every single Muslim there is capability of this Muslim person will not have any relationship with a Christian. Will not give his daughter to you. He’s not give his son to you. He is not gonna have a relationship with you. He is not gonna have every single Muslim all around the world, even modern one, if you go to his house, I’m not offending anybody, I’m telling the truth. I’m telling the real life. People don’t may believe it or they think it’s very offensive, but that’s fact is this. This Islam knows you are not a Muslim. Islam knows also, Muslim knows Mohammed is the last prophet. Muslim knows you by title because you’re not subjugated, submitted to Mohammed, you are not part of the heir of the Mohammed promise. Therefore you’re infidel. Therefore if you come to my house and drink this cup of water from my house I’ll bring you water and you are not Muslim, I’m a devoted Muslim, I’m not gonna say anything. But as soon as you leave I’m going to wash that cup. Because that cup needs to get washed because you’re not Muslim.
Darrell Bock
Mm hmm.
Paul Golhashem
This is enrooted in the Muslim every single Muslim around the world.
Darrell Bock
So it’s – I’ll say it this way. It’s a radically separatistic way to look at the world.
Darrell Bock
It is. I mean it is Muslim believe their final religion. I mean we’re talking about a religion believe Mohammed is the last prophet, Quran is the final book. They don’t believe your Bible. They believe they corrupted. They believe this is the last religion. They have the truth. So from here all of our understanding is this. Now a Muslim over here believe now we are love all the people, all the religion. Well, I believe there are two different voices here and the Middle East.
Darrell Bock
Okay. Now that actually is part of why I’m raising this is because there may be what the historic connection is to Islam on the one hand, but then there are a way in which people have chosen to live out their Islamic faith. And that’s not all the same. And I’ll tell you why I’m saying this to you. We once had a group meet here that the state department, our state department had arranged. We were the host. And it was actually – to show you how interesting this was, at this meeting there were like seven or eight people from – these were Iraqis. They were from Iraq. And they were here to learn about religious pluralism. And the person that I was paired with on the American side by the state department taught Islam at SMU. Okay. So that already is communicating to you.

And so we had this very mixed group. And when we came to discuss ISIS this huge emotional reaction came from all the Iraqis present. And they wanted to communicate one thing. They are not Muslims as far as we are concerned. They couldn’t have been more emphatic. And they wanted to make a distinction between whatever Islam they represented and what ISIS was.

And so the signal that that sent to me was when I find out that someone is a Muslim, I still need to ask and become aware of how do they view their Islamic commitment. You know. Granted, they’re not Christians they believe that Mohammed is one prophet and the Quran is their book. But how engaged are they really with the Quran. You already said your mother prayed with things she didn’t even understand. And what does it mean to see this difference here? I mean not everyone who is Muslim is as radical in their approach to violence as ISIS is.

Paul Golhashem
Well, Dr. Bock, I mean is – my heart, you know my heart as a former Muslim, and live in Islamic society, Islamic government system, my heart is for Muslim. I love Muslim people. And I’m on the – I mean my passion that they understand my view is, the fact is when we saying – when they saying ISIS is not true Muslim, I’m saying have you ever read your Quran? Have you ever go back read the history? 1979, Dr. Bock, when Islamic regime took over Iran, we’re talking about twentieth century. Okay. When they took over in Iran, they did exactly the same thing that ISIS did in Syria and Iraq. What does that mean? They destroy all the history of the kingdom of the Pahlavi in Iran. They try to influence everything to say there were _____, that mean demonic kingdom and we are Islamic true voice of the civilization.
Darrell Bock
So the point that you’re making here goes back to the point you were making earlier. Which is that from a ideological and social and political point of view, Islam no matter what form it takes is totalitarian in the way in which it structures a society.
Paul Golhashem
It’s proved itself. It’s a fact. I mean historical fact.
Darrell Bock
Right. Fair enough. The unity in Islam on the one hand and yet the diversity within Islam on the other, and they both coexist. There is a worldview that is shaping, that is similar and that has roots and that is – that touches every area of life. It’s totalitarian in that sense. It’s not just a religion. It’s an ideology. It’s an orientation. And it distinguishes very strongly between those who are Muslim and everybody else.
Paul Golhashem
Yes.
Darrell Bock
Okay.
Paul Golhashem
Yes.
Darrell Bock
And then on the other hand there is the reality that the individual Muslim who participates in popular religion may or may not appreciate everything about the official Islamic faith, if I can say it that way. Your mother was praying prayer. She didn’t understand.
Paul Golhashem
Yes.
Darrell Bock
She – and people apply their faith in a variety of ways. Which means that when we engage at an individual level with someone coming out of a Muslim background, it’s important not to have kind of one, just one portrait of a Muslim in mind.
Paul Golhashem
You know, while going back to – I mean at the bottom of our conversation we’re gonna end up with how we can share the gospel.
Darrell Bock
Right. Exactly. Exactly.
Paul Golhashem
And eventually that would be our – that would be ultimate goal we have. And I agree with you. I mean I agree with you in a sense of we need to understand this person. How his understanding or her understanding about Islam and there is so much common ground between us to share the gospel with the Muslim. They believe in God. They believe that God exists. They believe God created everything in the universe.
Darrell Bock
Believe in a sovereign God.
Paul Golhashem
They believe that one. They believe the mercy of the God. They believe the justice of God. They have so much common ground. But the thing is make us as a Christian to work through that one to understand the worldview of Islam. That’s very important part, Dr. Bock. That sometimes we get confused of this part. Because I believe, as I said, I believe Muslims as a general their mind, their worldview been shaped by tradition, by Islamic teaching, by Quran from the fathers. From the fathers. So what I’m saying is the worldview of this Muslim is this is a worldview. This is a final religion of the world. And Islam is the final religion. We have a final voice. And Islam is this only true religion and Mohammed is the only true prophet. Now if you today talk to a Muslim here in studying at UTD or any other places, they may say, no, we believe other religion. But in a practical way, I mean if our goal and our passion is share the gospel, and bring that person to a storyline of the Bible, which is salvation, and put him on that process, which is say God promised to Abraham which is through you I will bless entire nation. And then that promise being fulfilled in Christ. In the cross of Calvary. When God fulfill this promise. And we have in the book of Revelation chapter 7 when every nation from every tribe come together. I think we need to put the Muslim mind of the storyline of the Bible, because they do not have the storyline of the Bible.
Darrell Bock
Right.
Paul Golhashem
Quran has a different storyline. Then that would impact the worldview. So my – what I’m trying to say is, yes, the Muslim have a different perspective. They maybe not having the mind like the radical Muslim have. But the worldview need to be shaped through the biblical truth. Biblical storyline –
Darrell Bock
Right. And it’s a very different worldview than the Bible and it’s a worldview that even though there are differences among Muslims, that core worldview is so different than the Bible there’s work to be done.
Paul Golhashem
Absolutely.
Darrell Bock
Yeah.
Paul Golhashem
You know our ultimate passion as a Christian is this. That God promised to restore what is lost in after sin.
Darrell Bock
That’s right.
Paul Golhashem
That God promises one there would be a shalom again once again. And we need to work through the shalom as a Christian. We need to bring every tribe, every language, ever religion to this submission through the grace and through I will say if you reaching the Muslim, can I say this one? Through the persecution of suffering. Which is missing big time in our evangelism, our churches not so preaching this one, the cost of the gospel. For preaching the gospel to the Muslim.

So, therefore, our goal, our ultimate goal should be this. I need to bring that Muslim to realize, tell him or tell her God love him so much that Jesus died for his sin. You know the –

Darrell Bock
Okay. You’re getting ahead of us now, so let’s –
Paul Golhashem
Sorry.
Darrell Bock
That’s okay. That’s okay. That’s a good preview. Okay. So let’s close one loop and then we can begin to transition. Real quickly, you came to the United States in the 1990s. Okay. I’m gonna try and save time.
Paul Golhashem
1998.
Darrell Bock
1998.
Paul Golhashem
Yes.
Darrell Bock
And you came to the Lord after you got here.
Paul Golhashem
I came, you know is short – I mean my story, I wrote my book from the Semnan to the Jerusalem. That book been published is out there. That’s my testimony. God is amazing. That’s God was so beautiful. I mean he’s a sovereign God. He’s so gracious God. So God brought me to his truths out of a book from Nicholas _____ _____. The person who doesn’t believe God, is a Greek writer. And I pick up some notes from footnote from the scripture. And I meditate on the Word of God. From Langston Hughes, a American, African American poet. The poetry, the poem, like Jesus Christ. Reading that one and captivated my soul. I said, who is this Jesus?

So, God done a miracle thing to my life to bring me to his truth through a nonbelieving God literatures. And when I read the Bible for first time in Farsi, in my language, I said, this is precious. This is –

Darrell Bock
And someone gave you a Bible in Farsi?
Paul Golhashem
In Farsi. Here.
Darrell Bock
After you got here.
Paul Golhashem
Yes. For first time I read the Bible of course I was seeking for the Bible in Iran, but Bible is illegal. You can’t get the Bible in bookstore. So here for first time I receive the Bible in Farsi. I read it and it didn’t took too long. You know it was a beautiful thing to hear the Word –
Darrell Bock
Okay. So we’ve come to the point. Let’s begin to transition now. Obviously then the – I would say, I’ll do it this way. The attraction of Islam to someone who comes out of a Islamic background would be the element of orderliness that it gives to life.
Paul Golhashem
Mm hmm.
Darrell Bock
The respect for God that it shows. And there is, I think probably, for lack of a better description, a kind of ethnic element to it as well. That allows one to identify in terms of their own personal background. That those would be the points of attraction that would cause someone to adhere to Islam. Is there anything missing?
Paul Golhashem
I think one of the things in this – that I’m going back to this one. Because I believe based on historical facts, the piety in Islam, the way they worship dedicate themself to God. This is all belong, you know it. I mean you’re a scholar. This is all belong to Christianity.
Darrell Bock
Right.
Paul Golhashem
This is all belong to Judeo-Christian worship in early time. We lost it. So, if someone looking for beauty in Islam, they lost the beauty in Christianity. The missing to recognize how beautiful Jesus is, how beautiful his gospel is. Of course, there is Islam and the piety of the worship. Unity all together. A sitting in a ground to worship God and dedicate one month to not eating. They all belong to us. We miss this one. We lost it throughout the transition of the power and all of this.
Darrell Bock
Okay. Let’s develop that a second. Cause when I look – now I’m looking at outside as a Christian. And I look at Islam and I see it described and I see it laid out and I see the emphases that I see in the Quran. And the one thing that jumps out at me is that whereas the sovereignty of God is highlighted in Islam, even in an emphatic kind of way, the idea of a relationship with a covenant keeping God –
Paul Golhashem
It is not there.
Darrell Bock
Is not there.
Paul Golhashem
Is not there.
Darrell Bock
And so this whole relational development, I mean if you walk up to a Muslim and say, you need to have a relationship with God –
Paul Golhashem
Oh, you just –
Darrell Bock
You’re done, right?
Paul Golhashem
You just, wait a minute.
Darrell Bock
Yeah.
Paul Golhashem
That’s why the word love does not exist in Quran. You do not relating love to God. You just make him so feminine. That God is so powerful. So that’s a misconception of understanding what kind of love we’re talking about, you know. What kind of mercy we’re talking about. In the first word of Islam – bism Allah Alruhmin Alrahim. In the name of God of merciful God. So how do you apply this mercy? How do you understand this mercy? How do you – we apply the mercy and justice and the love of God. Because we received it, we apply it. There is no receiving and applying. Because there is no relationship –
Darrell Bock
Yeah. Yeah. And to me that is the biggest difference at a – besides the Trinity, which is not minor. But in terms of the doctrine of God and the way he relates to his creation, that is the biggest difference between Islam and Christianity.
Paul Golhashem
Absolutely.
Darrell Bock
Okay. So the question becomes this. And I’m gonna try and pull this together cause we’ve been kind of roaming all over the place in dealing with –
Paul Golhashem
Well, 20 minutes –
Darrell Bock
– I know. It’s hard. Exactly right.
Paul Golhashem
This a deep conversation.
Darrell Bock
That’s right. Thousands of years to develop and 20 minutes so solve. Not happening.
Paul Golhashem
May God have mercy on us.
Darrell Bock
So, but here’s I think what we’re trying to articulate. And that is that when you first encounter someone who’s Muslim, probably the first and best thing to do is to make the effort to get to know them as a person because the relational development of the culture is very, very important.
Paul Golhashem
Absolutely.
Darrell Bock
And you just want, if they will share it with you, you want to hear the nature of their spiritual experience and their spiritual beliefs.
Paul Golhashem
Yeah, Dr. Bock, they will speaking to you. You just need to be a good listener. What I’m saying is we are human.
Darrell Bock
Yes.
Paul Golhashem
We have a flesh. We all struggles. Muslim struggles. Christian struggles.
Darrell Bock
Right.
Paul Golhashem
They don’t have answer. They’re confused.
Darrell Bock
Right.
Paul Golhashem
What’s my destiny? You have answer. You’re the reason for it. There is no concept of sin, therefore, there is no logical understanding that’s a cause from the sin. Disruption of the shalom. So what I’m saying is if you are have a compassion about the lost, if you have a heart to bring everyone to the beauty of the gospel, beauty of the cross, then you will – a good listener, then you listen to that person and then sooner or later you will hear the struggle.
Darrell Bock
Yes.
Paul Golhashem
You’ll hear of daily basis problems. Then this is you because you love that person you connecting. That wasn’t in God’s plan. That God’s plan wasn’t this. God wasn’t this plan. This is happen something in Genesis chapter 3. And guess what my friend, my brother, Mohammed Ali, whatever the name is, you don’t have this Quran. Because there is no original sin in Quran. There is no chapter 3 in Quran of the Genesis we have. They don’t have that one. So, therefore, they can’t relate it all of the struggles to the source of all the problems.
Darrell Bock
This is the challenge of doing this kind of evangelism. So the first step that you call listening I have made fancy in our digital age. I call it getting a spiritual GPS on the person. Okay.
Paul Golhashem
Well, yes. Yeah.
Darrell Bock
You’re trying to get a reading of what drives them in life.
Paul Golhashem
Yes. Of course.
Darrell Bock
And then having done that, you’re looking for those places where the opportunity to speak the gospel into that space exist.
Paul Golhashem
Amen. You know when you speaking through the Spirit, when your goal is give glorify to Christ, not to your denomination, what the Spirit will tell you where is the moment to glorify him. That’s a problem we have we confusing yourself. You know. When you have the passion I believe the Spirit will guide you the right place, right moment to say, click that person. This is what is happening to you. And who doesn’t like to pray with that person. Let me pray. Let’s pray together. You know. I think that’s the things we need to work on that one as far as our mind. To how we can approach Muslim background.
Darrell Bock
We’ve already begun to suggest kind of where the hurdles are. The things that don’t exist in Islam, that do exist in Christianity that a person has to kind of work their way towards. I mean so obviously we’ve got a relational God who keeps covenant. Okay. You’ve talked about the fact that there is no concept of original sin. So there’s no idea of a separation from God. Okay. Okay. Which is a challenge in the relationship to the gospel. It’s a real challenge.
Paul Golhashem
It is.
Darrell Bock
And then add on top of that who the Christian believes Jesus Christ to be. Okay.
Paul Golhashem
Wow.
Darrell Bock
Son of God. All right. Which is an offense to most Muslims, correct?
Paul Golhashem
Absolutely. Yeah.
Darrell Bock
Okay. So that’s a hill to climb.
Paul Golhashem
It is. But guess what? You know I believe every single Muslim, every single Muslim they’re asking the question. I mean we have that challenging question every single human has. No matter who you are. From what nation you are. You’re seeking for truth for the reason you – what is my destiny?
Darrell Bock
Why am I here?
Paul Golhashem
Why I’m here? Who doesn’t ask that question. I ask that question when I was 13 years old. That God put this within our soul. We’re longing to go back to our creator. I think that’s the area we need to connect this person to a storyline of the Bible. A storyline in Bible there is a creation, there is a fall, there is a redemption, there is a restoration. We need to align Muslim friends with to this storyline of the Bible. And we are missing sometimes, Dr. Bock, we are missing to share the entire story of the Bible to our Muslim friends.
Darrell Bock
Right. Okay. Now let’s go at this cause this is important. It seems to me that one of the points of contact is to say to the person, and I actually don’t know the answer to this question. Which is why I’m asking it. Obviously, in Genesis the human being is seen as being made in the image of God.
Paul Golhashem
We don’t have that point in Quran.
Darrell Bock
So the relational element –
Paul Golhashem
This is the very beginning.
Darrell Bock
It’s at the very beginning. And it’s missing in Islam.
Paul Golhashem
Yes.
Darrell Bock
So you have to introduce the possibility of thinking about God differently.
Paul Golhashem
Absolutely. Yes. And true – not only true – you know is goes – I mean it starts from you as a Christian. You know we’re just not going to put this information in the mind of that person. Is –
Darrell Bock
It’s how I’m relating to them as a person that’s very important.
Paul Golhashem
That’s right. You know. How you want to relate the story of the Bible to that person. You know. What is ultimate goal of this conversation?
Darrell Bock
Right.
Paul Golhashem
And then you as a Christian, I as a Christian need to live according to what I’m saying.
Darrell Bock
Right, right.
Paul Golhashem
It all comes in harmony. All should work together hand to hand. To bring that person to the promise of God to Abraham, Genesis 12:1-2.
Darrell Bock
Mm hmm.
Paul Golhashem
Is this – it’s not just one piece. It’s everything need to fit together.
Darrell Bock
And the reason it has – if I can say it this way. One of the reasons it has to be holistic, it has to cover all these bases, is because in the worldview of Islam religion covers all of life.
Paul Golhashem
Yes.
Darrell Bock
And so from that sense it’s coherent for a Muslim to see a coherent life.
Paul Golhashem
Yes. They’re seeking for it. They are longing for – I mean they are human that God put in their soul. I mean they are looking for a good relationship, a prosperous life, a peaceful land, a good government. And they all seeking for same thing as you and I were looking for. And they are – they don’t have that one. They’re struggle with this one. A Muslim persecute Muslim. The ISIS, when entered the Syrian Aleppo, they persecuted Christian and Muslim altogether. The refugees not just were the Muslim. Not Christian. Only Muslim too.
Darrell Bock
Sure.
Paul Golhashem
So Muslim were confused. What is – this is a moment – see the place –
Darrell Bock
That wasn’t supposed to happen, right?
Paul Golhashem
No. So it’s a beauty is this one. The mystery, Dr. Bock. I call it mystery. When we are not working, God is working. When we are desperate to find a solution to reach out to the Muslim, God bring a cause because of the event. Create the ISIS. God let this group become existent, everything is happen because of his will. I believe that opportunity came, God gave us this opportunity to share the gospel, to share the gospel with the Muslim refugee just like the person called Mohammed when I met him as a refugee camp. He said, if this is a God of my father I’m not gonna –
Darrell Bock
I don’t want anything to do with it.
Paul Golhashem
I don’t want to do anything with it.
Darrell Bock
Yeah. I’m very familiar with that. I was in Germany a little over a year ago in Cologne. Cologne in Germany. It’s Cologne in English. I’m preaching at a Presbyterian church. But they had me come to a special service. I’m being translated into Farsi. It’s 300 refugees. They are led by a pastor who formerly was a goalie on the Iran national soccer team. Who left Iran and has become a Christian and become a pastor of this group. And their disaffection with Islam as they had experienced it has left them completely open to the gospel. And they are coming to faith literally every week. Because of what they have left behind. And so you know – so I look at that and I go, that’s interesting. You know you may meet Muslims who actually are searching.
Paul Golhashem
They are. They’re confused. So what new uprising Iran just happened couple months ago, so you – if you are observing well what’s happening in that chaos, who are in the street, you see a conflict between fathers and the children. These are conflict between two generation. The children says to the fathers, wrong choice. We’re not gonna follow what you did. Because what we going through throughout these years of the ruling over the supremacy of Islam and ruling over us, taking us freedom and everything from us, we don’t want to follow your God which you worshipped, which you confused, which you don’t know. I think that’s the conflict in one point. I mean we are, Dr. Bock, we are obligated to the gospel. Because if we sitting over here, the God will find a way purpose to reach out to the lost. We need to be pioneer. We need to be, if you’re listening to the voices, listening to event God causes in around the world, in the Middle East here, all around the world, and be in let God moved us in the front. He is leading us to bring this confused nation, confused generation, to the truth of the gospel.
Darrell Bock
Okay. Now that we’ve solved all this, let me go with what’s left.
Paul Golhashem
No, we didn’t. We didn’t solve anything. We were just talking about it.
Darrell Bock
Let me ask you one more question. I think it’s the last question we have time for.
Paul Golhashem
Yeah.
Darrell Bock
Obviously we’ve suggested that Jesus Christ and the person of Jesus Christ, the idea that he’s the son of God is very difficult for a Muslim. What suggestions do you have for us about how to talk about him?
Paul Golhashem
You know Jesus who – in the Quran they believe Jesus as you, if you – you’re not Muslim if you don’t believe Jesus, basically. The Jesus who supreme in his power, who bring the relationship of the lost person who is in a dark world and confuse, we need to introduce this Jesus, and, again, I’m going back again because it’s very important. Because I cannot reach the Muslim, I cannot share the gospel with Muslim and do not preach and teach the persecution because of the sake of the gospel. That’s not the gospel and that’s not the Jesus we supposed to say.

Well, how we can preach the Jesus, how we can introduce the Jesus to the Muslim? About the love and grace of God. And let this person know what the cost is to follow this Jesus. Because we believe with this – the mistake we’re doing is today, Dr. Bock, in the Middle East area, we preaching the gospel without the price a Muslim converted from Islam need to pay for the gospel. I think when we understand this one, because the beauty of the Jesus, beauty of the gospel, how priceless is, the Muslim you – I mean you don’t have to tell the person go die for Jesus. He will do it or she will do it. Because of the – when he or she sees a relationship with Christ, know the God who created him, what the God has planned for him in eternity and he will give everything for this gospel and for this Lord.

Darrell Bock
And so what you’re saying is is that if you understand what it is that it – what the story of the Bible is in terms of what it cost Jesus to bring us to himself, we need to be prepared to walk the same path.
Paul Golhashem
Amen.
Darrell Bock
Okay.
Paul Golhashem
If we preach this one and teach this one, you will captivated the heart and mind of the Muslim. We’re not injecting –
Darrell Bock
Because they understand suffering.
Paul Golhashem
That’s it. We’re not injecting the Bible. We just talking about their heart and their soul because they are lost, they are confused, they’re looking for the answer. And what answer we giving to them. This is very important mission we have.
Darrell Bock
Okay. Well, Paul, Hussein, it has been a real pleasure to talk about this.
Paul Golhashem
I’ve been blessed by sitting with you.
Darrell Bock
Yeah. And I think you’ve really given us insight not just into Islam but how to think about sharing with Muslims and that’s exactly what we were hoping to do. So I appreciate you taking the time to be with us.
Paul Golhashem
Thank you.
Darrell Bock
And we appreciate you being a part of the Table. And we hope you found this not just fascinating but instructive. And we hope you’ll be – joining us again soon.
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Darrell L. Bock
Dr. Bock is senior research professor of New Testament and executive director for cultural engagement at Dallas Theological Seminary. He has authored or edited more than forty books, including Jesus according to Scripture: Restoring the Portrait from the Gospels, Jesus in Context: Background Readings for Gospel Study, Studying the Historical Jesus: A Guide to Sources and Methods, Jesus the Messiah: Tracing the Promises, Expectations, and Coming of Israel’s King, Who Is Jesus?: Linking the Historical Jesus with the Christ of Faith, and Key Events in the Life of the Historical Jesus: A Collaborative Exploration of Context and Coherence.
Paul Golhashem
Paul Golhashem is a DTS student from Iran who followed Jesus after coming to the United States.
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