I have a good number of Muslim friends. Often we invite each other to share in joyful occasions but we also share in each other's dilemmas and sorrows too. The occasion of the new year celebration was no different. Like me, a Muslim friend was feeling that most of the world was celebrating the Millennium without remembering the person after whom the calendar was established and the age counted. He was happy to see that there were Christians who still remembered Jesus and thanked and praised God for sending him into the world.

The Bible and the Qur'an both mention Kaffâra, which can be translated as atonement, expiation, ransom or redemption. However, the Bible provides the most comprehensive study on the subject. The promises of God that he would make Kaffâra - atonement - for his people are mentioned several times in the Qur'an, but without any explicit mechanism.

Was Jesus' mission only for Israel?

Some Muslims claim that although Jesus was sent by God, his mission was only for the Israelites. His message was only for one community. They claim that his ministry "did not extend beyond the Children of Israel" (Zafrullah Khan, Deliverance from the Cross, p.48). They refer to two passages in the Gospel according to Matthew to support their view.

Surrendering to God's will. Islam and Christianity both claim to be revealed and historical faiths. They claim that God intervened in the lives of people to lead them into 'the straight path'. Muslims and Christians believe that God chose to reveal himself and his will to people by speaking through prophets and apostles. He enabled them to share his message with their fellow human beings in order to explain our existence on earth and our direction for the future.

Muslims argue that Jesus recieved only one Injil - the gospel and preached it. So, where is the message of Jesus?  Christians believe that, in the light of all the available evidence, the Gospel accounts, in what we know as the New Testament, are the most reliable historical records of what Jesus taught and did as witnessed by his first disciples. However, while some Muslims agree that what Jesus taught was the Gospel they deny that it was the same Gospel as we have today.

In a conversation a Muslim friend said, "The foundation of Islam is the five pillars: Shahada (the creed), Salat (prayer), Zakat (almsgiving), Saum (fasting), Hajj (pilgrimage). How would you, as a Christian, relate to such terms?" My response to this question was to say that I could find a Christian alternative to the five pillars of Islam in the Christian Scriptures.

When Christians use the testimony of the Qur'an in support of the Bible's integrity, some Muslims argue that the Qur'an does not relate to present day versions of the Torah and the Gospel. They say that the "Scriptures", which Christians and Jews had at the time of Muhammad (571 - 632 CE), were different from those available today.

Does Deuteronomy 18: 15-18 refer to the unlettered prophet of Sura 7:157? In response to a request made by the Israelites, Moses told his people, "The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to him." He told them further, "The Lord said to me: '…I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers; I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him. If anyone does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name, I myself will call him to account'" (Deuteronomy 18: 15-18).