2.01 - Introduction
ISLAM -- THE WORLD POWER OF THE FUTURE?
In the 19th century Islam had virtually disappeared from view in Europe and America. Only a few Westerners in distant colonies had been exposed to Muslims. Some romantic tales about the Turkish wars survived. However, the rapid technological developments in the West had by-passed the Islamic peoples, making them appear insignificant.
But not much time has passed since Europe was last in danger of being overrun by Islam. In the year 1453 Constantinople, the Eastern bulwark of Christianity, was captured by the Ottomans. Later in 1529 and again in 1683 the Turks stood at the gates of Vienna. The struggle to free Belgrade lasted almost 200 years; and it was only a short time before the First World War when the last Balkan countries were able to shake off the Islamic Turkish yoke. For 600 years Islam and Christianity have wrestled with each other in that area.
Many Christians have forgotten that Syria and North Africa were once the heartland of the Christian world! But during the first Islamic invasions in the years AD 632 to 732 they were overrun and fell under Arab control. Muslim armies swept into Western Europe and stood no more than 200 kilometers south of Paris, and near Geneva, too. If Charles Martel had not stood firm we would likely all be Muslims today! Nietzsche, the atheist, ventured to say sarcastically, “The greatest mistake in world history was the defeat of the Arabs at Tours and Poitiers.“
The third great attack by Islam began on October 17, 1973, during the Yom Kippur War against Israel, when the Arab kings and sheikhs suddenly quadrupled the price of oil. Since then oil has become an expensive commodity. Its price is one of the main reasons for the economic crises that are currently shaking the world from east to west, to such an extent that some countries, especially in the Third World, are almost strangled by debts. Events in the Near East are no longer absent from the daily television news programs. Islam is building a power potential on all five continents with its oil and financial weapons. This world religion is closing in on Europe and the USA, and looking hungrily at the masses in Asia and Africa.
Some Christians are slowly beginning to ponder the question “What is Islam and who is Allah?“ A vast ignorance prevails in this sphere. Humanists try to solve the problem superficially with well-meaning programs, dialogues and suggestions, but they are not getting to the root of the problem.
Today, there are more than ten million Muslims living, working and studying in Europe. Several million Muslims have also poured into North America. This means a double challenge for all followers of Christ! First, the “mission field“ has entered our home countries. Secondly, we must recognize that Islam has a set goal to make the whole world Muslim. For these reasons, it is essential for every Christian to consider seriously the following questions: What are the aims of Islam? Who is Allah? What relationship does Allah have to Jesus Christ and his Church?