Book Review: Reaching Your Muslim Neighbor with the Gospel, by A. S. Ibrahim
A. S. Ibrahim, Reaching Your Muslim Neighbor with the Gospel. Crossway, 2022. 176 pages.
I often tell North American churches: “there is a mosque coming to a neighborhood near you.”
Islam is growing in America, and A. S. Ibrahim’s new book Reaching Your Muslim Neighbor with the Gospel helps Christians prepare for this beautiful opportunity without worrying about going to jail—something that lurks in the minds of Christian evangelists in most Muslim nations.
There’s a myth that Muslim evangelism requires a degree in Islamic studies. Indeed, we need to be sensitive to the Muslim mind and have a general understanding of Islam. But what is most needed is a love for Muslim people and a firm grasp of the gospel.
Ibrahim’s book is a primer toward that end. Using personal experiences of growing up in a Muslim nation and sharing his faith, Ibrahim has written a jewel of a book filled with biblical wisdom.
I’m grateful for his overarching positive view of Muslim evangelism. In my experience, after living in the Middle East for 20 years, Muslims are far more open to talking about spiritual life than apathetic Westerners; all it takes is some grace and truth.
THINKING ABOUT MUSLIMS
The book is divided into two major sections. In the first, Ibrahim orients us to the Muslim mindset and corrects common Christian misunderstandings of Islam.
Ibrahim begins with something critical to understanding the Muslim world—that there is no “Muslim world.” There are only Muslim worlds. Next, Ibrahim addresses the idea that Islam is the fastest-growing religion in the world. Though Islam is growing in America as Muslims immigrate to the West, Ibrahim exposes this cliché as an exaggeration.
Ibrahim then calls Christians to understand that good Muslim evangelism is merely biblical evangelism. Many methods for Muslim evangelism sadly take a gnostic approach, advancing a body of secret knowledge which must be learned before you talk to a Muslim about the Christian faith.
Hogwash. These overly creative, unbiblical methods only end in confusing a Muslim convert. You won’t find that in this book. Ibrahim’s method of sharing faith with Muslims is solid, gospel-centered evangelism. Consequently, you can read this book and become a better evangelist with non-Muslims.
For example, Ibrahim coaches us to take some time to think about how Muslims think. This is helpful instruction for evangelizing anybody from any background. His wise counsel for Muslim evangelism is easily transposed to everyday evangelism—be ready to read the Bible, communicate clearly and effectively, and be bold and clear.
SPEAKING WITH MUSLIMS
In the book's second part, Ibrahim gives practical help for sharing our faith with Muslims. I can vouch for every example of evangelism he gives from my experiences in the Middle East. I am especially grateful that Ibrahim points out the power of Bible study with Muslim friends.
My favorite chapters are five and six: “Understanding the Muslim Paradigm” and “Basic Muslim Misunderstandings About Christians and Christianity.” Anyone who has a Muslim friend would be helped to read these chapters.
Some readers might be uncomfortable with Ibrahim’s short thoughts on dreams and visions in his chapter on prayer, but much of this has to do with the nature of Islam. Dreams and visions are a big part of Muslim culture, especially in Muslim folk religion. When we first moved to the Middle East, I was surprised how many Muslim converts I met had started their inquiry into the Christian faith because of a dream. I learned over time that though dreams can be a helpful start, the best thing to do with a new Muslim believer is to point them to God's revealed Word in the Bible.
Not only does Ibrahim sweep away some common misunderstandings about Islam and Muslims, but he also locates potential land mines in gospel conversations, specifically, about the Koran and Muhammad.
Ibrahim calls us to bold sharing of the faith, but he also is brave. He tells us like it is, and so many do not write about Muslim evangelism because it can be dangerous. Most Muslims are not violent, but some are, and Ibrahim puts himself out there by writing this book.
My only concern about the book is an omission: the church. Except for a few sentences in the chapter on “Final Thoughts,” the book does not highlight the witness of a Christian community.
In my experience, I have seen most Muslims come to faith and remain in the faith through three things: friendship, the study of the Word, and the witness of a healthy local church. Jesus says a loving and unified church is our most effective evangelistic witness in John 13 and John 17—not just in the West, but in Muslim nations, too.
Perhaps that’s a follow-up book for Ibrahim or others. Perhaps this omission comes because there are so few healthy indigenous churches in the Middle East.
Still, Reaching Your Muslim Neighbor with the Gospel is an excellent practical, down-to-earth guide for sharing faith with a Muslim friend. Read it alongside Thabiti Anyabwile’s The Gospel for Muslims.