Witness to Muslims and 1 John
by Abu Daoud
I went out today with, let us say, an openness to talk with folks about the religious topics. But instead of taking a copy of the Gospel in Islamic Arabic which I have used on several occasions (I didn't have one handy), I picked up a small pocket Bible. It is the Jesuit translation, which I particularly like because it uses real (classical) Arabic but not the rarefied, esoteric stuff found in the main translation--the Van Dyke.
Also, it is not designed to be an Islamic translation, but I suspect it is modeled to offer something aesthetically pleasing and useful for liturgy. (What else would you expect from Jesuits? And now that I think of it what could be more Quranic?)
I also though about the people I was visiting, how we had discussed several parables of the Kingdom before and I was thinking, maybe we should mix it up a little and try something else. I recalled the advice from an Anglican priest from when I was new in the Middle East. He had recommended 1 John, so I thought, ok, let's do it.
So we did, three of us sat down and read 1 John 1 and here are some of my impressions:
-the language of light is something Muslims know
-darkness as an image of sin/evil makes sense to Muslims
-the phrase "word of God" is also in the Quran, of course
-the author starts out by insisting that he is talking about what he has seen and touched, lending the text authenticity
-the repetition and flow is very nice, reminiscent of the earlier surahs in the Quran which are quite poetic, of course 1 Jn is pretty concise and clear, which makes it different than the Quran.
-it is not one the THE GOSPELS, that is, not from Jesus, which means it's not by Islamic standards "injiil." But I explained John was one of the followers of Jesus, like the rightly guided caliphs. He said, ok so this is like hadiith. Well, sort of, I said.
-there is a clear statement about "Son of God" in there, so if you haven't talked about that already, or if you don't want to tackle that issue, then stick to the parables of the Kingdom. But sooner or later you gotta take yer medicine.
Anyway, some reflections. Please keep me in your prayers, lots of stuff is happening, some of it not so good, some of it good but difficult.