Why Some Muslims are Attracted to Christianity
More Muslims have converted to the Way of Jesus Christ in the last four decades than in all the other years since the advent of Islam in the 7th Century. Something is certainly happening among Muslims and there is an openness in their society that was not there before. It’s also important to note that large numbers of nominal Christians, especially in Europe, are converting to Islam--a main reason being so they can marry Muslim women. Who has more converts? Not sure about that. I will say that Muslims converting to Christianity often pay a heavy price in terms of persecution, and that Westerners converting to Islam are afforded generous protection by their governments.
But here is the question: why are some Muslims attracted to the way of Jesus Christ? Here are some of the main reasons:
1) The Bible. We forget how compelling and convincing Jesus' teachings and parables are. He was certainly, among other things, a highly talented teacher, and his parables and sayings have the ability to lodge themselves into a person's mind, even after only one hearing. His insights into human nature, society, kindness, forgiveness, and God's power--not to mention the many miracles he worked--are convincing to a good number of Muslims. Of course, Islam teaches that the Christian and Jewish Scriptures are muharraf--corrupted. But after a fair reading of the Gospels, sometimes the integrity and wisdom found therein can break through this Islamic doctrine. Incidentally, Muslim background believers from my experience tend to center their thought on the Gospels much more than Paul's epistles--very different than the evangelical tradition which has, in practice at least, tended to give primacy to the Pauline epistles.
2) Dreams & Miracles. What can I say? They are happening, and folks here don't have the initial inclination that Westerners do to "disprove" or "figure out how it was done." A miracle is from God--it's that simple. Often times in dreams people see Jesus, though at times it is one of the saints. This may not result in conversion, but it opens a path of inquiry that sometimes leads to conversion.
3) Charity. "They will know that we are Christians by our love." One refugee from an Arab country received some help from some Christians, and he said, "We come here and we receive nothing from the Muslims--the Christians are the only ones who take care of us. I know nothing of your religion, but I will become a Christian." We think of things like the Inquisition and the Crusades, but we forget the quiet, persistent witness of kind, caring Christians from all traditions, including Catholics and Orthodox. Which brings to mind something that Saint Francis, another apostle to the Muslims, said, "Let us not seek to be loved, so much as to love others." If you need to be reminded of the quiet work of the Church around you, just look at how many schools and hospitals are run by Christians or were founded by various churches.
4) Christian Community. Traditionalist, orthodox Islam teaches that a man should not speak to a woman unless they are married or of the same family. It is a witness to the beauty of the Christian community, and thus its faith, when Muslims see genuine respect and friendship between men and women who are neither related or married to each other. The assumption among Muslims is that this sort of thing must lead to fornication or adultery; on the other hand, young men and women sincerely yearn for fellowship with members of the opposite sex. When they see this among Christians it reveals that we are a peculiar people, that there is something different about us: fellowship, conversation, and friendship but without all the adultery and fornication they are told must result.
5) The unconditional love of God. In orthodox Islam you're never quite sure of God's disposition towards you. If you have been very good, he might love you. If not? Who knows. There is a verse in the Qur'an about a people who love Allah, and Allah will love them. But it turns out that this verse is actually a threat against Muslims who will not engage in Jihad--if they won't follow the instruction to exert themselves on Allah's behalf, then he'll find someone better--the people who will love him and whom he will love. Christianity is different, proposing that God's love is unconditional and directed towards each and every person. That is an attractive teaching for many Muslims who are apprehensive about the deity's disposition towards them.
There are other reasons as well, but my experience is that these are the main reasons why Muslims are attracted to the way of Jesus Christ. The challenge is getting people to think. Islam teaches that it alone is the reasonable and logical religion. Most humans (including in the West, increasingly) have extremely weak critical thinking skills due to various reasons, so this assertion is simply accepted. These are five things which I know have been important in challenging that assumption, which have led people to ask new questions and venture down new paths.
Rev. Dr. Duane Alexander Miller has an MA in Theology and one of the main areas of research for his PhD in divinity was religious conversion from Islam to Christianity. He has taught all over the world and is currently an at-large lecturer and researcher at The Christian Institute of Islamic Studies. Duane and his wife, Sharon, now live in Madrid with their three children where they teach and minister at the Anglican Cathedral of the Redeemer. You can contact Duane here.