Compassion on the “Umma”

Ok. I know the title is confusing but as a preface, it has nothing to do with the University Mail Managers Association.

I am reminded as we minister in North Africa of the great group pressure on Muslims to stay Muslim built into their religion and thus their culture and thinking. It is called “umma” and means “community” or “people” when speaking of the tight nit group. When sharing Christ with Muslims Christians are often easily discouraged thinking that they are too hard and that there is no help for them in God.

Understanding this concept of community in Islam will, hopefully, not continue to discourage us but give great compassion on a people that pull each other so frantically away from the true light of God. To understand the concept of “Umma” I will share with you the two main categories of “umma” that Muslims live under by way of a few personal stories:

1. The Family

“My salvation depends on my family. Their salvation depends on me.”

Suraya, a new believer, has two sisters. There is a Muslim folk belief that says that a man with three daughters and no sons will go straight to paradise for the dishonor God has given him to bear on this earth. So I mentioned that to Suraya’s dad and he stopped me quickly and said, “But it is a not a sure entrance into paradise! Only if I raise them well and they follow the straight path of God.”

So Suraya’s dad does not yet know that she is a believer in Christ and has left Islam. When he finds this out do you think he’ll be angry now that because of her he will most likely not get into paradise but burn in the fires of hell?

A common phrase when someone does something God for you here is to say, “Allah irham walideen”. It means basically, “May God have mercy on your parents for this great kindness you have shown me.” That is to say that by the good works and right living of the descendants of person, the one who has died may be shown mercy and released from the fires of hell.

So how do you think siblings might respond when they found out their brother or sister has left Islam and is keeping their dead parents in hell even longer?

2. The Country

“Prince of the believers, not prince of the Kufar.”

My friend Muhasseen is an outspoken believer. He met with his estranged step father a couple years ago. The purpose of the meeting, he would later discover, was so that his step father could investigate whether it is true that he had left Islam and become a Christian. So he asked Muhaseen, “Will you not come back to Islam?” Muhasseen confessed, “I can do nothing else but love Christ.” In a rage his step father stood up and proclaimed that he should never again contact his siblings. “Our king is called the Amir el Mumeneen (prince of the believing Muslims) not Amir el kufar (prince of the infidels)!” He has not yet seen him again.

Can you see a crowd of angry Muslims attacking a few believers in Pakistan or Algeria with this cry on their tongues?

There is a young man named Yunis that I have spent many hours sharing Christ with. When I challenged him to ask a Muslim teacher, called a Faqih, if sure forgiveness was possible for the Muslims, he did so. He told me that the response of the faqih was, “Noone in this country will find forgiveness of Allah. They do not follow pure Islam.” Basically he was saying that everyone in the country is either forgiven together or corrupt together.

Can you imagine how an Islamic movement could sweep a country and exterminate “non-Muslim” activities and/or people like in Iran? They are doing it for the potential salvation of all the people.


This kind of thinking is in direct opposition to the teaching of the Bible.

*Two shall be in a field. One will be taken, one will be left.

*Example of Noah who lived righteous in a godless generation.

*Able’s sacrifice was accepted by God while Cain’s was not.

*Jesus’ ample teaching on “forsaking mother, and father, and wives, and children, and country for my name’s sake”.

So, obviously, we don’t agree but what should this understanding cause in us? Desperation? No, compassion. The 1.5 billion Muslims in the world have been lied to and are fearfully, fervently, passionately, fanatically pulling each other away from the light and into condemnation. What glory for Christ to save one! What great joy comes with liberation from such strong shackles!

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