UNDERSTANDING OTHER RELIGIONS Week 3: Islam 1. LEADER PREPARATION

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1 This includes: 1. Leader Preparation 2. Lesson Guide UNDERSTANDING OTHER RELIGIONS Week 3: Islam 1. LEADER PREPARATION LESSON OVERVIEW When you look at the major world religions, Islam is one of the youngest. Its prophet, Muhammad, established it around A.D. 622 in response to the growing paganism of the people in the city of Mecca, which later became the holiest city in Islam. The religion quickly spread across the Arab peninsula and Northern Africa. This lesson will help equip your students with an understanding of the basic beliefs of Islam and how those beliefs line up with Christianity. LESSON OBJECTIVES 1. WHAT: There are many differences between Christianity and Islam, but one of the most essential is the answer to the question Who is Jesus? 2. WHY: Your students may interact with people who are Muslims and need to be equipped to explain Christianity and to share Christ with them. 3. HOW: Help your students understand some of the basic teachings of Islam and how they differ from Christianity, then consider ways to pray for Muslim friends and be prepared to explain and share their faith. PRIMARY SCRIPTURE Mark 8:27-29 SECONDARY SCRIPTURES Deuteronomy 18:18-19; John 3:16-21; John 14:16; John 15:26; and 1 John 5:13 TEACHING PREP The short overview below is designed to help you prepare for your lesson. While you may not want to convey this information word-for-word with your teenagers, you ll definitely want to refer to it as you lead your small group lesson. It is important to understand the basics of the Islamic faith before you attempt to share Christ or have a spiritually focused conversation with anyone who is Muslim. They believe in God, known to them as Allah. However, they believe God is only fully known through their sacred scriptures known as the Qur an. Muslims believe the Qur an was dictated to the prophet Muhammad by the angel Gabriel. They believe the Qur an always existed, and supersedes the Bible as the only Word from God. They believe that the Qur an contains everything needed to know for living the life that Allah expects of them and that it must be read and spoken in Arabic to fully understand it. They believe that in order to achieve salvation they must adhere to the Five Pillars of Islam, believe in Allah s existence, acknowledge Muhammad s place beside God as the supreme prophet, and follow the Qur an.

2 The Five Pillars are: 1. The confession of faith They must confess that there is no other God but Allah and that Muhammad is his prophet. This confession must be held to death or it nullifies their salvation. 2. Prayer Part of the Islamic faith is the requirement to pray and recite passages from the Qur an facing Mecca five times a day: before sunrise, noon, mid-afternoon, sunset, and before bed. 3. Alms giving The Qur an teaches that they are to give 2.5% to the needy or to help spread the Islamic faith. By doing this, the remainder of their money is purified. 4. The fast During the lunar month of Ramadan, they are not permitted to allow anything to pass their lips food or water from sunrise to sunset. During the evenings there are often large feasts to celebrate Ramadan, which is the time that Gabriel gave Mohammad the Qur an. 5. The pilgrimage All Muslims who are physically and financially able must at some point in life make a pilgrimage to Mecca, the birthplace of Islam. While there they must walk seven times around the Kaabah the shrine of the black rock. This is supposedly the site where Adam and later Abraham worshiped. These pillars must be kept in order for a Muslim to enter heaven with Allah. Muslims believe that Jesus was a teacher of God, but that he was not God in human form. They believe that anyone who doesn t confess in Allah as God according to the Qur an cannot be saved. Read Mark 8: In this passage, we see how Jesus wanted to make sure that his disciples understood that he wasn t just a prophet. Peter told Jesus what he had heard others say, but he knew in his heart that Jesus was more than just a great prophet. Peter knew that Jesus was the Messiah, the one that God promised to send. One of the most critical differences between Christianity and Islam is the answer to the question, Who is Jesus? That will be the focus for most of our discussion in this lesson. THE BEFORE & AFTER [optional] Text Message Questions We ve provided a couple of different text message questions to send out to your students prior to your meeting. Feel free to use one or both of the questions below. As with the rest of the curriculum, edit these questions to fit the needs of your ministry. What s the difference between Christianity and Islam? Learn tonight at small group. Who do you say Jesus is? Be ready to talk about that question at small group tonight. Parent We ve provided you with an below that you can send to your parents following the lesson. Our hope is to encourage parents to continue the conversation at home. Feel free to edit and customize the to fit your ministry needs.

3 Dear parents, We re continuing our small group series looking at other religions. The focus this week was on Islam and its beliefs. We talked about some of the basics of the Islamic faith and looked at Mark 8:27-29 to focus on the importance of who Jesus really is. Our teenagers examined the Islamic faith s teaching that salvation is based on deeds and works and that there are certain things you have to do every day or you will lose that salvation. I d encourage you to take time to talk with your teenager about this week s lesson. We presented a lot of information, so your student may not remember all the details, but here are some questions that could help with your conversation: What if Jesus was not the Messiah and was just a good teacher or prophet? What impact would that have on your faith? Why do you think God would offer us salvation based on faith, not works? What would life be like if your deeds or actions earned you salvation, so you d know how you were doing and if you were living up to God s expectations? What s the best way to pray for a friend or family member who is a Muslim, and why? If you have any additional questions about this week s lesson, you re welcome to call or me. Have a blessed day!

4 UNDERSTANDING OTHER RELIGIONS Week 3: Islam 2. LESSON GUIDE GETTING THINGS STARTED [optional] Welcome your students and invite them into your meeting area. Open in prayer, then Whenever we get together as a small group, we take time to pray at the beginning, at the end, and sometimes in the middle of our lesson. How often do you pray on your own? Explain. If you re not folding your hands and closing your eyes, is it still prayer? How have you learned to stay connected in your relationship with God when you can t simply close your eyes to pray? When have you participated in a fast from food? What was that experience like? Imagine if our youth pastor told everyone this week that, to really live as a Christian, we all must spend time reading the Bible every day but in the original Hebrew and Greek. How would you respond, and why? What do you know about the Islam religion? [NOTE: Provide some time for your students to speak from their experience. Give them time to respond and ask questions. You may need to encourage them to keep from being judgmental or condescending an easy trap when talking about someone who is different.] Take some time to read through the Five Pillars of Islam. If you came up with an opening activity, movie clip, or game that worked well with your group, and you d like to share it with other youth workers, please us at TEACHING POINTS The goal of the Teaching Points is to help students capture the essence of each lesson with more discussion and less lecture-style teaching. The main points we have chosen here are (1) The questions, (2) The response, and (3) The truth. Remember: All throughout these lessons, it s up to you to choose (1) how many questions you use, and (2) the wording of the main points keep ours, or change the wording to make it clearer for your audience. Read Mark 8:27-29 together as a group. Consider allowing one or more of the teenagers to read the text. SAY SOMETHING LIKE: This week s lesson focuses on Islam, and you may not realize it, but someone who is a devout Muslim commits to praying five times each day, reading the Qur an in Arabic, and participating in daily fasts during a holy month each year. We re going to focus on some of the basic beliefs of Muslims and how we can share Christ s love with people who practice Islam. 1. The questions SAY SOMETHING LIKE: Every person must someday answer the question of who Jesus is. Understanding and knowing the answer to this question is central to the Christian faith. It is

5 important that you don t just accept what someone else says without thinking about the question and understanding it for yourself. Why are you a Christian? What does it mean to be a Christian? What are some of the questions your friends have about Jesus? How have you been able to answer their questions? Answer that question for yourself: Who do you say Jesus is, and why? 2. The response What if Jesus was not the Messiah and was just a good teacher or prophet? What impact would that have on your faith? SAY SOMETHING LIKE: Some religions say Jesus was a great prophet or teacher but not the Son of God or the promised Messiah. This belief minimizes the importance of Jesus death on the cross as the payment for our sins and his resurrection from the dead, all of which provides a way for us to be in fellowship with God in this lifetime and for eternity. 3. The truth SAY SOMETHING LIKE: Peter understood that Jesus was who he claimed to be. He understood that Jesus was the Son of God and that Jesus came to earth as the Messiah the perfect sacrifice for humanity s sin. Jesus first asked the disciples who others said he was, and then asked them who they thought he was. Why do you think he approached them this way? Many people saw Jesus perform miracles and heard him teach. How did the disciples know that Jesus was the Messiah, when so many other people did not realize that fact? ADDITIONAL DISCUSSION [optional] Why did some people think Jesus was someone from the Old Testament? What does that tell you about the way he taught and ministered? Islam teaches that you have to follow the Five Pillars to secure your salvation. Read John 3:16-21 and 1 John 5:13. How does the Bible say we experience salvation? Why does it matter how we can receive salvation? Why do you think God would offer salvation based on faith, not works? What would life be like if your deeds or actions earned you salvation, so you d know how you were doing and if you were living up to God s expectations?

6 APPLICATION Muslims believe that Muhammad is their chief prophet who came to deliver the Qur an from Allah. However, Jesus was the one sent by God to be the fulfillment of Scripture, not Muhammad. Muslims will use several verses from the Bible to say that Muhammad was sent by God, including Deuteronomy 18:18-19, John 14:16, and John 15:26. Read these verses. Who is the Bible actually referring to, and how do you know this? [NOTE: The Deuteronomy verse refers to Jesus, while the two verses from John refer to the Holy Spirit.] How might you use these verses to share with a Muslim friend that God sent Jesus and the Holy Spirit to help guide you in your faith? Pair up with another person for these questions. Why might God want you to have spiritually focused conversations with someone who is a Muslim, even if that person s view doesn t change? What s one thing you can take from this lesson that could help you share your faith with a Muslim student based on what we ve talked about in this lesson? Where else might you turn if you wanted more information, advice, or insight? What s the best way to pray for a friend or family member who is a Muslim, and why? SUMMARY End your small group lesson here. Provide your teenagers with a quick summary or takehome challenge based on (1) the content of this lesson, (2) the dialogue that took place during the lesson, (3) your understanding of the issues and struggles your teenagers are facing, and (4) the big picture of your youth ministry and what your leadership team wants accomplished with the teaching and discussion time. FOR KEEPS [MEMORY VERSE] Encourage and/or challenge your teenagers to memorize the verse below. Then he asked them, But who do you say that I am? Peter replied, You are the Messiah (Mark 8:29).

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