DAY 29 – JULY 4th, 2016
Bridges of God – Muslim Idiom Translations
Like Christianity, Islam is a religion that seeks to convert all people. However, Islam is challenged in this by its ties to the 7th century Arab culture in which it was founded and in the belief that its holy book can only be read correctly in Arabic.
Christianity translates itself into local human cultures and languages, taking on the same approach as Jesus who translated himself into local human form. In this way, Christian communities have grown around the world to include many different cultural expressions and languages. God is called by a thousand different names, each one with the meaning that comes from the translated Bible that reveals to the people of that language the “one Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Eph. 4:5) that we all share. While the gospel is being faithfully translated into every language on earth, it remains the same faith that was “once for all entrusted to the saints” (Jude 3).
Some Christians today have not supported faithful translation of the Bible where the name of God is known as “Allah”. Popular apologists have argued that Allah is a different god. Some have said “Allah” has roots as an ancient Babylonian moon goddess. Others argue that “Allah” is related to the ancient Semitic word for God, “Elohim”. However, it is certain that Muslims do not worship a moon goddess, nor do they even admit to the existence of one.
More important is the fact that Arab Christians have worshipped God using the word “Allah” since long before the birth of Muhammad. Arab Christians, and indeed several other major language communities such as the Hausa of West Africa (35 million) and the Indonesians of Indonesia (250 million), continue to use the name “Allah” exclusively to refer to the God of the Bible. They recognize, as all believers should, that the importance of a name lies in the sacred revelation of the Bible that gives it its meaning.
Every movement of Muslims to faith in Christ today has happened at the same time as a local language translation of the Bible. Translators call these local translations in Muslim communities, “Muslim Idiom Translations.”
The beauty of the Christian faith is that it translates into local cultures and local languages. We should rejoice that God has chosen to reveal himself to each people group in their own language and culture. What is not changed in translation is the meaning of the Word of God.
How to Pray
- Pray for the continued translation of the Bible into local Muslim languages so that all Muslims will understand the gospel message.
- Pray for unity among Christians who work to share the truth of the gospel with the Muslim world.
- Pray that non-Arab Muslims will recognize that they don’t have to abandon their own language and culture in order to approach and worship the God of all creation.