Dreaming of Jinn
The Islamic concept of Jinn (plural, jinni) has been translated in the English language as genie. It's depicted as a cute character in a fictional story: a magical being that can grant wishes. But in Islam, Jinn are spirits to fear and appease.
Many Muslims believe that Jinn live and hide in physical areas of a person's house: in the drain of a sink; behind a door. For some Muslims, that fear of demons becomes fear of God himself — not a holy fear, but a fear of God as evil. In Islam, God exercises absolute control over everything: If demons hide behind your doors, it's because Allah sent them to you.
Muslims rarely talk with Christians about their theology of evil or their fear of demons because, in my experience, it's assumed that Christians don't believe in the demonic world at all. Muslims see this reduced by the West to a cartoon, a pop song, a hit TV show.
Perhaps not surprisingly, Muslims also believe that Christians reduce God.
It’s broadly assumed that we don't believe in his power: that we believe he's "altogether like us" (Psalm 50:21).
Within this paradigm, the gospel is also reduced — disfigured beyond recognition. Many Muslims believe that Christians believe in a polytheistic god who had a sexual relationship with Mary; who gave birth to a child; who we seek atonement from because we don't take sin seriously. Muslims are taught that Christians see the gospel as cheap grace, a license to sin at best; a lewd, blasphemous, and disgusting view of God at worst.
Wrong assumptions grow in the darkness, in lack of contact and communication.
For too long, Christians have pulled back from open conversation with Muslims. And the lies of the enemy have been left unchecked.
But increasingly, our Muslim friends are being introduced to the God of the Bible and the true gospel without distortion. Light is being shone.
Recently, this happened in the life of a woman named Sahar.
Sahar is one of the most devout Muslims I've ever met.
Although Arabic isn't her language, Sahar has carefully studied the sounds in order to memorize and recite the Qur'an. She wakes up at 4:30 to pray the Fajr prayers - the first of many throughout the day. When she prays, she often weeps. She's so deeply connected to the figures of Islam that she still mourns over the death of Mohammad's grandson Hussain, who died in the battle of Karbala. Her tears are not limited to the festival of Moharrem: she grieves throughout the year. (I thought of Jeremiah 35 when I saw this: the contrast between the emotional attachment Shia Muslims like Sahar have to Hussain, and our ease with the shock of the gospel.)
Sahar should be antithetically opposed to praying in the name of Jesus.
But when her husband came close to the gates of death, she didn't go to the mosque for prayer, seeking the hand of God — she came to followers of Jesus.
Sahar knew that he needed a miracle from God. And she knew that we believe we can ask.
As believers prayed for her husband in the name of Jesus — in the form taught by the Bible, not the Qur'an (Islam only permits Arabic recitation of the Qur'an; there is no place for pouring out your heart to God, or making your petition) — Sahar gave her "Amen." Looking up at us, blinking back tears, she said, "Thank you for your love and compassion. I believe that God will answer.”
That night, we asked over a hundred more believers to join us in praying. Shortly after, we received a phone call: her husband was healed.
Wake up, Sleeper
Our friend Rashidah, a former Muslim, described the reality surrounding conversion from Islam to Christianity in these words:
"Since very, very few Muslims in the world chose to be Muslim" (but rather, became Muslim by having the Shahada, or Islamic creed, whispered into their ears as babies), "I don't really think that the big question is what draws people to the religion. The question is what KEEPS people in Islam...fear, the position of not knowing anything else, deception, lack of freedom and access to the Truth, and a very real demonic pull."
But God is moving in power.
Scripture depicts this in the highest possible terms: the call of God gives life to the dead. "So it is said: 'Wake up, O Sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you'" (Ephesians 5:14).
Far be it from us to reduce any of this to something small or fictional. Far be it from us to come before his throne with anything less than faith, hope, and love.
We may not know what tomorrow will bring — but we do know that it's a simple act of obedience to bring our petitions to him: boldly, and with honesty (1 Peter 5:7, Philippians 4:6-7). Not as a ritual to appease a cruel God or demonic spirits or Jinn — but as a real expression of faith, hope, and love: based in the certain knowledge of who Christ is.
Jesus came "to destroy the works of the devil" (1 John 3:8), and he lives in victory.
May his will be done on earth as it is in heaven.