Do Muslims do apologetics?  I have only had a chance to search a tiny bit but it seems there are a few Islamic apologists out there.  Most of the websites I found were actually Christian sites arguing against Islam.  Apologetics is a field more popular with Christianity, a religion heavily influenced by Aristotelian logic and Enlightenment rationality.  Christians are known for their doctrine, and Muslims for their actions.  So, maybe Islam is not as inclined to lay out a reasoned defense of their religion.  Let me know what you find out. 

Today’s passage, however, seems rather apologetic to me (and I don’t mean someone’s sorry!)  Today we begin a new surah entitled “Jonah,” the first of several surahs named after traditional Bible characters.  Jonah will make an appearance in this surah, but he won’t be a main character.  As I read the first few ayahs it struck me that Muhammad is called to warn a disbelieving city (Mecca) in hopes that they would turn towards God.  Sounds a lot like Jonah.

When Muhammad shows up in Mecca fresh from his first encounter with the angel Gabriel with the first of his revelations, remember that he is a familiar face.  This is good ole Muhammad.  They had just traded wares with him last week.  Their families knew each other.  They had grown up together.  Muhammad was that neighbor down the street.  And now he claims to have a special message from the same God those Jews and Christians talked about, but his message is a new one.  Moreover, this radical monotheism he is talking about is going to overturn the apple cart of our culture. 

Can we trust him?  How do we know he isn’t pulling a fast one?  What proof does he have for his claims?  How do we know his God is real? 

Today’s passage offers the following reasons, woven comfortably into a sermon of sorts, as good apologetics usually are:

  1. This natural world didn’t just come from nowhere; this God created it (10:3). 
  2. The intricate bodies we have were a creation of this God (10:4).
  3. Have you noticed how the sun and moon are on finely-tuned cycles by which we can keep time and order life (10:5)?  That didn’t come from nowhere either. 
  4. Pain and hardship even have a way of moving people towards God instead of away, as if we know instinctually we need a power outside ourselves and that such a power does in fact exist (10:12).
  5. There are also recitations (the Qur’an) that testify to this God.  He can be found there, if we will read, listen, and obey (10:15). 
  6. Last, just use your God-given gift of reason (10:16).  Belief in this God is logical. 

That’s not a bad list.  As a Christian, I would point to all of the same things to testify to God.  As a teacher of apologetics, I have used all these arguments as evidence for God. 

Nestled in this passage is another truth: all of the best arguments and convincing proofs will not win over someone who does not want to be convinced:

Those who do not expect to meet Us [Allah] [in the Hereafter] and are pleased with the life of this world, contenting themselves with it and paying no heed to Our signs, shall have the Fire for their home because of what they used to do (10:7-8).

But there is ample evidence if you want to see it.