Recently a relative of mine was in Istanbul, Turkey for vacation. Despite having a devout Muslim leader, Turkey is known to be a less religious and more liberal Muslim country. This is especially true of the city of Istanbul which is probably the least religious city in Turkey. Regardless, we can reasonably say that the people of Istanbul are not Christian. Despite once being the “New Rome” and holding the second most authoritative bishopric in Christendom after Rome, modern Istanbul is not a Christian city in the least.
This relative was on a tour and she found out that the tour guide was Muslim and that his grandfather was an Imam. She asked if the Quran says to “kill the infidel.” He said that it doesn’t say to kill, but to convert the infidel. She then asked in response: “And what does it say to do if they don’t convert?” There was more but does it really matter at this point?
She explained this to me at a family event. I was so disappointed. This Turk has probably almost never heard good arguments for the Christian faith. He’s probably never met a believing Christian, let alone discussed religion with them. My relative has never studied an Islamic text in her life. The Turk most likely left the conversation thinking that she was an ignorant close-minded Westerner who’s made no attempt to understand the Islamic faith but only believes what she hears on Fox or CNN. Sad but true.
This Turk is probably bombarded with a lot of ideology. Istanbul is at a crossroads of many cultures. He’d be exposed to Islam and Kemalist Freemasonry. He’d probably be exposed to a lot of European secularism as well. Regardless of what he chooses to believe of these, all of them will keep him separated from God.
He could have been exposed to a Christian witness. He could have heard about God’s only begotten Son and Messiah Jesus Christ. He could have been encouraged to read the Gospels and the words of our Lord recorded by his first century followers as opposed to His supposed words recorded in a 7th Century text completely separated from the Jesus tradition. He’s probably never been exposed to any of that. Sadly, he’s probably heard a lot of B-grade attacks against Muhammad and Islam by people who have never studied the religion.
I live in Canada. It’s a very secular country but we have some Christian believers here. Regardless, there is far more access to the Gospel here than in Turkey. It’s a lot easier to get a Bible, icon or rosary here in Canada. Who knows if this man will ever hear a presentation of God’s real intention for mankind. It was a wasted opportunity. This is especially true since there are no government imposed penalties for changing one’s religion in Turkey.
I want all Christian readers of this blog to ask themselves: If I had been having this conversation with the Turk, what would I have said?
If you have any comments on proper dialoguing with a Muslim, feel free to share them.