SHARING OUR FAITH
[B] ISLAM ON CAMPUS
- The Rise of Islam
- World-wide: 1.2 billion; yet Indonesia + Pakistan + India + Bangla-Desh = +500 million, more than half the Muslim world, thus our tactics and strategies need to reflect this.
- U.K., today between 1.4 (Christian sources) - 2 million (Muslim sources) Muslims. This is more than the communicant members of the Church of England.
- 2.7% of the total world Muslim population in the UK; percentage-wise more than the U.S. and Canada combined, 70% of whom are from the Indian sub-continent (Pakistan = 357,000; E. Africa = 99,000; India = 700,000; Bangla Desh = 200,000).
- Of the five largest language groups, 4 are from Indian subcontinent:
- Pakistani: Urdu = 40%; poor farmers from S. Kashmir
- Punjabi = 18% farmers NE Punjab
- Gujerati = 16% well educated, trading and professional families.
- Arabic = 11%, mostly rich, live in central London
- Bengali = 11%, from Bangla-Desh, from Sylhet = NE, and Chittagong, poor.
- With strong family support, & emphasis in education, the majority are becoming affluent.
- Most Muslims are young (between 25-44 years), 50% now born in U.K., with 4% birthrate, the highest in U.K., and twice the national average of 1.8%!
- How are Muslims organised on campus?
Muslim students studying in British universities broadly fall into two groups:
- Expatriates from the Middle East, Indonesia and Malaysia (~45,000)
- Indian 'Brits' second and third generation from the Indian subcontinent.
90 Muslim student groups affiliated to FOSIS (the UK Federation of Student Islamic Societies)
FOSIS : established in 1962 to
- establish and support Islamic societies,
- promote da'wah (mission) on campus
- protect the interests of Islam and Muslims, by means of conferences, training courses and literature.
Hizb ul Tahrir (HUT) targets young Muslims with extremist message. It aims to establish the Khilafah worldwide and has been banned from university campuses by the National Union of Students (NUS).To avoid detection HUT uses a variety of names (eg 1924 Committee, Current Affairs Society, Khilafah Movement).
Al Muhajiroun broke away from HUT in 1996 complete with leader Omar Bakri Mohammed and is supportive of known militant groups like Hamas and Hizbollah and Ibn Laden. Like HUT it uses a range of names and has been targeting key campuses; especially Oxford, Cambridge, Durham, University College London, London School of Economics (LSE) and the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS).
How do Muslims operate on campus?
Islamic activity on campus is increasingly well contextualised to the British scene.
- Five main areas of Activity:
- Talks and Debates (For Muslim Students). Usually on issues that are social (unemployment, economics), moral (Western corruption, the family, women), political (Bosnia, Israel) or theological (scriptures, Jesus, science).
- Proselytising Meetings (For all-comers). Addresses by (Western) Muslim converts, debates with other groups, open meetings on topics similar to those mentioned above.
- Islamic Awareness Weeks. Modelled on CU strategy with bookstalls and literature distribution and proselytising meetings
- Literature. Tracts & books specifically polemical, attacking Christianity, and the Bible.
- Training Days (For Muslim students). Islamic Students are taken on weekends to learn how to dialogue with Christians through books, videos, tapes and training conferences.
- 3 Primary Agendas: (Using lectures, book tables, debates etc...)
Islam on the campuses is becoming increasingly polemical, and therefore we need to be prepared to understand and answer these agendas if we want to be effective witnesses.
- Decline of the West (using media statistics)
- Christianity is at fault (due to 7% attendance, and corrupt scriptures)
- Islam is the answer: answers for every area (i.e. social, economic, political):
- Cultural mandate (Muhammad Abduh, Khurram Murad, Abd al-Mawdudi)
- Scientific Exegesis (Maurice Bucaille, Dr. Jamal Badawi)
- Pagan Sources of the Bible (Abdul Rahman Green)
- Polemics: the trinity & Sonship of Jesus, authority of scripture (Shabir Ali)
How should we approach Muslims on Campus?
- Use the similarities to build BRIDGES as a prelude to preaching the Gospel in the context of DIALOGUE.
- Muslims love passionate debate and it is surprisingly easy to get into deep discussion with them.
The following strategies work well on campus and can be used by churches and students alike:
- 'Friendship' Evangelism: go to where they feel comfortable (home, mosque, sit next to them)
- Islamic Society Meetings: attending them to ask questions, and get close to Muslim students.
- Studies: One-to-one/group studies of the Qur'an and Bible (usually weekly with chosen topic).
- Muslim-friendly Meetings (Evangelistic): on such topics: 'Do all roads lead to heaven' or 'Was Jesus a Muslim?'
- Internet evangelism, using the web-board at http://debate.org.uk or Islamic chat sites.
- Street evangelism (Hyde Park speakers' corner is excellent training, though intimidating)
- Book Tables, putting up tables at busy areas on Campus, as a basis to get in discussions.
- Summer evangelism or awareness trips to Muslim countries.
- Debates using 'Is the Bible or Qur'an the Word of God?' (600 students attended a recent debate in Leicester)