Why are so many Christians focused on preaching against Islam, some of them even devoting their entire lives to this cause. What is the reason for this behaviour?
When Islam first came into contact with the Western Judaeo-Christian civilizations, their understanding of Islam is what primarily explains their animosity towards Muslims today. John of Damascus, possibly our earliest written source of a Christian’s understanding of Islam saw Muslims as heretics of the Judaeo-Christian worldview and not necessarily of a distinct religious worldview in itself. Islam therefore was a form of Judaeo-Christian heresy, and just as they referred to as other heretical Christian sects by the names of their founders (Basilideans from Basilides, Marcionites from Marcion, Arians from Arius etc ), Muslims were therefore known as Mohammedans and our religion was not Islam, but Mohammedanism. Christians then, from their first interaction with Islam saw it as a threat to the orthodoxy of their faith and not as a distinct religion from their own. This would be the beginning of the theological disputes between these two Abrahamic faiths.
Islam by itself in Qur’aan Surah 112 (al-Ikhlas), directly disputes with the view that God is triune, or that God is begotten. Some Christians have not simply viewed this as a disagreement with their belief system, but they treat it as a polemical statement against their most precious beliefs. Their focus on “defeating” or “responding” to Islam, can also be attributed to the understanding that God could bring a Prophet from the Arabs, the descendants of Ishmael, referred to as the wild man who Jews believe had no covenant with God. Why would God raise a Prophet from an illiterate, pagan, backward, people? The succession of Prophets according to Biblical literature has always focused on the children of Israel, and so, since the Arabs are not from them and they are not God’s chosen people, a true Prophet could not have come from them.
This is despite their beliefs that the Gentiles are now included in the Judaeo God’s worldview for salvation, it’s a bit of a contradiction but this is neither the time nor the place to explore this issue in great detail. Regardless of how certain sections of the Christian community continue to view Islam, as Muslims we are commanded to accept them as the Ahl al Kitab, the People of the Book, and as such – we should not and we must not imitate them in their animosity or hatred. Rather, we should continue to treat them with respect, for they are also the children of the Prophet Adam ‘alayhi as salaam, and our deen does not encourage us to mimic the behaviour of the disbelievers, regardless of our emotions or of their treatment towards us. I encourage the Muslim community to engage with the Christian community in a respectable and kind manner, especially towards those of the community who hate Muslims. The only way we can change how these certain Christians treat us, is not to imitate their behaviour but to follow the Prophetic example of Muhammad salallaahu ‘alayhi wa salam:
“The Prophet said, “Be patient, till you face them and invite them to Islam and inform them of what Allah has enjoined upon them. By Allah! If a single person embraces Islam at your hands (i.e. through you), that will be better for you than the red camels (most prized possession).” – Saheeh al Bukhari, Book #52, Hadith #192.
and Allaah knows best.