One of the easy things about working with Muslim people is there are various things we agree on. Whilst in many contexts there are things you may want to avoid discussing, or come to later on, in a community like ours we often begin with these things. They help us establish common ground and then discuss what really matters, which is how we ought to respond rightly to these things. So, in no particular order, here are a bunch of things Christians and Muslims agree on.
There is a God
It may seem like an unimportant thing – and a long way back from the gospel – but we don’t spend very much time discussing the existence of God. Both Christians and Muslims are on the same page that God exists. More than that, we both affirm there is but one God. We may disagree over who he is and what he is like, but the idea that He is there is very rarely a matter of significant discussion.
Given that we acknowledge God exists, we likewise agree that there are ways to please him and matter that displease him. In other words, we agree that sin exists. Again, we may disagree over its extent and differ over whether mankind has a natural bent toward or away from God. But we all agree that sin exists.
Judgement is real
It isn’t always as logically as obvious to some, but given that God exists and sin exists, our Muslim friends recognise that judgement also exists. Indeed, if God is displeased by sin he is likely to have something to say about it when it happens. Both Christians and Muslims acknowledge God will judge sin and a day is coming where such will take place.
Jesus is coming again
We differ over who Jesus is and the message he came to proclaim. Nevertheless, we both acknowledge Jesus as (minimally) a prophet and we all acknowledge that he is coming again. We do differ over what he is coming to do and say. But we all affirm he is definitely coming again.
Paradise is available
Whether we call it Heaven or Paradise is neither here nor there. Both Muslims and Christians recognise there is a place we can go and enjoy God’s goodness and blessing forever. Just as we all want to avoid judgement, we are all aiming and hoping to enter paradise.
Of course none of these points of agreement undercuts our serious differences. But what they do is clarify exactly where our differences lie so that we can focus our discussions on areas that really matter. If we all accept God is real, sin exists for which there will be a judgement, Jesus is coming again and Heaven is available to us, the key question centres around how we attain these things.
Naturally, if our conception of God is wrong and we misunderstand what he is like, it will impact on our understanding of faith and what he requires of us. If our understanding of how to get to Paradise is faulty, we will necessarily miss the mark. If we think Jesus is more than a prophet when he isn’t, we’ll treat him in totally inappropriate ways. If we think Jesus is merely a prophet when he is, in fact, God incarnate, we’ll also treat him inappropriately. If we have failed to grasp the means of salvation, we won’t obtain it.
But knowing where we agree means we don’t waste time speaking at length about our points of agreement. Instead, we can focus discussions on what the scriptures say on the matters where we disagree.