Day 29: Muslim Idiom Translations
Series: 30 Days of Prayer for Muslims and Christians – 2016 Ramadan
Presented in American Sign Language, no voice interpretation.
Though Islam, like Christianity, is a global religion that seeks the conversion of all people, Islam is challenged by a particular approach unavoidably tied to seventh-century Arab culture. Muslims around the world struggle to pray in the Arabic language, memorizing a holy book only available in Arabic.
Christianity, in contrast, translates into local human cultures and languages. In the Christian faith, the eternal God of all creation translated Himself into a local human form and adopted the language and culture of the Jewish people. Over the ages, Christianity has advanced throughout the world by translating that eternal gospel into local cultures and languages.
Christians also worship God in their own language all over the world. They call God by a thousand different names, and although different, they corporately worship “one Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Ephesians 4:5). Although the gospel is translated into every language on earth, the core essence of the message remains the same passed down from the antiquity (Jude 3).
There are some discussions about how Christians should translate “Allah.” Apologists argue that Allah is, in fact, a different God – often pointing to its roots as an ancient Babylonian moon goddess. Other people contend that the name “Allah” is related to the ancient Semitic word for God (Elohim) that appears in our Hebrew Bibles. It is important to note that Muslims do not worship a moon goddess or even admit the existence of a moon goddess; Christians must certainly agree with this.
Perhaps more important is that Arab Christians worshiped God as “Allah” long before the birth of Muhammad. Arab Christians and other major language communities continue to use the name “Allah” exclusively to refer to the God of the Bible. They recognize, as all believers should, that the importance of a name lies in the sacred revelation – in our case, the Bible – that gives it its meaning.
Every movement of Muslims to faith in Christ today has coincided with a local language translation of the Bible. Translators call these local translations in Muslim communities, “Muslim idiom translations.”
The beauty of the Christian faith is that it translates into local cultures and languages. God has chosen to reveal Himself to each people group in their own language and culture, and we should rejoice for this reason.
– Pray for the continued translation of the Bible into local Muslim languages and dialects so that all Muslims will understand the gospel message.
– Pray for unity among Christians who make efforts to convey the truth of the gospel to the Muslim world.
– Pray that non-Arab Muslims will recognize that they don’t have to abandon their own language and culture to approach and worship the God of all creation.