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Newness or Deadness?


News coming from Saudi Arabia reports that over 1,300 people died during the Hajj of 2024. Temperatures during the days of the Meccan pilgrimage reached a peak of 51 C or 123 F. The Hajj falls during the last month of the lunar calendar, which Muslims refer to as Dhul al-Hijjah. When Muslims complete the Hajj and return to their homelands, they are given a new honorific title of Hajji. The pilgrim embraces the belief that their Hajj experience brings cleansing from worldly sins and spiritual merit that provides Muslims with an opportunity of self-renewal. In some manner, they believe they are a new person or born-again.


As Muslims begin a new year on July 7, consider the significant differences between the Islamic and Christian concepts of new beginnings. Islam believes “newness” comes from a new prophet, a new book, and a striving after a god who is neither personal nor intimate. On the other hand, Christianity believes that God created a whole “new” way of salvation by believing that Jesus’ death on the cross paid the penalty for our sins and results in an intimate relationship with God through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.


With the genesis of Islam, a “new” book was introduced, the Quran. Islam argues that it is an eternal book brought down to mankind in Arabic. Christianity introduces a “new” covenant (Heb. 9:15) that provides an eternal redemption for mankind. Islam teaches that man does not need salvation, but rather “new” guidance provided by the Quran and its most excellent example, Muhammad. The Bible unwraps a “new” or better sacrifice provided by the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Islam offers a new” path or Shariah to follow that is based upon the life of the “new” and final prophet of Allah.


In contrast, the “new” birth offered by the sinless sacrifice through faith in Christ’s work on the Cross and the resurrection provides a “new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17), a “new heart and a new spirit” (Ezekiel 36:26), a “new song” (Psalm 40:3), and a “new and living way” (Hebrews 10:20). Through Christ, the believer now has a “new” commandment of love—even toward his enemies, a “new” or better country (Hebrews 11:16) than this present earth, “new” or better promises (Hebrews 8:6), and a “new” or better hope (Hebrews 7:19) of security in Christ.

 

As our Muslim neighbors and friends enter into a new calendar year, let’s remember how desperately they need the “newness” that is offered in Jesus Christ. May we never become callused to the great treasure we have in Jesus Christ and forget those who are searching for newness (through Hajj) in a system that offers no hope. We have something “new” to give them—hope through Jesus Christ!

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