Conversation over instant messaging with a Muslim colleague

This week I had the opportunity to get into a dialog with a Muslim colleague at work about our respective faiths. Here is the content of the conversation:

[1:33 PM] |My Muslim Colleague|
Hi |Me|
[1:33 PM] |Me|
did you make it back to the US yet?
[1:34 PM] |My Muslim Colleague|
not yet
[1:34 PM] |Me|
ohh, where are you now?
[1:34 PM] |My Muslim Colleague|
I just arrived at |his location| for my visa stamping
[1:34 PM] |Me|
ok, |Another Hindu colleague| home, I think

[1:34 PM] |My Muslim Colleague|

[1:34 PM] |My Muslim Colleague|
|Another Hindu colleague| hometown
[1:34 PM] |Me|

[1:35 PM] |Me|
all going well?
[1:35 PM] |My Muslim Colleague|
I am at a hotel, I need to go for biometric tomorrow and then for visa interview on Feb 3rd
[1:35 PM] |Me|
so, you’ll be in |his location| for a while then, hah?
[1:35 PM] |My Muslim Colleague|
all going well?
By the grace of almighty Allah everything has been going well… very hectic though
[1:35 PM] |Me|
I’m sure
[1:36 PM] |My Muslim Colleague|
did you know I went to Mecca and Medina last month during the Christmas holidays
[1:37 PM] |Me|
yeah, that one time we contacted you to start a server I think you were in one of those places, right?
[1:37 PM] |My Muslim Colleague|
oh yes I remember

[1:37 PM] |My Muslim Colleague|
it was an amazing experience I must say
[1:37 PM] |Me|
lot of history there, hah?
[1:39 PM] |My Muslim Colleague|
for sure, and it was the second time for me… during my previous visit to Mecca and Medina I had my wife, kids and parents with me… this time I was all alone… i was able to devote all the time in prayers and visiting all the sacred places…
[1:39 PM] |Me|
Ohh, I remember when we used to meet for lunch, at that time you said that you’d not yet made the pilgrimage
[1:40 PM] |My Muslim Colleague|
you know I also went to the cave where Quran was revealed to Prophet Muhammad for the first time… it was at the top of a mountain
[1:40 PM] |Me|
ohh, ok, what mountain?
[1:40 PM] |My Muslim Colleague|
Mount Hira
[1:41 PM] |My Muslim Colleague|
[1:41 PM] |Me|
Saudi Arabia?
[1:41 PM] |My Muslim Colleague|
yes Saudi Arabia
[1:41 PM] |Me|

[1:41 PM] |Me|
did you learn anything new?
[1:42 PM] |My Muslim Colleague|
I hope so…
[1:42 PM] |Me|
I guess I’m asking if you’re coming back with any specific knowledge that you didn’t have previously?
[1:43 PM] |My Muslim Colleague|
[1:43 PM] |Me|
ok, good – anything you would like to share?
[1:44 PM] |My Muslim Colleague|
this time I was accompanied by my brother-in-law who is very knowledgeable… so I got to spend a lot to time with him… during those conversations I got to know a lot of new infromation

[1:45 PM] |My Muslim Colleague|
for example we Muslims often feel that when person goes to Mecca for Haj, all his sins are forgiven… just by visiting this holy place…whereas its not completely like that

[1:46 PM] |My Muslim Colleague|
the idea is that when you visit those places, you get very close to Allah… you get to feel the holiness and realize Allah’s blessings
[1:47 PM] |Me|
Ohh, ok
[1:47 PM] |My Muslim Colleague|
then when you truly seek Allah forgiveness, and repent for all the sins you have committed…
[1:47 PM] |Me|
How does one receive forgiveness of sins in Islam?
[1:48 PM] |My Muslim Colleague|
after you come back and live up to the committment of not indulging in all the wrong acts/sins… that is when actually Allah forgives your sins and have mercy on you
[1:49 PM] |Me|
what happens if you sin after that point?

[1:49 PM] |My Muslim Colleague|
if you come back from those holy places and you continue living your life the same way you were living before… then just because you visited Mecca, you will not be forgive
[1:50 PM] |Me|
ok, I understand, but what if you try your best, but “stumble” and “fall into sin” at some point after that?
[1:53 PM] |My Muslim Colleague|
As much as I understand Islam, if you are sincerely trying to avoid the wrongs…. even after trying your best, you end up committing sins, you will be forgiven … if you have sincerely tried to avoid the sins…. we understand that Satan is very powerful… we humans are very weak as compared to the powers of Satan…. so we are supposed to strive in the way of Allah and keep trying… Allah is all merciful
[1:55 PM] |Me|
Because Allah knows what is “in your heart” and where your true allegiance lies? (he put a heart on this comment)

[1:55 PM] |My Muslim Colleague|
very true… Allah knows everything…. even the things you dont know about yourself
[1:57 PM] |Me|
I would agree that God is omniscient, the Bible says “nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight, everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4:13)

[1:58 PM] |Me|
but it also says in the same book “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” Hebrews 10:31

[1:59 PM] |Me|
so, we believe, as Christians, that if you have to stand in front of the Holy God at the judgement, outside of the Savior’s blood, you will have to pay for your own sins…
[1:59 PM] |Me|
I know you don’t believe that. But I’m just clarifying the Christian position
[1:59 PM] |My Muslim Colleague|
“fall into the hands of the living God” … who is being referred to as Living God?
[2:00 PM] |Me|
The God and Father of my Lord Jesus Christ
[2:01 PM] |My Muslim Colleague|
I am confused by this statement “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God”
[2:01 PM] |Me|
what is the confusion?
[2:02 PM] |My Muslim Colleague|
why is it fearful to fall into the the hands of the almighty God who is most loving
without the context, it would be wrong on my part to comment on this
[2:02 PM] |Me|
Because He has said from ancient times that without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sins
[2:03 PM] |Me|
in Old Testament times (i.e. Moses) that was done with lambs and bulls and other animals
[2:04 PM] |Me|
but then “Christ died for sins, once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God” – 1 Peter 3:18
[2:03 PM] |Me|
Because He has said from ancient times that without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sins
[2:03 PM] |My Muslim Colleague|
This is something we do not believe… we do not believe that Saviors blood is your only way to forgiveness
[2:04 PM] |My Muslim Colleague|
they way I understand is that sacrifices were meant for something else…
[2:04 PM] |My Muslim Colleague|
This is something we do not believe… we do not believe that Saviors blood is your only way to forgiveness

[2:04 PM] |Me|
Yes, I understand, I’m just clarifying the Christian position based on the Bible

[2:04 PM] |My Muslim Colleague|
the way I understand is that sacrifices were meant for something else…

[2:04 PM] |Me|
They were meant to atone for the sins of Israel
[2:07 PM] |My Muslim Colleague|
the sacrifices of lambs and other animals and other other form of sacrifice was a test … a test to prove that you are willing to sacrifice something that is dear to you, something that you may have a need for … yet for the sake of Allah if you Allah commands you, you are willing to sacrifice…
[2:09 PM] |Me|
There have certainly been cases where God has done this, like when Abraham was told to sacrifice Isaac:

1 Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. 2 Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about. ” 3 Early the next morning Abraham got up and saddled his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. 4 On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. 5 He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you. ” 6 Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, 7 Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?” “Yes, my son?” Abraham replied. “The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” 8 Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together. 9 When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. 11 But the angel of the LORD called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. 12 “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son. ” 13 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son.
[2:11 PM] |Me|
But when Christ came, this was what happened:

1 Now the first covenant had regulations for worship and also an earthly sanctuary. 2 A tabernacle was set up. In its first room were the lampstand, the table and the consecrated bread; this was called the Holy Place. 3 Behind the second curtain was a room called the Most Holy Place, 4 which had the golden altar of incense and the gold-covered ark of the covenant. This ark contained the gold jar of manna, Aaron’s staff that had budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant. 5 Above the ark were the cherubim of the Glory, overshadowing the atonement cover. But we cannot discuss these things in detail now. 6 When everything had been arranged like this, the priests entered regularly into the outer room to carry on their ministry. 7 But only the high priest entered the inner room, and that only once a year, and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance. 8 The Holy Spirit was showing by this that the way into the Most Holy Place had not yet been disclosed as long as the first tabernacle was still standing. 9 This is an illustration for the present time, indicating that the gifts and sacrifices being offered were not able to clear the conscience of the worshiper. 10 They are only a matter of food and drink and various ceremonial washings –external regulations applying until the time of the new order. 11 When Christ came as high priest of the good things that are already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made, that is to say, not a part of this creation. 12 He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption. 13 The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. 14 How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!
[2:15 PM] |Me|
So, in the Christian view, Christ is the “once for all” sacrifice for sins, rather than having to continually sacrifice bulls and goats, does that make sense? I understand you don’t believe that, but I’m just describing what the Bible teaches
[2:38 PM] |Me|
Is everything ok? Hopefully I didn’t say something to offend or maybe laid too much information on you?
[2:40 PM] |My Muslim Colleague|
sorry I got busy with some other pings…
All good, I trust your intentions

[2:40 PM] |Me|
and actually, I was initially I was contacting you for a work reason too 😊
[2:46 PM] |Me|
and I do miss the times we used to go to have lunch and discuss all these eternally important topics!!
[2:47 PM] |My Muslim Colleague|
Me too

[2:47 PM] |My Muslim Colleague|
I hope to see you soon
[2:48 PM] |My Muslim Colleague|
may be I will come to |my location| for Prod migration


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