How to teach your Muslim friend to study the Bible
Reading the Word of God is key for learning who God is, what He has done, and what He will do! Understanding Scripture within its context is what helps us form a biblical worldview and also apply it in our daily lives to glorify God in all that we do.
For us Christians, we usually study the Word of God by relying on three main methods. First, we lean heavily on the Holy Spirit who gives us discernment and reveals the meaning of Scripture to us. Second, we study the Bible in groups with other Christians so that we can learn together and help each other to live it. And then third, we learn from our spiritual leaders, like our pastors, who go deep into Bible passages during sermons to unfold hidden layers of meaning.
But how does someone who is not a Christian, like for instance, your Muslim friend, learn how to read the Bible and study it on their own? If they are curious about a relationship with Christ, they will need to read the Bible, but they most likely will not know where to start.
Understand where your Muslim friend is coming from
Your Muslim friend already has an idea of how to read sacred texts– after all, they are required to recite the Quran. But there is a huge difference between how your Muslim friend has been taught to handle and read the Quran and how the Bible should be read.
Here are key points a Muslim is taught:
- The Quran must be recited in Arabic for all Muslims all over the world.
- Reciting means uttering the words and vowels correctly, and knowing where to stop in the commas and points.
- Bodily cleanliness is a must when touching the Quran and women cannot hold the Quran during their periods.
- The Quran must always be kept in an elevated place and never be put on the floor.
- It is not important to understand the content, reciting as much as you can is what pleases Allah.
- You cannot understand the Quran alone and you are not allowed to figure it out on your own. If you want to study verses or passages you have to read what endorsed Muslim scholars have written.
In addition to all this, the content of the Quran is confusing, it does not have a chronological order, rather the 114 Surahs (books) go from the longest to the shortest. The Quran is written in old Arabic that is not used today, so for most readers, it is not inviting or easy to understand.
In comparison, the Bible is full of different genres, historical periods, and is written by multiple authors. It has often been called a “love letter” from God to us, because it reveals His ultimate plan of salvation and redemption of the human race after the fall of humanity. It is not a set of rules that must be learned and followed perfectly; it is a story, a guide for how to live, and God’s revelation to us.
Access to the Bible
First, your friend needs access to the Bible. Depending on their situation, it might be dangerous to bring a physical copy of the Bible into their home. So, show them how to access the Bible digitally, whether it’s on an app or a website.
If it’s possible, get them their own copy of the Bible. You can write an encouraging note within the cover or a prayer. Don’t hesitate to highlight your favorite verses too, so they can easily flip to them.
Teach them how to read the Bible
When your Muslim friend is ready to read the Bible teach them the following:
1- God wants us to understand what we read, and not recite it.
2- God has a personal message to each one of us and He speaks to us through His Word. So before starting, lift up your heart to God and ask Him to open your spiritual eyes and your heart to understand and listen to His voice.
3- God does not get angry when we do not understand what we read, or when we have doubts about what we are learning.
4- Asking questions is encouraged and finding answers is how we learn many things in the Bible.
5- Reading and studying the Bible should lead to changes in our lives that draws us closer to God and His plan for our lives. The change is always for better and for our salvation and freedom from the enemy, the world and our selfishness.
Teach them how to find context
Before reading books of the Bible or chapters, it is helpful to understand the context in which that section was written. Who was it written by? When was it written? What is the genre of this section– is it a letter or a poem or a story?
There are multiple ways to find context. Maybe your Study Bible already gives you this information, or maybe you’ve learned this information from a sermon. You can also search for an online commentary.
Help your friend ask their own questions
After reading a section with your Muslim friend or when you have read separately and come together, ask them if they have any questions. If they do, empathize and say, “I understand how that topic could be confusing!” or “That is such a good question.” If your friend doesn’t come up with any questions, you can mention questions you might have had the first time you read that passage. This is not to give them insecurity in what they are reading or their understanding; instead you are simply trying to fuel a deeper conversation of the Bible.
You can bring written prompts to help fuel your Bible study as well, and give them extra copies of those prompts too. There are many worksheets you can find online, such as this one, to walk you through reading the Bible with questions to help you break down the passage further. For example, ask yourself: “What does this passage teach me about God? What does this passage tell me about myself? How can I apply this teaching to my life?”
Your best tool is your example
The best way you can help your Muslim friend learn how to understand the scripture they are reading is by being an example yourself. There is no “right” way to study the Bible, but you can show them how to interpret the text in an accurate way by making sure it aligns with what the passage is really saying. Remember, if you don’t have all the answers to their questions, just be honest with your friend and tell them you don’t know but you will find out and get back to them!
Pray with your Muslim friend. Be the first one to ask a potentially uncomfortable question, so that they learn that it is okay to experience some discomfort. Research biblically accurate sermons or interpretations of passages, and show your friend how they can do the same!
Access to God’s word is something that people die for. It is a huge honor to be able to give your Muslim friend the opportunity to read the Bible and understand it for themselves. This is also bringing them one step closer to a relationship with Christ! If you think they might be getting close to committing their life to Him, then we encourage you to read this post, which will prepare you for that conversation.
Heavenly Father, thank you for giving us your Word for us to read and learn about your love through. I pray that you allow me to help my Muslim friend begin their own journey of studying your Word. Please open up their heart to understand the truth! Amen.