Edward J. Hoskins writes in his book A Muslim’s Heart: What Every Christian Needs to Know to Share Christ with Muslims, “Muslims are not the enemy. They are simply people. People who need Christ. But they’re also people who see the world much differently than Western Christians.” Essentially, the missionary is saying that Muslims have a different worldview than we do. Worldviews are like navels: We all have one—we just don’t think of it very often. What is a worldview? A worldview is a conceptual scheme that helps us interpret reality. It’s a set of answers given to the basic questions asked. Worldviews are the starting point for how people answer life’s most important questions: Why am I here? Who am I? Where did I come from? How did I get here? What is real? What is right, true, or good? Is there a God? What is the meaning of life? Where am I going? Etc.
Most Muslims reside in the nine rooms of Islam, which are nine geographical locations where the house of Islam’s (which is about 1.6 billion) residents predominantly live. These regions include the following geographic locations: North Africa, West Africa, East Africa, Arab world, Persian world, Turkestan, Western South Asia, Eastern South Asia, and Indo-Malaysia. One interesting feature is that most of these locations are East of us—of American or Europe. Because of this, most Muslims have an Eastern worldview. They interpret reality with a completely different starting point than we do as Westerners.
If we are to communicate the Gospel well with Muslims, we have to go the extra mile and understand where they are coming from culturally so we can reach them. The early church did just this. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23, “For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.” We have to accommodate how we speak to better reach them. Jim Peterson writes, “It’s the responsibility of the messengers to adapt their lifestyle to those they are talking with in order to help them feel comfortable.”
How different is the Eastern mindset or worldview from the Western worldview? Below is a helpful chart that will note the dissimilarities between the two views. It is imperative that we seek to understand people’s worldviews as we go to share the Gospel with them. To neglect such information is to set one’s self up for evangelistic failure.