The violent, fanatical, and apocalyptic actions and rhetoric of the Iranian regime and the leadership of the Islamic State are causing millions of Muslims to rethink whether they want to be part of such a religion, and many of them are turning to faith in Jesus Christ.
This is the assessment of Dr. Hormoz Shariat, a former Muslim who came to faith in Christ himself in the early 1980s. Today, Dr. Shariat is one of the the most prominent Iranian Christian pastors and evangelists in the world.
Last month, I had dinner with this dear friend, a man I call the “Billy Graham of Iran” because he is preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ to millions upon millions of Iranians through his 24/7 Farsi satellite television network.
We were talking about the trends he’s seeing in the Islamic world, and I left the conversation surprised by how encouraged he is. Yes, the Iranian regime and ISIS are engaged in horrific evil. But Hormoz told me he sees unintended consequences of the cruelty of the Iranian and ISIS leaders, that such actions are causing confusion among many Muslims and drawing them to consider the claims of Christ.
I so wish I’d had a notebook that night because what Hormoz was telling me was so fascinating. Instead, when I got home to Israrel, I emailed him and asked him to write up his analysis and send it to me. Graciously, he did just that. The notes he sent me are below. Please read them to the very end, and please share them with others. And let’s keep praying that the Lord would continue to pour out His Holy Spirit on the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims.
AN ANALYSIS OF TREND-LINES IN THE MUSLIM WORLD, by Dr. Hormoz Shariat.
1. A growing number of Muslims are coming to faith in Jesus Christ because of the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) and ISIS.
- The extreme actions and rhetoric of Iran’s government and the ISIS leaders have caused many Muslims in the Middle East to start thinking, asking questions, wondering if Islam could really be true.
- This is a major spiritual breakthrough. For a person raised in the West where approaching any issue logically and objectively is the norm, this fact may not be appreciated. “Question Everything” is a cultural virtue in the West. But Muslims living in the Islamic world are not allowed to question their faith at all. Those who do are considered weak in their faith, and sometimes are punished by lashes.
- Muslims are oppressed by a spirit of fear. They are afraid to read the Qur’an objectively, or even ask sincere questions about it. Islam is based on total obedience to Allah, without asking any questions.
- I have had fascinating conversations over the years with Muslim scientists with PhD’s. We have discussed everything objectively and logically until the subject turned to Islam. I could see a spirit of confusion and fear would overtake them. They could no longer discuss things based on reason. They had stopped thinking.
- What has caused Muslims to start questioning their faith? For Shiites, it has been the action of the IRI. For Sunnis, it is what ISIS is doing. I see similarities between the spiritual journey of Iranians for the last 35 years (leaving under the fear and oppression of Khomeini and Khamenei regimes) and a growing number of Sunnis in the last two years, since ISIS became powerful.
Here are the steps of how their thinking changes during their spiritual journey away from Islam and towards Christ:
- First, they start thinking the Islamic leaders in the region are not really “True Muslims” – This is often the first reaction of Muslims to the Iranian Government and ISIS. Muslims look at what IRI and ISIS do and say: “Islam is good and perfect; it is these extreme leaders that are the problem. They are giving Islam a bad name. What they do is not true Islam.”
- Next, they start wondering, “What is True Islam?” — Both the Iranian regime leaders and ISIS leaders claim that what they do is based on Qur’an, and examples from the life of Prophet Mohammad. They certainly claim to be true Muslims. They challenge all Muslims by saying “What is it that we do that is outside Islam?” This challenge causes Muslims to take another look at the origin of their faith—that is, the Qur’an and the life of their Prophet Muhammad—in order to disprove IRI/ISIS actions and prove that Islam is true and good.
- Then the suddenly realize, “Oh my God! The leaders of Iran and ISIS ARE true Muslims!” – A growing number of Muslims who take up the challenge of disproving the actions of the leaders of Iran and ISIS come to a shocking conclusion: that what those leaders are doing actually IS true Islam. They realize that Iran’s and ISIS’s leaders are not fanatic Muslims, but deeply committed and faithful Muslims.
- At this point, they begin to realize that there is something fundamentally wrong with Islam itself – This is the start of their rejection of Islam and becoming open to other ways of thinking and faiths, including Christianity.
So this is encouraging — millions of Muslims have started to ask questions about their faith. Ironically, currently in the U.S., one is not allowed to ask hard questions about Islamic faith. As a result of political correctness and an apparent government policy of appeasing Islam, many refuse to logically and objectively discuss what Muslims believe or even discuss Quranic verses. Most media personalities dare to even quote verses from the Qur’an.
2. Iran is fast becoming the first Islamic nation that is abandoning Islam and becoming a Christian nation.
- Iran will be a Christian nation according to God’s promise for Elam (today’s Iran) in Jeremiah 49:38. This is happening even today before our eyes. It is no longer by faith that I say “Iran will be a Christian nation,” but it is by sight.
- Islam is experiencing its greatest defeat in its history in Iran today. Islam is on the offense and is advancing everywhere in the world—except Iran. Iran is the only country in the world where Islam is on the defense and Christianity is on the offense.
- Also, Iran will be the first country that fulfills Romans 11:11 in bringing the Jews to jealousy. When the Jews see that citizens of a nation who wanted to “wipe them off the map” increasingly becoming their friends and sincerely love, value, and have good will towards them because so many Iranians have received Jesus as the Messiah and Savior and been transformed by faith in Him, they will wake up to the fact that Jesus truly changes individual lives and even nations.
- As the government of Iran continues to threaten Israel with annihilation, the people of Iran are gradually getting rid of their hatred for the Jews. Iranian Muslims who come to Christ and renounce Islam and start reading their Bibles become free from that hatred. They start getting the heart and mind of God for the Jewish people.
- Amazingly, a growing number of Muslims are also losing that hatred, or at least the issue of Israel and Jews is becoming a non-issue for them. I see it all the time, and I believe the reason is that there is such a disconnect and distrust between the people of Iran and their government. When the government sponsors rally’s chanting “Death to Israel,” the people of Iran increasingly think, “If our government tell us that we should hate the Jews, it is a good reason that we should not.”
3. Signs, wonders, visions, dreams, and miracles are slowing down in Iran.
- The younger generation in Iran (those under 30 years old) are increasingly experiencing fewer supernatural events—even though a growing number of them are coming to faith in Christ. I believe this is because they do not need miracles in order to come to Christ.
- The Lord is so gracious. The older generation in Iran needs such miraculous signs because they are more oppressed by the spirit of Islam. They are, initially, very afraid to make a final decision to follow Christ, even when they are totally convinced of the truth of the Gospel. They are captives to the spirit of Islam, which is the spirit of fear. Therefore, the Lord graciously gives them supernatural experiences (visions, dreams, and miracles) to help them make that final decision.
- The younger generation, however, do not need such signs and wonders. Most have been raised in a family where Islam was rejected and even ridiculed, or at least it was a non-issue. The majority of youth in Iran are coming to Christ after hearing the Gospel preached and the Word of God taught to them because, as they frequently put it, “I need salvation.” Their faith is deep even without these supernatural experiences.
- Coming from a life of desperation and hopelessness, they greatly value the salvation and life-changing forgiveness offered by Jesus Christ. I am so thrilled and inspired when I talk to the young believers in Iran. They are fearless. They are neither afraid of Allah nor the Iranian government. Many say, “So what if they kill me, I was dead anyway.”
- One young convert recently told me, “I am not afraid of them (the Iranian regime). They are afraid of me and my Gospel message. It is out of their fear that they want to put me in jail.”
- These young generation are ready to live for Jesus and if necessary to die for Him. I believe that as we — the older generation of Iranian followers of Christ – set the foundation of Iran to become a Christian nation, it is this emerging young leaders who will finish the job of transforming Iran into a Christian nation.
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