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February 28, 2008

Sharing the Camel’s Secret

Arabiancamel There is a well-known Muslim saying:

Allah has one hundred names. And … he has revealed 99 of his names to the sons of men that they may know and worship him. But one name, the one-hundredth name, he has told only to the camel. And, the camel, he is not talking.

Just like Paul suggested to the Athenians about "the unknown god" in Acts 17, Kevin Greeson, missionary and author of The Camel: How Muslims are Coming to Faith in Christ, proposes to the Muslims he encounters in Asia that the camel's secret is Isa al-Masih (Jesus Christ).

Greeson says that he shares his faith with Muslims by starting inside the Koran and using it as a bridge to the Gospel. For example, showing people that the Koran mentions that Christ was born of a virgin. Others who have taken Greeson's evangelistic advice, refer to God as Allah when speaking to Muslims. After all, that's how early Arab Christians referred to God.

Could this method work in sharing the Gospel with our Muslim neighbors in America, and not just in Asia?

Oh, and by the way, want to know how many Muslims convert to Christianity every year?

(Image © National Geographic)

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This recalls a radio interview I heard on Moody last summer with Brother Andrew ("God's Smuggler"). Probably not many of you young folks have heard of him, but has been one of my heroes since my teenage years.

Anyway, though he must be up in his 70's by now, he's been active in the Muslim world and has frequently met with Hamas and Hezbollah. One quote of his stands out in my mind, "they are not our enemies".

There is a lengthy interview with him in the June 07 Christianity Today online that greatly expands on the above theme.

Here's the link if they'll let me post it:



I haven't read much of the Qu'ran and had never heard of the camel's secret... that's REALLY interesting. I really like this approach and might even add that book to my (very long) reading list. I've always wondered why Christians (and sometimes Jews) often have such a problem with "Allah" since it's simply the Arabic word for God.



This issue of a problem with "Allah" has been taken up on The Point in the past (http://thepoint.breakpoint.org/2007/08/re-a-god-by-any.html).

It strikes me that the problem is not the word "Allah" but the understanding of God - Christians and Muslims understand God very differently.


Sure, they understand God/Allah differently but so do varying sects even within Christianity. We don't create a new name for every potential understanding/interpretation. It just makes sense to me--and apparently to the people referenced in Zoe's post--to speak a person's language when attempting to minister.

Jason Taylor

From all I've heard camels are as curmudgeonly as their masters. They'd probably keep the secret just to spite them.
Seriously, while using lessons adapted from other cultures is fine, using writings claimed to be divine is questionable to say the least. Of course Paul used Platonistic belief as a leverage,"to the unknown god". So there is precedent. Still if Christianity is true, Islam is heresy and if not, what is the point?
On the other hand, the camel thing sounds more like a folk-tale then a Islamic doctrine. In which case I suppose one can use it.
Camels are interesting beasts. They are sullen, spiteful, and apt to constant resentment. They are also hardy, survive the desert better then any, travel long distances, and bring goods to distant places. In other words they are Arabs.


Jason, you're right, it's dangerous to using Islamic writing to argue in favor of Christian truth. David Greeson's point is that you simply talk about the things the Koran and the Bible share (e.g. virgin birth)and use that to lead a Muslim to consider that maybe the Bible is truth. From there, one would use the Bible to explain the Gospel.

Still, I'd like to hear more specific examples of how this works exactly.

Nice comments on camels. I wonder if there's some correlation between spitting and keeping secrets.

Jason Taylor

Of course if camels are Arabs then St. Bernards are Americans. They want to be friendly but have an overwhelming presence and ruin the upholstry.

killer whales are English-they are massive predatory beasts that cruise about the oceans and despise lesser creatures.

Frenchmen are cats. They are fastidious, make a fuss about food and have sharp claws

This is an off topic but an interesting fancy and I have to do other people to be fair to Arabs.


Koran vs. Bible:
Interestingly, if one goes to the websites of Islamic apologists (yes, there are such people, did you know?) THEY use various passages from the Bible (misinterpreted, of course) to prove that Mohammed was foretold and that the Koran is authentic.

At the same time they insist the Bible is corrupted and only the Koran is the pure word of God.

A curious game to play: the proof of Islam depending on the Bible, which of course cannot be relied upon. Heads I win, tails you lose.


I remember reading a nonfiction piece a very long time ago about an American in Arabia who befriended some tame camels. He found, unlike his hosts, that the camels were very friendly, and got their reputation from their reaction to mistreatment. They'd see him and run up to him, put their heads on his chest and drool green saliva on him. They were so affectionate they almost became a nuisance.

I.e., camels are liberals.


Rolley Haggard

Speaking of the names of God -- and continuing the more light-hearted side of the conversation - it has been noted that no one knows....

The Spirit’s Name

I decided to learn the name of the Holy Spirit
Naturally, I asked the pastors, the ministers,
The men of the cloth
Who He was
What was His name
They answered me
I could not read for myself
And even suggested
I was going beyond
What was authorized by God Himself.
I replied,
And continued to quest for the Spirit's name
Of Philosophers, Scientists, men in books
Other than writ
And they told me
Many things
MANY things
But not His name so
I asked the Righteous, the Holy, the Doers
Of Good
The ones who strive to strive to
Do it all
And they knew His name
They said
But wouldn't tell or couldn't tell
I never knew
So I asked some more
Some who could care less
Some who couldn't care less
Some who didn't hear
Some who lied outright
Some who thought I was nuts
Some I thought were nuts
And finally
Finally the answer came
And made the Quest worthwhile:
I learned the Spirit's name
(No joke
even though it made me laugh
and I'm smiling now)
From a kid
That's right a child
Who in his holy irreverence
Ascended the Throne
The Throne of the August God enthroned on His Throne on high in the highest heaven
And climbed into His lap
Sat right in His lap
And said
Out loud
For all to hear
From the rising of the sun to the going down of the same
But you know
I don't think anyone was listening
If they had been
It would be all we could talk about

Gina Dalfonzo

That was lovely, Rolley!



I would argue that the different understanding of God/Allah that occurs among Christians and Muslims is a fundamental and foundational difference rather than what might be considered a difference in experience among Christian sects. As I understand it, Muslims deny the trinitarian nature of God, suggesting that God (Allah) is the one true god and that Jesus and the Holy Spirit are somehow less than God (Allah) in nauture. In essence, their Allah is not our God because it does not recognize Father, Son and Holy Spirit as co-equally God.

Having said that, I do understand using the language and metaphor familiar to a people to reach them with the Gospel. However, it strikes me that that language should be used to assist in establish a new understanding.


It seems we're largely in agreement.

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