Does Hashim Amla make you want to become a Muslim?

Hashim Amla is a South African cricketer – and fast becoming a legendary one too. He is sublime to watch, and is having the most phenomenal season. He is also universally acclaimed, by teammate and opponent alike, as the nicest, humblest, gentlest guy you’ll ever meet. A real sportsman’s sportsman.

And he is devoutly Muslim. He has the most fantastic beard, and by all accounts, in all ways, he takes his Muslim practices very seriously.

I only mention his religious faith and one of its outward expressions, because he has caused me to think about something that Christians do quite a lot. If, as Christians, we discover that some famous star – be they a sportsperson, singer, actor or celebrity of some kind – is also a Christian, we tend to venerate them a bit. And then we often devise evangelistic campaigns featuring that person.

I lost count as a child how many events I went to that featured some or other Christian sports personality telling me how his or her faith really helped them to become a famous sports star. Since I have two left feet – and that’s just counting my hands – and have never been good at any sport, these talks were never quite as inspiring as they should have been. But I wasn’t the target demographic I suppose. I still don’t think that they were the best approach.

My question is this: does Hashim Amla’s success combined with his most remarkable character and aura of calm, humility, authority, respect, class and confidence (a heady mix of all the things I think are best in humanity) make me want to become a Muslim? If a local mosque had an evening featuring Hashim Amla as guest speaker, I would definitely consider going. I’d sit enthralled, I am sure, as he spoke. And then, I’d politely sit through whatever short Islamic message that followed. I respect Islam, have some Muslim friends, understand the religion, have visited a number of mosques and a holy Islamic shrine, and even own a Koran (which I have read). But I highly doubt whether anything that Hashim Amla did or said would convince me to become a Muslim.

My point is not about Islam – it’s about Christians. I am not sure we trust our religion as much as Muslims trust theirs. We seem to sometimes rely more on gimmicks, as if it’s OK to trick people into accepting our faith. Or maybe it’s because we measure things like response cards and raised hands and bums on seats at meetings, rather than character, devotion, discipline and consistency. It seems to me that maybe Muslims find more value in the things that really matter than we do.

I think Hashim – or # as he is affectionately known – is a first rate guy. If I had a son, I would hope that he would grow up to be like Hash (minus the beard, if I’m honest). But that doesn’t make me want to become a Muslim. In fact, it actually makes me want to be a better Christian. I wish I could be as much of a Christian as Hashim is a Muslim, and I wish the world would see in me what I see in Hashim, and if they did I hope they’d connect it to my faith. I pray that my faith would impact my life, and make it shine and make it attractive and noteworthy.

Maybe next time your church or youth group is thinking of doing some “funky” type of “outreach” event and is looking around for some Christian celebrity to headline the act, you could have a word in someone’s ear and suggest that possibly it is Jesus who should be headlining the show, that our own lives are the Gospel’s best witness, that our love – for each other and the world – is what will cause unbelievers to take notice, and that we don’t need gimmicks.

Oh wait… I’ve just worked out the problem. I suppose some churches DO need the gimmicks after all. That’s a shame.

7 thoughts on “Does Hashim Amla make you want to become a Muslim?”

  1. G, I think your comments may get lost in criticism that focuses more on your comments about #, Islam, and Muslim behaviors instead of focusing on your comments about the outworking of our own Christian faith.

    In the past three months in Saudi Arabia, which must be in the top three Islamic states, I have encountered many Muslims for whom their faith is very real, and the rigorous and sincere observance of prayer and fasting is admirable.

    I too was led to ask myself if Christianity would have advanced more through love and sacrifice if we were to observe our own instruction to pray continuously, amongst other devotional practices and spiritual disciplines. Are we being transformed from within, not conforming to the ways of this world?

    Speaking as one who has worked on massive evangelistic ‘campaigns’ and small outreaches, I also wonder if true spiritual transformation is not the more compelling way to change the world.

    Instead we have allowed ourselves to resort to needing to use the faith of others in order to draw our friends and acquaintances to hear the gospel, and run the risk of hate speech when we seek to elevate our beliefs from the pulpit at the expense of those religions that do not follow Christ.

    Saudi challenged me, not transformed me, and left me with a heightened desire to walk the talk sincerely.

  2. We should keep in mind that Muslims (and other religions) are motivated by fear. Fear for the wrath of Allah is what drives their devotion. It is a sistem of laws which must not be broken. Most muslims in Islamic states only pracirce their religion because of the strict laws. That is why there are no Christian churches allowed in Saudi and other strict Islamic states. Islamic states discriminate greatly against Jews and Christians, and their is hardly any word about it.

    Christian (reformed) theology on the other hand, is based on grace. We serve God because He love us and we love HIm with our hearts. That is difficult, but that is the gospel. Not laws, not fear, not rules.

    But as the aspostle Paul remind us, therefore we should be more devoted. Not out of fear (like Muslims) but because we give thanks for His grace.

  3. Shucks. I fully appreciate what you have to say here. The second to last paragraph sets out the point quite plainly. And then you add the last paragraph … did you really have to?

  4. Cuth, I hear what you’re saying. Sadly, I did feel the need to add the last paragraph. Hopefully you don’t attend a church that falls short of what should be done. But I have attended a few, and know of many. I wish I didn’t have to add that last sentence. And, maybe, if you copy this piece for friends, you can leave it off.

  5. Shrek, (ahem),

    I disagree with you. Although reformed Christians TELL themselves that their version of Christianity is based on grace (and many of their church’s names have the word Grace in their names), they do not. Most of them were scared into heaven, and stay ‘righteous’ out of fear of God’s wrath and eternal condemnation. I know many who live in fear of somehow, unwittingly committing the ‘unpardonable sin’ for example. And they certainly do not extend grace to anyone who stands outside their own very small theological circle.

    Ideally, Christians should do what they do out of grace and in response to the overwhelming love of God. In reality, though, they don’t.

    You may also be interested in these blog posts:

  6. This is rather belated, but I’ve just run into this blog and read through old posts, which I find insightful.

    I can’t let SHREK’s comment stand unchallenged. Graeme has already made the excellent point that indeed many Christians are also motivated by fear. But I want to point out another aspect – claming that all religions other than Christianity is based on fear is a rather bold, to say the least.

    Are we really deeply familiar with all the religions in the world, and all their subtle flavours (keeping in mind that to a Hindu, for instance, a Roman Catholic, Calvinist and Evangelical are all seamlessly ‘Christian’)? In fact do we know much about any of the major religions, even just Islam, in order to make such a claim?

    I’m no Islamic expert either, but reading “No God but God” by Reza Aslan gave me insight into the beauty of the Islamic faith, as well as how deep the shared historical and theological roots between Islam, Judaism and Christianity are. The famous Muslim incantation “In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful” falls very beautifully on my ears, I hear no resonance of fear in it.

  7. @ shrek. the love a muslim has for his creator is unimaginable. He (Allah) The most Wise, the Sustainer, Most Merciful, Everlasting, Giver of life and death.. He loves us more than we can fathom.more than your parents.

    Allah says that no person has complete faith untill the he loves Allah and the prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) more than he loves himself and his family. He also says that He is closer to us than our jugular vein.

    He rewards u when u have a good intention and rewards u again when u carry out that action. Hashim amla is a splendid example as how a muslim should conduct himself.

    my advice to all would be to never create or rely on any person or entity besides Allah. he is one. supreme and incharge of everything. He is willing to forgive every sin besides ascribing partners to Him. Have hope in His mercy and live good moral pure lives.


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