Let’s Stop Giving Muslims Islamized Bibles: Best Practices For Assessing The Accuracy Of Scripture & Scripture-Based Products In Witness To Muslims

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Muslims need the Gospel! Distributing Scripture to them is one of the most relied upon ways to expose them to this glorious message of salvation from sin by faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, increasing numbers of what is termed Scripture or “Scripture-based products” have been intentionally rendered with Islamic terminology. Instead of providing Muslims with accurate and faithful translations of God’s Word they reinforce the teachings of Islam.

These Islamized Scriptures are found in printed copies and on the Internet such as at www.bible.com and its companion smart phone app, YouVersion. Even some versions of the popular Jesus Film are affected by this Islamization. During the last 30 years, these so-called “contextualized translations” for Muslims, often described as being in their “heart language,” have more recently come to be termed, “Muslim Idiom Translation” (MIT).

The rationale behind MIT can be found in David Owen’s article, “A Jesus Movement Within Islam,” under the subtitle, “A New Approach to Bible Translation”:

It is a necessary requirement that Islamic-styled Bible translations be produced in order for a Jesus movement in an Islamic context to ever get off the ground…Bible translators will play a foundational role in the initial stages of a Haraka lsawiyya [i.e. Jesus Movement]. In carrying out their task they will also take a consolidating step in the work of re-theologizing the Christian message within their [i.e. Muslims’] particular context. 1

Owen is an alumnus of Fuller Theological Seminary and former missionary and Bible Society researcher in Israel. He was responsible for the first published MIT in 1987, Sirat Al Masih, a harmony of the Gospels and the first part of Acts in Arabic. It later appeared with a parallel English translation in 1992 and has been used as the basis for a number of MIT versions in other languages (see The ‘Mother of the Books’).

Since 1987, multiple versions of MIT have been produced. Because those producing them have normally not disclosed the Islamic features present in them, I was asked to write a brochure (links below) that would inform others of “Muslim Idiom Translation” (MIT). It is designed to serve two purposes:

  1. Provide an introduction to MIT
  2. Provide a basic checklist to determine if a product is a MIT

In this brochure you will find the following:

  • Distinguishing features of MIT
  • Representative (mis)renderings from versions of MIT
  • Seven key terms and/or passages to verify if a product is a MIT
  • Miscellaneous facts about MIT
  • Miscellaneous Bible facts about “Father” and “Son”

The brochure is available for download in either color or black and white.

Permission for reproduction and distribution is permitted provided that the information within the brochure is not altered.

The distribution of Scripture is essential to the spread of the Gospel. Knowledge of the message of God’s Word must precede a person coming to faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 10:13-17). For this reason, let us determine to stop giving Muslims Islamized Scriptures and instead give them accurate and faithful translations of God’s Word.

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Notes:

  1. D.O., “A Jesus Movement Within Islam,” Interconnect 5 (Jan. 1991): 17-18
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About Author

Adam Simnowitz is a minister with the Assemblies of God. He lives in Dearborn, MI. He recently completed his M.A. thesis, "Muslim Idiom Translation: Assessing So-Called Scripture Translation For Muslim Audiences With A Look Into Its Origins In Eugene A. Nida's Theories Of Dynamic Equivalence And Cultural Anthropology." He was one of the contributing authors to the adopted Assemblies of God paper, "The Necessity for Retaining Father and Son Terminology in Scripture Translations for Muslims," from which this paper is partially drawn (http://fatherson.ag.org/).

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