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Archive for April, 2010

Just recently I received an e-mail from a friend, and former student, urging me to listen to a YouTube video by Bridgette Gabriel. I will try to say more about Gabriel later but here is both the e-mail and part of my response.

Hi Dr. Larson,

How are you?

I have been doing some research on Islam as it relates to National security. When I studied in our Islam class at CIU, I never heard about the following tactic used my Mohammed. Click here to see the video.

In light of current events, we CIU students and alumni would be well served in understanding this aspect of Islam and Islamic tactics. In my own witnessing to harder core Muslims, I have found them to be passionate and willing to engage in conversation. The aspect presented by the speaker in this video is valuable for CIU grads to understand if we are going to engage Islam on multiple levels, so that we are not deceived by the current form of political correctness in our nation calling Islam a religion of peace. We should be a nation of truth and as followers of Christ extend His offer of salvation.

God bless,
KW

Dear KW:

I became aware of Bridgette Gabriel several years ago when one of her articles had been sent around to faculty and staff at Columbia International University, with the note that it was “good read.” I stated that it would not help Christians understand what most Muslims are like for a couple of reasons: Her perception of Muslims is not completely accurate, and her attitude toward them is certainly not Christian.

I have now looked at the YouTube video by Gabriel, entitled “They must be stopped” and note she sanctions the Crusades, something few historians do–let alone evangelicals. I am also aware of the Treaty of Hudabiyya, where it is possible–but not certain–Muhammad deliberately deceived his enemies, but it wouldn’t be the first time deceit was used in war. All who teach courses/seminars offered through the Zwemer Center for Muslim Studies are acquainted with how Muhammad conducted himself throughout his life. Yes, there are some Muslims today who are liars and deceivers. Yes, Muhammad was a man of war, whereas Jesus was a man of peace. During our twenty-three years in Pakistan, I met some Muslims who were not honest, but they did not have to learn that from Muhammad.

Muslims come by it naturally, the same way all of us do, as members of the human race and victims of Satan. We are all sinners by nature. I don’t need to list all the verses about how the human race deceives and is deceived, but one I will recite is Jeremiah 17:9: “The heart is deceitful, above all things, and desperately wicked. Who can know it?” I interpret the last part to mean all of us–including believers–are often not able to discern the deceit in our own hearts, so we need to pray: “Search me, O God … and see if there is any wicked way in me … “ (Psalms 139:23:24).

Look at what is currently taking place in our own country with the banks, or in society as a whole. I did a few searches on the internet with words like “dishonesty,” “theft,” “fraud,” and found hundreds of thousands of articles/references for each one. For example, right now Goldman Sacs is facing charges of deliberate fraud. Closer to home, one of my sons works with a Canadian company that focuses on investment banking. The company is presently on the verge of collapse because two employees engaged in shady deals. In this part of the world we are taught what’s right and what’s wrong, whereas most Muslims are not. Why wouldn’t they be deceitful? I could say more but this is already too long.

Every blessing,

Warren Larson
Director, Zwemer Center for Muslim Studies

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Recently, the editor in chief of a major Christian magazine asked me (and two other Christian scholars of Islam) to comment on a recent article in the NY Times. He wondered if there are sufficient sources in Islam to promote a non-violent movement among Palestinian Muslims. He said Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and others took their cue from Jesus. This was my response.

Certainly, there are a few sources within Islam to support a non-violent response. For example, in The Great Theft: Wrestling Islam from the Extremists, Khaled Abou El Fadl, spells out the differences between moderate and extremist Muslims. Building on the foundational truths of mercy and moderation in Islam, he presses Muslims to wage a counter-jihad through peaceful means. He pleads with Muslims to rescue the soul of Islam from a “militant and fanatic minority.”

Khaled Abou El Fadl has the credentials to speak for a “pluralistic, tolerant and non-violent Islam.” Surviving torture in Egypt for his views, he fled to the United States, but faces ongoing death threats for criticizing “puritans” and their literalist interpretations. As a UCLA professor and scholar who studied in the Middle East, Yale, Princeton and the University of Pennsylvania, he is a respected jurist of both Islamic and western law. Fadl, and other moderates, are to be applauded for their valiant attempts to nudge Muslims toward moderation. The problem is few Islamic scholars categorically forbid terrorism. Since violence is based on its moral logic, legal proceedings and sacred scriptures, terrorism is actually owned by the faith.
I tell my students at Columbia International University that Jesus and Muhammad had several things in common: Both were born in poverty (Jesus in Bethlehem and Muhammad in Mecca); both had a spiritual experience at age twelve (Jesus in Jerusalem and Muhammad on the way to Syria); both were rejected in their own home town (Jesus in Nazareth and Muhammad in Mecca). But that’s where the similarity ends. As he faced the cross, Jesus said his kingdom was not of this world. He rejected the crown and chose to suffer. Muhammad, on the other hand, fought for his kingdom and won it. Some have counted over fifty battles he engaged in. Muslims therefore do not have a good model to follow in supporting a philosophy of nonviolence.
However, as I learned as a missionary in South Asia, it is not enough to simply say I follow Jesus. Our love must be demonstrated through practical living and suffering. In 1979, through a false rumor, rioters attacked our house, burned our jeeps, burned Christian literature, smashed furniture, and could have killed us, but for the grace of God. During this time, the American embassy in Islamabad was razed. A few days later, the news came out that [the perpetrators were] not Americans and Jews, but Saudis. The police and the military in our city rescued us and grabbed a few of the rioters and put them in prison. We went to them and said, “We forgive you. We’re not going to lodge a case against you.” Then, neighbors, some of the people who knew me well, embraced me. They said, “Mr. Larson, now we know the difference between you and us. We do not forgive our enemies. When there’s trouble between us, Sunnis and Shi’ites, we fight and destroy one another’s property. But you have forgiven us.” My reply was that we were only doing what Jesus taught us to do.

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In a recent Christianity Today interview, I was asked about economic sanctions against Iran. The article states that many “high profile” Christian leaders are supporting and some are even demanding sanctions against the Islamic regime. However my concern is that sanctions will likely punish the poor more than anyone. I said, “What may be questioned is the wisdom of American evangelicals … and their consistent, almost reflexive pro-sanction policies. Evangelicals need to be more humble about such issues, adopting more nuanced and balanced positions with regard to policies that have the potential of adversely affecting Christian brothers and sisters in Muslim contexts.” Click here to read the full CT article by Bobby Ross.

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