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Archive for June, 2010

The following post is part 1 of a 5 part series.

John Esposito, arguably the most influential non-Muslim American scholar on Islam, at times sounds prophetic. The Islamic Threat: Myth or Reality? (1992) suggests Islam is a threat to the West—particularly America. His book a decade later, Unholy War: Terror in the Name of Islam (2002), could have been given the title: “I told you so.” He says a war conducted militarily, rather than diplomatically, will lead to an increase in anti-Americanism, global instability and blood shed. American foreign policy, he says, is what is behind the anger and agenda of militant Muslims.

There is no doubt that American foreign policy, including support for Israel, troops in Saudi Arabia, and military action in Afghanistan and Iraq, angers Muslims. In fact, the Bush Administration’s goal to root out radical Islam has enraged many Muslims. But America is not solely to blame for Islamic extremism. Globalization, years of unhappy Muslim-Christian encounters, and “Westophobia” in the Muslim media could also be listed. Another issue is the fact that conspiracy theories, like the one that makes Jews responsible for 9-11, are rampant in the Muslim world (Riddell and Cotterell, 152-160).

It is also true that a major reason for Muslim militancy is to be found deep within Islam. This is not to say that most Muslims do not want peace, but an American convert to Islam, who later turned to Christ, spoke as an insider: “Christianity teaches us to love our enemies. With Islam it’s quite the opposite. You should be just, but you should hate the enemies of Islam. And if they openly struggle against Islam, they should be eliminated” (Christianity Today, April 7, 1989).

Such sentiments can be traced back to the Qur’an, for though war is evil, Islam’s demise is a worse evil: “ … Fighting is a grave offense; but graver is it in the sight of Allah to prevent access to the path of Allah…” (Qur’an 2:217). One Muslim put it this way: “The world as we know it today is how others have shaped it so we have two choices: either to accept it with submission, which means letting Islam die, or to destroy it, so that we can construct a world as Islam requires.” In Islam Under Siege, 2003, Akbar Ahmed says that many Muslims feel they are not only under siege politically and militarily, but culturally as well.

In their attempts to set things right, militant Muslims are using negative portrayals of non-Muslims in the sacred scriptures of Islam. According to surveys done by Q News, the largest Muslim periodical in the UK, and the BBC, Muslim radicalization is increasing all over the world (Riddell and Cotterell, 193-194). It is also true that groups like al-Mahijiroun in England, under the fiery preaching of Sheikh Omar Bakri Muhammad, are using the freedoms of the West to mold the minds of fellow-Muslims.

This article therefore does not minimize the danger faced because of a growing Muslim perception that America has targeted Islam. The threat from militants is very real, but the material below builds on what Carl Ellis has been saying for years: “Islam is the greatest threat to the Church” (Christianity Today, April 3, 2000). It suggests that Christians can be an instrument of peace in the face of rising tensions.

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“Paul,” a former Muslim who suffered martyrdom, did much to strengthen the fledgling church in Afghanistan. Blinded in infancy when a local doctor prescribed the wrong medicine, he succeeded in memorizing the entire Qur’an (four-fifths the size of the NT) in Arabic (not his mother tongue) by age fourteen and was subsequently invited to an annual, Qur’anic recitation contest in Saudi Arabia, where he won first prize. But since only Saudis had historically achieved such distinction, that year two were awarded first prize: Paul and a Saudi citizen! In 1964 he enrolled at the Blind Institute of the Noor Eye Institute of Kabul. A keen mind and unusual linguistic ability took him rapidly through classes at the Institute and Paul then applied to Kabul University where he completed a degree in law. Moreover, while taking Braille at the Blind School he had also begun to study English and had listened to the Lutheran Radio Station, Voice of the Gospel from Addis Ababa. One day he asked Betty Wilson what Christians meant by the substitutionary death of Christ. Paul afterwards explained he had accepted Jesus while listening to the radio programs. Mrs. Wilson asked if he was aware this could result in execution since Islamic Law called for death to apostates. He said, “I have calculated the cost and am ready to die for Christ, since he has already died for me on the Cross.” He was also spiritually nurtured by Pioneer Christian missionary, the late J. Christy Wilson, Jr., pastor of the international church in Kabul before it was bulldozed to the ground in 1973. Despite warnings from various sources that if anyone destroyed the building they would answer to God, Muslims appeared at the gate. Having heard about an “underground church,” but not understanding the English idiom, Afghan police dug down twelve feet to find it. On that day the Government of Muhammad Zahir Shah was overthrown in a coup and intense suffering followed: Kabul was virtually destroyed, millions of refugees fled, a communist government was installed, the Taliban seized power and decades of war have ensued. An Afghan refugee told Wilson: “Ever since our Government destroyed that Christian Church, God has been judging our country.” Yet in the midst of opposition, Paul helped translate the New Testament into Dari (Afghan Persian), his mother tongue. Finally, to avoid persecution he fled to Pakistan in 1985 and had a fruitful ministry among Afghan believing refugees. While he was in exile I invited him to my city (DGK) of service in SW Pakistan where he spoke boldly and brilliantly to Muslims about Jesus. On March 23, 1988 he was “tricked” (God makes no mistakes!) into returning to Afghanistan, kidnapped, tortured and killed by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. Reportedly, his tongue was cut out before being shot because he refused to stop speaking for his Lord. God’s work in Afghanistan today of drawing people to himself has come because believers have been willing to die for Christ. In fact, Christians in Islamic contexts are often persecuted, and may even be martyred. Throughout history suffering has been part of Christian witness and vital to the growth of the church.

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Below is my wife’s response to yet another, “pass it along to everyone on your list.” “Joys of Muslim Women” by Nonie Darwish has some truth in it but is mostly fear-mongering rhetoric. There is some question as to whether or not Darwish even wrote the article which can be viewed here http://wakeupamericansnow.blog

Carol writes,

What do I think? “It will scare the life out of you.” That is what the devil wants. Fear is not from God; it paralyses us and doesn’t result in anything good. Nowhere does the author say Christians should pray that God will work among Muslims and change their hearts. She doesn’t tell America to turn back to God. In my view, this negatively impacts American Christians, and I don’t see it as a God thing.

Is Shariah Law good? In regards to Christians and the status of women, no, but the problem with America is America. We are so far from God and from making an impact on our culture that Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism and witchcraft have a growing presence in our midst. We think we are people of faith but our faith is locked into a building on Sunday morning and our lives fail to influence much of anything.

Abortion, family planning, and homosexuality limit the size of our families, whereas some religions reject such things. Other cultures are too poor to practice family planning and as a result, Muslims grow primarily for biological reasons. We believe democracy is the only way to govern, and we zealously promote it around the world. In this country it is possible that some day Muslims will gain the presidency simply through democratic means. I have sometimes pondered the fact that when Christ returns we will not be voting on it but we will have a just, benevolent dictator.

In the final analysis, we must remember that God is sovereign. In AD 732 at the Battle of Tours, Islam was prevented from a further advance into Europe by an army under the direction of Charles Martel. Our leaders are in God’s hands. He establishes good and bad rulers. Good ones should have us praising God for his goodness, but when that does not happen we need to cry out to Him.

Yes, there are radical Muslims, but where are the radical Christians? We are so afraid of looking weird, acting out of context, or not being “normal’ that we do nothing. Why should we be shocked at the inroads made particularly by Muslims?

Carol Larson

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This is in response to the article, “Word of the Day: Dhimmitude.” The author says, “The ObamaCare bill is the establishment of dhimmitude and Shariah Muslim diktat in the United States.” In my view, this contention is at best a misrepresentation of Muslim motives; at worst, it’s a conspiracy theory, rising from the mistaken idea that Obama is a Muslim.
My research on the ObamCare package is limited but I do believe Muslims will be exempted from the government mandate to purchase insurance, and also from the penalty tax for being uninsured. The reason is that Islam equates insurance with gambling, risk-taking and usury. It is banned and Muslims are therefore commanded not to pay interest. By the same token the Amish will also be exempted. Our country makes allowances for conscientious objectors and that’s why it is a great place to live.
What I don’t believe is the interpretation given in the article as to why Muslims are doing this. The word dhimitude was coined not too many years ago by a Jewish scholar, Bat Ye’or. I don’t believe for a minute that this is a grand scheme by Muslims to subjugate United States to Islam. I don’t think there is any one great, unified plan on which all Muslims agree. Yes, they want to get their message out; yes, they want to make converts just like we do; and yes, Islam is a missionary religion, but I don’t think we can interpret everything they do in a negative light and suggest they have sinister plans to take over. To me, the article is reactionary, and encourages average evangelical Christians to hate and mistrust Muslims.

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