As the confrontation between The West and the Muslim world continues, another battle is raging on.
In The West, Muslims are free to share the message of Islam with anyone who will listen. And they get converts too. Unfortunately, this is not reciprocal: Christians are forbidden in some Muslim states and strongly discouraged in others to teach or preach Christianity to Muslims. Many Christians abide by these rules (a novel idea) because they are in the minority and, for the most part, Christians believe in obeying and following the law even if it is inconvenient.
But Christians in The West are becoming more sophisticated in developing tools with which to share the Gospel with Muslims in The West. As Christians cannot preach to Muslims in their lands, they seek to share the Gospel with those Muslims in The West. Muslims cannot outlaw preaching by Christians to Muslims in The West.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been putting a lot of time, effort, and money in developing literature in the languages of the world with which to share the Gospel. One recent effort along these lines was the complete retranslation of the Book of Mormon into Urdu. This is significant because the vast majority of Urdu-speakers are Muslims. These are efforts that portend a massive effort to share the Gospel with such peoples.
There were stories going around that Pope Benedict XVI will pray at Ground Zero, New York, for the conversion of Muslims to Christianity. I noticed that people would comment online that while this is commendable, this is a bad move as it endangers Christians, particularly Christian leaders, in Muslim lands. Someone offends Muslims and nuns, priests, and Christians are killed by mobbing hordes of Muslims.
(While this may be controversial, I would like to say that any such Christian who dies like this or for such reasons is a martyr. Christianity is built on the foundation of martyrs.)
Pope John Paul II called for a new evangelization. This was taken by most Catholics to refer to bringing lapsed Catholics back into the Church and to bring non-Catholic Christians into the Catholic Church. But increasingly, especially under Pope Benedict XVI, this is turning into promotion of efforts to evangelize non-Christian peoples.
Today, I want to talk about those people who do not belong to the traditional religious systems. Chief among these are atheists, agnostics, and non-religious. (For purposes of clarity: an atheist believes that God does not exist; and agnostic believes that it cannot be known if God exists or not; and a non-religious person doesn’t care either way.)
The Left has always been a bastion for atheists, agnostics, and non-religious people. Indeed, they usually become anti-religious. As a friend once coined them, they become “Evangelical atheists”, with as much zeal (and intolerance of other systems) as the proverbial Evangelical, and seeking with as much zeal to convert everyone to atheism. The intolerance and stupidity of which they accuse religious people, is quite amusing as they might as well be looking into a mirror. Read the rest of this entry »
Section Four: A Brief Note on Textual Sources
Much has been said about the textual sources of jihad by force (hereinafter simply “jihad”) in Islam. This is, of course, and important question or issue because like the other “revealed religions” (mainly Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, although perhaps Zoroastrianism and some Hindu movements may be included), what the textual sources say determine orthodoxy and orthopraxy (correct belief and correct practice respectively). This issue in Islam will now be discussed along with brief remarks on what Jewish and Christian scriptures and textual sources say about war. Read the rest of this entry »
Section Two: Comparison with Other Religions
An issue often brought up by Muslims (and the odd non-Muslim) seeking to legitimize jihad by force (hereinafter simply “jihad”) or to deflect criticism thereof, is the issue of holy war in Judaism and Christinity. The issue of holy war and violence in the Scriptures of Jews and Christians will be dealt with in a few days. Today we will discuss war in Judaism and the Crusades. (Scriptural issues will be dealt with in a later post.)
(This is the fourth version of this post: the last three were quite long. There is much to discuss when it comes to war in Judaism and Christianity, but simply not enough space to discuss them in detail here and then compare them to jihad. But as war in Judaism and Christianity are issues that are worth our attention and scrutiny, especially what with people revising history to demonize Jews and/or Christians or otherwise inaccurately protray war in Judaism and Christinity, it is a series I am thinking about doing later. Nevertheless, I apologize if the issues here are not more fully described.) Read the rest of this entry »
Section Three: Jihad in Popular Islam
There are three distinct trends with regard to jihad as perceived by the average Muslim: that among Shiites, that among Sufis, and that among Sunnis. Read the rest of this entry »
Section One: Definition
Literally, “jihad” means “to make an immense struggle”. As one may struggle in a number of issues for various causes, the struggle for Allah and Islam, which Islam concerns itself with, is technically known as “jihad fi sabeeli-llah” (“struggle in the path/cause of Allah”). However, by now in the greater Muslim world, and especially among the common or average Muslims, “jihad” is understood to refer to “jihad fi sabeeli-llah” without it having to be specified. Read the rest of this entry »
In the English language (and, in this specific regard, many other languages), “church” is a versatile word. It can refer to a particular building (or building style); it can refer to a particular congregation; it can refer to a particular denomination. So when someone says “the Catholic Church” (and here “says” is more important than “writes” because capitalization provides more clarity than the spoken word in this case), one can be referring to a particular building (St. Mary of the Angels Parish Church, perhaps), to a congregation (those that meet in St. John Cantius Parish Church), or to Roman Catholicism as a whole. The same applies to other denominations, almost all of which can be described as the “X Church” (the Lutheran Church; the Mormon Church; the Episcopalian or Anglican Church; the United Methodist Church; the Presbyterian Church; the Church of Christ, Scientist; the Orthodox Church; the Reformed Church; perhaps even the United Church of Christ). (Obviously this does not apply for everyone: exceptions I can think of are Jehovah’s Witnesses, Quakers, Pentacostals, Evangelicals, Christadelphians, Disciples of Christ. With Baptists, often “the Baptist church” refers to a specific building and/or congregation as there is no united Church of Baptists, each congregation being autonomous even in conventions or groups.)
But this is something only in Christianity. Read the rest of this entry »
One of the central elements of the paradigms of Muslims is that Islam is perfect and, thus, may not be critiqued.
Infidels may not critique Islam for a number of reasons. One is that because they are non-Muslims, they cannot possibly understand Islam or even various aspects of it with which they might not agree. Furthermore, as non-Muslims, they do not understand the sacrosanct nature of Islam, being revealed as it is by Allah. Infidels have no understanding or impulse to reverence, it is believed. Besides, only Muslims can understand Islam, so infidels should not stick their noses in areas they do not belong. Any critique of Islam by infidels is irrelevant if not dangerous in that Muslims may be led astray. Read the rest of this entry »
When many people think about Christianity, they are aware of the fact that Christendom is quite divided. There are significant divisions even within the major forms of Christian. These people are also aware that there continue to be major disputes regarding doxa (belief) and praxis (practice). The same exists for Judaism: also quite divided with lingering debates and disputes. People are also aware that issues being disputed can become quite heated. In other words, there are true and genuine divisions within the various factions and interpretations of Christianity and Judaism.
When it comes to Islam, though, the picture changes. Most people are aware that Islam is divided into three major divisions (Sunni, Shiite, and Sufi, even though Sufism is not a separate division but more of a spiritual or mystical movement). Most people believe this is it, other than the much-touted efforts of fringe elements to hijack Islam and kill their opponents. But the same “inter-denominational” divisiveness that plagues Christianity and Judaism (and, indeed, practically every religion and religious movement) also persists in Islam and has since the death of Muhammad. (There were divisions and debates within Shiites and within Sunnis back then too.) Read the rest of this entry »
There is a difference between understanding Islam and Muslims’ grievances and being aware of them.
We have no obligation to understand Islam and/or Muslims’ grievances. We would be morally behooved to do so were Muslims to try to understand us, but barring that it is utterly ridiculous to assert that we unilaterally (or, rather, unreciprocatedly) try to understand them. Read the rest of this entry »
Point the First:
The central problem of the democracy in Iraq is Islam. Islam has always had a political and social character, including a full program for government. In fact, the first year of the Islamic calendar does not mark the birth of dead of Muhammad, of the beginning of his prophetic ministry. It marks Muhammad’s flight from Mecca to Medina, where he became a political and military leader and Islam became a state.
(Robert Spencer. Religion of Peace? Washington, DC: Regnery Publishing, Inc., 2007, p. 165.)
This is most forcefully demonstrated by the fact that after Muhammad’s flight, Muhammad revelations take on a vastly more political tone (almost to the point of legal minutiae) and a much more intolerant tone (as, being the indisputed leader, he no longer had to tolerate or appease anyone).
Point the Second:
And of course there is no shortage of people who insist that Islam not only does not forbid, but in fact also actively fosters democracy. Abdulwahab Alkebsi of the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy, for instance, has declared that the essentials of democracy are “consistent with Islam’s clarion call for justice, equality, and human dignity. . . . According to the Qur’an, one of the explicit purposes of God’s messengers is to offer mankind liberty, justice, and equality.” Islam, he said, “lays the ground for the values of freedom, justice, and equality that are essential to democracy, more so than any other religion or dogma.” [Reference omitted.]
Not only as much as any other religion or dogma, but more so. Can this really be true? Iranian journalist Amir Taheri thinks not. Arguing in favor of the proposition that Islam is incompatible with democracy during a debate in 2004, he directly contradicted the assertions D’Souza would make three years later: “There are fifty-seven nations in the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC). Not one is yet a democracy. The more Islamic the regime in place the less democratic it is.” He concluded, “Islam is incompatible with democracy.” [Reference omitted]
(Robert Spencer. Religion of Peace? Washington, DC: Regnery Publishing, Inc., 2007, p. 166.)
Subpoint the First, explaining Spencer’s reference to D’Souza:
So can Islamic countries be democratic? Some commentators think so. Dinesh D’Souza scolded conservatives in 2007 for “holding silly seminars on whether Islam is compatible with democracy. In reality, a majority of the world’s Muslims today live under democratic governments–in Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Bangladesh, Nigeria, and Turkey, not to mention Muslims living in Western countries. There is nothing in the Koran or the Islamic tradition that forbids democracy.” [Reference omitted.]
(Robert Spencer. Religion of Peace? Washington, DC: Regnery Publishing, Inc., 2007, p. 166.)
I am glad Spencer called D’Souza out. I am still absolutely confused why D’Souza would turn on us and support our enemies.
Point the Third:
The fundamental problem, according to Taheri, is Islam’s rejection of the idea that all people have equal dignity, a Christian idea that was central to abolishing slavery. But in Islam, it’s a very different story. The very idea of equality, Taheri declared, “is unacceptable to Islam.”
(Robert Spencer. Religion of Peace? Washington, DC: Regnery Publishing, Inc., 2007, p. 166.)
Allow me to share an anecdote. Read the rest of this entry »
Deb: you asked some very good yet complicated questions. (Or I am making them more complicated than you intended.) I will answer them in reverse order. Now, I am no statistician; and for that matter I would not believe any statistics (I would have to ask of any such report: Who collected them? Who were interviewed? How honest were the interviewees? How leading were the questions? What was the compiler’s agenda? What was the answerer’s agenda?)
I will also say upfront that if one wants good or positive news, he or she should stop reading right now and find someplace else to be. Read the rest of this entry »
One man, who has been the source of so much insight into the Islamist paradigm, basically established and now runs a university. Like many Islamists, he has a public persona, which is quite unassuming, and a private one, which is quite conniving and manipulative for the sake of Islamist causes.
Like most Islamists (and many Muslims), he considers people not based on their race or ethnicity or national origins or nationality: he considers them based on their religion. This is quite consistent for many Muslims, and explains why until now Muslims (and the Muslim community, if one can speak of such a thing) have not been able to fully assimilate into the framework of America: they consider themselves as separate from the rest of the non-believers.
Now, taking this further, such Muslims also assign value and veracity based on such considerations. Thus, only the words, thoughts, ideas, plans, and theories of Muslims have merit, while those of the non-believers are without value. This is because everything has to be done for the glory of Allah (and, indirectly, for the glory of the Muslim community) and must be grounded on true principles. Read the rest of this entry »
Ah, thank you. I’ve always wondered what the prevailing religion was in the Middle East in the time of Muhammad. So, you’re saying it was a multi-deity paganism, along the lines of, say, Shinto? So the association with Christianity and Judaism was a Muhammadan construct? Historically, there is no prior relationship?
There were pockets of Christians and Jews throughout the Arabian peninsula. Notably, there were many Jews in Yemen and Christians in Ethiopia (which, while not on the peninsula, was still quite close, being as it is across the Red Sea, close to whose banks was Mecca). So Muhammad would have had plenty of opportunities to encounter them. Significant for him, there were three Jewish tribes in Yathrib (to which he fled when Mecca became too dangerous).
But the predominant religion, and what made Mecca the heart of the Arabian peninsula, was the multi-deity Arab paganism that thrived throughout the peninsula. The Ka’bah in Mecca was the main shrine for all Arabian deities.
Muhammad had plenty of contact with people of various religions, not only because of their presence near him but also because he used to be a trader and, as such, had ample exposure to different religions and their tales and legends. This partly explains why there are so many corrupted versions of narratives found in Judaism and Christianity. Read the rest of this entry »
Michael of Innocent Bystanders wrote a thought-provoking comment-post (technically, no one there posts: they all comment): Media Bias Against Muslims? In it, he quotes “Media Coverage of Muslims Bombs” by Lorraine Ali of Newsweek.
Now, I want to get this out of the way: I was little shocked to see Michael post such a post-comment. But this post-comment provides for me an excellent example of an otherwise well-meaning, erudite, educated, and admirable person may come to see the situation in a way that might not be entirely accurate. I don’t blame Michael for how he sees things, even though I see things in quite a different way. Read the rest of this entry »
Some people have made the claim that, based on the evidence before us, secularists (that is, those people whose prime daily motivator is not religion, and, additionally, whose dominant paradigm has not been informed or formed primarily by religion) have caused more death and suffering than religious people. Such a claim goes against the oft-repeated claim that religion has been the cause of all or most wars. But I would like to respectfully disagree with both propositions and offer an alternative explanation. Read the rest of this entry »
Two related areas that are of concern to me are people leaving Islam and Muslims converting to Christianity.
Some prominent personalities, such as “Ibn Warraq” (a pseudonym) simply left Islam. They did not embrace another religion, nor did they leave Islam because of another religion. (Technically, this is also how I left Islam.) Other examples are Isaac Schrödinger and The Apostate (a very pretty Pakistani girl whose blog I discovered today thanks to Isaac Schrödinger’s blog).
Others, such as “Abdul Saleeb” (also a pseudonym, from the Arabic “‘abd as-saleeb”, meaning “servant of the Cross”), leave Islam because they have found the truth in another religion (usually Christianity).
The former leave Islam because they believe it be false or wrong, independent of what claims other religions may make, while the latter leave because another religion proved to be the truth if not truer. Small difference, really.
I am not concerned with the numbers. It makes perfect sense to me why more Christians (or Christians-in-name-only, as the case often may be) convert to Islam than Muslims convert to Christianity. This fact does not reflect anything on Islam’s claims to being the truth but rather exists because of sociological elements within Muslim cultures. In short, Muslims are afraid to leave Islam because of repercussions from other Muslims upon them and their loved ones while Christians face no such threat or at least not to the degree in Muslim societies.
Furthermore, there are no restrictions in Christian societies on Muslims to preach their religion while Christians are forbidden to preach Christianity in Muslim societies. Christians allow such discourse while Muslims prohibit or staunchly oppose such discourse.
The way Muslims behave, I feel like asking what they are afraid of. Such behavior seems to be signs of insecurity. Why are they insecure? Are they afraid Islam cannot endure challenges? Are Muslims so rationally or intellectually weak? And what is wrong if a Muslim, for whatever reason, leaves Islam, whether for another religion or not? How does such an act weaken Islam? Is Islam really so weak that the departure of one member threatens it or the Muslim community?
This double standard, celebrating and promoting conversion to Islam but rejecting and resisting and attempting to restrict leaving Islam, irks me.
If someone asked me: “Should people be allowed to convert to Christianity? Should they be allowed to leave Christianity?” my answer would be an emphatic “Yes!” to both. Christianity is practically all about choice: choosing God and Jesus Christ. Just as one is allowed to enter the strait gate and narrow path to salvation by accepting Jesus as the Christ, Son of the Living God, one is also free to damn oneself to God’s just wrath and punishment by rejecting Him and the free gift He offers in His Firstborn, Jesus Christ. Come or leave, it the person’s choice, and no one ought to interfere either way.
There is more work to be done to establish equality of treatment between Christians and Muslims. As Pope Benedict XVI boldly stated, Muslims need to treat Christians the way they would like Christians to treat them. Enough of demanding us to treat Muslims with kid gloves: it is time we were allowed to live freely and openly as Christians, even to the extent of proselytizing, amongst Muslims. It is only fair, no?
The WordPress board works on my phone browser again!
One of my projects, which I may share here although my intention is to publish it, is to begin writing an introduction to Christianity (and an introduction to Judaism perhaps) for Muslims. Because of the propaganda that is spewed by their media and because of misinformation or misunderstanding of Christianity in Islam’s authoritative sources, Muslims have a very poor understanding of what Christians believe. This needs to be rectified. After all, if they expect us to understand them, we should expect them to understand us as well. The same goes for Judaism, whose image in Islam is perhaps even more distorted.
To my dear readers: please let me know if you would like me to post installments of such guides or introductions as I write them.
In a related comment: I thank God I do not read any local Muslim newspapers. I picked one up and my blood pressure began to soar. Such dreck they print in there! I am glad that if I do investigate Muslim propaganda, it’s in Urdu or Arabic. That is enough idiocy for me to handle.
So, if Muslims are idiots (which many, though not all, are), the people to blame are those who are running the media (sermons, newspapers, television programs, publishers, et cetera) to which Muslims are exposed. They are stultifying Muslims.
For Monday, March 12, anno Domini 2007, Monday in the Third Week of Lent, the twentieth day in Lent, the seventeenth day of penitence of Lent.
By the way, Sundays (and the Commemoration of Saint Patrick, bishop, observed in The United States) are days during which penance or penitence — what normally is observed during Lent — are suspended. Hence the count of days in Lent and days of penitence of Lent.
I may have said this before, but we need to establish what really is going on in the world rather than being distracted by certain elements of what may be a broader, wider, larger movement.
Consider, for example, our obsession with terrorism (specifically, militant Islamist terrorism). The problem is that terrorism is part of a larger conflict: a war between The West and Islamism. (Not all Muslims are Islamists, although “true Muslims” inevitably are.) Along with terrorism, Islamism uses other techniques, some of which are even non-violent. Efforts by Islamist activists to have a special status given to Islam, Muslims, and Islam’s dictates by the governments of The West are one such strategy to bring to pass the triumph of Islam over The West. It is quite interesting (and perhaps one may say, even ironic) that the very states that stripped The Church (whether The Lutheran Church or The Church of England or The Catholic Church) of practically all of its authority and influence and clout in society, have accorded to Islam and its authorities and buildings virtual autonomy and independence. Although church tribunals would have no authority, Islamist courts have been empowered. Whereas asserting one’s Christianity has become something frowned upon, something untoward, something in bad taste, someone asserting one’s Muslim-hood has become something novel, unique, lauded, and applauded. Simply put: rather than making all inhabitants equal, many Western states have made some more equal than others. This granting of autonomy to and even special status to Muslims (meaning, Muslims following the dictates and laws of Islam as interpreted by traditionalists) is all part of Islamism’s goals to triumph over The West. And, indeed, look how they have succeeded! The very people who are ashamed of their Christian past (or even current identity) applaud those who embrace their Muslim-hood to the exclusion of everything else.
Fortunately, confidence in American culture and civilization has been resistant to this pernicious wave of anti-Westernism. But the Islamists keep trying: they keep trying to delegitimize The West, trying to prove that Islam is superior to The West and to its religions (Christianity and Judaism), trying to assert its mission as the “savior” of The West, and of course trying to make the case that The West is utterly lost and needs Islam to be saved. We Americans tend to scoff as such nonsense, for nonsense it is. It doesn’t take someone who is extraordinarily intelligent to see which of The West or the Muslim world has been successful, more true to its values, and a boon to humanity. (For those who may be blinded by some irrational propaganda, the better one is The West.) Indeed, unlike in other Western states, America has proved to be a formidable adversary to Islamism. Rather than infecting The West, The West has been slowly innoculating various segments of the Muslim world in The West against Islamism.
This all means that Islamists, whether militants or not, whether terrorists or not, will try ever the more harder to bring us down. In their world, there can only be one triumphant victor, and they are trying to ensure it is not us.
Orianna Fallaci has been warning us of this state of affairs. It is about time that we listened to her and act accordingly.
I’m going to go on a limb here and express confusion on something. (Usually I like to point out stuff I know, but this issue merits being discussed.)
It is quite easy to understand the modi operandi of states like China, Russia, The United States, and The United Kingdom. It is also easy–for those who are familiar with them–to understand the geopolitical strategies and policies (insofar as one can call them “political”) of militant and non-militant Islamists, terrorists and otherwise.
But one entity that seems to confuse many people is Iran. Now, it is important to understand the motivation, reasons, and ultimate goals of a state in order to determine why the state has such-and-such policy, how the state will implement it, and what other aspects can be expected, predicted, or considered most likely to occur.
The problem with Iran lies in our lack of reliable information close to the decision-makers. Whereas a similar lack of information exists regarding North Korea, we know what to expect from North Korea. North Korea will do what North Korea is wont to do, because that is what it has done for a long time now. The same cannot really be said about Iran. Read the rest of this entry »