Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Let your yes be yes...

There are three occasions when a Muslim is permitted to lie:

1) To keep his wife happy
2) To reconcile warring parties: say that Ahmad and Mahmood
are fighting, you can go to one and say that the other is really sorry
about what happened and that he wants to talk. Then you can go to the
other and say the same thing. The aim is reconciliation.
3) To
advance Islam: you may lie to gain an advantage for Islam over other
religions. Thus you might make false claims to the press about the
goals or nature of Islam, or regarding weapons or military questions.

Am working on this topic. It is called taqiyyi in Islamic jurisprudence, and I hope to write a longer article on the topic in the near future. The approach is considerably different than that taught by Jesus Christ, which insists on honesty at all times.

A Question of Justice

Here is a link to a great BBC article on the recent decision to deport a Jordanian cleric to his home country:

Cleric_Loses_Appeal

What is fascinating to me about this story, and about appeals for asylum in the West in general, is this: Islam promises just governance and flourishing for
the upright. It is actually forbidden according to Sharia for a Muslim
to move outside ofIslamdom (Dar al Islam) other than for a temporary visit, or for da9wa, that is, efforts to convert others to Islam.

This story thus demonstrates the internal incoherence of Islamic thought. Here is a man who considers himself an upright Muslim, no doubt, yet desires to stay in Dar al Harb because he will be punished back in Dar al Islam.

I am sure he can justify this to himself though.Maybe something like this: Jihaad is the priority, and Jordan is not truly Dar al Islam since the government there is run by a kaafir (apostate). Thus it is imperative and permissible for me to remain in Dar al Harb for the sake of Jihaad.

This story has been repeated many times. I think it is a positive step that the UK is deporting this man. The House of War (Dar al Harb) is still the house of war, even for the clerics granted asylum there.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Perenial Question

Is Islam a religion of peace? My answer would be much more nuanced than this author's, but I do think that his view point is instructive. It reflects a traditional, unabashed, and forthright assertion of Christ's claims about himself. It is true that modern Biblical scholarship would tend to deconstruct Christ's assertions in a number of ways, but I think that the view presented here is on the ascent.

Another verse that reflects this sort of unvarnished Kingdom-centered thought is in 1 John 5: "We know that are from God, and that the whole world is in the hand of the evil one." I think as Christians are backed more and more into a corner, this will increase. On the other hand, I would treat Buddhism (which is pre-Christian) and Islam (based on a denial of a number of Christian doctrines) very differently.

A short and easy read:



'I get asked this question a lot. This question abounds in Christian circles. While it is a sincere question, I think that it is just based on the fallacy that there is such a thing as a religion of peace outside of the Kingdom of the Lord Jesus….

'When asked this question, I always give the same answer: “Nothing outside of the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of the Lord Jesus, is of peace. So is Islam a religion of peace? No! Is Buddhism a religion of peace? No! Is Sikhism a religion of peace? No! Is secular humanism, which abounds in America, a faith system of peace? No! Islam pulls people away from Jesus. Jesus said it Himself, “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters” (Matthew 12:30). Jesus is the author and bringer of peace: John 14:27: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you.” Followers of Jesus are the only ones that live in the Kingdom of Light… everyone else, including Muslims, live in the Kingdom of Darkness, where the Devil is the leader. Jesus Himself called the Jews children of the Devil, “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me.” (John 8:44-45). It’s that clear. “In Christ” there is peace. Not “in Christ” there is no peace. Is Islam a religion of peace? Better question: Do followers of Islam “have the Life” (1 John 5:12)?'

From Shawblog

Monday, February 19, 2007

Freedom of Speech and Blogs in the ME

SaudiJeans is a great blog. I mean, I love this blog.

This blogger in the inscrutible Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has had some great posts recently on freedom of speech in the Gulf States (al Khaliij). Please check them out. At times I am not very positive about the future of Islamdom, but there are hints of light in the darkness from time to time. The fact that this blog exists is one of them:

"This case [in Bahrain] reminds me with a similar case that happened to a fellow blogger here in Saudi Arabia. The difference is, when our fellow blogger criticized some minister he did not face a lawsuit, but he was taken for a scary ride with some officials who told him to shut down his blog without giving much explanation, or else face the consequences. Since this blogger owned a business that dealt directly with the government and keeping the blog would directly affect his business negatively he stopped all activities related to blogging. It is a shame, because he was one of my favorite bloggers, and his blog was absolutely one of the best in the Saudi blogosphere."

SaudiJeans

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Logic of Islam

I found this interview to be quite fascinating, though it does contain some errors. Specifically:

"Warner: Political Islam has annihilated every culture it has invaded or immigrated to. The total time for annihilation takes centuries, but once Islam is ascendant it never fails. The host culture disappears and becomes extinct."

Actually, Spain was entirely regained for Christendom upon the completion of the Reconquista in 1492 (special year, wasn't it?) Also, parts of the Balkans (like Greece) were purged of Islam--though both came at a great price. Also, both purgings were military in nature, so there are ethical questions involved. Finally, the loss of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem was not due to a religiously-motivated jihaad, but to illegal infringements on commerce by the Christian governer of what is now Karak in Jordan. Saladin was protecting his commercial routes. (BTW, Saladin was not even an Arab.)

Nevertheless, the strongest section of the interview is about the two different kinds of logic at play in Islam and Western thought. Because of there are two kinds of logic dialogue is often entirely fruitless

Interview_with_Bill_Warner

Iran and Energy

While this is article is not about Islam specifically, it sheds some light on one of the tension-spots in the lands of Islamdom. Iran is in a difficult spot: ruled by clerics, Shia not Sunni, Persian not Arab...

On the other hand it seems that the Persians have a much richer patrimony and heritage than do Arabs. Why? Because it is not necessarily linked to Islam. So maybe we can hope for the best inspite of the bad headlines. Pray for Persia. It was once a great center of Christendom and can become so again.

"Iranian leaders say they want to develop nuclear power to free petroleum resources for domestic use or export. The United States and other Western countries believe Iran is using the program as a front for building weapons.

"At a time of relatively high prices, oil is clearly providing the Tehran government with enormous strength, but it is also an Achilles heel."

An_Excess_of_Problems_for_Iranian_Energy

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Why Muslims are Attracted to Christianity

I don't know if this can be verified, but I heard that more Muslims have converted to the Way of Jesus Christ in the last ten years than in all the other years since the advent of Islam in the 7th Century. I'm not sure it's an accurate figure, but I will say that something is certainly happening among Muslims and that there is an openness in their society that was not there before. I also want to point out that large numbers of nominal Christians, especially in Europe, are converting to Islam--a main reason being so they can marry Muslim women. Who has more converts? I have no idea. I will say that Muslims converting to Christianity often pay a heavy price in terms of persecution, and that Westerners converting to Islam are afforded generous protection by their governments.

But here is the question: why are Muslims attracted to the way of Jesus Christ? Here are some of the main reasons:

1) The Bible. We forget how compelling and convincing Jesus' teachings and parables are. He was certainly, among other things, a highly talented teacher, and his parables and sayings have the ability to lodge themselves into a person's mind, even after only one hearing. His insights into human nature, society, kindness, forgiveness, and God's power--not too mention the many miracles he worked--are convincing to a good number of Muslims. Of course Islam teaches that the Christian and Jewish Scriptures are muharraf--corrupted. But after a fair reading of the Gospels, sometimes the integrity and wisdom found therein can break through this Islamic doctrine. Incidentally, Muslim background believers from my experience tend to center their thought on the Gospels much more than Paul's epistles--very different than the evangelical tradition which has, in practice at least, tended to give primacy to the Pauline epistles.

2) Dreams, Miracles: What can I say? They are happening, and folks here don't have the initial inclination that Westerners do to "disprove" or "figure out how it was done." A miracle is from God--it's that simple. Often times in dreams people see Jesus, though at times it is one of the saints. This may not result in conversion, but it opens a path of inquiry that sometimes leads to conversion.

3) Charity: "They will know that we are Christians by our love." One refugee from a neighboring country received some help from some Christians, and he said, "We come here and we receive nothing form the Muslims--the Christians are the only ones who take care of us. I know nothing of your religion, but I will become a Christian." We think of the things like the Inquisition and the Crusades, but we forget the quiet, persistent witness of kind, caring Christians from all traditions, including Catholics and Orthodox. Which brings to mind something that Saint Francis, another apostle to the Muslims, said, "Let us not seek to be loved, so much as to love others." If you need to be reminded of the quiet work of the Church around you, just look at how many schools and hospitals are run by Christians or where founded by the various churches.

4) Christian Community: Islam teaches that a man should not speak to a woman unless they are married or of the same family. It is a witness to the beauty of the Christian community, and thus its faith, when Muslims see genuine respect and friendship between men and women who are neither related or married to each other. The assumption among Muslims is that this sort of thing must lead to fornication or adultery; on the other hand, young men and women sincerely yearn for fellowship with members of the opposite sex. When they see this among Christians it reveals that we are a peculiar people, that there is something different about us: fellowship, conversation, and friendship but without all the adultery and fornication they are told must result.

There are other reasons as well, but my experience is that these are the main ones. The challenge is getting people to think. Islam teaches that it alone is the reasonable and logical religion. Since people in the Middle East have extremely weak critical skills due to various reasons, this assertion is simply accepted. These are four things which I know have been important in challenging that assumption, which have led people to ask new questions and venture down new paths.

Peace be with all of you.
Abu Daoud

Monday, February 05, 2007

Murder of the Armenian Journalist

Hrant Dink was an Armenian. Armenia was the first nation to, as a nation, convert to Christianity. The next was Ethiopia. The next was the the Roman Empire. Obviously then, the Armenian people see the Christian faith as something absolutely essential to their identity.

Recently, an Armenian journalist in Turkey was murdered. He was one of the very few Christians or Armenians remaining in Turkey these days.

A good article on the source of the violence aginast him is found at the link below. Suffice to say the motivation was not Islam, but rather nationalism:

"Hrant Dink was a member of Turkey’s seventy-thousand-strong Armenian community. But he was not just any member. As the founder and editor of the weekly Agos, the bilingual Turkish/Armenian newspaper, he was certainly the most prominent Armenian public intellectual in the country. He was, like many Turkish democrats, critical of the authoritarian measures of the state, with a particular emphasis on the taboos about the Armenian tragedy of 1915. Mr. Dink, like many others, believed that the tragedy was indeed a planned genocide. (The Turkish view, on the other hand, is that hundreds of thousands Armenians did indeed perish in 1915, but so did many Turks and Kurds, and what happened should be defined as intercommunal violence, not as a campaign of extermination.)"

OnTheSquare

Shia' means 'faction'

The Arabic word "shia'" means "faction" or "sect". In Arabic the word is femenine. The word contains the Arabic letter `ain which cannot be pronounced by most speakers of European languages, so a precise transliteration is difficult.

I don't think that folks in the West understand just how how much animosity there is between the Shia' and the Sunni Muslims. While Sunnis form a large majority in the Muslim world, Shia are very significant in their numbers, and they control Iran and (more or less) Iraq now. This is a very important shift in the equation of power, especially as the international community proves how useless and impotent its efforts are in preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

Anyway, I though this was an insightlful article from the IHT:

"Sunni clerics have stepped up their preaching against Shiites in recent weeks, declaring them again to be infidels. And King Abdullah, speaking of rumors that Shiites are seeking to convert Sunnis, said that such attempts would fail and that Sunnis would always make up the majority of the world's Muslims."

IHT

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Ugandan Bishop on Islam

This is from the Rt. Rev. Henry Orombi, Anglican bishop and primate of Uganda:

Orombi also said that in Uganda, Muslims are attempting to conquer "not so much by the sword but by the dollar." There, Libyan dictator Muammar Gadafi built a national mosque as a "gift" to the people. Newly discovered oil resources in Uganda are finding their way into Muslim hands, and Muslim financiers are pouring money into the country -- despite the fact that only 12 percent of Uganda's population is Muslim. Muslims also are offering vocal opposition to laws that protect women's rights because, Orombi said, "these are not in the Koran."

"At the same time, the church is generally ignorant about Islam, its doctrine, its ideology and its expansionist strategy, the Anglican leader said. Most churches have no plan or vision about reaching Muslims and even shy away from evangelism out of fear and the prospect of retaliatory violence."

For the complete article, click here:

VirtueOnline