Saturday, May 26, 2007

Africa, the Future of Christianity

The guy I always quote:

Christianity is going south very rapidly in terms of numbers. I've give you a quick overview, and I'm going to talk about Africa a lot. Simple reason: back in 1900, Africa had 10 million Christians representing 10 percent of the population; by 2000, that was up 360 million, to 46 percent of the population. That is the largest quantitative change that has ever occurred in the history of religion. A rising tide lifts all boats, and all denominations have been booming. The Anglicans have done very well, and the Anglican Church is going to be overwhelmingly an African body in the near future.


Philip Jenkins
From Here.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Development of Islamic Law

Just started this book and thought this quote was very good. Muhammad is the perfect man, and the pattern for all Islamic activity. Since that is true, the idea of separating religious and civil authority (secularism) is anti-Islamic. Muhammad as the perfect man drew all power to himself, so that is the pattern to be emulated today. So we should not be surprised to see that democracy whicch spreads power out over people has been a failure in Islamdom.

Check it out:

"Similarly, Muslim history places the revelation of Islam's law in the context of a polity based in Medina and portrays Muhammad as, like Moses, both prophet and ruler. (The revelations that came to Muhammad before the migration of the Muslims from Mecca to Medina are generally regarded as having little legal content.) Although a few modern Muslim revisionists have contended that it was not part of Muhammad's mission to create a state, the weight of Muslim opinion through the ages has been of the side of the opposing view. The standard account of the life of Muhammad has him undertaking rather soon after his arrival in Medina in 622 C.E.... to set down in writing regulations governing the internal affairs of the community and the defense of the community against attack from the outside. Tradition would see this as the virtual charter of the Islamic state. Muhammad clearly held the reins of government in his hand; he was lawgiver (mediator of the divine law), judge, statesman, and head of an army."

Bernard Weiss, The Spirit of Islamic Law, Univ. of Georgia Press, 1998, p. 3

Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Lamb and his Wife

Recently posted something about the lack of domestic felicity among Muhammad and his wives. Here is a great post about the Christian vision of marriage. How different it is! Check it out:

Revelation pictures Holy Matrimony as a heavenly sacrament, or rather married couples are the sacraments of the heavenly wedding. The unity between the Church and the Son of God is the heavenly reality, and our earthly marriages are the outward and visible signs of that reality.

The marriage of the Lamb is celebrated by a wonderful wedding feast. Four and twenty elders, the priests of the twelve Old Testament tribes and the twelve apostles of the New Testament fall down in worship before the Lamb. Beyond them are a multitude no-one can number of those who are clothed in the white garments of the prayers of the saints. And the martyrs stand about with palms of victory in their hands. The various groups are not interchangeable but all are united by their common worship of the Lamb.


Read it all at Transfiguration.

New Missionaries in Uganda

I am regularly in touch with folks who are considering long-term work in the mission field. Here is a great page of some friends who just arrived in Uganda for a half-year mission. Uganda is different than the Middle East of course, but some of the stuff they face there is the same as what folks face when they move anywhere in the 3rd World.

Example:

I guess you can’t be a missionary in a new culture without getting sick. And now that we have crossed that bridge I hope we don’t have to cross it again. Please keep our health in your prayers as being sick really slows the work we do down, and it makes it more difficult to carry on with day-to-day tasks.

About a week and a half ago, I came down with what I thought was traveler’s diarrhea, but after a week of that I finally went to the doctor. There is a very good clinic here for us with a British doc; he diagnosed me as having salmonella. This is of course, after I provided a stool sample, a new experience for me. (If this is too much info, just skip to the next posting.) I got some meds and I feel as good as new. Interestingly enough I think I gave myself salmonella after trying my hand at cutting up some bone-in chicken.


Or the joy of meeting other expats and finding a little piece of home in a strange land:


Through a friend and another friend (missionaries are all connected this way) I found out about an ex-pat mom’s playgroup. Anderson and I have been twice.


Anyway, if you are interested in what it is like to move onto the mission field, this blog has some great examples. God bless this family and prosper their work:

The Franke Family

Coptic Christians Attacked in Egypt

I have mentioned before my deep respect for the Coptic Christians of Egypt. Father Zakarias is one of the best evangelists of Muslims in the world, and he is Coptic. It is still the largest church in the Middle East/North Africa. The Copts are not Arabs, they are the original Egyptians who are the descendants of the Pharoahs and pre-Islamic inhabitants of the land. There are Coptic churches through the USA and Europe, perhaps you might think of visiting one in your area and saying HI and letting them know you care about them. Some information on recent persecution:

EGYPT Christians Attacked - VOM Sources

On May 11, a mob of Muslims attacked Christians in Bahma village south of Cairo after hearing rumors that a church was to be built in the village without government permission. Muslims left their Friday prayers and attacked the homes and shops of Christians, setting the buildings on fire. At least 10 Coptic Christians were injured in the attack. People from both faiths took up sticks and hatchets and began hurling bricks and firebombs at each other. At least 27 houses and shops were damaged by fire. At last report, 59 Muslims have been arrested on charges of arson and spreading sectarian strife. Pray these Christians will be encouraged to worship together, despite opposition. Pray they will demonstrate love to their neighbors. 1 Corinthians 13

From persecution.com

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Orthodox Christians and Missions?!?

People don't usually think of Orthodox Christians being active in world-wide missions. The truth is that the world's 700,000,000 or so Orthodox Christians have been under immense pressure for the last couple centuries due to Communism in Russia and E. Europe and of course Islam, that it's almost a miracle that Orthodoxy even exists anymore.

But the life of the church is Mission. I really believe that: the church that is not involved in preaching the Gospel to every creature is not living, but slowly dying.

Fortunately there are some signs of life for Orthodoxy. May God bless them lead them more and more into the unreached frontiers of the mission field:

Orthodox Christian Missions Center.

It's not much, but it's a beginning.

Muhammad and his Wives

Interesting article at Anwsering Islam, which I have said several times is the gold standard of apologetics to Islam. It is about the Islamic teaching on multiple wives and proposes that not even Muhammad himself (the perfect man in Islam--tell me if that isn't idolatrous) was able to have a happy plural-marriage (or whatever it is called).

There is ample evidence in this article that he was not successful. The complete picture of Muhammad and his interactions with women is in fact deeply disturbing. I just want to post a short portion of the entire article which you can read here:

Aisha herself admitting that Muslim women suffered worse than any other women?

Narrated ‘Ikrima:
Rifa’a divorced his wife whereupon ‘AbdurRahman bin Az-Zubair Al-Qurazi married her. 'Aisha said that the lady (came), wearing a green veil (and complained to her (‘Aisha) of her husband and showed her a green spot on her skin caused by beating). It was the habit of ladies to support each other, so when Allah’s Apostle came, ‘Aisha said, "I have not seen any woman suffering as much as the believing women. Look! Her skin is greener than her clothes!" When ‘AbdurRahman heard that his wife had gone to the Prophet, he came with his two sons from another wife. She said, "By Allah! I have done no wrong to him but he is impotent and is as useless to me as this," holding and showing the fringe of her garment, ‘Abdur-Rahman said, "By Allah, O Allah’s Apostle! She has told a lie! I am very strong and can satisfy her but she is disobedient and wants to go back to Rifa’a." Allah’s Apostle said to her, "If that is your intention, then know that it is unlawful for you to remarry Rifa’a unless ‘Abdur-Rahman has had sexual intercourse with you." Then the Prophet saw two boys with ‘Abdur-Rahman and asked (him), "Are these your sons?" On that ‘AbdurRahman said, "Yes." The Prophet said, "You claim what you claim (i.e. that he is impotent)? But by Allah, these boys resemble him as a crow resembles a crow," (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 72, Number 715)

Christian apologist and writer John Gilchrist does an excellent job of summing up Muhammad’s failure as a husband and role model:

Ayishah's frustrations and jealousies are the best proof that Muhammad could not treat his wives equally - if for no other reason that he did not regard her with the same total, undivided affection that she regarded him. She may have been his favourite wife but her grievances clearly were motivated, perhaps only subconsciously, by the fact that she was not his only wife. Paradoxically, the fact that Muhammad singled her out as his favourite wife is further proof that he did not treat his wives equally. There is more than enough evidence in Muhammad's own marital affairs to prove that polygamy cannot ultimately be reconciled with God's perfect purpose for human marriage. It is no wonder that the perfect revelation of his will through the Gospel of his Son simultaneously outlawed polygamy. Muhammad had enjoyed a twenty-five year marriage with Khadija which was, in all respects, unimpeachable. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for his many marriages at Medina and one can only sympathize with the young Ayishah who obviously regretted that she could not enjoy the same undivided devotion from her husband that she willingly offered to him… Far from the marriages of Muhammad being proof that he was the ideal husband (as Zain puts it), they rather are evidence of an inherent weakness in Islamic morality… Although monogamy has become the norm in many Muslim societies today, this trend is not to Islam's credit but is rather a sign of the consciousness of God’s real will for men and women and the best way in which a marriage can develop into a truly happy union. By taking to himself more than double the number of wives he allowed to his followers, Muhammad seems to have been something of a champion of polygamy rather than an advocate of monogamy and his tolerance of plural marriages, together with his schemes to rid himself of his personal enemies, negate his claim to be a true prophet of God. A Christian assessment of his character leaves him far short of the ideal - an ideal worked out to perfection in Jesus Christ - and the only conclusion to be drawn is that, despite his many qualities, he cannot be considered as the man God chose to be his best and final messenger to all mankind. That honour belongs to Jesus Christ alone. (Gilchrist, Muhammad and the Religion of Islam, A Study of Muhammad's Personality, C. THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF HIS MARRIAGES.)

What do you Eat?

Here is question we get often. Main foods here are: Rice, rice and chicken, rice and lamb with yoghurt sauce, kebbeh, falafel, shawerma (Turkish), kebab (Turkish), and then there is Circassian Chicken. Not what you are used to really, and not something you find often, but a great dish which you can make in the West if you like.

Here is the recipe:

This dish is one of the classical masterpieces of Turkish cuisine, and is served on special occasions. You can substitute olive oil for the walnut oil if desired, although the taste will be slightly different. Serves 4-6

For the chicken stock and chicken:
2-3 lbs chicken thighs and legs (or 1 whole chicken, cut up)
4-5 cups water
1 onion, quartered
1 medium stalk celery, leaves and stems removed
1 medium carrot, peeled and quartered
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 sprig parsley

2 cups uncooked rice

Walnut sauce
2 slices day-old white bread, crusts removed
2 Tbl unsalted clarified butter
1 sm Spanish onion, finely chopped (1/2 cup)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 1/2 Tbl paprika
1 tsp ground red pepper (AKA cayenne, pure red chile powder)
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts
Salt


Finishing touches
2 Tbl walnut oil
2 tsp paprika
2 Tbl fresh Italian parsley, coarsely chopped
Walnut halves

1. Place chicken, vegetables, salt and pepper in water in a large pot, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for about an hour. Remove chicken and let cool. Meanwhile, strain the broth and discard vegetables (and neck, if applicable). Reserve about 2 cups of the chicken stock and set the rest aside for another use.

2. Make rice according to package instructions.

3. To make the walnut sauce, soak the bread in a little bit of the chicken stock (maybe 1-2 Tbl), then sqeeze to dry and crumble into a small bowl. Set the bread aside. In a small saucepan or skillet, heat the clarified butter over med low heat, add the onion, and cook gently for about 3-5 minnuted until onion is soft but not brown. Add the garlic, paprika, and ground red pepper. Remove the saucepan from heat and set aside.

4. In a food processor or blender, finely grind the walnuts. Add 1 cup of the chicken stock, the onion mixture, and crumbled bread. Season with salt and blend to make a smooth sauce. If the sauce is too thick, add a little more of the cooking liquid (I usually end up using the 2 cups of chicken stock).

5. Remove skin from the chicken and de-bone. Place shredded chicken into a large bowl and add the sauce; mix well (you might need to add a little more chicken stock at this point too). Place cooked rice on a serving platter and top with the chicken mixture.

6. To prepare the garnish, warm the walnut oil in a small saucepan and stir in the paprika. Drizzle the sauce over the chicken mixture. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and decorate with the walnut halves.


From this rather obscure blog.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Victimhood and Terrorism

Back in December I wrote this:


“No one admits that his own yoghurt is sour.” --Syrian proverb

I want to suggest in this post that victimhood has become an integral and essential element in Muslim identity today. There are a number of reasons for this, some of them are valid, but many of them are not. I want to explain why and how this has come to be the case today.


And now we have this astounding announcement from the OIS (Organization of Islamic States):

Speaking at a special brainstorming session on the sidelines of the 34th Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers (ICFM), the foreign ministers termed Islamophobia the worst form of terrorism and called for practical steps to counter it.

The ministers described Islamophobia as a deliberate defamation of Islam and discrimination and intolerance against Muslims. “This campaign of calumny against Muslims resulted in the publication of the blasphemous cartoons depicting Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in a Danish newspaper and the issuance of the inflammatory statement by Pope Benedict XVI,” they said. During a speech in Germany last year, the Pope quoted a 14th Century Christian emperor who said the Prophet had brought the world only “evil and inhuman” things. The Pope’s remarks aroused the anger of the whole Islamic world.

“The increasingly negative political and media discourse targeting Muslims and Islam in the United States and Europe has made things all the more difficult,” the foreign ministers said. “Islamophobia became a source of concern, especially after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, but the phenomenon was already there in Western societies in one form or the other,” they pointed out. “It gained further momentum after the Madrid and London bombings. The killing of Dutch film director Theo van Gogh in 2004 was used in a wicked manner by certain quarters to stir up a frenzy against Muslims,” the ministers pointed out. Van Gogh had made a controversial film about Muslim culture.


I don't have anything to say about their claim. But I really want to object to the sense of self-pity and victimhood that pervades every single sentence in this article. Amazing really. There is not even a single mention that maybe Islam has anything to do with terrorism. There is no room for introspection, for self-criticism, for wondering if somehow Muslims have failed in maintaining their societies.

Nothing is Islam's fault. It's all your fault. Nor do they mention that the connection between terror and Islam was not invented in the West. It comes, quite obviously and clearly, straight from the Muslim holy warriors (terrorists). But they don't mention that.

Apologetics and Objections

Fascinating post Here.

The author is often quite critical of Islam (I am as well, though I think our styles are quite different). He has listed what he considers to be the most common objections to his criticism. I think the list is very enlightening. Much of our work here consists of whitttling down the list so I can gain a hearing. Once a Muslim realizes that you know Arabic, and know the Quran, and know the ahadiith (pl. of hadiith), and that you are a religious person (which unlike the West, is a good quality here), then you have earned, maybe, a chance to speak and be listened to.

Here is his list:

1. He's taking verses out of context
2. He's an Islamophobe/racist/bigot
3. He doesn't know Arabic, and you can't understand the Qur'an unless it's in Arabic
4. He's not an expert on Islam/he has no credentials
5. The Qur'an, the mind of Muhammad, and Islam in general are too complex and mysterious for infidels to understand
6. What about the Crusades (and other violent Christian actions of the past)?
7. What about the violent verses in the Bible?
8. Those Muslims are not “real” Muslims
9. Only Muslims can address the tough topics

Good summation. I can add from the Young Muslims site:

10. He's lying

11. If you prove him wrong from Qur'an and Hadith, you just get ridiculed

And another I've seen now and again:

12. He has been refuted hundreds of times, and thoroughly discredited


Well, read it all at his blog and see what you think about his responses.

Apologetics for Muslims is difficult because the Middle Eastern mind does not operate alongg the lines of logic that folks in the West are used to. For example: two opposite things can not be true at the same time. This seems clear to us. But not to the Muslim mind. Thus Islam can and is a peaceful religion while being a violent religion. Just one example, but read his article and judge for yourself.

Friday, May 18, 2007

The Church is Part of the Gospel

"...the church is part of the Gospel and [...] the church is not the exclusive company of those who have an entrance ticket for heaven, but the sign to the world of the universal salvific purpose--sign, and I would add, foretaste and instrument" (p. 72)

Lesslie Newbigin
Signs Amid the Rubble:
The Purposes of God in Human History

I love this idea. It is true, by the way. You don't realize that in the West much, but here in the East where it is somewhat rare to find a community of believers worshipping together you begin to understand why Psalm 133 links together fellowship and eternal life.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

The (Sorry) State of the Mission

So how is the church doing in her mission to save the world? Not very well, after 2000 years. There have been some bright patches here and there, great visionaries from among all the traditions: Catholic (Saint Francis Xavier, Saint Augustine of Canterbury), Orthodox (Saint Innocent of Alaska, Saints Methodius and Cyril), and Protestant (Bp. Michael Solomon Alexander of Jerusalem, Henry Martyn, and really this list is quite long, PBTG). But overall, we have been putting almost all of our resources into evangelizing other Christians.

Which is nice and all.

But it's not what Christ told us to do...a small problem.

Kyrie Eleison. Irhamna ya Rrab. Miserere nobis. Have mercy, O Lord.

Read it and weap, then repent and fast and ask God how you can be part of the church's mission to the unreached:

Despite Christ’s command to evangelize, 67% of all humans from AD 30 to the present day have never even heard His name.

• 648 million Christians today (called Great Commission Christians) are active in Christ’s world mission; 1,352 million Christians seem to ignore this mission.

• Non-Christian countries have been found to have 227 million Bibles in place in their midst, (more than needed to serve all Christians), but they are poorly distributed.

• 124 million new souls begin life on Earth each year, but Christianity’s 4,000+ foreign mission agencies baptize only 4 million new persons a year.

• 91% of all Christian outreach/evangelism efforts are expended in World C locations, where the Gospel is already rooted and the church is thriving.

• 818 different un-evangelized, ethno-linguistic peoples have never been targeted by any Christian agency to date.

• 40% of the church’s entire global mission resources are being deployed to just 10 overly-saturated countries already possessing strong citizen-run home ministries.

• 98.7% of people have access to scripture in 6,700 languages leaving 78 million in 6,800 languages with no access at all.

• Only 1 out of every 4 missionaries is working in a pioneer ministry among non-Christian peoples of the major religious blocs.

• Of foreign mission giving, 87% goes toward work among those already Christian, 12% goes for work among already evangelized non-Christians, and 1% goes for work among people groups in the un-evangelized or unreached category.

• Out of 648 million Great Commission Christians, 70% have never been told about World A’s 1.6 billion un-evangelized individuals.

• Every place on Earth can reasonably be targeted with at least 3 of the 45 varieties of effective evangelism.


Read it all at Shawblog.

Feast of the Ascension of Our Lord

It is after Easter, and before Pentecost. Today (Thursday the 17th) is the the day our Lord was raised into heaven.

Check out this Russian Icon first.

I liked this reflection from What the Tide Brought In, a blog I just discovered today. I don't know Ann (the blogger) but I did like her reflection:

ASCENSION

Ascension is one of those church holy days that is a mystery to me. The whole idea of Jesus ascending through the air into heaven is hard for someone who has seen the pictures of earth from space taken by the Astronauts. Instead I think of Glinda in the movieThe Wizard of Oz rising up into the air in her bubble with all the Munchkins waving and shouting "Goodbye, Goodbye" in their little squeaky voices.

There are many artistic depictions of the Ascension. Salvador Dali shows Jesus from the disciples point of view and some androgynous heavenly being receiving him. There is an icon showing just Jesus feet as he goes into the clouds and leaving footprints on the rock below. If you use the image search on google you will find all sorts of conceptions of this event. The gospels also have varying accounts. At some time Jesus parted from his followers - there was a sense that they would not see him again in quite the same way.

But as he left them it was as though the heavens opened again. As when Jesus was baptized, at the crucifixion when the veil of the temple was torn in two, so at this event the doorway to the full reality of God was wide open - it would never been seen as closed again. I love the response of the angel in Acts - "why are you standing around looking up into heaven?" In another place they are told go to the city and wait for power from on high.

The time between Jesus' Ascension and Pentecost is called a time of impotence or a time of waiting by John Westerhoff. Between his apparent disappearance and the coming of the power of the Holy Spirit. Perhaps it is a time when we need to wait - not an easy thing for modern day life. We want to learn patience and we want that now as the old joke goes. The disciples gathered to pray, study and worship as they waited. It was a time of preparation for the ministry that would soon envelop them. Perhaps that is something for us too.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Congratulations to Saudi Jeans!

Saudi Jeans is an excellent blog, and it is turning three years old!

Congratulations! Mabrook wa barakaat Allah 3aleyka! Felicidades y bediciĆ³nes!

Now in KSA, home of Saudi Jeans, someone might well issue a fatwa against me or what have you, but I am still glad that there are blogs like this out there. I know that Saudi Jeans and Islamdom disagree on many things. But we certainly agree that having an open space for honest discussion and searching for truth is something that every human being must be accorded.

Al majdu lillah. Istamirr ma3 ashshugul.

Abu Daoud

European lslamdom: Part II

The First part of this series is here: Islam
and the Future of Europe.


Dr. Jenkins takes a much more optimistic view of Europe's future than I do. I hope he's right, but I have responded to a few of his statements in this post. Please do
read the whole interview at OUP blog.

Will be in Italy later this month, Spain next month. Both trips have a good amount of business involved, including meeting with folks focused on reaching Muslims, or
who may be considering such action.

Excerpts:

He says: Critically too, I’m
not sure that many of the incidents that people cite when they warn
about “Eurabia” arise from the issue of Islam as a religion, as opposed
to conflicts of race and class, and the best example of that would be
the French riots of 2005. I see very little evidence of any religious
motivation there. This does not mean that such outbreaks are not
serious, but governments have to respond to them differently than they
would if they represented a true religious movement.

I answer: I don't think so. I mean, if you live here in good ole' Dar al-Islam for a few years you see pretty quickly that even non-practicing Muslims have a fervent devotion to their religion as an idea, as a concept. Some people are devoted to it as a religion, but others are devoted to
it as a political system, and others still as a pillar of Arab culture,
others as an economic system capable of eradicating injustice and
poverty.

Islam is not a religion. It is a civilization.

Let me say it again: Islam is not only a religion, but an entire civilization.

He says: Also, we should not
complain about Muslim failure to assimilate into European societies
when these populations have been there such a short time. Think how
poorly assimilated America’s minorities were in the 1920s, which is a
fair comparison - about thirty years after the beginning of the main
influx.

I answer: But there was a Christian foundation for integration, and a Christian desire for integration. Neither of these
is present in Europe. Muslims do not want to integrate, for that would
be to leave Islam--which is superior toEuropeanism . There was also the
idea that new immigrants would integrate into something, the American
dream, if you like. That is not present in Europe. What is there to
integrate into in Europe?

He says: Finally, forecasts
about Muslims taking over Europe assume that Muslim birth rates will
continue to be very high. All immigrant populations have high fertility
in the first generation, but usually that usually falls within a
generation or so, and that is exactly what we are seeing in Europe.
Moreover, the home countries for most of Europe’s migrants have
experienced a dramatic fall in fertility just in the past decade, and
that will certainly have its impact in Europe itself.

I answer: yes, and Muslim
immigration into Europe will continue at a fast pace based on current
trends. So there will be many, many new 'first generations' of Muslim
immigrants. In addition to the previous generations which are
reproducing at a lower rate. We have also seen that it is second and
third generation European Muslims (like 7/7 in London) which tend
towards traditional Islamic militant worship (what the West derisively
and ignorantly calls terrorism).

All in all, I respect Jenkins as a great historian. But his scholarship on Islam in Europe is entirely unrealistic and fails to grasp the power of Islam as a
pan-ethniccivilizational and totalitarian ideology.

I have posted quite a bit about Europe because I think it will be pivotal in
the coming decades. I also think that Europe is, in some way,
foundational to the faith.

Here is a recent
post
on a review of Jenkins' book "God's Continent."


Here is a link to an older
interview
with him.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Icons and Muhammad

Icons are a very important aspect of Eastern Christianity. The Second Council of Nicaea (before the West and East were divided) defended the act of venerating icons, though placed limits on that veneration. Also it forbade the adoration of icons, since adoration can only be given to God.

Here is a hadiith about how Muhammad viewed icons and the Christians of Ethiopia (Orthodox):

Bukhari: Volume 1, Book 8, Number 426:

Narrated 'Aisha:

Um Salama told Allah's Apostle about a church which she had seen in Ethiopia and which was called Mariya. She told him about the pictures which she had seen in it. Allah's Apostle said, "If any righteous pious man dies amongst them, they would build a place of worship at his grave and make these pictures in it; they are the worst creatures in the sight of Allah."

Second Council of Nicaea

Seventh Ecumenical Council of the Church, held in 787.

Held in what is now Turkey.

This was one of many rules (canons) they endorsed. I found myself thinking, God give us bishops and pastors like this today:

Canon 2: Candidates for a bishop's orders must know the Psalter by heart and must have read thoroughly, not cursorily, all the sacred Scriptures.

What does the Anti-Christ Look Like?

Have been studying up on the prophetic tradition of Islam. And I am
mean end-times stuff that would put the average Left Behind,dispensationalist, rapture-bumper-sticker-on-his-car guy to shame!

Anyway, Islam has a parallel to the Antichrist. He is called the Dajjaal. He has a female spy agent called the Jusuusa. But what does the Dajjaal look like? Here you go:

Sunan Abu Dawud
Book 37, Number 4306:


Narrated Ubadah ibn as-Samit:

The Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) said: I have told you so much about the Dajjal (Antichrist) that I am afraid you may not understand. The Antichrist is short, hen-toed, woolly-haired, one-eyed, an eye-sightless, and neither protruding nor deep-seated. If you are confused about him, know that your Lord is not one-eyed.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Jihad

Narrated Abu Sa'id al-Khudri:

The Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) said: The best fighting (jihad) in the path of Allah is (to speak) a word of justice to an oppressive ruler.

Sunan Abu Dawud (my name sake!)
Book 37, Number 4330

Construction of Churches Forbidden in Islamdom

A reader of this blog recently asked me for some information regarding the prohibition of the building of new churches in the lands of Islam. The rule is very old and goes back all the way to the life of Muhammad who included this provision as part of the dhimmi. The dhimmi is the contract whereby non-Muslims surrender religious and financial freedom to an Islamic ruler in exchange for not being exiled or slaughtered or enslaved. The dhimmi, as a contract, can be repealed without notice by the Muslim ruler, thus making the dhimmi population subject to plunder and enslavement (this has happened many times throughout history).

But here is a recent fatwa (legal ruling) which explains nicely the prohibition of the building of new churches in Islamdom.

MEMRI

Official Saudi Fatwa of July 2000 Forbids Construction of Churches in Muslim Countries

The website www.kalemat.org posted a fatwa issued on July 3, 2000 by The Permanent Council for Scholarly Research and Religious Legal Judgment, an organ of the Saudi Ministry of Religious Endowments, forbidding the construction of non-Muslim houses of worship in Muslim countries. The fatwa stated that it is forbidden to allow non-Muslims to establish a foothold in the Arabian Peninsula, to receive Saudi citizenship, or to buy property there. In addition the Kuwaiti daily Al-Siyassa reported that Kuwaiti MP Walid Al-Tabatabai announced in statements earlier this winter that he was opposed to the establishment of houses of worship for non-Muslims in Muslim countries.

The following are excerpts from both sources:

All Religions Other Than Islam are Heresy

The Saudi fatwa reads as follows: "The Permanent Council for Scholarly Research and Religious Legal Judgment has studied the queries some individuals brought before the Chief Mufti… concerning the topic of the construction of houses of worship for unbelievers in the Arabian Peninsula, such as the construction of churches for Christians and houses of worship for Jews and for other unbelievers and [the question of] the owners of companies or organizations allotting a fixed place for their unbelieving workers to perform the rites of unbelief.

"After considering the queries the Council answered as follows:

"All religions other than Islam are heresy and error. Any place designated for worship other than [that of] Islam is a place of heresy and error, for it is forbidden to worship Allah in any way other than the way that Allah has prescribed in Islam. The law of Islam (shari'a) is the final and definitive religious law. It applies to all men and jinns and abrogates all that came before it. This is a matter about which there is consensus.

"Those who claim that there is truth in what the Jews say, or in what the Christians say - whether he is one of them or not - is denying the Koran and the Prophet Muhammad's sunna and the consensus of the Muslim nation… Allah said: 'The only reason I sent you was to bring good tidings and warnings to all [Koran 34:28]'; 'Oh people, I am Allah's Messenger to you all [Koran 7:158]'; 'Allah's religion is Islam [3:19]'; 'Whoever seeks a religion other than Islam, it shall not be accepted from him [3:85]'; 'The unbelievers from among the people of the Book [i.e. Jews and Christians] and the polytheists are in hellfire and will be [there] forever. They are the worst of all creation… [98:6].'

"Therefore, religion necessitates the prohibition of unbelief, and this requires the prohibition of worshiping Allah in any way other than that of the Islamic shari'a. Included in this is the prohibition against building houses of worship according to the abrogated religious laws, Jewish or Christian or anything else, since these houses of worship - whether they be churches or other houses of worship - are considered heretical houses of worship, because the worship that is practiced in them is in violation of the Islamic shari'a, which abrogates all religious law that came before it. Allah says about the unbelievers and their deeds: 'I will turn to every deed they have done and I will make them into dust in the wind [Koran 25:23].'

"Thus the 'ulama agreed that it is forbidden to build heretical houses of worship - such as Christian churches - in a Muslim country, and that it is forbidden for there to be two directions of prayer coexisting in a Muslim country, and that there should be no symbol of unbelief, neither churches nor anything else. They agreed that it is obligatory to destroy any church or other heretical house of worship that was built after [the advent of] Islam, and it is forbidden to oppose the ruler in the matter of its destruction, and he must be obeyed.

"The 'ulama agreed that building heretical houses of worship, such as churches, in the Arabian Peninsula is the most weighty of sins and the worst of crimes, because there are reliable and explicit sayings of the Prophet [hadith] that prohibit the existence of two religions in the Arabian peninsula [i.e. another religion in addition to Islam], among them the Prophet's words that were related by [Imam] Malik and others and were recorded in the Sahihayn [the two most authoritative collections of hadith for Sunni Muslims compiled by Al-Bukhari and by Muslim]: 'There shall not be two religions together in the Arabian Peninsula.'

"The Arabian Peninsula is Islam's sanctuary and its basis. It is forbidden to allow or permit unbelievers to penetrate it or to receive citizenship there or to buy property, not to speak of building churches for the worshipers of the cross. There is no place in the Arabian Peninsula for two religions, but only for one - the religion of Islam, sent by Allah through Muhammad, His Prophet and Messenger. There will not be two directions of worship there, but just one single direction - the direction of the Muslims, towards the Ka'ba in Mecca. Praise Allah who enabled the rulers of these lands to ward off these heretical houses of worship from the pure Islamic land.

"[We turn to] Allah, to whom we complain about the heretical houses of worship that the enemies of Islam brought, like the churches and others, to many Muslim countries. We ask Him to protect Islam from their cunning and deceit.

"If one allows or consents to the establishment of heretical houses of worship, like churches, or if one allots a fixed place in a Muslim country [for them to worship] - this is the worst sort of aid to unbelief and of bringing their rites into the open, [in defiance of what is said in Koran 5:2] 'Help one another to good deeds and fear of Heaven, and don't help one another to sin and aggression. Fear Allah, for Allah punishes harshly.'

"Sheikh Al-Islam Ibn Taymiyya said: 'Whosoever thinks that churches are Allah's houses and serve as places for His worship, or whosoever thinks that the deeds of the Jews and the Christians are worship of Allah and obedience to His Prophet, and whosoever likes this and permits it or helps them [the unbelievers] to open [houses of worship] and to perform their religion and thinks this to be proximity or obedience [to Allah] - he is an unbeliever.'

"He also said: 'Whosoever thinks that visiting dhimmis [monotheist non-Muslims under Muslim rule] in their churches is proximity to Allah, he is an apostate. If he didn't know that this was forbidden, he should be so informed, and then if he persists, he is an apostate.'

"We find refuge in Allah in order not to backtrack from the right path… Those who turned back on their tracks after the right path was clear to them - Satan seduced them and filled their hearts with false hopes [Koran 47:25]'; 'They said to those who hated what Allah revealed: we will obey you in some matters, but Allah knows your secrets [Koran 47:26]'; 'How will it be when the angels take their souls and strike them on their faces and their backsides [Koran 47:27]'; 'This is because they followed that which angered Allah and they hated Allah's satisfaction, so he thwarts their actions [Koran 47:28]'.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Shari' and the Limitations on Jihad

It is often said that Jihad is only defensive, and that since this is
true (which, in theory, at least right now in history, is), that well,
you draw your own conclusions.

Folks are expected to think that things like 9/11 (USA) or 7/7 (England) or 3/11 (Spain) are thus not really jihad. But not so! First of all, Spain is part ofIslamdom, since what used to belong to Islamdom belongs to it forever (Israel anyone?) Thus every civilian in Spain is in fact a target of jihad--they are all occupying forces.

But what of the USA and England? And here we see OBL's genius: Since they are funding the Zionists in Israel, they too are in fact part of the economic defenses of the anti-Muslim world. So in WWI for example, trade with Germany was curtailed militarily, and I mean things like food here, because that was part of the economic foundation of Germany (the enemy).

OBL reasons that even children and civilians pay taxes to the government, and since Islamdom is under such dire peril these days, drastic times call for drastic
measures. Thus the targeting of civilian children is in fact a defensive measure, and is thus required of all Muslim believers.

Keep it in mind next time you hear about jihad being only 'defensive'. Al Qaida agrees with the statement entirely.

A quote from here:

London, Asharq Al-Awsat- Speaking from his prison in Egypt, founder of Al-Jihad Organization and Al-Qaeda ideologue, issued a call urging all jihadist and Islamist movements in the world to ensure that their jihadist operations are carried out in accordance with the rules of Shariaa.

Abuse of Women in Yemen

Sad and Alarming. May God's love and justice spread throughout the country.

Armies of Liberation

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The Pope, Brazil, and...Dar al Islam?

The Bishop of Rome (AKA, the Pope) is visiting Brazil right now. In a nutshell the situation there is that the Catholic church is losing folks every day to the various evangelical and charismatic churches through the region.

Here is the article to read for more info.

But why is this important? How is it related to Islamdom (the name of the blog, after all)? Just wait and see...

Worse case scenario: Benedict XVI is a man I regard very highly, as he is one of the few European leaders who has both the knowledge and courage to address Islamdom in Europe. If he retreats into a protective cocoon and declares that odd and semi-heretical teachings and practices abound (which is somewhat true) among these non-Catholic churches, and says they are not true Christians at all, then you can expect a very negative reaction. The traditional charges of worshipping Mary (which Catholics are forbidden from doing) and sacrificing Christ again and again on the altar (not Catholic doctrine) will surface. Both sides will harden their harden their hearts against eachother.

Best case: The Bishop of Rome and the Brazilian bishops will acknowledge that they have much to learn from the other churches. Things like the power of the Holy Spirit today to change lives and liberate people from vice, the goodness of personal and communal Bible study, the importance of every Christian being an evangelist. And on the part of the evangelical/charismatics: a willingness to draw on the great historical depths of Catholic thought and theology, an accceptancce of the challenge to consider that the Holy Spirit can use the Eucharist (Holy Communion) and other traditional rituals to transform and heal and liberate.

My Hope: (And here is where you see why this is important.) It looks like this: The bishop of Sao Paulo will say, we will raise up twenty priests and/or lay families to witness to the Muslims. And the evangelical/charismatic community will say, "Yes, we accept the challenge, we will raise up twenty pastors and/or families to witness to the Muslims." And then the the evangelical pastors in Brazilia say...

You see? Brazil can be a great power for transformation in the Middle East. The first fruits of the Brazilian church are already showing here, believe me. I know these young men and women personally. I had an extended conversation with one recently in fact--me in Spanish and her in Portuguese.

It is our choice. Pray for wisdom for the bishop of Rome and his fellow Brazilian bishops. Pray for wisdom from the pastors and leaders of the charismatic/evangelical community.

It is our choice:

Either, "a house divided against itself will fall." Or, "Iron sharpens iron."

By His grace, let it be the latter.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Sweet Blogs

Here is one on theology, culture, and Anglicanism:

Anglican + Calvinist

Here is one from a friend of mine who backpacked around Europe and Asia and is posting his experiences. He comes from a Pentecostal/charismatic background:

An American in the Middle East

Enjoy.

Monday, May 07, 2007

A Small Minority?

From the Telegraph, which has not become a mouthpiece for Dar al Islam like the shameful Al Gaurdian.

Lord Stevens also gave warning that al-Qa'eda-linked extremists were already trying to infiltrate the police and the security services and that dozens had already been weeded out.

He urged that known terrorism suspects and "hate clerics", such as Abu Hamza and Abu Qatada, should be deported, adding: "Our human rights come first. Yet, incredibly, our so-called Human Rights laws, and our enviable history of religious tolerance, mean that foreigners preaching death and destruction to our way of life are allowed to stay here because their own countries won't tolerate such evil."

Remember those Riots in France?

Well, since I have France on my mind I thought I would post something I wrote back when those Muhammad cartoons came out. It was Part II of my series on Islam (recently published Part XI on this blog). Enjoy.

Part II: Islam, Cartoons and Riots


I was chatting with a friend of mine who lives in Saudi Arabia yesterday. She has always lived there, her dad has three wives, she has never been outside of the Middle East. She is a smart lady, and witty too. I asked her about the cartoon debacle and she said what many folks here are saying: they don't have the right to offend Islam that way.

I just got back from spending some time with a very moderate Muslim friend who is not an Arab. His sisters don't wear head coverings, he doesn't go to mosque often. He compared the cartoons to people who praise the holocaust. I said that it was illegal to incite violence against a group, which is what you have in his holocaust example. Here violence was not being incited against Muslims. He responded, but it led to violence on the part of Muslims--so what's the difference?

These two twenty-somethings represent the future of the Middle East. They are well-educated, multi-lingual, intelligent people, and they are both dear friends of mine. Neither of them had even seen the cartoons though.

So what is the reason for this gulf between our approach and theirs? Let me suggest two possible factors:

The language of rights.
It is foreign to Islam, specifically in the generalized form of "human rights" or "inalienable rights." While rejecting positivism, the rights of a person are derived from the fact that they are living under a valid Islamic authority. Politics is sacramental, so a Muslim ruler is an outward sign of an inward grace, namely the subjugation and subjection of the peoples of the world to God's rule. (Note that violence can become sacred under this model.) So speaking of a right to anything that is insulting to Islam is inherently self-contradictory.

The Final Revelation.
Islam is very confident that it is the final and true revelation from God. Therefore to allow space for any belief that might contraddict this is unjustified. Christianity and Judaism are allowed to exist, but under a system of governance that assures their eventual extinction. This system has been spectacularly successful in Northern Africa and Asia Minor and the Arabian Peninsula.

These are just two points. There are others, but I think it will help us to at least size up how different the two frames of mind or worldviews are from eachother.

So how should Christians react to those who offend them? I think there is no one answer to that, but it is clear that the genesis of that action must begin with loving our enemies and blessing those who curse us.

I think Christians are so used to having our faith ridiculed that it is hard for us to imagine the novelty of what many Muslims are experiencing. But give it a try. Feel the fury, the anger, the desire to kill and to destroy. But then hear the voice of your conscience brought alive by the Spirit reminding you that you are as guilty as your enemy, that if he deserves death then so do you, and that if you are to live up to the name of Christian that you must love him. And love mercy. Pray for that zealous desire to forgive.

I think that is where Christians are obliged to start, though depending on conditions it will lead us to different places and actions. But not to hoping for nuclear destruction in this or that country or the lawless torching of embassies. Not there, I am sure.

France on My Mind

Well, France just elected a new president, Nicolas Sarkozy. You can read a summary of his positions on various things at this blog.

So why is France important? It is at the heart of the European project, along with Germany. It has a very large percentage of Muslims, compared to most other European countries. And most sadly, many of the Christians there are only so in name. The Protestants do not go to church, the Catholics do not go to mass...There are some signs of hope. Churches--both Protestant and Catholic--are receiving an influx of lively African believers who, in some cases, can help to revive congregations. Conservative Christians from all traditions are embracing the Biblical teaching that it is a fform of worship to God and a gift to society to bring children into the world. May there be many more!

France has made immense contributions to the faith. It has provided great preachers, theologians, missionaries, and pastors. While we do not normally remember it, the Reformation took deep roots in certain parts of France. God is not done with France yet--this is my hope.

Here is an excerpt:


Sarkozy has taken a hardline against Islamic radicals operating inside France....he served as the country's Interior Minister during the Paris riots by Muslim radicals in 2005 and was responsible for ordering the severe police crackdown on such radicals....there are now fears the Muslims will launch a new wave of violent protests because Sarkozy has been elected....worth noting: polls showed that voters in the Muslim neighborhoods where the worst of the violence took place in 2005 overwhelming backed the socialist candidiate, Segelone Royal...."Sarkozy is deeply unpopular in housing estates where the residents are mostly second- and third-generation immigrants, many of them Muslims from former colonies in North Africa," reported Reuters...."If Sarkozy wins there will certainly be riots here in Clichy and all over France," said Moroccan-born Mohammed Saidi, 43, a first-time voter in Clichy-sous-Bois, one of the neighborhoods where the worst rioting took place....on other foreign policy issues, Sarkozy is strongly opposed to allowing Turkey to join the European Union, warning of the threat of allowing 100 million more Muslims free reign through the European continent....

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Christian Fads

It is a fad among evangelicals, and indeed Protestants in general, to say that by the 4th C. Christianity had lost its Apostolic roots. Rubbish.

Read the biography of Saint Ambrose of Milan and ask yourself if his faith was corrupted and interested only in political power.

Not at all. He was a great man of God. "Who are you to judge another man's
servant?" And as bishop of Milan, he was God's servant for the people
of Milan, and they judged him well, as a man of God andexample of righteousness.

An excerpt:

Having been trained in rhetoric and law and having studied Greek, Ambrose became known for his knowledge of the latest Greek writings, both Christian and pagan. In addition to Philo, Origen, and Basil of Caesarea, he even quoted Neoplatonist Plotinus in his sermons. He was widely regarded as an excellent preacher.

In many of those sermons, Ambrose expounded upon the virtues of asceticism. He was so persuasive that noble families sometimes forbade their daughters to attend his sermons, fearing they'd trade their marriageable status for a life of austere virginity.

One piece of his pastoral advice is still universally known: "When you are at Rome, live in the Roman style; when you are elsewhere, live as they live elsewhere."

Ambrose also introduced congregational singing, and he was accused of "bewitching" Milan by introducing Eastern melodies into the hymns he wrote. Because of his influence, hymn singing became an important part of the Western liturgy.


At Christian History.

Treasures Old and New

I am pretty certain that one of the key weaknesses of modern
evangelical Christianity today is its inability to incorporate history
andgrasp God's wonderful acts throughout history.

We generally know about Acts and then we know about today. What happened during the 18 centuries in between? Well, there was a Reformation in the 16th C. but other than that, um not much.

Profound and weak. And really a discredit to God and his great power and his providence in guiding the saints throughout the ages. Irhamna ya Rrab (Have mercy on us Lord)!

Robert Webber died recently, and he was not such a man. He was evangelical and drew on the goodness of that tradition (and
there is much goodness there), but also understood that we do not know
the church today unless we know the church yesterday. Read his obituary
at href="http://www.christianitytoday.com/history/newsletter/2007/may3.html">Christian
History.

The Latest on the Turkish Martyrs

From another Turkish pastor. The reports of the multiple stab wounds were wrong, acccording to him.

Also,
on my last post regarding the Turkish martyrs someone posted a rather
angry response regarding my perpetuation of the 'myth of martyrdom'.
There is no myth. I know that it is very uncomfortable to Western
Christians who do not face martyrtdom on a daily basis to be confronted
with the reality that in some parts of the world the faith is costly.
Very costly. So costly that the powers and principalities of this world
demand the blood the saint who witnesses against their corruption and
spiritual bankruptcy.

We worship our God, the Father of Jesus
Christ, who has been so kind and gracious as to give us men like these.
Men who do not shrink away from death because they are true witnesses
of the Gospel. They are not the first, nor will the last.

The Greek word for witness and martyr are the same. Jesus said, "You will
be my witnesses..." Which is the same as him saying, "You will be my
martyrs..."

>Dear brothers and sisters,

>I greet you in the peace and love of our Lord and Savior Jesus
>Christ. May the Lord abundantly bless you, your families, your
>churches, and your work. We know and appreciate very much your heart for us.

>Brothers and sisters, in the last ten days we have experienced very
>painful moments, which words cannot begin to express. Our painful
>experience has shown us that our lives are as the Lord describes:
>"What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time
>and then vanishes." For this reason we have understood one more time
>how holy and close to the Lord we should live our lives.

>We have also understood that our society is easily given to emotion
>and that in such painful moments some people, whether intentionally
>or not, report certain events inaccurately and we have not prevented
>this or have not been able to do so.

>When the Malatya massacre happened we, the brothers from Diyarbakir,
>besides those already on the scene at the time of the crime, were the
>first to get there. When we got to Malatya our brother Ugur was still
>alive, but his condition was critical. Around 5:30 PM Ugur entrusted
>his spirit to the Lord.

>Dear brothers and sisters, that painful moment has slowly come into
>perspective for us so that now we have begun to see some things as we
>should. For example, it appears that those who murdered or arranged
>for the murder of these brothers are getting what they hoped for. By
>means of our reactions we may unwittingly help them. If we do not
>bring the facts into the light, these people will end up getting what
>they desired.

>Brothers Tilmann, Necati, and Ugur were murdered in a bloodthirsty
>way. This is a fact. But there are also some inaccurate claims about
>this massacre and one of these is the extent of the torture.
>According to rumors brother Tilmann was stabbed with a knife 156
>times. Brother Ugur had countless knife wounds, it has been said.
>These rumors, however, are unfounded. At the morgue we wanted to put
>brother Tilmann's body, which was in a plastic bag, into the coffin,
>but the officials and police did not like this. "It is sinful to do
>it this way, we should wrap the corpse in a shroud," they said. I
>accepted this idea and did what was right in their eyes. I asked them
>for a shroud (white cloth) and the officials moved Tilmann's body out
>of the plastic bag, which they placed to the side. I took advantage
>of this opportunity to examine brother Tilmann's body as far down as
>his stomach. I did not see any knife wounds. Only Tilmann's throat
>had been slit 8-10 centimeters and there was the stitched autopsy
>incision down the middle of Tilmann's chest. Unfortunately there are
>very different rumors circulating about brothers Tilmann and Necati.
>It has been said that their noses, lips, and ears were cut. These
>rumors do not reflect the truth. I telephoned our brother Ed Grudier
>in Adana because I knew he had seen brother Tilmann's body. I asked
>him about the knife wounds on brother Tilmann's body. Ed said to me,
>"Brother, I came across three or four knife blows in the chest area.
>I didn't see his back. On his face I can't say there were knife
>wounds, but scratches, maybe from hitting his face when he fell
>down." I knew that Ihsan Ozbek from Ankara had seen bodies. I asked
>him which bodies he had seen and he said, "I saw the chest area of
>both Tilmann and Necati. I saw purple [from bruising] on Necati's
>lips and chin, but I did not see knife wounds. I looked at brother
>Tilmann's chest, but I did not see knife wounds." These are the
>statments of those you saw the bodies of these two brothers.
>It is true that our brothers were knifed and tortured. But it was not
>to the extent of statements such as "too many wounds to count, beyond
>description." Apparently Ed Grudier looked more carefully than
>brother Ihsan and I did. Ed saw three or four knife wounds in the
>chest.

>No one saw brother Ugur's body because on the night of the same day
>the murder happened, around midnight, his family took his body for
>burial.

>I believe that brother Ugur had knife wounds similar to those of our
>other two brothers. It has been said that Ugur was stabbed all over
>his body, including his genitals. I do not believe this. You may ask
>why I don't beleive this. I think someone stabbed this much would die
>on the spot. Ugur would not have been able to remain alive until 5:30
>PM if he had been stabbed so much. That nothing abnormal happened to
>Ugur can be understood [from the fact that] exaggerated statements
>have been about our other two brothers, too.

>Therefore we reach the following conclusion: yes, these brothers were
>tortured, but not to the extent that has been explained.
>We are sons and daughters of the truth. Unfortunately unfounded news
>reports and media exaggerations have now gone out all over the world.
>Our brothers and sisters and people sensitive [to such news] have
>been misinformed. We do not intend to offend anyone. But whether the
>true facts are, let us report them without exaggeration. Let people
>everywhere think about the plain facts.
>Who started these exaggerated facts [about the Malatya massacre]? We
>purpose two possibilities:

>Those who perpetrated
>the crime planned this [the spreading of exaggerated facts] from the
>beginning and the murderers were simply tools for these people [who
>had planned to blow the murder into exaggerated proportions]. The
>goal of those who planned this murder and the exaggerated claims was
>both to frighten the Christians living in Turkey, causing them to
>shrink back and be timid, and to humiliate Turkey as a country that
>invites and causes such bloodthirty massacre, thereby damaging
>Turkey's chances of entering the European Union and making matters
>worse in the country. Furthermore, [the planners of this massacre]
>wanted to give the government and our people the impression that
>Christians distort and exaggerate everything.

>In every situation we
>see that the media either totally disregards something we say or
>totally exploits it. We investigated the bloody clothing that was
>submitted to the public as the underclothing of our brothers. None of
>this clothing belonged to our brothers. That clothing had been taken
>off the bodies of people shot to death weeks earlier. But what did
>the media do? They took this clothing and presented it as freshly
>removed from the bodies of our brothers. Is there anyone who does not
>yet know about the exaggerations and sometimes boldfaced lies of the
>media?

>Therefore, brothers and sisters, if we do not explain the true facts
>to you our hearts will not find peace. I have written this report
>because I have read exaggerated or unfounded facts in news both home
>and abroad. The true facts are those in this report. Before sending
>these facts to you, as you will see below, I have requested
>statements from our brothers Ihsan Ozbek and Ed Grudier. I have had
>these statments translated from English in order to pass them on to
>you.

>May the Lord bless you abundantly.
>XXXXXX XXXXXXX, pastor of XXXXXX Church in Turkey

Friday, May 04, 2007

Review: God's Continent

I have written a little on Europe in the past: Islam and the Future of Europe

And I have also posted a link to an interview with Philip Jenkins who is a favorite author of mine.

Here is a quote from a review on his most recent book:

At a recent dinner party with European intellectuals, I put to an influential French archbishop Daniel Pipes’ projection: Either assimilation or expulsion or Islamic takeover. That, he said, puts the possibilities much too starkly. “We hope for the first,” he said, “while we work at reducing immigration and prepare ourselves for soft Islamization.” Soft Islamization. It is a wan expression. Whether soft or hard, the prospect is that, in the not-so-distant future, someone will publish a book titled Allah’s Continent. In fact, several Muslim authors have already published books with very similar titles, anticipating the future of the Europe that was. Needless to say, and historical contingencies being as contingent as they are, I very much hope that they turn out to be wrong. As I very much wish Philip Jenkins’ God’s Continent provided better reasons for believing they are wrong.


From the genius mind of Fr. Richard John Neuhaus at First Things. The entire article is a great review of a book by Jenkins, who is a good author and whom I have met personally at my old university where I studied theology.

Read the whole thing.

Zarqa, Jordan: The Making of Martyrs, the Training of Terrorists

Interviews with Abu Ibrahim and relatives of the other men show that rather than having been individually recruited by an organization like Zarqawi's, they gradually radicalized one another, the more strident leading the way. Local imams led them further toward Iraq, citing verses from the Koran to justify killing civilians. The men watched videos depicting tortured and slain Muslims that are copied from Internet sites.

"The sheik, he was a hero," Abu Ibrahim said of Zarqawi. But, he added, "I decided to go when my friends went."

For the final step, getting the phone number of a smuggler and address of a safe house in Iraq, the men used facilitators who act more like travel agents than militant leaders.

"Most of the young people here in Zarqa are very religious," an Islamist community leader said. "And when they see the news and what is going on in the Islamic countries, they themselves feel that they have to go to fight jihad. Today, you don't need anyone to tell the young men that they should go to jihad. They themselves want to be martyrs."



From the IHT, read it all.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Muslim Dating in the UK

Great article here on Muslims dating in the UK. I find particularly attractive that here is an avenue for divorced Muslim women (including women with children) to find a mate.

Also positive is that many professional Muslimaat (that's the plural for female Muslims--Arabic is neat like that, like Spanish) are seeking Muslim men born and raised in the UK. It is a great gulf--for people of any religion--to marry someone who was raised in the developing world, while they were raised in the West.

A sign of hope. A fair amount of the strife in Islamic communities could be helped by breaking ethnic boundries. (The example given here is one person from a Pakistani background and the other from a Bengali background getting married.)

Here is the link: Washington Post.

Utter Twaddle: More on the Al Guardian Article

That is how Stephany from Australia put it in her response to the recent article from The Guardian in England. Here is her response, found on the response section to article, the link is on the original post:


What utter twaddle.

The reality is that Islam slowly strangled the spirit of free scientific enquiry wherever it took hold.

One example:

Taqi al-Din could have been the Ottoman equivalent of the great Danish astronomer, Tycho Brahe. His observatory, built in Istanbul in 1577, was certainly up to the task.

Tycho Brahe went on to revolutionise astronomy.

Taqi al-Din's observatory was raised to the ground by a squad of Janissaries on orders of the grand mufti. With it died a 2,500 year old tradition of astronomy that had started with the Babylonians.

BEFORE ISLAM

The Babylonians were the world's premier astronomers. Using only naked eye astronomy and water clocks they discovered that 19 solar years equaled 235 lunar months. They established a calendar that had seven leap months every 19 solar years. The calendar lives on in the form of the modern Hebrew calendar. Even the months of the Hebrew calendar have Babylonian names. Tishri derives from the Babylonian Tashritu.

BEFORE ISLAM

Eratosthenes, third Librarian of the Great Library at Alexandria, conducted an experiment to estimate the circumference of the Earth. His estimate of 250,000 stadia -- equivalent to about 40,000 km -- was remarkably accurate. Eratosthenes hailed from present-day Libya.

BEFORE ISLAM

Claudius Ptolemy of Alexandria compiled the Almagest, the greatest compendium of of mathematical and astronomical knowledge the world had seen up to that time. (The name Almagest is a combination of Arabic and Greek)

BEFORE ISLAM

Hipparchus who hailed from present-day Turkey discovered, among other things, the precession of the equinoxes.

Books could be written about the scientific achievements of scholars who lived in present-day Dar-ul-Islam BEFORE ISLAM.

AFTER ISLAM -- FADE TO BLACK

Christianity too nearly succeeded in extinguishing scientific enquiry. But Europe recovered. Dar-ul-Islam never did.

Spare me claptrap about Islam's contribution to civilisation. For a while Islamic civilisation was able to live on the intellectual capital of those who had gone BEFORE ISLAM. Islamic civilisation added nothing and eventually the pre-Islamic intellectual capital was exhausted.

Every serious student of scientific history knows that between 1550 and 1950 nearly, not quite all, scientific advancement was the provenance of White men who traced their ancestry to Europe.

Since 1950 scientific research has become an international endeavour. An endeavour marked by the almost total absence of participation by the inhabitants of Arab countries.

The Arab Human Development report 2003 compares the Arab world to South Korea. Every year South Korean companies patent more inventions in the United States than the Arab world manages in a quarter century. South Korea has one quarter the population of the Arab World and was recently much poorer than any Arab country.

BEFORE ISLAM the present day Arab territories were at the leading edge of scientific enquiry.

The heart of Dar-ul-Islam has yet to recover from its Islam-induced dark ages.

The question is whether the rise of Islam in Europe will herald another European dark age.



I will try to find some positive remarks to the article and post those too. There are about 20 pages or so of responses to the article in question on Europe's Islamic Identity. Almost everything there is against the article (which I support, as the article is quite frankly ridiculous) or just anti-religion period. And that worries me. Any response to Islam without the charity of Christian faith could degenerate into something violent and xenophobic.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The Poverty of Islamic Acheivement in History

Please see the post below, which this is posted in regards to.

Here is a link to an essay by an author arguing (with actual examples, instead if simple assertions, which is all you have in the article from Al Guardian below) that in fact European culture and accomplishment occurred in spite of Islam, rather than because of it.

I have read a good deal on the history of both regions and their interactions and I think there is more good scholarship on the side of the argument that Islamdom in general impoverished rather than enriched world civilization on the whole. It is a harsh verdict, and I am open (even eager) to be proven wrong.

An excerpt:

"About Mesopotamia (Iraq), Niebuhr had this to say: 'In Cairo there is at least still a store where the Muhammedans can buy old books. In Baghdad one will not find that sort of thing. If one collects books here, and is neither prepared to copy them oneself nor to let others copy them, one must wait till somebody dies and his books and clothes are carried to the bazar, where they are offered for sale by a crier. A European who wants to buy Arabian, Turkish or Persian manuscripts will find no better opportunity than in Constantinople for here at least there is a sort of bookstore where Christians – at least Oriental Christians – can buy books' (Niebuhr, Vol. 2, p. 305)

"Printing had not been adopted in the Muslim Middle East due to religious resistance. Three centuries after Gutenberg had invented the movable type printing press in 15th century Europe, and a thousand years after the earliest versions of printing were invented in China, books were still rare in Muslim countries and could be bought most easily when somebody died."

Revisionist History: Islam as a Foundation of European History

I am surprised at how often I hear Westerners observe that Islam was
foundational to Western (especially European) progress.

The idea is
that Islam should be able to take some (or all) of the credit for the scientific
and economic successes of the West. Of course one looks at Islamdom
today and one sees corrupt governments and unproductive economies
(aside from oil and natural gas) and an inability to engage in critical thought. So, what of the genius of Islam,
which is of course the superior civilization in the world? Well, the Europeans
should be thankful, their respect for human rights, the scientific
revolution, democracy--all of what is good in Europe goes back to Islam.

This is the revisionist and completely unsound history that is being peddled today. And people are buying it.

Here is a good example from the Guardian (or shall we say Al Guardian :-) I hate to stoop to the level of ridicule, but the Guardian has become such a blatant tool and unthinking limb of Islamdom. Shame on them.

Might post some responses later.

Al Guardian