Friday, November 30, 2007

Internet terror lingo

Interesting:

Schleswig - A terrorism suspect on trial in Germany declared Thursday his devotion to Osama bin Laden and explained the code words used by Islamists during internet chat.
Moroccan-born Redouane al-H said that when a member of an Islamist internet community was arrested, the others told one another he was "sick."

The codeword for explosives was "dough." He added that a "taxi driver" meant a suicide bomber and to "marry" meant dying as a martyr.

H, who is accused of forming a terrorist group to recruit suicide bombers for Iraq, was giving substantive testimony for the first time at his trial in the German city of Schleswig, near the Danish border.

H, aged 37, confirmed he had sworn a vow of loyalty to Osama bin Laden, leader of the al-Qaeda terrorist network which mounted the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington.

"Osama bin Laden is my religious authority," he said, adding that he had wanted to move to Iraq in summer 2005 to take part in a jihad or holy war against Americans, whom he described as Crusaders.

He confirmed that later, in an internet chat, he had said he would kill Crusaders, but he denied forming a terrorist group, saying he and his friends had merely planned a relief operation for Darfur, Sudan....


From the AFP, hat tip to Jihad Watch

Indonesia: not so moderate anymore

Much has been made of the fact that Indonesia is at once a moderate nation and has religious freedom and blah blah blah. Well, not so fast:

In Indonesia, the claim to truth is increasingly being monopolized by a group of Islamic fundamentalists and conservatives, ironically, in collaboration with the state ... This weekend, a group of people, aided by officials, forced the closure of a Roman Catholic church in the West Jakarta district of Tambora, on the pretext that it did not have the necessary permission from the people in the neighborhood. The premise had been used as a church for the last 40 years with no problems. There have been many other attacks on churches around the country that have gone unreported. This week, the government prevented an Islamic scholar from Egypt from delivering a series of lectures and sharing his knowledge at a gathering in the East Java town of Malang, only because his understanding of the Koran was considered to be too different from that fundamentalist Muslim scholars ... If we allow this to happen without a single word of protest, we can expect more bans against lectures by Islamic scholars and more attacks on people of other faiths that do not conform to the conservatives' notion of truth. At stake is not only our freedom and the pluralistic nature of this nation, but truth itself.

--The Jakarta Post (Indonesia)

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Science and Islam

A quote form Robert Spencer:

Muslims believe that Allah’s hand is unfettered — he can do anything. The Qur’an explicitly refutes the Judeo-Christian view of God as a God of reason when it says: ‘The Jews say: Allah’s hand is fettered. Their hands are fettered and they are accursed for saying so’ (5:64). In other words, it is heresy to say that God operates by certain natural laws that we can understand through reason. This argument was played out throughout Islamic history. Muslim theologians argued during the long controversy with the Mu’tazilite sect, which exalted human reason, that Allah was not bound to govern the universe according to consistent and observable laws. ‘He cannot be questioned concerning what He does’ (Qur’an 21:23). Accordingly, observations of the physical world had no value; there was no reason to expect that any pattern to its workings would be consistent, or even discernable. If Allah could not be counted on to be consistent, why waste time observing the order of things? It could change tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Dutch lawmaker planning film criticizing the Quran

THE HAGUE, Netherlands: A Dutch conservative lawmaker said Wednesday he is making a film to highlight what he describes as "fascist" passages in the Quran, his latest high profile criticism of Islam.

The interior and justice ministers said they were concerned, but believed they had no authority to prevent the lawmaker, Geert Wilders, from screening his film.

Wilders plans to depict parts of the Quran he says are used as inspiration "by bad people to do bad things."

Less than 10 minutes long, the film is expected to air in late January. It will show "the intolerant and fascist character of the Quran," said Wilders, whose anti-Islam campaign helped his Freedom Party win nine seats in parliament in last year's election.

In the past, Wilders has said that half the Quran should be torn up and compared it with Adolf Hitler's book "Mein Kampf." He has claimed the Netherlands is being swamped by a "tsunami" of Islamic immigrants.

Immigrants from Muslim countries number about 1 million of the country's 16 million people. [...]


From the AP, via IHT.

Quote: guess who?

"The Church evangelizes when she seeks to convert, solely through the divine power of the Message she proclaims, both the personal and collective consciences of people, the activities in which they engage, and the lives and concrete milieus which are theirs"

Who said this? Any guesses?

Christianity is traveling the silk road--again

I will be traveling quite a bit the next few days, but meanwhile please enjoy this excellent article from Intentional Disciples:


Christianity has historically reached China through the ancient "Silk Road" the 2,000 mile long silk trading route through central Asia. Nestorian missionaries reached central Asia in the 8th century and Catholic friars in the 13th century. The Keirats, a Mongol tribe, numbered 200,000 believers in AD 1007 before they were decimated bwhile there were about 30,000 Mongol Catholics recorded in China by 1368. Kublai Kahn asked Marco Polo for 100 missionaries but only two friars ever set out.

Over and over again, the fledging Christian communities were always wiped out by new invasions and the decisions of their leaders to embrace another faith.

In the 20th century, Christianity is establishing a foothold in Mongolia again. As John Allen writes today "The church arrived in Mongolia only in 1992, and to date claims just 415 Catholics. They’re served by 65 foreign missionaries, including 20 priests and one bishop. The Mongolian church, described by its bishop as a “baby church,” is just now on the cusp of producing its very first seminarian.

Since Allen is writing for a English speaking Catholic audience, I supposed it is inevitable that he looks at this development through the eyes of our western debates: Catholic identity and liturgy. Allen heard Mongolia's Bishop, Wenceslao Selga Padilla, 58, a Filipino who has been in charge of the mission in Mongolia since its birth, speak in Rome Tuesday night.

Padilla said that when he conducts interviews with Mongolian converts to understand what attracted them and made them decide to join the church, most will say they first came into contact with Catholicism through one of its social programs – a school, soup kitchen, or relief center. What “hooked” them, however, was the liturgy.

“They say it’s the singing, the liturgy,” Padilla told an audience at the Oratory of St. Francis Xavier del Caravita in Rome. “They say it’s more worthwhile than what they experience in the Buddhist temple. They’re active in the prayers and in the singing, It’s not just the monks doing all the singing.”

Padilla said that even though the four parishes in Mongolia (and four parochial sub-stations) use largely Western liturgical music, it’s translated into the vernacular, and most of the liturgy now is also said using the Mongol language. That, too, he said, is a major point of entry for new converts, most of whom are young and from the middle class or below.

“We cater mostly to the young and to the very poor,” Padilla said.


I don't mean to be dismissive of Allen, whose reporting I admire, but to anyone with a background in missions, this is so not a surprise. Of course, peoples with no Christian background or history respond very differently than we do to different aspects of the faith.

In global terms, the debates that dominate St. Blog's are extremely parochial. They rise up out of European history, European cultural issues and questions - of the trauma of the Reformation and a century of religious wars(at a time when 90% of Christians in the world were European), the enlightenment and revolution, and of Vatican II.

The upheavals of Vatican II that long established Christian peoples (which would include centuries old communities like China) experienced (and not all - for instance, Poland has had a vernacular liturgy since the 1940's) don't resonant at all in other cultures where Catholicism is new. When we asked members of our Indonesian teaching team, what their memories of the changes after Vatican II were, they just looked at us. Many were converts - including from Islam - and most had no memories of the Church before Vatican II. For a variety of reasons, it was a non-issue.

As Allen noted:

"Even the fact of serving coffee, tea and cookies after Mass, Padilla said, is a departure from the normal Mongolian religious experience, and it’s an important point of initial contact for many Mongolians who attend Catholic liturgies or events for the first time."

Recently, Padilla was able to open a cathedral for the fledging Catholic community in Ulaanbaatar, the capital. Called Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral, it’s built in the shape of a “ger,” which is a traditional Mongolian residence. It’s the first time such a structure has been put up in the country for religious purposes, Padilla said. The stained glass windows inside the cathedral were crafted by a brother from the ecumenical community of Taizé.

The good Bishop is very much aware of the need to deepen his fledging Catholic's new faith. In brief comments after his presentation, Padilla conceded that the attractiveness of the music and other forms of active participation in the liturgy may be what brings people in the church’s door, but it won’t suffice over the long term.

“We have to give them a deeper catechism and formation,” he said. For example, Padilla said, it’s important to press Mongolians towards a deeper understanding and appreciation of the personal nature of the Christian God, as opposed to the rather impersonal and abstract deity of Buddhist spirituality.

Check out this Asia News article about a new Catholic parish outside Ulaanbaatar (also known as Ulan Bator) established by the Salesians. In January of 2007, they had 22 members and 23 catechumens who would be received at Easter.

Of course, the evangelicals are there in force. (The World Christian Encyclopedia estimates a total of 39,000 Christians in Mongolia, 13,500 Independents, 16,500 Protestants, 800 Orthodox, and 500 Catholics, and 7,300 "marginals" - that is Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, etc.)

If you are interested in the complex and fascinating history of Catholicism (non-Catholic Christianity in China is hardly dealt with) in China, Ignatius Press has published an excellent translation of Jean-Pierre Charbonnier's Christians in China. I picked it up at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception bookstore and it has made for a great and inspiring read.


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

New in France Riots: Firearms


From the AP:

The use of firearms added a dangerous new dimension. Firearms are widespread in France, and police generally carry guns. Guns, though, were rarely used in the 2005 riots that spread to poor housing projects nationwide.

Police are facing "a situation that is far worse than that of 2005," said Ribeiro, national secretary of the Synergie officers union.

"Our colleagues will not allow themselves to be fired upon indefinitely without responding," he warned on RTL radio. "They will be placed in situations which will become untenable."

Another French Intifada

Well, read it for yourself, it's hard to believe. I guess it's not actually. Oh, and almost all of those "immigrant youth" are Muslims. But it wouldn't be PC for the press to actually report the truth, now would it? This is from the Brussels Journal, which is a good news source for Europe:

[Near Paris] in Villiers-le-Bel, two joyriding immigrant youths of 15 and 16 years old, drove their stolen motorcycle at maximum speed into a passing police vehicle. They died on the spot.

According to the police the teenagers ignored traffic rules and crashed into the police vehicle. The motorbike they were riding was unregistered and thus not authorized for use on French roads. Neither of the boys were wearing a helmet as required by law. The relatives and friends of the youths, however, blame the two officers in the vehicle for the death of the boys. They claim the officers had left the scene as fast as they could. The public prosecutor has opened an inquiry to probe whether the officers failed to help the teenagers and whether manslaughter charges should be filed. The officers had called rescue services to the scene, but policemen and medics who arrived at the scene where attacked by youths and fled.

Yesterday night, in a second consecutive night of violence, youths attacked police officers and firemen in Villiers-le-Bel and in nearby Sarcelles and Garges-les-Gonesses. In last night’s riots 77 officers got wounded, five of them seriously, including one officer whose shoulder was pierced by a bullet from a shotgun, and 63 cars, a book shop, two schools, a bank and a supermarket were set alight.

May a Muslim go to an Easter event?

This also applies to Christmas events, by the way. But please do invite your Muslim friends anyway. Some of them are quite curious about what goes on in churches because they have heard all sorts of wild tales. This is from the gift that keeps on giving, Islam Q&A:

Question:
I would like to no if it is haram to go to the sydney royal easter show. although it is called the easter show it really has nothing to d with easter. i like to go for the craft, fruit, animal shows, they all hav nothing to do with easter.

Answer:
Praise be to Allaah.

It is not permissible for a Muslim to take part in the festivals and innovated celebrations of the kuffaar, such as Easter, Christmas and so on, because taking part and attending is helping in this evil, and increasing their numbers, and imitating them, all of which is not allowed.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Middle East Peace Summit

Well, it's coming up and there is news all over the web on it. Here are a few interesting quotes from sundry places:

New York Sun:

Mr. Bush the son, and his secretary of state Ms. Rice are going into this one as anemic supplicants pleading with a collection of keystone cops for anything that can be dubbed success. A far more attainable success may have been wrung from an Iraq conference seeking to build on what finally seems to be some progress there. Instead, Ms. Rice picked a sure loser — ending the 50-year conflict of Arabs and Jews in one afternoon photo opportunity.

Equally hard to believe is the coyness of it all. The ever-precious Saudis first said no, then maybe, and then okay. The Egyptians, who were not needed in the first place, said please. The Syrians are doing us the favor of coming.

Yet it remains unclear how the same Saudis, who last week were busy condemning a rape victim to 200 lashes, can contribute to anything called a "civilized" Middle East. Nor how President Assad's killing machine, which for two years has been picking off pro-Western politicians in neighboring Lebanon, will push peace negotiations.


Times Online UK:

Pope Benedict XVI today offered prayers for this week's Middle East summit at Annapolis, saying he hoped the participants would find the "wisdom and courage" needed to bring peace to the Holy Land.

He said he hoped the meeting would relaunch negotiations "to find a just and definitive solution to the conflict which for 60 years has bloodied the Holy Land and provoked so many tears and suffering among two peoples".


Al Jazeera English:

Hosted by the US president and supported by Arab, European and other foreign ministers, Palestinian and Israeli leaders are expected to re-launch their long stalled negotiations in Annapolis on Tuesday.

Judging from its high attendance and low expectations, Annapolis is more likely to help three sitting ducks, Olmert, Abbas and Bush, than advance the cause of peace in the Middle East.

The summit also helps the "peace president" silence his domestic Iraq policy detractors as the "war president" tries to isolate his Middle East rivals like Iran who reject a pax Americana in the region.

Mission to Jerusalem

Here is a link to a new blog. The man who started it is named Harry Gunkel MD and he is serving with the Episcopal church there.

Mission to Jerusalem.

I commend his recent post on praying for the peace of Jerusalem.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Sex with a nine-year old girl

Narrated Hisham’s father: Khadija died three years before the Prophet departed to Medina. He stayed there for two years or so and then he married ‘Aisha when she was a girl of six years of age, and he consumed that marriage when she was nine years old. (Hadith - Bukhari, 5.236)

Muhammad and women and sex

When Allah's Messenger was asked which woman was best he replied, "The one who pleases (her husband) when he looks at her, obeys him when he gives a command, and does not go against his wishes regarding her person or property by doing anything of which he disapproves." (Hadith - Tirmidhi 3272)


Narrated Jabir bin 'Abdullah: When I got married, Allah's Apostle said to me, "What type of lady have you married?" I replied, "I have married a matron' He said, "Why, don't you have a liking for the virgins and for fondling them?" Jabir also said: Allah's Apostle said, "Why didn't you marry a young girl so that you might play with her and she with you?' (Hadith - Bukhari, 7.17)

Brit universities are terror hotbeds

From Reuters, hat tip to Jihadwatch.org:

British universities are coming under the spotlight in the country's fight against terrorism, with critics calling them a hotbed of extremism while lecturers say any clampdown threatens their freedom of speech. Prime Minister Gordon Brown recently highlighted universities as one of the key areas where authorities needed to act against extremist influences. However, a row is brewing over how officials can clamp down on radical groups recruiting students for militant causes without infringing on genuine academic debate. The issue of campus extremism came to the fore in the aftermath of the London suicide bombings by four young British Islamists which left 52 people dead in 2005. That was followed by a report by Professor Anthony Glees, director of Brunel University's Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, which suggested campuses were a breeding ground for extremists. Glees caused a stir across the academic community by estimating that dozens of British universities had been infiltrated by fundamentalists, based on historical terrorism cases which had involved students or former students. He now says the situation is even worse. "What we have seen since 2005 has been an increase in the number of students and former students involved in terrorist crimes," he said. [...]

"The problem stems from the fact that extremists and extremist recruiters have seen universities as safe spaces from which to recruit students," Glees said.

"The universities are not properly supervising what goes on at campuses, they weren't and they're still not, and it is clear they don't intend to do so in the future."


Abu Daoud says: if you take this sort of thing into account, the scary glimpse into a possible future for the UK below makes a lot more sense. The fact of the matter is that the British government is doing next to nothing to reign in the recruiting of new terrorists. The reason for this is that to engage in a sincere and realistic discussion regarding the roots of terrorism in orthodox Islam (which are genuine) is not PC.

So political correctness is, one might say, destroying the UK.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Glimpses into a scary future: Islam in the UK

This was a "thought experiment" offered during a debate in London on Islam in that city. The remarks came from Martin Amis:

Martin Amis recently said it was the ideology of Islam and not Muslims he had a problem with, but added: "They are gaining on us demographically at a huge rate. A quarter of humanity now and by 2025 they'll be a third. We're just going to be outnumbered." It's clear when he talks of the dangers of being outnumbered and outbred, that Amis is not talking about the ideology or even militant Islamists, but about ordinary Muslims.


He continued (in what he later defended as a "thought experiment"): "There's a definite urge - don't you have it? - to say the Muslim community will have to suffer until it gets its house in order. What sort of suffering? Not let them travel. Deportation - further down the road. Curtailing of freedoms. Strip-searching people who look like they're from the Middle East or from Pakistan… Discriminatory stuff, until it hurts the whole Muslim community and they start getting tough with their children."



The complete article can be found HERE.

BBC: Life in Yemen



From a BBC article on Yemen:

Yemen's tenuous grip on stability

By Brian Barron

A couple of days earlier I had wobbled into Yemen via an enormous set of mobile airport steps that had the shakes.

Even as Sanaa expands at breakneck speed beyond its ancient confines, the heart of the capital remains a captivating labyrinth of Arab coffee shops, silversmiths making ceremonial daggers, and stalls overflowing with spices and herbs.

Through one doorway you glimpse a camel in an inside chamber walking in tight circles, pulling a rotating soya bean grinder.

All this is overlaid with prayers being called day and night. A cacophony so intense because of the thousands of loudspeakers, that the government is trying to limit the volume in the wee hours because of complaints from sleep deprived citizens.

Piety prevails today. Yemen seems in the grip of an almost feverish bout of mosque building.

One Sanaa columnist reckons 50,000 mosques have risen across the nation, compared with 12,000 new schools.

Remember, this is a big place, roughly the size of France.

[...]

If you come across a Western envoy doing his rounds, especially outside the capital, you cannot miss the bodyguards.

Map of Yemen Republic including the capital Sanaa
Fit looking military veterans, with cropped hair, in civilian clothes, carrying backpacks. These are full of weapons and communications gear.

In Yemen today, the backpack men are an essential part of survival for those who might be targets.

The worry for the West is that Yemen is the odd man out in Arabia.

To the north lie rich neighbours like Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States, though Yemen remains one of the world's poorest countries.

To the south, just across the Gulf of Aden, lies the failed state of Somalia and troubled Ethiopia.

With corruption allegedly on a huge scale, oil revenue dwindling, water resources drying up, and the population predicted to double, Yemen's future looks uncertain.

It is still north of south, if you see what I mean, but only just.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Where does sharia come from?

Q&A from All Experts, with a couple of minor modifications from Abu Daoud:

Question:

Hi

From where does Sharia Law originate?

Steve

Answer:

What is commonly referred to as the Sharia or Islamic Law is [also] called Fiqh, that is Jurisprudence, by Muslims. Sharia as in itself refers only to the notion of rightfullness or lawfulness.

As a [legal] system, Islamic Law started to take shape from the 8th century onwards. Numerous Muslim scholars started to become concerned with devising unified and structured ways of setting rules for Muslims' conduct of life. Within the Sunni tradition four so-called Schools of Law have survived until today. They are referred by the names of their alleged founders (although in real practice it was a dragged-out process [that] involved scores of scholars over generations).

These four schools are the Hanafi School (afer Abu Hanifa), the Maliki School (after Malik ibn Anas), the Shafi'i School (after al-Shafi'i) and Hanbali School (after Ahmad ibn Hanbal).

All four schools are considered orthodox and the differences between them is more in the accents they place on proper sources of jurisprudence than the contents of law as such.

All four schools recognize that the following are the sources for Islamic Law:

- Qur'an
- Hadith (validated stories containing the traditions of the prophet)
- Ijma' (consensus of the legal scholars)
- qiyas (individual reasoning by analogy)

The Hanafi school is generally regarded as the one that has allowed widest room for the individual opinions of legal scholars. The founder of the Shafi'i school is generally regarded as the one who initiated this process of structuring the jurisprudence process, qiyas methods were developed in great detail. The Malikis tend to place a great emphasis on the significance of hadith (it originated in Medina, the city where the Prophet spend the last ten years of his life), the Hanbali school could be regarded as a kind of 'regression' because it contends that only Qu'ran and Hadith are valid sources of law.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Abu Daoud in Philadelphia

I will be there next week, if you want to hang out e-mail me.

Ambrose on Christ and the Church

The Church is beautiful in them [the baptized faithful]. So that God the Word says to her: "You are all fair, My love, and there is no blemish in you," for guilt has been washed away. "Come hither from Lebanon, My spouse, come hither from Lebanon, from the beginning of faith will you pass through and pass on," (Song of Songs 4:7-8) because, renouncing the world, she passed through things temporal and passed on to Christ. And again, God the Word says to her: "How beautiful and sweet are you made, O love, in your delights! Your stature is become like that of a palm-tree, and your breasts like bunches of grapes." (Song of Songs 7:6-7)

And the Church answers Him, "Who will give You to me, my Brother, that sucked the breasts of my mother? If I find You without, I will kiss You, and indeed they will not despise me. I will take You, and bring You into the house of my mother; and into the secret chamber of her that conceived me. You shall teach me." (Song of Songs 8:1-2) You see how, delighted with the gifts of grace, she longs to attain to the innermost mysteries, and to consecrate all her affections to Christ. She still seeks, she still stirs up His love, and asks of the daughters of Jerusalem to stir it up for her, and desires that by their beauty, which is that of faithful souls, her spouse may be incited to ever richer love for her.

Saint Ambrose
On the Mysteries

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Ambrose on baptism

Marah was a fountain of most bitter water: Moses cast wood into it and it became sweet. For water without the preaching of the Cross of the Lord is of no avail for future salvation, but, after it has been consecrated by the mystery of the saving cross, it is made suitable for the use of the spiritual laver and of the cup of salvation. As, then, Moses, that is, the prophet, cast wood into that fountain, so, too, the priest utters over this font the proclamation of the Lord's cross, and the water is made sweet for the purpose of grace.

--Saint Ambrose, on the mysteries, c. 387

Pediatrician needed in Yemen

This from clinic in Aden, Yemen:

On another occasion we’ll write more fully of the clinics and other aspects of the work in Aden, but briefly: Dr Shada has left the medical clinic to do further studies, which is excellent for her if sad for us. She is bright and has much to give. It leaves us with a space for a good paediatrician. Offers very welcome and a willingness to learn Arabic highly desirable.

If you have questions or are interested e-mail me or pastor Peter (church@y.net [dot] ye). The clinic is attached to Christ Church, Aden, which is Anglican. It doesn't matter what denomination or church the doctor belongs to, though.

Here is a link to the complete November News for Christ Church, Aden; it has some great pictures and gives you a picture of what life is like at the only Protestant church in the entire country that actually has a facility:

November News

"Islam should not be blamed for terrorism," UN conference

From the Hindustan Times:

"Islam should not be blamed for terrorism," UN conference

The international community should counter the spread of Islamophobia partly due to "misinformation and misperceptions", participants at a UN counter-terrorism conference said.

Speaking at the 3-day conference, experts said there is a need for the international community to counter the spread of Islamophobia, which they noted has been growing in recent years partly because of misinformation and misperceptions about the religion.

The emergence of "misguided groups" that have deviated from the straight path to fanaticism, violence and extremism, attributing their acts to Islam, in no way justifies associating this phenomenon with the Islamic faith
, they said during the conference titled "Terrorism: Dimensions, Threats and Countermeasures" in Tunis.

[...]


Abu Daoud says: this is going to get old sooner or later.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Islam and Cleanliness

Cleanliness

Islam places great emphasis on cleanliness, in both its physical and spiritual aspects. On the physical side, Islam requires the Muslim to clean his body, his clothes, his house, and the whole community, and he is rewarded by God for doing so. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said, for example:

"Removing any harm from the road is charity (that will be rewarded by Allah)." [Bukhari]

While people generally consider cleanliness a desirable attribute, Islam insists on it , making it an indispensible fundamental of the faith. A muslim is required to to be pure morally and spiritually as well as physically. Through the Qur'an and Sunnah Islam requires the sincere believer to sanitize and purify his entire way of life.

In the Qur'an Allah commends those who are accustomed to cleanliness:

"Allah loves those who turn to Him constantly and He loves those who keep themselves pure and clean." [2: 22]

In Islam the Arabic term for purity is Taharah. Books of Islamic jurisprudence often contain an entire chapter with Taharah as a heading.

Allah orders the believer to be tidy in appearance:

"Keep your clothes clean." [74:4]

The Qur'an insists that the believer maintain a constant state of purity:

"Believers! When you prepare for prayer wash your faces, and your hands (and arms) to the elbows; rub your heads (with water) and (wash) your feet up to the ankles. If you are ritually impure bathe your whole body." [5: 6]

Ritual impurity refers to that resulting from sexual release, menstruation and the first forty days after childbirth. Muslims also use water, not paper or anything else to after eliminating body wastes.

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) advised the Muslims to appear neat and tidy in private and in public. Once when returning home from battle he advised his army:

"You are soon going to meet your brothers, so tidy your saddles and clothes. Be distinguished in the eyes of the people." [Abu Dawud]

On another occasion he said:

"Don't ever come with your hair and beard disheveled like a devil." [Al-Tirmidhi]

And on another:

"Had I not been afraid of overburdening my community, I would have ordered them to brush their teeth for every prayer." [Bukhari]


From HERE.

Israel as a Jewish State

In advance of the Annapolis conference, Israel Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced the other day that he expects the Palestinian Authority to finally acknowledge Israel's existence as a Jewish state. If the more than 55 countries that make up the Organization of the Islamic Conference are entitled to recognition as Muslim states, and if the 22 members of the Arab League are universally accepted as Arab states, why should anyone balk at acknowledging Israel as the world's lone Jewish state? Yet Saeb Erekat, senior Palestinian Authority negotiator, said on Monday that Palestinians would refuse to recognize Israel's Jewish identity because "it is not acceptable for a country to link its national character to a specific religion." ... The flag of Saudi Arabia features the shahada -- the Islamic declaration of faith; the Islamic phrase Allahu Akbar (Allah is great") appears 22 times on the Iranian flag. And then there is Erekat's own Palestinian Authority, whose Basic Law provides in Article 4 that "Islam is the official religion in Palestine."

From HERE.

Maids Abused in Saudi: comments

Sarook, a Sri Lanakan in Saudi Arabia: I work as a recruitment agent in Saudi Arabia, finding domestic servants for Saudi nationals. I place mainly Sri Lankans and Indonesians. To be honest, I advise people not to seek employment in Gulf countries - especially women ... One or two house maids report to the office every day complaining about ill treatment. They complain about not being paid, not being allowed to contact their family, not being given proper food, long hours and sexual abuse from their employers. If we discover clients are treating maids badly we blacklist them - and we have blacklisted many.

Dr Sharma, Indian national in Saudi Arabia: I often treat household help brought to the clinic by their sponsors [employers]. They usually start by complaining of routine physical ailments, but after a little gentle questioning, one by one they talk about being abused sexually by the men in the family. Getting beaten and working 18 hours a day is almost routine. I am a Bengali-speaking Indian, so the Bangladeshi maids speak quite personally to me. There is no way we can do anything about it. Saudi Arabia is the most starkly racist place you can have. If an expat is involved in an accident with a Saudi, the Saudi can never be wrong.

Hat tip to Wahaudi, the letters are from responses to a BBC article which you can find HERE.

Monday, November 19, 2007

As order slides, Palestinian women face honor killings

Rights activists say such murders have increased as a result of the worsened security situation, and press for a new law.

QALQILYA, WEST BANK - All the women in the family say Wafa Wahdan was wonderful.

But her sisters-in-law add that they noticed a few little things. She had changed the way she dressed in the past year to a less conservative style and she sometimes went out for a drive without saying where she was going.

A few weeks ago, the body of the young mother of four was found in a garbage dump east of town. Police arrested two of the woman's male cousins for having trapped Ms. Wahdan and shot her to death, committing the third "honor killing" in Qalqilya last month.

Wahdan's brutal murder devastated her husband and immediate family, who say that the rumor mill's tales of Wahdan having an affair were untrue. But regardless of their veracity, suspicion alone can be enough to get a woman killed by distant relatives looking to "cleanse" the family honor when there is talk of an illicit relationship.

According to local organizations, such murders have risen in the Palestinian territories to nearly 50 this year – a fact that many here blame on the absence of any true law and order, which allows individuals to enforce their own version of justice. Palestinians here say the image of an ever-weaker Palestinian Authority has increased after Hamas's violent takeover of the Gaza Strip in June, making this local vigilantism harder to combat.

Particularly galling to many here is the fact that a man who admits to murdering a female relative for reasons of honor can be sentenced to as little as six months in jail. Palestinians say that policy is based on an old Jordanian law, which still holds in the West Bank: Article 341 considers murder a legitimate act of defense when the killer acts "in defense of his life or his honor." [...]


Read it all at the CS Monitor

Spencer on "Islam is Peace" campaign in the UK

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Bonaventure: monk, bishop, mystic, saint

The last period of Bonaventure's life saw him rise to become one of the most prominent men in Christendom. During the three year Papal vacancy, from 29 November 1268 to 1 September 1271, Bonaventure preached an important sermon in Viterbo and was probably instrumental in the invention of conclave. He is said to have been offered the papacy by the electors and to have suggested Teobaldi Visconti instead. After Teobaldi's election as Pope Gregory X, he appointed Bonaventure cardinal on 28 May 1273, where he preached on reunification of eastern and western Churches, a major goal of the council which seemed to have been achieved when he suddenly fell ill on 15 July 1274 and “at the hour of Matins died Br. Bonaventure of happy memory, Bishop of Albano, who was a man eminent for his knowledge and eloquence (homo eminentis scientie et eloquentie), a man outstanding for his sanctity and acknowledged for the excellence of his life, both religious and moral…Br. Peter of Tarantasia [also a Cardinal] celebrated the funeral mass and preached on the theme ‘I am saddened over you, my brother Jonathan.’ There were many tears and much weeping, for the Lord had given him such grace that the hearts of all who saw him were seized with a desire for his love.”

--Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Adeste Fideles


Adeste Fideles


Adeste fideles laeti, triumphantes;
Venite, venite in Bethlehem:
Natum videte Regem Angelorum:

plurimus vetus

Venite, adorate

Venite, adorate

Venite, adorate Dominum.


Deum de Deo, lumen de lumine,
gestant puellæ viscera,
Deum verum, genitum, non factum.

Venite etc.

En grege relicto humiles ad cunas
Vocati pastores approperant:
Et nos ovanti gradu festinemus,

Venite etc.

Æterni Parentis splendorem æternum,
Velatum sub carne videbimus,
Deum infantem pannis involutum.

Venite etc.

Pro nobis egenum et fœno cubantem
Piis foveamus amplexibus:
Sic nos amantem quis non redamaret?

Venite etc.

Cantet nunc Io chorus Angelorum,
cantet nunc aula cælestium:
Gloria in excelsis Deo.

Venite etc.

Ergo qui natus die hodierna,
Jesu, tibi sit gloria,
Patris æterni Verbum caro factum.

Venite etc.

Stella duce Magi Christum adorantes
Aurum, thus, et myrrham dant munera:
Jesu infanti corda præbeamus

Venite etc.

Hat Tip to Mia Stoltezza

Rob Bell: the gods aren't angry

Well, I recently was invited to hear Rob Bell in his "the gods aren't angry" tour.

My impression was overall quite favorable. He started by pointing out how human society developed gods and goddesses, and then explained the novelty of the story of the call of Abraham--that a god would speak to a human--then of the Abrahamic Covenant--this god used the stars as mere props!--and then of the five Levitical sacrifices. I mean, anyone who can make Leviticus into interesting material is pretty cool, and he did. He explained the novelty of the Levitical sacrifices: that you could make this sacrifice and know it had efficacy, as opposed to the pagan deities who always demanded more.

The stage had a large altar on it, with stairs going up to it and four horns.

(Now he talked for like an hour and forty minutes without notes or a script--that was pretty cool. I don't know many people who can do that.)

He then moved on to Jesus and his confrontation with the Temple authorities and how the early Christians reinterpreted Jesus' life and death and resurrection in light of the Temple--especially the author of Hebrews who throws out various tantalizing ideas: this is a better priesthood, a one-time sacrifice, the former was a mere shadow, and so on.

He emphasized very much these verses:

Col. 1:19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,
Col. 1:20 and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.

I guess he was shooting for realized eschatology without actually saying that. But he emphasized that ALL THINGS have in fact already been reconciled to God. That the Christian life is a realization that all things are reconciled already.

Which leads to the question: well, why does it seem like things (especially humans) are still in rebellion against God? And that is a big question, one he does not even touch.

And then the major slip up of the night: he talked a little about rituals, and it just seemed a little too evangelical to me. He started out by saying "A good ritual is anything that helps you..." Stop right there, I thought. Are rituals really there to help me? There was a very individualistic slant to his teaching on rituals, no mention of the people around you. In fact several of the "good rituals" he mentioned could easily be done alone, like experiencing the beauty of nature.

But anyway, what do rituals help us do? They help us to realize that all things have already been reconciled to God through Christ. He also said that if a ritual made us feel guilty that it was bad--a throwback to the insatiable altar of the pre-Christian pagan gods. But isn't it conceivable that God wants us to feel guilty sometimes? Isn't a very biblical teaching that God uses our guilt and shame to guide us towards repentance and reconciliation with him through his Son? "If we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins," so isn't a sense of our guilt before God's holiness part of the very fabric of redemption weaved by the Spirit in our lives?

I mean, if he wanted to differentiate between good guilt and bad guilt or something like that, that's doable. But he didn't.

Finally, I'm not sure how one can start off by talking about themes like the altar, blood sacrifice, the Temple, Jesus and his ministry, and then NOT at least address the Lord's Supper. It doesn't take a Roman Catholic to see that all of these themes are very closely woven together. And since he was on the topic of the Temple and how that was understood in the light of Jesus, why no mention of the church? I seem to remember Paul making the point quite vividly:

Eph. 2:19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God,
Eph. 2:20 built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone.
Eph. 2:21 In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord;
Eph. 2:22 in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God.

Again, these topics are not foreign to evangelicalism. One does not betray his tradition by talking about the Eucharist and the church. So it was in the end disappointing that he failed to carry his thought process through all the way. He did explicitly cite the wonderful "sacrifice of praise" verse, which for him seems to be just having warm fuzzies of praise in your heart, or taking social action for the poor, as opposed to the very tangible act of eating bread and wine, which I think is how the Church Fathers understood it.

But like I said above, there was enough engaging material and he really did make some very good points and the time was enjoyable, not least because I was hanging out with good friends. (I wonder what the folks back in the Middle East would think about this kind of thing...)

Friday, November 16, 2007

Islam and the West: "no common ground"?

A NEW survey commissioned by the London Mayor has concluded that the media sees no common ground between Islam and the West, and that conflict between them is ‘inevitable’.

From HERE.

Eastern Orthodoxy (Part VI)

By Frederica Mathewes-Green:

Eastern Orthodoxy is a fast-growing religious movement in North America. Why do you think this is the case?

Orthodoxy is fastest-growing in terms of percentage growth, but not in terms of numbers, I believe. The growth is undeniably due to conversions. In the jurisdiction (not denomination) that I belong to, the Archdiocese of Antioch (middle-eastern background, headquarters in Damascus on the "street called Straight"), the clergy are now 78% converts. This influx of educated, enthusiastic converts, lay as well as clergy, are bringing revival to the church. Historically, the church represented home-away-from-home for new immigrants, where they could speak the familiar language and eat familiar foods. I can sure understand that, when I picture living as an immigrant in Asia; the church attended by other Americans would be such a haven. But there is the danger that the church, obliged to fill so many roles, becomes a cultural emblem rather than truly a church. Praise God, I don't see revised, "updated," fashionable theology in Orthodox churches, but I sure do seem nominalism. When I travel and speak in Orthodox churches, longtime church members often tell me, "You converts are teaching us about our own faith, things we never knew." So there is renewal in Orthodoxy, though not at the numbers "fastest-growing" might suggest.


Here is a link to the rest of the interview.

Saint John Lateran in Rome

Saint John Lateran: The Cathedral Church of the Diocese of Rome.

We forget sometimes that Rome is a diocese, but Saint Peter's is not the cathedral of that diocese.

Barriers to Takfiir

One of our readers has asked this question:

You mentioned the process of Muslims excommunicating one another as infidels. This makes me wonder those lines will be fracturing again and again (and most likely along subjective lines). This seems to be a rather suicidal situation, because I doubt that they have any way to prevent this from spinning into schisms without number, and with the violence, ever solidified by hate. This brings my question, does Islam have any barriers to prevent this?

Abu Daoud's answer:

The process of excommunication is called "takfiir" and there is a high degree of disagreement in the Muslim community about it. Some are very stringent in saying that only a few acts can qualify one for ex-communication. But now, especially among the more traditional and militant Muslims, we are seeing a great increase in the use of takfiir. In fact, the wide-spread use of takfiir to justify the killing of an enemy is one of the identifying attributes of the Islamic communities in Pakistan-Afghanistan. Two of these groups are well known: the taliban and al qaeda.

"I doubt that they have any way to prevent this from spinning into schisms without number, and with the violence, ever solidified by hate...does Islam have any barriers to prevent this?"

Well, you are right that there is no mechanism whereby the division and sub-division and further splintering of groups can be stopped. But practically speaking groups will tend to work with each-other on a temporary basis to further their own goals, just like Baptists and Methodists and Catholics will cooperate for things like disaster relief or pro-life activities. So sometimes common goals can provide a basis for unity, though it does not necessarily last very long.

That having been said though we must remember that the long-term goal of Islam is indeed to establish a peaceful and just society which lives under the sharii3a of Allah. At that time violence will be eradicated, economic equality will be a reality and poverty and injustice will be absent. But much like Communism before it, the path to such a paradise requires the use of violence for now.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Part XV: Islam and the Sword of the Religion

Part XV: Islam and the Sword of the Religion
by Abu Daoud


One of the most heated discussions I have had with a Muslim was about the topic of the sword. "The problem is that you believe in the sword of the religion, but we (Christians) know that there is no sword of the religion! Jesus said that he who lives by the sword will die by the sword."

The sword of the religion is a prominent theme in Islamic thinking. In fact one might name his son saif-iddiin--Arabic for Sword of the Religion. Indeed the name of the son of Libya's ruler: Saif al-Islam Kadafi: Sword of Islam Kadafi. It is there on the flag of Saudi Arabia beneath the Islamic confession that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is his prophet. There are also some hadiiths, or sayings from the life of Muhammad, on the sword:

"Paradise is in the shade of swords," embodies well the philosophy that paradise is a reward to be won by the use of the sword. (Sahih Al Bukhari, Jihad, 52:73)

Or this one, also from Al Bukhari, "Allah marvels at those who enter paradise in chains." While not explicitly using the word sword, one finds here the conviction that those who are enslaved by Islamic conquests and so receive Islam are have somehow been graced by Allah.

Being very fond of his swords Muhammad named them: Dhu al Faqar, Al Battar (which originally belonged to King David, according to one tradition), Al Ma'thur, Al Rasub, and so on (he owned and named nine swords).

Muhammad as a political leader was at times very diplomatic and humble. But at times we see a robust and some might say ruthless exercise of violence for the sake of maintaining and furthering his own domain and authority. While the non-Muslim may see this sanctification of violence and slaughter as an abuse of religion, we must remember that for the orthodox Muslim the domain and will of Muhammad are synonymous with the domain and will of God. Marking out a boundary between the will and action of Muhammad and the will and action of God is something that Islamic scholarship has been neither desirous nor able to do. For this reason several ex-Muslims call their former religion "the worship of Muhammad."

But whatever the reason may be, there is no recognition of a difference between Muhammad's will and Allah's will in Islam. Because of this the vigorous use of violence--the sword of the religion--in Islam emerges as an element of worship, gaining a sort of sacramental aura. In Christianity a sacrament is "an outward sign of an inward grace." And in Islam the presence and use of the sword of the religion, especially when it leads to the successful imposition of the will of its wielder, must be construed a sure sign of the presence and favor of Allah.

To allow Muslims to enter and reproduce in a country, as we especially see in Europe, while expecting them to lay down the sword of the religion, is to fundamentally misunderstand Islam. The sword of the religion is an essential part of Islam because it was essential to the success of Muhammad, himself the ideal man, the perfect man. There is no presupposition that violence is bad in Islam. VIolence when used for the cause of Allah is in fact a great good as it leads to the triumph of Islam and the shari'a. To expect a sudden wave of un-Islamic pacifism to envelope Muslims in non-Muslim countries is the worse sort of hypocrisy.

The strategic use of violence is and always will be near the heart of Islam, and conservative Islamic scholars today recognize few limitations in the use of said violence against non-Muslims. In fact Muslims who do not hold to their devout, strict (and accurate I would say) construal of Islamic practice make themselves kuffaar--unbelievers--thus surrendering their right to live. In other words, many people we would call Muslim are valid targets for the sword of the religion. This is how, for example, Al Qaeda can declare a Jihad on the leader of Pakistan, General Musharraf. Moreover his supporters, by supporting a leader who is not validly Muslim, forfeit their right to live as well. The name of this practice of Islamic excommunication is called takfiir, and is becoming more and more common.

All of this means that silly mantra that "Muslims condemn the murder of innocent civilians," is almost a meaningless statement. It must be followed by questions like, "Who precisely are innocent?" and "Who precisely are civilians?" There are scholars who would say that NO American tax payer is innocent, for he supports the military in its oppression of Muslims by the simple act of paying taxes. Other scholars have explained that since all Israeli Jews will eventually be part of the Israeli military, Israeli Jewish children can not be classified as civilians, rather they are legitimate military targets for the sword of the religion.

Words are slippery things. One man's jihad is another man's terrorism. One man's holy warrior (mujaahid) is another man's criminal. One man's moderate Muslim is another man's apostate who must be killed. As a gesture of trust and dialogue it is important to always ask for clarification of meanings when discussing these things.

Why? Among most Christians to say "the sword of Christianity" would be met with distaste and conjure recollections of a few isolated historical events. But for Muslims the sword of the religion is the sovereignty of Allah working out the slow but sure submission of the world.

Who was crucified in Jesus' place?

From the gift that keeps on giving: Islam Q&A (islamqa.com). Note that the name for Jesus used is, of course, the Arabic Muslims name, Isa/'Eesa.

Question:
I have a few question about the one who was crucified instead of Isa (peace be upon him) I have seen in one place saying that the one who betrayed Isa (PBUH) was made to look like Isa and was crucified and I have seen in another place saying that one Isa’s companions volunteered to be crucified instead of Isa. I am confused, can you tell me which one is true?.

Answer:
Praise be to Allaah.

The Qur’aan states that ‘Eesa (peace be upon him) was not crucified or killed, and that he was lifted up to heaven. There is no text of the Revelation that tells us the details of what happened on the day when that was made to appear to the Jews, but there is a saheeh report from Ibn ‘Abbaas (may Allaah be pleased with him) that the Messiah (peace be upon him) said to those of his companions who were with him in the house: “Which of you will be made to look like me and be killed in my stead, and he will be with me in the same level as me (in Paradise)?” A young man who was one of the youngest of them stood up, and he said to him: “Sit down.” Then he repeated it and that young man stood up again, and he said: “Sit down.” Then he repeated it again and that young man stood up and said, “I (will do it).” He said: “You are the one.” So he was caused to look like ‘Eesa and ‘Eesa was lifted up from a window in the house to heaven. Ibn Katheer (may Allaah have mercy on him) said in his Tafseer (4/337), commenting on this report: This is a saheeh isnaad going back to Ibn ‘Abbaas. Similarly it was narrated from more than one of the salaf that he said to them: “Which of you will be made to look like me and be killed in my stead, and he will be my companion in Paradise?” End quote.

[Abu Daoud says: Salaf means companions of the Prophet. Isnaad refers to a chain of attribution which is supposed to confirm the facticity of a hadiith such as this one.]

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Fjordman the Swede on Eurabia

If a Swede is really lucky, he will first get battered by Muslims, and then beaten up a second time by his own Leftists for objecting to being beaten the first time. The state does next to nothing to prevent either. Native Swedes who resist a mass immigration that will render them a minority in their own country within a couple of generations have been classified as “racists,” and racists are for all practical purposes outside of the protection of the law.

From HERE.

David Hart: God is infinitely determinate?

So I am half way done with Beauty of the Infinite and it has been an enjoyable if not leisurely read so far. But here is a question for my brainier readers: He keeps saying that God is "infinitely determinate." What does that mean?

If the answer is long then just e-mail me at:
winterlightning
a+ safe-mail
d0+ net

Eating and living with non-Muslims

From the indefatigable Islam Q&A:

Question:
I live with ten colleagues from different countries. Nine of them are Christians, and one is atheist. We eat the main meal together at one table. Every day a different pair from us prepare the meal. Is it Islamically permissible for me to eat with them? Bear to mind that I cannot live alone due to my financial and educational circumstances.

Answer:
Praise be to Allaah.

Islam is based on ease and relieving hardship. You can carry on living with them so long as you cannot live alone, but you should call them to Allaah by your words, deeds and interactions with them, in the hope that Allaah might guide them through you.

And Allaah is the Source of strength. May Allaah send blessings and peace upon our Prophet Muhammad and his family and companions.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Picture of Nazareth today

Quote: Shannon Babiak

"Why did it make that noise?"

--Shannon Babiak

(Abu Daoud says: just don't ask...)

Bishops barred from Western Wall

No crosses at the Western Wall was the message sent by a rabbi to a group of Austrian Catholic bishops who refused to hide their Christian crosses before entering the courtyard of the Western Wall, the Jewish people's holiest prayer site.

Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch refused to give the bishops access to the site and avoided meeting the ecclesiastic delegation of approximately 20, led by Archbishop of Vienna, Christoph Schonborn.

Rabinovitch denied that the incident, which took place Thursday, smacked of religious intolerance.

"Crosses are a symbol that hurts Jewish feelings," said Rabinovitch who refused to elaborate on precisely how or why the crosses were so offensive.[...]


From HERE

Allah or God?

One of our readers asks:

Hello, I am visiting your blog for the first time. I have a question for you. Do you as a Christian in the middle east call God..Allah? I understand it is just arabic for God.. I would very much like to hear what you call him. May God bless and keep you safe. LILY

Thank you for the question Lily, and here is is my own answer, though different people would answer it in a different way I suppose:

When speaking English I use "God" in talking about Christianity but "Allah" in reference to Islam.

But regarding Arabic: The word "Allah" is a contracted version of "al ilah" which means "THE GOD." Note also that there are no capitals in Arabic which affects how things are written. As a Christian in the Middle East I certainly do use Allah to speak of the Triune God revealed in Scripture. One can also say al rab which means "The Lord" and that is also fine for both Muslims and Christians. When discussing religion with Muslims I will often use "ilahuna" (OUR GOD) and "ilahukum" (YOUR GOD) to differentiate.

One divine title that only Christians use is, of course, "al ab," THE FATHER. That is a concept largely absent from Islam.

Islam-mobile!

Well, you asked for it! An Islamic car, to be produced by that leader of automotive technology, Malaysia:

Report: Malaysia's Proton Plans to Make 'Islamic Cars' With Iran, Turkey


KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) -- Malaysian automaker Proton plans to team up with companies in Iran and Turkey to produce "Islamic cars" for the global market, a news report said Sunday.

Proposed by Iran, the collaboration would include installing features in automobiles such as a compass to determine the direction of Mecca for prayers, and compartments for storing the Quran and headscarves, Proton's Managing Director Syed Zainal Abidin told national news agency Bernama.

"What they (Iran) want to do is to call that an Islamic car," he was quoted as saying while on a visit in Iran. "The car will have all the Islamic features and should be meant for export purposes. We will identify a car that we can develop to be produced in Malaysia, Iran or Turkey."

The report didn't give further details. [...]


From HERE.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Islam in Mexico

Historians are divided over when Islam came to Mexico and who brought it. Some claim it was introduced by Syrian immigrants, whereas others point to Turkish immigrants. One recent (2002) study estimated that 10 percent of the Syrian-Lebanese immigrant community were Muslim. Today this community is one of the richest and contains more than 250,000 people. The history of Islam in Mexico is largely undocumented, with the exception of a sixteenth-century book called Un Hereje y un Musulman. Written by Pascual Almazan, this recounts the exploits of Yusuf bin Alabaz, who came to Mexico after expulsion during the Reconquista in Spain. Today, Islam is a recognized entity following the establishment of the Muslim Center de Mexico in 1994 in Mexico City. There are also centers in Monterrey, Torreon, Guadalajara, and San Cristobal de las Casas.

--Wikipedia

Egypt forcing converts from Islam, members of Bahai faith to conceal their religion, watchdogs say

Egypt forcing converts from Islam, members of Bahai faith to conceal their religion, watchdogs say

IHT, Associated Press

CAIRO, Egypt: Egypt must change its policy of not allowing converts from Islam and members of the Bahai faith to register their religion in official documents, two human rights groups said Monday.

In a report two years in the making, the New York-based Human Rights Watch and the local Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, or EIPR, described how Egyptians of religious persuasions authorities disapprove of are unable to get birth certificates and identification cards.

Joe Stork, the HRW Middle East deputy chief, said it was a systematic policy to deny documents to members of faiths other than Islam, Christianity and Judaism — the only three religions officially recognized by Egyptian authorities.

ID cards are mandatory here, but persons seeking to have "Bahai" listed as their faith on the card, for example, are denied the document, Stork told reporters in Cairo.

The report quoted some 40 people the watchdog groups interviewed as saying they were told in applying for papers that they must list themselves as either Muslim or Christian, or risk not being able to obtain the document.

"We're talking about a government policy that is compelling and pressuring people to lie," said Stork.

The report, titled "Prohibited Identities: State Interference with Religious Freedom," also noted cases where fathers have converted to Islam and left their children and families, with authorities automatically registering his children as having converted to Islam as well, often without informing them of this.

Since 2004, the issue has come before the court several times in the predominantly Muslim Egypt. Coptic Christians are about 10 percent of Egypt's 76 million population and generally live in peace with the Sunni Muslim majority.

Next Sunday, the Supreme Administrative Court will deliver a final ruling on whether seven Egyptians who reconverted to Christianity after already having converted to Islam will be recognized as Christians.


Next month, a ruling is also expected on whether the government must recognize minority Bahais. The religion, Bahaism, emerged from Islam and regards a 19th century Persian nobleman, Baha'u'llah, as its prophet — a challenge to the Muslim belief that Muhammad is the last prophet.

Unofficial figures put the Bahai community at about 2,000 in Egypt.

[...]

EIPR director Hossam Bahgat said the government policy has no basis in neither Egyptian nor Islamic law, or Sharia, as officials often claim. While converting from Islam is defined as apostasy by Islamic law, there is no corresponding legal punishment.

____

Associated Press Writer Maamoun Youssef contributed to this report.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Al Ghazali on the Dhimmi

Al Ghazali is one of the great scholars of Islam, one could compare him to Saint Augustine in terms of his influence. Here is a quote from him on the treatment of the dhimmi in an Islamic society:

[O]ne must go on jihad (i.e., warlike razzias or raids) at least once a year...one may use a catapult against them [non-Muslims] when they are in a fortress, even if among them are women and children. One may set fire to them and/or drown them...If a person of the Ahl al-Kitab [People of The Book – primarily Jews and Christians] is enslaved, his marriage is [automatically] revoked…One may cut down their trees...One must destroy their useless books. Jihadists may take as booty whatever they decide...they may steal as much food as they need...

[T]he dhimmi is obliged not to mention Allah or His Apostle…Jews, Christians, and Majians must pay the jizya [poll tax on non-Muslims]…on offering up the jizya, the dhimmi must hang his head while the official takes hold of his beard and hits [the dhimmi] on the protruberant bone beneath his ear [i.e., the mandible]… They are not permitted to ostentatiously display their wine or church bells…their houses may not be higher than the Muslim’s, no matter how low that is. The dhimmi may not ride an elegant horse or mule; he may ride a donkey only if the saddle[-work] is of wood. He may not walk on the good part of the road. They [the dhimmis] have to wear [an identifying] patch [on their clothing], even women, and even in the [public] baths…[dhimmis] must hold their tongue….

(From the Wagjiz, written in 1101 A.D.)

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Israel on the coming ME arms race

OK, here's what's going to happen: Iran will get nuclear weapons because the US has neither the money nor the will to take them on militarily. Europe is useless to be honest, and all that "diplomacy" is just a nice way to shuttle diplomats back and forth between expensive countries for useless obfuscation and a good dose of taqiyya (the Islamic doctrine where by Muslims can or must lie to infidels).

Once Iran gets the nuke, all the other countries in the ME which are Arab (Iran is Persian) and Sunni (Iran is Shi'a) will want/need nukes. The West won't be able to complain about it because they'll say, well, you didn't stop Iran, so why can't we have them too?

Here is an Israeli cabinet minister on the repercussions of that scenario:

Egyptian and Saudi Arabian intentions to begin or revive their nuclear programs in the face of Iran's continued race toward nuclear power present an "apocalyptic scenario" for Israel as well as for the rest of the world, Strategic Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.

Lieberman's remarks came a week after Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak announced a decision to restart his country's nuclear program. On Wednesday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced that his country had begun operating 3,000 centrifuges for the enrichment of uranium.

"If Egypt and Saudi Arabia begin nuclear programs, this can bring an apocalyptic scenario upon us," Lieberman told the Post. "Their intentions should be taken seriously and the declarations being made now are to prepare the world for when they decide to actually do it."

Lieberman also said Pakistan was a major threat to Israel due to the political instability there and the fact that the country had "missiles, nuclear weapons and a proven capability."

Martin Luther on faith

"Our faith is an astounding thing—astounding that I should believe him to be the Son of God who is suspended on the cross, whom I have never seen, with whom I have never become acquainted."

Martin Luther (1483-1546)

Friday, November 09, 2007

How low will they go?

Well, I sometimes wonder how low the good old mujaahidiin (wagers of jihad) will go in their perpetual jihad against the kuffaar (unbelievers). Here is a good example which seems fairly low. I mean they don't have hardly anything in Gaza and this sort of action is just like saying, OK Israel, blow up this school which is serving our community.

Mortars fired from UN Gaza school
BBC

The UN secretary general has ordered an investigation into an incident in which Palestinian militants fired mortars at Israel from a UN-run school in Gaza.

Ban Ki-moon condemned the abuse of UN facilities and described it a "serious violation of the UN's privileges and immunities", a spokeswoman said.

Israeli military aircraft filmed the mortars being fired from the school's playground in Beit Hanoun last week.

The UN has already complained about the incident to the authorities in Gaza.

The coastal territory has been controlled by the Islamist movement, Hamas, since it seized control from the rival Fatah group of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in June.

Not in Islam's Name?

Good letter from a reader to the Wall Street Journal:

Not in Islam's Name?
November 9, 2007; Page A17

Your article "Linking Terror on the Trail" (Politics & Economics, Oct. 29) sadly illustrates how political correctness has run totally amok. It's apparently irrelevant to the PC crowd that Islamic terrorists proudly commit their violent acts in the name of Islam.

You note that many on the left complain that the repeated references to "Islamic terrorism" have the effect of tarnishing the entire religion. I submit that it is the Islamic terrorists themselves who are tarnishing the religion. If mainstream American Muslims are unhappy at how their religion is being portrayed, they should direct their attention to the radicals who perpetrate violence in their name, rather than to the presidential candidates. Arguing over semantics will do nothing to stem the tide of Islamic terrorism.

John S. Villanova
Stamford, Conn.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Kinky in KSA?!?

Fascinating blurb here from a a person living in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. I am very interested in this country, but alas getting there is very tough, even for a little vacation. It is actually the only major country in the world that doesn't issue tourist visas.

From Nzingha's Soapbox:

Feeling Kinky??

Saudi for the most part has an image of being ultra conservative, an image that is rightly deserved in some areas. But when you actually live here and know what is going on, in secret and in open, you find out that people living in Saudi aren't necessarily that conservative. This ranges from the expatriates and their swinger parties, or the gay weddings and beauty pageants with cross dressers displaying their moves. Some of these events are cracked down upon by the police but for the most part it goes on and people whisper.

Since the book on The Girls Of Riyadh has been published more has come to light about the dating scene amongst Saudi girls. Here in Khobar they aren't very secretive about it and neither or other Arab girls and boys. Seeing young couples out on a date isn't necessarily an odd event but I do admit when the come in a large group and flaunt their antics it is all this Mama can take but to scream. One might expect this from the Western expat teens but to find it amongst "Muslim" circles is a bit shocking to the system. Although this isn't to say Muslims don't sin, but to be so blatant about it in a "Islamic Society" is more than ironic. [...]

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Go New Advent!

Well, Islam and Christianity has received an unexpected jump in the number of folks visiting the site because the über-site of Catholicism, New Advent--to which I have linked on several occassions--linked to my recent blurb on the folks that Muhammad murdered or had murdered.

So, welcome to Islam and Christianity dear New Advent folks. Please check out my own writings on Islam and Christianity in the menu over on the right hand side. Also, please use the remarks here to let me know if you have any questions or issues you'd like for me to tackle.

Peace and Grace of our Lord be with you.

Salaam wa na3mat irrab ma3kum.

Man's sweat + God's love = Beer

"Don't drink the water, drink beer" warned Saint Arnold of Metz (b. 580 AD, d. 640), concerned about the dangers of drinking impure water. He believed that the polluted water caused illness, while the boiled and processed water used for beer was a safer alternative. According to legend he ended a plague when he submerged his crucifix into a brew kettle and persuaded people to drink only beer from that "blessed" kettle. He is reported to have said "From man's sweat and God's love, beer came into the world".

Visions of an Islamic America

From WorldNetDaily, on what an Islamic America would look like. Hat tip to Jihadwatch.org:

Madonna and Britney Spears stoned to death? Bars and clubs closed down? Church bells banned? That's just a taste of what Americans have to look forward to if terrorists ever took over the U.S. and imposed Islamic law, according to a new book.

In one chapter of the recently released "Schmoozing with Terrorists: From Hollywood to the Holy Land, JIhadists Reveal their Global Plans – to a Jew!" author and WND Jerusalem bureau chief Aaron Klein petitioned Mideast terror leaders to describe day-to-day life in the U.S. if al-Qaida won the war on terror.

"Once Islam dominates, anyone living inside the Islamic state must abide by our rules. There is no choice. You will abide or face the punishment," said Muhammad Abdel-El, the spokesman and a senior leader of the Popular Resistance Committees terror organization.

Sheik Abu Saqer, a prominent Gaza-based preacher, a founder of the Sword of Islam terror group and a subscriber to the ideology of al-Qaida, explained if Islam controls the U.S., all American women, whether Muslim or not, must cover their hair.

"This is the demand of our religion. Being and walking naked doesn't mean that you are enjoying more freedom; it means that you are going against Allah's laws and you are serving the enemies of Islam who want to empty our Islamic society from its values. Uncovered heads is a form of nudity."

Yasser Hamad, a cleric and a Hamas leader in the northern West Bank, explained in "Schmoozing" Islamic law enforcers would at first try to persuade American woman to cover their heads, but eventually females would be forced. Those women who refuse may be stoned.

Asked by Klein whether stoning was too harsh a punishment, Hamad replied:

"If you don't respect the local law in America, if you don't pay taxes, if you drive on a red light, aren't there sanctions used against you by your government? Of course there are and it's okay with you. Why is there a problem when it comes to the Islamic state that wants to impose its rules?"

Hamad and other terror leaders stated all Jews and Christians living in the U.S. once Islam takes over would need to pay the jizya – a special protection tax – and other special taxes for non-Muslims, including one for the right to cultivate land. Non-Muslims cannot own land themselves.

Saqer said no new synagogues or churches can be built in the Islamic state. Existing houses of worship may remain, but services cannot be conducted loudly or in any public fashion. The ringing of church bells or blowing of the ceremonial Jewish shofar would be forbidden, the terror leaders said.

[...]

In "Schmoozing," the terrorists stress repeatedly their goal is a worldwide Islamic caliphate.

"We see already in America a nucleus of Islam, a base for Islam. This will become bigger, stronger, more important, until Islam will take control and will seize the power in America and the world," said Faraj.

Abdel-El affirmed, "America will be overthrown. We are seeing more and more signs that prove that the process had already started."

The people Muhammad murdered

Here is an impressive list of the people that Muhammad murdered or commanded to be murdered. There is nothing especially atrocious about such a record for a leader from his region and his day. What is, however, obscene and insulting is to claim that such a man was a paragon of gentleness and humility and was ultimately a peaceful man. Such an argument is simply not tenable.

Also, it is very clear that the times when he murdered people or commanded their execution he was rarely acting in self-defense. So that old saw that Muhammad would only take a life in self-defense (something most Christian ethicists would permit) is also patently false.

I present to you a section and the link for further reading, from Answering Infidels:

Ka’b wrote poetry against the Muslim women, and Muhammad subsequently called for his assassination:

The apostle said . . . “Who will rid me of Ibnu’l-Ashraf [Ka’b]?” Muhammad bin Maslama . . . said, “I will deal with him for you, O apostle of God, I will kill him.” [Muhammad] said, “Do so if you can.” . . . The apostle said, “All that is incumbent upon you is that you should try.” [The assassin] said, “O apostle of God, we shall have to tell lies.” He answered, “Say what you like, for you are free in this matter."

Muhammad bin Maslama, having received from Muhammad permission to lie, proceeded with his plan to murder Ka’b. The Muslims sent Silkan, a lover of poetry, to befriend Ka’b. Silkan and Ka’b spent some time reciting verses to one another, until the former asked a favor of his new friend. Silkan said that he and his companions wanted to buy some food from Ka’b and that he would put down a number of weapons as a pledge until payment could be made. He did this so that Ka’b “would not take alarm at the sight of weapons when they brought them.” The Muslims came later with their weapons and invited Ka’b to join them for a walk, and he gladly joined them.

[A]fter a time Abu Na’ila ran his hand through [Ka’b’s] hair. Then he smelt his hand, and said, “I have never smelt a scent finer than this.” They walked on farther and he did the same so that Ka’b suspected no evil. Then after a space he did it for the third time, and cried, “Smite the enemy of God!” So they smote him, and their swords clashed over him with no effect. Muhammad bin Maslama said, “I remembered my dagger when I saw that our swords were useless, and I seized it. Meanwhile the enemy of God had made such a noise that every fort around us was showing a light. I thrust it into the lower part of his body, then I bore down upon it until I reached his genitals, and the enemy of God fell to the ground.”

The assassination of Ka’b had the desired effect: “Our attack upon God’s enemy cast terror among the Jews, and there was no Jew in Medina who did not fear for his life.”

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Partition Jerusalem?

I thought this was interesting, from a CSMonitor article on PM Olmert's recent statement that he is willing to partition Jerusalem:

Many Palestinian residents opposed

Those feeling skittish about the city's potential partition aren't just Israelis – who traditionally take the position that Jerusalem should be Israel's united capital – but also Palestinian Jerusalemites, who fear that their standard of living will fall if they come under the control of the Palestinian Authority (PA).

"I don't want to have any part in the PA. I want the health insurance, the schools, all the things we get by living here," says Ranya Mohammed as she does her afternoon shopping in Shuafat.

"I'll go and live in Israel before I'll stay here and live under the PA, even if it means taking an Israeli passport," says Mrs. Mohammed, whose husband earns a good living from doing business here. "I have seen their suffering in the PA. We have a lot of privileges I'm not ready to give up."

Saint Nicholas Tavelic and Companions

Martyred in Jerusalem this day in 1391:

Nicholas was born in 1340 to a wealthy and noble family in Croatia. He joined the Franciscans and was sent with Deodat of Rodez to preach in Bosnia. In 1384 they volunteered for the Holy Land missions and were sent there. They looked after the holy places, cared for the Christian pilgrims and studied Arabic.

In 1391 Nicholas, Deodat, Peter of Narbonne and Stephen of Cuneo decided to take a direct approach to converting the Muslims. On November 11, 1391, they went to the huge Mosque of Omar in Jerusalem and asked to see the Qadi (Muslim official). Reading from a prepared statement, they said that all people must accept the gospel of Jesus. When they were ordered to retract their statement, they refused. After beatings and imprisonment, they were beheaded before a large crowd.

Nicholas and his companions were canonized in 1970. They are the only Franciscans martyred in the Holy Land to be canonized.


From AmericanCatholic.org

Monday, November 05, 2007

Twenty assured ways to enter Paradise

You've been waiting for them! Here are a few of the ways to be GAURANTEED entrance into Paradise by Allah:

Fasting the month of Ramadan with belief and seeking Allah's reward


"Whoever fasts Ramadan out of Iman and seeking Allah's reward then his past and future sins are forgiven." (Hasan, Ahmad. Declared Hasan by adh-Dhahabi, as mentioned in al-Mughni 5876)

Getting old in Islam


"No one reaches forty years in Islam except that Allah protects him from madness, leprosy and leucoderma. When he is fifty, Allah makes easy his reckoning. When he reaches sixty, Allah grants him repentance. And when he reaches seventy, Allah loves him and the inhabitants of the heavens love him. And when he reaches eighty, Allah accepts his good deeds and overlooks his sins. When he reaches ninety, Allah forgives his past and future sins, he is named 'the prisoner of Allah on earth' and is granted intercession (for forgiveness) for his family." (Hasan, Ibn 'Asakir. Ahmad Shakir said in his notes to Al-Musnad (8/23,25): "Its chain is at least Hasan. It is supported with other chains which raise it to the level of Saheeh.)

Defending the honor of a Muslim


"Whoever defends the honor of his brother in absence has the right over Allah to be freed from the Fire." (Saheeh, Ahmad, al-Tabarani. Authenticated by Al-Albani in Saheeh al-Jaami' (6240).) Al-Manaawi commented" "'Whoever is limited to other than the disbeliever and public wrongdoer." (Fayd al-Qadeer 6:136.)

Dust of Jihad

"The dust of Jihad and the smoke of the Fire will never coexist within a servant, and greed and Iman will never coexist in the heart of a servant." (Saheeh. An-Nasaa'i and al-Hakim in al-Mustadrak. Authenticated by al-Albani in Saheeh al-Jaami' (7616).)

Killing a mushrik [one who associates anything or anyone, like Jesus, with Allah] in war

"A Kafir [infidel] and one who killed him will never be together in the Fire." (Muslim, Abu Dawud)

Good character


"Whoever is easy-going, easy to deal with and kindhearted, Allah will forbid the Fire for him." (Saheeh. Al-Hakim in al-Mustadrak, al-Bayhaqi, at-Tabarani. Al-Albani authenticated it in Saheeh al-Jaami' (6484).)

Freeing slaves

"Whoever frees a believing slave it will be his salvation from the Fire." (Saheeh, Ahmad, Abu Dawud, an-Nasaa'i. Authenticated by al-Albani (6050).)


The Spoils (Al Anfaal)

Some good commentary on the The Spoils (Al Anfaal), which is one of the surahs from the Quran:

Verses 41-44 [the The Spoils] concern the battle itself. After the Muslims’ victory, Allah directs the Muslims to give a fifth of the booty to Muhammad (v. 41). After one battle, Muhammad prayed “facing a camel from the war booty,” and then, holding some of the camel’s hair between his fingers, said to his men: “This is also a part of the war booty you earned. Verily, I have no share in it, except my own share, the fifth designated to me. Even that fifth will be given to you.” That indicated, according to the one telling this tale, the prophet’s generosity. Muhammad continued by exhorting the Muslims to turn over all the spoils of war to him for just distribution: “Therefore, surrender even the needle and the thread, and whatever is bigger or smaller than that (from the war spoils). Do not cheat with any of it, for stealing from the war booty before its distribution is Fire and a shame on its people in this life and the Hereafter. Perform Jihad against the people in Allah’s cause, whether they are near or far, and do not fear the blame of the blamers, as long as you are in Allah’s cause. Establish Allah’s rules while in your area and while traveling. Perform Jihad in Allah’s cause, for Jihad is a tremendous door leading to Paradise. Through it, Allah saves (one) from sadness and grief.”

From Hot Air, read it all.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

The newest Islamic 'country'

The Islamic Emirate of the Caucasus! Welcome to the community of nations. Let me note first of all that the word emirate means, roughly, princedom--not a Kingdom. The hope is that all the emirates of the world will eventually be united under the Caliph, whenever he should decide to show up. Note the stipulation that the only way to establish Allah's rule is by the sword.

From the statement of Sheikh Dokku Khamatovich Umarov, the emir of said emirate:

We, the Mujahideen, went out to fight the infidels not for the sake of fighting but to restore the Shariah of Allah in our land. Allah says that He does not change the condition of people until they change themselves. Today, as throughout history, our condition can only be changed with a weapon in hand. If Allah's Religion could be established on Earth using another method, then our Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, would not have engaged in twenty seven battles.

There is no power and no power acquiring except through Allah. At the same time Allah tell us to heed our cause and prepare our forces to wage war, as much as we can. This does not mean that we must have equal means to the kuffar. This is impossible at this time but don't be mistaken, the victory of Muslims will come, inshaAllah, not because of the numbers of warriors or an abundance of weapons; it will come because of our fear of Allah. And fear of Allah comes to a soul and alters behavior when a Muslim is afraid of violating limits of that which is permitted and forbidden as established by Allah. The most important prohibition is contained in the formula of the faith itself; “La Ilaha Illa Allah”. Repeating these great words is easy and simple, but putting them into practice is not. Achieving Paradise is not easy and not simple.

Allah the Most High warns us in the Quran that he will not forgive Shirk (the act of associating partners with Allah) but He may forgive anything other than this, if He wills. Muslims must be afraid of Shirk always throughout their lives. Therefore, we the Mujahideen, reject any laws, rules and establishments that do not come from Allah. Jihad against Russian kuffar has never stopped; it was revived sixteen years ago in Chechenistan when Jokhar Dudayev, may Allah have mercy on him, by the will of Allah became the leader of Chechen people. Since then several leaders have served. We ask Allah to bless their Jihad and all brothers who preceded us...


Read more over at Jihadwatch.org:

Here

All faiths are not equal

From Times Online UK, just a few sections of the whole article:

Religions and cultures that deny women basic equality, or exploit and abuse them, are, as far as I am concerned, a bad thing. I don’t feel the slightest obligation to respect them or to allow them to bring their practices into this country. However, the problem for Cherie Blair, not least during the visit here of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, is that in the western liberal agenda we are supposed to offer equal respect and equal rights to all cultures and all religions, and to people’s universal right to live according to them and to practise their faiths as they understand them. But you simply can’t. You can either have universal human rights, or you can have the universal human right to ignore them for cultural or religious reasons - not both.

If a culture or a religion does not share Cherie Blair’s absolute belief in universal human rights, then how can she respect it? And, for that matter, why should she expect them to respect her opposing beliefs? She spoke on Radio 4 of honouring people’s religious beliefs, when freely adopted, but why? Incidentally, as for Islam being freely adopted, a large proportion of young British Muslims think that the penalty for abandoning the faith should be death. There is not a great deal of freedom in Islam which, after all, means submission.

My point is not particularly to criticise Islam. It is rather to criticise this long-standing liberal article of faith that all religions are equal, equally deserving of respect, and believers should be equally free to practise them. In truth, nobody believes that - whether Muslim, gentile, Hindu, Jew, wiccan or heathen. Nor in terms of Christian and post-Christian British culture is it true. We have been misled culturally by trying to pretend it is true and we have damaged our society in the process.


Abu Daoud says: man, watching the UK is like watching someone take two or three days to slowly make preparations to commit suicide. All they while you are asking, why are you going to kill yourself? What's wrong? And the answer: suicide? I'm not going to commit suicide at all...

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Pakistan: ready to blow

The president of Pakistan has declared a state of emergency. I told you this is the hot spot of the world in terms of Islamic jihad.

CNN has an article if you wish to read more.