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Showing posts from December, 2007

Madonna and Child

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I believe that the Madonna and Child is either the most-painted scene ever, or the second most-painted scene after the crucifixion. Here is an Asian version of the figure, showing how Christianity truly break every cultural boundary and is, in its very essence, translatable.

HT to Intentional Disciples.

The "right to preach hate"

Lengthy article on European immigration at the Brussels Journal:

By their entry, immigrants become subject to common sense obligations. The more so as, in exchange for the privilege of refuge and its opportunities, they have voluntarily accepted these. This might sound obvious, however, given the attitude of some immigrant groups and their apologists, the matter is apparently not self evident to all.

Some aliens that gain admission to economically advanced and politically democratic societies nurture resentments. They are directed against the way of life and even the existence of their host country. Bluntly put, intolerantly they do not accept the identity of the citizens of the state and its order that is harboring them. Concurrently, they demand for themselves what they deny their benefactor. Of the traditions they find and that they are, having chosen it, honor bound to respect, they uphold only one. It is that, regardless of their actions and advocated cause, their right to preach t…

Inflation in Jordan

While this is not generally covered in the international press, there has been some pretty heavy inflation in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan over the last few years. Prices on basic goods--flour, water, gas, lamb, chicken--have all gone up considerably. The price of real estate has increased rather steeply. Gas prices are set to increase in January as the government continues to eliminate subsidies. Here is a recent example from a Jordanian blogger on the difficulties this is creating in their society:


What’s Worse Than The Government?
30Dec07

…heartless people…

AMMAN - The authorities said they will intensify measures to prevent retailers from stockpiling oil derivatives as several distributors of fuel and gas were reportedly arrested and referred to court Saturday…Officials said the new measures are meant to curb a trend among some petrol station owners and gas cylinder distributors to turn back customers claiming that they ran out of supplies in a bid to sell what they have ea…

CS Lewis Quote

HT to the blog T19:

Lying at your feet is your dog. Imagine, for the moment, that your dog and every dog is in deep distress. Some of us love dogs very much. If it would help all the dogs in the world to become like men, would you be willing to become a dog? Would you put down your human nature, leave your loved ones, your job, hobbies, your art and literature and music, and choose instead of the intimate communion with your beloved, the poor substitute of looking into the beloved's face and wagging your tail, unable to smile or speak? Christ by becoming man limited the thing which to Him was the most precious thing in the world; his unhampered, unhindered communion with the Father.

--C.S. Lewis

Muhammad: Treat the people with ease

Al Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 52, Number 275:

Narrated Abu Burda: That his father said, "The Prophet sent Mu'adh and Abu Musa to Yemen telling them. 'Treat the people with ease and don't be hard on them; give them glad tidings and don't fill them with aversion; and love each other, and don't differ."

Muhammad: "War is Deceit"

From the the hadiith of Al Bukhari

Volume 4, Book 52, Number 268:

Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah's Apostle called,: "War is deceit".

Volume 4, Book 52, Number 269:

Narrated Jabir bin 'Abdullah: The Prophet said, "War is deceit."

The United Methodist Church, an African church

Ms. [RACHEL] ZOLL: The growth or explosion, really, of Christianity overseas is having an impact within the United States. As just one example, the United Methodist Church, which is considered and is and always has been very much of a middle class American church, if the current growth trends continue will become a majority African church within the next couple of decades. They're already dealing with the fact that there are Methodists from the Philippines and from Korea who are planting churches within the United States as well, and they're trying to figure out the relationship there. Another impact of it is that a lot of very entrepreneurial, very evangelical-minded or evangelically minded African pastors are coming over here to plant churches in the United States. Now, for people who don't watch these things closely, they are puzzled. Why does, in a very religious country, does anyone need to plant more churches? But these are very fervent believers, and they think that…

Pakistan: Islamic Dis-unity

Peel off the rhetoric of Islam and the all-too-familiar pattern of power politics can be seen running through Pakistani history. In an attempt to dodge, fudge, and suppress the ethnic and linguistic diversity of the country, successive civil and military regimes have played up religion as a symbol of unity. None of them has been successful. In fact, the more the state relied on Islam as a political slogan, the sharper and more irreconcilable these divisions have become.

In the process the myth that Pakistan is a religiously homogenous Muslim country has also been shattered. Those who identify themselves as Muslims are more precisely either Shias or Sunni-Barelvis or Sunni-Deobandis, or Wahhabi or Ahle-Hadith or Maududi’s followers, or belong to one or the other of the many mutually exclusive sects and cults. (Even the constitution of Pakistan concedes that “[I]n the application…to the personal law of any Muslim sect, the expression ‘Qur’an and Sunnah’ shall mean the Qur’an and Sunnah a…

The Cultivation of Christmas Trees

The Cultivation of Christmas Trees
by TS Eliot

‘There are several attitudes towards Christmas,
Some of which we may disregard:
The social, the torpid, the patently commercial,
The rowdy (with pubs being open till midnight),
And the childish—which is not that of the child
For whom the candle is a star, and the gilded angel
Spreading its wings at the summit of the tree
Is not only a decoration, but an angel.
The child wonders at the Christmas Tree:
Let him continue in the spirit of wonder
At the Feast as an event not accepted as a pretext;
So that the glittering rapture, the amazement
Of the first-remembered Christmas Tree,
So that the surprises, delight in new possessions
(Each one with its peculiar and exciting smell),
The expectation of the goose or turkey
And the expected awe on its appearance,
So that the reverence and the gaiety
May not be forgotten in later experience,
In the bored habituation, the fatigue, the tedium,
The awareness of death, the consciousness of failure,
Or in the piety of the convert

Dec. 28: Feast of the Holy Innocents

Every now and then I post stuff RE the liturgical calendar, and today is a special day, one honoring children martyrs, martyred without their knowledge, but nevertheless for the sake of the Kingdom of God. Especially striking is the two readings and how well they work together. It also reminds us of the alughter of the children by Pharaoh in the days of Moses, showing us that Jesus is the new Moses who comes to reveal God's Law. Here we find as well a foreshadowing of the violence of empire against God's Kingdom which culminates in the Cross of our Lord. (HT to Continuum.)

December 28th, The Feast of the Holy Innocents

For the Epistle. Rev. xiv. 1.

I LOOKED, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father's name written in their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps: and they sung as it w…

Jihad...allowed to grow unchecked

Anwar Sadat. Benazir Bhutto. Theo Van Gogh. Daniel Pearl. Three thousand Americans on 9/11. The editors of Jyllands-Posten -- almost. Salman Rushdie -- almost. Pervez Musharraf -- almost. We could go on, but maybe you get the point. The message is perfectly clear: Challenge the jihad, pay with your life.

A radical Islamic army seething with rage and delusion grows stronger, slaughtering more and more of our potential allies, as we spend years debating whether, to save our civilization, our warriors should ever be allowed to pretend to drown a captured enemy combatant.

If we don't see this threat with greater clarity, we will lose our chance to thwart its ambitions before it reaches its full strength. What we are seeing is only a taste of what is to come if the jihad is allowed to grow unchecked.

From HERE.

Pakistan: of grave conern to the West

Today's assassination in Pakistan of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto should be a stark reminder that terrorists are engaged in a very real war against modern civilized society. Bhutto had her own ethically questionable background; but her current public political posture was pro-Western, democratic, peaceful and against the radical Islamic terrorists who may have been responsible for her death. While the investigation must go forward, initial speculation is pointing to those radical Islamic terrorist elements operating in Pakistan, perhaps even al-Qaeda.

What happens over the next several days will be a crucial test for the Pakistani people and government. It may also indicate if this attack is part of a larger jihadist plan of action within Pakistan. Given Pakistan's supposed critical status as an ally of the US in counter-terrorism efforts, and Pakistan's nuclear arsenal, what happens inside Pakistan over the coming days and weeks should be of grave concern to Americ…

Pakistan: Civil War Imminent

I have long been saying that Pakistan is really the problem spot in Dar al Islam, probably more so than Iran. The reason is that Iran is in fact a functioning nation state and the government has the ability to stop or at least hinder terrorism in and from that country. Pakistan has a huge population which is very uneducated and the government itself is unstable. I should also add that there are very large numbers of Pakistanis in the UK and a civil war would mean two things: one, their numbers would swell further as people seek (and are granted) asylum there, and two, that the violence and fighting would spill over into the UK as each faction tries to coerce the UK government by means of terror into supporting their side. (Like this: if you don't supply MY side with arms we'll blow up another subway full of people.)

Anyway, John over at Fisher of Men has a good post and I recommend you read it all. It's not long:

Fisher of Men

Iraqis Crowd Churches for Christmas Mass

Iraqis Crowd Churches for Christmas Mass
Dec 25 01:36 PM US/Eastern
By ELENA BECATOROS
Associated Press Writer

BAGHDAD (AP) - Thousands of Iraqi Christians made their way to church through checkpoints and streets lined with blast walls, many drawing hope from a lull in violence to celebrate Christmas Mass in numbers unthinkable a year ago.

Death is never far in Iraq—two separate suicide bombings north of Baghdad killed at least 35 people and wounded scores more. But the number of attacks has fallen dramatically in the past few months—the U.S. military says by 60 percent since June.

"We did not celebrate last year, but this year we have security and we feel better," said Rasha Ghaban, one of many women at the small Church of the Holy Family in Karradah, a mainly Shiite district in downtown Baghdad where many Christians live. "We hope our future will be better, God willing."

Families streamed into the church's courtyard, wrapped in heavy winter jackets to protect them f…

Seventh-Day Adventists and Breakfast

Wow, this is quite interesting. In the Middle Eastern city I was previously living in there was a Seventh-Day Adventist church, and a school as well. Anyways, part of the American splintering of Christianity into a bazillion different denominations. From Wikipedia, here:

Since the 1860s when the church began, wholeness and health have been an emphasis of the Adventist church. Adventists are known for presenting a "health message" that recommends vegetarianism and expects abstinence from pork, shellfish, and other foods proscribed as "unclean" in Leviticus 11. However according to some studies, the majority of Adventists do eat meat. The church discourages its members from the use of alcohol, tobacco or illegal drugs (compare Christianity and alcohol). In addition, some Adventists avoid coffee and other beverages containing caffeine.

The pioneers of the Adventist church had much to do with the common acceptance of breakfast cereals into the Western diet. John Harvey …

Christmas Blessing Meme

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Rob over at Catholic Scripture Study has blessed me! Many thanks to him for this! I am obviously moving up in the blogging world :-)

In turn I am to bless three bloggers, so here they are:

One: Harry Gunkel over at the recently-birthed blog Mission to Jerusalem. Thank you Harry for reminding me of the conflict that we all face when we arrive in the Middle East, and quite particularly of the intractable tension of the Holy Land. Thank you for your honesty and candor.

Two: Aysha Alkusayer of In the Making! Shukran jazilan ya Aysha! I doubt that whoever started this thought it would spread to Muslim bloggers and bloggeraat (that's the Arabic feminine plural for 'blogger' :-) Thank you Aysha for being full of life (which is what your name means after all), for seeking wisdom, and sharing your insights and thoughts with us all. May our Creator guide us both to wisdom and everlasting life as we contemplate both feasts: ours of the birth of Jesus and yours of Eid al Adha--the feas…

Muslimas traveling and the 'mahram'

A mahram is a MALE companion from the woman's family or her spouse. From Islam Q&A:

Question:
We live in the country. Sometimes I like to visit my uncle who lives in a city that is 50 km further than us. I have to use mixed transportation and go alone because my father thinks it is very expensive to use transportation. He leaves the matter of meeting my uncle or not up to me. There is no other place I can go to. I visit my uncle every 5-8 months. Am I allowed to travel without a mahram?.

Answer:
Praise be to Allaah.

The saheeh Sunnah indicates that it is not permissible for a woman to travel without a mahram. This includes both long trips and short trips, according to the majority of scholars. Everything that is called traveling is forbidden for a woman unless she has a mahram with her. [...]

Population Explosion in Yemen

Hat tip to Armies of Liberation:

SANA’A, Dec. 15 — In the Fourth National Conference for Population Policy, held under the theme, “Toward further implementation of a population policy,” participants stressed the necessity of providing family planning and reproductive health services in all health care centers.

Some of the papers reviewed warned against the risk of increased population growth, indicating that UN estimates show that if population growth in Yemen continues to increase at the present rate, the population will increase from its current 22.4 million to 29.9 million in 2015, then to 43 million in 2025, 62 million in 2035 and 90 million in 2045, finally reaching 108.6 million in 2050. [...]

Studies also indicated that the annual 3 percent population growth rate is one of the key challenges facing development efforts. They also showed that Yemen is categorized as one of the least developed countries in human resource, ranked 174 out of 184 countries. According to the studies, pov…

Sex, lies, Palestine and jihad

Nice video here from Palestinian TV. The idea is that the guy is so enraged when his girl is shot down that he starts "operations" against the Zionist entity and is happily reunited with his girl (and others!) in paradise.

Converting to Catholicism?

Converting to Catholicism?
by Abu Daoud

Since I just posted a blurb about Tony Blair "converting" to Catholicism I thought I would share my thoughts on how to correctly use that word.

My sense is that one does not convert within a religion (Christianity), but from one religion to another, or no religion to a religion. Thus Tony Blair, who was Anglican and is now Roman Catholic, has not converted. Rather, he has "entered into full communion with Rome," or more simply, "has become Roman Catholic."

Usually there is some kind of official rite or ritual so that one can become this or that kind of Christian. I am Anglican, and even if I started going to a Methodist church and went there for years, I would remain Anglican. Unless I changed my membership and was received into the UMC.

Of course, neither the Methodist nor the Anglican churches make any claims to be the true church, but rather understand themselves as communities within the true church. On the other …

Tony Blair becomes Roman Catholic

"I'm very glad to welcome Tony Blair into the Catholic Church," the statement quoted Murphy-O'Connor as saying.

"For a long time he's been a regular worshipper at Mass with his family and in recent months he's been following a program of formation for his reception into full communion. Our prayers are with him, his family and his wife at this joyful moment in their journey of faith together," Murphy-O'Connor said.

There had long been speculation that Blair planned to convert to Catholicism. His wife, Cherie, is Roman Catholic, the couple's children have attended Catholic schools, and Blair had regularly attended Catholic, rather than Anglican, services.

Read it all at CNN.

No fun in Islam :-(

"Allah did not create man so that he could have fun. The aim of creation was for mankind to be put to the test through hardship and prayer. An Islamic regime must be serious in every field. There are no jokes in Islam. There is no humor in Islam. There is no fun in Islam. There can be no fun and joy in whatever is serious."

-- Ayatollah Khomeini

Mishmish: Eid al Adha

There is a great entry over at Mishmish about Eid al Adha as they are experiencing it over in Amman, Jordan. It is not long and there are some great pictures taken by the blogger.

Check it out:

Mishmish

Rationalizing terror

From IHT:

[...] An essential first step is admitting we have a problem. The terrible attacks of recent days occurred during the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, Islam's most solemn act of atonement. The introspection and self-criticism of this sacred time offer an ideal moment to acknowledge the sacrilege of terrorism and the sin of being a passive bystander.

We must also avoid the temptation to rationalize murder. "The attack is wrong," goes a common refrain, "but we must understand the root causes."

There can be no "buts" - no qualifications or justifications that indulge the political grievances and religious sanction claimed by extremists.

Taking an unequivocal stand against human sacrifice does not require radical reinterpretation of Muslim tradition. In fact, it is addressed directly in the new-year holiday of Eid al-Adha - the "Festival of the Sacrifice" - which commemorates Abraham's near-sacrifice of Ismael. In the Koran, it is Abraham&…

Dollar's falling value harming missionaries

Pinching Pennies
The dollar's fall has squeezed missionary budgets—with no reprieve in sight.

The dollar's falling value translates into a pay cut for many American missionaries, who receive funding for their work from church and denominational budgets and from the gifts of supporting Christians. According to the U.S. Center for World Mission, many are finding their dollars worth 8 to 12 percent less than they expected this year. In Europe, dollars have lost 45 percent of their buying power since 2002.

Read it all HERE.

Europe: "Islam will become the majority"

'Muhammad boys' prove 'Islam will enter every house in Europe'
Terror leader boastful after British government lists most popular baby names

JERUSALEM – Statistical information released yesterday showing Muhammad is the second most popular boys name in Britain "proves Islam is becoming the majority in the UK and will one day enter every house in Europe," a senior terror leader told [WorldNetDaily] in an interview.

"We see from this study of Muhammad's name that Islam is on the rise and cannot be stopped no matter what your crusader governments do," said Muhammad Abdel-Al, spokesman and a leader of the Popular Resistance Committees terror group. [...]

"In Europe there is no need for war because if people keep on joining Islam in these countries then Islam will become the majority, which I think is the process that is taking place now, so there will not be any necessity to have war with [non-Muslims]," he said.

World food stocks dwindling...

Not exactly religious news, but very important. Look for more aggressive and desperate immigration to the West from the places where food production is low and population is growing quickly (that includes almost all of the Middle East and North Africa).

As countries in Europe are Islamized look for declining economic and agricultural productivity in those countries. Historically once a country has been put under an Islamic government, even if the population is not majority Muslim (like parts of Asia Minor and the Balkans under the Turks), the governmental and industrial and educational systems have atrophied and become nepotist and tribal, which is a permanent aspect of Islamic government because of its roots in 7th C. Arabia.

But anyway, enough of my predictions, here are some blurbs from the actual article:

ROME: In an "unforeseen and unprecedented" shift, the world food supply is dwindling rapidly and food prices are soaring to historic levels, the top food and agricultur…

Fundamentalists and disagreement

Fundamentalists never can just disagree. The person they fall out with is not only on the wrong side of an issue, they are on the wrong side of God. […] A church split builds self righteousness into the fabric of every new splinter group, whose only reason for existence is that they decide they are more moral and pure than their brethren.

--Frank Schaeffer

(Hat tip to From the Pew. This also applies to Muslim fundamentalism by the way.)

Fashion and faith meet, on foreheads of the pious

Fashion and faith meet, on foreheads of the pious

CAIRO: There is a strong undercurrent of competition in Egypt these days, an unstated contest among people eager to prove just how religious they are. The field of battle is the street and the focus tends to be on appearance, as opposed to conviction.

It is not that the two are mutually exclusive, but they are not necessarily linked. As Egyptians increasingly emphasize Islam as the cornerstone of identity, there has been a growing emphasis on public displays of piety. [...]

The zebibah, Arabic for raisin, is a dark circle of callused skin, or in some cases a protruding bump, between the hairline and the eyebrows. It emerges on the spot where worshipers press their foreheads into the ground during their daily prayers.

It may sometimes look like a painful wound, but in Egypt it is worn proudly, the way American professionals in the 1980s felt good about the dark circles under their eyes as a sign of long work hours and little sleep.

Two decad…

Middle East Hemorrhaging Christians

From Christianity Today:

But we should be ... distressed about the decline story, especially that of Christianity in the Middle East. No one knows precisely how many of the Middle East's 293 million people are Christians, but nearly everyone acknowledges that Middle Eastern Christianity has been in steady decline for decades. In some local areas, officials record declines of 75 percent or more. Recent violence in the region is accelerating that decline. Some observers estimate that the region's population of 10 to 15 million Christians will continue to spiral downward during the next 50 years.

On paper, Egypt is the country with the greatest number of Christians—5.8 to 11 million, or 8 to 16 percent of Egypt's 75 million people. But despite their numbers, "Copts," as Egyptian Christians are known, have suffered from oppressive legal restrictions. Until very recently, permission to repair a church roof anywhere in Egypt could only be obtained from the president hims…

Ezra the son of God?

Qur'an 9.30: And the Jews say: Uzair [Ezra] is the son of Allah; and the Christians say: The Messiah is the son of Allah; these are the words of their mouths; they imitate the saying of those who disbelieved before; may Allah destroy them; how they are turned away!

COMMENTARY: No Jews have ever been found who match the Qur’an’s description of them, in v. 30 of sura 9, as proclaiming that Ezra is the Son of God. Ibn Juzayy explains that only a small group of Jews actually said this, but “it is ascribed to all of them because they followed those who said it.” The Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs attributes this belief to the Jews of Medina. In any case, this belief, asserted by the Qur’an and thereby confirmed as true in the minds of many Muslims, makes the Jews as well as the Christians guilty of shirk, the association of partners with Allah, which is the worst sin of all. Ibn Juzayy quotes another Islamic authority saying that the Christian belief is “atrocious disbelief.” A…

Hajj Factoid

Did you know it is permissible in Islam to hire someone to go on the hajj in your stead. It is called hajj by proxy in some circles.

I have known this for some time, but I figure it might be new info to some readers.

Hart: sacrifice and credit

God's balances are not righted by an act of immolation, the debt is not discharged by the destruction of the victim and his transformation into credit; rather, God simply continues to give, freely, inexhaustibly, regardless of rejection. God gives and forgives; he fore-gives and gives again. There is no calculable economy in this trinitarian discourse of love, to which creation is graciously admitted.

David Hart
Beauty of the Infinite
P. 351

Hart: totality's economy of violence

This book that I'm reading, The Beauty of the Infinite, by David Bentley Hart, is really good. I am enjoying it a lot. I am now about 3/4 through it and hope to finish this week or next. I will be supplying a few quotes here and there:

In Christ, totality's economy of violence is overcome by the infinity of God's peace, inasmuch as one order of sacrifice is overcome by another: sacrifice of the immolation of the beautiful is displaced by a sacrifice whose offering is one of infinite beauty.

P. 344

KSA: Obsessed with Segregation

From the indefatigable Saudi Jeans:

For some reason, Arab News chooses not to name KSU when they write about the stifling restrictions Saudi Arabia’s oldest university impose on their female students. Considering how this country is obsessed with segregation, there is no surprise here. And the ironic thing is, they say the university “is supposed to be a place where young women experience greater freedoms.” Says who? Wake up girls! This is freakin’ K of SA you are living in. The university, as you may expect, claim that the point of these restrictions is to protect the students. Again, no surprise. Welcome to Saudi Arabia, where everyone claims moral authority over the rest.

In the other hand, the newspaper chooses to name another university in Riyadh, Imam Mohammed bin Saud Islamic University, which supposedly is even more strict than KSU. It is said that IMSIU is to launch a new college of medicine, but according to Ali Al Mousa in Al Watan daily, the university president could not an…

Family Violence is un-Islamic

CALGARY - An imam from Alberta was planning to go on a weekend hunger strike to bring attention to domestic violence and how it is completely against the teachings of Islam.

Any violence involving families is "absolutely un-Islamic," Syed Soharwardy of the Calgary Islamic Centre said Friday.

"We should not be using religion as a scapegoat to justify what we need. We should resolve our disputes based on reasoning, logic (and) cool-mindedness."

The imam's comments came after the death earlier this month of 16-year-old Aqsa Parvez of Mississauga, Ont., who reportedly had a long-standing dispute with her family over her apparent reluctance to wear the traditional Muslim headscarf, the hijab.

Her father, who has not yet entered a plea, has been charged with her murder.

From HERE.

"Islam's Silent Moderates"

An insightful critique. Could it be that the famed 'moderate Muslims' are simply a media fabrication? I am starting to lean in that direction:

But where are the moderates? Where are the Muslim voices raised over the terrible injustice of incidents like these? How many Muslims are willing to stand up and say, in the case of the girl from Qatif, that this manner of justice is appalling, brutal and bigoted — and that no matter who said it was the right thing to do, and how long ago it was said, this should no longer be done?

Usually, Muslim groups like the Organization of the Islamic Conference are quick to defend any affront to the image of Islam. The organization, which represents 57 Muslim states, sent four ambassadors to the leader of my political party in the Netherlands asking him to expel me from Parliament after I gave a newspaper interview in 2003 noting that by Western standards some of the Prophet Muhammad’s behavior would be unconscionable. A few years later, Muslim a…

Aysha: Islam is the religion...which overwrites all others

Amongst Muslims, it is a given that Islam is the religion which concludes and overwrites all others. It is the answer; universal, and timeless. All religions before it were time and people specific, but Islam comes as a religion finale.

Yet if it is also a given that when God created the world everything had already been decided and realized, why wasn’t Islam the first? Why didn’t the answer arrive any earlier? And why are we now left with multiple faiths quarreling together on the very same earth?

Could it be possible that when humans first arrived on earth, things were not “fully realized”? Were humans an experiment, a very sophisticated one, left to unveil its possibilities under the watchful eye of God? And could that be the answer as to why creations have stopped after humans?


Read it all at Aysha's website and leave comments over there. She is an inteligent and thoughtful Muslima and it is refreshing to read her reflections from time to time.

Islam is under attack?

From The Oxford Cross-Cultural Research Institute:

The message that comes across loud and clear and burrows into the consciousness of Muslims is that Islam is being targeted. Most Muslims around the world are convinced, with good reason, that Islam is under attack from people in the West.

Muslims, unlike the Jewish race, do not define themselves primarily through ethnicity. Islam is a core component in the identity of a Muslim and so when Islam is perceived to be under attack, the natural consequence is one of trauma and anxiety. The subsequent reaction is frustration and simmering anger at one's own inability to combat the onslaught. In this perturbed state of victimisation there is a natural tendency to gravitate towards the first person who offers to defend Islam.

Unwise choices at this crucial juncture lead some into counterproductive violence and self-fulfilling prophecies. The attack on the Quran and Islam is followed by a violent reaction, which then leads to the blaming of th…

Muhammad and the sons of apes and pigs

A tantalizing new blog here, which some might find offensive. But I think it is very important because it is an anti-Islamic blog founded by Copts. The Copts are the ethnic group from Egypt prior to its Islamization and Arabization under the infleunce of Sword of Islam (which I have written about HERE). The pharoahs for example were of that people group.

Here is a taste of what they are serving, but judge for yourself:

In the Ten commandments Jehova God commanded Mohamed in:

Exodus 20: 3, 5 " Thou shalt have no other gods before me.Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them" ...
Mohamed broke God's commandment by worshiping allah the moon god, the crescent, the god of the ka'aba stone and the black stone. (One of the title of the Saudi king is :the servant of the ka'aba)

Exodus 20:7 "Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain." ...
Mohamed broke God's comman…

In sha' Allah, if God wills...

Great stuff from Intercultural Training:

Inshaalah is a phrase that Muslims and Arabs will use frequently, and it reflects deep-rooted beliefs on pre-destination and fatalism. Literally translated, Inshaalah means God willing. Taken in its everyday use, or abuse, it could mean yes, or no, and it could mean leave it with me, can we talk about this on another occasion or please drop the subject. It is a highly contextual phrase, and its precise meaning will depend on the request or issue being discussed, the relationships, power distance, and naturally body language and intonation. It is thus no wonder that it defeats most newcomers!

It made me laugh! But very insightful and true :-)

Islamic Violence or Domestic Violence?

A Canadian girl was killed by her father for not dressing according to Islamic norms:

A cab driver has been charged with murdering his 16-year-old daughter after she was allegedly attacked in a clash with her strict Muslim family over whether or not to wear the hijab, the traditional Islamic head scarf for women.

Muhammad Parvez, 57, was charged after his daughter Aqsa Parvez died in hospital late on Monday. The victim's older brother, Waqas Parvez, was charged with obstructing police in connection with the girl's death.

[...]

"There should be zero tolerance for violence of any kind against women or girls," said Shahina Siddiqui, the president of the Islamic Social Services Association.

"The strangulation death of Ms. Parvez was the result of domestic violence, a problem that cuts across Canadian society and is blind to colour or creed."

"We call for the strongest possible prosecution of Ms. Parvez's alleged attacker," said Faisal Kutty, the legal c…

Algerian Terror

In case you haven't heard, there were two powerful explosions in Algeria recently. Basic news can be fount at IHT, and an analysis of the situation from the counter-terror point of view can be found at Counter-Terror Blog.

Pakistan: Apostasy as a Capital Crime

From The Telegraph (UK), with a hat tip to Wahaudi:

Pakistan is currently considering a Bill that would make apostasy a capital crime for men and one carrying a sentence of imprisonment for women. As it is, ordinary Pakistanis take the law into their own hands and kill Muslim apostates. The same thing happens in Turkey where, earlier this year, two people were killed for "having turned away from Islam".

Patrick Sookhdeo was born a Muslim, but later converted to Christianity. He is now international director of the Barnabas Fund, an organisation that aims to research and to ameliorate the conditions of Christians living in countries hostile to their religion. He notes that "all four schools of Sunni law, as well as the Shia variety, call for the death penalty for apostates. Most Muslim scholars say that Muslim religious law - sharia - requires the death penalty for apostasy. "In 2004, Prince Charles called a meeting of leading Muslims to discuss the issue," adds…

Abu Daoud is an Augustinian?

Image
Which theologian are you?
created with QuizFarm.com
You scored as AugustineYou have a big view of God and also take human sin and depravity very seriously. Predestination is important for you.


Augustine
100%Friedrich Schleiermacher
87%Jonathan Edwards
80%Karl Barth
73%Jürgen Moltmann
73%Anselm
73%Paul Tillich
67%Charles Finney
67%John Calvin
53%Martin Luther
47%


Traditional shari'a and the dhimmi contract

This is very important material that every non-Muslim should know, please read the complete section.

From HERE:

He [Ibn Kathir, a Muslim jurist] then goes on to outline the notorious Pact of Umar, an agreement made, according to Islamic tradition, between the caliph Umar, who ruled the Muslims from 634 to 644, and a Christian community.

This Pact is worth close examination, because it became the foundation for Islamic law regarding the treatment of the dhimmis. With remarkably little variation, throughout Islamic history whenever Islamic law was strictly enforced, this is generally how non-Muslims were treated. Working from the full text as Ibn Kathir has it, these are the conditions the Christians accept in return for “safety for ourselves, children, property and followers of our religion” – conditions that, according to Ibn Kathir, “ensured their continued humiliation, degradation and disgrace.” The Christians will not:

1. Build “a monastery, church, or a sanctuary for a mon…

Un-Islamic dress and murdered women

Like they say in London, "Islam: our religion today, your religion tomorrow."

From the AP:

BAGHDAD - Religious vigilantes have killed at least 40 women this year in the southern Iraqi city of Basra because of how they dressed, their mutilated bodies found with notes warning against "violating Islamic teachings," the police chief said Sunday.

Maj. Gen. Jalil Khalaf blamed sectarian groups that he said were trying to impose a strict interpretation of Islam....

"The women of Basra are being horrifically murdered and then dumped in the garbage with notes saying they were killed for un-Islamic behavior," Khalaf told The Associated Press. He said men with Western clothes or haircuts are also attacked in Basra, an oil-rich city some 30 miles from the Iranian border and 340 miles southeast of Baghdad.

"Those who are behind these atrocities are organized gangs who work under cover of religion, pretending to spread the instructions of Islam, but they are far from t…

All about Al Bukhari

I quote from the hadiith quite often, and generally you will find the reference to one of two men (though I do sometimes use others): Al Bukhari, and Muslim. Both of these men were Muslim scholars who put together collections of hadiith that came to be regarded as authentic for various reasons. Christianity has no clear parallel to the hadiith, but maybe you could think of it as a collection of early Patristic material which has been carefully edited to remove spurious writings.

But here is some info on Muhammad al Bukhari, one of those two scholars, maybe I will post some info on Muslim (that was his given name) some other time:

Muhammad ibn Ismail al-Bukhari. Popularly known as Al-Bukhari (Arabic: البخاري) or Imam Bukhari (810-870), he was a famous Sunni Islamic scholar of Persian ancestry, most known for authoring the hadith collection named Sahih Bukhari, a collection which Sunni regard as the most authentic (Arabic: Sahih) collection after the Qur'an.

Bukhari was born in July …

Orthodox Patriarch: Europe will simply vanish

From HERE:

Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II exhorted European countries to retain their Christian heritage or risk fading into oblivion as nations.

"Modern Europe will not create a new post-Christian culture and civilization but will simply vanish from history," Alexy II said at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow on Wednesday evening.

"Losing their Christian roots, the people of Europe will sign their own death warrant," he added.

The Catholic Church and several other EU countries, notably Poland, Italy and Germany, have been lobbying European Union leaders to state and include Europe's Christian roots in the EU constitution.

Alexy II has been very active in Russia and internationally in defense of Christianity and traditional morality.

Tehran Times: Neo-Andalucean Dawn

From the Tehran Times:

A number of groups are associated with this reawakening and one of them is the Neo-Andalucian movement, which is a progressive pan-Islamic movement.

They use the appellation Neo-Andalucian because Muslim Andalucia was a center of learning and, at least for a time, a very tolerant place where Muslims, Christians, and Jews lived in peace and harmony for the most part.

Muslim scholars like Ibn Arabi and non-Muslim scholars like Maimonides arose in Andalucia.

Islam teaches Muslims to seek out knowledge and to be tolerant toward non-Muslims who are not at war with Islam.

Also, the fall of Andalucia in 1492 marked the beginning of the 500-year decline of the Islamic world.

The Neo-Andalucians want to start an Islamic revival to end this 500-year decline, hence the identification with Andalucia. [...]
The real war is the cultural war for the souls of the people, not the war for the people’s money, resources, and territories.

In an article entitled “Al-Andalus, the lost pearl” …

Hajj or Jihad?

From Islam Q&A:

Question:
I have done the obligatory Hajj, praise be to Allaah, and I have done ‘umrah. Is it better for me to travel for ‘umrah, or to give this money in charity to the mujaahideen who are fighting for the sake of Allaah?.

Answer:
Praise be to Allaah.

Both travelling for ‘umrah and spending for the sake of Allaah are good deeds, but the benefit of ‘umrah is limited to the one who does it, whereas the benefit of spending on jihad is more far-reaching, so spending on that is more appropriate and takes precedence.

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

'umrah is an additional pilgrimage to the two holy cities.

Irenaeus and the Gnostics

From Christian History:

God became flesh
The Gnostics who threatened Irenaeus's community tended to divide things into two realities—one good, the other bad. In response to such dualism, Irenaeus presented the unity of apostolic faith.

For example, Irenaeus' opponents divided "Christ" from "Jesus." Christ, they said, was a divine spirit-being from the heavenly realm (the Pleroma, or "fullness") who did not become really incarnate, so he could not really suffer. He was not truly human, but either only seemed to be human or temporarily inhabited a human named "Jesus."

But Irenaeus was too familiar with the constant threat of martyrdom to let such dualism deceive his flock. The real, bloody passion and death of Christ was a fundamental element of Christian faith. Martyrdom imitated it, and Christians confessed it in baptism and worship. Irenaeus responded with a strong biblical statement that Jesus Christ was one person, both divine and human, …

Elections in Jordan

For those of you interested, Mishmish has an interesting section on the recent elections in Jordan, an important country in the ME and home to many Iraqi refugees.

Elections in Jordan

Two Reasons for Failing Ministry

I found this to be quite insightful, from Bp. Bill Atwood, an African Anglican bishop ministering the USA:



In parish ministry there are two major factors that keep congregations from fulfilling their potential in the Kingdom of God. One factor is the clergy and the other is the laity. Clergy often have a hard time letting go and really allowing substantive ministry to emerge from the people. The baptized are often eager to minister, but they are also often not eager to receive ministry from another lay person. Many would like to be accepted in ministry by the clergy and the other members of the church, but when it comes to their own needs, they want to receive ministry from the rector!

Even when clergy get a vision of releasing others for ministry, while the people are learning and developing, there will be painful mistakes. Sometimes the rector will hear parishioners complain, "You let me down. You weren't there for me." It is at that point that the temptation is strong …

CS Lewis on Purgatory

Someone posted this question on a “MySpace” message board. Since I took the time to respond, I figured I could make use of my response here as well.

Did C.S. Lewis believe in Purgatory? Yes, but…

Wayne Martindale has a great discussion of this in his recent book, Beyond the Shadowlands (2005, Crossway)…

"To summarize, among theologians who believe in Purgatory, there are two views: Purgatory is reserved for those who are already saved as part of their sanctification or preparation for heaven (that’s one view), or for those who are in the process of being saved (that’s the second). Lewis embraced the first view." (202)

Lewis rejected what he called the "Romish" view of Purgatory- that one could be saved there. For Lewis, no one who is in Purgatory is lost. Rather, people spend time in Purgatory to be cleansed of their sin so they may stand before God in all of His holiness. In Letters to Malcolm he put it this way, "The saved soul, at the very foot of the throne, b…

The Creation of Dioceses

I think the newest diocese in the Roman Catholic church is Mongolia, but feel free to correct me. There are many hundred dioceses throughout North Africa and the Middle East that have had their hierarchy "suppressed." I do know that in the Anglican church there are four diocese for the Middle East:

Province: The Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East
The Diocese of Jerusalem (includes Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon)
The Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf States
The Diocese of Iran
The Diocese of Egypt, North Africa, and the Horn of Africa

Sudan was originally part of this structure but it became its own Province.

But here you go, courtesy of New Advent, the gift that keeps on giving:

(1) Creation of Dioceses

Strictly speaking, it is only in missionary countries that there can be question of the creation of a diocese, either because the country was never converted to Christianity or because its ancient hierarchy was suppressed, owing to conquest by infidels or the progress of here…

British imam's daughter under police protection after converting to Christianity

British imam's daughter under police protection after converting to Christianity
by Ruth Gledhill

A British imam's daughter is living in fear of her life under police protection after she received death threats from her family for converting to Christianity.

The young woman, aged 32, whose father is a Muslim imam in the north of England, has moved house 45 times to escape detection by her family since she became a Christian 15 years ago.

Hannah, who uses a pseudonym to hide her identity, told The Times how she became a Christian after she ran away from home at 16 to escape an arranged marriage.

The threats against her became more serious a month ago, prompting police to offer her protection in case of an attempt on her life.

[...]

The Bishop of Rochester, Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, will claim "freedom to believe" is under threat in Britain because of Islamic hostility to conversion.

[...]

Dr Nazir-Ali will speak out on behalf of Hannah and others suffering persecution for their b…

Leo the Great on the Nativity

Our Saviour, dearly-beloved, was born today: let us be glad. ... Let the saint exult in that he draws near to victory. Let the sinner be glad in that he is invited to pardon. Let the Gentile take courage in that he is called to life. For the Son of God in the fullness of time ... has taken on him the nature of [humanity], thereby to reconcile it to its Author: in order that the inventor of death, the devil, might be conquered through that which he had conquered. And in this conflict undertaken for us, the fight was fought on great and wondrous principles of fairness; for the Almighty Lord enters the lists with his savage foe not in his own majesty but in our humility, opposing him with the same form and the same nature, which shares indeed our mortality, though it is free from all sin.

- Leo the Great (c. 400-461), from Sermon XXI, Feast of the Nativity

Sarkozy in Algeria: A Mediterranean Union

Interesting development here that, if it comes to pass, could really change the dynamic of the whole Mediterranean region:

[...] Mr. Sarkozy arrived Monday in an effort to cool decades of tense relations and ink new business contracts with France's ex-colony, which gained independence in 1962, as well as pitch his idea for a Mediterranean Union, a regional community that would unite the 21 countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea.

The union, an initiative that Sarkozy proposed soon after becoming president, would focus on security, immigration, and environmental and cultural linkages among all countries, from Morocco to Malta to Israel, and help coordinate trade between this region and Europe. But his message in the region is reaching many skeptical ears, both those wary of a former colonial master as well as those concerned such a formal compact would simply open the door to European imports and guarantee hydrocarbon-hungry Europe a reliable supply of energy. [...]

Jerusalem: Separation Wall or Security Barrier?

From Harry Gunkel over at Mission to Jerusalem:

On Saturday I went on a tour cosponsored by Al Quds University here and UN-OCHA (Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs). It was a tour of The Wall around Jerusalem. Do you know about the wall? It's also known as the Security Fence or the Separation Barrier. Its construction was begun about 2002 by the Defense Ministry of Israel, which by the way receives a great deal of your tax money as foreign aid. Its stated purpose was to provide security against suicide bombers from the West Bank. Now the wall forms an almost complete physical barrier between Israel and the West Bank. Maybe this is the model for what some folks in the US want on the Mexican border. Our tour was confined to the area around Jerusalem. It is the area that gets alot of attention because of the importance of this city and its future status in peace negotiations.

One side says the wall is necessary for protection against a people who are bent on violence a…

Bat Ye'or on the Jizya

The Jizya is the tax that the People of the Book (Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians) are required to pay when they live in Dar al Islam. It matters not that such people form a majority of the population, by the way. I mean, I'm tired of hearing speak about "religious minorities." All that matters is that the government is Islamic. If the US president were Muslim or became Muslim then the entire non-Muslim population would become "dhimmi", even though they for a large majority of the population, and they would all have to pay this jizya. Here is a fine quote from Bat Ye'or about the jizya. This book is a must read, by the way:

The poll tax was extorted by torture. The tax inspectors demanded gifts for themselves; widows and orphans were pillaged and despoiled. In theory, women, paupers, the sick, and the infirm were exempt from the poll tax; nevertheless, Armenian, Syriac, and Jewish sources provide abundant proof that the jizya was exacted from children, w…

Gingrich: Who funds Al Qaeda? You

Sleepwalking into a Nightmare
by Newt Gingrich

[...] And let's be honest: What's the primary source of money for al Qaeda? It's you, re-circulated through Saudi Arabia. Because we have no national energy strategy, when clearly if you really cared about liberating the United States from the Middle East and if you really cared about the survival of Israel, one of your highest goals would be to move to a hydrogen economy and to eliminate petroleum as a primary source of energy.

Now that's what a serious national strategy would look like, but that would require real change.

So then you look at Saudi Arabia. The fact that we tolerate a country saying no Christian and no Jew can go to Mecca, and we start with the presumption that that's true while they attack Israel for being a religious state is a sign of our timidity, our confusion, our cowardice that is stunning.

It's not complicated. We're inviting Saudi Arabia to come to Annapolis to talk about rights for Palest…

How to use worship to evangelize

Tips from Lausanne World Pulse:

Tim Keller suggests three “practical tasks”5 which can help us in providing an accepted and meaningful worship for unbelievers.

First, get unbelievers into worship. In many psalms, we encounter the repeated message for the pagan nations to join the people of God in rendering homage to YHWH (Psalms 2:10-12; 22:27-28; 47:1-9; 57:7-11; 66:1-4, 8-9; 67:1-6; 68:32-34; 72:16-19; 86:8-10; 96:1-13; 98:4-9; 99:1-4; 100:1-5; 111:1-4; 117:1-2). With such a renewed message, it is unavoidable for the Christian worship to involve those who are far away from Christ. A worship which includes believers only and closes the door for others will prevent these very believers from inviting their families, neighbors and friends to attend the church. Therefore, it is the role of the pastor to put in his or her mind while planning the worship that some unbelievers will be present the next Sunday. He or she must then ask the question, “How would I communicate with them?”

Second, …

Christ as a Philosopher: Spe Salvi

Towards the end of the third century, on the sarcophagus of a child in Rome, we find for the first time, in the context of the resurrection of Lazarus, the figure of Christ as the true philosopher, holding the Gospel in one hand and the philosopher's travelling staff in the other. With his staff, he conquers death; the Gospel brings the truth that itinerant philosophers had searched for in vain. In this image, which then became a common feature of sarcophagus art for a long time, we see clearly what both educated and simple people found in Christ: he tells us who man truly is and what a man must do in order to be truly human. He shows us the way, and this way is the truth. He himself is both the way and the truth, and therefore he is also the life which all of us are seeking. He also shows us the way beyond death; only someone able to do this is a true teacher of life

I love his reference to the early church, which is here even pre-Constantinian, which is important for all those fo…

Teddy-bear Jihad

No doubt Allah is profoundly insulted by this teddy bear...or as they say in the Londonistan, "Whoever insults the Prophet must be beheaded."

Anyway, I'm sure you have all heard about this before, but The Economist has the best treatment of the story I have seen so far.

No Picnic: a teddy bear row in Sudan

In more elevated western circles, it is becoming commoner to hear the view that Islam itself (rather than any extremist interpretations of the faith) is posing a challenge to western values that must be resisted.

Bishop of Rome's new letter: Spe Salvi

Well, the good old bishop of Rome, the servant of the servants of God (that is actually one of his official titles, btw), has come out with a new encyclical, Spe Salvi. Have not read it yet but hope to do so fairly soon. Will let you know what I think.

For now, here is the hyperlink:

Spe Salvi