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Showing posts from November, 2008

Jenkins on "Arab scholarship"

From HERE:

In addition, the major contributions of Eastern Christians to the scholarship of medieval Arab societies are not well known. Nestorian, Jacobite, Orthodox and other Christians preserved and translated the science, philosophy and medicine of the ancient world to centers such as Baghdad and Damascus.

"Much of what we call Arab scholarship was in reality Syriac, Persian and Coptic, which is not necessarily Muslim," Jenkins noted. "They were the Christian roots of the Arabic Golden Age."

BXVI on Paul, Justification, and Sola Fide

Com on y'all, how can you not love this guy?

To be just means simply to be with Christ and in Christ. And this suffices. Other observances are no longer necessary.

That is why Luther's expression "sola fide" is true if faith is not opposed to charity, to love. Faith is to look at Christ, to entrust oneself to Christ, to be united to Christ, to be conformed to Christ, to his life. And the form, the life of Christ, is love; hence, to believe is to be conformed to Christ and to enter into his love. That is why, in the Letter to the Galatians, St. Paul develops above all his doctrine on justification; he speaks of faith that operates through charity (cf. Galatians 5:14).

Paul knows that in the double love of God and neighbor the whole law is fulfilled.


BXVI, Bishop of Rome

min rujuu3: Abu Daoud is back

It's hard to keep a good man down, and sometimes it's moderately difficult to keep a man who tries to be good down too. That having been said, I'm back. I have a rod and screws in my leg and I have more purple on my leg than Barney the dinosaur.

So by all means, continue your prayers, especially for my frame of mind and attitude and sense of vocation bc when stuff like this happens you ask yourself, why have I chosen this way of life? Why not go back to home, get a nice little church or uni job and be more, uh, sedentary? It's also hard to be joyful when going to the fridge for a glass of water has become a great chore. Pls also pray for good sleep, that is perhaps most important of all.

For whatever it's worth this Afghani guy who was there after the car hit me came to visit a few times at the hospital though he did not know me from Adam. He is fluent in Arabic, which is not a language spoken in Afghanistan of course. His wife is a Haafidha, meaning she has memoriz…

Prayer for Abu Daoud

From Umm Daoud -- I don't usually post here, but Abu Daoud was injured in a car accident a couple of days ago. He is in the hospital and has recently undergone surgery for a broken leg, but is expected to make a full recovery. Please lift up your prayers to the Great Healer.

The Arabs invented zero!

Well, not quite:

The addition of zero as a tenth positional digit is documented from the 7th century by Brahmagupta, though the earlier Bakhshali Manuscript, written sometime before the 5th century, also included zero.

As it was from the Arabs that the Europeans learned this system, the Europeans called them Arabic numerals; ironically, to this day the Arabs refer to their numerals as Indian numerals. In academic circles they are called the Hindu-Arabic or Indo-Arabic numerals.


Check it all out.

Aquinas and Al Ghazali

Don has a very interesting post over at Positive Infinity which discusses the (almost) contemporary geniuses Thomas Aquinas and Al Ghazali. Al Ghazali wrote "The Incoherence of the Philosophers" and more or less killed critical thought in Islam. Oops. He is a seminal figure in Islamic thought. Comparing him to Aquinas is not inappropriate.

A selection:

Turning to that, the Qur’an has an unbending consistency in setting forth the absolute sovereignty of God. Many of the self-imposed limitations (and we emphasise the phrase, "self-imposed," we still hold that God is omniscient and omnipresent) of God as he interacts with his creation are out the window: goodness, caring and love for his creation and people, allowing his creatures free will, just about anything. Allah does as he pleases, and our only response is to submit. Such a concept leaves little room for anything else. This is why the two religions–and civilisations–went in two different directions.

Read it all.

Blog of Note: Cairo, Part 2

Every now and then it's important to come out of the rarefied clouds of academia and just hear the voice of someone living life in the Middle East. So I commend to you Cairo, Part 2, a blog kept by a student at AUC whom I have never met, incidentally. But she has a nice way of writing and posts pictures every now and then.

Part of a recent post discusses the growing problem of groping:


I was walking down the road and a man was walking toward me. As often happens, I noticed that he was not going to allow much extra space to remain between us as he walked by. I tensed up and used my peripheral vision to moniter his location, and as he passed me he reached out his arm, intending to hit my butt. I have no idea how I managed to move out of the way so quickly--I leaped onto the sidewalk, dodged his hand, and kept walking. He continued as though nothing had happened, as did I. He didn't turn around to try again. He didn't come after me. It all happened so quickly that it took me a …

A few pictures from Saint Andrew's, Scotland

Image
Finally figured out how to get pictures from my phone camera onto my laptop. It was actually really easy. I'm embarrassed. Some pictures of the Saint Andrew's right here:

Egypt's faded glory and Islamization

Not to make the connection to closely, but note that the greatness of Egypt was prior to its Islamization. Note the same thing with Constantinople: it was the worlds leader in art, theology and science--before Islam. One might point out other cities (Carthage?), or the reverse direction: Israel has become a leader in technology, education and economics, but only after it was partially de-Islamized and rule was given to the British Mandate and the ultimately it achieved sovereignty. In Egypt's case (as in all the cases above actually) note that the successes were achieved not only by non-Muslims but by entirely different ethnic groups. It was the Copts who built the pyramids, not the Arabs. Again, don't make too much out of all this, each example is fairly complex, but it is worth noting.

This pattern will be replicated as Europe continues to be Islamized: decline in all areas: economics, rule of law, education, art, science, and so on.

[...]The pyramids are proof of Egypt's …

Early churches and mission to Islam

It is often said that the church's practice of having specific buildings is counter-productive in terms of Islamdom. The idea is that when you have a structure you have something to make you identifiable and visible, which makes you less resistant to persecution. There is a good point there--the more you have to lose the more worried about buildings and facilities you will be.

On the other hand, it is clear that very early on there was property that was in the hands of the church, for example certain tombs in Carthage c. 200 AD belonged to the church. They would go there and, at the cemetery, on the tomb, celebrate communion. Macabre, I know.

There is also a benefit to having a visible presence in a place. If you want a Bible you will often go to a church--one that you have seen in this or that neighborhood. In other words, the strength of a low-visibility home church is also it's weakness--it's not visible to those outside of the community. Not to mention that Muslim govern…

Varieties of Arabic and English

Well, my time here in Scotland is drawing near to an end and then back to the Middle East. I was fortunate last night to met two Libyan guys and we conversed for a good while. Of course the Libyan dialect is a good bit different from what I'm used to, but I spoke with them in Classical Arabic which often times evokes the response, "You speak Arabic better than I do!" Which is not correct--at least not in an kind of practical way. Being able to have a conversation in Classical Arabic impresses people, and they will usually understand me fairly well, but it's just not that helpful.

In other news I ran across this website where an American student in Scotland talks about settling in here and he has a bunch of great pictures of the city of Edinburgh, which is the most beautiful city in Scotland I have yet seen. Glasgow is nice. Sterling is also quite pretty but rather small. Saint Andrew's is as beautiful as Edinburgh, but is not really large enough to be called a cit…

People You should Know: Karl Pfander

Karl Pfander is a giant in the history of Christian mission to the Muslim world. I mean, he's way up there, with guys like Sam Zwemer and Henry Martyn and Temple Gairdner. You know, just a notch below Blessed Raymond Lull (Ramón Lull), who is just a notch below Our Lord.

When you deal with life in the Middle East, you need heroes.

Pfander's brilliance was displayed in what is still one of the most important Christian refutations of Islam, The Balance of Truth, aka, mizan ulhaqq. A section from Wikipedia on his life and work:

[...]Pfander's chief legacy to posterity is undoubtedly his book Mizan ul Haqq (The Balance of Truth), modelled on the style of Islamic theological works, and attempting to present the Christian gospel in a form understandable to Muslims. He offered reasons to believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God, neither corrupted nor superseded, and argued that the Qur’an itself testifies to the reliability of the Christian scriptures and the supremacy of…

Blood Atonement in Shi'a Islam

From HERE:

Islam is divided into many sects, the two major ones being the Sunnis and the Shias. The original split between the latter two was over the question of who should succeed Muhammad as leader of the community. The Shias felt the leader should come from Muhammad's family; the Sunnis thought he should be someone of noted piety elected by and from Muhammad's closest companions. The Sunnis won with the first three successors; then the Shias, or party of Ali, assumed the leadership. But Ali was martyred, as were his only two sons (more on this shortly).

Down through the centuries, the Shias usually lost out in these power struggles. This led to their taking on the nature of a protest movement against the corrupt Sunni leaders. Inevitably, to justify their separate minority identity, they developed theological doctrines that radically differed from those of the Sunnis on at least two major points: the idea of martyrdom and the idea of divine light indwelling their leaders. Bo…

Kenneth Cragg on Apostasy (Rida, Irtidad) and Islam as a prison

A faith which you are not free to leave becomes a prison, and no self-respecting faith should be a prison for those within it.

Kenneth Cragg

(qtd. in Pikkert, Peter. 2008. Protestant Missionaries to the Middle East: Ambassadors of Christ or Culture? Hamilton, Ontario: WEC Canada. p. 134.)

Kenneth Cragg on Islam and self-idolatry

Kenneth Cragg, one-time asst. Anglican bishop in Jerusalem, is a giant in the field of Islamics and religious dialog. Here is great quote:

The urge to go forward in the custody of revelation with the patterns of authority familiar to this world [that is, the use of political and juridical coercion--AD] may easily miss the measure of the human problem, then length of men's self-idolatry, the chronic pride and defiance of the Divine, the insistent autonomy of mankind.

Kenneth Cragg
Christianity in World Perspective

Converts from Islam perscuted in W. Europe

Yep, in Western Europe. The press doesn't like to talk about it though bc it is an inconvenient truth.

[...]A few weeks ago, an immigrant from Iraq was knifed in the Dutch town of Rolde by another immigrant from Iraq. The victim was a former Muslim who had converted to Christianity; the assailant was a Muslim who took offense. Though similar events recently occurred in Rotterdam, Zutphen and Hengelo, the Dutch media prefer not to report them, the documentary said.

A former Muslim, who wished to remain anonymous because of the danger, told Dutch television that after his conversion to Christianity his car had been bashed with iron bars and stones thrown through the windows of his house. In one incident a Turk tried to assassinate his sister who had become a Christian. An asylum seeker from Iraq was told by the police to move to an undisclosed location. A Moroccan girl was also advised by the authorities to relocate.

One Christian convert received a telephone call from the local imam w…

Child marriage and divorce in Yemen

A sign of hope that this cruel process will perhaps not cease, but at least become less common in Yemen--one of the least developed countries in the entire world. Also, it's one of the countries with the highest birthrates in the world. Over three times more children per woman are born there than in any of the countries of West, last I heard.

A narrow path leads up from the mountain town of Jibla, through century-old houses, and turns into a mud track before reaching the door of Arwa's home.

The nine year old child lives with her parents and six brothers and sisters in a humble, two-roomed house overlooking the mosque built by her namesake, Queen Arwa, who ruled Yemen 900 years ago.

She knows nothing of wealth and power but, in her own way, she has helped make history.

Arwa is the youngest of three Yemeni girls who recently went to court complaining they were married against their will and asking for divorce - an astonishing display of defiance that has prompted the government to …

13-yeard old rape victim sentenced to death under Islamic Shari'a

Note that this took place in a STADIUM:

MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) -- A 13-year-old girl who said she had been raped was stoned to death in Somalia after being accused of adultery by Islamic militants, a human rights group said.

Dozens of men stoned Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow to death Oct. 27 in a stadium packed with 1,000 spectators in the southern port city of Kismayo, Amnesty International and Somali media reported, citing witnesses. The Islamic militia in charge of Kismayo had accused her of adultery after she reported that three men had raped her, the rights group said.

Initial local media reports said Duhulow was 23, but her father told Amnesty International she was 13. [...]

From CNN.

Somalia is both the most Islamic nation in the world (measured by % of population) and the most lawless nation in the world.

American Elections abroad

OK, this is from the uni where I am working on my PhD in Scotland. It's quite fascinating to see how interested other folks are in the US elections:

Obama Vs McCain Food Fight
After much Wikipedia based research our top chefs have developed a range of pizzas and burgers to honour the history of these two great Americans. From Monday 27th October you can support your candidate through the medium of Pizza in KB House or Burger in [the Student] bar.

The Obama
The Hawaiian influences will come through strong in the range, with a grilled chicken breast burger delicately topped with pineapple. Plus a ham and pineapple pizza with a Chicago style sweet bbq sauce.

The McCain
A man of the deep south, with a touch of latin influences. A burger topped with real bacon, Monterey jack cheese and smothered in spicy bbq sauce. With the pizzas covered in chorizo sausage, fresh chilli and another dose of Monterey Jack cheese.

The Results
For election results night, [the student union] will be open all night…

Islam in Sub-Saharan Africa and Slavery

In his polemic against Islam, Richardson advances an interesting theory. He wonders why sub-Saharan Africa was not Islamized given that N. Africa and the Horn of Africa had been Islamized for many centuries by the time that the Christian missions and later the AIC's started winning millions upon millions of converts in the 19th and 20th Centuries.

His answer is that the Muslims were all slavers, given that the Quran clearly endorses slavery (and in fact has an entire chapter called The Slaves) and that the Prophet himself owned slaves, they only were able to Islamize the black Africans with whom they worked to enslave other Africans.

Had mullahs opposed slavery instead of condoning it, they could have ranged freely from Timbuktu almost to Cape Town, opening mosques and establishing Islamic school in the region. In short, they could have Islamized all of Africa, not just a fringe above and below the Sahara and on the coast of Zanzibar. (Richardson 203)

Secrets of the Koran by Don Rich…