Monday, August 31, 2009

Lyotard on the transition from Modernity to Postmodernity

He was writing in 1979, from ch. 5 of his 'the postmodern condition':

What is new in all of this is that the old poles of attraction represented by nation-states, parties, professions, institutions, and historical traditions are losing their attraction. And it does not look as though they wilt be replaced, at least not on their former scale, The Trilateral Commission is not a popular pole of attraction. “Identifying” with the great names, the heroes of contemporary history, is becoming more and more difficult. Dedicating oneself to “catching up with Germany,” the life goal the French president [Giscard d’Estaing at the time this book was published in France] seems to be offering his countrymen, is not exactly exciting. But then again, it is not exactly a life goal. It depends on each individual’s industriousness. Each individual is referred to himself. And each of us knows that our self does not amount to much.

This breaking up of the grand Narratives (discussed below, sections 9 and 10) leads to what some authors analyse in terms of the dissolution of the social bond and the disintegration of social aggregates into a mass of individual atoms thrown into the absurdity of Brownian motion. Nothing of the kind is happening: this point of view, it seems to me, is haunted by the paradisaic representation of a lost "organic” society.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Ramadan in Europe

The European history of ecclesiastical withdrawal from secular politics and from secular intellectual problems to specialized religious spheres is the history of this whole movement from primitive to modern.

And this:

It is hot in Brussels. Ramadan has begun. The faithful in the predominantly Muslim borough of Molenbeek are not allowed to eat or drink from sunrise until sunset. Non-Muslim policemen, patrolling the streets of Molenbeek in their sweltering cars, are not allowed to eat or drink either. As every year during Ramadan, they have been told by their superior, Philippe Moureaux, the Socialist mayor of Molenbeek, that they have to respect Muslim sensitivities and not to “provoke” Muslims by violating Islamic Ramadan restrictions in public. In effect, Islamic or Sharia law is already applied – for everyone – in the Muslim areas of Brussels.

From Brussels Journal

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Mary Douglas on Modernity and Secularism

The European history of ecclesiastical withdrawal from secular politics and from secular intellectual problems to specialized religious spheres is the history of this whole movement from primitive to modern.

Purity and Danger, by Mary Douglas, p 115.

Yet she claims that Muslims are not primitive (p 114). I'm not sure she's right, indeed one could argue that Eastern Orthodox Christians have not made the same secularizing moves that she rightly recalls in European history. This is not to belittle Muslims or Orthodox, but rather to point out how shaky the foundations of 'modernism' are.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Jordanian Blogger on Ramadan

[Per the request of the blogger at Black Iris of Jordan, this entire post has been removed. Sincerely, Abu Daoud.]

Monday, August 24, 2009

Ant Greenham's list of reasons for Muslims converting to Christ

Dr. Anthony Greenham of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary did a study of Palestinian MBB's back in 2004 entitled "Muslim Conversions to Christ: An Investigation of Palestinian Converts living in the Holy Land." He interviewed 22 MBB's (11 men and 11 women).

Greenham in Ch 5 provides two lists of categories explaining why Muslims convert:

Lesser Importance are
1) political Instability,
2) Rejection of Islam,
3) Christian Media,
4) Personal Crisis,
5) Community,
6) God’s Honor.

The categories of “Greater Prominance” are
1) Reading the Bible,
2) Role of Believers,
3) Truth of Jesus’ Message,
4) God’s Miraculous Involvement,
5) Person of Jesus.

Update on this: most of Ant Greenham's research and findings were published in an article in St Francis Magazine. Here is THE LINK.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Anglicans address Islam: The Church and Islam

This is not an initiative of the feeble, emaciated American Anglicans (The Episcopal Church, of which I am one), but of the Africans, who are full of piss and vinegar, as my dad would say.

The Church and Islam

Maybe the Catholics will do something like this? (And maybe frogs will...)

More on Malmo and the Islamization of Sweden

I had previously posted on Malmo in Sweden. And now this: Ramadan, the 'month of peace' is an occasion of violence:

While many families celebrated the beginning of the Ramadan fast, police and demonstrations met in violent confrontations. Stones and firecrackers were thrown around.

"They don't respect Muslims. They don't take into account this is the month that is the month of peace," says Ahmad el Mohamad of Herrgården [area in the district of Rosengård, Malmö].

Under the slogans "Cops out of Herrgården", "reduced rent and complete renovation of all dilapidated buildings" and "self-government and free youth centers" the "Reclaim Rosengård" group organized a street party Saturday night.

The protest started at 8pm when the group started gathering at the roundabout next to the Shell station on Ramels väg. The gas station is normally open till midnight, but due to the expected disturbances they closed already at 5pm.

From HERE.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Key Reasons for leaving Islam

A very helpful list from this article:

Khalil, Mohammad Hassan and Mucahit Bilici. ‘Conversion out of Islam: A Study of Conversion Narratives of Former Muslims’ in Muslim World, Vol. 97, Jan. 2007.

Intellectual/Ideological Motivations
1. The status of women in Islam.
2. The contradiction between Shari‘a and human rights.
3. The problematic nature of the Qur’an.
4. The character of the Prophet and other Muslim leaders.
5. Islam as illogical and unscientific (e.g. vis-à-vis the theory of evolution).
6. The eternal damnation of good non-Muslims.
7. The unnecessary, strict rules and expectations of Islam.
8. Islam as not universal, but rather Arab-centric.
9. The dubious historicity of the Qur’an and Hadith.

Social/Experiential Motivations
1. Encounters with bad, cruel Muslims.
2. Muslims as oppressive.
3. Muslims as backward.
4. Muslim ill-treatment of women.
5. Muslim ill-treatment of non-Muslims.
6. Muslims in a state of illusion regarding their own religion.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Humility and the arms of the Church

I will say that one should not embrace my line of work if one likes to have all his ducks in a row and the ability to plan more than, say, six months in advance. People always ask us, how long will you stay in the Middle East. The question itself is absurd. How long would we LIKE to stay here? Now that's something I can reasonably talk about.

Anyway, what brings this to mind is that I have a short visit to Scotland to plan for in a month or so, and the normal place where I stay is not available. So what do you do? Funds for ten nights at a hotel are there, but in good conscience I just can't spend so much on something like that. So a hostel? I could do that, I have stayed at hostels numerous times. But they are hardly the kind of place you want to stay at if you are (like me) trying to work on research, reading, editing, and writing.

So what do you do? E-mail local Christians whom you know, perhaps not that well, and just ask for help. It is humiliating a little, but as Mother Theresa said, the only way to learn humility is by being humiliated. From a Western point of view it is, I think, more humiliating than asking for money--why is that? So you humiliate yourself and ask for help. Just sent out the e-mail to a few people and we'll see what the responses are.

I like this day, it's the Feast of St. Bernard of Clairvaux.

--Abu Daoud

Origin of the Quranic story on the birth of Jesus

The Qur'an has a curious story (19:23-25) about the birth of Jesus, and Mary resting under a palm tree with the baby Jesus and then a little stream and fruit being provided for her. Read it, and then read this from the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew, it seems like this is clearly the source, perhaps Muhammad heard it from some local Christians and retold it. In any case, here it is:

Chapter 20

And it came to pass on the third day of their journey, while they were walking, that the blessed Mary was fatigued by the excessive heat of the sun in the desert; and seeing a palm tree, she said to Joseph: Let me rest a little under the shade of this tree. Joseph therefore made haste, and led her to the palm, and made her come down from her beast. And as the blessed Mary was sitting there, she looked up to the foliage of the palm, and saw it full of fruit, and said to Joseph: I wish it were possible to get some of the fruit of this palm. And Joseph said to her: I wonder that thou sayest this, when
thou seest how high the palm tree is; and that thou thinkest of eating of its fruit. I am thinking more of the want of water, because the skins are now empty, and we have none wherewith to refresh ourselves and our cattle. Then the child Jesus, with a joyful countenance, reposing in the bosom of His mother, said to the palm: O tree, bend thy branches, and refresh my mother with thy fruit. And immediately at these words the palm bent its top down to the very feet of the blessed Mary; and they gathered from it fruit, with which they were all refreshed. And after they had gathered all its fruit, it remained bent down, waiting the order to rise from Him who had commanded it to stoop. Then Jesus said to it: Raise thyself, O palm tree, and be strong, and be the companion of my trees, which are in the paradise of my Father; and open from thy roots a vein of water which has been hid in the earth, and let the waters flow, so that we may be satisfied from thee. And it rose up immediately, and at its root there began to come forth a spring of water exceedingly clear and cool and sparkling. And when they saw the spring of water, they rejoiced with great joy, and were satisfied, themselves and all their cattle and their beasts. Wherefore they gave thanks to God.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Sam Zwemer's failed prophecy

How wrong he was:

The impact of the West through trade, governments, and education, has
utterly changed all social standards, practices, and ideals. The old Islam is disintegrating: No one can arrest the process. The new Islam is anxious to incorporate all the progress and ideals of western civilization by a reinterpretation of the Koran.

--Sam Zwemer, Ch 5, Disintegration of Islam (p 196) 1915 (I think)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Almanacs and Irony

The word 'almanac' is an Arabic word. But the first printed almanac in Arabic was put together by a bunch of American Presbyterians living in Beirut in 1867.

The European Myth about the human essence and Talal Asad

The construction of civilizational difference is not exclusive in any simple sense. The de-essentialization of Islam is paradigmatic for all thinking about the assimilation of non-European peoples to European civilization. The idea that people's historical experience is inessential to them, that it can be shed at will, makes it possible to argue more strongly for the Enlightenment's claim to universality: Muslims, as members of the abstract category "humans," can be assimilated or (as some recent theorist have put it) "translated" into a global ("European") civilization once they have divested themselves of what many of them regard (mistakenly) as essential to themselves. The belief that human beings can be separated from their histories and traditions makes it possible to urge a Europeanization of the Islamic world. And by the same logic, it underlies the belief that the assimilation to Europe's civilization of Muslim immigrants who are--for good or for ill--already in European states is necessary and desirable.

— Talal Asad (Formations of the Secular: Christianity, Islam, Modernity)

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Exorcism in the Coptic Church as a motive for conversion from Islam

Great quote here:

Some of the priests, like Father Samaan of Cairo, have acquired such a reputation for their ability to exorcise demonsand evil spirits that I once witnessed the arrival of a Muslim woman, with her mentally disturbed daughter, who had traveled all the way from Syria to seek his aid.

Ch. 14, Sana Hasan, Christians versus Muslims in Modern Egypt: The Century-long Struggle for Coptic Equality. (Oxford 2003)

Friday, August 14, 2009

Prayer for Scholars of St Thomas Aquinas

Was feeling pretty frazzled today preparing for something related to my PhD work and I found this prayer, loved it:

Ineffable Creator,

You who are the true source of life and wisdom and the Principle on which everything depends, be so kind as to infuse in my obscure intelligence a ray of your splendor that may take away the darkness of sin and ignorance.

Grant me keenness of understanding, ability to remember, measure and easiness of learning, discernment of what I read, rich grace with words.

Grant me strength to begin well my studies; guide me along the path of my efforts; give them a happy ending.

You who are true God and true Man, Jesus my Savior, who lives and reigns forever.


Thomas Aquinas (published in the Raccolta #764, Pius XI Studiorum Ducem, 1923).

HT to This Guy.

The Voice of an Apostate from Islam

HT to Dar al Masih:

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Best Canadian Rock Band: Metric

Well, it used to Rush, but those guys aren't producing anymore. Got this new album and am amazed by how excellent it is:


The album is Fantasies (2009).

Hard to be soft
Tough to be tender

Monday, August 10, 2009

To Criticize Muhammad or Not?

I notice in some of my Christian brothers and sisters almost a sense of betrayal if anyone says something positive about Muhammad. Many insider proponents have a high view of Muhammad. This is not to say that they speak of him as a prophet, but from an historical point of view they often can comfortably cite the positive aspects of his life and consider him a reformer. This tends to make many Christians very uncomfortable, if not highly alarmed. They usually argue something like, “We also have to be honest about the negative aspects of Muhammad’s life.” Why is this so important? I am allowed to say good things about Oliver Cromwell without being reminded that he chopped off the king’s head. I am allowed to speak positively about Thomas Jefferson without incessant interruptions that he impregnated his slave.

--[name withtheld for security reasons]

[FYI: the word 'insider' refers to people who believe that a Muslims may remain a Muslim in some conrete manner, including calling himself a Muslim, while also being a follower of Jesus Christ.]

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Pray for Yemen: the problem of child marriage

After the passage of a law to prohibit the marriage of a child under 17 little progress has been made.

Yemen has a fast-growing population, is about the size of Spain, and is roughly 100% Muslim. Would you pray for the will of God to be done there?

Here is the article.

A fifth of European Union will be Muslim by 2050

That is according to the (London) Telegraph.

The link is HERE.

The Telegraph does not say it, but everyone should understand that that 20% will be on the balance young and poor, and hence angry. That, historically speaking, has always been the recipe for an attempted coup or revolution or civil war or something of the sort (think American Revolution, French Revolution, Bolshevik Revolution, etc.)

Ultimately though, it's hard to feel sorry for the (white) Europeans. The Islamization of Europe is a sure thing unless we are treated to another one of those fascinating European concoctions like Communism, Marxism, Nazism, fascism, or ultra-nationalism. I doubt that it will happen though--those all were led and initiated by youth, and Europe has successfully birth-controlled and aborted its youth away.

So long Europe.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Fr Ted Pulcini: Eastern Orthodox guidance on how to interact with Muslims

Below are my critical remarks on an interview with Fr. Theodore (Ted) Pulcini on "Come receive the light" radio, recommended to me by Albion Land. The Orthodox Christians I know (and many of the Christians in my country here in MENA are Orthodox) have no knowledge whatsoever of how to witness to the Christian faith. Nevertheless, this is a positive development.

Following are my comments on the strengths and weaknesses of this radio interview:

Comments: his statement about Trinity and "God is love" is from Ramon Lull (a Roman Catholic), not sure if he knows that.

Discussion of the Bible: am wondering if he knows Arabic. Comparing Christ to the Qur'an is an orthodoxy these days.

Mostly am thinking that the interviewer's questions are totally lame.

His pronunciation of Arabic words is not bad.

Question about the Fall of mankind: now we're moving along! Much better question. Original sin as the beginning of a chain reaction--I like this, I can use this. I (AD) would go so far as to say that hamartiology is the central difference between Islam and Christianity.

OK, here's a load of crap: Muslim fundamentalists and Christian fundamentalists defile their religions in the same way. Hmm. They certainly both defile their religion, but one group become intolerant and arrogant, the other intolerant and violent.

Rant on fundamentalism: Dude, I know some very fundamentalist Orthodox Christians. Really, not kidding. Narrow-minded and judgmental as anything.

The example of Fr. Dougl (a RC, not Orthodox, btw): he did not preach or seek arguments. Good for him, but I don't know many fundamentalist missionaries who do this. The fundamentalists I know aren't polemicists really either, they have seen it doesn't work so well.

"Giving an icon of Christ in their midst" "It wasn't because of anything he said". A very facile, naive, and Western mutilation of the Godhead: Actions without words. Christ and the Apostles never preached or lived such a thing.

Christianity and the power of love: I'm with him.

Conclusion: for the most part not worth listening to.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Important: invitation to converse

American Muslima has invited me (and presumably this blog's readership) to converse on her blog regarding my recent post of "Priorities for Islamic Activities in the West" by Sheikh (meaning 'elder')'Abdul-Khaaliq (which means 'slave of the creator, FYI).

Please do read her post, and here I have something odd to request, have your wives (many of you are married men) share their thoughts and experiences with American Muslima.

I have complete confidence in you to act and write with utmost integrity.

bi 'ism illah (in the name of God)

--Abu Daoud ("a Christian with a blog" :-)

My link is HERE.

Her response is HERE.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Priorities for Islamic Activities in the West

[AD says, this is an important document outlining a Sunni Muslim plan for seeing the triumph of Islam over the failing powers of Western society. It is working very well so far.]

Priorities of Islamic Activities in the West
'Abdur-Rahmaan 'Abdul-Khaaliq

Muslim minorities in the West need urgent help to preserve their identity, Religion and their very existence.

To achieve this, Muslims must:

1 - Re-establish unity in this nation all over the world. Muslims must be loyal to other Muslims and disloyal to all Kufaar. This unity must be implemented by deed and not only by tongue.

2 - Affirm the basic belief that Muslims are members of the best nation ever that was introduced to humanity. Affirm the correct Islamic beliefs that will make Muslims feel pride in their Religion and feel the sweetness of Iman in their hearts. This can be accomplished by teaching the correct belief and knowing the ways of the Kufaar, to avoid them.

Muslims must feel the great bounty of Allah (Ta'aala) that He guided them to the correct Religion. Religion must be understood and believed in. Muslims must study Christian beliefs. The struggle between Islam and Christianity will last till the end of time.

Muslims must also preserve the Islamic code of dress, Islamic foods and marry Muslim women and, if they wish, only pure and good Christian women.

3 - Arabic must be the first language for all Muslims again. Learning Arabic during childhood and giving it its due place in the Religion is a must. Arabic is a necessity of Islam that must be preserved.

4 - Muslims must Perform Da'wah (propagating Islam) wherever they me be,

(Let there arise out of you a group of people inviting to all that is good, enjoining righteousness and forbidding evil. And it is those who are the successful.) [3: 104]

Religion must be held to be the reason behind our existence,

(And I (Allah) created not the Jinn and mankind except that they should worship Me (Alone).) [51:56]

5 - Ahlu As-Sunnah Wa Al-Jama'ah and the way and understanding of the Companions are what Muslims should call for. Muslims should warn of all misguided groups and define the One Righteous Group. To fight against misguided groups and off-shoot sects is a necessity. This means that Muslims will fight against all five major misguided groups who have corrupt beliefs:

- Al Khawaarij,
- Shi'ites,
- Al Jahmiyah,
- Al Qadariyah and,
- Al Murji'ah.

6 - Muslims of the West must be united in every matter. They must call to Islam and preserve their loyalty to Muslims and be disloyal to the disbelievers. Arabic must be their first language. Muslims should seek to socialize with, marry from and meet other Muslims in lectures, Masaajid (plural of Masjid), universities, picnics and general activities. Muslims must not be isolated from other Muslims.

7 - Muslims must be concerned with Islamic education for their children from primary to secondary education. Muslims must establish Islamic schools that will preserve and teach Islam to their children in their first years. The first years of life are what will shape the beliefs and ways of later years.

8 - Muslims must seek to preserve Muslim presence in Eastern Europe and strengthen this presence. Muslims in Albania and Bosnia must be provided with material help so they can defend themselves. Muslims must also help Muslims of Eastern Europe using all means possible. Also, Muslims everywhere must seek to protect the Religious, educational and social rights of Muslim minorities in the West.

Muslims of the West must not be prevented from practicing and propagating Islam, the True Religion.

9 - A higher authority for the benefit of Muslim immigrants must be established to protect the rights of Muslim minorities. This authority will coordinate between all Islamic organizations that operate in the West. Coordination will benefit and organize the activities of Islamic organizations and will provide them with vital and firsthand information about needs and the situation of Muslim minorities.

10 - Establish committees composed of Muslim scholars that will teach the Religion to Muslim immigrants and solve their problems according to the Qur'an and the Sunnah. These committees will have firsthand knowledge of the situation of Muslims and provide answers to their problems. These solutions will seek to preserve the Religion, identity and existence of Muslim immigrants.

11 - Establish a sound economic system that will benefit Muslim immigrants in the West. This economic system will provide an honorable life and financial independence for Muslims. This is better than the way that many Muslims of the West live, by seeking the help of the Kaafir government or engaging in usury, prostitution, gambling or [other] dishonorable acts.

Conversion, ritual, and Islam

Two nice quotes here from Rebecca Sachs Norris, from her article 'Converting to What?' which is in The Anthrpology of Religious Conversion (eds. Buckser and Glazier, 2003).

“Converts bring pre-existing ideas and experiences to terms and concepts of the adopted tradition, affecting their understanding of those ideas” (177).

“Americans are very concerned with things being real, and ritual is often suspect because it is seen as insincere or empty” (ibid. 176).

Why are these important insights? The first one because Islamic Christianity has a very certain flavor to it. The way that MBB's approach the Bible has often been described as (not surprisingly) the way that Muslims read the Qur'an, as a uni-dimensional text that does not require any sort of systematic analysis or interpretation.

Similarly, one finds patterns of leadership from the Islamic context brought over into the new context of Islamic Christianity.

But there is also discontinuity--most IC congregations use music in their worship, whereas the standard mosque would use chanting, but not music.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Denmark sticking up for converts from Islam?

Good for Denmark. I have been there and enjoyed very much the country and people (and food and beer).

Denmark: Proposal to register crimes against converts as hate crimes

Violence and threats against converts in Denmark should from now on be registered as hate-crimes, several parliamentary parties announced. The parties want to ensure that criminal acts against converts will bring about a harsher punishment, as is now the case for crimes against homosexuals.

Kristeligt Dagblad recently reported how several Christian converts with refugee or immigrant background were baptized in secret for fear of threats and violence against themselves and their family, both in Denmark and abroad.

HT to Islam in Europe, which is quickly becoming one of my fav-o blogs.