Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Arabs didn't invent zero

There are some very real contributions to mathematics made by Arab Muslims, but they are vastly inflated by the Western press and indeed by Muslim themselves. The Brussels Journal has this to say on the topic:

I heard the claim from one European reader that “The Arab world invented the zero, and it’s been downhill ever since.” This is false, but unfortunately not an uncommon mistake. Our numeral system dates back to India during the post-Roman era, but it came to Europe via the medieval Middle East which is why these numbers are called “Arabic” numbers in many European languages. Yet even Muslims admit that they imported these numerals from India. Calling them “Arabic” numerals is this therefore deeply misleading. “Hindu-Arabic” number system could be accepted, but the preferred term should be “Indian numerals.”

Read it all here.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Pope and his European Crusade

I like this guy, he's really got balls:

Twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Velvet Revolution that overthrew Communism in Czechoslovakia, the pope is visiting what many religious observers, unfairly or not, consider the ground zero of religious apathy in Europe. Vatican officials said that he had chosen the Czech Republic for a mission central to his papacy: fomenting a continentwide spiritual revolt against what Benedict labeled Saturday as “atheist ideology,” “hedonistic consumerism” and “a growing drift toward ethical and cultural relativism.”

From IHT.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Tarek Fatah on Israel and Palestine

It caused the 1948 “Naqba”—the Catastrophe—but it was not Israel alone. It was politician Nuri as-Said’s Iraqis who sold out after secret deals made on the island of Rhodes; it was Jordan’s King Abdullah trying to reach backroom deals with Israel’s Golda Meier; but above all it was the arrogance and self-righteousness that made us refuse every advantage that came our way, lose every war we fought, and fail to develop a literate, democratic, secular society as an answer to Israel’s challenge. The all-or-nothing strategy meant “all” for the monarchs and mullahs, and “nothing” for the Palestinians.

Chasing a Mirage: The Tragic Illusion of an Islamic State
Tarek Fatah
Wiley, 2008, pp 78, 79

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Elders are priests? From 1 Clement

It is often said by fellow evangelicals that it is a post-Constantinian development (and maybe even medieval) that the elders and deacons of the Church started to be identified with Aaronic priests and Levites of the OT. And that because of this the 'biblical' concept of the priesthood of all believers was gradually lost.

The problem? Clement, a disciple of Paul and bishop of Rome, writing around the year 100AD, makes the connection explicitly himself:


These things therefore being manifest to us, and since we look into the depths of the divine knowledge, it behoves us to do all things in [their proper] order, which the Lord has commanded us to perform at stated times. He has enjoined offerings [to be presented] and service to be performed [to Him], and that not thoughtlessly or irregularly, but at the appointed times and hours. Where and by whom He desires these things to be done, He Himself has fixed by His own supreme will, in order that all things being piously done according to His good pleasure, may be acceptable to Him. Those, therefore, who present their offerings at the appointed times, are accepted and blessed; for inasmuch as they follow the laws of the Lord, they sin not. For his own peculiar services are assigned to the high priest, and their own proper place is prescribed to the priests, and their own special ministrations devolve on the Levites. The layman is bound by the laws that pertain to laymen.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Christian Lange on the Islamic vision of hell

Am reading right now parts of a recently-published volume called Public Violence in Islamic Societies (2009 Edinburgh University Press) and one of the articles in it, 'State Punishment and Eschatology' by Christian Lange, has some great clarifications regarding the medieval Islamic understanding of hell:

In the eschatological imaginaire of medieval Islam, punishment of Muslims in the other world is thus conceived of as a real threat. There is a tangible fear of becoming the target of divine acts of violence after death. This is not an ever-present fear, perhaps, but rather, a nagging suspicion that things might go terribly wrong after all. (p 160).

It is interesting to note that, despite their ugliness and general nastiness, the gaolers of hell are angels. They are, as it were, on the side of power. In a sense, they are agents of God's siyasa, His terrifying but ultimately just use of punishment. (p 163)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

On the Relation between commerce and mission and Providence

Note that this is from way back in 1863:

And has not He made Britain and America great in [merchant] ships for this end? Let our rich merchants beware of boasting that the arms of their own skill and enterprise have done all this. God has assuredly done it, in order, among other things, to provide means and afford facilities for the setting up of his Kingdom. But it does not follow from this that the missionary is to be, in any sense, an auxiliary to the trader.

p 77, The Heathen World and the Duty of the Church
Alexander Robb
Edinburgh: Andrew Elliot 1863

If Europe's values aren't Christian then what are they?

From a WSJ book review:

Most European elites, though, have not debated seriously the potential effects of introducing into this land of postmodern chatter millions of devout believers in another religion, one previously seen as antagonistic to European culture. As Mr. Caldwell says, Europe's elites seem hardly to have considered that the ethical views they pride themselves on have little meaning when divorced from Christian origins.

Many Europeans are determined to defend their values— witness France's ban on headscarves in schools—but it is hard to defend what you cannot define. "There is no consensus, not even the beginning of a consensus," Mr. Caldwell writes, "about what European values are." When the Netherlands decided not long ago to try to define its values and inculcate them in prospective new residents, it ended up producing a ghastly naturalization packet that included a video that featured "gays expressing affection in public, and bare-breasted women on the beach." Welkom, immigrants!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

USA: Anti-every religion (except Islam)

Great quote here from an Islamic author:

"Upon landing in the U.S. after speaking at a conference in Poland, I noticed that the first picture welcoming international visitors to the U.S. at Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) was of two Muslim women wearing the hijab. The photo also portrayed a mosque and the crescent as a symbol for Islam. I have noticed on other visits to the airport that the same photo is in the same position: Window A1 of the immigration hall, where the travelers show customs officials their documentation. I have checked the other pictures in the hall to see if other religions are also represented in the same manner. To my surprise, there are none. The ONLY religious symbols that exist in such a manifest manner are the Islamic ones. This situation raises an important question: why don't the airport authorities acknowledge other faiths as well? If the answer is that Muslims are a minority, then why doesn't acknowledge the other religious minorities?"

From this author, the quote is HERE.

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Early Church called the Eucharist a sacrifice

It is hard to argue with such a clear statement as that which we find in the Didache (written c. 100):

And when coming together on the Lord's own day, break bread and give thanks after confessing your transgressions. In that manner, your sacrifice will be pure. And do not let anyone coming with a quarrel against a brother join you until they get reconciled, in order that your sacrifice is not impure. For this has been spoken of by the Lord, "in every place and time offer me a pure sacrifice, for I am a great King," says the Lord, "and My name is wonderful among the nations." (Didache 14:1-3)

There is no interstice between 100 AD and the Apostolic period. The Gospel of John was probably taking its present form at the time and, according to some scholars, 2 Peter had not yet been written.

The Apostolic Church called the eucharist a sacrifice and had no problem with that sort of language.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Prayer, Ramadan, Cookies

Hi All,

My wife made some cookies and I went out today to visit three groups of friends to give them a plate of cookies as a Ramadan gift, along with a nicely printed Sermon on the Mount in Arabic.

Please say a prayer for the people who received this. We have known them all for some time and have good relationships with all of them.



Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Sayyid Qutb on the Western concept of religion

These research scholars [who define jihad as defensive warfare], with their defeated mentality, have adopted the Western concept of 'religion', which is merely a name for 'belief' in the heart, having no relation to the practical affairs of life, and therefore they conceive of religious war as a war to impose belief on peoples' hearts.

Milestones, 76.

The important thing here is that Qutb is correct in finding the Western category of 'religion' as shallow and false. --AD

Sayyid Qutb on the rights of Islam over society

Thus, wherever an Islamic community exists which is a concrete example of the Divinely-ordered system of life, it has a God-given right to step forward and take control of the political authority so that it may establish the Divine system on earth, while it leaves the matter of belief to individual conscience.

Sayyid Qutb, Milestones, p 76.

The slow death of the Jordan River

The BBC has a great photo-series about the Jordan River. Do check it out. Very sad.

In Pictures: Journey down the Jordan

And remember my predictions about the next big war being about water--not oil.

Monday, September 14, 2009

AP: UK troubled by anti-Islam rallies, counterprotests

[...]On Friday, an openly Islamophobic group, Stop Islamification of Europe, promised an evening protest outside a northwest London mosque to coincide with the eighth anniversary of Sept. 11 and with Ramadan, the Muslim holy month.

Only a handful of demonstrators showed up — and they were vastly outnumbered by Muslims coming to defend the mosque.

Police hustled the protesters away from the angry crowd. But television footage showed Muslim youths racing through the streets shouting "Allahu Akbar!", waving Islamic banners and throwing projectiles at riot police. Scotland Yard reported 10 arrests.[...]

From here.

AD says: wait, so the police rushed the handful of demonstrators away? Um, why? Shouldn't they protect them from the angry crowd?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Woodberry and Shubin on why Muslims convert to Christ

From their article 'Muslims tell "Why I Chose Jesus"' in Mission Frontiers (March 2001):

1) A sure salvation
2) Jesus
3) A Holy Book: the power of the Bible
4) Then you will know the truth (Christianity teaches the truth about God, humanity and ethics)
5) Dreams and vision
6) The love of God manifest in Christ and the Church
7) I have called you friends: relationship with God
8) Persecution (both being persecuted and seeing others persecuted)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Conversions per year to Islam and Christianity

From HERE:

Conversion growth is where you find quite a contrast. According to figures presented in the 2000 edition of the World Christian Encyclopedia, each year some 950,000 people convert to Islam from some other persuasion. Christianity, by contrast, sees some 2.7 million each year shift their affiliation to Christianity and presumably their allegiance to Christ from some other religion.

(Woodberry and Shubin 2001)

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Steven Masood on Jesus (Issa) and the table from heaven (sura 5, al ma'ida)

From HERE. BTW Steven is an MBB:

Surah 5 is named after Jesus' miracle of providing "a table laden with food" (Surah 5:112-114). From the Qur'anic narrative it is not clear whether it is the story of the last supper or the feeding of the five thousand (Mark 6:34 ff; 14:12ff). Some Muslims relate it to the prayer Jesus taught his disciples, "Give us this day our daily bread." (Matthew 6:11). However the Qur'anic reference says that this occasion was "to be to us a festival". The word Eid is used, which is applied also to Islamic festivals, and so this would be appropriate for the Lord's supper, which many Christians celebrate every first day of the week also known as the Communion.

Some Muslims think that a real table came from heaven and it stayed with Jesus and his disciples for three days and then was taken into heaven. Another version says that there was no table from heaven. It was Jesus who multiplied the bread. They refer to the feeding of the five thousand (Tabari commentary on 5:112-114). Some Sufi mystics believe that the table symbolised the truths of mystical knowledge, the nourishment of the spirit.

Francis Schaeffer on Freedom and Christianity

Great quote from Schaeffer over at Tulip Times, where Abu Tulip is doing a series on FS, do check out his other posts:

The central message of biblical Christianity is the possibility of men and women approaching God through the work of Christ. But the message also has secondary results, among them the unusual and wide freedoms which biblical Christianity gave to countries where it supplied the consensus. When these freedoms are separated from the Christian base, however, they become a force of destruction leading to chaos. When this happens, as it has today, then, to quote Eric Hoffer (1902--), 'When freedom destroys order, the yearning for order will destroy freedom.'

At that point the words left or right will make no difference. They are only two roads to the same end. There is no difference between an authoritarian government from the right or the left: the results are the same. An elite, an authoritarianism as such, will gradually force form on society so that it will not go on to chaos. And most people will accept it--from the desire for personal peace and affluence, from apathy, and from the yearning for order to assure the functioning of some political system, business, and the affairs of daily life. That is just what Rome did with Caesar Augustus.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Ramon Llull and his philosophy in action

“If Moslems according to their law affirm that God loved man because He created him, endowed him with noble faculties, and pours His benefits upon him, then the Christians according to their law affirm the same. But inasmuch as the Christians believe more than this, and affirm that God so loved man that He was willing to become man, to endure poverty, ignominy, torture, and death for his sake, which the Jews and Saracens do not teach concerning Him; therefore is the religion of the Christians, which thus reveals a Love beyond all other love, superior to that of those which reveals it only in an inferior degree.” --Ramon Llull

What we have here is Llull arguing from his fundamental premise, which is at the heart of his epistemology and missional theory: allahu akbar. God is greater. Since love and power and glory and truth are all related to each other, and the Christian understanding of God yields the most loving God, he is also the most glorious God. The Christianity as a religion concords with the this most glorious (and loving) God. Allahu akbar.

Seyyid Qutb on Jihad and Takfiir

Well, I am now in chapter 4 entitled "Jihad in the Cause of God." It is easy to see why this guy is said to be a great inspiration for Al Qaeda and other groups which use violence. One of the things that surprised me is just how unapologetic he is about jihad NOT being about defense:

...these defeatist-type people try to mix the two aspects and want to confine jihaad to what is today called 'defensive war'. The Islamic Jihaad has no relation to modern warfare, either in its causes or in the way it conducted.

He chalks it up to a bunch of pseudo-Muslim scholars and orientalistis--this terrible plot to redefine Islamic jihad to deprive it of such an important element and tool.

He also begins to touch on takfiir, which is an important aspect of the spirituality of al qaeda type gorups today. The doctrine is that anyone who is no following true Islam, even if they say they are a Muslim, are not. Such a person practicing an incomplete or incorrect Islam is a hypocrite and an apostate, and apostates should be killed. Thus the taking of the lives of all those fake Muslims (ie, the government of KSA, American and British soldiers who are Muslims, Iraqi police officers, etc.) is not a violation at all of the command to not kill Muslims. They are all unbelievers, they are mukaffariin, excommunicated ones, by their own incomplete allegiance to God and his law.

Anyway, Qutb is quite clear on the question of violence, and it boils down to this: it is lawful and obligatory to use violence to overturn all form of government that are not truly Islamic (by his standards), which means probably every government in the world today.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Jimmy Akin on Fatima (فاطمة بنت محمد المطيري), martyr, evangelist. and saint

An extended Roman Catholic article on the martyrdom and status of our dear sister and martyr Fatima bint Muhmammad. Please do head over there and express your views on the topic.

Jimmy Akin

Friday, September 04, 2009

blogging on Ramon Llull

As you may know, the greatest man in the history of Christian mission to the Muslim world is, and I say this with no doubt in my mind, Ramon Llull, a 13th C. Catholic layman, husband, and father of two. Tyler over at The Call of the Master is blogging on Llull's life and thought. Enjoy and salaam allah 3ala Tyler.

1st Post

2nd Post

And if you want to see my other stuff on Llull just type in LLULL in the search box for this blog. You'll get some comments and quotes and so on.

More on Fatima of Saudi Arabia (فاطمة بنت محمد المطيري)

I recently posted some info on this martyr and offered to send out a PDF to anyone interested. I got a number of requests but nothing dramatic. But now one of the BIG blogs picked up the story, and there is an interesting discussion going on over there.

First Things

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Good reading: Sayyid Qutb and Milestones

Milestones by Qutb is one of the key texts in understanding the recent rise of puritanical (and sometimes violent) movements within Islam.

I read the first chapter today and a few things caught my attention:

His view of the first generation of Islam is totally unrealistic. After the death of Muhammad tons of Muslims left (or tried to leave) Islam, and it was only after being 'convinced' (beaten in battle) that they came back to the fold.

I found his extensive concern with the scientific and military power of the West interesting. He says basically that the Muslim world won't catch up, so it has to offer something of a totally different category. For him that is the life-giving values of Islam. (And genuine freedom, but that's for another post.)

He also reminds me a little of Jospeh Smith with his ridiculous "the church disappeared from 100 AD through 1840 or so" thing. Qutb actually does not say that Islam has been polluted. He says that it has disappeared. It's not that the Ummah needs to be reformed. It's just gone. Pretty strong medicine.

So what is the project? To purify a community which will drink only from the clear streams of the Qur'an (and nothing else) and form a vanguard (how European of him!) that will demonstrate in some Muslim country the glory of Islam. And when people see this community with its blessings and live-giving properties, they will adopt the same kind of life style.

"...the beauty of this new system cannot be appreciated unless it takes a concrete form. [...] In order to bring this about, we need to initiate the movement of Islamic revival in some Islamic country." (p 11)

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Fatima bint Muhammad al Matayri, martyr of Saudi Arabia

Hi All,

In August of 2008 Fatima bint Muhammad al Matayri of Saudi Arabia was martyred--burned to death by her brother who also cut her tongue out. She was 26. I have a PDF file with some of her writings, both in English and Arabic, and some other background info. It is pretty short, but very powerful.

If I were Catholic I would work for her canonization. Heck, maybe as an Anglican I'll do it anyway. But if anyone would like the PDF file (about 1 MB) e-mail me. winterlightning [@+] safe-mail [d0t] net.

Salam u Ramadan Mubaarak,


Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Sharkey on why some identified Western Imperialism with Missionaries

“Thus, under the aegis of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Western imperialism, missionaries were able to do what had once been unthinkable in Islamic state domains: to attempt openly to convert Muslims to Christianity.” (p 99)

Sharkey, Heather J. 'Arabic Antimissionary Treatises: Muslim Responses to Christian Evangelism in the Modern Middle East' in the International Bulletin for Missionary Research, Vol 28:3, July 2004, pp 98-104.

Skarsaune: Nicene Christianity is Jewish through and through

One of the numerous books I am reading right now (lent to me by a Messianic Jewish friend) is the excellent "In the Shadow of the Temple: Jewish Influences on Early Christianity" (2002 IVP). This is really a great book, I have learned massive amounts from it.

So far the best chapter is the one I am reading right now (Ch. 16), wherein Skarsaune argues that the Aspotles' Creed is based on a variation of the old Roman Creed, and is thoroughly Jewish. But what of the Nicene Creed? He argues that it is every bit as Jewish as the Apostles' Creed and that the arguments which claim that this represents a shift from Semitic Christianity to Hellenistic Christianity are unfounded.

Great stuff!