Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Islam and Religious Imperialism

“Islam in its cradle was already a specimen of religious imperialism, which is another name for secularized theocracy.”

Hendrik Kraemer, The Christian Message in a non-Christian World

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Missions-minded Orthodox Church?

You can find them every now and then: the Antiochians in the USA are one example--though mostly they are converting Christians to Christianity (something I don't find terribly impressive). But there is also the Orthodox Church in Indonesia, whose senior priest is himself a former Muslim. (Who converted to evangelical Christianity and only later became Orthodox.) Here is their website, I recommend their newsletter which has some nice pictures. It makes me glad to see that there are places where Orthodoxy is still out planting churches and catechizing and evangelizing non-Christians.

Friends of Indonesia

Monday, October 26, 2009

Douthat on Islam: a Roman leader or Cantuar the appeaser?

I told you, great article here by Ross Douthat:

But in making the opening to Anglicanism, Benedict also may have a deeper conflict in mind — not the parochial Western struggle between conservative and liberal believers, but Christianity’s global encounter with a resurgent Islam.

Here Catholicism and Anglicanism share two fronts. In Europe, both are weakened players, caught between a secular majority and an expanding Muslim population. In Africa, increasingly the real heart of the Anglican Communion, both are facing an entrenched Islamic presence across a fault line running from Nigeria to Sudan.

Where the European encounter is concerned, Pope Benedict has opted for public confrontation. In a controversial 2006 address in Regensburg, Germany, he explicitly challenged Islam’s compatibility with the Western way of reason — and sparked, as if in vindication of his point, a wave of Muslim riots around the world.

By contrast, the Church of England’s leadership has opted for conciliation (some would say appeasement), with the Archbishop of Canterbury going so far as to speculate about the inevitability of some kind of sharia law in Britain.

There are an awful lot of Anglicans, in England and Africa alike, who would prefer a leader who takes Benedict’s approach to the Islamic challenge. Now they can have one, if they want him.

Douthat on Anglicans, Catholics, and Ecumenism

Great stuff on Anglicanism and Catholicism and ecumenicity. This is a brilliant article. Perhaps the best I've read on the whole Anglican-Catholic ordinariate development so far:

At the same time, the more ecumenically minded denominations have lost believers to more assertive faiths — Pentecostalism, Evangelicalism, Mormonism and even Islam — or seen them drift into agnosticism and apathy.

Nobody is more aware of this erosion than Benedict. So the pope is going back to basics — touting the particular witness of Catholicism even when he’s addressing universal subjects, and seeking converts more than common ground.

Along the way, he’s courting both ends of the theological spectrum. In his encyclicals, Benedict has addressed a range of issues — social justice, environmental protection, even erotic love — that are close to the hearts of secular liberals and lukewarm, progressive-minded Christians. But instead of stopping at a place of broad agreement, he has pushed further, trying to persuade his more liberal readers that many of their beliefs actually depend on the West’s Catholic heritage, and make sense only when grounded in a serious religious faith.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Jerusalem, the third most holy site of Islam?

So fractured was the Muslim Ummah in the late 7th century that the
Damascus Umayyads started discouraging their subjects from going on the
hajj pilgrimage. It is said that while in Mecca, the Syrian pilgrims would be
infl uenced by the oratory of Caliph Ibn al-Zubayr and give their oath of
allegiance to the Meccan caliph. Abd al-Malik feared that returning pilgrims
would challenge his political as well as religious authority. Many historians
report that Abd al-Malik was so frustrated by his inability to capture Mecca
and to lead the hajj that he built the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem as an
alternative to the Ka’aba in Mecca. Before Abd al-Malik, there is no record
of Muslims going to pilgrimage to Jerusalem, but after he built the Dome
of the Rock, this site became a venue for Syrians to visit instead of Mecca
and Medina.

Chasing a Mirage: The Tragic Illusion of an Islamic State, by Tarek Fatah (2008, Wiley, p 169)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Huge News today

Wow. Huge. At least, for Anglicans like us.

The Pope has announced the formation of a new and rather innovative ecclesiastical structure for Anglicans/Episcopalians who are disappointed with all the wonderful developments in the West (women bishops in the UK, gay marriage in the US, church blessings of same-sex unions in Canada, you know). In a nutshell: Anglicans can become Roman Catholic AND retain their liturgy and hymnody and their married priests (to some extent, at least). That is a big deal. Hordes of evangelicals (like me) have left The Episcopal Church (USA) already. It is not unreasonable to think that a significant number of anglo-catholics (like me) will also leave now that communion with Rome AND retaining an Anglican identity is a very real option.

Anyway, the press release is HERE, as well as the best treatment of the underlying meanings of the document.

[And for those of you who are wondering if Abu Daoud & Co. are going that way, the answer is no. We don't live in the US or the UK, but in the Middle East. The Anglicans here don't do all those trendy things like gay marriage, so it's not a concern. And plus, like I have mentioned several times before, it would mean the end of our ministry here as Catholics don't support lay missioners. There are other reasons too, but that's just to start with.]

Monday, October 19, 2009

Islamdom in Sweden

From HERE:

Twenty years ago, I think that most Sweden would have found it difficult to imagine that Islam would become Sweden's second largest religion, that Swedish artists who criticize or joke about Islam would live under constant death threats, that a dozen Muslim terror organizations would establish themselves in Sweden, that leading Muslim representatives would make demands about imposing Sharia laws in Sweden, that Swedish county councils would use taxpayer's money to circumsise fully healthy little boys, that Sweden would have the most rapes in Europe and that Muslim men would be highly over-represented among the perpetrators, that Swedish pools would introduce separate swimming times for men and women, that Swedish municipalities would consider introducing sex-segregated swimming classes in the schools, that the freezer sections in our grocery stores would offer ritually slaughtered meat while Swedish preschools would stop serving pork, that Swedish schools would introduce new vacations to celebrate the end of Ramadan while Church graduations would be banned in more and more schools and so forth.

All this is today a part of Swedish reality. The question is how it would look a few more decades from now, when the Muslim population, if the current pace continues, will multiply in size and many of Europe's major cities, including Malmö, would almost certainly have a Muslim majority.

The multicultural social elites might see this future as a colorful, interesting change for a Sweden and Europe, which all too often denies ever being 'Swedish' or 'European'.

As a Swedish Democrat I see this as our greatest foreign threat since WWII, and I promise to do everything in my power to change the trend when we go to the polls next year.

HT to Islam in Europe

Friday, October 16, 2009

An Israeli arrives at Heathrow...

..and the customs officer asks, "Occupation?

The Israeli answers, "No, no! I'm just visiting."

Qutb's mythical version of the early Umma

The society was freed from all oppression, and the Islamic system was established in which justice was God’s justice and in which weighing was by God’s balance. […] Morals were elevated, hearts and souls were purified, and with the exception of a very few cases, there was no occasion even to enforce the limits and punishments which God has prescribed; for now conscience was the law-enforcer, and the pleasure of God, the hope of Divine reward, and the fear of God’s anger took the place of police and punishment.

Qutb, p 30

Current events and the fall of the Roman Empire

This author is talking about the gluttony of the the USA government and the corresponding decline of the country's influence in the world:

I cannot put my finger on it exactly, but there is something very "Decline and Fall of Rome"-ish about the trend of current events. In Rome, too, as things began to go downhill from its days of heroism and glory, the lawsuits multiplied (with results just as random and unpredictable as they are today), the troops were brought home to be safe as the barbarians made things rough on the frontiers, productive businesses were taxed and taxed to pay for the emperors' extravagances until people were put out of work, farms went fallow and food had to be brought in increasingly from greater and greater distances, and the citizens of Rome partied on as though there were no tomorrow.

No one at the top could bring themselves to describe the bad news as it was happening; instead, a few messengers who brought ill tidings were put to death. And so, guess what? Nobody brought any news to Rome about the barbarians advancing toward the gates, until it was too late.

From HERE.

What do you all think? Is the decline of the USA (and the West in general) like or unlike the decline of the Roman Empire? Specifically, how are the two different?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Antwerp: 40% of Elementary School students are Muslims

Yep. Islamization in action. It's all about demographics and migration:

40% of the students in the Antwerp municipal elementary schools (4,150) chose Islam as their religion class subject this year, according to data provided by the Antwerp alderman for education Robert Voorhamme (SP.A) upon request by Vlaams Belang.

According to Filip Dewinter (Vlaams Belang), by extrapolation, in 2012 a majority of the students in the Antwerp elementary schools will be Muslim. Voorhamme says this is an hypothesis. "People see a threat where there is none," says the alderman for education.

31.5% chose a non-confessional morals class (3,235 students) and 26.5% chose Catholic religion (2,751 students). Other religions (Protestants, Orthodox) were chosen by a small number of students.

In secondary schools, morals class is still more popular than Islam: 47.5% compared to 30.5%.

From HERE.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Mazhar Mallouhi on attitudes about Muhammad

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. Do people think that we are somehow admitting defeat, or dishonoring Christ, if we focus on the positive aspects of Muhammad or the religion that he founded?

This is from the most recent issue of St Francis Magazine, p 12.

Mallouhi, Mazhar. 'Comments on the Insider Movement' in SFM Vol 5:5, Oct 2009, pp 3-14.

Mallouhi describes himself as a Muslim follower of Christ.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Hadith on executing apostates

Sahiih Al Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 52, Number 260:

Narrated Ikrima:

Ali burnt some people and this news reached Ibn 'Abbas, who said, "Had I been in his place I would not have burnt them, as the Prophet said, 'Don't punish (anybody) with Allah's Punishment.' No doubt, I would have killed them, for the Prophet said, 'If somebody (a Muslim) discards his religion, kill him.' "

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

The Nicene Creed in Arabic

Here is the Nicene Creed (sans filioque, thank God) and another miscellaneous writing:

Gadget to help women feign virginity angers many in Egypt

Whether it's seen as a clever little gadget to help a woman keep a secret or a devilish deception that threatens Islam, the Artificial Virginity Hymen Kit is not welcome in Egypt.

The kit allows a bride who is not a virgin to pretend that she is. A pouch inserted into the vagina on her wedding night ruptures and leaks a blood-like liquid designed to trick a new husband into believing that his wife is chaste. It's a wink of ingenuity to soothe a man's ego and keep the dowry intact.

From HERE.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Abu Daoud on Zakaria Botros

I have recently published in St Francis Magazine a short article/book review on Abouna Zakaria Botros. Here is an excerpt:

I believe that Botros is an example of contextualized ministry
par excellence. This might sound like a strange thing to say today
when contextualization and a non-polemical approach are seen as
inseparable. Au contraire. Contextual witness does not mean be-
ing nice, and it certainly does not mean refraining from criticism of
the Prophet of Islam or its book. What contextualization means is
that you are asking the questions to which people want to know an-
swers. A basic example of this is the now commonplace insight
that Arabs are more moved by honor-shame questions than inno-
cence-guilt ones. That is context. And Abouna does this very
well: Muslims want to know about Muhammad, the shari’a, the
ahadiith, and so on. They want to know how Islam can (or cannot)
be al haal, the solution, as other great Egyptians have argued (Al
Banna? Qutb?). And Botros is uniquely prepared to address these
questions: for one, his Arabic is excellent, which might not mean a
lot to people who have not studied the language, but understand
that classical Arabic and common Egyptian Arabic are about as
close to each other as Latin and modern Italian. (OK, maybe that’s
a little bit of a stretch, but not much.) His skills in Arabic permit
him to delve into the copious volumes of traditions about the life of
the Prophet and Islamic shari’a. Egypt asks Zakaria: in what way
can Islam be the solution? Zakaria responds: this is the life of the
Prophet and the law of Islam; you make your own decision.

Read it all at SFM:
Abu Daoud, 'Observations on Abuna Zakaria Botros (and a Book Review)' in St Francis Magazine, Vol 5:5, Oct 2009, pp 93-8.

A list of all my SFM publications can be found on the right-hand side of the screen, FYI.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Pre-Christian pagans and post-Christian pagans and Newbigin

[Modern society is] a pagan society, and its paganism, having been born out of the rejection of Christianity, is far more resistant to the gospel than the pre-Christian paganism with which cross-cultural missions have been familiar.

--Lesslie Newbigin

Girl sentenced to jail in Saudi for being raped

Girl gets a year in jail, 100 lashes for adultery
By Adnan Shabrawi

JEDDAH – A 23-year-old unmarried woman was awarded one-year prison term and 100 lashes for committing adultery and trying to abort the resultant fetus. The District Court in Jeddah pronounced the verdict on Saturday after the girl confessed that she had a forced sexual intercourse with a man who had offered her a ride. The man, the girl confessed, took her to a rest house, east of Jeddah, where he and four of friends assaulted her all night long. The girl claimed that she became pregnant soon after and went to King Fahd Hospital for Armed Forces in an attempt to carry out an abortion. She was eight weeks’ pregnant then, the hospital confirmed. According to the ruling, the woman will be sent to a jail outside Jeddah to spend her time and will be lashed after delivery of her baby who will take the mother’s last name. – Okaz/SG

From HERE.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

More Protestants leave for Orthodoxy in the USA

Well, what can I say? I can't blame them. You look at the Protestant churches in the US and they are, on the whole, a pathetic lot (including mine, TEC). Here is a good vignette:

As he entered, a vespers service was under way. Maybe two dozen worshipers stood, chanting psalms and hymns. Incense filled the dark air. Icons of apostles and saints hung on the walls. The ancientness and austerity stood at a time-warp remove from the evangelical circles in which Mr. Oren traveled, so modern, extroverted and assertively relevant.

“This was a Christianity I had never encountered before,” said Mr. Oren, 55, a marketing consultant in commercial construction. “I was frozen in my tracks. I felt like I was in the actual presence of God, almost as if I was in heaven. And I’m not the kind of person who gets all woo-hoo.”

Read it all at IHT.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Is it all worthwhile?

I have found myself in the last week or two asking myself several times, is this all worthwhile? I know the Kingdom is invisible. I know we, more often than not, don't see the fruit of our labors. But still, I wonder, is it all worthwhile? The precariousness of our life in the ME, the financial uncertainties, the apparently unstoppable progress of Islam both in the West and the's hard to see any purpose in what we are doing here. Sometimes.