Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Abu Daoud: Short, Sharp and Shocking

Short, Sharp and Shocking
by Abu Daoud

Normally when I'm talking with M's I take an irenic approach, but I have also learned that sometimes you meet someone who wants to talk about religion with you but from a combative point of view. This happened the other day and I felt in my spirit that I should take a short, sharp, and shocking approach (I learned this from an Egyptian pastor). One can hope that something you say will stick in the person's head and over time lead to a genuine openness and questioning attitude. John the Baptist and Jesus used this approach quite often when they were talking with the self-righteous folks of their day.

Sitting in his shop this man started off with what he thought were the weaknesses of our faith. I had pulled up the Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5-7) on his computer, in Arabic, and told him to read it, which he did not want to do. And then he pointed out how our book is translated, while his book is the same all over the world (in Arabic). Time for some apologetic judo-using his argument against him: Yes, I said, praise be to God that our book is translatable and people in any place can read it in their own language and pray to him in their own language, whereas his deity understood only Arabic. "You speak Arabic and another language, I speak three languages, and yet your god only hears prayers in Arabic." I responded (kindly, by the way).

Read the rest at VirtueOnline.

Spengler: Secularism is a 'prescription for despair'

Spengler at Asia Times writes:

Enlightened secular culture tells us that the brain is a machine, albeit a very sophisticated one, that ultimately will be decoded by the neuroscientists; that sin and salvation were sad imaginings of our ignorant ancestors; that the soul is an illusion of flickering neural impulses; that human life has nothing more to offer than fleshly satisfaction combined with a random sense of idiosyncratic spirituality; that our choices of lifestyle are ultimately arbitrary, such that every culture, quirk, and sexual subculture has equal rights to social esteem; that there is nothing sacred to human sexuality, such that we may enjoy our partner's bodies the that the only truth is that there is no truth; and that we are all one our own to seek whatever meaning we might eke out of the chaos. 

That is a prescription for despair, and to counteract the effects of postmodern despair we consume vast amounts antidepressants, tranquilizers and narcotics. Eleven percent of Americans take antidepressants, the most-prescribed drug in the US. 

Check it out here.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Excellent new church-planting resource

Well, I'm not doing church-planting in the West, but I must say I am impressed by this website and its content. Check it out and plant a church. Yes, I mean you Catholic and Orthodox readers too!

People of YES!

Also, leave a comment and let me know what you think.

PS: My favorite was this part about church-planting in a context of persecution.

The Wisdom of the Prophet Muhammad

The wisdom of the Prophet Muhammad (ص) on sleeping too much:

Sahiih al Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 54, Number 492:
Narrated 'Abdullah:
It was mentioned before the Prophet that there was a man who slept the night till morning (after sunrise). The Prophet said, "He is a man in whose ears (or ear) Satan had urinated."

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Daniel Ali: Kurdish convert to Catholicism

Recently read a review of Daniel Ali's book Out of Islam, Free at Last. So I decided to see if he had a website and sure enough he does. What is most interesting to me is that he is an evangelical Catholic. He became a Christian and only later joined the Catholic Church (with his wife). Here is the story of how he was attracted to Catholic Christianity:

Soon after my baptism, Sara and I began a neighborhood Bible study for anyone from any denomination who would come. To this Bible study came a nine-year-old neighbor boy, Joe Sobran, who would read questions and answers from his Baltimore Catechism. Sara and I were shocked at the unique questions and were floored by the simple and profound answers in the back of each chapter. 
Little Joey did not give up, asking us why we were not Catholic. He would plant seeds every time he spoke to us of the Catholic faith. 
One evening, Sara and I were watching television and happened upon a broadcast  of the Mass on EWTN at the exact moment of the Consecration when the priest was elevating the Host. We were shocked by this simple and beautiful respect for Jesus. Then the priest elevated the chalice, in its ornate beauty. 
The priest’s vestments had a beauty that showed that only the best we can offer is good enough for God. Sara and I suddenly understood that the beauty in the Catholic Church was there because it was truly the House of God. 
In 1996, Sara and I were introduced to the late Catholic theologian Father William G. Most, who taught us Catholic theology. He generously gave time every Sunday for a year and a half to bring these two fundamentalists around to joining the Catholic Church. We were received into the Catholic Church on July 13, 1998 at a special Mass.
I would really like to see some more studies on Catholic ex-Muslims. I know they're out there...I just don't know any myself. Here is his testimony if you want to read more and don't want to read his whole book.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Archeology and the Qur'an

From Does archeology support the Quran?

According to the Qur’an, Mecca was the first and most important city in the world. Adam placed the black stone in the original Ka’ba (sanctuary) there, while Abraham and Ishmael rebuilt the Meccan Ka’ba centuries later (Sura 2:125-127). Mecca was allegedly the centre of Arabian trading routes before Muhammad’s time.

Yet there is no archeological corroboration for this. Such a great ancient city would surely have received a mention in ancient history. However, the earliest reference to Mecca as a city is in the Continuato Byzantia Arabica, an 8th century document. Mecca is certainly not on the natural overland trade routes- it is a barren valley requiring a one hundred mile detour. Moreover, there was only maritime Graeco-Roman trade with India after the first century, controlled by the Ethiopian Red Sea port Adulis, not by the Arabs. If Mecca was not even a viable city, let alone a great commercial centre until after Muhammad’s time, the Qur’an is seriously in doubt.

Monday, December 03, 2012

St Francis Magazine Vol 8/6 is out

The December 2012 issue of St Francis Magazine is now out. Slimmer than some previous volumes, but still with some good material:

Evangelism through the eyes of Jesus in Luke 5:1-11 and holistic evangelism for the 21st century: Towards life, justice and equality… but not as we know it, by John Baxter-Brown

Translating ‘Son of God’: insights from the early church, by Donald Fairbairn

How does Christianity ‘subversively fulfil’ Islam? by Chris Flint 

The failure of multiculturalism: a review of Londonistan: How Briatin has created a terror state within, by Melanie Phillips, reviewed by Tony Foreman

Forming missionaries in Jordan: an interview with a former Anglican missionary to the Hashemite Kingdom, by Duane Alexander Miller

I am especially interested in Tony Foreman's review of Londonistan. I have spent time in London from time to time and feel that the future of the West is in many represented in fast forward and in miniature (if you can call London a miniature). Also, Fairbairn's article on 'Son of God' looks interesting. I am not in the area of translation myself, but I know full well how important this issue is for everyone involved (including Arab Christians who on the whole do NOT want the term 'Son of God' translated out of the NT).

Anyway, check out the material, and let me know what you think.

--Abu Daoud

Friday, November 30, 2012

Aquinas on Tyranny

St. Thomas Aquinas, II-II, Question 42:

Tyrannical governance is unjust, since it is ordered to the private good of the ruler, not to the common good, as the Philosopher makes clear in the Politics and the Ethics. And so disturbances of such governance does not have the character or rebellion, except, perhaps, in cases where the tyrant’s governance is so inordinately disturbed that the subject people suffer greater harm from the resulting disturbance than from the tyrant’s governance. Rather, tyrants, who by seeking greater domination incite discontent and rebellion in the people subject to them, are the rebels. For governance is tyrannical when ordered to the ruler’s own good to the detriment of the people.

HT to Joel Martin over at  Living Word.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Action: save this Wikipedia page!

One of my favorite Wikipedia pages, on ex-Muslim studies, is up for deletion! I like this page because it has some good material on the new field of study of ex-Muslims and also because it references one of my articles, Apostates of Islam, which you should really read if you haven't.

Anyway, there is a question as to whether 'ex-Muslim studies' is a hoax, because there are no departments of ex-Muslim studies out there. Duh.

There are all sorts of people engaged in ex-Muslim studies (myself included), but one does not advertise it. Why? A few reasons:

1) If you work for a secular institution it is politically incorrect.

2) If you live in the West, it is politically incorrect.

3) If you are in the mission field, it could get you kicked out of your country.

There are additional reasons, but that's a starter. In some ways much of this blog's content is related to the discipline of ex-Muslim studies, though of course I focus on the folks who convert to Christianity more than the ones who become atheist or whatever, though I have mentioned them a few times as well.

Anyway, drop by the Wikipedia discussion and voice your own opinion on the matter. It is the beauty of Wikipedia, after all. Drop by and voice your own opinion--is the field of study a hoax or not?

Discussion Board.

Emir Rishawi, ex-Muslim Christian, rejects penal substitution

Good quote here:

I have read some explanations on the death of our Redeemer and Saviour that represent it as a work that Christ did to appease the wrath of God, or as a ransom that Christ paid for man to free him from the bondage of Satan. But I believe that the wrath of God upon sinners and their bondage to Satan are moral images that aim at manifesting the true dimension and the deep contradiction between sin and God. The animal sacrifices that the Children of Israel offered to God expressed man's realisation of the distance that sin creates between him and God, and his conviction that death only can atone for sin, since sin is an uttermost offence against God.

This is from Rishawi's book A Struggle that led to Conversion. It is interesting to note how an Egyptian Christian, from an ex-Muslim background, accepts the doctrine of vicarious atonement, while rejecting the evangelical theory of penal substitution. Good for him!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

John Gray on Al Qaeda, terror and making a New World

Splendid little book here by John Gray, Al Qaeda and what it means to be modern.

I recommend it, though some of his left-leaning suggestions seem incorrect to me. Also, I do not think we can accept without qualification his conviction that Al Qaeda is completely part and parcel of modernity. The idea of Al Qaeda of using violence to cause a revolution is, granted. But the use of terror to coerce political and social change for the entire world is as old as the Prophet himself. Strong points are his treatment of Saint-Simon and Positivism. A few good quotes from this book:

[Al Qaeda is]...a by-product of globalisation. (1)

Totalitarianism follows wherever the goal of a world without conflict or power is consistently pursued. (9)

There was never any doubt in Hitler's mind that Nazism was a modern project. An ardent admirer of Henry Ford and American techniques of mass production, the Nazi leader saw technology as a means of enhancing human power. Science enabled humanity--or some portion of it--to take charge of evolution. A superior species would be bread from the best human types. As for the rest, they would be exterminated or enslaved. (11)

Embracing science and technology, Soviet Communism and Nazism were each animated by ambitions that derived from the Enlightenment. (14)

Enlightenment thinkers like to style themselves as modern pagans, but they are really latter-day Christians: they aim to save mankind. The ancient pagans did not believe that the mass of mankind could be saved. Or, for that matter, that it was worth saving. (104)

Take away this residue of [Christian] faith, and you will see that while science makes progress, humanity does not. (104)

Quotes Wittgenstein on p 110: "When all possible scientific questions have been answered, the problems of life remain completely untouched."

This reminded me of the Arab world, where they use technology so often: "For a society to be genuinely modern, it must have the capacity to generate new knowledge, and not merely use knowledge that has been acquired by others." (111)

...the twentieth century, industrial-scale killing by states of their own citizens has been practised in the belief that the survivors will live in a world better than any that has ever existed. (117)

Western societies are ruled by the myth that, as the rest of the world absorbs science and becomes modern, it is bound to become secular, enlightened an peaceful--as, contrary to all evidence, they imagine themselves to be. (118)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Orthodox outreach to Muslims in Indonesia

I have blogged from time to time on Indonesia. Click here to see some previous posts.

I ran across this article from SFM and it has a little synopsis of Orthodox outreach there. I know this blog has a few Orthodox readers, and I'm here in a city/country where the biggest Christian church is Orthodox. Just a few days ago I stepped into the local church to say a prayer for healing (back pains, ugh).

Anyway, here it is, by Darrell Jackson, "Mission and Orthodox Churches" in St Francis Magazine (September 2005), page 8:
The Orthodox Church in Indonesia started by the conversion of a young man of Muslim background who had converted to Protestant Christianity and was active in the Charismatic Movements of the 1970s. After studying at the Asian Center for Theological Studies and Mission, (ACTS) in Seoul, Korea, 1978, he picked up a copy of Timothy Ware’s book The Orthodox Church. In 1983 he converted to Orthodoxy and, after theological study in the US, returned as Priest in 1988 with four others. The first conversion occurred in 1989. The Church was legally established in 1991 and the first building completed in 1996 in Jakarta. The Church is part of the Archdiocese of Hong Kong and SE. Asia.
Good to see the Orthodox still engaged in mission somewhere. Heaven knows they don't do much here. And I know, one of my closest friends here is an Orthodox priest.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Ali Sina: the Prophet Muhammad and mental illness

Ali Sina, a vocal critique of Islam and ex-Muslim, has written what appears to be quite a fascinating book: Understanding Muhammad: a Psychobiography.

Here is a section of the book's website:

Muhammad was an orphan.  Spurned by his mother in his infancy and left in the care of a Bedouin couple, he had a loveless childhood.  He then passed to the care of his grandfather and uncle who took pity on him and spoiled him.  Not receiving love at a time he needed unconditional love and not receiving discipline when he needed to learn about boundaries, he developed narcissistic personality disorder, a trait that made him a megalomaniac bereft of conscience.  He fantasized about unlimited power, expected praise and admiration, believed he was special, and expected others to believe him and go along with his ideas and plans.  He took advantage of others, was jealous, yet believed others were jealous of him, and was extremely hurt when rejected, even killing those who deserted him.  He lied and deceived, feeling entitled and justified in doing so. All these are traits of narcissistic personality disorder.
Thanks to another mental illness, temporal lobe epilepsy, the prophet of Islam had vivid hallucinations he interpreted as mystical and divine intimations.   When he claimed he heard voices, saw angels and other ghostly entities, he was not lying.  His problem was that he could not distinguish reality from fantasy.   

He also suffered from obsessive compulsive disorder, causing his fixations on numbers, rituals and stringent rules.  This explains why he lived such an austere life and why his religion is filled with so many absurd rules. 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Islam, religion of peace and religion of jihad...

Thus it has become unfathomable to the Arab mind to comprehend loving both Arabs and Jews and wishing both well. Our culture has deprived us for many centuries from loving all of humanity as equals, through intense religious indoctrination resulting in self-imposed isolation and non-integration with other cultures. This isolation and jihad against non-Muslims has become increasingly difficult to maintain. Muslims everywhere are trying desperately to save face, reform Islam’s image and deny the undeniable. But they also want to have their cake and eat it too. While they are telling the world Islam is a religion of peace, they still want to continue with the jihad against non-Muslim countries. While one leader says, let’s kill all the Jews and take over Rome, another says to Western media that Islam is a religion of peace and we are deeply offended by the anti-Islam rhetoric. To play [t]his sick game, Muslim culture must live a dysfunctional double life where everyone is deceived, including Muslims.
Powerful words there, from a blog I just discovered, Arabs for Israel. Here is the specific link. What do you think about this author's diagnosis?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Kenneth Cragg, Rest in Peace, some great quotes

From the Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf website:

We mourn the death, give thanks for the life, and pray for the soul of the Rt Revd Kenneth Cragg, who has died in England at the age of 99. 
One of the greatest scholars of the relationship between Christianity and Islam, and one of the greatest workers in the field of Muslim-Christian understanding, Bishop Kenneth Cragg served both in Britain and in the Middle East, notably as Assistant Bishop in Jerusalem with particular oversight of Egypt, and in many other places too.
His scholarly and popular published works span more than 55 years and draw deeply on lived pastoral and human encounter. He was the most gracious and shrewd of Christians.
May he rise in glory.

Bp Cragg has been very influential to me and I have blogged on him from time to time. Here are some links to quotes on this blog that I think show his brilliance and skill:

On Islam and self-idolatry

Sacramentality and Islam

Cragg, Islam, and Prison

Liturgy and the Gospel for Muslims

Cragg on the Trinity for Muslims

Kenneth Cragg on the Crusades

Cragg's Call of the Minaret

On Mission to Muslims

Cragg on Muhammad and Culture

Check this out and enjoy, and remember a great scholar and Christian leader who has fallen asleep in the Lord and who awaits the day of the resurrection.

--Abu Daoud

Thursday, November 08, 2012

"Game Over, America" by Abu Daoud

Game Over, America
by Abu Daoud
November, 2012 

It was an interesting experiment, but all things come to an end. The American experiment is over now. The country is destined to decline and stagnate and there is no hope in the near or medium-term future for any sort of real recovery. Why do I say this? A few points:

1) A state is only as healthy as its families. American families have deteriorated very seriously. Unprecedented numbers of children are begotten out of wedlock and/or do not live in two-parent households. Want to know why American kids are doing so poorly in school? It's all about the family situation. Read more HERE.

2) A nation of takers. The stats are terrible. Read them all HERE. More and more Americans are consuming and not contributing to the government or common life of the country. There has been a huge rise in entitlement outlays and no one will talk about how to fix it.

3) Huge retirement costs. You know all about this already. (If not, check out this or this.)

4) An inferior generation of workers. People who are working now (my generation, I'm not a Boomer) are increasingly from the broken families of point 1. These people have lower educational skills and higher rates of drug abuse, imprisonment, and on and on. Yet this generation is supposed to foster a growing economy that will pay generous retirement benefits and (practically) free healthcare for old folks (Medicare)?

5) The transformation of marriage. Yes, gay marriage. It is here and is here to stay and will be enforced eventually by the Supreme Court. The value of marriage as an institution is already on the decline, with the proliferation of gay marriage, marriage will continue its slide into obscurity and away from the common good. Marriage will be increasingly seen as a contract between two people (or more, eventually) whose purpose is not the creation of and fostering of a family, but personal happiness. No fault divorce in the 70's was a big step toward this, and gay marriage (to be followed by polygamy--it's not a slippery slope, it's a matter of human rights) removes the last vestiges of Natural Law from the picture.

6) Immigration. Romney lost because he was forced to take such a hard position on immigration in the primaries (which are governed by old, white men). Republicans will soon realize that anything other than a liberal immigration policy, amnesty for illegal immigrants, and voluntarily not enforcing the laws on the books (like Obama), will mean no Latino vote (like Romney), and thus losing. The problem is the USA doesn't get skilled immigrants mostly, the USA gets 'family reunification' immigrants, including lots of people with few useful skills. The problem is not so much immigration, but the wrong kind of immigration. The wrong kind of immigration, and more of it, will continue, because it will get people votes.

7) The rise of childlessness: TFR must be at 2.1 for a steady population. After the economic wreck of the last few years TFR is now below that level, at 2.01. Nonetheless the USA population will continue to grow due to immigration (of the wrong kind, mostly, see point 6). With an economic recovery the TFR could recover as well, it is not disastrously low, like Spain or Japan, say. Still, given that the economic picture will not improve, and that each new US citizen is born with something like $43,000 in debt. And plus, when the price of raising children has gone up so much in a urbanized world, and there is no tangible benefit to having children, why bother?

Religious conservatives are now talking not about changing the culture. I think this election makes that impossible. Rather, they are forming strategies for surviving as the state deteriorates and becomes increasingly antagonistic towards Christian virtues and practices and freedom of religion. The home schooling movement is part of that, but just the beginning of it. Look for Christians do withdraw from society more, forming protective clusters of families, like monastics or the old Mormons. This is a reasonable strategy in my view. When Americans re-elected Obama they elected someone who is working hard at forcing Catholics to violate their conscience under the rubric of 'women's healthcare'. This is something new and insidious, yet many Catholics voted for him.

In the end the experiment is over. It will take a few decades for the city to decay into the wilderness. But when the wilderness is there, the Church will be there too, ready to forge a new nation and a new civilization, not based on the myths of the Enlightenment or the American strategy of taxing the unborn while simultaneously killing some of them.

It was an interesting experiment! Good run, America. But now it's Game Over for you.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Israel and the evangelicals

Many evangelicals naively support Israel, not understanding that the State of Israel treats Christians with disdain and discrimination just like her Muslim neighbors. Israel likes Christian money and Christian weapons and Christian tourists. Israel does not like Israeli Christians though.

Recently from Christianity Today:

Christians Fight Israel's Marriage Ban

Sunday, November 04, 2012

A new pope for the see of Alexandria!

The Coptic Orthodox Church is the largest indigenous Church in the entire Middle East. It also is based in the most populous Arab country in the world. All of this to say, this man will make decisions that have repercussions far beyond his country and Church. May God bless him and guide him!

Check out here for more info:

Oriental Orthodox Blog

PS: Tawadrus = Theodore

Saturday, November 03, 2012

What does 'Christian' mean in a Muslim context?

A rather arcane (1938) document has recently come to my attention. It is the Riggs Report from the Near East Christian Council (NECC) meeting in Beirut back in the day. They were trying to figure out why so few Muslims were converting. (Though most people are interested in how this relates or does not relate to the whole Insider Movement debate, several other interesting points are made.)

Anyway, here is a section I thought was quite interesting and wanted to share with you:
[...] the name Christian, in the Near East, has almost exclusively a racial, political and social group-connotation, and does not suggest either a new way of life nor a spiritual rebirth within. If a group of believers is to grow up as indigenous and not alien, they cannot take on themselves that particular name. Some other terminology must be developed.

So what do you think? Can we toss out the word 'Christian' because it is misunderstood by Muslims? If so, what should we use in its stead?

The whole document is HERE, if you are interested in reading it. He followed this up with a 1941 article in Moslem World on the topic, but to my knowledge that is not available anywhere on the internet.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Missionary Secrets 4: our churches don't know what to do with us...

Missionary Secrets 4: our churches don't know what to do with us...
by Abu Daoud

It's true. They send us money. They are normally happy to see us when we get back to our native country. They have good intentions. But in the end, they have no idea what to do with missionaries. It's mostly out of sight, out of mind. Which is not great. I personally love to hear from our churches. I don't mind answering their questions or e-mailing some recent prayer requests or pictures.

So here is some good advice which I got from an eNewsLetter send out by this agency on a regular basis. (You can sign up for it at their website if you like.)

Here is the section I liked, with some great advice on taking care of missionaries and keeping in touch with them:

Neal Pirolo wrote the best book on this subject, Serving as Senders Today: how to care for your missionaries as they prepare to go, are on the field, and return home. Here's a list to get you started, but to read more click on the link to buy the book from Amazon.
  1. Enlist folks from your congregation to be the advocates for the missionary who can coordinate support and make needs known to the congregation;
  2. Offer a room in your home for the missionary to store their possessions;
  3. Ask if the missionary needs help filing taxes whilst away;
  4. Have the Sunday School classes focus on the missionary's area of service. Learn some of the language, culture, and needs;
  5. Volunteer to babysit the missionary's children so that they can have time away before re-entry to the field;
  6. Send care packages, birthday cards, and other items for their wish list;
  7. Offer to send out their communications;
  8. Although the aim is a warm, supportive relationship, it should also be one of accountability.Get references, verify their call, and request ministry reports;
  9. Offer friendship. Invite them to a meal or out for coffee;
  10. Find a tangible way to serve the missionary. For example, one missionary we know works with orphans in a cold climate. Folks from her supporting church have a knitting ministry and send hats and gloves to the children she serves;
  11. Send a short-term team to visit them on the field. Find out how the team could best serve. If sending a team would be too much of a burden, send one or two leaders instead;
  12. Get technical:  do Skype calls with the church; ask for video footage, photos, etc.;
  13. Are there doctors in the congregation who can help advise in medical situations;
  14. Commission the missionary during a service, put on a church meal with relevant ethnic food, consider taking a photo that the missionary can take on the field;
  15. Pray regularly for the missionary during the service, small groups, etc.;
  16. Be sensitive to your returning missionary. Culture shock is unnerving. Perhaps counselors and friends in the congregation can lend an ear and help them process their experiences.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A Triumph for World/Global Christianity

Today the Pope announced a special session to install a number of new cardinals. Cardinals are bishops who have the special faculty of coming together as a college to choose a new pope when there is such a need (normally when he dies, and after a certain age they can no longer vote). Check out this fantastic list. I really think it shows Christians around the world that the Catholic Church is global (as are so many other Churches increasingly). This makes me happy:

  • Archbishop James Harvey, 63, the Milwaukee-born prefect of the Papal Household;
  • Patriarch Bechara Boutros al-Rai, 72, the Lebanon-based head of the worldwide, 5 million-member Maronite church;
  • Major Archbishop Basilios Cleemis, 53, head of India's Syro-Malankara church – the first hierarch from the 600,000-member community to receive the red hat (and, by two years, set to become the youngest cardinal);
  • Archbishop John Onaiyekan of Abuja (Nigeria), 68
  • Archbishop Ruben Salazar Gomez of Bogotá, 70
  • Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila, 55; head of Asia's largest diocese
HT to Whispers in the Loggia. And Kudos to the Successor of Peter, who still has not read my letter to him I think.

BTW, the College of Cardinals is the oldest existing democratic institution in the world. See how you learn awesome stuff on this blog? 

--Abu Daoud

Friday, October 19, 2012

Where David Goldman (Spengler) is wrong (I think)

I am a big fan of David Goldman (Spengler) who writes for Asia Times and First Things, among other publications. His recent book How Civilizations Die (and why Islam is Dying too) was a great read. On the whole I enjoyed it and learned a lot. I do not share his optimism about Israel and the USA, but on the whole he is making some great points. (I am, in the end, a neo-medievalist, after all.)

But there is a real problem here...I don't think his case that Islam is 'dying too' is really correct. Yes, there are some really low birth rates in Iran and a few other places, but let's take a look at the TFR (total fertility rate) of the world's eleven most populous Muslim-majority countries:

                Name             Population               TFR[1]         Net migration/1000 population
11.       Indonesia            204,847,000                        2.23                        -1.08
22.       Pakistan               178,097,000                        3.07                        -2
33.       Bangladesh         148,607,000                        2.55                        -1.04
44.       Egypt                     80,024,000                           2.94                        -0.2
55.       Iran                        74,819,000                           1.87                        -0.11
66.       Turkey                  74,660,000                           2.13                        0.5
77.       Algeria                  34,780,000                           2.78                        -0.27
88.       Morocco              32,381,000                           2.19                        -3.67
99.       Iraq                        31,108,000                           3.58                        0
110.   Sudan                   30,894,000                           4.17                        -4.52
111.   Afghanistan        29,047,000                           5.64                        -2.51

[1] From CIA World Factbook, estimates for 2010 or 2012.

And now note that of the eleven only one of them has a TFR below replacement, Iran. Meanwhile, countries like Afghanistan and Sudan are very high. Also note the net migration. With the exception of Turkey and Iraq, these countries are exporting large numbers of their uneducated Muslim population. And again, we are not taking into account Somalia or Yemen, both with high TFR and high net out-migration.

Where does this all point? It does not seem to me like Islam is dying too. Yes, the birth rates are declining, but in the populous countries they are all still well above replacement and these countries are exporting their Muslims to the world, and especially the West.

But maybe I'm missing something here. Dear David Goldman (Spengler), please let me know what it is that I am missing in these numbers. 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Abu Daoud on Insider Movements

For a long time now this has been one of the main debates going on in misiology (I dislike the word--who combines Latin and Greek? Oh yeah, Americans). The debate goes by various names, all of which are annoying. The most recent label is Insider Movement. Nobody knows exactly what these are, or where they are happening, or how to define them. It appears to have something to do with Muslims staying within their birth communities while following Jesus. For most Muslims this means remaining within the Umma, one would think. Most Muslims and Christians throughout history agree that the Umma and the Holy, Apostolic Church do not overlap. Remaining within the Umma would appear to mean that one continues to call one's self a Muslim, if not actually go to mosque (lots of Muslims don't go to mosque, lots of Muslim women can't go to mosque at all). The whole thing is very confusing.

John Piper has recently spoken out against IM. Cody Lorance (don't know who this person is at all) responded. Our brother Warrick Farah over at the fine blog Circumpolar has summarized the two issues and offers his own two cents.

I personally find the whole incredibly annoying. Not because the discussion is not worth having, but because the people engaged in this discussion simply do not have, imho, the civilization resources to make a positive contribution to the discussion. Here is what I said in a comment at Circumpolar:

In the end I suspect that American evangelicals are just not really capable of having this conversation. As Americans we are a history-less and rootless people. As evangelicals we have, for the most part, tried to get by on the bible alone (a ridiculous project) while getting rid of tradition and ritual. A tradition that lacks an appreciation for its own rituals, history, and traditions simply is not capable of making a useful contribution to matters of religious identity for Muslims [or Christians] who are deeply invested in history, ritual, and tradition.

One attempt to define IM is here. It is the best one I've found so far.

Insider movements can be defined as movements to obedient faith in Christ that remain integrated with or inside their natural community. In any insider movement there are two distinct elements:
1. The gospel takes root within pre-existing communities or social networks, which become the main expression of “church” in that context. Believers are not gathered from diverse social networks to create a “church.” New parallel social structures are not invented or introduced.
2. Believers retain their identity as members of their  socio-religious community while living under the Lordship of Jesus Christ and the authority of the Bible
--Rebecca Lewis, 'Insider Movements: Honoring God-given Identity and Community, p 16, IJFM 26:1, Spring 2009. (Google it...)

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Asia Times Online :: Palestinians ditched; Egypt next?

Egypt collapsing? What do you think? Check out what Spengler says here in this great article:

Asia Times Online :: Palestinians ditched; Egypt next?

Orient & Occident: Great News from Anglican Diocese of Egypt

Just read this on the Anglican Communion website. I am happy to hear this news that this wonderful publication, Orient & Occident, is being revived in an online, bi-lingual format. Check out this interview with the Episcopal bishop of Egypt. He seems to really understand the important of Temple Gairdner, one of my heroes. I have mentioned Temple Gairdner in a number of previous posts (here, here, here, and here).

Here is a snippet from the article.

Why did you choose to relaunch Orient & Occident instead of a new publication?
Orient and Occident was launched by Temple Gairdner and Douglas Thornton, and they are very precious figures to us. They were behind the real start of the Anglican Church in Egypt. They are not the ones who started the church, but they are the ones who started to engage with the Egyptian society and not just care for British citizens who lived in Egypt.
Temple Gairdner was a great thinker and a pioneer. He was 100 years ahead of the community when he started interfaith dialogue with the magazine. He allowed Muslims to write in it and responded to them. He was ahead of the whole world in engaging with the Islamic world. We cannot find better that what Temple Gairdner and Douglas Thornton did, and we would like to have the same spirit they did, which we need much more than any time before.
Well, check out the revived Orient & Occident already! (Or in Arabic here...)

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Friday Demonstrations: Pray for Jordan

Hi All,

Here is a prayer update from some colleagues in the country of Jordan where things are less stable than you might think. All names have been removed. Please keep this little country in your prayers:

...a huge demonstration/march that is being planned for this coming Friday, October 5th here in Amman. It will take place at around 1 p.m. (6 a.m. EST) after Friday prayers.
As you know, the Middle East has been in the news quite a bit lately. While countries to the north, east and west of us are grabbing the headlines, the weakening Jordanian economy is taking a toll on the poor and middle class. Over the past year, there have been demonstrations throughout the country. Most of those have been peaceful. Our prayer is that they continue to remain that way.
The organizers of the event this Friday have been voicing more and more that the government has had a year to come through on promises and it has fulfilled very little. There are two parties that both desire change, however, one wants political reform in cooperation with the government and the other party is calling for the participants to not back down and be heard no matter what the cost. The latter is being led by the Muslim Brotherhood.
In light of these events, we are asking you to pray for the following:

  1. Pray that those who intend to bring harm will have their plans exposed and that there would be disunity among their leadership.
  2. Pray that the demonstrations would remain peaceful and that there would be no casualties or injuries.
  3. Pray for peacemakers and wisdom for King Abdullah and the government. Also, pray for peace and stability in the country.
  4. Pray that God would use the current events to bring all those living in Jordan closer to the Prince of Peace.
  5. Thanks for praying with us and for your concern for our safety. Please be assured that we will be in a safe location during these demonstrations. 
Your love and support is invaluable. [...]

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Victor Davis Hanson on the Neurotic Middle East

Asymmetry is, of course, assumed. One expects to be detained for having a Bible in one’s baggage at Riyadh, whereas a Koran in a tote bag is of no importance at the Toronto airport. The Egyptian immigrant in San Francisco, or the Pakistani who moves to London, expects to be allowed to demonstrate against the freewheeling protocols of his hosts, while a Westerner protesting against life under sharia in the streets of Karachi or Gaza would earn a death sentence. What is nauseating about this is not the hypocrisy per se, but the Middle Eastern insistence that there is no such hypocrisy. We expect the immigrant from Egypt to deface public posters and call it freedom of expression; we expect Mr. Morsi, who enjoyed American freedom while he studied for his Ph.D. and then taught for three years in California, to deny it to others and trash his former host.

Read it all HERE. The Middle East will have no progress until the folks here get that there really is a double standard and that, to put it bluntly, the Middle East (excepting Israel) contributes practically nothing to the world. Ouch. I know. But true...

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

St Augustine's Jerusalem

It does not matter where you live in the Muslim world, sooner or later the topic of Zionism will come up, if not from Muslims from Christians. Regarding this topic, I love how Augustine writes about his Jerusalem:

As for myself I will enter into my closet and there sing to thee the songs of love, groaning with groanings that are unutterable now in my pilgrimage, and remembering Jerusalem with my heart uplifted to Jerusalem my country, Jerusalem my mother; and to thee thyself, the Ruler of the source of Light, its Father, Guardian, Husband; its chaste and strong delight, its solid joy and all its goods ineffable--and all of this at the same time, since thou art the one supreme and true Good!
--Confessions 12:16.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Prayer Request

Abu Daoud and family are applying for visa renewals. Please pray that all would go smoothly.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Abu Daoud: on training potential MBB leaders

On Training Potential MBB Leaders
by Abu Daoud

A few days I hopped on a morning bus for a neighboring city. I had a meeting there and I figured that afterward I would drop in and see a friend of mine as well. This friend is a local guy (not a foreigner) and in his city/area there is a lot more going on in terms of ministry to Muslims than in my city. Anyway, I asked him how the Muslim-background congregation was doing and he said that he was shifting his focus, and would be meeting with some baptized men to focus on leadership training, rather than helping to run the church meetings. Right away he asked me what I would teach them about.

I get this quite a bit actually. After a few years some of the locals came to the conclusion that I was good guy to consult with in making decisions about local ministry, I guess. I thought about the example of the early church and how and I took a piece of paper and drew a triangle, on each side of the triangle I wrote a word (all in Arabic, but I'll give you the English): ethics, sacraments (in Arabic the word is 'secrets' actually), doctrine. Then under ethics I wrote "Commandments" and "Beatitudes", under sacraments I wrote baptism and Communion, and under doctrine I wrote the two creeds. 

I said, "My own opinion on this matter is not very important, but here is a picture of how the early Church handled these things. The idea is that once a person knows about each of these three aspects of the Christian faith, they will have the basics down. Also, back then, people would have to memorize all this stuff (10 Commandments, Beatitudes, etc). All your guys are ex-Muslims so memorizing should be easy for them. Since people didn't normally have books back then, it means that each believer knew from memory all the basics of the Christian faith, including how to baptize new believers. They will also easily learn this triangle here so they will know how to disciple new believers or seekers."

He really liked the overall idea. I challenged him to keep a diary and let me know how it was going. 

Please pray for him and his six disciples, that they would mature in strong, faithful, wise leaders for the MBB congregation. And pray for me, that I would be able to give good council to local believers when they ask for advice on ministry. Some day we will leave this land and go back to the West, but most of these local believers will stay here through thick and thin. Until then, thank you for making our ministry possible and investing in the local church through us.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Missionary Secrets 3: Communicating with supporters sucks...sometimes

Missionary Secrets 3: Communicating with supporters sucks...sometimes

By Abu Daoud

So here’s the deal: I spend time writing an e-mail update about some recent encounter with a Muslim here in town, or some other observation about Islam, or something encouraging that happened with one of our Christian friends, or what have you. I send them out to about 400 people on my e-mail account. And a few people…maybe…respond. Who reads these things? I have no idea. Am I wasting half a day in doing this? I often feel like it.

Two or three times a year I Um Daoud and I put a few days into producing a high-quality newsletter, we e-mail it to out agency back in the West, and they distribute it to 500+ post addresses on THAT mailing list. Another business prints them, our mission envelopes them, and posts them. The whole project comes out of our funds to the tune of $400 or so. How many people read these things? We normally see an uptick in contributions after we send it out, so it must mean that someone reads them. But given the expenditure, are we wasting much-needed funds?

And I also keep two blogs— and

And then, we get an e-mail from one of our churches or supporters saying that they are concerned because we do not keep them up-to-date on our work here. Sometimes this is our fault, but not usually. Also, normally these e-mails come with an apologetic e-mail saying they do not feel called to support our mission anymore. We genuinely respect people’s and churches’ responsibility to discern how they will invest their funds in the Kingdom. We also know that sometimes the Spirit really is telling people not to support our mission anymore.

But these e-mails are difficult to receive. Especially when we have done everything we could to keep in touch. Mr. X didn’t update his post address with us after moving, and then he feels he can no longer support us because we don’t stay in touch? Ouch. But it’s better than a supporter just dropping off your list with no notice. Anyway, support is a sensitive topic. 

Some workers send out too many notices and people just delete them. Some workers do need to stay in touch more. In the end, missionaries are trying to balance the needs of a LOT of people. From the personal friend of many years who is fine with getting one update per year, to the church that wants a monthly story for their newsletter. Recently, we were informed by a faithful donor that he would not be supporting us anymore. He was very kind about it, but he said he wanted to support works that were more entrepreneurial (his word). I respect that because I know he is a great Christian, but I thought, in the Middle East that is precisely what we don’t need. The problem here is a lack of seasoned, Arabic-speaking folks who already have a network of relationships. (A good number of missionaries here don’t speak Arabic well at all, believe it or not.)

So with your missionaries, give them input. That’s the takeaway here. Let them know what you want to hear about if their letters are too long, short, frequent, infrequent, and so on. Also, if you don’t get what you want, remember we are generally communicating with hundreds of folks and churches, all with different desires.

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Contemporary Muslim apologetic of mysogeny

Ran across this on Facebook. Nice example of how some Muslims defend what non-Muslims perceive as some of the unjust ways that some Muslim men treat some Muslim women. (How's that for a lot of qualifications?) Anyway, there's a good insight here. (BTW, Alim means teacher or scholar).

A non Muslim came to an alim and asked : Why is it not permissible to shake hand
s with a man?

The alim said : Can you shake hands with queen Elizabeth?

He said: Of course not there are only certain people who can shake hands with Queen Elizabeth. 

The alim said: our women are queens and queens do not shake hands with strange men. 

Then the non Muslim asked: Why do your girls cover up their body and hair?

The alim smiled and got two sweets, he opened the first one and kept the other one closed. He threw them both on the dusty floor and asked, " If I asked you to take one of the sweets which one would you choose?"

The non muslim said, " the covered one."

The alim said: Thats how we treat and see our women. Women should not be like the moon which everyone can see and admire, they should be like the sun which makes the viewer lower their gaze. 

Monday, September 03, 2012

Christianity growing among Muslims in Indonesia

I recently ran across a video for a (Muslim-run) ministry called Save Maryam. Their goal is to stop Muslims in Indonesia from converting to Christianity. Here is the Save Maryam video:

The figure mentioned in there of two million Muslims converting each year appears pretty incredible to me, as in one should not believe it. After a bit of digging I think the number is way too high.

That having been said, Muslims are turning to Christ in Indonesia in significant numbers, we are talking about tens or perhaps hundreds of thousands per year. Time Magazine has a good article from 2010 about this, authored by Temang Gung and Hannah Beech (my favorite writer for Time who looks like she's twelve :-)

The article is titled Christianity's Surge in Indonesia and you can read it all HERE. For now, here is one section about this surprising growth and also the persecution that comes along with a vibrant, bold, growing faith.

What is it about Evangelical Christianity that has so resonated in Indonesia? As in many other crowded, developing-world countries where a person can feel lost in a teeming slum, the concept of individual salvation is a powerful one. At the same time, the attempted hijacking of Muslim theology by a small band of homegrown terrorists who have killed hundreds of Indonesians in recent years has led some to question their nation's majority faith. So, too, has the general trend toward a more conservative Islam that has given rise to hundreds of religiously inspired bylaws, from caning for beer-drinking to enforced dress codes for women.
Read more:,9171,1982223,00.html#ixzz25P5YtmOL

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Neo-medievalism and Islamized Europe

Neo-medievalism and Islamized Europe
by Abu Daoud

Some time ago I wrote a post titled "The Islamization of Europe" wherein I argued as follows:
Also, every one of those states has a Muslim population that is willing to use acts of violence to further their politico-religious aims (in Islam there is no distinction, of course). So yes, a Muslim city-state in France with Algerian leadership will look different than the Turkish Islamic city-state in Germany or the Pakistani one in England. They will not be alike, but they will all be Islamic which tells us a few clear things: no religious freedom, an inferior status for women, persecution of homosexuality, an increase in nepotism and decline in rule of law, and the use of state-sponsored violence to proscribe dissent. These are trends that one can find in every single Muslim state in the world. 
In other words, I see the decline of the nation state and the rise of the city state in the future. I recently made this point in relation to Libya, for instance. A recent article by Parag Khanna over at Foreign Policy describes neo-medievalism as follows:
Many see the global economic crisis as proof that we live in one world. But as countries stumble to right the wrongs of the corporate masters of the universe, they are driving us right back to a future that looks like nothing more than a new Middle Ages, that centuries-long period of amorphous conflict from the fifth to the 15th century when city-states mattered as much as countries.
Khanna then addds some other important factors which I had not taken into account in my previous analysis, like multi-national corporations and arms dealers. Since companies like Exxon-Mobil and Apple are worth more than a good number of nation states in the world, this is a shrewd move.

Anyway, suffice to say that I am a neo-medievalist. Not because I like it, but because I find this projection for the future to be reasonable and sound. Lacking from Khanna's brief article is any discussion of Islam, but one need not expect that in one page. 

Other posts on the Islamization of Europe can be found here:

European Islamdom I
European Islamdom II
European Islamdom III

PS: You can actually LIKE neo-medievalism on Facebook, how cool is that?

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Islam in Europe: Muslim population in European cities

Islam in Europe: Muslim population in European cities: I was recently asked which cities in Europe have the highest Muslim percentage. The following is what I found in my research. I linked to ...

Baptizing Muslims in India

The recent St Francis Magazine (8:4, Aug 2012) has an interview between the issue editor and a veteran missionary to Muslims in India which is quite interesting. One of the questions is about how they do baptisms for new converts. Here is the question and answer:

10) Tell me about baptisms--when you baptize new believers, who does thebaptism? What sort of confession of faith do they make? Who is present?Where and how often do these take place? What does baptism mean forthem as best you can discern? 

Most of the baptisms are done by our main man although some have been done by the 19 leaders. A few have been done by me. Almost always, two people are doing the baptism. It is always done with a group of ten or more. Although the people should already know the facts, we teach about baptism once again, emphasizing faith. Their confession is that they are only trusting in Jesus for their salvation. If anyone is wearing a charm, he or she must take it off. There are about three baptism events a year; each one is planned and postponed many times before it actually happens (it’s India).
Anyway, download the issue if you want to read more. What do you think about the idea of doing group baptisms of ten or more? Why do you suppose they would have this rule? And how about making people take off their charms? Is that getting rid of superstition, or is it denying the traditions of people's culture?

Monday, August 06, 2012

Resources on Iranian Christianity

One of the most exciting movements going on in the world right now from Islam to Christianity is happening among Iranians, both in Iran and outside of Iran. The new issue of St Francis Magazine (8/4, Aug 2012) has an interesting article by Roy Oksnevad on some of the sources of disharmony among leadership in Iranian Christian churches. 

I thought I would list a few links here to other articles and books on the topic. It is not meant to be exhaustive, but for those interested these are some good resources. If you know of any additional good resources (and I mean articles and books, not just websites), please post them in the comments.

Resources on the Web:

Today's Iranian Revolution by K Markarian

The Secret World of God: Aesthetics, Relationships, and the Conversion of 'Frances' from Shi'a Islam to Christianity by D A Miller

Christian Missions in Persia (Encyclopedia Iranica) by Y Armajani

The Mission of the Iranian Church by M Hershberger

BMB Discipleship: An investigation into the factors leading to disharmony within the Iranian Churches in the diaspora by R Oksnevad

A Survey of Muslim Converts in Iran (1980) by P Cate

Iranian Diaspora Christians in the American Midwest & Scotland by D A Miller

Iranian Christianity by Abu Daoud

Some books of interest:

Ten Muslims meet Christ by W M Miller

The Unfolding Design of my World: a pilgrim in exile by H B Dehqani Tafti (autobiography)

Jumping through Fires by D Nasser (autobiography)

Trapped in Iran and Farewell to Islam by S Rabiipour (autobiography)

Iran: Open Hearts in a Closed Land by M Bradley

Christian Mission to Muslims: The Record: Anglican and Reformed Approaches in India an the Near East, 1800-1938 by L Vander Werff

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Hadith on urination

Some of you are perhaps familiar with the prohibition regarding urinating facing Mecca. Here is a hadith upon which this is based:

From al Bukhari

 Volume 4, Book 53, Number 334 :
Narrated by 'Abdullah bin 'Umar
Once I went upstairs in Hafsa's house and saw the Prophet answering the call of nature with his back towards the Qibla and facing Sham.