Category Archives: Islam

‘Asad Shah death: Man admits killing shopkeeper because he “disrespected” Islam’ — Metro

This was new to me: Claiming to be a prophet could be an offense to Islam.

Although this alleged offense did not occur in the U.S., the claim to be a prophet is a very American thing.

Prophets were typical in the churches of my youth. Prophets would visit, and we would sit, hoping they would (or would not!) call upon us and give us a word from the Lord. More recently, at least one person was given the title of Prophet, in lieu of Reverend, in the credits for the film The Apostle, recently watched during a Tuesday dinner-and-book group I attend. These days, prophets still roam conference circuits.

In America, prophets are everywhere. The Mormons, members of a uniquely American religion, are led by a prophet.

The following article is about a man in England who killed someone who claimed to be a prophet, therefore presumably disrespecting Islam. Is such a murder typical? No. But I wonder if this will have a chilling effect on those who self-identify as prophets in the U.K. and the U.S.

From the article

In a statement, Ahmed, 32, denied the incident had anything to do with Christianity, instead saying that Mr Shah had claimed to be a prophet and therefore ‘disrespected’ Islam.

In a statement made through his lawyer, John Rafferty, Ahmed said: ‘Asad Shah disrespected the messenger of Islam the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him. Mr Shah claimed to be a Prophet….’

Read the full story

via Asad Shah death: Man admits killing shopkeeper because he ‘disrespected’ Islam — Metro

Evangelism Implosion!

Stop the madness!

“The Church of England is set to signal to members that speaking openly about their faith could do more harm than good when it comes to spreading Christianity,” writes John Bingham in The Telegraph of London.

That makes me think the long-standing work of Evangelism Explosion has been more like an evangelism implosion.

Here’s why, in highlights from Bingham’s article:

“The study, called ‘Talking Jesus’, was commissioned jointly by the Church of England, the Evangelical Alliance and ‘Hope’ an umbrella body which brings local churches together in different areas, in an attempt to arrest the decline in attendances….

“Non-believers were asked if a practising Christian had ever spoken to them about their faith. Of those who said yes, only 19 per cent said it made them want to know more compared with 59 per cent who said the opposite.

“While 23 per cent said it made them feel ‘more positive towards Jesus Christ’, 30 per cent said it left them feeling more negative.”

As church attendance declines in the United Kingdom and the United States, Islam is rapidly catching up with Christianity in terms of numbers, and likely will surpass it globally within the next century. Why? Because, according to the Pew Research Center, Muslims are more likely to have more children—more likely than Christians and much more likely than the average of all non-Muslims.

I can’t imagine Christians out-reproducing Muslims, whether statistically or practically speaking. For Christianity, the war of numbers appears to be lost. For that matter, the war of argument appears to be lost, too. I can’t imagine Christians meaningfully winning debates with the New Atheist folks, either, because like any supernatural religion, Christianity depends upon revelation and tradition as its primary modes of authority, and those two modes can be difficult to challenge with evidence and reason. Impasse. Deadlock. (A few subtle and nuanced thinkers believe they have found their way around it, only to be vilified from all sides.)

Oddly enough, if the so-called New Atheists want to win the world, they might want to stop debating and start procreating. I didn’t say start boinking—my guess is they’re already quite adept. They might need to stop using one of the (very good) things their intellectual forerunners fought to have in Western society: birth control. After all, people tend to stick with the religion in which they were born, sayeth Richard Dawkins. And apparently, more people are being born into Islam.

And, New Atheists, you can’t just shoot for one or two kids. Pew says the average Muslim woman will have 3.1 children. Luckily, those three children will become good people, and only the 0.1 has a chance of becoming a terrorist or joining ISIS. I’m sure that’s similar to the possibility of a kid born into an American Christian family becoming an abortion-clinic bomber. In either case, there are scary outliers wearing popular labels.

Think about it: 3.1 children per Muslim woman. The Christian women aren’t going to beat that birth rate. They’ve been fully appropriated into middle-class American/Western dreams, which get complicated and difficult to achieve with three or more kiddos—with just one kiddo, for that matter.

So, New Atheists, you gotta beat that birth rate.

Procreating is ideological warfare.

If evangelism—whether the religious or the atheistic sort—isn’t likely to change people, then I guess what wins the world is the point of view most commonly held among the biggest families.

A certain religious prohibition against birth control was never strictly moralistic or patriarchal, you sillies; it was global strategy.

Once again, we revert to ancient concerns: How can my tribe survive and thrive?

Freedom begins within oppression: building a church in North Sumatra

The hardest thing in the world is to practice freedom where there are few (if any) freedoms allowed by the ruling class.

Compass Direct New reports:

Jakarta — Muslim extremists and local government authorities last week threatened to tear down a church building under construction in North Sumatra even though church leaders met requirements of Indonesia’s draconian law on worship places, the church’s pastor said. Emboldened by local authorities’ unwillingness to grant a church building permit to Protestant Bataks Christian Church (Huria Kristen Batak Protestan, or HKBP), some 100 Muslim extremists accompanied by government officials on April 29 tried to destroy the building under construction in Jati Makmur village, North Binjai, 22 kilometers (14 miles) from the provincial capital of Medan. The Rev. Monang Silaban, HKBP pastor, said about 100 members of the Islamic extremist Front Pembela Islam (Islamic Defender Front), some armed with “sharp weapons,” arrived at 4:30 p.m. accompanied by Binjai municipal officials, who brought a bulldozer. Police met with church and Muslim extremist group leaders following the confrontation and reached an agreement that construction on the building would cease until the permit is approved – something that hasn’t happened in the two years since HKBP applied.

add to del.icio.us : Add to Blinkslist : add to furl : Digg it : add to ma.gnolia : Stumble It! : add to simpy : seed the vine : : : : post to facebook

Re-framing ‘tolerance,’ or tolerance as a way to bless

What if there was a conservative Christian organization that stated its opposition to the ideas of progressive groups — and then praised the intellectual strength of those same groups and lauded the professional achievements of the groups’ leaders? Wouldn’t that be a mark of thorough-going love, blessing, and tolerance, without compromising one’s own beliefs?

I’m referring to the words of Jesus Christ: “Love your enemies. Bless those who persecute you.”

Those commandments were never, ever, obeyed in the public rhetoric of the largest religious-right groups — while some of those Christian-conservative leaders still tell us how important the Bible is. This reveals the real purpose of the Bible in many religious-right groups. Put it this way: “If your only tool is a hammer, everything is a nail,” as a friend of mine, Dr. Archie Johnson, likes to say. The Bible is a hammer in many such groups, and people with differing views are the nails (not created beings who also bear the image of God).

Furthermore, for many churchgoers, “blessing” someone involves prayers and statements rather than practical action, so publicly complimenting worthy (even not-so-worthy) human opponents will probably never happen.

Other religions are having problems with tolerance, and in other countries, religious intolerance goes beyond words.

Hindutva [Hindu nationalist] extremists stormed two Easter Sunday services and beat at least 16 Christians, including two pastors, in Karnataka’s state capital of Bangalore and in Shimoga district,” reported Compass Direct News on Tuesday.

Of course it’s not just India. Violence happens within the cultural confluences of our times, in places like The Netherlands. Today, in this Wall Street Journal op-ed column, Peter Hoekstra, ranking Republican on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, wrote:

The Netherlands is bracing for a new round of violence at home and against its embassies in the Middle East. The storm would be caused by “Fitna,” a short film that is scheduled to be released this week. The film, which reportedly includes images of a Quran being burned, was produced by Geert Wilders, a member of the Dutch parliament and leader of the Freedom Party. Mr. Wilders has called for banning the Quran — which he has compared to Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” — from the Netherlands.

After concern about the film led Mr. Wilders’s Internet service provider to take down his Web site, Mr. Wilders issued a statement this week that he will personally distribute DVDs “On the Dam” if he has to. That may not be necessary, as the Czech National Party has reportedly agreed to host the video on its Web site.

Reasonable men in free societies regard Geert Wilders’s anti-Muslim rhetoric, and films like “Fitna,” as disrespectful of the religious sensitivities of members of the Islamic faith. But free societies also hold freedom of speech to be a fundamental human right. We don’t silence, jail or kill people with whom we disagree just because their ideas are offensive or disturbing….

In 1989, when so-called artist Andres Serrano displayed his work “Piss Christ” — a photo of a crucifix immersed in a bottle of urine — Americans protested peacefully and moved to cut off the federal funding that supported Mr. Serrano. There were no bombings of museums. No one was killed over this work that was deeply offensive to Christians.

Criticism of Islam, however, has led to violence and murder world-wide. Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa calling for Muslims to kill Salman Rushdie over his 1988 book, “The Satanic Verses.”…

While numerous Muslims have moved into the Netherlands in recent years, the ultimate source of social and cultural change springs from the commitments of individual hearts. When real violence occurs, like the slaying of the Dutch filmmaker Theodoor van Gogh at the hands of an angry Muslim in 2004, it’s almost impossible to imagine how the call to love enemies and bless persecutors should relate to one’s obligation to protect child, spouse, and neighbor. Public policy gets sticky and difficult to navigate. But maybe there is some room on the margins of our experiences to risk loving and blessing people who represent a possible theat. That’s one way to get to someone’s heart, where real changes take place.

-Colin Foote Burch

 

 

add to del.icio.us : Add to Blinkslist : add to furl : Digg it : add to ma.gnolia : Stumble It! : add to simpy : seed the vine : : : TailRank : post to facebook

Ethiopian churches attacked

ISTANBUL — Eight Muslims wielding machetes and knives broke into two village churches in southern Ethiopia earlier this month and began wounding worshipers, instantly killing one Christian. Tulu Mosisa of Kale Hiwot church died after a machete blow nearly beheaded him, according to an eyewitness. Another two members of the Kale Hiwot and Birhane Wongel Baptist churches in the remote village of Nensebo Chebi both lost a hand each in the March 2 attacks, and a 5-year-old boy is still hospitalized after his arm was slashed to the bone. A total of 23 Christians from the two congregations were injured before local militia officers drove off the attackers, who launched what one observer called “a seemingly well-planned,” simultaneous assault midway through Sunday worship services. Located 400 kilometers (240 miles) south of the capital Addis Ababa , Nensebo Chebi is a remote village in the Bale Zone of Ethiopia’s predominantly Muslim Oromiya state. Every time the attackers struck someone, Christian survivors said, they shouted “Allah Akbar!” The two Arabic words, meaning “Allah is greater,” are the beginning of the Muslim call to prayer.

-Compass Direct News 

Convert burned, family forgives

DHAKA, Bangladesh – A 70-year-old woman convert from Islam died on Friday (Feb. 1) from burns she suffered when unknown assailants in a Muslim-majority area (about 150 miles northwest of the capital) set her home on fire last month. Rahima Beoa of Cinatuly village suffered burns over 70 to 80 percent of her body after the home she shared with her daughter and son-in-law, also converts, was set ablaze the night of Jan. 7, said Khaled Mintu, Rangpur regional supervisor of the Isha-e-Jamat (Jesus’ Church) Bangladesh denomination. Villagers were upset over her conversion to Christianity and that of her daughter and son-in-law, he said. “Before her burial, the family members forgave those who set fire in the house and prayed to God that this kind of incident not occur anymore in this country,” Mintu told Compass. “They also prayed for a situation where Muslims and Christians can practice their own religion side by side peacefully.”

-Compass Direct News

Egyptian court rules against religious liberty

In a blow to religious freedom in Egypt, a Cairo court has ruled against a Muslim convert to Christianity who requested that his religious affiliation be changed. Judge Muhammad Husseini said in a verdict on Tuesday (January 29) that it was against Islamic law for a Muslim to leave Islam, a legal representative for convert Muhammad Hegazy said. “He can believe whatever he wants in his heart, but on paper he can’t convert,” Husseini told the administrative court, according to the member of Hegazy’s legal team. Husseini based his decision on Article II of the Egyptian constitution, which makes Islamic law, or sharia, the source of Egyptian law. The judge said that, according to sharia, Islam is the final and most complete religion and therefore Muslims already practice full freedom of religion and can not return to an older belief (Christianity or Judaism). “What happened is a violation of my basic rights,” convert Hegazy told the US Copts Association following the hearing. “What does the state have to do with the religion I embrace?”

-Compass Direct News