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Archive for December, 2010

Light of the Whole World

Merry Christmas.

HT: Life Together

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What Is a Peacemaker?

Here is a definition of a peacemaker that I wrote as a guest post for Desiring God’s blog:

Our master, Jesus the Messiah, said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” Christians are called to be peacemakers. So how are we doing? Is this what we are known for? Does this describe you?

Imagine you were to tell your family that you wanted to be a peacemaker. Would they first think of the church or the UN? “Peacemaker” ought to be synonymous with Christian, especially in light of the frequent New Testament commands to be at peace with others (i. e. Romans 12:1814:192 Corinthians 13:11). Do we realize that not only does Paul give a blessing of grace at the beginning of each of his letters, but he also always includes peace?

But what is a peacemaker? Here is an intentionally peace-filled definition that I hope helps reawaken us to the prominence of peace in the Bible:

A peacemaker is someone who experiences the peace of God (Philippians 4:7) because he is at peace (Romans 5:1) with the God of peace (Philippians 4:9) through the Prince of peace (Isaiah 9:6), who, indeed, is our peace (Ephesians 2:14), and who therefore seeks to live at peace with all others (Romans 12:18) and proclaims the gospel of peace (Ephesians 6:15) so that others might have joy and peace in believing (Romans 15:13).

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From Unity:

Bismillah. Received today from rom Imtiaz Wajih:

I am a 49 year old Muslim living in London. I thought it might be a good idea to set up a Meetup group to focus on the shared ground between Christians and Muslims.

We would be delighted if you could join us (even if you are too busy to attend our meetings). Please see the link below:http://www.meetup.com/christianmuslims/

Also, please see our website: http://www.christianmuslims.co.uk

Your comments and feedback would be most welcome. It’s all about peace …

Warm regards,
Imtiaz

This looks interesting and I am glad for Christians and Muslims to gather together in order to better know one another. However, this particular group seems to be of the kind that glosses over all differences between the religions. That is one of the mistakes of modern day dialogues between religions. (The other side of the mistake is to see ourselves in a battle that must be won against those we view as enemies). I still think we can be genuine peacemakers while at the same time standing for truth. We don’t have to pretend we all agree in order to be at peace with one another.

 

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Books on Islam

I’m convinced that one of the most important ways we learn about those who are different than us is by learning from those who are different than us. It is good for Christians to read books about Islam written by Muslims. It is good for Muslims to read books about Christianity by Christians. We shouldn’t be afraid of learning from those with whom we disagree. We should embrace it.

Book lover, Haroon Moghul, suggests some books on Islam that he thinks would be helpful in giving non-Muslims a better picture of Islam. Here are some of the books he listed.

 

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I Pity the Ful

As one who loved the A-Team growing up and enjoys eating ful (it’s an Arabic breakfast dish with really big beans – hard to describe to those who’ve never had it), I loved this cartoon from Abū Ilyās at Dots Under Consonants. His blog is worth checking out. He posts interesting and funny cartoons about Muslim life.

I also like it because I too am Abū Ilyās (Father of Elias).

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On youtube I noticed a song listing the 66 books of the Bible. Then I searched to see if there was something similar for the 114 Surahs of the Qur’an. For those of you who would like to learn them in order, here you go:

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Who Is This Man?

Before scrolling down (and seeing the answers), look at this picture. What do you think this man’s religion is? What do you think his job might be?

Did you guess Christian diplomat from America?

See other old pictures from Syria at Syria News Wire

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From Amazon:

Muslims have long played a central role in American history. Since the colonial period when an estimated 20,000 African Muslims were transported to America as slaves, through the early 20th century when Muslim immigrants entered the United States from the Middle East, Europe, and Asia, to the present day, Islam has been an integral part of the American experience. The founding of the Nation of Islam in the 1930s augmented the Muslim-American population among African Americans, and this group including such prominent figures as Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, and Louis Farrakhan has had an enormous influence on American life and politics since the 1960s. Since passage of the Immigration Act of 1965, approximately 1 million Muslims have come to America, establishing new neighborhoods and communities in all 50 states.

Few groups are as diverse as Muslim Americans, and yet no other group has been as stereotyped, maligned, or marginalized in American society. The terrorist attacks of 9/11 produced a heavy backlash, transforming the Muslim-American experience in the United States. At the dawn of the 21st century, they are often misunderstood by mainstream society, portrayed as caricatures if they are portrayed at all.

The new Encyclopedia of Muslim-American History aims to rectify this treatment and place Muslim Americans squarely in the center of American history and culture. Written in clear and jargon-free prose, this authoritative reference provides a new and broader, more inclusive approach to American history. Including nearly 300 articles, this two-volume reference book is the first to focus on this critical subject, covering all the historical and contemporary issues, events, people, court cases, themes, and activism relating to Muslim Americans. More than 100 historians, scholars, and experts contributed to this encyclopedia, tracing the experiences and impact that Muslim Americans have had on our nation’s history for hundreds of years. Original documents, a master chronology, and an extensive bibliography complete this illustrated reference.

HT: E-baad-e News

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Day of Discovery has a very interesting program with a discussion between Nizar Touma, a born again Christian Arab (this is how he described himself), and Avner Boskey, a Jewish Messianic follower of Jesus. Both of them are Israeli citizens.

While I don’t fully agree with all of what they say the Bible teaches regarding the nation of Israel, I really appreciated the grace and love they showed to each other.

Both of them saw that the main problem in the region starts within.

Conflict is something that starts in me. – Nizar

The question in peace treaties and peace movements is how much is really going on in the human heart? – Avner

You can watch it in four parts:

Part 1, Taking Sides
Part 2, Seeking Peace
Part 3, Chosen People
Part 4, Israel’s Future

 

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Death for Blasphemy?

The Spanish Inquisition is a great stain on the history of the church. People were killed for things they said. There are plenty of examples of this throughout the history of the church. It is tragic that such things happened. In fact, this is why Jesus died. He was killed for what he said. “The Jews picked up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, ‘I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?’ The Jews answered him, ‘It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God’” (John 10:31-33). It was this charge of blasphemy that led them to seek his death by crucifixion.

Killing for what someone says is not Jesus’ way. He said, “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you” (Luke 6:27-28). He lived this out. For his enemies who put him on the cross to die he prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).

Aasia Bibi is a Pakistani Christian who was accused of blasphemy in Pakistan and now is condemned to die by hanging. If the courts don’t carry out the hanging, a local cleric offered a reward for anyone who would behead her.

I don’t know what she said, but I know that nothing one says is deserving of death. We should pray for her safety. And we should pray for the people of Pakistan to learn that God desires mercy (I’m not implying that no Pakistanis understand this). God is Al Rahman (the Beneficent) and Al Raheem (the Merciful).

I was helped today when I read the analysis of Rafia Zakaria. She helps us see that the problem with the blasphemy laws goes deeper – into the prejudices many have towards non-Muslims (among other things). Such superiority does not come from a heart of understanding, love and peace.

Aasia Bibi’s case is thus a representation of the triad of terrors: an unjust, ambiguous and discriminatory law that allows for the persecution of minorities based on mere allegations, the socialisation of women to perpetuate prejudice against each other and the collective curse of poverty and illiteracy that ensnares millions of Pakistanis.

Read the whole thing. And be sure to pray for Aasia, her accusers, and her judges.

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