Archive for the ‘Islam’ Category
Anas Hlayhel wrote a helpful and short piece on how Muslims can respond when the prophet Mohammad is mocked, “Mocking the Prophet, How Should We React?“. It is well reasoned and rooted in the Qur’an. Here is a short outline:
1. Mockery is equivalent to ignorance.
2. Ignore the ignorant (i.e. the foolish), but engage and even debate the reasonable.
3. Allah will take care of the mocker, so you don’t need to.
4. Respect other faith symbols, even idols, lest others disrespect Islam.
Please read the whole thing in order to see the Qur’anic reasoning behind his points.
Is Islam a religion of war or peace? I get asked this question a lot. I know that people are asking this question again after all of the attacks on US embassies throughout the Middle East. I’ll give you my answer to this question and then I’ll tell you why I am posting about it.
I don’t know. There you have it, that’s my answer. I don’t claim to be an expert in Islam. Even if I was I am not sure how well I could answer this question. Honestly, I see lots of reasons why people conclude that Islam is a religion of war. There are Muslim scholars who confirm this (though they might not state it this way). There are some really hard verses in the Qur’an. There are plenty of violent acts throughout the history of Islam. And of course, we see the violence perpetrated by Muslims in the name of Islam all around the world.
However, I can also see lots of reasons why people conclude that Islam is a religion of peace. There are Muslims scholars who confirm this. There are good pointers in the Qur’an towards peace. Within the history of Islam there have been times of peace and prosperity. And of course, we see acts of kindness and love perpetrated by Muslims in the name of Islam all around the world.
So which is it? Again, I honestly don’t know. And I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t really care. That probably doesn’t sound good. Honestly, I am not that concerned about what true Islam is. I am more concerned about what my Muslim friend believes. This is not because I don’t care about the truth or don’t think that objective truth is real. I do. I care very much. It is because I have personally settled the issue of truth. Jesus the Messiah says in the Injil, “I am the truth” (see the Gospel according to John 14:6). He is enough for me. I am not saying Christianity is the truth. I am saying that Jesus is the truth. The truth of God has been embodied in a person.
When I am with my Muslim friend I don’t need to know what true Islam is. I need to know my friend. I want to know what he believes. Does he believe that such acts of violence in the name of Islam are justified? Or does he repudiate them? That’s what matters to me.
Anyone who has read this blog knows that I care deeply for Muslims as a group and for my Muslim friends in particular. I am really grateful to God for the relationships he has given me and the friends I have been blessed by. You also know that I have not been afraid to call anti-Islamic statements evil. I am more than willing to call out the evil from Christians regarding Muslims. I believe this film is offensive and the opposite of love.
However, one thing I really haven’t done is also call out the evil that Muslims have done. I feel angry about the response to this movie. I understand why it is offensive. But I cannot and will not understand the need to destroy property and ultimately kill others because of it, especially those who had absolutely nothing to do with the making of the film. I do not hold the American government responsible for the evil of individual citizens anymore than I hold other governments responsible for the evil of their individual citizens.
I am angry because the destructive and deadly responses are evil. I am angry because these responses make non-Muslims living in the Middle East fearful. I have American friends who live all over the Middle East who are fearful that they may need to flee. I am angry because the radical murderous Muslims are giving all of my Muslim friends a bad name. I am angry because the work that I do in trying to promote understanding and peace between Muslims and Christians can so easily be derailed by the site of angry mobs. I am angry because all people are made in God’s image and we are not treating each other with the respect that this simple truth demands. God made us. And therefore he loves us. How is it that this truth doesn’t change everything about how we live with people different than us?!
I feel for Muslims who are appalled at what is taking place. Surely they bear a greater burden of responsibility over their community than I do, but what can they do? I don’t know. And even if my responsibility is not as great, I still am responsible for my reaction and for the circle of influence I have.
So I will pray. I will pray to the God of peace. I will pray for those who have sinned in making the movie and those who have sinned in their response to the movie. I will continue to show the way of love that Jesus Christ teaches us. His way is the way of the cross. He didn’t kill his enemies. He died for them. He didn’t end their lives. He laid down his own.
The way of the cross is the only way forward because it teaches us to humble ourselves and extend the forgiveness we have received to others. It teaches us to love our enemies and to seek their good. It teaches us to love mercy and not merely insist on justice.
I will pray and I will seek to daily die to myself and my selfish desires so that I can love others, even others who don’t love me.
At muslimmatters.org, Camilla Morrison has written an essay that gives the Islamic view of Jesus. In the first few paragraphs (pasted below) she describes how the Qur’an views Jesus, referring to most of the texts about him. This is a helpful starter for understanding how Jesus Christ is seen within Islam today. It’s a long essay and unless you are also interested in knowing how secular and liberal scholars view Jesus and the formation of the orthodox view of him, you can skip the rest.
The Qur’an contains ninety-three passages in reference to Jesus and, together, they present a clear picture of what Muslims believe. Chronologically, this begins with Mary, the mother of Jesus. The Qur’an tells the story of Mary’s birth and describes how God graciously accepted her, making her grow in goodness, and entrusting her to be raised by Zachariah. God chose Mary above all other women as the most pure and sent angels to give her news that she was to give birth to a pure son called Jesus, the Messiah. The angels tell her that Jesus “will be held in honor in this world and the next”, he “will be one of those brought near to God”, “he will speak to people in his infancy”, and “he will be one of the righteous” . Mary has an entire sura named after her, one of only eight people to have this honor, and is affirmed to have given a virginal birth and to have afterward remained a virgin. It is believed that Jesus was able to speak as an infant; after Mary gives birth to Jesus and carries him back to her people, she is accosted with accusations and it is then where Jesus speaks his first words and defends her honor. In these first words, Jesus declares himself as a prophet and a servant of God who will be raised up after death and return at the final judgment.
Throughout his life, Jesus is believed to have performed several miracles by the permission of God; he transforms a clay bird into a real one, heals the blind and the leper, and brings the dead back to life. He was sent to follow in the footsteps of previous prophets and to confirm the Torah that had been sent before him. The Qur’an also says that God gave Jesus the Gospel with guidance, light, and confirmation as a guide and lesson for the followers of God. Jesus is believed to be a fully human prophet; he is never said to claim divinity but instead attributes all he does to the power of God. When asked by God if he ever said for people to take him as a god, Jesus replies, “I would never say what I had no right to say”. The Qur’an also mentions the disciples of Jesus, although not by name. The disciples are said to follow Jesus and declare themselves as Muslims.
Regarding the death of Jesus, the Qur’an denies that Jesus actually died or was ever crucified. Muslims believe that Jesus physically ascended into heaven and that the disbelievers claimed victory only because “it was made to appear like that to them”. The Qur’an states that Jesus will return again at the end of days when everyone will be judged on their adherence to Islam.
In addition to the Qur’an, Muslims look to the Hadith as an authority on Jesus. Several Hadith expand upon elements of Jesus described in the Qur’an, particularly about the end of his existence on Earth and what comes after. The Hadith present an “image of Jesus as an end-of-time figure”. In one Hadith, Muhammad says, “the son of Mary will come back down among you very soon as a just judge” and in another he says that he has been shown that Jesus will return to defeat the Antichrist. This supports the general thought that Jesus is currently awaiting the end of time when he will “descend to the earth and fight against the Antichrist, championing the cause of Islam” and “point to the primacy of Muhammad” before dying a natural death. Muslims see Jesus as a precursor to Muhammad and believe that Jesus predicted Muhammad’s coming in the canonical Gospel of John.
Suhaibwebb.com is a helpful Muslim blog that has articles on Islam, the Qur’an and how Islam impacts the normal aspects of life. I thought the post on six things not to say to someone who is divorced was helpful and worth passing along. Divorce is a serious issue for Muslims and Christians. I’ve pasted below the six things not to say. Read the whole thing for explanations as well as some pointers and what you should do.
- “Are you sure?”
- “How long were you married?” And upon finding out it was a relatively short period – “Oh, well, at least it was short.”
- “I saw it coming all along.”
- “Who filed for divorce? Did you go to court? What did you get? Who has custody?”
- “But you were such a perfect couple!”
- “May you get remarried soon!”
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.
- Good Muslim, Bad Muslim: America, the Cold War and the Roots of Terrorism by Mahmood Mamdani
- The Case for Islamo-Christian Civilization by Richard Bulliett
- Who Speaks for Islam? What a Billion Muslims Really Think by John Esposito
- Mecca and Main Street: Muslim Life in America After 9/11 by Geneive Abdo
- How Does It Feel to be a Problem?: Being Young and Arab in America by Mustafa Bayoumi
- The Story of the Qur’an: Its History and Place in Muslim Life by Ingrid Mattson
- Muhammad: A Prophet for Our Time by Karen Armstrong
- No God but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam by Reza Aslan
Today I was reading Svend White’s post “Educating the Disabled” about an article he read in Christianity Today.
Svend is a Muslim. He reads Christianity Today. I don’t know if Svend reads this regularly, but I realized that I certainly don’t regularly read any Muslim magazines. I’d like to.
So do any of you have good suggestions for a magazine that highlights what is happening in the Islamic community and helps us understand events happening in the world from an Islamic perspective? Please give some recommendations in the comments section.
Altmuslim has a really interesting piece by Jalees Rehman on the culture of disgust towards all things pork in Muslim culture. He notes, “I have virtually never seen anybody who refers to himself or herself as a Muslim ever eat pork. But what is most puzzling, however, is that this simple dietary law has lead to a whole culture of disgust, whereas other Islamic laws and Qur’anic prescriptions have not. One is much more likely to encounter a Muslim who drinks alcohol, commits adultery or collects interest on his loans than one who eats a bacon sandwich.”
One reason for such revulsion, he believes, is the need and desire to “feel Muslim” especially in non-Muslim majority countries. Avoiding pork is an easy way to identify with Islam that doesn’t necessarily bring significant hardship to someone.
He concludes, “Wouldn’t it be better if Muslims felt a porkophobia-like revulsion when encountering race and gender-based discrimination, domestic abuse, poverty or social injustice?”
Read the whole thing.