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Archive for the ‘Islam’ Category

As-Salaamu ‘Alaykoum (السلام عليكم) – Peace be upon you.

Muslims say this every time they meet each other and usually when they leave. I love it because it isn’t a mere “Hello”; it is a blessing. Of course, as with anything you say often, it is possible to forget what exactly you are saying, but when I say it to my Muslim friends I try to be conscious to really mean it. I want peace for them.

I also love it because it so biblical.

  • It is part of the priestly blessing in Numbers 6:26, “The Lord . . . give you peace.”
  • It was used among the ancient Israelites (Judges 19:20, “And the old man said, ‘Peace be to you.'”)
  • King David used it (2 Samuel 25:6, “And thus you shall greet him: ‘Peace be to you, and peace be to your house, and peace be to all that you have.'”).
  • An angel spoke it to the prophet Daniel (Daniel 10:19, “O man greatly loved, fear not, peace be with you; be strong and of good courage.”).
  • The Apostle Paul used it as a greeting in almost all his letters (Colossians 1:2, “Grace to you and peace from God our Father.”).
  • The Apostle Peter used it (1 Peter 5:14, “Peace to all of you who are in Christ.”).
  • The Apostle John used it (3 John 15, “Peace be to you.”).
  • Jesus Christ used it (Gospel of Luke 24:36, “Peace be to you.”).
  • Jesus Christ commanded his followers to say it (Gospel of Luke 10:5, “Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’”).
  • God used it  (Judges 6:23, “But the Lord said to him, ‘Peace be to you. Do not fear; you shall not die.'”).

Isn’t it remarkable to see so many biblical examples of this and yet as Christians we don’t regularly speak peace to one another? This is definitely something we can learn from our Muslim friends.

I’m hopeful that as this blog continues we can begin to understand a biblical theology of peace. If I can better understand peace then I can better speak one of my favorite greetings, “As-salaamu ‘Alakoum”.

**I recognize that I hardly blog anymore. I don’t know if I will start up again or not, but this post for some reason was getting hit with hundreds of spam comments so I decided to delete the original, but liked the post too much to just let it go. Blessings, Dustin

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The Hajj and Eid Al-Adha

In Focus has some great pictures of the hajj (the Islamic pilgrimage) while the Big Picture has some great pictures of Muslims preparing for Eid Al-Adha, which follows the Hajj.

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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.

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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.

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Speaking of Ramadan

The Big Picture has great Ramadan pictures every year. Check out this year’s pictures

This is one of my favorites (I love Dad’s smile):

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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[3][4]. 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[5] called Jesus, the Messiah[6]. 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” [7]. 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[8]. 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[9]. 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[10].

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[11]. He was sent to follow in the footsteps of previous prophets and to confirm the Torah that had been sent before him[12]. 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[13]. 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”[14]. 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[15].

Regarding the death of Jesus, the Qur’an denies that Jesus actually died or was ever crucified[16]. 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”[17]. The Qur’an states that Jesus will return again at the end of days when everyone will be judged on their adherence to Islam[18].

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”[19]. In one Hadith, Muhammad says, “the son of Mary will come back down among you very soon as a just judge”[20] and in another he says that he has been shown that Jesus will return to defeat the Antichrist[21]. 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[22]. Muslims see Jesus as a precursor to Muhammad and believe that Jesus predicted Muhammad’s coming in the canonical Gospel of John.

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The CNN Belief Blog recently had a helpful primer on prayer in Islam. If you don’t know much about how and why Muslims pray each day, I would encourage you to read it.

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