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Archive for the ‘Terrorism’ Category

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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Muslims Against Terrorism

We all know that some Muslims are terrorists. And we all know that most are not (at least we should know). One of the most common questions I get from American non-Muslims is why moderate Muslims don’t speak out against terrorism.

Here is a video from Muslims in Minnesota doing just that.

HT: Engage Minnesota

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Dozens of Assyrian Christians were killed by Al Qaeda terrorists in Baghdad last month. This past week the Assyrian community in Chicago marched in support of their Assyrian brothers and sisters in Iraq. Also at the rally was a group of Muslims. These Muslims were marching with Christians in support of those killed in Iraq.

They knew that those who murdered the Christians call themselves Muslim and therefore there might be anger from the crowd directed at them (there was). But they also knew that what had happened was wrong and that they couldn’t stand idly by while innocent Christians were murdered for their faith.

Ahmed Rehab describes how one man yelled at him and told him was not wanted there. When a woman nearby heard it she wept and apologized for the way this man was treating Ahmed. He writes:

Here I was standing before a stark display of contrasts, extreme animosity on one end and extreme compassion on the other.

In a single powerful moment, I was reminded yet again at the absurdity of those who generalize about any one group of people. Here were two people of the same religion, color, and ethnic background standing side by side rallying for the same cause — and yet they could not be any more different.

HT: Islamicate

 

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From Faith World (March 31, 2010):

Prominent Muslim scholars have recast a famous medieval fatwa on jihad, arguing the religious edict radical Islamists often cite to justify killing cannot be used in a globalized world that respects faith and civil rights.  A conference in Mardin in southeastern Turkey declared the fatwa by 14th century scholar  Ibn Taymiyya rules out militant violence and the medieval Muslim division of the world into a “house of Islam” and “house of unbelief” no longer applies.

Read the whole thing.

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It is Ramadan. Muslims all over the world are fasting from sunrise to sunset. At the end of the month they will celebrate with one of the two most important holidays in Islam: Eid Al Fitr. Because the Islamic calendar is lunar it is possible that this holiday will land on September 11. No one reading this needs to be reminded of the significance of that day.

Unfortunately, Muslims who had nothing to do with 9/11 have had to contend with lots of backlash from that day and no doubt it will be even louder if the holiday lands on 9/11.

I was moved with compassion as I read Haroon Moghul’s thoughtful article about this convergence. I encourage you to read it and see that American Muslims endured loss on 9/11 as well.

It was worrying enough to think about how some people might misinterpret such a convergence, and that was before the rise in Islamophobic rhetoric. Every other day, I’m greeted with someone arguing that Muslims are all evil, that we shouldn’t have any more mosques in America, that we are a dastardly fifth column. The assumption here is always that Muslims are foreigners and intruders, that we are strangers in our own lands, unwelcome in our own homes.

It is easy for us to forget that there were also Muslim victims on 9/11. Moghul lives in New York and was there when the towers came down. Two fears came over him, “How do I explain that I was scared because my city was attacked, but I was also scared because people might blame me?” Not sure of what to do he went to the Muslim prayer room they had on campus and found a Jewish student. When Haroon asked him what he was doing he replied:

“I figured that some Muslims might feel uncomfortable walking home”—people had already begun to blame any number of extremist Muslim groups, and of course the subways had been shut down—“and that, if I walked home with them, maybe people would think twice before trying anything.” (He wore a yarmulke).

This reminds me of when America invaded Iraq in 2003. We were living in Syria at the time and the day of the invasion a Syrian friend called to check on us. She wanted to go to the store and get some groceries so that we wouldn’t have to go out in case we were afraid of any backlash.

The Ground Zero Mosque
I have sought to stay away from politics on this blog. I am stunned to see that what one thinks about whether there should be a mosque built near Ground Zero (not on it) has become political. It shouldn’t be. It seems appropriate at the end of this post to say that I support the building of the mosque and I am saddened to think that Americans who enjoy the greatest religious freedom in the world would be opposed.

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An interpretation of Islam by Muslims.

Rather than saying these Muslims don’t really understand true Islam (which many people are bound to do), let’s be grateful for them.

HT: Muslim Matters

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Eboo Patel writes:

I’m not the world’s most physical guy, but I have a hero fantasy I play over and over in my head.

I’m on a plane and a guy a few rows up starts to make some suspicious moves. In some dream sequences, he’s taking out a box cutter. Other times, he’s trying to set his shoe on fire.

Everyone else is sleeping, but I’m doing my patriotic duty by staying vigilant, and I see this guy try to take us down and I’m not going to let him. I yell “TERRORIST!” just as the blade comes out or the match lights up. It startles him just for a second, buying me enough time to lunge over two rows and knock the object out of his hands.

There are going to be some new details in my hero fantasy after the failed terrorist attempt on Christmas Day bags of explosive powder taped to legs, syringes full of chemicals, Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam. But one part of the sequence will remain the same: After I knock the box cutter or match or whatever out of the terrorist’s hand, I go straight for the son of a bitch’s throat. I want to crush his larynx before he can squeeze any Arabic out of it. Because not only does this guy want to take down a plane full of God’s people, he wants to take down a whole religion with it. And I want to do my part to rescue both.

Read the whole thing.

HT: Talk Islam

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From SkyeBox:

“A clash of civilizations.” That’s how many in the media and in politics describe the relationship between Muslims and Christians. This popular narrative, however, does not capture the full story. Yes, there is a faction of Islam that is hostile and even aggressively violent toward the West. And there are some Christians who ignorantly scrawl Bible versus on the gun barrels of their tanks. But there are also people like Pervaiz Masih.

Pervaiz was part of the poor, Christian minority in Pakistan. He was illiterate. He worked as a janitor at the women’s campus of Islamabad’s International Islamic University. When a suicide bomber disguised as a women tried to enter the crowded cafeteria, Pervaiz confronted him at the doorway to prevent him from entering. In the struggle the bomb detonated killing Pervaiz and three students, but many more would have died had Pervaiz not sacrificed himself and stopped the killer from entering.

Professor Fateh Muhammad Malik, the rector of the university said, “[Pervaiz Masih] rose above the barriers of caste, creed and sectarian terrorism. Despite being a Christian, he sacrificed his life to save the Muslim girls.” Some in Pakistan are calling him a national hero.

Pervaiz Masih represents an alternative to the “clash of civilizations” rhetoric that is being propagated. He represents what happens when Christians take seriously their calling to love their neighbors–even when those neighbors are Muslim. Our call to love, give, serve, help, and sacrifice is not dependant on the identity or doctrine of our neighbor. We do not love because of who they are, but because of who we are.

Watch this report by CNN about Pervaiz Masih and be hopeful. Be inspired:

HT: Vitamin Z

Related Posts:
Muslims Who Saved Jews
Muslims Are Good Neighbors

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Islam and comics usually bring negative thoughts to our mind. But here is something that could change that. The 99 are comic book heroes who are based on the 99 names of Allah in Islam.

group art

The creator of the series wrote a letter to his children explaining what drove him to do it. Here are two notable paragraphs.

I had already made a decision that I needed to find a way to take back Islam from its hostage takers, but I did not known how. The answer was staring me in the face. It was a simple, and as difficult, as the multiplication of 9 by 11: 99. So, at the age of 32, I uncapped my pen to create a concept that could be popular in the East and the West. I would go back to the very sources from which others took violent and hateful messages and offer messages of tolerance and peace in their place. I would give my heroes a Trojan horse in the form of THE 99. Islam was my Helen. I wanted her back.

I told the writers of the animation that only when Jewish kids think that THE 99 characters are Jewish, and Christian kids think they’re Christian, and Muslim kids think they’re Muslim, and Hindu kids think they’re Hindu, that I will consider my vision as having been fully executed.

Update: The 99 are teaming up with Superman, Batman and The Flash!

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Our greatest enemy

Is the capture of Osama bin Laden the greatest hope for peace in the world? Some seem to think so. Would his imprisonment or death free billions of people to live with hope for their future? Not really.

Certainly it is good for a terrorist like bin Laden to be captured. However, is Osama bin Laden our greatest threat to peace and joy? No, he is not. In the age of terrorism and in America’s fight in the war on terror, we often lose sight of our greatest enemy.

Islam is not our greatest enemy and neither are Islamic fundamentalists or Al-Queda terrorists. And unlike the current thinking of some in the Muslim world, America is not Islam’s greatest enemy and it is not the Great Satan. Even Satan himself is not our greatest enemy. So what is our greatest enemy? What truly is the Great Satan? Sin—our sin, that is, the sin within each and every one of us.

Osama bin Laden cannot send anyone to hell. Islam cannot send anyone to hell. Not even Satan can send anyone to hell. Sin and sin alone is what sends people to hell. God is holy and he judges us for our sin and each one of us is full of it. Our greatest enemy and the greatest threat to our joy, peace and happiness is sin.

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