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Archive for the ‘World’ 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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Earthquakes in Iran

Natural disasters do one thing well. They remind us of the common humanity we all share. Yesterday two earthquakes hit northwest Iran have killed 306 people. Please pray for Iran.

The Big Picture blog has pictures of the tragedy.

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Muslimah Media Watch is a great blog to follow if you are interestsed in learning more about the lives of Muslim women, especially about how they are portrayed in the media. This is what they say about themselves:

Muslimah Media Watch is a forum where we, as Muslim women, can critique how our images appear in the media and popular culture. Although we are of different nationalities, sects, races, etc., we have something important in common: we’re tired of seeing ourselves portrayed by the media in ways that are one-dimensional and misleading. This is a space where, from a Muslim feminist perspective, we can speak up for ourselves.

A couple of days ago I had a post about Muslim women in the Olympics. Yesterday MMW had a great post with lots more information about various Muslim women competing in the Olympics. Read it if you want to learn more about women from various countries. It is interesting to see how big a deal the hijab (head covering) and more conservative outfits may or may not be in various sports. The Iranian soccer team wasn’t able to come to the Games because they were not going to be allowed to wear head scarves. I just do not see why this matters.

What’s your take on Muslim women wearing the headscarf as they compete?

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Saudi Arabia was the last country holding out on sending a woman to the Olympics. Now they’ve done it by sending two (Qatar and Brunei also sent women for the first time, but had made this decision before Saudi Arabia). Wjodan Shaherkani competed in Judo today and Sarah Attar will run in the 800. Unfortunately, Shaherkani lost her match today in just 82 seconds, but she did get a great round of applause when she was introduced as the first Saudi woman to compete in the Olympics.

There was some controversy surrounding Shaherkani because of her insistence that she where the hijab (head covering) while competing. At first this was not going to be allowed and she threatened to withdraw. I’m glad they found a compromise since I can’t see any way in which wearing a head covering would impact the match and it enables her to follow her religious convictions.

You can watch the video of her match here.

 

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Apparently the world’s most typical person is not a Muslim or a Christian, which is odd since Muslims and Christians make up about 54% of the world’s population. According to this National Geographic video the world’s most typical person is Han Chinese. Watch the video and see what else is typical. You can also check out their 7 billion site.

HT: 22 Words

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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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In a post from Visual Peacemakers encouraging photographers visiting other cultures to “wear their shoes” there were some great points for anyone visiting another culture. These six suggestions will go a long way in helping someone gain a better understanding of people different than them, which is a prerequisite for peacemaking.

1. Leave some comforts at home: eat local, use local soap products, maybe wear some local garb.

2. Adhere to their customs and lifestyle: this could possibly mean taking your shoes off, waving at people a certain way, covering your head in a mosque, or opening a door for a stranger. Take local transport, or visit non-touristy markets and neigborhoods.

3. Don’t stay in the most touristy area: there is a tourist box waiting for you to fit into, counteract this by getting off the beaten path.

4. Use their language: get a phrase book and practice with cab drivers, waiters, hotel lobbyists, and others you encounter. It will communicate that you value them and can result in invites to experience the culture backstage, beyond the tourist routes.

5. Sit and observe local life: there is huge value in just pausing to people-watch for a while, feel the rhythm and join in. Is it sit-on-your-porch-slow, or NewYorker-style speed-walking?

6. Withhold judgement: in other cultures we all find some things to be a bit peculiar… trust me, they do it “that way” for a reason. They’re intelligent and have histories that have shaped the present. It doesn’t mean a little change wouldn’t be good. Change in the world is often good. But withhold your judgement for awhile, and don’t come to conclusions until you talk with several locals and experience multiple portals of information. You just might learn something, too.

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