Islam


For someone who spends as much time communicating as I do, I’m obviously still not very good at it.

Since between work and Pascha services this week I don’t have much time, let me, as the fastest way of saying what I really think about Mormonism, refer you to a post I made this spring, back when Romney was a viable contender. You can find it right here. Basically, I conclude that Mormonism is a false religion, just as much originated by Satan as Islam is, in that he probably inspired two men (Mohammed and Joseph Smith) to write blasphemous lies against Jesus. Mormonism, unlike true Christianity, does not regard Jesus as divine, the only-begotten, unique Son of God. Mormonism teaches that God was once a human, and that all humans (or at least all males) can become gods in their own private universes, peopled by the offspring of their subservient wives (so yes, Mormonism, like other false religions, tramples on women, and, unlike Christianity, regards them as lower in kind than men).

Regarding polygamy, I agree that it’s illegal in America, and that even the biblical patriarchs limited themselves to two wives, and those of an age to consent.

What I was trying to say about the FLDS branch of Mormonism is that 1) I think most Americans’ visceral reaction to them is based on lifestyle choices that have nothing to do with polygamy, but which do present a glaring challenge to the culture of hedonism and free sex that prevails in America today; and 2) I respect groups which hold to the original tradition when it’s not politically correct to do so. The mainstream LDS church threw out Joseph Smith’s original teaching on polygamy because it made their life easier to do so. The FLDS hold onto it; even though that may involve brainwashing women, it’s at least the original form of Mormonism. Similarly, I respect “radical” Muslims more than “moderate” Muslims, because I think the radical Muslims understand and obey the original commands of Mohammed (kill the unbelievers until they submit to you, make no friends with Jews or Christians) better than the watered-down, secularized, moderate Muslims. That doesn’t mean that I approve of suicide bombers; I simply think they’re acting on the logical conclusions of their beliefs.

Does that help at all? Maybe I should also mention that in my personal beliefs, I try to stick to the Bible exactly as God gave it, without making alterations for modern sensibilities. God created the world out of nothing, in the space of six days, and all very good, until it was marred by man’s sin and the entry of death. God condemns sinners to hell in the next life because of their infinite crimes against him, and he is righteous and loving to do so (we can take this up in a later post). God offers free forgiveness and eternal life to all who confess that they have broken his laws, and accept his merciful gift in Christ, who died for us and rose from the dead on the third day, and sits in heaven until his kingdom is established through the whole world, and all nations kneel down and worship him. And along the way, women should submit to their husbands, men should have one wife and be faithful to her, and Christians ought to love their neighbors as much as they love themselves. This is absolutely true, and I make no apology for any of it, except to say that I wrote it as forcefully and bluntly as possible in order to parallel my wild statements about Islam and Mormonism.

They and I are at least in agreement about the existence of absolute truth and the extreme importance of finding it out; just as I had more in common, regarding modest clothes, and avoidance of wild parties, and chastity, and taking time out from studying for religious observances, with the Muslim girls in medical school, than with the nominal Christians.

I look forward to reading your comments.  :)  And I guess I had better also put out an apology in case any of the above is needlessly offensive, as I may not have time to answer comments till late in the day. I don’t mean to be insulting, but to state the truth as I know it, forcefully. The lateness of the hour may make some phrases ill-judged.

Last night I came across a couple of news articles about a prominent Italian Muslim (who, to be fair, hadn’t actually practiced Islam for many years) who converted to Christianity and was baptized by the pope as part of a televised Easter vigil service. I say congratulations to him, and admire his bravery. Magdi Allam, who took the name Christiano in the baptismal ceremony, already had one death warrant against him for his activism against Islam, and I am sure this very public conversion will earn him another.

Some media commentators, ever ready to deliberate on matters they don’t understand, questioned why the Pope would create such a public show. It seems consistent with his bold statements about the true nature of Islam, and I think he as well as Allam is to be praised for boldly confronting an issue which Muslim leaders would rather keep secret, that is, that conversion out of Islam deserves the death penalty under sharia law – law which is often effectively carried out by vigilantes or family members of converts in Muslim countries.

In American politics, I finally decided to read Obama’s famous race speech. I have to say, much as I disagree with his philosophy and his grasp of history, conservatives who denigrate his speaking abilities seem to be doing so unfairly. It is a rhetorically effective speech, well constructed, cleverly addressing all the key issues and defusing them. Not that I think he actually solved the question of his connection Jeremiah Wright, but he did the best possible job of explaining him and at the same time making the attacks on him part of a bigger picture.

News from the UK: Rules of the Koran are more important than hygiene, according to UK’s Islamic Medical Society. Actually, make that cultural standards, not Koranic rules, since the Koran itself doesn’t really specify the precise nature of modest women’s clothing. The imams have just taught that whatever they wore in Mohammed’s time has to have been the heavenly standard. Sort of like chronological snobbery taken to the extreme.

But yes. Now religious scruples trump scientific principles, and keeping a few inches of your skin covered is more important than taking good care of your patients. One wonders why these women are involved in health professions, anyway. Do they not find it disturbing, or at least hypocritical, to be looking at naked male patients, while they refuse to lift their sleeves enough to wash properly?

Here in the US, there’s an uproar if Christian pharmacists propose not to dispense abortifacient drugs due to their religious principles. And all they’re doing is offering a slight obstruction to health care (if you insist on calling the destruction of life health care) (and yes, this is weighted language to be using about RU-486). But it seems to be all right, at least by Muslim standards, to downright forcibly endanger your patient’s health because you’re so concerned about letting your wrists be seen in public.

I have some pretty high standards of modesty myself, but this is ridiculous and hypocritical. Let’s see whether the UK health community is able to respond appropriately, or whether the once-proud Britons have truly become slaves, the new dhimmis. (Which is the Arabic word for conquered peoples who are allowed a few protections as second-class citizens as long as they submit to all Islamic laws.)

I would like to draw your attention to recent events in Egypt, where there have been some more riots and violence against the minority Coptic Christians. I pray for God’s protection for my people, but it’s hard to be too indignant, considering that in spite of frequent and unprovoked waves of violence, the Copts are still much better off than in Christians in almost all other Muslim-controlled countries (Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Indonesia, etc). Just don’t believe the “peaceful religion” propaganda; the Copts are second-class citizens, like all non-Muslims living in a Muslim country, and these riots are the mullahs’ attempts to remind us that the modern era of openness with the West doesn’t change our centuries-old status, imposed since the Muslim conquest of the Christian Middle East. This is what they want to make of Europe and the US, too; they won’t be satisfied till we’re all dhimmis, paying the jizya.

Yesterday evening the local Christian university had an Algerian terrorism expert to speak. Last week they had a pastor from Baghdad speaking; he requested his name not be on the internet, so I won’t say much about him, just to be sure. Only that he was very contemptuous of the notion of “moderate Islam.”

The Algerian, on the other hand, is a “secular” Muslim; his father was assassinated by the terrorists early in the uprising in the ’90s. To give him credit, he is definitely risking his own life by the statements he makes. (Halfway through the speech, which was being broadcast on the internet, two dark-skinned young men with beards and Afghan-style caps walked in and sat down in the front row; my mother and I started planning exit routes; but they didn’t do anything.) He started by firmly explaining that more Muslims have been killed by Islamic terrorists than non-Muslims; which is too bad, and very nice rhetorically, but doesn’t change the fact that the motivation of the terrorists is religious. He went on with the history of the Algerian problems in some depth; which was very informative, if not perhaps what we were expecting to hear about.

Everything was going ok until the question-and-answer part. My father couldn’t come; he’s the one who looks like he can make an authoritative statement about Islam and terrorism. I know what he would like to say, but somehow I don’t look the part. I waited in hopes that other audience members would perceive the problem with the speaker’s statements that “Islam is a religion of peace,” and “it has been hijacked by radicals.” But no. On this Christian university campus, all the questions accepted his basic premise. So I got one of the microphones and said, “With all due respect to your understanding of the Koran, isn’t it true that there are verses in the Koran which command to kill the infidels? And isn’t it true that Mohammed himself was pretty violent, and that Islam’s early spread was mostly by violent conquest?” The speaker gave me a very patient look, and explained that when regarded “in context” we understand that Mohammed was a warlord, and was obliged to be violent, because he was attacked by polytheistic tribes. With the unspoken assumption that he likes Jews and Christians, but polytheists it’s ok to kill. Very revealing, from a secular Muslim. Personally I don’t approve of polytheists; but that doesn’t mean they need to be killed! And of course, he was completely disregarding all the Jews Mohammed personally killed, and all the Christians all over the Middle East who were killed by Mohammed’s successors. But by that time I didn’t have the mike.

The next questioner was an earnest, red-headed young lady, who began with the statement, “We all know that Islam has created a great culture, and the Ottoman empire was very tolerant. . . ” He happily picked that up, and talked about the wonderful Islamic civilization, while Europe was in the Dark Ages (can you imagine me squirming here?), and then said that the Ottoman empire never persecuted anyone for religious or ethnic reasons – At which I simply exploded, and said loudly, “How about the Armenian massacres?” He handled me very nicely, finishing his previous statement, and then explaining that the Armenians were thought to be fifth columnists for the Russians, and thus the massacre was understandable, if not justifiable. (It was a mistake to try cross-ex technique without continuing control of a microphone.) Yes. So now he was absolutely lying through his teeth: no persecution by the Ottomans? And then he asserted that no – no! – modern Islamic state persecutes Christians. That was lying. That wasn’t just a different interpretation of the Koran, or even of history. Which is actually the more difficult to understand, since the speaker was Berber, and openly acknowledged that the Berbers were Christians before the Muslims came.

The one great part was when he was asked why he resigned from the UN, and he explained, with passion, how corrupt and ineffectual the UN is; that it’s just an arrangement for anti-American people to pension themselves and all their friends and relations. The last straw for him was when his boss, a crony of Annan, hired his young nephews and nieces, just out of college, to positions equal to the speaker’s own, after all his years of hard work. Also how these young people did no work, and called their uncle by pet names in the office. So I nodded as vigorously as I could; he has one thing correct, after all. For the rest, I don’t know whether he was deliberately lying about persecution by Muslims, or what; maybe he has a mental block, that he can’t acknowledge the fact that Islam can’t be reformed, otherwise his life would be truly hopeless. But he is living among enough lies that it’s not surprising if he tells some too. It just makes me very angry that these Christian young people don’t recognize the truth.

So afterwards I caught one of the young men who’d asked questions, a homeschool graduate who ought to know better, and gave him all the lecture I’d been bursting with. He was very polite, and let me exclaim about the inexcusability of the Armenian massacre, and the intolerance of Muslims throughout the Middle Ages, and how the great and fantastic Islamic culture was just a result of their capturing all the Greek books in their rampages, and how they didn’t know how to build pillars in mosques till they stole them from the churches, and killed the Christian engineers who showed them how to do it from scratch. And how false it is to say modern Islamic governments aren’t persecuting Christians. I think I was talking a little bit loudly, on purpose, so the other young people in the area could hear some of it too. The young man was very polite; he advised me to have a cool drink.

Then, the speaker came by, and nodded to me, and asked if I was Armenian. I told him, no, Coptic. So we had a polite exchange, hindered by a crazy dispensationalist who stuck his head in and announced, “You came here to pave the way for Antichrist,” and gleefully asserted that the end of the world was thus at hand. We all stared at him in disbelief; the speaker seemed not to know enough about American Christianity to understand him at all, and the rest of us cut him out as hard as we could. Not constructive at all; so what if he is from Satan? Does it help to tell him so? And if he isn’t consciously and personally working for Satan, it’s not helpful either. But I was hoping that he wouldn’t spend the whole evening on a Christian campus, and get nothing but a political discussion. So I told him if he thought there were inconsistencies in the Koran, verses for and against violence, and for against Jesus and the Bible, he ought to read the Bible, as the most reliable answer.

I excuse my behavior by saying that if my father had come, he would have been just as angry, and he would have interrupted at least as much as I did – possibly in Arabic. My poor mother has to put up with both of us.

One of my other vacation projects is to finish my memorization of Romans. It’s no doubt not proper hermeneutics at all, but to me the parts about the Gentiles always sound appropriate for Muslims. “My heart’s desire and prayer to God for [the Muslims] is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record, that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. . . . That the [Muslims] might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the [Muslims], and sing unto thy name. And again he says, Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people . . . Isaiah says, There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to rule over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust.” Oh God, make these verse true for the Muslims. “As it is written, To those whom he was not spoken of, they shall see; and they that have not heard shall understand.” It’s been long enough, my Lord, for them not to see or hear or understand. It is not for your glory, my Lord, for this to continue any longer. Please, open their eyes, open their hearts, call them to yourself. Break Satan’s hold on that part of the world, my Lord, let your dominion be established as far as the sun shines. Father, you promised, if your Son asked for the uttermost parts of the earth, that you would put them under his feet, that he would rule them with a rod of iron. My Lord, this is the center of the earth; don’t leave them any longer in such darkness. “For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” Let it be so!

The case against Abdul Rahman, the Christian convert, has been dropped. This AP article quotes a prison authority as saying, “He keeps saying he’s hearing voices.” The Afghan government is still getting full mileage out of the excuse that Rahman is “insane.” I can’t tell whether to believe this official or not. Given what I know of God’s dealings with martyrs, I wouldn’t put it past Rahman to be hearing some real voices. That does not make him mentally incompetent, any more than Peter and Paul were.

The local Muslims aren’t putting too much credence in this story, either. CNN reports protests across Afghanistan at the possibility that Rahman will be freed. It is so obliging of Muslims to be frank in such matters. When upset at the cartooned hint that Islam might be violent, they roundly disprove the charge by deadly riots. When the suggestion is made that Islam and Afghan law do not permit freedom of conscience, they organize riots (which I fear will prove deadly to Rahman) at the thought that Westerners might force them to appear liberal or humane.

Don’t think that he is out of danger, simply because the Afghan government is feeling some diplomatic pressure. It is a well-known event in this part of the world, for a Christian to be released, inadequately protected by police, and murdered by a mob.

Mark Steyn’s article on this subject is too delicious not to quote:

In a more culturally confident age, the British in India were faced with the practice of “suttee” – the tradition of burning widows on the funeral pyres of their husbands. Gen. Sir Charles Napier was impeccably multicultural:

“You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: When men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks, and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours.”

Among my stack of vacation books, which includes Knife of Dreams, the eleventh of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series (delightfully, it returns to the smaller print of the earlier books, so it’s longer than the previous three), and 1776 by David McCullough, is Eurabia by Bat Ye’or, the French-speaking Jewish expert on dhimmitude. (See her book of that title.)

Her thesis in this most recent book that Europe has essentially entered the cultural “sphere of influence” of Islam, and been taken over by it, just as Asian and African countries were taken over by the colonial powers. She persuasively argues that jihad is a fundamental part of the Islamic framework; that it existed before the Crusades, and cannot be excused as a response to them; that it has shaped Islam’s relationship to its borders ever since the beginning. According to Bat Ye’or (who is a meticulous scholar, and quotes several Islamic authorities, past and present, for each of her premises), the juridical philosophy of jihad allows for three possible conditions of a nation: 1) Those who are at war with Islam. This is the natural condition of all infidels. In Islamic thought, they  must declare peace when it occurs, but war is assumed. 2) Those who have a truce, and can trade peacefully. Truces are only allowed when the Islamic forces do not have the ability to conquer the territory at this time, and wish to regroup, or if the other country is paying tribute. The truce can only last for ten years, and must be renewed after that. Any actions derogatory to Islam automatically break the truce. (This would be Europe in its current condition. Bin Laden specifically referred to a truce with Europe in some of his messages, and the broken truce can be seen in the recent cartoon furor.) 3) Nations which have surrendered, have accepted dhimmi status. They are protected from outright violence, but are subject to economic and social sanctions. This is where all the formerly Christians civilizations of the Middle East and North Africa have gone, and Europe is rapidly following. 

Bat Ye’or traces the centrality of this vision of the world to Islamic thought, and shows how Europe has been gradually falling into submission to Islam for the past several decades. Moreover, Muslims see themselves under an obligation to fight evil. By definition, anyone not submitting to Mohammed and Allah is evil. Therefore they are morally obligated to fight – and not in the pietistic, self-improving manner so sweetly expounded to PC Americans – to fight infidels.

My own thoughts: The humanism and relativism of the West has made many pundits and thinkers incapable of recognizing the force of absolute moral conviction. True outrage at evil is so foreign to their thought processes that they cannot fathom the dedication which such a conviction produces in Muslims. Much as I hate it, I feel a kinship with Muslims in this area. I also believe that there is absolute evil in this society, and absolute evil in people refusing to worship the true God. I suppose one could say it’s humility which makes the big difference here. I don’t presume to be able to correct all this evil. I don’t think that even with a whole lot of my friends, if I went around shooting and blowing things up, could I fix the problem. God is the only one who can redeem fallen man. No one comes to the Father unless the Father draws him; and whoever he has given to the Son will surely come to him, and by no means be lost. For people who profess belief in fate, and absolute predestination, Muslims seem to have little practical faith in God’s providence.

I’ve only read the first two chapters so far; more to follow.

Afghan convert to Christianity Abdul Rahman faces death penalty; Bush is concerned. I have to say, one of my first reactions to seeing this story headlined on CNN was, If it takes military involvement for the West to be concerned about Muslims killing Christians, maybe we should invade some more countries. No; not really. But this has been going on for the entire past century (not to mention the previous thirteen). More than a dozen Christians have been executed or lynched in Pakistan within the past few years for “blasphemy,” ie refusing to acknowledge Mohammed as a prophet, ie being Christians. Hundreds of Christians have been killed in Indonesia. Not to mention the hundreds of thousands of Christians killed or sold into slavery in the Sudan. And the Christians in Saudi Arabia, mostly foreign servants, jailed and tortured for having Bibles or meeting together to pray. And the Palestinian Christians who have been systematically driven out of Bethlehem and other PA-controlled areas. And the converts in Egypt whose families try to kill them (with varying success), or the priests who are killed every other year or so. And the religious violence in Nigeria, which is usually begun by Muslims, and kills mostly Christians, as the northern Islamic states try to impose the brutal sharia law.

I am glad that the media and the Western power have noticed the situation. It’s nice that they’re now horrified. But I have to ask, are they going to do anything serious? The State Department has been making vague protests for years; I don’t remember any cases where they actually made a difference. Are we really going to withdraw troops, or financial aid, from Afghanistan if this man is executed? What about if he’s released, and killed by a mob, while the police knowingly stand by? (Far the most likely outcome.)

I just noticed that the CNN story goes on to note suggestions by state prosecutors that Rahman is mentally incompetent. Quote, “We think he could be mad. . . He doesn’t talk like a normal person.” Ding ding ding. Soviet Union, anybody? Dissidents and evangelical Christians locked up in mental asylums, because anyone who would believe in God must be insane? Very cute. Maybe this is the way they will spare his life without losing face in front of Islamic religious leaders. Of course, there’s also the statement, at the end of the story, from the Afghani Foreign Minister, that “the government has nothing to do with the case.” I’m not completely clear how someone can be prosecuted by the state, before a judge, for breaking a law, and the government not be involved. Maybe Clinton could help them explain.

On the other hand, I have to say, “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.” I praise God for Rahman’s testimony. He said, “They want to sentence me to death, and I accept it.” This is a difficult thing to say, safe in the US; and God knows I don’t want to stay here. But as long as Christians in Muslim countries care more for their own safety than for the advancement of God’s kingdom, and the salvation of the Muslims, so long they will remain weak and few. The Church has always grown through trials. Pray God that this man’s testimony will be a challenge to other Christians in these countries, not to keep silent any longer. And for American Christians: We cannot in all conscience stay on the sidelines any longer. For too long Western Christians have avoided working in Muslim countries, because they’re “too dangerous.” Nothing is more dangerous than hanging back from an inevitable conflict. The gates of hell will not prevail against Christ’s church. With this promise, there is no real danger.

Yesterday evening we had some friends over, and they brought with them some missionaries to Australia who were staying with them. During the course of the evening, we discussed a horrifying law which was passed in the Australian state of Victoria in 2001, and which resulted in the trial of two Christians pastors for “vilifying Islam.” The two pastors, converts from Islam (one a Pakistani who had previously been in trouble for violating the country’s law against maligning Islam), held a seminar about Islam in 2002 in which they said that the Koran promotes violence and looting, demeans women, and calls for amputation for theft. (This link from JihadWatch has transcripts from the seminar.) All statements easily found in various Koranic verses (see links for references). But the judge refused to allow quotations from the Koran to serve as evidence, saying that to read from the Koran would be vilifying to Islam. Sounds like he already made up his mind before hearing the case. This link quotes a British journalist’s take on other inconsistencies and injustices in the case. The pastors were found guilty and sentenced to four years in jail. The case is currently on appeal, including a request by the Muslim organization that brought the case that the pastors and the organization should publicly recant their statements, but the pastors are unapologetic.

The good news is that this case has shown Australians the danger of “antivilification” laws, increasing the likelihood that a similar law will not be passed in other states (one is currently before the legislature in New South Wales), and raising calls for its repeal. We’ll see how far that gets. Unbelievably, many Australian Christians claim to have been unaware of the potential of this law when it was first passed. (Who else would modern tolerance-mongers want to silence?)

This kind of absurd and oppressive law is not far from America. Already Muslim advocacy groups like CAIR are bringing anti-defamation suits against groups that oppose them. There are plenty of groups, including homosexuals, who would like to limit Christians’ ability to proclaim the Bible’s truth because it’s offensive to their ears. We’ve already heard rhetoric about “hate speech” directed at prominent Christian leaders who speak out against Islam or the homosexual lifestyle. And since the Supreme Court has already ruled the flag-burning and pornography are protected speech, but prayer in school or before a football game is forbidden, it’s not hard to foresee a twisted interpretation of the First Amendment which claims that truthful statements about other religions are too hateful and offensive to be allowed.

Christianity and Islam are mutually exclusive religions. Both make absolute truth claims, describing followers of other religions as lost souls destined for hell, and denouncing those who contradict their scriptures. Freedom of religion ought to mean that members of both religions are free to preach whatever they want, short of actually inciting violence against the others. If someone is so thin-skinned as to be offended by a truthful (or even an untruthful) description of his religion, he should stay indoors. But this isn’t about “offensiveness.” It’s about a carefully planned campaign by Muslims to make themselves the dominant religion and culture in the West, as they are in their own world, by slowly removing the ability of anyone to speak out against them. It’s forbidden by sharia law to criticize Mohammed or the Koran. Pretty soon, it will be illegal in the West too.

I understand Muslims wanting to take over the world. It’s the natural result of an absolute religious belief. The Bible promises that Jesus will rule the world. The big difference is, I’m not going to use violence to bring that about. The Truth is strong enough without human force.

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