Islam


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.

The press release about a continuing crisis in Egypt: A 19-year-old Coptic Christian girl was kidnapped in February. The police continue to keep Neveen Morcos hidden away, and refuse to let her family contact her. They claim she converted to Islam. That is absolute nonsense. She was planning to enter a convent when she was kidnapped. There is no way a 19-year-old would voluntarily change her convictions that rapidly and easily.Two priests were allowed to speak with her in March, in a police building. They report that she appeared drugged, gave rote answers to questions, and tried to avoid talking about her family – I would guess she was trying not to draw her captors’ attention to her older sister, who has since been harassed.

Kidnapping Christian girls is a favorite tactic of the Muslims in Egypt, always with the implicit approval of the government, in this case with their overt assistance.

Please, do two things. 1) Pray for Neveen and her family. God can do great things. Girls have been known to escape. 2) After reading the press release, contact the Egyptian embassy in Washington DC, express your outrage at this violation of religious freedom, and ask that Neveen Morcos be returned to her family.

This is the embassy’s website.

Phone number: (202) 895 5400

Fax: (202) 244 5131

Email: embassy@egyptembdc.org

If you have extra energy, look through the US Copts Association’s file of previous press releases, then call your congressmen and tell them that foreign aid to Egypt ought to be linked to the extent to which human rights and religious freedom are genuinely protected there.

***

I guess I should explain, the Copts are the indigenous Christians of Egypt, the ones who were there from the time of the Roman Empire, who have been persecuted and martyred by the Arab Muslims ever since the invasion in 642 AD. Currently, the situation is not as bad as, say, Pakistan, where another Christian was just murdered on the accusation of blaspheming the Koran, but Christians are definitely persecuted, and the police are the enemies, not protectors. Mubarak talks prettily about human rights and democracy, but so far he hasn’t done much of real good. Like I said, Christian girls are a big target. If you never let them talk to their family, they can never say how they never really converted. And of course, converting out of Islam is next to impossible.

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