Archive for July, 2010

July 27th, 2010

The Glorified Deceit

On July 2, I wrote for the first time on the arrests of Acts 17 Apologetics missionaries in Dearborn, Michigan. Christians, including Dr. James White, urged their fellow Christians—even witnesses to the arrests—for restraint in passing their judgment because these missionaries had “everything” they did on video. While Dr. White asked Christians to wait for the video evidence, he did not stop from denigrating the City of Dearborn and its police department. I wondered how he would react this strongly when he was not in Dearborn, let alone be a witness. An Arab Christian even notified Dr. White of his concerns of Acts 17 missionaries and he was called to wait for the video evidence.

Dearborn Police Department returned the cameras “intact” or “without erasing all the footage” [Acts 17 Apologetics statements] a fortnight ago. As promised, footages of the arrests were posted. Most Christians, mostly Dr. White’s fans, quickly asked their fellow Christians to repent publicly for questioning the arrests. I have wondered how witnesses could recant what they witnessed prior to the arrests that footages don’t debunk.

Since posted footages weren’t answering questions, I wrote a post on July 19 of how 15-20 minutes of footage before the first arrest could provide clues. I was specific. Nageen’s arrest. A concerned Christian was upset with me. He sent me a message and we went back and forth for a while. He ended up asking Acts 17 on Facebook for the video footage prior to Nageen’s arrest. The message was clear. The footage should be what transpired before the first arrest. How hard can it be? Guess what video was posted? Dubbed, “The Missing Footage,” it has nothing to do with the first arrest. Nageen had already been arrested at that point. The public needs to know what happened that necessitated the criminal complaint. They want people to believe that they were victims of injustice. How evasive and misleading can they get? Can they just admit that not all of their activities—legal or “illegal”—were on camera?

Even with these questions still lingering, Dr. White still gives this group a platform to spread their myth about being arrested in Dearborn for being a Christian, etcetera. They were on “Iron Sharpens Iron” last Wednesday, courtesy of Dr. White, discussing the arrests. He “very highly recommended” the appearance.

Dr. White—a man known for his straight answers—keeps on changing his story as well. From his initial post about “the rule of law (not Sharia) in Dearborn” to the most recent one belittling Josh McDowell witnessing to Muslims. Apparently, he learned the hard way that Christians still preach or distribute Bibles and tracts in Dearborn. I wonder if he has ever been to Dearborn to write such a scathing initial post on the arrests. Does anyone know? Sad, how his objectivity is lacking and integrity somewhat wanting. It seems they matter only when investigating Dr. Ergun Caner. On that note, Liberty University rendered its verdict four weeks ago and that has not stopped Dr. White from continuing his discussion. A mere red herring because Dr. White refuses to acknowledge that he has been wrong in criticizing the Dearborn police, Josh McDowell ministries, other Christians and organizations. Evidence of his deceit is even on his Alpha & Omega Ministries website. His fans never question it. Instead, they glorify it.

July 21st, 2010

New Oxford Review Reviews Cracks in the Crescent

I am grateful to Dr. Philip Blosser, Professor of Philosophy at Sacred Heart Major Seminary, for reviewing Cracks in the Crescent and for the New Oxford Review for publishing it in the July/August issue. Here is an excerpt from the printed article. You can read the rest of the article after the jump.

Cracks in the Crescent. By Hussein Hajji Wario. Bethany Press. 252 pages. $24.95 [sic]. [Error. Book retails for $15.99.]

Since the events of 9/11, Christians in the West have become increasingly interested in what makes the Muslim world tick. Writers and publishers, for their part, have begun turning out a growing number of books introducing Western Christians to the world of Islam. Offerings from Catholic publishers include Jacques Jomier’s The Bible and the Qur’an (Ignatius Press, 2002), Dan iel Ali and Robert Spen cer’s Inside Islam: A Guide for CatholicsIslam Unveiled (Encounter Books, 2003), and Giorgio Pao lucci and Ca mille Eid’s interview-based volume, 111 Questions on Islam: Samir Kha lil Samir, S.J., on Islam and the West (Ignatius Press, 2008), to mention but a few.

Hussein Hajji Wario’s Cracks in the Crescent warrants special notice. Two facts set this book apart. First, Wario is not only a former Sunni Muslim with years of experience in an Islamic culture, but unlike many Muslims was thoroughly educated in the esoteric aspects of Islam. Second, the arguments he uses to expose Islam — arguments honed by years of experience of debating Muslim peers after his Christian conversion — are drawn from the extensive literature of Islam itself, not merely the Qur’an, but Islamic history, Seerah (the life of Muham­mad), Sunnah (specific words, actions, and practices of Mu hammad), and Hadith (narrations based on the words of Muhammad shedding light on the Qur’an and matters of jurisprudence), and Fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence). The purpose of his book, Wario says, is to help both Muslims and non-Muslims seeking answers about the true nature of Islam.

Wario was educated in traditional Islamic schools, called ma drassa, in Kenya during his formative years. Upon graduation he served as a madrassa teaching assistant and as a muadhin, the man who calls Muslims to prayer, in his native hometown. The first fourteen chapters of his book chronicle his upbringing in the monolithically Muslim community of his Kenyan Orma tribe, the shocking persecutions that followed his Christian conversion in 1989, and his emigration to the United States, where he attended Hope College in Michigan. The final two chapters deal thematically with the distortions behind the “Jesus of Islam” and the “Promised Comforter,” whom Muslims understand to be Muhammad.
Western readers will be startled to read Wario’s account of the tight, hierarchical network of Muslim clerics who strictly oversaw every aspect of Wario’s education. All of life revolved around the madrassa and local mosque. As soon as he was old enough, he was taught to read and write Arabic, and then to read the Qur’an. Along with fellow schoolboys, he still bears scars from the floggings they received when they misspelled or mispronounced words from the Qur’an.

Since Islam recognizes the virgin birth of Jesus and considers Him a human prophet, it is not surprising that Wario’s first awareness of Jesus came not from Christians but from hearing a Muslim cleric state that Jesus would return at the end of the world for the final judgment. His first serious encounter with Christianity came, however, only after a Christian headmaster at a government school took him under his wing, helped advance his education by a transfer to a better boarding school, then invited him to his home over the Christmas holidays and invited him to church. These events precipitated a crisis in which all of Wa rio’s Muslim commitments and prejudices about Christians were put to the test. After months of conflicted reflection, they were eventually found wanting. Among the more humorous of these was the preposterous fable he and his childhood classmates had been told that Muslims who attend Christian services received a “stamp” on their buttocks that earmarked them for Hell — a story he hilariously and decisively undermined for his childhood friends after his conversion while swimming with them.

A significant dynamic in Wa rio’s conversion was the evangelical seriousness of the Christians he encountered, their witness, their willingness to invite him to church, to give him a Bible, to instruct him in the faith, and to make the guarded arrangements necessary for his baptism and incorporation into the Christian community amidst a religiously hostile social environment. From his description, these Christians appear to have been, for the most part, Pentecostals, Baptists, and those from the Reformed tradition. In any case, the Christianity Wario absorbed fostered in him an evangelical earnestness about winning his Muslim family and friends to the Gospel. At every turn, he boldly confronted his friends and other Muslims with inconsistencies he found in Islam and challenged them to accept the Gospel. Sometimes his boldness verged toward brazenness, as when he flouted the fasting regulations of Ramadan while staying with his family.

None of this, of course, won him any friends. News of Wario’s conversion spread like wildfire, and his community rose up in outrage against him. The very idea that teachings of the Qur’an might be questioned in discussion, let alone contradicted, was considered unthinkable insolence. Wario was repeatedly assaulted physically. One student who heard about his conversion traveled 120 kilometers in order to beat him up. Offers were made to literally “buy him” back, on the assumption that he must have been paid to convert to Christianity. Ominous plans were made to forcibly convert him back to Islam. His family arranged for him to see an exorcist. Attempts were made on his life. His sister attempted to poison him — a fate he only narrowly escaped by a vague intuition that something was wrong on the occasion when she served him a drink. To add insult to injury, he was sometimes criticized by Christians who misunderstood his motives.

Keenly aware that few of his Muslim contacts would ever seriously consider conventional arguments of Christian apologetics because of their Muslim religious conditioning never to question what they were taught, Wario learned to focus on undermining the credibility of Islam by examining its own authorities, principally the writings of the Qur’an and Hadith. Muslims remain pervasively ignorant of certain key elements of their faith, according to Wario, for three reasons: (1) discussion about the Qur’an is censored in many Muslim countries and communities; (2) there is a decided lack of adequate accessible resources, such as Hadith collections, for Muslims to learn readily about the esoteric aspects of Islam; and (3) scare tactics that are constantly employed to deter Muslims from exploring Christianity, which would assist them in discerning the inner distortions of Islam, such as the Qur’an’s nonsensical claim that the mother of Jesus is Miriam, the sister of Aaron, the brother of Moses.

Among the more interesting points raised by Wario is the doctrine of “abrogation,” by which Muslims attempt to reconcile contradictions in the Qur’an. For example, Mu ham mad’s early, more amicable “revelations” in the Qur’an calling for peaceful co-existence of Muslims with Jews, Christians, and the patrons of pagan gods in Mecca contradict his later dic ta calling for the slaying of all infidels — Jews and Christians included. While there are many peace-loving Muslims who insist that Islam only calls on Muslims to defend their religion, Wario argues that the doctrine of “abrogation” renders this view either naïve or mendacious because it demands the supplanting of Muham mad’s earlier call for peaceful co-existence by his later call for violent conquest. “Islamic scholars prevaricate when dealing with the latter verses of the Qur’an,” says Wario, “because these verses essentially prove that Osama bin Laden is…[living] in accordance with what Allah has decreed.”

On one occasion, when seriously outnumbered by a crowd of young Muslim men, Wario was asked why he left Islam. He knew that any answer he gave justifying his rejection of Islam would upset his audience, so he chose to reference an esoteric doctrine of Islam and replied that he left their religion because the Qur’­an, in a text glossed over by Mus lim scholars, clearly states that all Muslims will go to Hell no matter how piously they have lived. Much to the disbelief and consternation of his listeners, the Muslim cleric at the local mosque confirmed his claim. The esoteric Muslim doctrine that all Muslims are destined for Hell, if only temporarily, presents a dilemma that most Islamic scholars do not like to admit, says Wario, but proves that Islam borrowed from the Zoroastrian religion and its idea of a bridge over Hell.

Islam borrows, in fact, not only from Judaism, Christianity, and Zoroastrianism, but from pre-Islamic Arabian paganism. Few books have been more inflammatory to Muslims than Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses (1988), a novel whose title refers to a group of Qur’anic verses in which Muhammad allows for prayers of intercession to be made to three pagan Meccan goddesses: Allat, al-Uz zá, and Manat. Rushdie received a fatwa, a religious declaration calling for his death, by none other than Ayatollah Khomeini, the supreme Muslim leader of Iran, in 1989. The passage is inflammatory because the Qur’an states clearly that Muham mad recited these “Satanic verses,” and this poses a threat to his credibility as a prophet of Allah—a detail Islamic scholars have an interest in covering up. Furthermore, the “Satanic verses” would tend to undermine the Islamic claim that Muhammad is the “Promised Comforter,” who, in the New Testament at least, is the Holy Spirit promised to “lead you into all truth” (Jn. 16:13), not error.

There are other problems with the Islamic claim that Muhammad is the “Promised Comforter.” For one thing, the Hadith clearly states that the angel Gabriel is the Holy Spirit, a claim reinforced by the Yusuf Ali commentary on the Qur’an. Fur ther more, Muhammad, as the “Promised Comforter,” did not continue the mission of Jesus, but followed his own agenda of jihad against non-Muslims, including Christians. In fact, parts of the Qur’ an falsely accuse Jesus of telling His disciples to take His mother Mary as a god and a member of a trinity of gods.

The most embarrassing aspect of Muhammad’s life to Muslims who know, however, are his sexual indiscretions — his exorbitant number of wives even by Muslim standards (official accounts state that he had eleven wives; others as many as twenty-five [sic]) [book reads "nine and eleven" on page 16 instead of "eleven... twenty-five"]; his marriage to Aisha when she was only six or seven and still playing with dolls, according to the Hadith, a marriage that was consummated when she was nine years old; his proposal of marriage to the beautiful Umm Salama on the day of her husband’s death; his marriage to Zainab, the wife of one of his adopted sons, Zaid bin Haritha, after pressuring them to divorce; the Hadith’s statement that he was given the strength of thirty men to service all of his wives every day and night in his old age; etc.

By far the most interesting point that Wario discusses is the “Jesus of Islam.” Even though the Qur’an and Hadith depict Jesus in ways that are often grossly distorted, they inadvertently accord Him tremendous attributes that show His vast superiority to all the prophets mentioned in the Qur’an, including Muhammad — attributes including His sinlessness, that He would be a revelation and a mercy for mankind, and that He was uniquely protected (along with His mother, Mary, “chosen above the women of all nations”) from Satan at birth. The Qur’an says that Jesus is a “word of Allah,” and a “spirit” from Him who became flesh through the power of the Holy Spirit (the angel Gabriel in Islam). Miracles of Jesus are acknowledged, whereas no incontrovertible miracles are attributed to Muham­mad. This is not to deny the multitude of bizarre distortions in Islam concerning Jesus, but it certainly suffices to provoke wonder at how Muslims can believe that God would send Islam as a religion to abrogate and supplant Christianity, when, even by Islam’s own account, the “prophet” who brought Christianity is superior in every respect.

We owe a debt of gratitude to Wario for the courage of his response to Christ’s call to follow Him out of his Islamic community in Kenya, at great personal cost; for his elegantly written chronicle of those events; and for this rare glimpse into the more esoteric doctrines of Islam. This book should be read by any and all Catholic clergy and laymen interested in Islam. While some of the information provided will call for great tact and sensitivity if shared with Muslim friends and acquaintances, it will readily furnish the needed resources and references required to help both Muslims and non-Muslims come to a clearer understanding of Islam and its growing influence in our world today.

Read the rest of the review here.

Start reading the first four chapters here.

If you would like a copy, buy it on Amazon or autographed copies here.

July 19th, 2010

Dearborn Christian Missionaries’ Arrests, the “Missing” Footage

Headlines read: “Christian Missionaries Arrested at Dearborn Islam Festival—Presence Offensive to Muslims,” “Christians Taken Away in Handcuffs, Cameras Confiscated, While Muslims Chant “Allahu Akhbar!” on US Soil,” “Arrested for being a Christian in Dearborn,” “Arrested for Being Christian Preachers in Dearborn, 2010,” and etcetera. Blogs and news headlines were unequivocal. Many still believe that Acts 17 Apologetics missionaries were wrongly arrested. After all, they “recorded every second of” their activity at the festival. The police returned the videos last week and there is about 20 minutes footage available online.

Some have already called on Christians who doubted the missionaries’ motives or questioned the reason behind their arrests to apologize. Dr. James White says, “The video proof now exists. I think a lot of Christians owe Acts 17 major apologies. I hope they offer those apologies, publicly.” [Emphasis mine.] Based on evidence that has been presented, I still maintain that the missionaries were not arrested for preaching the gospel to Muslims or for merely being a Christian in Dearborn. Dearborn Police department is not negatively biased toward Christians as some Christians have publicly portrayed it. I have friends who live in the city and they refute this allegation. If the department were, how come the 70 percent of population which is not Muslim has not lodged public complaints? How can the likes of Josh McDowell shared publicly his faith without any run-ins with law enforcement? In a recent appearance on Moody Radio he said, “That’s a lie!” when the host Mark Elfstrand asked him about “how Christians weren’t even welcome” at the annual Arab American Festival. He said he answered Muslims’ questions on Jesus, the Bible and resurrection. Perhaps by some Christian’s standard he was not bearing a Christian witness to Muslims at the festival. Josh said one man started an argument and he refused to engage him. The man later apologized for his attitude. He even went door to door a day before the start of the festival! Hear it for yourself here.

Christians who witnessed the missionaries’ arrests give differing accounts and video footages are inconclusive. The footage on the first arrest raises more questions than it provides answers. David Wood said it was recorded 15 minutes prior to his and Dr. Nabeel Qureish’s arrests. What happened prior to the first arrest? We have “no” idea because no video footage has been made public yet.

The police officer arresting Nageen told her that there was “a criminal complaint against you.” Has the public seen this criminal complaint? Is there something on the missionaries’ videos that exonerates them? If not, is it possible the missionaries did not tape “every second” of their activity at the festival as they have led the public to believe?

Some Christians witnessed both David and Nabeel “argue” and “harass” Muslims who later reported the matter to the police. These Christians witnessed what transpired before and after the arrests. Is there video footage that shows the missionaries’ “argument” and “harassment” was not tantamount to “disorderly conduct” or “disturbing the peace” charge? Let us continue to pray for these missionaries and their court trial in September. Nothing happens without God allowing it.

On another note on Christian outreach to Muslims, my Muslim family will start observing the fast during the month of Ramadhan starting on August 11. I will be exposing the “Cracks” in the Muslim fast during that month. Stay tuned.

July 15th, 2010

Dr. Ergun Caner Arrived in the US in 1969, Oh Really?

Jason Smathers has unearthed Dr. Ergun Caner’s father’s, Acer Mehmet Caner, Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) naturalization document which, according to Dr. Caner’s vocal critic, shows “[t]he exact date when the Caner family arrived in the United States from Sweden.” He also has a probate court petition which shows Mr. Caner legally changing his name from Acer Martin Caner to Acer Mehmet Caner. Both Jason and Dr. James White contend that Mr. Caner’s naturalization document proves that Dr. Ergun Caner arrived in the United States on September 13, 1969. There are two problems with their conclusion.

1. The naturalization document does NOT aver any new information that leads them to draw such a conclusion. Even Dr. Caner’s mother’s affidavit that Jason mentioned in his article does not show when Dr. Caner and his mother arrived in the United States. In fact, it affirms the naturalization record that the Defendant, Acer Mehmet Caner, arrived  in 1969. Nothing is said about the mother and son’s arrival.

2. Only Dr. Caner’s naturalization document can prove when he arrived in the United States. I wish whoever wants to access his immigration records some good luck because it is protected by federal law. Do you remember how State Department staff were fired for accessing the then presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and Senator John McCain’s passport files? Mr. Acer Caner’s records are accessible because he is deceased.

Some Muslims might pounce on Mr. Caner’s name change and say he was not a Muslim at some point because of “Martin” as a his middle name. I know Mr. Mohammad Khan has made some ex-Muslims’ non-Arab sounding names an issue  in YouTube videos, labeling them as fake ex-Muslims. For those who might have a problem, the answer is in the very INS record which shows that Mr. Caner had legally used Mehmet as his middle name prior to his name change in Ohio. He probably changed from Mehmet to Martin when he was in Sweden. That is not uncommon for minority immigrants.

So far, none of the legal documents that have been made public gives a definite date when Dr. Ergun Caner came to the United States. Let us stop getting free publicity out of this concluded scandal. Instead, we should spend our energy on bringing healing within the fractured Body of Christ.

July 13th, 2010

Dr. James White’s Damage to Christian Outreach to Muslims

The merit of the discussion about Dr. Ergun Caner has come to who screams the loudest. His vocal critic has declared victory because he claims that the defenders of Ergun Caner have “gone silent since his removal as Dean of LBTS.” What a sad assessment, considering most Christians in this veiled reference have let go this issue because they have decided to move on! Dr. James White calls for Dr. Caner’s public apology. How about he sets an example and takes ownership for the damage he has done to Christian outreach to Muslims? He publicly has insulted Muslims who have corrected his mistakes on Islam. He also has speculated on issues that have “confirmed” Muslims’ suspicion of Christian ministries’ motives and exacerbated “residual mistrust” that some Christians of Muslim background have of Christianity. Some Muslims, like the ones who have reacted negatively toward Acts 17 Apologetics missionaries in Dearborn, MI, suspect Christians use their pictures and videos for Christian missionaries’ fundraising efforts. (You can listen to Josh McDowell’s interview on Moody Radio about his experience at the Arab festival here.) Even some who convert to Christianity still remain suspicious. Their mistrust keeps them out of worship services, Bible study and fellowship with fellow Christians.

Most of Dr. White’s damages could have been avoided had Christianity Today met his expectation in its initial article on Dr. Ergun Caner. Since he wasn’t satisfied, he speculated that Liberty University is its main advertiser—even when it is false—thus exacerbating some Muslims’ mistrust of Christian organizations. CT is not “a profit-driven” media organization like he wants people to believe. He has yet to retract his comments. He has, without any doubt, tarnished CT and LU’s reputations among Muslims and confused some Christians of Muslim background’s of Christian organizations. Instead of continuing to demonize Dr. Caner, Norm Geisler, Emir Caner et al, it is about time that Dr. White takes ownership for the damage he has done and does what he has been “preaching” Dr. Caner to do all along. Anything short of it remains sheer hypocrisy.

July 2nd, 2010

Ergun Caner, Dearborn Arrests and James White

The day before Liberty University announced its decision, a Muslim asked on Facebook, “so how does Ergun Mehmet Butch Michael Giovanni Caner’s investigation going on?” Once the announcement was made, a dejected Muslims said, “This is it? If I were you man I would not be a lame professor.” The last comment has since been deleted because it shows how Liberty’s announcement sucked life out of Muslims’ endeavor. They have given up. They had hoped for Dr. Caner to be fired and had counted on some form of evidence from Liberty they could use on their ongoing propaganda against ex-Muslims. The “icing on the cake” has been DENIED! Thank you, Liberty!

We know very well Muslims’ motives. How about some Christians? Do you think they have one too? The Bible clearly shows us if we ask for the forgiveness of our sins, they are forgiven. Our repentance—whether private or public—equals our innocence before our fellow Christians! No Christian without a motive can insist that there has been no repentance after repentance. At this point, gathered evidence—regardless of its magnitude—doesn’t matter. The thief who was crucified on the cross did not have to enumerate his sins yet Jesus Christ accepted his repentance. How about the woman who was caught in adultery? Only an opportunist makes the lack of evidence of repentance an issue perhaps so that he can continue with his gloating. Muslims have moved on. It is time for Christians to follow suit.

On another note, four Christians were arrested in Dearborn two weeks ago. Their accounts of what transpired prior to the arrests at the Arab Festival differ from at least three other Christians who witnessed the arrests. There were hundreds of other Christians at the same festival who distributed tracts and Bibles without any run-ins with the police or security guards. Out of all these Christians, apparently, only four were targeted and arrested for “disorderly conduct.” Why this issue? I am bringing it up because Dr. Caner’s “vocal critic,” as even the media now portrays him, applies double standard because he declared their innocence even before the police could conclude its investigation. At least one witness has contacted him about his public position. He has rebuffed it. He has yet to retract his public statements, which contradict at least three Christian witnesses’ account, and issue an apology for rushing to judgment. Also, the same fellow calls himself a Christian yet he publicly has criticized the police and even encouraged these four Christians to file a civil lawsuit. Is this how the Word of God calls us to act toward those who persecute us? How about toward those in authority over us? Objectivity and integrity, where are you? Apparently, to Dr. James White they only matter when investigating Dr. Ergun Caner.