Archive for ‘Muslim’

July 15th, 2011

Ramadhan 2011: A Call to Prayer and Outreach

Muslim fast during the Islamic month of Ramadhan is projected to start at dawn on August 1 this year, after the sighting of the new crescent at dusk on July 31. It might end on August 29. Every able-bodied Muslim must fast from dawn to dusk during the entire month of Ramadhan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, for 29 or 30 days because the Qur’an commands it. Muslims who are sick or traveling and Muslim women who are menstruating or expecting are exempt but are required to make up for the days missed. Children before the onset of puberty are also exempt.

Muslims seek God. Christian should pray for them to meet the True God! We should pray for those in our neighborhoods, city, and country. Here is one way to prepare for this task. It is not too late to join Christians who have been praying for Muslim during Ramadhan using a very informative booklet that has been in use for 20 years. 30 Days of Prayer for Muslim World gives overviews of Muslim populations in various countries, profiles of some unreached people groups and contains testimonies of Christians of Muslim background. It also points out prayer needs for each day of Ramadhan. You can buy copies for yourself and or your church from World Christian website here or here.

Don’t just prayer. Venture out. Make an effort to meet your Muslim neighbors. Go to a local mosque and interact with them. Look for opportunities to engage in conversations. I’ll post some questions to ask Muslims in regards to Ramadhan next week.

While Muslims are in festive mood during Ramadhan, this month is a very difficult challenge for Muslims who have embraced Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and still live in their communities. I speak from experience. It is not easy. In fact this is one single occasion that can blow cover for secret believers. Don’t get me wrong. The ensuing persecution is all worth it. Secret believers’ challenge is not “the not eating part” but other activities (communal prayers and meals) associated with the fast. Please, pray for them.

Non-Muslims who travel in Muslim majority countries during Ramadhan also face problems because eating in public is illegal. The police arrested those who violated this law in Egypt in 2009 and Algeria in 2010. Even Dubai, one of the most moderate Muslim cities, has fines or jail sentence for non-Muslims who violate the law for the second time. Please, be careful if you are traveling to these countries in August. Have a blessed weekend!

July 1st, 2011

Does the Bible Condone Rape?

A Muslim on Facebook asks, “hussein is this good treatmen [sic] of wojman [sic]” after quoting Deuteronomy 22:28-29. He quotes a rendering of these verses which is off literal translation. His quote, “If a man is caught in the act of raping a young woman who is not engaged, he must pay fifty pieces of silver to her father. Then he must marry the young woman because he violated her, and he will never be allowed to divorce her.”

Muslims have asked this question numerous times to try to portray the Bible as condoning rape and their question has been answered. I am not going to reinvent an answer to this question but enlist a friend, Sam Shamoun, who has already answered the same question.

Sam is an Iraqi Christian who is a Christian apologist at Answering Islam. The following is what he wrote HERE in response to Muslims:

Some Muslims claim that the following passage from the Holy Bible condones rape:

“If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, he shall pay the girl’s father fifty shekels of silver. He must marry the girl, for he has violated (anah) her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives.” Deuteronomy 22:28-29 NIV

There are two points to note here. First, even though the verse may seem to be instructing the rapist to marry the victim the passage nowhere sanctions, condones or even approves of rape. This is simply a gross misreading of the text. The injunction is intended to instruct the Israelites on how to deal with and address a rape situation if and when it occurs.

Second, by taking a careful look at the context and consulting the original languages of the Scriptures a strong case can be made that this is citation isn’t even addressing a rape case at all. We must remember that the Holy Bible was not written in English. The OT was written in Hebrew, with parts of it being written in Aramaic. The NT was written in Koine or common Greek. This means that if we want to know whether an English translation has faithfully and accurately translated the inspired author’s intended meaning we must turn to the original language of the sacred text. Once this is done, it will become quite apparent that the Holy Bible does not sanction rape at all.

With this just said, the word which the NIV translates as rape comes from two Hebrew words, taphas and shakab. Here are the meanings listed by the Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew Lexicon in reference to these two words:

Continued

June 2nd, 2011

Cracking the Five Daily Prayers (Salah): Did Allah Give the Command?

Have you ever encountered a Muslim who dismisses the authority of the Hadith, claiming to follow only the Qur’an? If so, you are not alone. I have met a lot of them. These Muslims are uncomfortable with the Hadith which contains information that are contradictory because they are based on the life of Prophet Muhammad who lived his life as he willed.
A Muslim I met online recently—a convert to Islam—particularly insisted all a Muslim ever needed to know was in the Qur’an. That prompted me to ask him if the command for Muslims to pray 5 times a day was in the Qur’an. He claimed it was. He pointed to some verses trying to prove his claim. Let us see if the Qur’an actually says Muslim must pray 5 times a day and if it doesn’t, where Muhammad got the idea.
The Qur’an mentions only two out of the five daily prayers by name namely, Fajr (dwan) and Isha (late evening) in Qur’an 24:58. The other three: Dhuhur (solar noon), Asr (mid afternoon) and Maghrib (right after sunset) are not mentioned in the entire Qur’an.
There are indirect references like “two ends of the day” and “approaches of the night” in Qur’an 11:114 which Muslims interpret to mean Fajr, Maghrib, and Isha prayers.
Qur’an 17:78 has “Establish regular prayers-at the sun’s decline till the darkness of the night, and the morning prayer” which has Fajr directly and Isha indirectly mentioned.
Qur’an 30:18 “Yea, to Him be praise, in the heavens and on earth; and in the late afternoon and when the day begins to decline” has some Muslims commentaries trying to squeeze in Asr and Dhuhur as what this verse was alluding to even when the verse was not a command to pray. I thought Allah gave Muhammad the 5 daily prayers when he “ascended” to the heavens! What happened? Why does the Qur’an only mention two of these important daily prayers by name and does not command Muslim to pray at least 5 times a day?
My online Muslim friend continued to tell me in Qur’an 2:238 “middle prayer” apparently refers to Asr even when the verse does not say so. He just assumes since Muslims currently practice 5 daily prayers and Asr is the middle prayer, he sells out on the idea. Little does he know only at most three prayers are “mentioned” in the Qur’an at one time and even these three have a “middle prayer.” To make the matter even worse, this verse was revealed in Medina, years after the command for the 5 compulsory daily prayers were supposedly given in the Hadith. Qur’an chapter 17 contains Muhammad’s alleged ascension to the seven heavens and only mentions two daily prayers: Fajr (directly) and Isha (indirectly). The Hadith is the only source that has the number—five—and all the names of the compulsory daily prayers
If Allah really meant Muslims must observe the 5 daily prayers (Salat), shouldn’t he have made it clear in the Qur’an? He didn’t. Muhammad’s Hadith appear more lucid on the 5 daily prayers (Salah) than the Qur’an.
Prophet Muhammad must have borrowed the idea of the 3 daily prayers in the Qur’an from the Jews. Daniel 6:10:
When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously.
Daniel prayed toward Jerusalem. Muhammad prayed toward Jerusalem for the first 14 years of Islam. Daniel, like others who practice Judaism, prayed three times a day.
I have no doubt Muhammad borrowed the idea of the 3 daily prayers which are in the Qur’an from the Jews and the 5 daily prayers from Zoroastrians. He did not ascend to the heavens to get the command to pray five times. Even the Qur’an claims the “ascension” was a mere dream (Qur’an 53:13-18).
The Hadith is the only source where Muslims can find information on the 5 daily prayers and how to observe them. Though it is a boom for critics of Islam like me, it has answers to key issues in Islam as mundane as the 5 daily prayers without which a Muslim would not be granted paradise. That is another Crack in the Crescent for you.

May 20th, 2011

Islamophobia and a Christian: Is it a Sin?

The term islamophobia isn’t in the dictionary yet. In a matter of time, it will find its place. Even though this term should exclusively deal with an irrational dread, fear or hatred of Islam, Muslim organizations such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) have broadened it to include muslimophobia—irrational fear of Muslims. Why would an organization as organized as CAIR jumble these terms? Not especially when it wants to end them. We shouldn’t confuse islamophobia with muslimophobia. We can only effectively fight any kind of phobia if we know what it is.

I was saddened to read in the news two Muslim clerics who were headed to an islamophobia conference were deplaned two weeks ago. Why should these clerics miss their flight when they were subjected to and passed all airport security screening twice. Apparently, some passengers were uncomfortable with their mere presence on the flight and the pilot decided against having them aboard. This is a classic example of muslimophobia.

Islamophobia is also a problem and it is not endemic just to non-Muslims. Even Muslims suffer from it. Most Muslims who make media appearances in the West quote mostly abrogated verses of the Qur’an perhaps fearing their audience might not accept authentic Islam’s message. Even one of the Muslim clerics who was a victim of muslimophobia exhibited some signs of islamophobia in ensuing media interviews.

Imam Masudur Rahman, a professor of Arabic at the University of Memphis, in an interview with the Charlotte Observer said, “We need to tell people the truth about Islam: It is a religion of peace, a religion of justice, a religion honoring other people, regardless of color or religion.” He continued to say, “The Quran says: You practice your religion, I practice mine. There should be no compulsion in religion.” [Emphasis Mine.]

Imam Rahman quoted two verses from the Qur’an and totally misled reporter Tim Funk and every person who read his statement. Surah 109 verse 6 reads, “You shall have your religion and I shall have my religion.” All commentaries of the Qur’an agree this verse was revealed when Prophet Muhammad was dealing with idolaters in Mecca when Islam was in its nascent stage and had just a few followers. However, later on when Muhammad gained more followers “he was commanded to wage war [against the idolaters].”

I wish Muslims who quote verses from the Qur’an would tell non-Muslims the meanings behind them. So much for Imam Rahman claiming Islam leaves non-Muslims to have their own religions. Contrary to what this verse remotely portrays, Prophet Muhammad ended up eradicating all religions that preceded Islam from the Arabian Peninsula and then declared, “Two deens [religions] shall not co-exist in the Arabian Peninsula.” Whatever happened to freedom of religion in Islam Imam Rahman claimed to exist!

Another part of Imam Rahman’s quote in the interview addresses Surah 2 verse 256 which wholly reads, “There is no compulsion in religion. The right direction is henceforth distinct from error. And he who rejecteth false deities and believeth in Allah hath grasped a firm handhold which will never break. Allah is Hearer, Knower.” The Imam once again did not tell Mr. Funk this verse—CAIR and most Muslims in the media quote to show how Islam is about religious freedom—was abrogated. It was revealed in Medina when Prophet Muhammad had just migrated from Mecca and Islam still had only a few followers. Qur’an commentaries show this verse was revealed when the Ansar—Arabs of Medina who had embraced Islam—tried to convert their sons to Islam. The commentaries further show later, when two Muslims apostatized and Prophet Muhammad heard about their apostasy, he recited the same verse and said, “May Allah banish both of them. They are the first to disbelieve.” The founder of Islam cursed the first Muslims who apostatized because he did not have the power to kill them. He decreed later three times here, here, and here, every Muslim who apostatized should be killed. Muslims are required to obey Muhammad’s commands. Allah said twenty-nine times in the Qur’an a Muslim must also obey Muhammad. How could Islam be (quoting Imam Rahman again)  “a religion honoring other people, regardless of … religion,” when the command against apostasy is very explicit?

Imam Rahman and CAIR spokespersons exhibit symptoms of islamophobia. How else would someone as knowledgeable as he or an organization as organized as CAIR mislead reporters about the meaning of verses of the Qur’an they quote?

We can only deal with islamophobia candidly if we can separate it from muslimophobia. The latter is unmerited. It is a sin for a Christian to hate a Muslim. We are called to love even our enemies. Most Muslims are peaceful and would not harm anyone. There is no point of being afraid of them. On the other hand, Islam is an ideology and the violent kind as practiced by “extremists” is authentic Islam. There is nothing wrong with a Christian raising an alarm about the violent aspect of Islam, especially when prominent Muslims aren’t brave enough to acknowledge it, instead call any critic of Islam a bigot.

Let us end muslimophobia and leave islamophobia to Muslims. Perhaps when Muslims agree with Irshad Manji and Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser there is a dire need for reform in Islam and publicly distinguish islamophobia from muslimophobia, then maybe islamophobia might face its demise as well.

 

 

 

Hussein Hajji Wario is a former Kenyan Sunni Muslim. He is the author of Cracks in the Crescent. He blogs regularly here. You can listen to his testimony here or read it here.