Posts tagged ‘September 11’

June 15th, 2011

Islam’s Debilitating Public Relations Hemorrhage and Christian Rescue Efforts

Islam has faced a debilitating public relations hemorrhage since September 11, 2001. That dreadful day brought to the fore some manifestations of Islamic teachings, which led ordinary Muslims, Muslim civil leaders, scholars and civil rights organizations scampering to mitigate further damage to their religion. Some Muslims even enlisted non-Muslims’ help in this endeavor. Surprisingly, even prominent Christian clergies and scholars have inadvertently answered the Muslim call.

If you think some prominent Christian leaders in the West are confused about Islam, you are not alone. Faith Shared—a project of Interfaith Alliance—reflects some of that confusion. It has nationwide events scheduled for Sunday, June 26, 2011. Various churches are hosting worship services where suggested verses from the Torah, the Gospel and the Qur’an will be read. Faith Shared will provide suggestions on how to incorporate this program into hosting churches’ regular Sunday worship services “but communities are encouraged to choose readings that will resonate with their congregations.”

The purpose of this event is to combat “a pervasive and unsettling trend of anti-Muslim violence, discrimination, and rhetoric, as well as a general lack of understanding about Islam in America today.” Gathering together in these worship services is necessary “for faith communities to strengthen ties with each other.”

While I commend Interfaith Alliance for coming up with an idea of getting Christians, Jews and Muslims together, here are three problems:

  1. Muslim misconceptions about Christians and Christianity predate any Muslim’s (other than Prophet Muhammad’s) encounter with a Christian or Christianity and have nothing to do with Islam being misunderstood or Muslims being persecuted. Reading the Qur’an in worship service for photo-ops is not going to alleviate Muslims’ misconceptions of Christians and Christianity.
  2. Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, President of Interfaith Alliance claims “specific passages in each tradition can be and have been ripped from their historical/scriptural context and manipulated to promote division, nurture hatred, and even inspire violence.” There is no such thing as “historical/scriptural context” in the Faith Shared suggested Qur’an verses, which remotely come close to Faith Shared goal of Christians, Muslims and Jews strengthening “ties with each other.”
  3. A Sunday worship service is not a place to achieve this faith-shared goal. A better idea would be inviting Muslims to congregants’ homes for meals. Having discussions over a meal about these suggested texts, especially Qur’an verses, and their “historical/scriptural context” would have had significant effect.

Faith Shared and whoever advises them totally don’t get the Qur’an’s central theme. I will write a post explaining the meaning behind these verses and will go through the exegeses of each one of them to show how historically and contextually these verses were not intended for interfaith outreach. I will explore and expound on each verse using classical Islamic commentaries and Hadith. Interfaith dialogues are noble for promoting peace. However, Faith Shared’s idea is an interfaith dialogue riddled with ignorance.

Muslims’ intention in interfaith dialogues is about propagating Islam. Even Sufi Muslims want a dialogue to end with a non-Muslim converting to Islam. Sufi scholar Shaykh Muhammad Hisham Kabbani of Islamic Supreme Council of America says:

As for interfaith, I am not saying I care for it, I don’t. But if someone wants to make interfaith to make an introduction to Islam, it is OK. As long as they don’t become Christian or Jew or Zoroastrian, then it is acceptable. That is a way to tell people they are wrong and tell them their mistakes.

Rev. Gaddy laments “a general lack of understanding about Islam in America today.” Why is he doing public relations work for Islam, promoting it through interfaith dialogues when even Muslims have made their motives clear? Muslims use interfaith dialogues as a venue to stop Islam’s public relations hemorrhage. Many Christians are ignorant of that fact and come to Islam’s rescue. They perhaps confuse Muslimophobia with Islamophobia. Every followers of Jesus Christ ought to fight Muslimophobia but should leave Islamophobia to Muslims. For more information, please read HERE.

February 17th, 2010

Confusion a Boom for Islam

Islam is growing rapidly. Some estimates put the world’s Muslim population at 1.8 billion, surpassing that of Catholics.  One wonders how this robust growth has been possible, especially considering how much Islam has been in the news. The September 11 attacks, activities of Al-Shaabab in Somalia, suicide bombings, kidnappings, beheadings in various Islamic countries, Abu Sayyaf fighting the Filipino government, mistreatments of non-Muslims in Sudan and the establishment and enforcement of the shariah law in Nigeria, all have been carried out in the name of Islam. The perpetrators call themselves Muslims and shun Muslims who call for tolerance.

Muslims in western countries, attempting to portray the tolerant nature of Islam, criticize these atrocities, pointing to some verses in the Qur’an. One of the verses, Suratul Al-Baqara (chapter 2 of the Qur’an) verse 256 states, “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…”

One thing worth noting is that there are three darajat (ranks) of Muslims mentioned in the Qur’an. Muhsin, the highest rank, refers to a Muslim who believes in everything that is written in the Qur’an—strives to understand it in the order of which it was revealed by keeping in mind the rule of abrogation—and acts upon it without wavering.

Some so-called moderate Muslim scholars claim that Islam is a tolerant religion and by no means calls for coerced conversions. The one thing that they don’t disclose is that the aforementioned verse that they widely quote was revealed when Prophet Muhammad and his followers had conquered Arabia and the region was already under Islamic rule (Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 14, Number 2676).  Jews who refused to convert to Islam were expelled. Others paid jizya (tax levied against non-Muslims). If Islam were for religious tolerance, why the exertion in the form of taxes on non-adherents?

Muslims who strive for the establishment of Islam as the dominant religion and eventually attain the rule of the shariah law use the Qur’an and the Hadith (saying of Prophet Muhammad) to make their case. Some verses from the Qur’an call on Muslims to show love to Christians while some enjoin Muslims to show hatred toward them. How do you reconcile these differences that are polar opposites? The verses on “love” for non-Muslims that some Islamic scholars keep on quoting have been abrogated (Al-Baqara 106). Though outmoded, they quote them anyway to placate what the masses like to hear, especially in the United States. After all, no one wants to be associated with a mass murderer. Imam Hani Ayyad of American Muslim Center in Dearborn, Michigan, referred to muhsins as “those who try to hijack our deen [faith], who distort, tarnish and darken it.”

Dr. Ron Miller, co-founder of Common Ground, claims that Islam is “the most misunderstood and maligned religion in the western world.”  In a recent speech at the Lansing (Illinois) Public Library, he dismissed Osama bin Laden and the rest of Muslims who call for the establishment of the shariah law as ignorant. He dismissed their rhetoric as that of “some ignorant madrassas somewhere, and not all imams are well-educated.”  What a bold statement from a non-Muslim! Madrassa teachers and imams can be ignorant when it comes to world affairs, but certainly they are not ignorant of the teachings of the Qur’an and the Hadith.

Islamic scholars generally gloss over the central message of Islam. Prophet Muhammad, before driving the rest of the Jews out of Arabia, gave them an ultimatum, “Embrace Islam and you will be safe!”  Some Muslims in the west condemn the likes of Bin Laden even though he is a muhsin. How come they do not criticize the Islamic government of Sudan or Al-Shabaab in Somalia? Fatwas have been issued against Bin Laden. The governments of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia would like him to be arrested and handed over to the United States for prosecution. These calls are empty rhetoric because Prophet Muhammad also said, “A Muslim is a brother of another Muslim. So he should neither oppress him nor hand him over to an oppressor

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