Thursday, July 07, 2005

Islam is More than Religion, Part One

In this posting and in some following ones, I will be covering the global challenge of Islam, with special emphasis on the fact that Islam is more than a Religion. This reality is not easily recognized by the average American, since his understanding of the subject is limited by an individualistic concept of religion, namely, a system of belief and a code of ethics that are limited to the life of the individual, his family, and his or her house of worship.

North Americans have had very little experience with Islam and Muslims, compared with those European nations who colonized huge sections of the Muslim world. Before that, during the early and late Middle Ages, other European countries were conquered by Muslims who colonized them for centuries. Think, for example, of Spain. The Arab/Islamic conquest began in 710, and lasted until 1492! Most of Central and Eastern Europe came under Islamic rule for hundreds of years. Salonika in Northern Greece, was still under Ottoman Turkish rule as late as 1912.

The first American encounter with Muslims occurred soon after independence. The pirates of Tripoli terrorized maritime trade in the Mediterranean, so the U.S. Navy had to deal with them. The real American experience in Muslim lands took place when missionaries of the Presbyterian Church, the Congregational Churches, and the Reformed Church in America, began their missionary activity in the Middle East, in the 19th century. Their work among Eastern Christians and Muslims forms a glorious chapter in the history of missions in the modern times.

It was after World War II that the United States got really involved in the Muslim world. Oil was discovered in Saudi Arabia in the 1930s, and U.S. oil companies were the first to develop and market it. When the French and British pulled out of the area in the aftermath of World War II, it was the United Sates that sought to fill the vacuum. Israel was born in 1948, and ever since that day, Americans have been drawn into the intricate diplomacy that seeks to keep Israel alive and to convince the Arab/Muslim states to co-exist with the Jewish State. continue reading on this subject please go to our website.

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