Saturday, December 23, 2006

Happy Hajj! You're Not Invited

By Patrick Poole December 22, 2006

As Jews began their Hanukkah celebrations this week, commemorating the recovery of the Holy Land and the Temple from foreign invaders by Judas Maccabeus, and more than a billion Christians prepare for one of the holiest days of the church year, where the doors of Christian churches will be thrown open to anyone willing to hear the good news of Christ’s coming to earth as a human to redeem humanity, millions of Muslims are preparing for their own spiritual journey next week in the annual trek to Mecca to perform the Hajj.

But quite unlike the Jewish and Christian religious celebrations of Hanukkah and Christmas, if you are a non-Muslim, don’t plan on investigating the mysteries of Islam by joining your Muslim friends on their trip to Saudi Arabia for the Hajj – you’re not invited.

Perhaps no better contrast between Judaism, Christianity and Islam exists than the treatment of non-believers on the respective holy days of each religion. I recall fondly the many times that I have participated in the Passover seder at the invitation of Jewish friends and have each time been awed at the profound meaning attached to every element of the seder which is designed to illustrate the fascinating historical narrative of the Jewish people over the millennia that is the foundation of both the Christian and Islamic faiths.

I also remember the occasion several years ago when a Chinese friend of mine who was finishing his PhD at Ohio State joined my family and I for our Christmas Eve celebrations. After joining us for worship, he told us with tears in his eyes how that was the first time that he had ever heard the gospel message that Jesus Christ had come into the world to save sinners – a message that had been branded as counter-revolutionary and been outlawed in his own country. Needless to say, we were delighted when he joined us again the following year for Christmas Eve, where he was anxious to tell anyone at church who would listen how he had embraced the free offer of the gospel and become a Christian the previous year. Having returned home to China, my friend is now a leader in the underground Church there.

But if I wanted to join my Muslim friends next week on the Hajj, I would have to bear in mind that my reception would not be as friendly. I would be forbidden to bring my Bible or any Christian literature with me on my trip to Saudi Arabia, and be required to remove anything identifiably Christian from my person (crosses, etc.). There are no Christian churches allowed in the “Land of the Two Mosques”, so there would be no opportunity for me to join with fellow Christians there in our weekly celebration of the Lord’s Day, and I would constantly be under watch by the Wahhabi Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice police to ensure that I didn’t share my Christian faith with anyone else.

Even having arrived in Saudi Arabia and complying with the absolute ban of any expression of my faith, as I approached the holy city of Mecca, I would be denied entry. Despite all of the supposed Quranic endorsements of the “People of the Book” (i.e. Jews and Christians), as a kafir, my presence is not welcome at the Hajj. We should remember that the cardinal offense that prompted Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda lackeys to declare war on the “Crusaders and Zionists” in 1996 was the presence of American troops in the Arabian Peninsula, though nowhere near the sacred cities of Mecca or Medina.

For Muslims in the West, they have as much freedom as any other to practice their faith openly and freely without any fear of being molested. The number of mosques popping up all over America is a testament to that freedom.

Such is not the case for Jews and Christians in Islamic lands, however, where people of those faiths are subject to countless acts of intimidation and violence on a daily basis. Even in their synagogues and sanctuaries, believers are not immune from attack. In fact, many are prevented from approaching their own holy sites. In the Holy Land, Muslims occupy the Temple Mount – the historic location of the ancient Jewish Temple – and Jewish worshippers are subject to regular assaults by stone-throwing Muslim crowds at the nearby Wailing Wall and other sacred sites. And it was the mere presence of a Jew – Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon – near the Temple Mount in September 2000 that sparked the second intifada that has claimed the lives of hundreds of Jews, Christians and Muslims in recent years. Jews have also been forbidden from visiting the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron – Judaism’s second-most holy site – since it was converted to a mosque in 1266.

And earlier this month Turkish authorities feared that Pope Benedict might take the opportunity while touring the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul – one of the greatest churches in the world that was seized by Muslims after 1,000 years of constant use by Christians – that he might actually try to pray there.

It isn’t just the Hagia Sophia that has suffered the inglorious fate of being converted from its original use as a Christian church to be taken over by invading Islamic forces and made into a mosque. In her book, The Decline of Eastern Christianity under Islam. From Jihad to Dhimmitude, Bat Ye’or chronicles how innumerable Christian and Jewish holy sites, such as the Church of St. John in Damascus that was demolished by the Islamic Caliph Abd al-Malik in 705 and had the Umayyad Mosque built over it, were taken over for the exclusive use for Islamic worship during the constant waves of Islamic conquest. It is worth noting that even the Kaaba, the central location of worship in Mecca, was seized by Mohammad from non-Muslims.

Getting back to my original point – one of the constant complaints of Muslim apologists is that Westerners just don’t understand Islam. Fair enough; but is that entirely the fault of non-Muslims who are shut out of Islam’s most important rituals? And might it be the case that those of us, Christians and Jews alike, who are angered at the treatment of our brethren in Islamic lands do so not because of our alleged “Islamophobia”, but rather on the basis of real grievances?

As former President Jimmy Carter travels the country promoting his book identifying Israel as an apartheid state because they refuse to capitulate to Palestinian terrorism, perhaps he might take some time and try to join his Wahhabi patrons during the Hajj this year and see what religious apartheid is really all about. While believers and non-believers alike will enjoy the Hanukkah and Christmas holidays, the invitation for Jews and Christians to join their Muslim friends and neighbors for the Hajj this year didn’t get lost in the holiday mail. It was never sent.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Jesus Christ Our Lord Almighty

by Bassam Michael Madany

One of the main themes of the Book of Revelation is the sovereignty and omnipotence of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is a central fact of Christianity, and is much needed during our times. The triumph of Christ is confessed in the oldest Christian Creed: “And He shall come again, with glory, to judge the living and the dead, whose kingdom shall have no end.” (Nicea 325 A.D.) Nowadays, this Christian belief is being criticized as triumphalist and exclusivist. Let me give an example.

In the May 2003, issue of The Atlantic Monthly, Bernard Lewis who has taught Middle East history at the Universities of London, England, and at Princeton, New Jersey, contributed an article with this shocking title, “I'm Right, You're Wrong, Go To Hell: Religions and the Meeting of Civilization.”

I was both chagrined and disappointed that this great scholar posited equivalence between Christianity and Islam, in their respective outlook on the world; and more specifically, as they sought and still seek, to win converts to their specific faiths.

To begin with, Bernard Lewis reminds us in this article that, “only two civilizations have been defined by religion. Others have had religions but are identified primarily by region and ethnicity.” These two religions are Christianity and Islam, they “are the two religions that define civilizations, and they have much in common, along with some differences.”

Having thus set Christianity and Islam apart from the rest of world religions such as Judaism, Buddhism, and Hinduism, professor Lewis classified the latter as relativist religions, while the former two as triumphalist religions. “For some religions, just as ‘civilization’ means us, and the rest are barbarians, so ‘religion’ means ours, and the rest are infidels. Other religions, such as Judaism and most of the religions of Asia, concede that human beings may use different religions to speak to God, as they use different languages to speak to one another. God understands them all… The relativist view was condemned and rejected by both Christians and Muslims, who shared the conviction that there was only one true faith, theirs, which it was their duty to bring to all humankind. The triumphalist view is increasingly under attack in Christendom, and is disavowed by significant numbers of Christian clerics. There is little sign as yet of a parallel development in Islam.”

Professor Lewis regards Islam and Christianity as triumphalist religions. Both faiths consider all “others” as infidels. While, according to him, some Christian leaders are nowadays “disavowing” the triumphalism that has marked Christianity throughout history, there is no such parallel movement among Muslim leaders. In our globalized world, triumphalism (whether Christian or Muslim) is not conducive to world peace. In order to put across his thesis in the clearest way, Bernard Lewis sums up his disapproval of triumphalism, both in Islam and Christianity, with these words:

For those taking the triumphalist approach (classically summed up in the formula "I’m right, you’re wrong, go to hell”), tolerance is a problem. Because the triumphalist’s is the only true and complete religion, all other religions are at best incomplete and more probably false and evil; and since he is the privileged recipient of God’s final message to humankind, it is surely his duty to bring it to others rather than keep it selfishly for himself.”

The first point I would like to make is that, great as the scholarship of Bernard Lewis is, his lumping together of the “triumphalism” of the two religions is neither proper, nor objective. One has to be careful in categorizing the faith of others. As a Christian, I find the title of his article very offensive. It is a caricature of Christianity to sum up its attitude to the “other” as being, “I’m Right, You’re Wrong. Go to Hell.”

Throughout history, Christians, beginning with the apostolic age, sought to win converts through preaching and witnessing. It was none other than the Risen Lord that gave his church the marching orders: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I will be with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18b-20 (NIV)

The greatest missionary of the First Century was Paul. After his conversion, his life was dedicated entirely to the spread of the faith, and the organization of churches in the Mediterranean world. He described his mandate in the opening words of his Letter to the Romans: “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.” Romans 1:16 (NIV)

Paul’s message consumed him. He was absolutely convinced that the Risen Savior had entrusted with the message that brings salvation to all kinds of people regardless of their ethnic or religious background. As to the primary means for converting “others,” God had ordained the preaching of the Gospel. In his First Letter to the Corinthians, Paul wrote, “For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.” 1:21 (NIV)

In contrast with this peaceful spread of Christianity, Islam spread primarily through conquest. When studying the history of Islam back in Syria in the late forties, my teachers at the Syrian College used to glory in the “Futuhat” (Conquests) of the Arabs. By 732 A.D., one century after the death of Muhammad, Islam had conquered territories stretching from Spain in the west, to India in the east. While Christians and Jews were allowed to remain in their respective religions, pagans were forced to Islamize. Furthermore, the People of the Book (as Christians and Jews were called) had to submit to some stringent rules that greatly limited their freedoms. They were designated by the Arab invaders as Dhimmis (an Arabic word that means ‘protected.’) Their status is known as Dhimmitude. Originally, the Christians of the Middle East formed the majority population. A few centuries later, they became minorities in such areas as Syria, Palestine, and Egypt. The Church disappeared in North Africa.

Professor Lewis should not have posited equivalence between Christianity and Islam as far as the method for gaining converts. As a historian, he should know better than that!

The second point in my criticism of the article of Bernard Lewis is that he fails to see the great contrast between what he calls the “triumphalism” of the two religions. Yes, Christians do believe in the ultimate triumph of the Gospel. Their faith is summarized in these great words of Revelation 11:15b “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever.” (NIV) And in one of the most familiar passages of this NT book, we hear the heavenly choir sing these triumphant words: “Hallelujah! For Lord God Almighty reigns.” 19:6b (NIV)

Islam, throughout history, has been triumphalist. Notwithstanding its many setbacks, especially after the leader of modern Turkey, Kemal Ataturk, abolished the caliphate in 1924, Muslims have never ceased to believe in the final triumph of their faith.

Today, the inevitable triumph of Islam remains the core belief of the radical Islamists. They do not and would not hesitate to use any means to bring about the triumph of Islam, even if that meant total confrontation with the rest of the world.

On the other hand, if Christianity is described as a triumphalist faith, its triumphalism is related to an eschatological event. While the gospel has many implications and applications for the here and now, its complete fulfillment takes place beyond the horizon of this world order. Nowhere is this made plainer than in Romans 8. Let us listen to that great confession of Paul as he describes the ultimate triumph of the Christian faith:

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits with eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. … For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. For who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” Romans 8:18-21, 24, 25 (NIV)

Yes, I do believe in the ultimate triumph of my Christian faith. But I know that this triumph will not come because of any military campaign, or through any worldly means. The victory of Christ over the world will become visible and evident to all, at his Second Coming. Paul described the triumph of Jesus Christ in these memorable words: “Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of the Father.” Philippians 2: 9-11 (NIV)

Therefore, there is no equivalence between Christianity and Islam, neither in their core beliefs, nor in the way they conceive of history, and its End. Much as I still appreciate the works of Bernard Lewis, I am very, very disappointed with his article because his thesis is flawed, both historically and theologically.

Message was delivered at the Chapel of Mid-America Reformed Seminary, Dyer, Indiana on Friday, March 12, 2004
Middle East Resources

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

A Voice from Mesopotamia

We have shared this Mesopotamian’s blog more than once and we are touched by his heartfelt lament following our elections. There are so many fine upstanding citizens in Iraq. It is always a relief to see a posting from him. Too lengthy a silence made one anxious.

Sunday, November 12, 2006


We can’t in all honesty blame the American public for being frustrated at the failure of their government to resolve our Iraqi issue. If that is the case, you can imagine how we, the Iraqi people, are feeling; we who are burning in the fires of the crisis and are being crucified daily in the most horrific way.Yet, it is no use blaming those whose most urgent wish is to see the right outcome of this situation. We can’t blame the American people, whose indignation is righteous and is caused by their impatience at not seeing positive progress towards stability, democracy, reconstruction, respite from the daily horrors that go on in Baghdad and elsewhere in the country, and generally progress towards the goals that we all wish for. This is righteous indignation, noble sentiments for which we as Iraqis should be appreciative and even grateful. Indeed, after all these sacrifices, there should be some more positive results to show for them. Yes indeed, when a great power with powerful allies, engaged in an enterprise that is basically very noble and enjoys the support of the majority of the people, stakes its reputation and prestige, not to mention the blood of its sons and daughters and the treasure of its land; it is not permissible to arrive at such a state of affairs as we have now. The consequences of failure are unthinkable not only for us, the Iraqis, but also for all free people in the world, with the American people foremost, whether they belong to this party or that.

Never mind the chorus of America haters, and all the discordant din of international hypocrisy. This fight against terrorism is more just than the struggle against fascism and Nazism was. There can be no neutrals in this battle. The terrorists are worse than the fascists, these killers specializing in murdering and torturing the innocent are by far more heinous than any other kind of vermin. No decent human being can find any excuses for these zombies. Worse still, anybody who heaps invective against those confronting this inhuman evil, is almost as guilty as the beast himself.

America was not always right, but this time by God, its fight is as just as the sun is bright in an Iraqi summer day. Anybody who cannot see this is as blind in heart as in sight.

The only thing that America is guilty of is that of underestimating the viciousness of the enemy, and not so much his military capability; because the enemy’s weapon is not so much military prowess, but evil and viciousness. He specializes in hitting below the belt. He has no rules and no scruples, and will stop at nothing. He is absolutely devoid of any kind of human feeling. To think that you can reason with him or somehow accommodate his wishes and desires is absolute folly and suicide. This was clearly illustrated lately in Iraq when all kinds of overtures and approaches were made in forlorn hopes of appeasing him. This only resulted in boosting his morale and appetite for murder and violence.

America seems to have become confused and loosing sight of the fundamentals of the issue and even who the real enemy is. Of course this was aided by a massive propaganda assault aimed directly at the American public from abroad and from within. Yet this is absolutely not a partisan issue.

It is tragic that this matter is used for partisan purposes and for electoral considerations. When the ship of state starts sinking, it will take down everybody with it. You ask us Iraqis about this. And this is war, my friends. You can’t have half wars. In war you just have to go all the way. You either win or lose, and if you lose you are lost. In no other situation is this more true than this our war.

Democrat or Republican, America has no option but to find a way to win this war. All real Americans must be as sure of that as all real Iraqis.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Resource Materials

In June 1958, Rev. Bassam Madany was appointed as Arabic Broadcast Minister of The Back to God hour. He pioneered Arabic radio missions and developed a Bible-based ministry, (1958-1994) which emphasized the centrality of the Word of God in missions to Muslims.

He has authored several books in Arabic for his follow up ministry. They can be accessed on an Arabic-language web site: Mrs. Shirley Madany was involved in several aspects of his ministry and directed the follow-up department of Saatu’l Islah, the Arabic name of the radio mission. For more information about their retirement ministry see

Rev. Madany authored “The Bible and Islam: A Basic Guide to Sharing God’s Word with a Muslim.” It has gone through many printings in the USA, two printings in Nairobi, Kenya, and two printings in the Russian language in Moscow, Russia. In 2005 Shirley W. Madany published “Muslims Meeting Christ”, a book of testimonies from listeners whose lives were impacted by the Arabic radio and literature ministry. Then in 2006, Bassam and Shirley Madany published “An Introduction to Islam” consisting of 33 articles, book reviews, and commentaries on Islam. Rev. Madany is a frequent lecturer on the Christian response to the challenge of Islam.

A free CD is available containing the following items: 12 Arabic language books that Rev. Madany produced during his 36 year radio ministry, 100 audio sermons, the entire Arabic Bible in PDF, Arabic hymns and video clips.

An Introduction to Islam ($12.50). Muslims Meeting Christ ($10.00), The Bible and Islam ($7.50) Checks should be made payable to Bassam M. Madany.

Monday, October 16, 2006

A Selection of Articles on Islam

These articles can be found at the site of Faith Freedom International,
which is a grass root movement of ex-Muslims. When accessed these articles will provide you with an idea of some topics being discussed on Online Arabic sites.

“Moderate” Muslims Muddy the Waters 2006/04/08

Turkey: A Case Study in Failure to Secularize 2006/04/02

Denial: A Characteristic of the Islamic Mind 2006/03/21

Human Rights Violations in Arab Prisons 2006/03/17

Western Columnists, Please do your Homework when Writing on Islam! 2006/06/05

Is Islam a Tolerant Religion Part III
Saturday, August 12, 2006 (Op-Ed)

Is Islam a Tolerant Religion? Part II
Sunday, July 09, 2006 (Op-Ed)

Is Islam a Tolerant Religion?
Friday, June 30, 2006 (Op-Ed)

Reformation in Islam: “Islam of Mecca” versus “Islam of Medina”
Thursday, June 22, 2006 (Modernism & Reformism)

Western Dhimmitude
Friday, June 16, 2006 (Op-Ed)

Muslims Questioning Islam
Wednesday, May 31, 2006 (Op-Ed)

Friday, October 13, 2006

Putting It Bluntly

October 7, 2006

French disconnexion

The difference between journalism that is politically correct, and journalism that is journalism, can be quite striking. I was reading a long article in the current number of the highbrow quarterly, Foreign Affairs, on “France and its Muslims”, by Stéphanie Giry. Here is the magazine’s own summary:

“The recent panic over the rise of Islamic extremism in Europe has overlooked a key fact: the majority of European Muslims are trying hard to fit in, not opt out. This is especially clear in France, where the picture is much brighter than often acknowledged. Unfortunately, cynical politicians and the clumsy elite are now making matters much worse.”
In the writer’s own words: “Some French and foreign observers have interpreted last November's riots in poor, largely Muslim neighbourhoods throughout the country as a skirmish in a broader clash of civilizations. Yet the strife had little to do with yearnings for a worldwide caliphate and much to do with domestic socioeconomic problems.”

It would be hard to put the politically-correct position more succinctly. Ms Giry faithfully echoes all the old quasi-Marxist thought clichés about the oppression of an urban proletariat -- producing a class war having little or nothing to do with religion. The solution thus presents itself: more sensitivity, more public spending, and would all those ham-headed rightwing people please shut up.

Yet reading between her own lines, one is reminded of the extraordinary efforts the French government has made to assist Muslim immigrants with schools, community centres, special public services, positive discrimination, and everything else a munificent welfare state can think of.

One then turns to an unusual item in Thursday’s Daily Telegraph, which mentions that 2,500 French police officers have been injured so far this year in otherwise unreported continuing clashes with Muslim youths in France’s housing estates and “banlieues”.
The matter came up because the head of a police union (Michel Toomis of Action Police) had appealed to the French government to supply his members with armoured cars, to patrol certain Muslim neighbourhoods. Among other things, he mentioned that, “We are in a state of civil war, orchestrated by radical Islamists. This is not a question of urban violence any more, it is an intifada, with stones and Molotov cocktails.”

There are two ways to reconcile these two articles. One is to assume that the Telegraph dispatch, confirmed by several sources in France, was made up from whole cloth. The other is to assume that the Foreign Affairs writer, even though she has a law degree from Yale, is writing nonsense.

That the politically-correct account is a lie, is demonstrated by one large fact. When the rioting in France’s Muslim ghettoes increased last year -- to the point where Muslim gangs were leaving their own neighbourhoods and torching cars and other property belonging to nice gliberal people -- the French state finally quelled it. How? By calling in imams from the Muslim Brotherhood to talk the rioters down. What possible use could radical imams be, in a class war? And why hadn’t the incessant promises of “more sensitivity, more public spending” from Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin stopped all the chanting of “Allahu Akhbar!” as the flames went up?

In its final desperate act of appeasement, the French state made itself utterly beholden to the same radicals who had instructed the Muslim youth. Their core demand is Shariah rule in France’s Muslim neighbourhoods now, and over the whole country later.

The reason French police are being injured, at the current rate of 14 per day, is that they are obliged to enter neighbourhoods where they are not welcome. They are trying to enforce French secular law in territory now claimed for the Dar al-Islam.

I don’t want to be misunderstood. An earlier generation of Muslim immigrants in France, and throughout Europe, made no demands, and did try to assimilate. But that was before the radical “Islamists” got to their children, through both the mosques, and the street culture. Moreover, it is probably true that the great majority of Muslims, in France and worldwide, still do not want Shariah imposed, whether violently or peacefully.

Nor can one say that no one in France will talk about this problem. The famous philosophy professor, Robert Redeker, wrote a frank article in Le Figaro on September 19th, in which he said contemporary Islam “exalts violence”.

But he is now in hiding, changing locations every 48 hours, after numerous plausible death threats. And Le Figaro’s chief editor has delivered an obsequious apology for publishing his article, to the whole Muslim world, through Al-Jazeera TV.

"The majority of European Muslims ... trying hard to fit in" are irrelevant to this developing story.

David Warren© Ottawa Citizen

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

An Excellent Editorial

Benedict the Brave
Wall Street Journal Editorial

The pope said things Muslims need to hear about faith and reason.

(Tuesday, September 19, 2006 12:01 a.m. Page A20)

It's a familiar spectacle: furious demands for an apology, threats, riots, violence. Anything can trigger so-called Muslim fury: a novel by a British-Indian writer, newspaper cartoons in a small Nordic country or, this past week, a talk on theology by the head of the Roman Catholic Church.

In a lecture on "Faith and Reason" at the University of Regensburg in Germany, Benedict XVI cited one of the last emperors of Byzantium, Manuel II Paleologus. Stressing the 14th-century emperor's "startling brusqueness," the pope quoted him as saying: "Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached."

Taken alone, these are strong words. However, the pope didn't endorse the comment that he twice emphasized was not his own. No matter. As with Salman Rushdie's "Satanic Verses," which millions of outraged Muslims didn't bother to read (including Ayatollah Khomeini, who put the bounty on the novelist's life), what Benedict XVI meant or even said isn't the issue. Once again, many Muslim leaders are inciting their faithful against perceived slights and trying to proscribe how free societies discuss one of the world's major religions.

Several Iraqi terrorist groups called for attacks on the Vatican. A cleric linked to Somalia's ruling Islamist movement urged Muslims to "hunt down" and kill the pope. In an apparently linked attack Sunday in Mogadishu, a nun was gunned down in a children's hospital. Pakistan's parliament unanimously adopted a resolution condemning the pontiff and demanding an apology.

Under pressure and no doubt to stop any further violence, the pope on Sunday did so. "I am deeply sorry for the reactions in some countries to a few passages of my address . . . which were considered offensive to the sensibility of Muslims," he told pilgrims at his Castelgandolfo summer residence. The quote doesn't "in any way express my personal thought. I hope this serves to appease hearts."

It was a gracious gesture on the pope's part, especially because his original argument deserves to be heard, not least by Muslims. The offending quotation was a small part in a chain of argument that led to his main thesis about the close relationship between reason and belief. Without the right balance between the two, the pontiff said, mankind is condemned to the "pathologies and life-threatening diseases associated with religion and reason"--in short, political and religious fanaticism.

In Christianity, God is inseparable from reason. "In the beginning was the Word," the pope quotes from the Gospel according to John. "God acts with logos. Logos means both reason and word," he explained. "The inner rapprochement between Biblical faith and Greek philosophical inquiry was an event of decisive importance not only from the standpoint of history of religions, but also from that of world history. . . . This convergence, with the subsequent addition of the Roman heritage, created Europe."

The question raised by the pope is whether this convergence has taken place in Islam as well. He quotes the Lebanese Catholic theologist Theodore Khoury, who said that "for Muslim teaching, God is absolutely transcendent, his will is not bound up with any of our categories." If this is true, can there be dialogue at all between Islam and the West? For the pope, the precondition for any meaningful interfaith discussions is a religion tempered by reason: "It is to this great logos, to this breadth of reason, that we invite our partners in the dialogue of cultures," he concluded.

This is not an invitation to the usual feel-good interfaith round-tables. It is a request for dialogue with one condition--that everyone at the table reject the irrationality of religiously motivated violence. The pope isn't condemning Islam; he is inviting it to join rather than reject the modern world.

By their reaction to the pope's speech, some Muslim leaders showed again that Islam has a problem with modernity that is going to have to be solved by a debate within Islam. The day Muslims condemn Islamic terror with the same vehemence they condemn those who criticize Islam, an attempt at dialogue--and at improving relations between the Western and Islamic worlds--can begin.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Positing Equivalence between Christianity & Islam

A Dangerous and False Theory

By Rev. Bassam M. Madany

Radio, television, and the print media, brought us several articles and commentaries on the occasion of the Fifth Anniversary of September 11, 2001. The New York Post Online edition published an article by Ralph Peters, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel, with this title, “Islam-Haters: An Enemy Within.” He referred to “a rotten core of American extremists,” without naming them, “who are standing in the way of properly dealing with the global menace of jihadism.”

On September 12, 2006, Robert Spencer, an authority on the history of Islam, and author of several books on the subject, responded on, with an article entitled, “Ralph Peters’ Fog of Confusion.” For a full text of the article, please go to:

It is not my intention to deal with all the charges of Ralph Peters, but I restrict myself to a comment he made about God, as He is revealed in one of the historical Books of the Old Testament. In his article that appeared on the New York Post Online edition, on September 7, 2006, Mr. Peters criticized those he termed as “Islam-Haters” for pointing to references in the Qur’an that support violence against non-Muslims:

“As for the books and Web sites listing all those passages encouraging violence against the infidel, well, we could fill entire libraries with bloody-minded texts from the Christian past. And as a believing Christian, I must acknowledge that there’s nothing in the Koran as merciless as God’s behavior in the Book of Joshua.”

A few days later, Ralph Peters made similar remarks during the “Symposium: 9/11 Five Years Later,” that was presided over by Jamie Glazov of published on 9/11/06 (

“Blanket hatred is blanket hatred, no matter how piously it’s couched in terms of patriotism or ‘defending our civilization.’ I cited the Book of Joshua because of the grotesque thirst for blood of our own Old Testament deity--far uglier than anything in the Koran (which is simply stream-of-consciousness nonsense--Mohammed should sue James Joyce for plagiarism). We could compile endless volumes of Christian hate speech that’s stacked up over the past thousand years (it really hit its stride in the tenth century). Unfair to cite only the Muslim hate-mongers without noting that we’ve had plenty of our own.”

It is so unfortunate that a retired United States officer who has had some experiences overseas, including tours of duty in Muslim lands, and who regards himself as “a believing Christian,” manifests such an ignorance of both Christianity and Islam. Not keeping his confusion to himself, he goes public by equating Christianity with Islam, as far as encouraging violence towards those who don’t belong to their communities. (continued on levant web site).

To read the full text of this article please go to:

Saturday, August 19, 2006

A Tale of Four Sermons, Part II

Also posted on this day is Part I of this piece, by Louis Palme, to be found on

Jesus, Final Statements to His Disciples (John 13 - 16 excerpts)
My children, I shall not be with you very much longer. You will look for me; but I tell you now what I told the Jewish authorities, “You cannot go where I am going.” And now I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another, then everyone will know that you are my disciples. . . .

I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one goes to the Father except by me. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me. If not, believe because of the things I do. I am telling you the truth: whoever believes in me will do what I do – yes, he will do even greater things, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask for in my name, so that the Father’s glory will be shown through the Son. If you ask me for anything in my name, I will do it.

My commandment is this: love one another, just as I love you. The greatest love a person can have for his friends is to give his life for them. And you are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because a servant does not know what his master is doing. Instead, I call you friends, because I have told you everything I heard from my Father. You did not choose me, I chose you and appointed you to go and bear much fruit, the kind of fruit that endures. And so the Father will give you whatever you ask of him in my name. This, then, is what I command you: love one another.

If the world hates you, just remember that it has hated me first. If you belonged to the world, then the world would love you as its own. But I chose you from this world, and you do not belong to it; that is why the world hates you. They would not have been guilty of sin if I had not come and spoken to them; as it is, they no longer have any excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father also. This, however, was bound to happen so that what is written in their Law may come true: ‘They hated me for no reason at all.’

I have told you this, so that you will not give up your faith. You will be expelled from the synagogues, and the time will come when anyone who kills you will think that by doing this he is serving God. People will do these things to you because they have not known either the Father or me. But I have told you this, so that when the time comes for them to do these things, you will remember what I told you.

I have told you this so that you will have peace by being united to me. The world will make you suffer. But be brave! I have defeated the world!

Mohammed’s final sermon (al-Tabari, Vol IX, No. 1754)
O people, listen to my words. I do not know whether I shall ever meet you again in this place after this year. O people, your blood and your property are sacrosanct until you meet your Lord, just as this day and this month of yours are sacred. Surely you will meet your Lord and He will question you about your deeds. I have [already] made this known. Let he who has a pledge return it to the one who entrusted him with it; all usury is abolished, but your capital belongs to you. Wrong not and you shall not be wronged. Allah has decreed that there will be no usury, and the usury of Abbas b. Abd al-Muttalib is abolished, all of it. All blood shed in the pre-Islamic days is to be left unavenged. The first such claim I revoke is that of Ibn Rabiah b. al-Harith b. Abd al-Muttalib, who was nursed among the Banu Layth and was slain by the Banu Hudhayl. His is the first blood shed in the pre-Islamic days with which I shall set an example. O people, indeed Satan despairs of ever being worshipped in this land of yours. He will be pleased, however, if he is obeyed in a thing other than that, in matters you minimize. So beware of him in your religion, O people, intercalculating a month is an increase in unbelief whereby the unbelievers go astray; one year they make it profane, and hallow it another [in order] to agree with the number that Allah has hallowed, and so profane what Allah has hallowed, and hallow what Allah has made profane. Time has completed its cycle [and is] as it was on the day that Allah created the heavens and the earth. The number of the months with Allah is twelve; [they were] in the Book of Allah on the day He created the heavens and the earth. Four of them are sacred, the three consecutive [months] and the Rajab [which is the month of] Mudar, which is between Jumada and Sha’ban.

Now then, O people, you have a right over your wives and they have a right over you. You have [the right] that they should not cause anyone of whom you dislike to tread on your beds; and that they should not commit any open indecency. If they do, then Allah permits you to shut them in separate rooms and to beat them, but not severely. If they abstain from [evil], they have the right to their food and clothing in accordance with the custom. Treat women well, for they are [like] domestic animals with you and do not possess anything for themselves. You have taken them only as a trust from Allah, and you have made the enjoyment of their persons lawful by the word of Allah, so understand and listen to my words, O people. I have conveyed the Message, and have left you with something which, if you hold fast to it, you will never go astray; that is, the Book of Allah and the sunnah of his Prophet. Listen to my words, O people, for I have conveyed the Message and understand [it]. Know for certain that every Muslim is a brother of another Muslim, and that all Muslims are brethren. It is not lawful for a person [to take] from his brother except that which he has given him willingly, so do not wrong yourselves. O Allah, have I not conveyed the message?

Jesus’ issues: Love for one another .Followers are friends, not servants.
Bearing fruit that endures. Understanding the world’s hatred for Christians
Preparing for people who will kill thinking they are serving God

Mohammad’s issues:
Settling debts, but forbidding usury
Amnesty for bloodshed occurring in pre-Islamic days
Preserving the Islamic calendar (which is 11 days short of a solar year)
Treatment of wives (like domestic animals)
Ordaining the Koran and the Sunnah (words/actions of the Prophet) as basis for Laws
Muslims are brothers of one another

A Tale of Four Sermons, Part I

In June of 2006 Louis Palme posted four sermons on the web site of He chose the first and final sermons from our Lord Jesus Christ, and the first and final recorded words of the Prophet Mohammed. They speak for themselves.

The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5, 6, and 7)
Happy are those who know they are spiritually poor; the Kingdom of heaven belongs to them!
Happy are those who mourn; God will comfort them!
Happy are those who are humble; they will receive what God has promised!
Happy are those whose greatest desire is to do what God requires; God will satisfy them fully!
Happy are those who are merciful to others; God will be merciful to them! Happy are the pure in heart; they will see God!
Happy are those who work for peace; God will call them his children!
Happy are those who are persecuted because they do what God requires; the Kingdom of heaven belongs to them!

Happy are you when the people insult you and persecute you and tell all kinds of evil lies against you because you are my followers. Be happy and glad, for a great reward is kept for you in heaven. This is how the prophets before you were persecuted.

You are like salt for all mankind. But if salt loses its saltiness, there is no way to make it salty again. It has become worthless, so it is thrown out and people trample on it.
You are like light for the whole world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one lights a lamp and puts it under a bowl; instead he puts it on the lampstand, where it gives light for everyone in the house. In the same way your light must shine before people, so that they will see the good things you do and praise your Father in heaven.

Do not think that I have come to do away with the Law of Moses and the teachings of the prophets. I have not come to do away with them, but to make their teachings come true. Remember that as long as heaven and earth last, not the least point nor the smallest detail of the Law will be done away with – not until the end of all things. So then, whoever disobeys even the least important of the commandments and teachers others to do the same, will be least in the Kingdom of heaven. I tell you, then, you will be able to enter the Kingdom of heaven only if you are more faithful than the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees in doing what God requires.
You have heard that people were told in the past, “Do not commit murder; anyone who does will be brought to trial. But now I tell you: whoever is angry with his brother will be brought to trial, whoever calls his brother ‘You good-for-nothing!’ will be brought before the Council, and whoever calls his brother a worthless fool will be in danger of going to the fire of hell. So if you are about to offer your gift to God at the altar and there you remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar, go at once and make peace with your brother, and then come back and offer your gift to God.

You have heard that it was said, “Love your friends, hate your enemies.” But now I tell you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may become the sons of your Father in heaven. For he makes his sun to shine on the bad and good people alike, and gives rain to those who do good and to those who do evil. Why should God reward you if you love only the people who love you? Even the tax collectors do that! And if you speak only to your friends, have you done anything out of the ordinary? Even the pagans do that ! You must be perfect—just as your Father in heaven is perfect.

Make sure you do not perform your religious duties in public so that people will see what you do. If you do these things publicly, you will not have any reward from your Father in heaven.
So when you give something to a needy person, do not make a big show of it, as the hypocrites do in the houses of worship and on the streets. They do it so that people will praise them. I assure you, they have already been paid in full. But when you help a needy person, do it in such a way that even your closest friend will not know about it. Then it will be a private matter. And your Father, who sees what you do in private, will reward you.

Mohammed’s First Friday Sermon in Medina (Tabari, Vol. VII, No.1258)
Praise be to Allah. I praise him, and call on him for help, forgiveness and guidance. I believe in him, do not deny him and am an enemy of whoever denies him. I bear witness that there is no deity but Allah alone, without partner, and that Mohammed [sic] is his servant and his Messenger, whom he has sent with guidance, light and exhortation after an interval in the appearance of messengers, at a time when knowledge is scarce, men are led astray, time is cut short, the Last Hour is at hand and the End is close. Whoever obeys Allah and his Prophet has been rightly guided; whoever disobeys them has erred, been remiss and gone far astray. I recommend to you the fear of Allah, for the best thing which a Muslim can enjoin upon a Muslim is that he should exhort him to seek the Other World and command him to fear Allah. Beware of what Allah has warned you against concerning himself. There is no better advice than this and no better admonition. The fear of Allah, for whoever acts according to it in fear and dread of his Lord, is a trusty aid to what you desire of the Other World. He who sets aright what is between him and his Lord in secret and in public, seeking nothing thereby but the face of Allah, will be remembered in this world, and will have a treasure in that which is after death. Then a man will have need of that good which he has done previously; and as for that which is otherwise, he will wish that there was a great distance between him and it. Allah warns you to beware of himself, but Allah is merciful to his servants and to those who believe his word and fulfill his promises. Allah says: “The sentence that cometh from me cannot be changed, and I am in no wise a tyrant unto my servants.” Fear Allah, then, in this world and the next, in secret and in public. He who fears Allah will have his evil deeds forgiven and his reward magnified; he will achieve a great success. The fear of Allah will ward off Allah’s hatred and retribution and wrath. The fear of Allah will make people blameless in the sight of Allah, will please the Lord and will raise their degree. Seize hold of your portion, and do not be remiss with regard to Allah. Allah has caused you to know his Book and has opened his path before you in order that he may know those who speak the truth and those who lie. Act well, then, as Allah has acted well with you. Be enemies of his enemies, and strive on Allah’s behalf in the way to which he is entitled. He has chosen you and named you Muslims, “that he who perished (on that day) might perish by a clear proof (of his sovereignty) and he who survived might survive by clear proof.” There is no power but with Allah. Remember Allah frequently and act for the sake of that which is after today; for he who sets aright which is between him and Allah will have that which is between him and other men taken care of by Allah. That is because Allah pronounces judgment upon men whereas they do not pronounce judgment upon him, and because Allah rules men whereas they do not rule him. Allah is most great. There is no might but with Allah the great.

Happiness vs. Fear:
Jesus: mentions happiness 10 times
Mohammed: mentions fear 8 times, beware 2 times
Jesus: love your enemies
Mohammed: Be enemies of Allah’s enemies
Public worship:
Jesus: Do not perform your religious duties in public. Those who do so will not have any reward from God in heaven.
Mohammed: He who sets right with Allah in public and in private will be remembered in this world and will have treasure in the next.
Jesus: make peace with your brother
Mohammed: If you are right with Allah, what is between you and other men will be taken care of by Allah

Monday, July 24, 2006

The Goal of Iran: Dominating the Region

Israel Facing the Islamist Declaration of War Part II [1]

Jacob Thomas on Jul 23, 2006

While most of the print Arab media have focused their attention on the details of the tragic events engulfing the Middle East, some Arab journalists are pointing specifically to the role of the Iranian regime in initiating the bloody confrontation between Hezbollah and Israel. An editorial on the Elaph online newspaper for Sunday, 16 July, appeared with this headline: “Iran’s New Alliance Ignited the Fire that’s Burning Lebanon.”

The following are excerpts from the article that underline the unease of several Arab commentators about the growing Iranian influence in the region.

Hezbollah embarked on a military operation that ended with the killing and kidnapping of Israeli soldiers within Israel’s borders. It was an operation that could not have been justified at all; it was totally and completely against Lebanon’s interests. The Lebanese are extremely tired and weary, due to the wars that have been inflicted upon them. Consider the number of killed and wounded, and the terrible destruction that’s going on in Lebanon, and realize the gigantic nature of the tragedy of the Lebanese!

The big question is: for whose advantage was that operation which started this war? In order to understand who benefits from the Hezbollah operation, we must consider the timing for the attack It is well-known that the Lebanese economy relies heavily on the tourist season as an essential part of the yearly income. Why did Hezbollah not wait until the summer season was over, to initiate their attack on Israel? What a lame excuse that Hezbollah gave for the goal of its operation, namely the liberation of their prisoners that were still being held in Israel! But those prisoners had been there in custody for years!

“In order to understand the timing of Hezbollah’s operation we should consider the words of King Abdallah II, of Jordan. He warned about the rise of a ‘Shi’ite Crescent’ that would extend from Iran to Hamas in Palestine, passing through Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon. His warning was in place as the current events have demonstrated. It is turning out to be much more than a ‘crescent.’ It has become a ‘deadly scorpion’ whose head is in Tehran, while its tail is in southern Lebanon, and in the south suburbs of Beirut. This dangerous situation can no longer be dealt with by the resort to vapid diplomatic declarations. Hezbollah’s foolish acts have rendered such a course totally ineffective.

Let’s consider again the ‘timing’ of the operation. For whose advantage was it undertaken? We should not forget that Iran was under great international pressure due to its nuclear program. So, it continued to play for time and prolonged its diplomatic negotiations. At the same time, Iran pursued her plan to cause troubles all over the Middle East. It was Iran that prompted the action of Hezbollah in Israel. Thus, the leader of Hezbollah offered Lebanon and its people, as a sacrifice on the altar of Iranian interests. Hassan Nasrallah never bothered to inform the legitimate government of Lebanon, or the Arab governments, about his plans to initiate an attack on Israel. The real decision for Hezbollah’s action was taken in Tehran, and was accomplished through the help and cooperation of Syria.

“Iran and its allies thought that the ‘sacredness’ of the ‘Palestinian Cause’ and of the ‘Resistance Movement in Lebanon’ would immobilize the Arabs, and render them unable to unmask the true nature of Iran’s schemes in the region. Iran’s calculations failed due to Saudi Arabia’s warning about Tehran’s plan. Added to the Saudi position were the declarations of Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates that decried the actions of Hezbollah. As a result of their incursion into Israel, the destruction of Lebanon has begun. The Arab countries must construct a plan to face the Iranian strategy that seeks to dominate the Middle East. Iran must be stopped from executing its plan; this whole matter has taken on an existential nature!”

Thus far, the comments of an Arab editorialist on the deteriorating situation in the Middle East. His remarks centered on Iran’s role in igniting the fires that are burning Lebanon. He did not deal with the broader issues of the type of war that is being waged by the Islamists, not only in Lebanon and Israel, but all over the world. Unfortunately, the general media took up the words of Jacques Chirac regarding the “disproportional” Israeli response to Hezbollah attacks, and began to repeat them ad nauseam. What they failed to emphasize was the radical changes that have taken place in the method of warfare as practiced by the Islamists, and the logical and necessary responses to such tactics.

We are grateful therefore for the publication in June 2006, of a book dealing with this subject under the title of, “INSURGENTS, TERRORISTS, AND MILITIAS,” by Richard H. Shultz Jr. and Andrea J. Dew (Columbia University Press, 316 pages, $29.50) It was reviewed in the 19 July, 2006 issue of The Wall Street Journal by Robert D. Kaplan. He titled the review, The Tribal Way of War. I highly recommend his review as it throws a great light on the new circumstances that we face in the global war against Islamic jihadism. The URL for this article is: [3] Unfortunately, it is available only to subscribers, but your Public Library would certainly provide you with early editions of the Journal so that you can peruse this valuable piece of information.

I restrict myself to a few quotations from The Tribal Way of War.

While the U.S. spends billions of dollars on sophisticated defense systems, the dime-a-dozen kidnapper and suicide bomber have emerged as the most strategic weapons of war. While we tie ourselves in legal knots over war's acceptable parameters, international law has increasingly less bearing on those whom we fight. And while our commanders declare ‘force protection’ as their highest priority, enemy commanders declare the need for more martyrs. It seems that the more advanced we become, the more at a disadvantage we are in the 21st-century battlefield.

In ‘Insurgents, Terrorists, and Militias,’ Richard H. Shultz Jr. and Andrea J. Dew, both of Tufts's Fletcher School, have produced a wise and cogent briefing book about who our enemies are and how to anticipate their field tactics. The problem, they state early on, is that the Pentagon -- the product of a rational, science-based Western culture -- relies on objective quantification for its analysis. But what happens, the authors ask, if there is nothing to quantify? What happens if the enemy is merely an organic part of the landscape, revealing its features only at the moment of attack? Well, then all we can do is study these ‘idiosyncratic’ human landscapes and use anthropology to improve our intelligence assessments.

The Somali way of war -- so startling to U.S. Army Rangers in Mogadishu in 1993 -- emerged from Somalia's late-19th-century Dervish movement, on which the country's top warlord, Mohammed Farah Aidid, based his strategy. What the West viewed as fanaticism was merely the Somali proclivity for judging a man's character by his religious conviction and his physical ability to fight without limits. In the Somali worldview, our aversion to killing women and children was a weakness that could be exploited by using noncombatants as human shields. Clearly, the task of anticipating the enemy's tactics requires thinking that goes beyond Western moral categories.

Our progressive global culture -- with its emphasis on convenience and instant gratification -- finds it difficult to cope with such warriors, for whom war is a first resort rather than a last one. And what if a warrior takes command of a large and modernizing nation-state, as Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has done? We are accustomed to adversarial states with rational goals, like China. In the long run, China may constitute a greater threat to American world leadership than Iran. Yet China is a traditional and, therefore, legitimate power. We will have a serious military competition with the Chinese, but only through miscalculation would we ever fight them. Yet the darkest cloud on the 21st-century horizon is big states whose leaders may simply like to fight. Their reasons are tied up with pride, vengeance and martial religiosity and cannot be gratified through negotiations.”

To read the Elaph article dealing with the fire Iran ignited in Lebanon, and then to proceed to the book review of 19 July in the WSJ, is a very frightening experience. But both articles provide us with a realistic description of our “New World Disorder.” Are our leaders giving heed to these early warnings; or are they, by neglecting these warning signs, repeating the costly mistakes of Western leaders during the 1930s? Only time will tell.

Israel Facing the Islamist Declaration of War Part II
[2] ttp://

Monday, July 03, 2006

Freedom in Christ

How Great Is Freedom!

On 18 June 2006, the online Arabic daily newspaper, Elaph, published an article under the title “Is Islam a Tolerant Religion?” It brought immediately a total of 97 responses from readers all over the world. Some were appreciative of the article for its frankness, while others were extremely critical.

One of the responses was unique, and attracted my attention. Writing on 20 June, the author, calling himself, “A Convert to the Light of Christianity,” started his testimony in this way:

“How Great Is Freedom!”

“For several years, I was lost in a religion, not knowing truth from errors. I saw unlawful [illegal, sins] being committed in its name. Innocent people were being killed in its name, and young girls were also being raped in its name.

Finally, God brought me to the light of Christianity. I realize that now, Muslims would declare that my life is no longer secure, [as a murtad, i.e. apostate, my blood should be shed]. My situation has become similar to all those who have discovered the way of truth, and left the way of Islamic error! It doesn’t matter: if I am killed, I would die as a clean Christian, and not as a criminal Muslim.

I was no longer able to put up with all the horrible crimes committed by Muslims against all “Others.” With me, there are now more than 3,500 Muslims who have found the light of Christianity and have been saved, for ever, from the nightmare of Islam.

O Lord, guide everyone to the way of Truth, to the Light of the great and noble Christianity.”

A convert to the light of Christianity.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Urgent Comments from Baghdad

We are relieved once again to find our friend "the Mesopotamian" still alive and able to post his thoughts on his blogspot. Please read what he has to say:

"Today, I have something quite serious to talk about. At long last, it has come to be realized that any security strategy in Iraq must start from securing the Capital. This is something that I have said long ago and was probably the main reason for starting to blog just to get across this message.

"It would have been easier to implement such a strategy earlier before the “enemy” has had enough time to infest many neighborhoods and entrench in considerable areas of the Capital. Indeed it was the enemy who started the offensive with a deliberate and coordinated plan that escalated especially after blowing up the shrines in Samara, which was definitely an important part of the plan in order to escalate sectarian violence and invite retaliation which would then facilitate and help a campaign of “ethnic cleansing” to clear increasingly large chunks of the capital and turn them into “Faluja” style safe havens for the “insurgency”.

"I don’t know whether people abroad are really aware of the real situation in Baghdad right now. The capital is divided along sectarian lines with parts of it becoming no-go zones especially for Shiaa’s, and these zones are not just in the peasant outskirts of the city but have moved to the heart of middle class areas especially to the west of the city. The situation has worsened considerably in the last couple of months. Many of our relatives and acquaintances ......."

Please turn to the full text of this Baghdadi's heart-rending plea. You will find it on his oft-mentioned blogspot

Friday, June 23, 2006

Zan Tyler's New Book on Homeschooling

7 Tools for Cultivating your Child’s Potential by Zan Tyler. 2005. Broadman and Holman Publishers, Nashville, Tennessee

In spite of the unique title of this attractive book, and regardless of your age or station in life, here is a combination life story/practical advice/devotional book which is guaranteed to hold your attention.

To give you a taste of its contents let me quote two paragraphs.

P110 “America has gone from a country that once welcomed God (and His Word) to one where His Word is unwelcome outside the church. When a Christian view of the world prevailed in our society, being able to define worldview was not so important. Now that we live in a society that prefers to view the world apart from God, Christians must educate themselves on what a biblical worldview is and why it’s important. As Christian parents, we must commit ourselves to understanding worldview issues for our children’s sake because they are confronted daily with peer pressure and a pop culture that are often openly hostile to their values. If we choose to remain ignorant, our children’s faith will suffer.”

p.119“We must communicate to our children that each of them, in God’s economy, brings important gifts to employ in this world for God’s glory and our neighbor’s welfare. That is why we work. The engineer, the doctor, the mother, the lawyer, the car mechanic, the writer all serve God by doing their work well—by using their gifts to solve problems and improve the world. This idea of improving the world at every level is what God told Adam and Eve to do in the Garden of Eden.”

I can assure you that the end result of reading this lively piece of writing will be that you will get a glimpse of the value of any learning derived from “home” and an appreciation for the involvement of all parents, in conjunction with whatever style of schooling their children may be having.

Shirley W. Madany

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Western Dhimmitude

Posted by: Jacob Thomas on Jun 16, 2006

It was natural for Western media to be preoccupied, during the week of June 4, 2006, with the news from Canada and Iraq. Early that week, the Canadian authorities uncovered a plot of Islamist residents who were planning to perpetrate some horrific acts of terrorism. The mainline media kept telling us that some of these terrorists were Canadian citizens, while others were long-time residents, but the “M” word was absent. There was complete silence about the fact that all those arrested were Muslims.

On Saturday evening June 9, PBS broadcast its “Washington Week.” Four journalists appeared with moderator, Gwen Ifill. First they dealt with the hottest news item: the killing of Zarqawi, near the northern Iraqi city of Ba’qubah, earlier during the week. Then, the moderator turned to the terrorist plot in Canada, saying,

“The threat of terror hit closer to home this week with the arrest of 17 suspected extremists in Canada. The arrest of 12 men and five teenaged suspects also raised questions about U.S.-Canadian border security amidst the on-going debate over immigration reform. NBC News Justice Correspondent Pete Williams updates us on the investigation into the homegrown terror suspects in Canada and the arrest of two more terror suspects in Britain with possible links to the Toronto group.”

I watched carefully to see whether any of the four commentators would mention the true identity of the plotters. Almost all, with one accord chanted the cliché that these men were “home grown terrorists.” But they were all Muslims. What’s wrong in identifying them with the “M” word? The fact that some or most of them were born in Canada meant nothing to those Muslims. As men who had embraced the teachings of radical Islam, they had only one loyalty --- to the Islamic Umma. The acts of terror they planned; such as storming the Parliament building in Ottawa, holding cabinet ministers hostages, beheading the Prime Minister, all those acts would hasten the victory of Islam over the world!

The mainline media, both in Canada and the United States, played down the true identity of the terrorists. After all, they must not offend the growing Islamic community in both countries, by any reference to the true source of the terrorists’ ideology.

The reticence of so many Westerners, both in government and in the media, to utter the “M” word, is shocking. But it has been coming for a long time. Back in July 1991, the late Jacques Ellul*, the French Protestant scholar of the University of Bordeaux, alluded to this phenomenon in his “Foreword” to Bat Ye’or’s Book, “The Decline of Eastern Christianity under Islam from Jihad to Dhimmitude.”**

Ellul’s “Foreword” remains as an excellent essay that should be read by all concerned about the global threat of Islamic extremism. The French scholar predicted the growing phenomenon, on both sides of the Atlantic, of the “Dhimmitude of the West.” Here are some very pertinent quotations:

“I have greatly stressed the characteristics of this war, [Ellul was referring to the institution of Jihad in Islam] because there is so much talk nowadays of the tolerance and fundamental pacifism of Islam that it is necessary to recall its nature, which is fundamentally warlike! Moreover, the author [reference here is to Bat Ye’or’s book] provides us an enlightening explanation of “Islamization,” a complex process whereby Islamicized populations supplanted peoples, civilizations, and religions in the conquered countries. This comprised two phases …the first is war; the second is the imposition of the dhimmi status.

“We are again faced with the fundamental choice: the world is still divided between the world of Islam and the world of war. And inside the umma, the only possible existence for the infidel is dhimmitude.

“This leads the author to pose the question which has become so alarming today: “Dhimmitude of the West”? After having thus covered thirteen centuries of history, read in the light of this question, we reach our present situation, actually feeling its ambiguity and instability. We misunderstand this situation, for lack of a clear vision of the alternative which, whether explicit or not, existed throughout the centuries and which the present book has the immense merit to analyze rigorously. The author has the courage to examine (summarily, because this is not the purpose of the book) whether a certain number of events, structures, and situations that we know in the West do not already derive from a sort of “dhimmitude” of the West vis-à-vis an Islamic world that has resumed its war and its expansion. Hostage-taking, terrorism, the destruction of Lebanese Christianity, the weakening of the Eastern Churches (not to mention the wish to destroy Israel), and conversely, Europe’s defensive reaction (antiterrorist infrastructure, the psychological impact of intellectual “terrorism”, political and legal restraints regarding terrorist blackmail): all this recalls precisely the resurgence of the traditional policy of Islam. Indeed many Muslim governments try to combat the Islamist trend, but to succeed would require a total recasting of mentalities, a desacralization of jihad, a self-critical awareness of Islamic imperialism, an acceptance of the secular nature of political power and the rejection of certain Koranic dogmas. Of course, after all the changes we have seen taking place in the Soviet Union, it is not unthinkable, but what a global change that would imply: a change in a whole historical trend and the reform of a remarkably structured religion! This book thus allows us to take our bearings, so as to understand more easily our present situation, as every genuine historical study should do --- without, of course, making artificial comparisons and by remembering that history does not repeat itself.”

Fifteen years have passed since Jacques Ellul penned these clear sounding words! How relevant these words, as the Islamic terrorism is multiplying shockingly! And how blind are Western politicians and the mainline media in exercising self-censorship when dealing with Islam and Muslims! “The Dhimmitude of the West” is here with us; it’s become a fait accompli, thanks to the ideologies of multiculturalism and political correctness.
Thus, as long as we refuse to use the word “Muslim” when dealing with the various manifestations of Islamic terrorism, our efforts in the “War on Terror” will be in vain. The enemy must be clearly identified, in order to stop his advances; and gain complete victory over him. We must throw off the self-imposed shackles of dhimmitude; this is the only way to achieve victory.

* Jacques ELLUL died in 1994 at 82. A jurist, historian, theologian and sociologist, he published more than 600 articles and 48 books, many of which were translated into a dozen languages (more than 20 into English). From 1950-70 he was a member of the National Council of the Protestant Reformed Church of France. Professor at the University of Bordeaux, his oeuvre includes studies on medieval European institutions, the effect of modern technology on contemporary society, and moral theology. In American academic circles, he was widely known for "The Technological Society" written in the 1950's (English edition, 1964) and recognized as one of the most prominent of contemporary thinkers.
** The Decline of Eastern Christianity under Islam: From Jihad to Dhimmitudeby Bat Ye’or, with Foreword by Jacques Ellul, published in 1996 by Associated University Presses, 440 Forsgate Drive, Cranbury, NJ 08512

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Ex-Muslims Attracted to Western Secularism

By Rev. Bassam M. Madany

From my earliest days, I noticed a certain fascination with Western secularism that was exhibited by Arab authors who dealt with modern history. For example, they showed a high regard and admiration for the French Revolution of 1789, notwithstanding the unbelievable bloodshed and turmoil that resulted from it.

During the past century, that attraction has manifested itself specifically in the rapid spread of Marxist ideology throughout the Middle East. In the 1960s, a Muslim professor at the American University of Beirut, Dr. Sadeq Jalal al-Adhm, published, “A Critique of Religious Thought.”(Naqd al-Fikr Al-Deeni.) This book was critical, not only of the Qur’an, but of all theistic religions. His approach and methodology were thoroughly Marxist. He got into trouble with the Lebanese authorities, but was exonerated from the charge of inciting divisions among the Lebanese religious communities. Al-Adhm stuck tenaciously to his secular ideology. The last sentence in a revised and expanded version of his “Critique” was this: “It is beyond doubt that Dialectical Materialism is the best known attempt to formulate a complete and universal worldview that can be reconciled with the spirit of this age and its sciences. I believe that this is exactly what Jean-Paul Sartre meant when he said: ‘Marxism is the philosophy for our times.’”

We now have unassailable proof that Marxism has been an utter failure, both ideologically and practically. We need only to read Aleksander Solzhenitsyn’s “The Gulag Archipelago” to see that Sartre, Albert Camus, and all their Middle Eastern disciples, were wrong in their prophecies.

Having said that, I don’t want to imply that Western Secularism has ceased to attract Arab and Muslim intellectuals. For example, early in 2006, I came across a relatively new Arabic-language website, , serving as a forum for dialog among Arab intellectuals who are concerned about tajdeed (renewal), tahdeeth (modernization), and Islah (reformation.) As I glance daily at their contributions, I can’t help but notice how most of them manifest the impact of Western secular worldviews on their thoughts. This is clearly seen by their repeated references to such philosophers as Nietzsche, Kant, Descartes, Voltaire, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau.

In May 2006, a Syrian Muslim contributed an unusual article to the Tanweer (Enlightenment) site, in which he related his painful spiritual journey that ended with his leaving Islam. Its title was, “From Religion to No Religion: The Confession of a Muslim who has renounced Islam.”

If you wish to read more of this article please go to the following URL:

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Middle East Resources Newsletter - 2006

We praise the Lord for twelve years of “retirement” ministry as of June, 2006. We delight to see our “resources” being sought after and thank God also for the health and strength he has given us to handle all the requests.

It seems that we are now deeply involved in both publications and distribution. We welcomed our third book from the printer this April. Sales are going well. We have had two unique opportunities in May to both lecture and sell our books. We hope you will enquire if you can increase the readership of our latest book “An Introduction to Islam.” It is a selection of 33 articles chosen in the hope of helping people to get a better understanding of Islam.

Our three books are: “The Bible and Islam”, “Muslims Meeting Christ” and “An Introduction to Islam.”

An Introduction to Islam by Bassam and Shirley Madany. ($12.50) Thirty-three articles currently to be found on are now available in print form. Articles which have elicited comments like the following: "I count it as such a privilege to be in the orbit of God's blessing in your ministry."...."Your material is so right on, and just what I need to get to know about what is happening in that troubled part of the world."....."I thank the Lord upon every remembrance of you and your ministry. You have been a pillar in our generation in holding to your uncompromising approach to Islam."

Muslims Meeting Christ by Shirley W. Madany. Published in July 2005 ($10.00)It is a joyful book based on some of the responses to our daily Arabic broadcast, Saatu'l Islah. Comments from an elderly Christian scholar and friend were an encouragement: "I read your book with tears in my eyes. Thank you for writing it." You will thrill to the testimonies of young and old, from Morocco to Iraq, as they tell of their love for Jesus.

The second printing of the Russian version of The Bible and Islam, came off the press in December 2001. To obtain copies please contact: , our Christian Reformed Church missionary in Russia.

You may write and purchase the English version or you are invited to freely download and print your own copy from our web site. Within the last month there has been a second printing of The Bible and Islam, undertaken by Life Challenge Africa, and printed in Nairobi, Kenya. And presently we are in correspondence with a missionary in Nigeria who will be supervising another reprint being done very shortly for use in West Africa.

This is all the Lord’s doing and we are merely His servants.

Joyfully serving the Lord,

Bassam and Shirley Madany

Friday, May 12, 2006

Updated Bibliography

Please check out our updated Bibliography, available by link from this site.

We would draw your attention to a selection of URLs of web sites which we heartily recommend. They are located at the end of the list.

Bassam and Shirley Madany

Monday, April 24, 2006

Putting an End to Intolerance

In an editorial published in FOURTH ESTATE, a publication of the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay, under the heading of “End the Intolerance,” one cannot help but notice the distorted logic of the post-modern mind.

I was struck, even though not surprised by the list of three topics that should not be tolerated, namely sexism, racism and homophobia. According to the moral code of this “Brave New World” these three items are sacrosanct. No one, not even within a civilization whose Constitution guarantees freedom of speech and expression, ought to say anything negative about sexism, racism, and homophobia!

The editorial went on mouthing high sounding declarations:

“Society desperately requires intolerance of sexism, racism and homophobia. Communities and individuals need to practice intolerance toward these societal ills, so the future inherits a world where equality is the standard and bigotry is an unacceptable occurrence.”

Now “Society” has become personalized, and it issues edicts that must be obeyed. The trilogy of the unforgivable sins is repeated as a mantra. When it comes to these “sins” both communities and individuals are called upon to “practice intolerance.” Wow! Are we living under a dictatorial regime? What if we do not buy the ideology of the radicals and anarchists? Would they resort to punishing us because we hold to a higher ethic? Are they borrowing the tactics of the morality police of Saudi Arabia, or the Islamic Republic of Iran?

The editor’s homily goes on to admonish us to heed the fundamentals of the “Brave New World.”

“Tolerance is not blindly accepting every person’s opinion as fact. Tolerance is a necessary component of democratic society because it means living harmoniously with one another. No one person’s path to happiness should infringe on anyone else’s path to happiness.”

OK, if “tolerance is not blindly accepting every person’s opinion as fact,” I have made my choice, and respond by saying I don’t accept your pontifications as fact. Your goal is to arrive at happiness, fine. However, I refuse to accept your definition of happiness. What you’ve described as the three sacrosanct commandments surely does not bring us to the bliss of your “Brave New World.”

What I thought was to be a brief homily turned out to be a lengthy sermon:

A primary benefit of democratic living is the pursuit of happiness. How can a person expect to seek happiness when radical right-wingers are telling him or her who to love, what to believe and what to do with his or her body, while not offering any rational explanations in the process?

What a denunciation of these “radical right-wingers!” These words remind me of the vocabulary used by the Communists in their propaganda to silence their opponents. “Radical Right-Wingers!” Just keep on repeating these charges until people begin to believe your falsifications!

The denunciations became concrete, with severe criticisms leveled against Wisconsin’s Assembly banning the gay marriage bill, and “South Dakota’s recent measures to deconstruct Roe v. Wade.”

The secular preacher waxed even more eloquent and began to fire these questions:

How can citizens of a democracy allow their elected representatives to dictate who they should or should not love? How can a state in the land of the free overturn legislation guaranteeing citizens reproductive freedom? Law within a democratic society should never be used to oppress freedom, but to expand it.

The height of arrogance was reached when the “preacher” asked:

What if Dr. King had decided not to speak at a little church in Montgomery, Ala.?

The preacher turned into a magician, by a slight of mouth! By declaring moral equivalence between Martin Luther King’s fight against the residue of slavery in American society, and the sins of “sexism and homophobia,” the editorial committed a grave error. In fact, it might have escaped the editor, that these words constituted an insult to the memory of the Rev. King, as well as to all African-Americans. Their right to freedom is based on the fact that all men and women are created equal by God. No mere humans may deprive them of their basic and inalienable rights.

Our editor’s understanding and definition of what constitutes unforgivable sins, has no relevance in a decent and harmonious society. In fact the prescriptions of the editorial would ultimately lead to moral chaos, and civilization’s return to barbarity.

Monday, April 17, 2006

The Dykes of Civilization

by David Warren
Columnist for Ottawa Citizen

I found a book in a junkshop this week, published in Canada, a half-century ago. With a foreword by Vincent Massey -- a dry stick, as he is remembered, but nevertheless our 18th governor-general. The book was published by the Anglican Church of Canada, Jarvis Street, Toronto. This was, in those days, a formidable imprimatur. While my copy is water-stained down the spine, and otherwise bedraggled (I did not pay much), it would have been a respectable thing when new, in 1958. It was published as the Lenten offering of the General Board of Religious Education.

The book is by Professor Samuel Henry Prince of King’s College, in Halifax. It is entitled: The Dykes of Civilization. The reader today will be taken aback; the word “diesel” may briefly flit through his mind.

Professor Prince meant dykes in the old-fashioned sense, of walls to hold water out or in. As, the dykes of Holland. The dykes to which he specifically refers are those of the Annapolis Valley, in Nova Scotia -- the “Evangeline” country of the once-immortal poet, Longfellow. They were built up by the first French settlers, in the middle of the 17th century; miles and miles of them, to hold out the sea, and reclaim the rich soils of the Grand Pré delta.

Using this literary conceit, the author compares the work of maintaining civilization to the work of maintaining these dykes. It does not matter who built them or when, for the purpose of maintenance -- if the dykes are ignored, they will disintegrate, and salt water will flood into the valley, poisoning the soil.

The late professor identified four main dykes which guard our “cultural and spiritual achievements”. He lists them, thus: “The Ermine (the insignia of Law); the Mantle (the insignia of Education); the Family Crest (insignia of the Home); and the Mitre (insignia of the Church). The Queen’s Bench, the Academic Chair, the Fireside, and the Altar are the guardians of our way of life.”“Perhaps when he wrote that,” I can hear my reader saying, “but surely not today.” I am myself sufficiently reactionary to be unsurprised by this list, though it appears to be in reverse order of importance. But I know many will titter at both the antiquated form, and the antiquated content.

I wrote some years ago in praise of an Ontario schoolbook, entitled Manners, that was passed to my teenaged grandmother, upon her entry into Canada, about 1913. I received several letters from readers unable to suppress their derision. One in particular found the idea that a young lady should have any manners at all, hysterically funny. Having no detectable good manners herself, she couldn’t see why anyone else would need any.

Now, “manners” would fall under all four of Professor Prince’s headings, for while manners may be codified, and recorded in a book, they are inculcated by every social institution. They live, or die.

A civilization is not a thing external, like the instruction manual for a computer. It consists of men and women, and the children they are raising, and their manners are only the outward expression of the civilization they carry, through time. Likewise, barbarism is an inward condition, though it finds outward expression in savage behaviour.

A half-century may seem a very long time to us today, given the speed at which our society is disintegrating. But it is less than one average lifetime, and I myself was actually alive when this Dykes book appeared. To any age that had not suffered a catastrophe, a half-century would seem a short period of historical time.

I, at least, am struck by how recent this book is, and by the memory that the Canada into which I was born was a country where ancient law, moral education, the traditional family, and the Christian church, were publicly upheld, and universally accepted. A civilized country.
Moreover, the author seems perfectly aware of currents in social life that will lead to disintegration. For instance, he stresses the changing view of sex -- that it has come to be regarded not as a means to a profound end, but as an end in itself, existing only for pleasure. He correctly predicts what must come of such a view.

Today is, for Christians, part of the vigil that will end tonight, in which we contemplate a world from which Christ is withdrawn. It is our own world we contemplate: where the dykes have been breached, and those who try to repair them are mocked.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Moderate Muslims Muddy the Waters

By Jacob Thomas

Every Friday issue of The Wall Street Journal has an article on religion that appears under the general headline of “Houses of Worship.” The March 31, 2006, title of the article was “Holier Than Thou: Muslims declare each other apostates--with violent results.” The author, Masood Farivar, is a reporter for Dow Jones Newswires.

I appreciated much of what Mr. Farivar wrote. However, when I reached the last part of his article, I became very disappointed. Unfortunately, his contribution, as well as other ones coming from “moderate” Muslims, tends to muddy the water rather than give an accurate description of the true nature of Islam.

The author began by mentioning the plight of the Afghani Muslim who had converted to the Christian faith.

The international uproar over the case of Abdul Rahman, the Afghan convert to Christianity charged with apostasy, has drawn attention away from a far more common and nefarious practice infecting religious practice in Islam: the accusation of heresy leveled by Muslims against fellow Muslims, a practice known as takfir. Historically, little more than a rhetorical device, takfir has in recent years grown into a deadly weapon in the hands of Muslim extremists bent on purging Islam of just about anyone who does not subscribe to their views. Today jihadist terrorists in Iraq have begun to use takfir as a rallying cry for violence against the Shiites.”

It is quite likely that most readers of the WSJ have never heard the word takfir. It is derived from an Arabic verb kafara “to be an infidel, or to blaspheme God.” The first time I heard of takfir was in connection with the name of a radical Islamist group in the United Kingdom, “Al-Hijra wal-Takfir.” The followers of this extremist group claim to follow in the foot steps of the Prophet who left Mecca in 622 A.D. and settled in Medina. That event, known in Arabic as Hijra (migration,) signified Muhammad’s separating himself from the kafirs (unbelievers) of Mecca, in order to settle in a pure milieu where he could freely spread Islam.

Mr. Farivar explained the serious consequences that result, when some Muslims accuse other Muslims of heresy:

The concept of religious censure is not unique to Islam, of course, but under Islamic law the charge of apostasy may not only condemn the person to hell but require his immediate death, if he does not repent.”

Then he went on to give a historical account of a group of Muslims who anathemised everyone who disagreed with them. He referred to “the emergence in the late seventh century of a radical group known as Khawarij, whose members argued that committing a simple sin constituted heresy.” Actually, the case of the Khawarij, known also in English as the Kharijites, is much more complex, and needs further explanation.

When Ali, the cousin and son-in-law of the Prophet, assumed the position of the fourth caliph in 655, Mu’awiya, the governor of Syria, revolted against him claiming that Ali was involved in the murder of Uthman, the third caliph. In the fight that ensued, the forces of Ali who held the upper hand were led to accept an offer for a truce that came from the other side. Some of Ali’s supporters did not agree with him, and left his camp. They were called the Khawarej, an Arabic word that signifies leaving a group. They became the prototypes for Islamic radicals. They assassinated Ali in 661. They went on to declare all Muslims (whether Sunnis or Shi’ites) who did not follow them, as unbelievers. They wrought havoc for a long time among the Muslims of the Middle East. This explains the similarity between these seventh century Khawarej and present-day Takfiris.

Mr. Farivar continued:

Until recently, mainstream Muslims dismissed the takfiris as a fringe group, the extreme of the extreme. But with wanton terrorist acts on the rise, a response seemed required. The leaders of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan--themselves targets of apostasy charges--have denounced the takfiris.”

Mainstream Muslim thinkers have also started speaking up. In the U.S., Mr. Siddiqi has led a group of prominent Muslim religious scholars in issuing a fatwa denouncing extremist interpretations of the Koran and hadith. In Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Abd al-Muhsin Al-Abikan, an eminent religious scholar, has given a series of high-profile interviews calling for a campaign to combat takfir culture among Muslims.

“Whether these arguments stem the tide of takfir-inspired violence remains to be seen. The lack of a central synod or council to define Islamic orthodoxy makes it difficult to issue a broad pronouncement discouraging the practice. What passes for sound belief in one country or one historical period may be seen as a heresy in another.

That is not to say that there is no orthodoxy or, just as important, that religious leaders lack clout. They might want to remind the faithful, especially now, of the Prophet's tolerant teachings. As Sheikh Al-Abikan put it: “The authority to declare takfir is God's alone, and no man has that authority.’”

It is indeed helpful to read that “in the U.S., Mr. Siddiqi has led a group of prominent Muslim religious scholars in issuing a fatwa denouncing extremist interpretations of the Koran and hadith.” However, a “mainstream” reading of the Sacred Text of Islam reveals a very negative view of non-Muslims. Consider for example, the accusatory texts from the Qur’an:

"Because of the wrongdoing of the Jews We forbade them good things which were (before) made lawful unto them and because of their much hindering from Allah's way." Surah 4: 160

"O people of the Scripture! Do not exaggerate in your religion nor utter aught concerning Allah save the truth. The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, was only a messenger of Allah, and His word which He conveyed unto Mary, and a spirit from Him. So believe in Allah and His messengers, and say not 'Three' --- Cease! (it is) better for you! Allah is only One God. Far it is removed from His transcendent majesty that he should have a son. His is all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth. And Allah is sufficient as Defender." Surah 4: 171

Above all, we should not forget that in the very first Surah of the Qur’an, known as
Al-Fatiha, mention is made of the Jews and Christians in a derogatory way:

Ihdina as-Sirata’l Mustaqeem, Sirata’l al-Latheen an‘Amta ‘Aleyhem, Ghayra’l
Maghdoobi ‘Aleyhem, wala’Dalleen.”

“Lead us in the Right Path, the Path of those whom Thou hast blessed; and not in {the path of} those upon whom Thy wrath has come; nor of those who have gone astray” (Chapter 1:6, 7)
[Translation is mine JT]

Muslim commentators explain that the Jews are “those upon whom” the wrath of God has come; as for Christians they are the ones who have gone astray. This chapter, which is in the form of an invocation addressed to Allah, is memorized by most Muslims. It defines their relation not only to Allah, but to the “Others” as well. It is ingrained in their memory that, while the grace of Allah has been abundantly given to them, those “Others” are either lost, or are the objects of Allah’s wrath!

The mass media and our political leaders incessantly tell us that mainline Islam is “tolerant” and “magnanimous.” They may refer to texts in the Qur’an that teach freedom of religion. Most of us have heard ad nauseam, the following verse:

“There is no compulsion in religion...” Surah 2: 256a

However, this verse must be understood in the light of history. Ask those communities that have endured 1400 years of Islamic domination about the true meaning of “La Ikraha fi’l-Deen,” i.e. the No Compulsion clause. They will tell you about the awful status of dhimmitude that they and their forefathers suffered. Sure, the People of the Book (Jews and Christians) were allowed to remain in their faith, but were subjected to the most humiliating conditions. Just read the books of Bat Ye’or to learn about this most degrading institution that was inflicted on the original inhabitants of the Middle East and North Africa. And please don’t forget to learn about the Ottoman’s abominable Devshirme, whereby thousands of young boys from the Balkans were forcibly taken from their parents, Islamized, and enrolled in the special corps of the Janissaries!

I return to the title of my essay, “Moderate Muslims Muddy the Waters.” Please read the last paragraph again:

That is not to say that there is no orthodoxy or, just as important, that religious leaders lack clout. They might want to remind the faithful, especially now, of the Prophet's tolerant teachings. As Sheikh Al-Abikan put it: “The authority to declare takfir is God's alone, and no man has that authority.’”

These words of summing-up are very deceptive. To quote Sheikh Al-Abikan’s words may fool the naïve, but they are no different than the mantra, ‘Al-Islam hua al-Hall’ i.e. Islam is the Solution!

“The authority to declare takfir is God’s alone.” What a pious statement. It reminds me of the ruse of Mu’awiya’s camp back in 661! When his soldiers were losing in their confrontation with Ali’s forces, they suddenly lifted copies of the Qur’an on their spears and shouted, “Let God decide.” Pure and unadulterated exhibition of piety! But Allah had already spoken his final word, and this word must be interpreted by mere humans. The umpires that Ali and Mu’awiya agreed upon were not impartial. They deposed Ali, and confirmed his opponent as the lawful caliph of the Islamic Umma. Chaos broke loose as a result. Just read the accounts of the violent crimes committed by the Khawarej, to learn about the consequences of empty and vapid slogans!

It is up to moderate Muslims, if they are to be believed, to initiate a new hermeneutic of the Sacred Texts of Islam, and devise ways where those texts and teachings that declare gloom and doom of the “Others,” are interpreted as belonging to the distant past, and are no longer valid today. In our globalized and interdependent world, there is no room for any type of takfiri ideologies. I am waiting eagerly for true moderates who don’t engage in muddying the waters; but acknowledge the mistakes of the Islamic past.