Friday, December 28, 2007

Editorial from 1911 Moslem World Journal

The Moslem World
VOL. I. APRIL, 1911. No. 2.


MUCH has been written truly, if not always wisely, on the intolerance of the Moslem faith and the fanaticism of many of its votaries, but there is a sense in which Christianity is as intolerant as Islam; and although this intolerance may not and cannot take the form of Moslem intolerance toward Christianity, it is based on more vital issues, and is, therefore, of such a character that it can never be satisfied with compromise or concessions. It demands unconditional surrender.

In his recent book, "Crusaders of the Twentieth Century," Mr. Rice points out in a single sentence why it is that the gulf between Moslem theology and Christian theology can never be bridged. He writes: "There is not one cardinal fact concerning the life, person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ which is not either denied, perverted, misrepresented, or at least ignored in Mohammedan theology," and his entire chapter following this statement, and covering nearly a hundred pages, sets forth these per- versions, denials and misrepresentations.

Islam is, in a sense, the only anti-Christian religion. Other creeds and philosophies are non-Christian or frankly un-Christian. This world-wide faith joins issue with everything that is vital in the Christian religion, and stands or falls by its attitude toward the Christ. In this respect all schools of Moslem thought are practically the same. They differ in ritual and tradition; in interpretations, broad or narrow ; in going back to the old Koran or in advocating the new Islam; but whether Wahabis or followers of Seyyid Ameer Mi, their position as regards the Atonement, the Incarnation and the Deity of Christ is practically the same.

We assert as strongly as do all Moslems that there is only one God, but because there is only one God there can be only one Gospel, and the words 0f Dr. James Denney ("The Death of Christ," page 110) are very significant in this connection, especially as any reference to Islam was far front his mind: " If God has really done something in Christ on which the salvation of the world depends, and if He has made it known, then it is a Christian duty to be intolerant of everything which ignores, denies, or explains it away. The man who perverts it is the worst enemy of God and men ; and it is not bad temper or narrow-mindedness in St. Paul which explains this vehement language, it is the jealousy of God which has kindled in a soul redeemed by the death of Christ a corresponding jealousy for the Saviour."

The only Christianity that has a missionary message for the Moslem world is this vital Christianity. It is the only Christianity that can meet the deepest need of our Moslem brethren. Our love for them is only increased by our intolerance of their rejection of the Christ; we cannot bear it, it pains us; and the day is coming when many will confess Him in the words of a Moslem convert to a Bible-woman who was visiting her: " I see now that the very centre of your religion is Christ, and I want to love and serve Hint."

The main question even as regards the new Islam is not how much nearer they have come to Christian ethics and Christian civilisation in their attempts to reform the old system, but it is the old question, " What think ye of the Christ ? "

The Muslim World Journal was founded by Dr. Samuel M. Zwemer, a veteran missionary to the Muslim World.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The story of Kamil, published 1898, reprinted 2008

Read Kamil’s story, written by a veteran Presbyterian missionary, Dr. Henry H. Jessup, and learn about life in the Eastern Mediterranean during the 1800s. It is currently available on and will be in print early in 2008.

A young Muslim, gets hold of the Bible, becomes attracted to the person and work of Jesus Christ, and is tutored and nurtured by American missionaries in Beirut, Lebanon.

This book is replete with information about the spiritual struggles of Kamil, his pleading with his father, a prominent member of the Beirut Sunni population, to consider the claims of the Biblical Gospel, and the father’s utter rejection of his son’s pleas!

Having come to know the Lord Jesus Christ, Kamil is drawn instantly into mission work in central Syria, in the coastal regions of Arabia, and ultimately in Basra, Iraq. He becomes a fellow-worker with Samuel Zwemer, a pioneer missionary to Islam.

The “Story of Kamil” is more than a biography of a young convert whose life ended tragically as a martyr for his new-found faith. It is a rich source of the history of the region in the latter part of the 19th century, and an excellent sociological account of the life of Muslims and Christians, city people and Bedouins, foreign residents and Ottoman Turkish administrators.

Contact our web site if you wish to order a paperback copy.

Middle East Resources

Friday, December 07, 2007

A Fallacy Detected

by Shirley W. Madany

It was with surprise and pleasure we discovered this September that some home schooled children (our own grandchildren) were being instructed in the realm of Logic with the help of an attractive and simple textbook designed and written by two brothers, former homeschoolers themselves. Nathaniel and Hans Bluedorn have made available to us all a text book titled “The Fallacy Detective: Thirty Six Lessons on How to Recognize Bad Reasoning”. It was written with the idea that Christians needed to strive for a higher standard of reasoning, in order to achieve the ability of discernment. “Logic is the science of thinking the way God thinks – the way Jesus taught us to think” (p.14)

You will have heard about “Islam’s Peace Offensive” and the proposal made by a group of Islamic clerics. The subject just won’t go away. and this is where the fallacy comes in as we inspect the “common word” between the Muslims and ourselves.

Two days ago a friend and colleague sent us an urgent request to look at the splendid web site put out by Dr. Ardel Caneday under the name The Race Set Before Us. She sent us the following URL:

As this is a blog you will need to find the November 29th entry. Prof. Ardel Caneday has devoted his blog to discussing the pursuit of eternal life. You will find his comments stimulating and faith-building. For instance, he says: “Multiculturalism’s virtue of tolerance supplants the Christian grace of forbearance as Christians trade away forbearance towards people for tolerance for ideas, ideas hostile to the gospel. Multiculturalism, which is virulently but seductively anti-Christian depends heavily upon the new virtue driven by political correctness.”

His definition of political correctness is priceless:

"Political correctness is a virus. Intimidation carries this contagion from one individual to another as receiving hosts offer little resistance to the virus. Because the contagion exploits its host’s reluctance to offend the alleged sensibilities of hypersensitive people, political correctness seduces its host to accept the virus as newly acquired virtue to be passed on to others with religious zeal. Herein is the genius and power of political correctness. Once the host accepts political correctness as virtuous, external policing is rarely needed because the virus internally intimidates one’s conscience so that it becomes second nature to use newspeak and to chastise others who do not. Hence, the tyranny of political correctness: newspeak represents itself as virtue."

As you read on you will come to the crux of the matter. It is the preamble and response of Yale Center for Faith and Culture to the “common word between us and you” sent out from 138 Muslim clerics. Speaking of discernment we hope you notice how Prof. Caneday refers to the “god of Islam” using lower case for “god”.

Obviously Caneday is concerned about our steadfast perseverance in the face of this tempting solution to the world’s problems. An offer of peace which many can not refuse. They are softened by political correctness and naively attracted to the idea of world peace.
He gives you an opportunity to read not only this unbelievable response in which we ask forgiveness for sins we have not committed, but the real shock will come when you scroll down and read the list of evangelicals who signed their names to it. You are speechless with dismay.
It is a simple matter to get from the Yale web site to the Common Word website of the Muslims and there you can read the entire proposal, which boils down to the theoretical presentation that as both Islam and Christianity consider love to God and love to neighbor to be top priority, then there is our bridge to unity.

If you are interested in finding things in context you will look up the first passage quoted from the Quran which has the very phrase they use –"a common word between us and you". According to Arberry’s translation of the Qur’an this occurs at v.64 of the Surat Al Imran, one of the polemical sections of their holy book. You don’t even have to read between the lines – by the end of that section you come to this: “Whoso desires another religion than Islam, it shall not be accepted of him; in the next world he shall be among the losers.”

The people at Yale Divinity Center collected signatures of approval of their response.. You can read that response in full at a convenient spot in Caneday’s blog. A long list gives you an idea of evangelical support. But if you look at the Yale website you will see the full list of at least 13 pages of those who sponsor the reply. Prepare to lose some sleep after studying that list of names.

Don’t they realize that this so-called love for God is not comparable with the sacrificial love of our God who “so loved the world that He sent his only begotten son to be our Savior.” The Lord Jesus Christ is not just a major prophet; he is the eternal Son of God. Our “love” is defined and demonstrated in a way that does not harmonize with that of the Muslim. Historical evidence of a lack of love for the “other” prompts discussions which are ongoing in Muslim online papers regarding how to treat the “infidel”. Peace can only mean capitulation to Islam totally.

We join Dr. Caneday in his prayer that none of you will be tempted to join that list!

Also excellent on this subject:

Rethinking P.E.A.C.E. - Loving God and Neighbor Together
Monday, November 26, 2007 (Discernment Research Group)


Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Why Don't Christians Learn From the Jewish Experience?

“Why Don’t Christians Learn from the Jewish Experience?”
“Limadha la Yastafid al-Masihiyyun min Tajribat al-Yahud ?”
Jacob Thomas 11/02/07

Lately, several articles have appeared in the online Arabic daily Elaph, dealing with the plight of the Christians living in the Arab world. Western media don’t focus their attention on this topic when they report on the Middle East, since they are preoccupied with the war in Iraq, and Iran’s attempt to develop nuclear weapons. Without minimizing the importance of these subjects, the status of Middle East Christians deserves the attention of the world. So, I was very pleased with the fact that some Arab writers have turned their attention to the worsening conditions of Mideastern Christians who are the remnants of the original inhabitants of the area.

On Friday, 26 October, 2007, I noticed an article in Elaph, with this intriguing title, “Why Don’t Christians Learn from the Jewish Experience?” Let me share with you excerpts from the article, followed by my analysis and comments.

The author began with these introductory remarks:

In a previous article, I discussed the difficulties facing the life of Christians in the Arab world. I suggested that a realistic solution to their problem would require a mass migration of these Christians to Western countries. Several Christians objected to my proposal, but offered no realistic alternative toward the solution of the problem. They expressed the hope that somehow, coexistence between Muslims and Christian in the Arab world, would someday materialize.

“In this article, I would like to pose this question: ‘Why don’t Christians learn from the
experience of the Jews who lived in the Arab world?’ They patiently endured religious persecution and racial discrimination; without expecting a change in their political situation, or the rise of a spirit of tolerance and coexistence. The Jews paid a heavy price for their patience: they were persecuted, oppressed, lost their properties and their citizenship in the Arab countries.

“When we consider the prevailing social, political, and religious conditions in the Arab world, how can Christians expect, in the near future, a complete change in their situation? Do they really look forward to the time when some of them would get nominated for high office in the Arab world, or be elected to such positions as prime minister, or president of the republic, with Muslim citizens voting for them?!

“Do Christians expect Shi’ites and Sunnis to be reconciled; thus reflecting the emergence of a
new spirit of inter-communal tolerance?! Do they anticipate a change in the Islamic fiqh (jurisprudence) which is the source of the doctrinal and psychological barriers between Muslims and followers of other religions?!

“Unfortunately, there are no indications of the possibility of liberating Arab societies from their inherited backwardness. Discrimination exists even within members of the same family;
fanaticism and intolerance begin at the tribal level, and then proceed to the ethnic, regional, and confessional levels. Religious extremism and fanaticism result from these perverted societal and psychological structures that have produced an irrational religious mind, marked by a lack of openness to the “Other.”

“How unfortunate then that many Christians, when they attack Irhab (terrorism) and fanaticism, attack at the same time, the very source of Islamic doctrines by denying their divine origin, considering them merely the human thoughts of the Prophet Muhammad. They fall into the same trap of fanaticism by assailing the beliefs of others.”

The author described the difficulties that attend the lives of Christians in the Arab world, and proceeded to ask, “Why Don’t Christians Learn from the Jewish Experience?” This experience has been marked by religious persecution, ending with the Jews losing their properties, and their citizenship. He refrained from telling the whole story that after the creation of the State of Israel in 1948, almost the entire Jewish population in the Middle East had to leave their ancestral homes, and find refuge in Israel, Europe, and the Americas.

At first, I was very intrigued by the title of the article. I thought the author must have had in mind a worthwhile lesson that Christians living in the Arab world would learn from the experience of the Jewish people. So, what was that lesson that Christians should learn? Is it that the Jews of the Arab world had suffered a great deal since the rise of Islam? But so did the Christians. Both were labeled as “dhimmis” by the Islamic conquerors; they were tolerated within the Islamic Umma as long as they behaved properly, and paid the Jizya tax according to the Qur’anic prescription, ‘an yaden wahum saghirun.*

Actually, the lesson our author wanted Christians to learn was to pick up and leave their homelands or convert to Islam. It’s a recipe for a voluntary ethnic and religious cleansing. Why this drastic solution? Well, Arab Christians should not be naïve and expect Muslims to change their minds, and accept them as equals in rights and responsibilities. As he put it, “a realistic solution to their problem would require a mass migration of these Christians to Western countries.” What a solution! To uproot around 15 million people whose roots in Mesopotamia, the Levant, and Egypt, go back to more than three millennia? While I appreciate the author’s honest description of the awful plight of the Christians in the Arab world, I am terribly shocked by his surrealistic proposal!

Another disappointing part of the article was the last paragraph, where the author blamed some Christians for their intolerance. “How unfortunate it is that many Christians, who attack Irhab and fanaticism, attack at the same time the very source of Islamic doctrines by denying their divine origin, and consider them as merely the human thoughts of the Prophet Muhammad. Thus, they fall in the same trap of fanaticism by assailing the beliefs of others.”

I am not aware that Christians living in the Arab world openly engage in polemics against Islam. They know better than to do that. On the other hand, does he expect these Christian communities, after enduring 1400 years of marginalization and persecution, to forsake their allegiance to their Christian faith? To accede to his advice and accept the “sources of Islamic doctrine” as being of “divine origin,” would amount to becoming Muslims?! All that remains for them to formalize their conversion would be to utter the “Shahada.”

As a Levantine Christian, I have always keenly felt that what bothers our fellow Arabic-speaking Muslims is the fact that, even after fourteen centuries, we still cling tenaciously to our faith. It’s hard for them to comprehend that while our ancestors finally Arabized, nevertheless, we did not Islamize. Arabic-speaking Christians must be terribly stubborn, unwilling to accept Islam as God’s last message to mankind! It is too bad that Muslims cannot understand the reason for our “stubbornness!”

So, my response to the advice of the author of the article is: “No thanks, we will stay in our homelands; and while some of our people have reluctantly settled in the West, we will never contemplate a mass exodus from the lands of our fathers.”

* In Surah 9:29 of the Qur’an, we read the following about the Jizya tax:
“Fight those who believe not in Allah, nor the Last Day, nor hold forbidden that which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizyah with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued”
The Arabic original of “with willing submission and feel themselves subdued” is: ‘an yaden wahum saghirun.’ “saghirun” literally means “diminishing themselves” or “acting with utter submissiveness” vis-à-vis their Muslim masters!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Anxious for Dhimmitude

By Mark D. Tooley 10/18/2007

A large group of senior Islamic clerics and teachers has recently issued “A Common Word Between Us and You,” a statement addressed to churches urging greater comity between Muslims and Christians. The clerics unapologetically espouse Muslim teachings, while asserting there is common theological ground between the two faiths. The Vatican and some conservative Protestants have commented that the Muslim outreach merits a thoughtful response.
But the Religious Left, always anxious to burnish its multicultural credentials, has responded to “Common Word” with enthusiasm.

The National Council of Churches’ (NCC) top (though outgoing) interfaith official hailed the Islamic outreach, saying it will fuel the “urgency” of the NCC’s own Muslim-Christian dialogue. Part of the NCC’s own interfaith ministry, as Shanta Premawardhana described it, is standing “in solidarity with Muslims at a time when many Muslims in the United States faced significant levels of discrimination,” post 9-11.

Premawardhana thanked the Muslim clerics and scholars for speaking out against Muslim “extremists.” Similarly, he boasted, the NCC is trying to “counter the voices of extremist Christians with initiatives aimed at teaching Christians about Islam and helping churches build relationships with mosques in their local communities," Premawardhana added.
Actually, “Common Word” did not criticize Muslim “extremists.” Nor did it attempt to modify Islamic teachings that demand that non-Muslims live in subordination to Islamic authority in majority Muslim societies. But it did call for non-violent interaction between Muslims and Christians, and it actually speaks of “freedom of religion.” This makes it “moderate.”
Perhaps an even more effusive reaction to “Common Word” was a quickly organized but lengthy statement from Ivy League seminary scholars, who were “deeply encouraged and challenged” by the Muslim outreach. They titled their piece “Loving God and Neighbor Together,” dedicated it, in typical seminary speak, to the “Infinitely Good God whom we should love with all our being.”

“We receive ‘A Common Word as a Muslim hand of conviviality and cooperation extended to Christians world-wide,” the academics enthused. “In this response we extend our own Christian hand in return, so that together with all other human beings we may live in peace and justice as we seek to love and our neighbors.”

The Ivy League seminary professors included with every reference to Jesus Christ a “Peace be Upon Him,” in a wan attempt to show the Muslims how attuned they are to Islamic lingo. No doubt the Islamic scholars will be impressed.
And the Ivy Leaguers opened their manifesto with apologies for Christianity’s perceived sins against Islam. “We want to begin by acknowledging that in the past (e.g. the Crusades) and in the present (e.g. the war in Iraq) Christians have been guilty of sinning against our Muslim neighbors.”

Naturally, the Ivy Leaguers want the Muslims’ forgiveness for all of Christianity’s countless outrages. “Before we ‘shake your hand’ in responding to your letter, we ask forgiveness of the All-Merciful One and of the Muslim community around the world.”

The “Common Word,” unlike the left-wing Western religious response to it, carefully avoided political statements. There is no mention of Iraq, or the Palestinians, or even of the Crusades. No apologies are offered for any of Islam’s historic depredations, nor did the Islamic clerics request any apologies from their Christian audience. But the Religious Left, when conversing with perceived victims of the Christian West, is always anxious to extend remorse.

The Ivy Leaguers also took some other political swipes, warning against serving “idols” such as a “ruler, a nation, [or] economic progress,” which leads to “deep and deadly conflicts.” The professors commended the Muslim clerics & scholars for their “generosity” and courage.
“It is with humility and hope that we receive your generous letter, and we commit ourselves to labor together in heart, soul, mind and strength for the objectives you so appropriately propose,” the Ivy Leaguers concluded portentously, sounding like a sad caricature of the Founding Fathers.

The Ivy League signers of “Loving god and Neighbor Together” included the dean of Yale Divinity School, the president of Princeton Theological Seminary, the dean of Harvard Divinity School, and several seminary professors from those schools.

Unlike the responses from the NCC and the Ivy Leaguers, the Muslim statement definitively asserted Islamic beliefs about Allah, about Muhammad as his only Prophet, about the authority of the Koran, and about divine judgment. Neither the NCC nor the academics appeared to be anywhere near as resolute in presenting Christian doctrines about God, Jesus Christ, the Bible, and the end times.

If the Muslim scholars behind “Common Word” do not already know it, they will soon learn: left-wing clerics and scholars in the West often will not talk about much less defend Christian theology because they themselves do not believe in its historic doctrines. For them, Christianity is mostly just a vessel through which the goals of the political Left can advance.

In dialogues with Muslims, the Religious Left wants to apologize for Christianity and form common alliances against traditional Christians and Jews, while also denouncing various foreign and military policies of the U.S. No doubt, many “Common Word” Muslim scholars and clerics will be glad to indulge this. But if they are looking for substantive exchanges over theological differences between Christianity and Islam, they will have to look elsewhere.

Mark D. Tooley directs the United Methodist committee at the Institute on Religion and Democracy.

Monday, October 08, 2007

The Myth of Islamophobia

Author: Jacob Thomas on Friday, August 03, 2007

During the lifetime of the USSR, it was customary for the Russian Communists and their fellow-travelers, to attempt to silence anyone who disagreed with their Marxist ideology. So they resorted to vilifying their adversaries by painting them as “bourgeois reactionaries” and “enemies of the toiling masses.” They acted according to the age long principle that attack was the best defence.

Nowadays, we find a similar strategy being used by Islamists and some “moderate” Muslims. They work hard to silence anyone who unveils the belligerent components of Islam. One of their tactics is to brand critics of Islam as manifesting “Islamophobia.”

To read more please go to URL as seen above.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Suggested Reading on Islam

Setting aside certain basic similarities shared by Christianity and Islam, there is a veritable spate of books on the market which will give you a vivid idea of the contrasts that exist when these religions are put into practice. Talented writers are sharing their thoughts in biography and fiction. These are just a few of them:

Now They Call Me Infidel – Nonie Darwish
(Her book is a call for peace and a challenge to Islam to change its message in the mosque to one of “love and peace”. A book entirely suitable to be a text book for High School and College level. Another courageous woman intent on speaking out after 9/11)

Because They Hate: A Survivor of Islamic Terror Warns America. Brigitte Gabriel
(One of our best and brightest citizens who is fearless in her attempt to wake us up to the challenge of Islam. Check out her website Join her by subscribing. She has just announced her remarkable opportunity, this September 11, 2007, to speak to Congressmen on Capital Hill.)

Terrorist Hunter – Anonymous
(Now it is known that the author is Rita Katz. This keen American was born in Iraq of Jewish parents. Read how she became a spy in her new country by entering mosques and attending conventions, disguised as a Muslim woman. Read and be amazed at what her sleuthing revealed here in America)

Between Two Worlds: Escape from Tyranny: Growing Up In The Shadow of Saddam by Zainab Salbi
(This is a life story which will haunt you with its details of what it was like to grow up in an atmosphere of “fear”, because your family had been singled out to be personal friends of Saddam Hussein. Zainab’s father was chosen to be his private pilot)

Stolen Lives: My Family’s Twenty Year Struggle in a Desert Jail by Malika Oufkir
(Unbelievable story of an entire family, in Morocco, jailed in terrible conditions for almost 20 years after their husband and father had been caught attempting a coup against the king. Malika was 19 when she and her mother and five brothers and sisters were banished to a lifetime in jail.)

Fiction allows you to experience life in Afghanistan with the dreaded Taliban:

The Bookkeeper of Kabul – by Asne Seierstad
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

Reading any or all of these books is guaranteed to raise your level of understanding of what it is like to be a Muslim in a Muslim country. It will allow you to empathize with the plight of women, in particular.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Review of "Evidence Not Seen"

Evidence Not Seen: A Woman’s Miraculous Faith in the Jungles of World War II – by Darlene Deibler Rose. Published by HarperSanFrancisco in 1988

This is the most powerful Christian book I have ever read. My introduction came in a friend’s letter. She mentioned this “inspiring and challenging” book and said about it; “Oh, to love Jesus like that!” I ordered a copy immediately and have ordered many more to give to friends.

Four years spent in a POW camp in the jungles of Indonesia don’t make for comfortable reading. After you lend it or recommend it you hope that the other person can stand to read the awful details of deprivations and hardships endured in such a location. Food was always scarce and insufficient, but somehow they coped.

Darlene Deibler only had a few years of married life before she and her husband were separated and confined in different camps. Russell Deibler did not survive. Darlene became a very young widow. She had been gifted with such a cheerful spirit and leadership qualities that she was chosen to be the leader of one of the women’s barracks at the camp. Her enthusiastic Christian spirit brought solace to many around her.

So this is the kind of book which could change your life. Certainly life will never be quite the same.

Before war interfered, that small group of missionaries were preparing, to bring the Good News to the primitive tribes in the vast interior of New Guinea. This would have been only 70 years since earlier missionaries had discovered that the people they were planning to work amongst had a culture of cannibalism. This was “hardship” missions in every way: isolated territory, no medical resources, difficult terrain and climate. Their faith had to be strong. The prison camp experience was a traumatic testing ground of that faith.

You sense the gift of love for those New Guinea tribesmen. After the war the mission work resumed and Darlene returned as Darlene Deibler Rose. You may ask if this kind of mission work had any noticeable results. Consider this news story which came to our attention just as I was preparing this review.

The Papua New Guinea tribesmen wanted to apologize publicly for their ancestors having cannibalized Methodist missionaries 129 years ago. What a thrill then to read: “Thousands of villagers attended the apology ceremony in East New Britain province and listened to words of praise for the English missionary who had brought the Gospel to their region. The apologetic Papuans, led by the Governor General of Papua New Guinea, offered their apologies to the High Commissioner of Fiji. Four Fijian missionaries, under the command of Rev. George Brown of the London-based Wesleyan Missionary Society, had been slain and eaten in 1878 by Tolai tribesmen, directed by their warrior chief Taleli. "We at this juncture are deeply touched and wish you the greatest joy of forgiveness as we finally end this record disagreement," Fijian High Commissioner Ratu Isoa Tikoca told the apologetic tribesmen at the August ceremony. Fiji itself had practiced cannibalism but gave up their meal habits under the influence of earlier missionary efforts.

The power of God so evident in Darlene’s life story is evident on a larger scale in the new nation of New Guinea.

Read Darlene’s story and let the Lord work in your life.

by Shirley W. Madany

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Now They Call Me Infidel by Nonie Darwish

Now They Call me Infidel: Why I Renounced Jihad for America,
Israel, and the War on Terror, by Nonie Darwish.
Sentinel, Penguin Books, 2006, 258 pp

From our first encounter with Nonie Darwish, through her articles and web site, we felt that she was someone special. We were attracted by her open and obvious love for America. That web site disappeared, only to reappear as , with its unique opening statement:

To Muslims and Arabs across the globe: Reject hate, embrace love. Bring out the best in Islam by showing your compassion, gratitude and forgiveness. Make the holy land truly holy by giving Israel and the Jewish people the respect they deserve in their tiny little country. This is not a crisis over land. It is a crisis of the soul; a crisis in our faith, judgement and self confidence. Israel should not be regarded as an enemy, but as a blessing to our neighborhood. We need not fear peace, but embrace it.

These are remarkable words to be coming from the daughter of a “shahid” (a martyr for jihad) who was assassinated while serving as a high-ranking Egyptian military officer stationed in Gaza specifically to be of assistance to the Palestinians.

The September 2001 attack on the twin towers in New York was life-changing for many people. From that moment on Nonie Darwish felt compelled to take a stand. It led her to write her life story “Now They Call Me Infidel” which is a pure gift to all of us. She also stepped out into public life with all its demands of speaking engagements, and the disapproval she was bound to experience.

After reading her book with eagerness, I would suggest that it is the perfect book for supplemental reading by all High School students. Let them hear about Islam from someone who has experienced it fully from birth and has turned to Christianity and America for a better life. Let them sense her loyalty and love for her new country. As she describes it—“Many immigrants come to this great nation in search of material gain, which is fine; however, the biggest prize I gained was my religious freedom and learning to love. For me it was nothing short of cataclysmic. I had turned from a culture of hatred to one of love.”

In her book she describes her impressions of America. We Americans need to see our country through someone else’s eyes, so that we can withstand the propaganda that insinuates that we are the culprit and instigator of all the troubles of the world. It is eye-opening to read through the chapter “A New Beginning in America” and find out why the following words are in italics; and learn just how much our culture differs from the Muslim culture in Egypt. This is specially applicable to the difficult life programmed for women. She considers “friendliness and helpfulness”,” courtesy”, “diversity and multiculturalism”, “self-sufficiency, pride in labor”, “generous, honest, and open”, “informality”, “women’s relationships”, and “child rearing”.

Gradually, to Ms. Darwish’s horror she discovers that her beloved land of refuge, her America which means so much to her, is being attacked from within. She is painfully aware of those old patterns of hatred, as they eminate from mosque after mosque.

She lashes out at terrorists who are invading the Western countries: “America’s Islamic enemies and critics—even those who love living in the United States – are nothing more than pirates. That’s what Islamic terrorists are – pirates. Instead of building their own society as a model of what Islam should be, they leave it in ruins and look to conquer hard-working successful lands…..They cannot stand to live in a Muslim culture, and they have their eyes set on beautiful and welcoming democracies, not to blend in, but to rob those democracies of their soul and ruin the value system and culture that made them great….” p. 185. You need to get hold of this book and sense the depth of Ms. Darwish’s feeling as she begs you to save our precious country from the onslaught she sees coming.

She describes her shock at the Arab world’s response to 9/11. They dared to rejoice over the tragedy. When she phoned family members and close friends, whose opinions she had formerly trusted, she could not believe that many thought America deserved to suffer.

The last chapter is “Jihad Comes to America”. Nonie dismisses the popular and over-used definition of jihd as merely spiritual pursuit: “there is only one meaning for jihad, and that is: a religious holy war against infidels.” p. 201. She remarks that she is shocked by the radicalism she encounters on the American campus. “I am stunned to see them choose to revive the worst of Islamic culture in America rather than be part of America and demonstrate the best of Islamic culture.”

On page 159 there is a moving description of Nonie’s introduction to Christian worship when she and her husband and family attended a church and “listened to a message of compassion, love, acceptance, tolerance, and prayer for all humanity.” There had been some violence in the Middle East and the pastor prayed for everyone—“Muslims, Jews, and Christians. It was a very different message from the prayers to ‘destroy the infidels’ that I grew up with….I learned the most important command in scripture was “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Nonie had found what she was hungering for: “In this church, that day, my soul was revived and nourished with the love of a tolerant and forgiving God.” Knowingly she was willing to be called an infidel.

After a remarkable experience of visiting Israel Nonie explains: “I now fully understand why the United States supports Israel and rightfully so. My love of America now extends to Israel.” Hence the name of her new web site!

We salute another brave woman, and heartily recommend that you read this extremely important book.

By Shirley W. Madany

Monday, August 06, 2007

While Western Christians Theorize

While Western Christians Theorize, Arabic-Speaking Christians & Muslims Dialogue

Rev. Bassam M. Madany
Middle East Resources Ministry


The Internet has ushered in a new phase in the history of the Arabic-speaking peoples of the Middle East and North Africa. Communications between ordinary people take place on a daily basis at a much deeper level, as may be observed from the comments of the readers of online Arabic media.

One of the liveliest Arabic sites on the Internet is As the first Arabic online daily, it began in London, England, on 21 May 2001. It has correspondents throughout the Arab world, as well as in Europe and the Americas. It publishes news and op-ed articles by Arab writers and intellectuals, and welcomes listeners’ comments.

The major difference between this new medium and the print press of the Arab world is the freedom enjoyed by all participants, both writers and respondents. No censorship inhibits the expression of various and conflicting opinions, as is the case in the print media.

On 11 June 2007, an article was posted which dealt with an ethical problem known in Arabic as Khulwa. This word describes a situation when a man and a woman, working at a government or business office, find themselves alone in a room or a cubicle. It is not my intention to comment on the specific fatwa that was issued by a professor at Al-Azhar University in Cairo, in which he offered a solution to the problem. My main interest lies in the comments that came almost instantly from 34 readers. Some referred to the topic of Khulwa, but the majority seized the occasion to begin a dialogue on an important religious subject prompted by the last sentence of the article in Elaph. It called for a new hermeneutic of the Islamic religious and cultural heritage.

The first response came from a Christian in Alexandria, Egypt. He began, “One thing is needed, as the Messiah told Martha, who was burdened by too many concerns.” He concluded, “We don’t need a new prophet. What we need is the one who said: ‘I am the truth, the resurrection, and the life.’”

About an hour later, another response was posted. “The Lord Jesus is the only one who gives rest. He said: ‘Come unto me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.’ Then he pleaded with the readers; ‘Come to the king and savior and you will find rest; you don’t need a nabi, or a mufti to help you. Cry out to God and ask him: ‘save me from my bewilderments and confusions, and help me to know your person.’”

I salute the Christian reader who initiated this dialogue that was totally unrelated to the Khulwa problem. He gave a sincere and Biblical marturia (testimony) about the Lord Jesus Christ.

Two hours after these comments appeared, a Muslim responded, manifesting his indignation at the contents of the Christian testimonies: “The Glorious Qur’an honors the Messiah as a human being and as an apostle; but it contradicts the claims of divinity and sonship attributed to him, and warns those who do so, with terrible sufferings in this life, and at the End.” He then proceeded to criticize the Christian doctrine of forgiveness of sins, based on the person and work of the Messiah.

A Christian responded by elucidating the role of Christ in granting forgiveness to those who trust in Him:

“Some people imagine that forgiveness happens simply with a word uttered by God, but such forgiveness would be cheap and encourages sinning. However, the forgiveness that cost much more than silver and gold, was purchased with the precious blood of a sinless lamb, is the basis for true forgiveness (I Peter 1:18-19). The Messiah came so that, anyone who believes in him may not perish, according to John 3:16.

Showing his genuine interest in the salvation of the Muslim respondent, the Christian witness went on saying:
“Have you ever met a sick person who says, ‘I won’t go to see a doctor unless I’m healed first?!’ God always takes the initiative by searching for man. God loves the sinners. ‘For while we were yet sinners, the Messiah died for us.’ (Romans 6:23) Forgiveness, in Christianity, is full and free, (References followed from John 5:24, Romans 8:1-2, and John 1:12.) No one should judge the veracity of these words, as long as he remains outside the faith.”

He ended his plea with these words:

“I have given these Biblical testimonies to show you that a man receives forgiveness as a free gift. However, it cost God the precious blood of his beloved Son to bring about our forgiveness. No one should belittle the value of the Messiah’s sacrifice on the cross.”

Three hours later, a Muslim from the UAE to responded:

“Also the Messiah, pbuh (peace be upon him), said: ‘Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’ (Matthew 4:10) At this point it must be pointed out that the Muslim misinterpreted or misunderstood our Lord’s answer to the devil. The Muslim continued looking for Scriptural proofs of the Qur’anic view of the Messiah. So he quoted Matt. 10:40: ‘He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives the one who sent me.’ The point he was trying to make, can only be understood if I refer to the Arabic text of the passage:‘man yaqbalukom yaqbaluni, wa’man yaqbaluni, yaqbalu al-ladhi arsalani.’ He interpreted the verb arsalani, i.e. He sent me, to mean that Jesus was simply a rasool, i.e. one who was sent. A clever argument, indeed; however he failed to realize that Christ was referring to the redemptive mission that God had sent him to accomplish.

A Christian respondent tried to convince the Muslim that according to the New Testament, Jesus never refused worship. He said: “The word ‘worship’ occurs sixty times in the New Testament; all of them have to do with worshipping Jesus, the Messiah. He accepted this worship. At other instances in the NT, when worship was directed at humans, it was always rejected, such as in Acts 10:25, in reference to Cornelius; and to the Angel in Revelation 19:10, and 22: 8-9 Other references to Jesus accepting worship are found in Luke 17:12-17 and John 20:29”

A Muslim responded by saying that the Messiah is merely “bashar” i.e. human. He then proceeded to quote from the word of Allah, who has no partners (i.e., the Qur’an) Surat al-Maida (Table) 73, and Women: 156 and al-Tawba 30 (Repentance) and ended by saying the ‘Qur’an has settled the matter. To quote from Biblical texts, is like hanging on to a spider’s web!’

In less than 30 minutes, the response came from a Copt. He began by pointing to the Qur’anic account of the miraculous birth of the Messiah referring to Surat Mariam: 21 and Surat Women: 171, as well as to other passages that relate the unique qualifications of the Messiah. He then proceeded to give a Biblical testimony about the Messiah: ‘Jesus Christ is the image of the invisible God and the only mediator between God and man. He ended his words by saying: ‘I invite you to receive the Messiah.’

Another Christian joined the dialogue, and responded to the Muslim who had asserted that Jesus was merely a human being:

“We don’t deny that Jesus is human; our Christian faith teaches us that the Messiah is both God and man, and he is without sin. He is the Son of Man, as well as the Son of God. We believe that God was incarnate and came to our level as human beings, for our salvation. All the prophets from Adam to John the Baptist came to prepare the way for the Incarnate God. He came to save his people from their bondage to sin, and to help them regain the state they enjoyed prior to the fall. To understand the very essence of the Christian faith, you need to read the Holy Bible.”

Another Christian responded from Beirut, saying:

“The Messiah is the beginning and the end, the way, the truth, and the life. He is the Son of God. God did call him, ‘this is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’ This is a mystery that is above the human mind. God sent his Son to redeem us on the cross and to save us from our sins. I plead with you dear reader, do try and understand the Christian faith. The Messiah said, ‘he who hears me has heard the Father and he who receives me, the Father will receive.’ Blessed are those who are saved; but the sinner who does not repent will be tormented in the fires of hell, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Four minutes after the above message appeared, an irate Muslim reader wrote:

“Enough your babblings!” He then quoted from Surat Al-Umran, ayah 61. It addresses a Muslim by warning him against listening to any argument that is brought forth by non-Muslims and that contradicts what had already descended, i.e. the Qur’an. He ended by a quotation from the verse that brings God’s curse upon all liars, meaning those who do not accept the teachings of the Qur’an!”

Responses followed quickly, one after another. Here is one, referring to Christ on the cross:

“He who could not save himself from the cross, how can he save others? What a person does not have, or possess, he cannot give to others. You Christians are simply dreaming; the Messiah is but a slave of Allah, and His messenger; he also needs Allah’s forgiveness. A Christian imagines he can commit the seven sins, and then go on to Paradise?!”

Another Muslim drew attention to what he called ‘minds that had stopped functioning’ by referring to the Biblical doctrine of original sin, which he considered as an absurdity.

“Earthly laws say that a person is innocent until proven guilty; however in Christianity, man is born sinful?! How could that be, when he is still like a clean page, with nothing written upon it?”

Seven minutes later, a Christian wrote:

“The Messiah taught us saying, ‘bless and don’t curse.’ So, we pray that you will be blessed and pray that the true God will open your heart to understand the truth.”

Almost thirty minutes later, an irate Muslim wrote:

“What’s going on? I feel as if I were sitting in a church! Why are we dealing with religious details, whether Christian or Islamic? You must understand that religion has to do with one’s relation with God. No need to advertise faith on the Internet; it’s sufficient to see religion reflected in one’s behavior, and with respect for the values of civilizations.”

Around 45 minutes later, a Muslim added his comments, using Biblical references to prove that the Messiah was no more than ‘abdullah, i.e. a slave of Allah:

“John said that Jesus lifted his eyes to heaven and said, this is life eternal (John 17:6) How can the Sender and the Sent-one be one, while the text refers to God and to Jesus, as the sent- one?”

A little before midnight, the final comment appeared:

“O people, all the apostles and prophets were sent by God to make Him known, in order that He may be worshipped. What are you talking about when you mention that God has three images (persons?) These are nothing but fabrications of human minds. As for the Injeel, it has been altered and changed, and many of its sections have been erased, to suit the whims of the priests who wanted to magnify their positions, and to lord it over simple people. Some of the contributors to this site aimed at convincing others of their positions, and cause them to depart from the true worship of God.”

Thus far, I have been quoting from the dialogue that began on 11 June, 2007, between Arabic-speaking Christians and Muslims. I am very thankful to the Lord that several Christians seized a golden opportunity, and gave a wonderful testimony about their faith.

As we reflect on the above quotations, we may classify them under three headings:
Scripture, the Person of Christ, and the Redemptive work of Christ.

All the Christians who participated in the dialogue manifested a strong belief in the final authority of the Bible, the Deity and humanity of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the work of salvation He accomplished by His death on the cross, and His resurrection. On the other hand, Muslim respondents, denied vehemently the above mentioned doctrines, and affirmed the final authority of the Qur’an, their belief that the Messiah was one of many rasools (apostles) sent by Allah to enlighten mankind; and they denied the historicity of the crucifixion.

It must be observed that neither side had a difficulty in understanding the belief of the other side. The Internet dialogue proved that both Muslims and Christians, using the same language, and living within Daru’l Islam, differed in their faith commitments, due to their different premises, or presuppositions. Thus we may conclude that real communication did take place between Christians and Muslims, regardless of the fact that the dialogue did not end in changing the minds of either side.

This is one-third of an article to be found on our new website
The URL is:

Monday, July 09, 2007

When Will Leaders Understand Islam ?

The fact that Islam is more than religion continues to escape the average American, including our president. Note his oft repeated words at the recent rededication of The Islamic Center in Washington, DC June 27, 2007: “The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam. That's not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace. These terrorists don't represent peace. They represent evil and war.”

Now, in the aftermath of 9/11/2001, we need to realize that Islam is much more than a religion. It is not just a set of beliefs and a code of ethics that govern the life of individuals and their families. Our president referred with admiration to the OIC (Organization of the Islamic Conference) which represents 55 Islamic countries. That should be proof enough of the politicization of Islam . Here is what the scholar Bernard Lewis had to say about this point:

“In the modern world, the political role of Islam, internationally as well as domestically, differs significantly from that of its peer and rival, Christianity. The heads of state or ministers of foreign affairs of the Scandinavian countries and Germany do not from time to time foregather in a Lutheran summit conference. Nor was it customary when the Soviet Union still existed, for its rulers to join with those of Greece and Yugoslavia and, temporarily forgetting their political and ideological differences, to hold regular meetings on the basis of current adherence to the Orthodox Church. Similarly, the Buddhist nations of the East and Southeast Asia, the Catholic nations of South America, do not constitute Buddhist or Catholic blocs at the United Nations, nor for that matter in any other of their political activities.

“The very idea of such a grouping, based on religious identity might seem to many modern western observers absurd or even comic. But it is neither absurd nor comic in relation to Islam. Some fifty-five Muslim governments, including monarchies and republics, conservatives and revolutionaries, practitioners of capitalism and disciples of various kinds of socialism, friends and enemies of the United States, and exponents of a whole spectrum of shades of neutrality, have built up an elaborate apparatus of international consultation and even, on some issues, of cooperation. They hold regular high level conferences, and despite differences of structure, ideology and policy, have achieved a significant measure of agreement and common action.” p. 26 The Multiple Identities of the Middle East, by Bernard Lewis.

During the modern era, several European nations colonized large areas of the Muslim world, thus gaining a direct knowledge of Islam. During the early and late Middle Ages, it was Muslims who colonized several European countries. The Arab-Islamic conquest of Spain began in 710, and lasted until 1492! Most of Central and Eastern Europe came under Islamic rule for hundreds of years.

The first American military encounter with Muslims occurred soon after independence. The pirates of Tripoli terrorized maritime trade in the Mediterranean, so the U.S. Navy had to deal with them. Then, early in the 19th century, American missionaries entered several Middle East provinces of the Ottoman Turkish Empire. They built schools and hospitals, and played a big role in the renaissance of Arab culture. As a result of their presence, national Protestant churches were also formed.

It was after World War II that the United States got very involved in the Muslim world. Oil was discovered in Saudi Arabia in the 1930s, and U.S. oil companies were the first to develop and market it. When the French and British pulled out of the area in the aftermath of World War II, it was the United Sates that sought to fill the vacuum.

A leading expert on the history of the Arabs and of Islam was the late Lebanese/American Philip Hitti, who taught at Princeton University for almost fifty years. His book, Islam: a Way of Life has three parts. Part One, Islam As Religion; Part II, Islam As State; and Part III, Islam As Culture.

This development of Islam into a “way of life,” is rooted in its specific history, a history that is inextricably wedded to its founder, Muhammad. Born in Mecca in 570 AD, he began preaching the absolute unity of God. At the age of forty, in 622, he migrated with his some of his followers to Medina. There, he acted both as Prophet and Statesman. By 632, the year of his death, he had conquered Mecca, and gained the submission of the warring tribes of Arabia. His successors, the Caliphs, began the conquests of the Persian and Byzantine Empires. By 732, the new Arab-Islamic Empire stretched from Spain to India!

After the Mongolian invasion of the Middle East, and the fall of Baghdad in 1252, the newly Islamized Turks took over the cause of Islam and continued its conquests. In 1453, they brought an end to the Byzantine Empire when they overran Constantinople, and changed its name to Istanbul. The Ottoman Turks colonized vast territories of Central and Eastern Europe. They laid their first siege of Vienna in 1529, only twelve years after Martin Luther began the Reformation! Had the Turks succeeded in conquering Austria, the history of the West would have been radically different!

An objective study of the rise and expansion of Islam points to the fact that it spread primarily through the futuhat, i.e., conquests. In fact, Islam regards wars of conquest, as an essential part of the faith, calling them, Jihad. We do not minimize the fact that Islam is a religion, like other religions. It is a theistic religion, teaching that God is both the Creator and the Governor of the world. It has its religious rites and houses of worship, as well as a specific code of ethics. On the other hand, Islam has a political component that is essential for its proper functioning, and the well-being of the community of believers. Muslims must live under “Shari’a,” the Islamic law, and their rulers are expected to enforce it. Since, Islam is religion, politics, and culture in one entity Muslims carry with them the ideal of ultimately establishing an Islamic regime where the rule of Allah takes a concrete shape in the here and now.

As a result of this monolithic view of life, and the theocratic motif that is of the essence of Islam, it has not fostered any sort of societal pluralism among the subject peoples. Islam brought to an end the existence of the church in North Africa. In the Middle East, the one-time Christian majority has over the years become a small and marginalized minority.

“To write and speak honestly about the topic of Islam is not easy. It goes against the spirit of multiculturalism and pluralism that pervade our modern Western civilization. We believe in the freedom of religion, and the US Constitution guarantees this freedom to citizens and residents alike. This is a cornerstone of our way of life. But what if a specific religion brings to America a political baggage that is regarded by it adherents as part and parcel of their faith, but which happens to be incompatible with our modus vivendi? Is it wrong to face this reality a nd discuss it openly, without being charged with racial or religious prejudice? To ignore this subject is tantamount to burying our heads in the sand, and to invite unforeseen troubles in the future.” (Bat Ye’or in The Decline of Eastern Christianity Under Islam)

On June 27th President Bush spoke at The Islamic Center in Washington, DC.
“We need to rally the voices of Muslims who can speak most directly to millions in the Arab world left behind in the movement toward freedom and prosperity, For decades the free world abandoned Muslims in the Middle East to tyrants, and terrorists and hopelessness. This was done in the interests of stability and peace, but the approach brought neither. The Middle East became the incubator for terrorism and despair, and the result was an increase in Muslims’ hostility to the West I have invested the heart of my presidency in helping Muslims fight terrorism, and claim their liberty, and find their own unique paths to prosperity and peace.”

Considering his audience Bush made some rather strange statements which could have been challenged by even the simplest scholar. Since when did we abandon them to themselves? Wouldn’t the slightest move have been considered as meddling with their internal affairs? After a lengthy recitation of all our recent helpfulness in times of natural disasters Bush ended with another enigmatic jumble of words.

“So today, in this place of free worship, in the heart of a free nation, we say to those who yearn for freedom from Damascus to Tehran, you are not bound forever by your misery. You plead in silence no longer. The free world hears you. You are not alone. America offers you its hand in friendship. We work for the day when we can welcome you into the family of free nations. We pray that you and your children may one day know freedom in all things, including the freedom to love and to worship the Almighty God.”
Bassam and Shirley Madany

For complete text from the White House:

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Handel's Messiah

Here is a comment received from a friend who was checking out our new website: . He had come across the piece about Handel's Messiah which appears in "Tapestry". As an archivist he can often supply interesting additional information:

One detail that you probably knew, but which I will pass on just in case, concerns the article by Grant Dexter re the Messiah. And that detail is that the statue of Handel in Westminster Abbey has him holding a music score. It is often assumed that the Hallelujah Chorus is on
the score. But this is not the case. What's chipped into the open stone page of the score is the text and music for "I Know that My Redeemer Liveth."

A thought for today.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Why Copts of Egypt Fear Friday

“Why Do the Copts of Egypt Fear Fridays?”

Author: Jacob Thomas on Jun 03, 2007

On 17 May, 2007, while glancing at the website of the online daily, Elaph, I noticed a very intriguing title of an article on the plight of the Christian community in Egypt: “Why Do the Copts of Egypt Fear Fridays?” The writer, himself an Egyptian now living in France, gave a realistic explanation that should stir our thoughts, and make us fully aware of the suffering of this brave minority. I share with the readers of FFI excerpts from the article, and follow with my analysis and comments.

“Islamists have taken upon themselves the responsibility to stoke the fires of religious discord and civil strife whenever they had been extinguished. The result is that Egypt becomes the victim, and both Muslims and Christians end up being the losers. It is quite evident that Islamists don’t want the attacks against the Copts to stop......

To continue reading this article please go to the following URL:

Here is a heartfelt comment regarding this matter of Friday sermons which incite harmful actions:
"You will not believe the anguish I feel when I read the news that you list. I remember my childhood and the painful lessons I learned about Islam. Friday was a particularly difficult day to get through and hence your last article literally hit home. If my shoulder provides even the tiniest of comfort, then it is I who am honored. The only thing that keeps me going is that I really believe that finally the nightmare of 1430 years is about to be over, and I just may live to see its end."

Sunday, June 03, 2007

A Sunday Blog

The sermon title was: "All Scripture is God-breathed"

Leading up to the Scripture reading of 2nd Timothy 3: 10-17 we sang the following appropriate words, from the hymn titled "O Word of God Incarnate". A hymn written in 1867 by William Walsham How.

O Word of God incarnate, O Wisdom from on high
O truth unchanged, unchanging, O Light of our dark sky;
we praise thee for the radiance that from the hallowed page,
a lantern to our footsteps, shines on from age to age.

The Church from her dear Master received the gift divine,
and still that light she lifteth o'er all the earth to shine.
It is the golden casket, where gems of truth are stored;
it is the heav'n drawn picture of Christ, the living Word.

It floateth like a banner before God's host unfurled;
it shineth like a beacon above the darkling world.
It is the chart and compass that o'er life's surging sea,
'mid mists and rocks and quick-sands, still guides, O Christ to thee.

O make thy church, dear Savior, a lamp of purest gold,
to bear before the nations thy true light, as of old.
O teach thy wand'ring pilgrims by this their path to trace,
till, clouds and darkness ended, they see thee face to face.

Check our our new website

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The Writings of Canadian author Grace Irwin

by Shirley W. Madany

The manuscript of "Compensation", Grace Irwin's latest published book, had lain forgotten in the attic for 75 years. When, in retirement, she had finished recording her six published novels for the Blind Mission she decided to take another look at it. "Compensation" had been her first attempt at writing a novel. It was rejected in 1927. Submitted again in 2002, it saw publication in 2003. This must be some kind of a record.

Prompted by the arrival of the film "Amazing Grace" to our neighborhood, I phoned Toronto to tell her about it. We hadn't heard from her for 2 years, so wondered if she was alive. To my great joy Grace answered the phone. We had delightful conversation and I learned that she was about to celebrate her 100th birthday at the Humberside Collegiate where she had taught for so many years.

Grace Irwin had a happy and fulfilling career as a High School English teacher. When she did start to write she gave us some very thoughtful novels. Two of them, written in the style of biographical fiction, were "Servant of Slaves", the life of John Newton, slave trader and hymn writer; and the life of Lord Shaftesbury in "The Seventh Earl". These were the fruit of months of research.

Years ago I discovered her then first novel "Least of All Saints" and reviewed it for the Winnipeg Free Press. It was to become a trilogy with "Andrew Connington" and "Contend with Horses", following after. Later I reviewed her "Three Lives in Mine", which was more of an autobiography.

Thus I read this latest unexpected book with the greatest pleasure. What a thrill to notice her youthful potential and to experience her skill again at portraying a place and time which you could almost feel and see. Most of Grace Irwin's books have this unusual quality of being so real you are sure they are true stories. Now, in "Compensation" we have some more historical fiction simply because of the time span between 1927 and 2003.

This delightful love story with an entrancing main character, Iris Dale, delivers a nostalgic memory picture of times gone by, when the lake district north of Toronto attracted the occasional tourist, while life in its tiny north wood villages was being left far behind the advances of the big city, Toronto. It was the era of road building and transition from horse and buggy to motor car. The era of early childhood deaths. That part of the story is all too real, remembering how my parents lost their first two baby girls. It adds an intense dimension to the simple name chosen for this book. As someone who owns all of her works I hope that this gem, which has come to us late in her life, will trigger a revival of all Grace Irwin books.

Borrowing from my review of "Three Lives in Mine" here is what I wrote:

In praise of "God's good men" Whether or not you have to relate to what you are reading is incidental. Grace Irwin's seventh book about three of God's good men is well worth reading.

Like a modern Jane Austen, she has captured almost a century of Torontonian social history. For the Christian, she has done even more. She has described a Christian environment which existed as living proof of the promise Paul made to the Galatians that the fruit of the Spirit would be "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. "Could this be how Toronto came to be known as "Toronto the Good"? Those attributes are to be found in abundance in Grace Irwin's description of her times.

As a devoted reader of her books it is impossible for me not to be prejudiced in her favour. Ever since I discovered her first book, Least of All Saints, and reviewed it for the Winnipeg Free Press, I have appreciated the skillful way in which she has recorded much of what is also my history. I refer to her Andrew Connington trilogy and her personal story, In Little Place.

I wonder how many Canadians are still required to memorize those lines from Tennyson's Ulysses: "I am a part of all that I have met; yet all experience is an arch wherethro' gleams that untravell'd world..." What a tonic to the imagination, I have been chanting that since High School days and find it popping up in more than one recent Canadian book like a trademark to an educational system of which we were justly proud.

Certainly, if you have read the vivid portrayal of the life and conversion of the slave trader/hymn writer John Newton in Miss Irwin's Servant of Slaves, and if you have been encouraged by what God can do for an entire country just by the faithfulness of one man like Lord Shaftesbury (The Seventh Earl), it will increase your interest in this new book. As usual, you will find your vocabulary enriched by a choice of words biased by a lifetime as a Latin and English teacher.

Grace Irwin's life has been full and rich. She takes issue with the prevailing wind of "self-fulfillment" for women. "I do not find my sense of personal worth in any or in the aggregate of my limited achievements. Rather it lies in the grateful realization that I have been privileged in varying degree to support, encourage, enable, cheer these men who have so immeasurably enriched me." She refers to her father, her brother John and her architect/preacher friend H.H.Kent.

There is no sign of weakness or wavering in this author. She writes with youthful vigour. We may not be able to turn the clock back, but our God has still the power to change individual lives and countries. One has to be careful when talking about "the good old days," or "when I was young", but surely in Three Lives in Mine, we catch a glimpse of Christian living which is historically accurate and refreshing to read.

With God's help and some ingenuity we ought to see if we can emulate the pattern of home life and standard of work ethic which is recorded in abundant detail in this book. Many of us can still relate to such a way of life and we're grateful to Grace Irwin for letting the world know that Christians did and do make a difference!

Monday, April 30, 2007

A Tale of Two States: India & Pakistan

Author : Jacob Thomas on Apr 29, 2007 - 12:23 AM

Recently, while glancing at the site, I was attracted by the title of an article:
“Al-Hind wa Bakistan … al-‘Ilmaniyya’ Tantaser” (India & Pakistan … Secularism Wins.)
Here was an Arab Muslim intellectual, who having compared the history of these two states since their independence from Britain in 1947, concluded that the Indian experiment was a success story, while in contrast, Pakistan has done very poorly. The following are excerpts from the article, followed as usual, by my analysis, and comments.

“As we compare the secular Hindu State of India with the Islamic State of Pakistan, we are struck by the utter contrasts between the two. To begin with, India’s president now is a Muslim, which indicates that his religion did not keep him from reaching this high position. Furthermore, we should remember that he has played a major role in the development of the Indian nuclear program. Add to that, India has made great strides in the fields of technology, economics, agriculture, and education. It has achieved a remarkable level of democracy in its government. Compare all that success with the awful backwardness of the Islamic State of Pakistan, its system of religious education, its failing economy, the rise of terrorism with the blessing and encouragement of the tribal and religious leaders of the land.

A comparison between India and Pakistan would lead an independent observer to pity the Pakistani government and its Muslim people. In contrast, India, having adopted a secular model for its government, has managed to spare itself many problems. It is true that India is not free of Hindu fanaticism; nor may we forget that its society is marked by the existence of the caste system; and has to cope with the problems stemming from population explosion. However, by adopting a secular system of government within a democratic framework, India has been in a better position to tackle its many challenges, when compared with such countries as Pakistan and Egypt.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Our Loving God

Our Loving God

We’ve a story to tell to the nations, That shall turn their hearts to the right,A story of truth and mercy, A story of peace and light,
We’ve a song to be sung to the nations, That shall lift their hearts to the Lord,A song that shall conquer evil, and shatter the spear and sword.
We’ve a message to give to the nations, That the Lord who reigns up above Has sent us His Son to save us, And show us that God is love.
We’ve a Savior to show to the nations, Who the path of sorrow has trod,That all of the world’s great peoples might come to the truth of God.

Refrain: For the darkness shall turn to dawning, And the dawning to noonday bright;And Christ’s great kingdom shall come on earth, the kingdom of love and light.
By H. Ernest Nichol

Children brought up in Christian homes are learning great truths from their earliest days. The Sunday school is where they learn hymns that will last them a life time. Hymns that will shape their attitudes towards all the peoples of the world.

One of the earliest hymns a child would know from memory is:

Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.. Little ones to Him belong, they are weak but He is strong.
Jesus loves me, He who died. Heaven’s gate to open wide. He will wash away my sin. Let His little child come in.
Jesus loves me, loves me still. Though I’m very weak and ill, from His shining throne on high comes to watch me where I lie.
Jesus loves me. He will stay. Close beside me all the way. If I love Him, when I die, he will take me home on high.

Yes, Jesus loves me! The Bible tells me so.

By Anna Bartlett Warner (1820-1915)

For the Christian, heaven is the home we long to see. Our expectations are centered on being “at home with Jesus.” We have felt his love all our lives. Hatred is never a part of our thoughts, unless it is hatred of the evil forces of life. But we struggle to “love our neighbor as ourself”. This is part of our Christian teaching.

We serve a risen Savior while we are here on earth, but heaven is our true home where we will enjoy eternal life with all the saints of the Lord.

In this year 2007 we see a great need to speak more about this quality of “love” to counterbalance the frequent unhappy evidence of the power of “hatred” in the lives of those who have been brought up without such love. We cannot imagine a mother rejoicing in the death of her suicide bomber son because he will then be blessed with the attentions of a promised “black-eyed” woman. Such insensitivity to the many deaths caused by that same son is beyond our comprehension.

In the month of March, 2007, a large group of Arabic speaking persons gathered in Zurich, Switzerland to address an enormous topic: The Plight of Minorities and Women of the Middle East and North Africa, with special emphasis on the role played by the Muslim Brotherhood in respect to horrific persecution. Think of how many people this encompasses. The group includes the Christians of Iraq and the new Christians of North Africa, and likewise includes the unhappy land-locked Kurds who have never been allowed their own country, plus many other minorities.

They need our love and our prayers. They are our neighbors.

Posted by Shirley

Monday, April 09, 2007

Happy Easter from the Mesopotamian

After almost two month's silence our Iraqi friend posted a very positive and hopeful blog. It was dated April 7, 2007 and headed up "Happy Easter." We like to increase the coverage of voices like his, coming from the beleagured city of Baghdad. Here is what he has to say:

Regarding the situation in Iraq, again, events are unfolding in a way that I fully anticipated before.

Remember how I emphasized the importance of two things. The first was the Zarqawi document. I proclaimed it to be the single most important and prophetic document in this whole Third Gulf War affair. Remember how little confidence he had in the Sunnis, and his final prophetic derisive remark: "after all they are Iraqis, too". Yes the Sunnis are proving to be finally Iraqi above all, and the end of the Al Qaeda-Wahabi scourge is going to be at the hand of these very Sunnis on whom they counted to base their Taliban-like Caliphate.

The second thing: my emphasis on the "Anbar Slavation Council", and the necessity to promote and support this movement. The Al-Qaeda terrorists are defeating themselves by their blind brutality against all who oppose them. Also their stifling ideology simply cannot be tolerated long by the Iraqis that I know from any sect and ethnicity. Well the snow-ball effect has started and it would be very stupid not to invest in this natural movement which has already proved its tremendous effectiveness, having almost already cleaned the Anbar, with very modest numbers of poorly armed tribesmen. But these tribesmen know exactly where to find the enemy. Besides, this is a very good antidote to sectarianism. Sectarian civil war is receding now, as most Shiaas and Sunnis have both a common enemy now.

As the Iraqis have surprised the World before, during events such as elections and the like, I expect the World has a very big surprise in store in the not too distant future.

The haters, doubters, defeatists, anti-America psychopaths etc. are going to have some very nasty surprises. This apparently endless and unresovable conflict is going to be suddenly and incredibly concluded in an abrupt and rather anticlimatic manner, and that before the end of the Bush term, too.

This is my prophesy, and also my fervent hope.

Despite all the errors, sacrifices, bloodshed and suffering, Iraq, our beloved Mesopotamia is going to emerge more united than ever and Sunni, Shiaa , Kurd and all other ingredients of Iraqi society are going to live in a harmony unknown in all their long history. This is my prediction and my dream. Have I ever told you anything before that has not been vindicated by the unfolding events ?

Best regards to all my friends.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Zurich Conference on Minorities and Women in Middle East

Conference on Status of Minorities and Women in Middle East (in Arabic language)

The following URLs will be of interest to anyone who can read journalistic Arabic. The subject matter is ultra important. “Elaph” is the most widely read online daily.

The conference for the Defence of Minorities and Women in the Middle East is being held in Zurich from 24-26 March, 2007.

The Introductory lecture blames the Ikhwan al-Muslimun for the persecution of minorities & woman: URL:

Another article: "M E Minorities Meet in Zurich"

"News & Opinions about the Zurich Conference":

Monday, March 19, 2007

A Thousand and One Fatwas

By Jacob Thomas

On Saturday, 24 February 2007, the online daily, Al-Sharq al-Awsat published a lengthy article with the title, “Fuqaha al-Tajheel wa Fatawi Hasab al-Talab.” A literal translation would go like this: “The Fuqaha of Ignorance, and Fatwas to Order.” I have taken the liberty of giving it this title, “A Thousand and One Fatwas.”

The columnist began with these words:

“The most recent popular occupations in the Arab world are that of a Faqih (a legal expert, plural is Fuqaha), or a Da’iya (religious propagandist), or a Mufti (the person who issues legal opinions, mostly on ethical matters, his opinion is called a Fatwa; its plural in Arabic is Fatawi.) The qualifications of such persons are: an awareness of the presuppositions of the Islamic faith, plus a memorization of certain Qur’anic texts, as well as an acquaintance with some useful Hadiths. Their pronouncements are readily accepted by illiterate people who number around 65% of the Arab population.”

The article is lengthy, and so I share with the readers of FFI, those salient points that the author cites to prove his thesis regarding the proliferation of this popular and unhealthy type of Islamic “occupation.” He cited several Fatwas that are utterly irrational.

Forbidding or Legalizing Private Lessons

The article related a case in 2004 when the Egyptian Ministry of Education requested guidance from the country’s Mufti, about providing some students with private lessons in those subjects where they happen to be weak. His fatwa stated “that private lessons given by teachers of government schools should be forbidden outside those schools.” Another fatwa contradicted the above-mentioned one by stating that “if those lessons were not obligatory, and took place within the schools, and the tutor did not overcharge the student, then private lessons were all right.” The author went on pointing to the ridiculous nature of the whole discussion that preoccupied the Egyptian press; while such urgent problems as the population explosion, and the shortage of food supplies, hardly received any attention. He added that Egypt’s inability to feed its population makes it dependent on American aid, which amounts to around two billion dollars a year!

A Fatwa Forbidding Football (Soccer)

It took 36 pages to cover a fatwa that forbids football. The argument boiled down to the fact that the game was invented by the Kuffar (plural for Kafir, i.e. an infidel.) It was supported by a reference to a Hadith of the Prophet who had supposedly declared: “Man tashabbaha biqawmen, fahuwa minhom”, i.e. He who imitates others, becomes like them! If this is the case, the author of the article asked, “Why shouldn’t these Muftis forbid the use of the Internet and the computers as well? And if soccer is haram (forbidden), how come that it is the most popular sport in Egypt, and in Saudi Arabia?

A Fatwa Forbidding Sitting on Chairs

In introducing this specific fatwa, the columnist remarked, “This is not a stale joke, but a legal fatwa coming from a Da’iyat known as Um Ins* and who has her own website! She posted these words: ‘Warning: chairs, benches, and large cushions are forbidden, Allahu Akbar!’ In the body of her Fatwa, we read: ‘One of the worst habits in our great nation is the use of chairs.’ She listed three reasons why chairs are haram. ‘First, our righteous ancestors never used chairs. Had chairs been good, our beloved Prophet would have used them.’ The columnist remarked that “Um Ins forgot to mention that none of the products of technology, such as electricity, gas, cars, airplanes, telephones, refrigerators; were ever used by our Prophet and his immediate followers. Is she really sitting on the floor as she issues her fatwas for her website on the Internet?

“Second, she stated in her fatwa that ‘chairs are a Western invention. To use them and be impressed by them implied being equally impressed by their manufacturers who are from the West. How can we ever be impressed by Westerners when they happen to be our enemies?’

The third reason mentioned by this lady for forbidding the use of chairs is shockingly weird; I must be very circumspect in translating it. [Jacob Thomas]

‘The use of a chair or a large cushion causes the person to be relaxed; so when a woman sits on a chair her legs assume a position that makes her sexually excited, and this attracts men or jinns**, to have sex with her … Thus, for a woman to sit on a chair, is a wicked matter, and is tantamount to committing adultery.’

The columnist continued, “The fourth reason given by Um Ins for refraining to use chairs is that ‘by sitting on the floor, a Muslim remembers Allah, and this increases his spirituality as he confesses the greatness of the Creator.’”

A Fatwa that Legalizes Lying and Giving a False Testimony

Our columnist related another bizarre fatwa, “There is a three-page fatwa that gives the green light for a Muslim to lie. This is based on a Hadith: ‘Lying is permitted in the following cases: when a man may lie to please his wife; or during war, or when it brings about reconciliation among people.’”

An Opinion that Forbids the Use of the Letter X, such as in “Explorer”

The columnist in Al-Sharq al-Awsat related this unbelievable story:

“This is not a joke, but I read about this legal opinion in a Saudi newspaper. A businessman applied to the Saudi Ministry of Commerce to copyright a computer program that he called
Al-Mustakshef (Explorer). His application was turned down because the letter X looks like a cross, which would not sit well with Saudis! The businessman wondered why did the Ministry of education not bar the use of the plus sign +, and the multiplication sign X, as well, since both would remind people of the cross?!”

A Fatwa against Learning English

Another example was cited in the article about an absurd fatwa, this time regarding the use of a foreign language among Muslims.

“Again, I am not telling a joke! It happens to be an official fatwa coming from a sheikh that forbad the teaching of English. It was based on a claim by an Islamic jurist ‘that the Arabic language forms the banner and glory of Islam; thus, it is not lawful for a Muslim to speak in another tongue! A person who wants his child to learn English, for example, would be condemned on the Day of Judgment.’”

A Proliferation of Fatwas that Charge People with Apostasy

“Certain sheikhs and propagandists have specialized in issuing fatwas that charge all kinds of people with apostasy. One sheikh compiled a list of “The Apostates in the Arab World.” Seventy prominent Arab writers (Christian and Muslim) are mentioned in this list; and they are all considered worthy of death!”

Finally, a fatwa was issued declaring that ‘Al-Sharq al-Awsat Newspaper is an apostate publication!’”

The columnist commented: “Nothing remains halal*** for a Muslim; he must now keep himself secluded in a corner of a mosque, without leaving it for a moment!

“In conclusion, how can we fail to realize why our nation is lost? It has been left behind in the onward march of scientific and technological advances that are taking place everywhere else in the world. Having shared some of the Fatwas of Darkness and of Ignorance, I cannot help but cry out: O my Allah, where is our nation heading to!?”

This much I shared with the readers of FFI, a portion of the article on the proliferation of fatwas, muftis in the Arab world. I don’t feel that I can add any more comments to this impassioned article that describes so well the pathetic and hopeless state of affairs, not only in the Arab world, but throughout the entire length and breadth of Daru’l Islam.

* Da’iyat Um-Ins: A lady propagandist for Islam who calls herself Um (mother) Ins (Arabic for humans, the very opposite of Jinn)

** Jinn: According to the Qur’an, there are three categories of intelligent beings: Angels (both good and bad), Jinns, and Humans. Jinns may be either good or bad.

*** Halal: Arabic for lawful and permitted things, relating to food and ethical matters.

March 2007

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Mini Dictators

“The Mini Dictator”
“Al-Dictator al-Saghir”
By Jacob Thomas

On 30 January, 2007, as I glanced at the Kuwaiti Tanweer website; I noticed an article with this intriguing title, “Al-Dictator al-Saghir.” This Arabic title may be translated as “The Small Dictator,” or “The Mini Dictator.” Here follows my translation of the article, and my comments.

The author began with a question, “Why did so many ordinary and educated Arabs stand up for the tyrant Saddam Hussein and defend him even after his death? And why did so many take pride that they disapproved of the hanging of the dictator, because it took place on the first day of ‘Eed al-Adha?

“I believe that the main reason, why both the ordinary and well educated Arabs took upon themselves to defend Saddam Hussein, is the fact that actually a mini dictator resides in our Arab-Islamic souls. It is this very dictator that causes many to beat their wives in the name of religion, or of manhood. Alas, Arab law is always on the side of the husband, regarding wife-beating as a type of discipline. This very law supports the man who commits a capital crime, on the pretext of defending the family’s honor; and hands out a mere six months jail term for the murder he committed ! Furthermore, such a criminal receives a special treatment in the prison; after all he was defending the reputation of his family! As for those laws that deal with personal status, women always receive the wrong deal. It is the same small dictator within our souls that allows us to beat our children on the pretext that we are disciplining them. It is here also that the law supports this mini-dictator.

“This small dictator does not want to be responsible to anyone. This is why we don’t even try to demand that the big dictator should be responsible for his acts. It is this very small dictator that rules the relation between the teacher and his students. Should we ignore the fact that a student is never able to ask for a review of his case when he receives a low grade for his work? Should we also ignore the tyranny we face whenever we have an application at one of the government’s departments and expect to have our problem resolved? The government’s representative behaves as if he had no regard for any law. Should we go on ignoring the fact that in all Arab countries, all prime ministers are appointed, and not one of them is elected by the people? Should we go on ignoring the fact that it is this dictator who dwells within the souls of those who send people to prison for an infringement of any law? Take for example the laws that deal with publications. As far as I know, anyone who dares to write critically of religious subjects will end in prison, all over the Arab world, with the exception of Lebanon. Do we want to deny the fact that Arab universities are nowadays nothing but intellectual prisons, in the sense that discussions are circumscribed within specific limits?

“Isn’t it this mini dictator, residing within our Arab souls, that allows our “big” leaders to behave above the law, all the time claiming unashamedly that they rule in the name of law? This mini dictator is an Arab product par excellence. No constitution, no rule of law, can deal adequately and properly with this dictator. The reason is, that psychologically, we are predisposed to allow this mini dictator to go on living within us, in order that we, in our turn, may continue to lord it over those who are weaker than ourselves.

“Therefore, the hanging of Saddam Hussein will not lead to the “hanging” of the mini Saddam who resides in our sick souls. This is why we have witnessed many Arabs showing all kinds of grief and sorrow when the big dictator left this world.”

The author of this brief article pointed to a deep-seated problem that has persisted throughout the 1400 years of Islamic history, namely, the absence of freedom and democracy in all aspects of life. Rulers have acted as if they possessed absolute power over their subjects.

While the first caliphs were chosen by the consensus of the leaders of the Islamic Umma in Medina, the caliphate became a hereditary position after the assassination of the fourth caliph, Ali in 661 A.D. From then on, these Islamic leaders ruled as absolute monarchs. I remember in my study of the history of Islam, that one caliph assumed this title:
“Al-Hakim bi-amri-Allah” i.e, “The Ruler by Allah’s Command.”

Coming to our times, most Islamic countries are under dictatorial or authoritarian regimes. This deep-rooted state of affairs clings to Islamic civilization due to the fusion of religion and politics into one entity. Since in Islam, human beings are regarded as Allah’s ‘abeed,* it becomes normal for Allah’s representatives on earth, whether he is a caliph, or a king, or a president, to assume the role of despot or hegemon.

The author of this brief article in describing the situation within the Arab world in his sarcastic style, pointed to the effects, or results of the Islamic theory and practice of government. He did not deal with the source that breeds dictators and dictatorships. It would have been dangerous for him, to point to the undeniable fact that the Islamic tradition is responsible for the persistence of this sad state of affairs. What a hopeless prospect for more than one billion of our fellow-human beings!

*‘Abeed is the plural of ‘abd, the Arabic for slave. Among Arab Muslims, the name ‘Abdallah, spelled sometimes, ‘Abdullah, is quite popular.

Readers who are familiar with Arabic, may access the original text by going to the following URL:

Monday, February 26, 2007

War Memories

by Shirley W. Madany

We were watching John Wukovits, author of “Eisenhower: a Biography”, give a talk on Book TV.(CSpan2). He touched on something which is a sore point with me, and then illustrated how he dealt with it. The point was this. While interviewing an elderly veteran, he was told that no one cared what had happened in those old battles. Therefore, there was nothing to show for their sacrifice. He asked one man what his family thought about him as a veteran of a famous battle. The answer was that his family didn’t even know about his war years. “No one cares about what we did 60 years ago.”

I have always cared intensely for the great loss of fine young men during World War II, because I knew so many of them. Looking at how Europe is now, it irritated me to think that my brother and friends, had all died for what appeared to be a losing cause. They were forgotten it seemed. And no one wanted to be in debt to some unknown airman or soldier.

Wukovits set out to remedy that situation. He was a teacher of 8th grade students and he took his problem right to them. He told them the story of the Battle of Tarawa, an atoll in the Pacific Ocean and one of the fiercest and bloodiest of battles. Then he asked everyone to write something about that Battle and hand it in. He diminished any attempts to be phoney, by saying they would all get an “A” no matter how much or how little they wrote.

The results were moving:

“Every time I look at the flag now, I will remember that story”…… “I’m thankful that people died for me and only me.”….. One girl wrote something beautiful: “Those soldiers did make a difference. I want that veteran to know that. I must accomplish my dream in order to honor those men. By doing this I will be accomplishing their dreams too.”…..Another girl wrote “I know now what sacrifice means. Even if it was a small battle and 21 were killed, that means 42 parents and maybe 100 brothers and sisters.” A boy said: “The school should be telling us more about these battles and you should be teaching us.”

Before ending his talk Wukovits told, what is evidently a familiar story, that Eleanor Roosevelt had a wartime prayer she carried with her and read every day.

Dear Lord,
Lest I continue my complacent way, Help me to remember that somewhere, somehow, out there a man died for me today. As long as there be war, I then must ask and answer, am I worth dying for?

Watching that TV program stirred up my own memories. It was time to write again about my beloved brother Roland Edison Dann, (1916-1942) a Pilot Officer in the Royal Canadian Air Force, who was killed January 22, 1942. His squadron patrolled the North Sea looking for enemy targets. They were watching for freighters taking iron ore to Nazi Germany. They had to act individually and without air cover, flying low over the deck of the ship. Bad weather helped but exacted its toll also. The project turned out to be so costly in men and planes that it was cancelled. (Fortunately there was no media waiting to pounce on military “mistakes”.) We were all involved in winning World War II—the men in action and all of us back home. Pointing out mistakes would not have helped anyone.

The British Commonwealth Air Training Plan was conceived and quickly built and spread across Canada. Boys, and they were just boys of 18 and 19, would come from Australia, New Zealand and Britain, for training as pilots, navigators, gunners, etc. Two such airports were located a few miles north and south of my home town of 8,000 people. It seemed half the population of Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, worked at those airports. I left school and started at the South Airport at 17, finishing up Grade 12 later, when the war was over. Canadian education was superb in those days. Grade 12 was equivalent to First Year University.

I have never agreed with the old saying that time heals. The news that Roly had been killed came as a terrible shock from which we never totally recovered. For her consolation my dear mother wrote the following poem:

Promotion !

In the ranks of the King! Do you see them?
Row on row in their uniforms blue
They have pledged themselves at all costs
To their earthly King to be true.

Yes! He’s there so young and so eager
The child of our heart’s desire;
All aflame with a passion for service
And of Flight he will never tire.

His wings! How proudly he wears them
On that uniform so neat and trim
“All set”, and trained for conflict
“Thumbs up” we are sure to win.

So he left us all full of elation
With a smile so courageous and sweet.
To England he came, how he loved it
His friends and relations to greet.

Stern is their mission and urgent.
These lads from Canada’s coast
In their blood runs the true strain of freedom
For God! King! And country their boast.

One day came the news we had dreaded
“Killed in action” we read with dismay.
And yet! Comes a voice to us—
Listen! “All’s well” I am only away.

Just “promoted to Higher Service”
So we think of him all the while
Though our hearts may be heavy with sorrow
We still can Look up and smile.

We rest in the confident knowledge
Some day we’ll be with him again.
Just at present he’s hidden from vision
But Faith makes the mystery plain.

E.M.D. 1942

Like the girl in Mr. Wukovits class, who felt she must live her life to her utmost to honor those men, I think that has been one of my deepest motivations. Starting at the airport at the very beginning of the war, losing my brother even before I started, and then seeing that by 1944 most of the boys we had met the year before had been killed in bombing raids made an indelible impression on me. Those were somber days. Looking at Britain as she is now I often think, did my brother die for that? At the first opportunity after the war I booked passage on a ship and roamed both England and Scotland. Sadly it included visiting air force cemeteries. Does freedom mean closing the churches, shutting out God and turning to political correctness and compromise? Does it mean providing a breeding ground for terrorist groups?

I had a subtle answer from Ayaan Hirsi Ali in her talk at the American Enterprise Institute recently. Ms. Hirsi Ali, the well known Somali parliamentarian in the Netherlands, has left Europe for America—the last refuge. She used an illustration which caught my imagination and gave me a better perspective on our shortness of memory. Family firms are well run by those who start them, and kept up reasonably well by the second generation, but by the third generation they don’t seem to care and the buildings themselves need repair and renovation. So it is with Freedom. Fighting for it is always going to be part of the agenda. You are constantly needing to take a stand.

At the end of his speech John Wukovits repeated these words:
“A man died for me today. Am I worth dying for? Go home and lead a good life.”