Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Post 63--The Story of Binta and her Dreams


Today's entry is part of a sermon a friend of mine, Dr. Ronald B. Rice of West Side Presbyterian Church in Seattle, preached recently. It is the story of Binta, one that I also wrote about in my series Studies in Christian-Muslim Relations, an eight-volume series about these relationships in Nigeria.  Rice takes the story further than I did. So, without further ado, please "listen" to my friend Ron:

                                                             -------------------------



 How does God communicate with us? Does he still speak to us through dreams and visions, like he did to Peter, or send angels, like he did to Cornelius?

About a dozen years ago, I met a young woman in Nigeria with an incredible story. I was so amazed that I set up my video camera and asked her to look into the camera and tell her story. Binta Faruk Jalingo was from a royal Fulani family and of course a Muslim, as almost all Fulanis are. Her father was a retired high ranking military officer. She was a university graduate and a television producer with the national television network. She was married with 1 year old twin sons. She hated Christians, and generally did what she could to make life miserable for them.

One night as she and her husband slept, suddenly a bright light appeared in the bedroom, and a mighty wind swirled around and blew the pictures off the wall and threw everything on the shelves to the floor. Of course they were terrified. Her husband got up, got some folk Muslim charms and put them on hot charcoal he got from the kitchen to make smoke and drive the evil spirits away. Then a voice came like thunder, “You have been baptized by the Holy Spirit, go and be a Tabitha to my people.” She asked her husband if he could understand what the voice was saying, but he said he didn’t hear a thing. He accused her of belonging to a secret cult and kicked her out of the bedroom to sleep in the guest room.

The same thing happened the next night and again 3 nights later. Each time was an invitation “to come and serve.” She told her husband that she would be disobeying God if she did not heed his voice, and would rather die than disobey God. She told him she was going to become a Christian and was going to go to church the next Sunday. She said she would only follow Islam again if her husband could take away what Jesus Christ had given her. But she said that was impossible, because no one could take away the joy and peace that had flooded her heart. On Saturday she went out and bought a Bible and on Sunday got in her car and drove to the nearby Baptist church. When she got home, her husband beat her and struggled to tear up the Bible. She told him the danger of tearing the Bible, that he could do anything to her, but not with the Bible. He stomped out the house.

On Monday her husband called her father who arrived late Tuesday evening. As she went out to greet him, he started beating her so severely that she lost consciousness, and they finally had to take her to the hospital. On the third night in the hospital, about 2:00 in the morning, she felt someone touching her feet, and woke to see a figure standing at the foot of her bed, with a face shining like the sun, so bright she couldn’t see his face. She screamed for help and when the nurse came she told her what she had seen. The nurse said it must have been Jesus, and to not be afraid, and if he came again to ask him what he wanted from her.

Sure enough a couple of hours later, he appeared again, touched her feet and woke her up, and said, “Be bold, for this is temporary; you will overcome the temptation.” When she got out of the hospital, her husband gave her a divorce letter, kicked her out and she never saw her twin babies again.

Binta’s father and some Islamic fanatics took her to a house and chained her feet and hands. Two days later they freed her hands, but left her feet chained for seven more days, threatening to kill her if she went to church again. Her mother’s brother came to reconcile her to her father, but her father picked up a gun and fired at her. She flinched at the sight of the gun which overturned her chair and she fell to the floor, while the bullets hit the wall.

Next her father was able to have her thrown into prison on false accusations, where she sat for six months without trial or bail. In the 7th month she was convicted and sentenced to two years imprisonment. She fasted and prayed for 3 days and a month later she received a pardon from the president of Nigeria. She told me more stories of her persecution and some amazing narrow escapes and how God had protected her.

In the prison she heard the voice again in the night, calling her to be a Tabitha. Tabitha or her Greek name Dorcas, was the woman in chapter 9 of Acts who had died, and she was the reason Peter had come to Joppa, where he had this vison of the unclean animals. Tabitha had a ministry to widows and Binta realized God was calling her to establish a safe refuge for former Muslim women who had been kicked out of their homes and marriages after they became Christians. I gave her some money to help her buy property in a safe Christian area not far from Jos. If you Google her name you’ll find at least a dozen websites that have picked up her story, which is amazingly courageous and bold, as Jesus told her to be in the hospital, because her life is constantly at risk and most Muslim background believers (MBB) certainly don’t want their names on the Internet. At last report she is married to a pastor, raising a family and running her Tabitha refuge.


Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Post 62--The role of Africa and Africans in Islam


The following article comes from Sound Vision / Radio Islam.  It is an interesting article that brings up historical issues that are worthy of our consideration. Whether the article is 100 per cent correct, I do not know, but neither it is 100 per cent false. If you're interested, you can google all the persons and places mentioned to check the veracity of it all.  I, for one, enjoyed reading it, which is the reason I pass it on to you.

=============

The role of Africa and Africans in Islam
 
Yesterday, 2:16 PM

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Post 61--Nigerian Muslims and Christians Persecuting Each Other


This blog features quite a bit of Nigeriana, especially about Christian-Muslim relations. The reason is that my wife and I have spent 30 years in that country as missionaries and published quite a number of books about it.  You can go to the Boeriana and Islamica pages of our website 
   
                                            < www.SocialTheology.com/ >.

So, this post is no exception.  Unfortunately, those relations have mostly been negative, tense, hostile and even violent. The details of that can be found on the above Islamica page.

Today's story is a typical one. If it were exceptional, I would not pass it on, but its typical nature requires that I do.  This is an example of what has been going on for years, for decades. You would think that with all the blood shed over the past 50 years or so, someone would get tired and reason would pop up to put a stop to all this, but no, it just goes on and on and on....

While I often encourage you, readers, to enjoy the post you are reading, I cannot do so today. Rather, I can only encourage you to weep as you read and to pray for peace and tolerance.

But there is another side to it. In today's story, Christians rightly feel persecuted.  However, so do Muslims, at least the apparent majority of Nigerian Muslims who constitute nearly half of the 180 million population of the country. To them, a secular constitution is a form of persecution of Muslims, for they want sharia law, not Western secular law. Most Christians do not seem to understand that.  It is a much more complicated picture than most Christians realize. Muslims persecute Christians; semi-secular Christians persecute Muslims. Neither one recognizes its contribution to the impasse.

So far my comments. Now proceed to read the following story, but be sure to have a bundle of napkins at hand.

=============

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 439 | Wed 24 Jan 2018 

For images and hyperlinks, visit https://nam01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=http%3A%2F%2Frlprayerbulletin.blogspot.com&data=02%7C01%7C%7C867ccf11f8ea4017244308d562e43e9a%7C84df9e7fe9f640afb435aaaaaaaaaaaa%7C1%7C0%7C636523654795051507&sdata=q74lEIGo8%2BlNl%2FzdjVwQ336kCEVyURyMQSCGd%2F4n%2B2I%3D&reserved=0  

NIGERIA'S CONVERSION CRISES: ECHOES OF EGYPT
        -- plus Update on Syria 

by Elizabeth Kendal

Nigerians Miss Nabila Umar Sanda (19) and Engineer Simput Eagles Dafup (33) 
met and exchanged contact details in Dubai four years ago. A few years later, 
as Nabila (a Muslim) was studying at Bingham University - a Church-owned 
university in Karu, in Nigeria's central Nasarawa State - she decided that 
she wanted to become a follower of Jesus Christ too. When Nabila learned that 
Simput Dafup was going to be in Jos, Plateau State, over Christmas (2017), 
she re-connected with him and arranged to meet him there. When Nabila told 
Simput that she wanted to convert to Christianity, he asked about her family, 
in particular her father who is a powerful Muslim elder and a traditional 
title holder in Biu, Borno State. Nabila told Simput that as she was 19, she 
was entitled to choose her own religion and would do so regardless of 
obstacles. However, Simput remained concerned, so on Monday 8 January he and 
Nabila sought advice and assistance frSanda Nabila Umar, Eagles Simput, Bimngham Uom local church leader, Pastor Jeremiah Datim. Cognisant of the delicacy of the situation, Pastor Datim decided it 
was best to follow protocol and contact the umbrella group for the Muslim 
community in Nigeria, Jama'atu Nasril lslam (JNI), to inform them of Nabila's 
decision to convert, in the hope they might smooth the way forward. When 
Nabila's parents were informed, her furious father vowed revenge and 
requested intervention by the Department of State Security Services (DSS).  

Later that day, DSS officers stormed Pastor Jeremiah Datim's home, assaulted 
his wife and children and abducted Nabila. They also violently abducted 
Simput Dafup from his home and arrested Daniel Hassan, the taxi driver who 
had driven Nabila from Abuja to Jos. At a press conference in Jos on Saturday 
13 January Pastor Jeremiah Datim clarified the constitutional issue at the 
heart of the crisis. 'I want to state,' he said, 'for the avoidance of doubt, 
that the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria guarantees the right 
to anyone to propagate his faith and the right also to practise any religion 
of one's choice.' Simput Dafup's widowed mother, Lydia then appealed for 
information on her son's whereabouts. 'My son,' she said, 'a quiet gentleman 
par excellence, was on Monday, January 8, 2018, brutalised, tortured and 
whisked away from his residence in Jos by men we suspect were from the DSS 
for allegedly converting one Miss Nabila Umar Sanda from Islam to 
Christianity.'  

Though no charges had been laid and no arrest warrants issued, the DSS is 
alleging that Nabila was abducted in Abuja, held captive in Jos and forcibly 
converted to Christianity. This echoes the 'Camilia' myth promulgated by 
Islamists in Egypt [see: RLPB 082 (17 Nov 2010)]. The accusation comes as the 
Voice of Northern Christian Movement of Nigeria (VNCMN) is pressuring the 
government of President Muhammadu Buhari to investigate the abduction of some 
100 Christian girls. VNCMN Executive Director, Pastor Kallamu Musa Ali Dikwa, 
explains: 'Muslims have abducted 100 Christian girls under the age of 18 and 
forcefully converted them to lslam and we have reported to security agencies 
severally but no arrest was made or return of Christian girls to their 
parents ... .' Thus the whole context mirrors that of Egypt [see: RLPB 398, 
'Bring Back Our Coptic Girls' (15 March 2017)]. But Nigeria is not Egypt! 
Nigeria is a democracy with a secular Constitution where Christians comprise 
at least 51 percent. Tensions are soaring.  

The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has slammed the DSS 
for 'acting as some kind of  "Islamic religious police" ... We call on the 
National Assembly to call ... the [Director-General] of DSS to desist from 
using public offices to promote and canvass the interests of a particular 
religious group which are direct affronts to the Constitution of the Federal 
Republic of Nigeria which absolutely prohibits the elevation of one religion 
as state religion'.  

----------------------

[In a separate incident, on 15 January DSS officers similarly (i.e., 
violently and without a warrant) attempted to arrest Jos preacher Isa El-Buba 
after he criticised President Buhari in a nationally broadcast sermon. Church 
members resisted, forcing the DSS to withdraw. For details on this and the 
Islamisation of Nigeria, see Religious Liberty Monitoring, 24 Jan 2018.]  

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Post 60--

Nigeria is a country that suffers enormously from inter-religious strife and violence. I have seen it first hand during my 30 years in the country.  I have even written extensively about it in my series Studies in Christian-Muslim Relations. You can find that series at

                      <  www.SocialTheology.com/islamica.htm >--that is my website. 

I've left Nigeria over 20 years ago--can't believe that it's been that long! But through reading I have kept up with that situation. 

Recently, a Nigerian friend whom I respect highly and whom I have quoted much in the above series wrote this on Facebook:

========
Danjuma Byang:

Someone said there is good in the worst of humans and there is also evil even in the best of them too! It is part of the irony of being made in d image of God but from clay! I hold n teach what u just said here but I was rebuked by a converted Sheikh from Islam who is now a pastor, that if I think a Muslim is good I have been deceived! That his being good is just a 'carrot' to make me relax my defenses. That sooner or later the cobra in him will manifest! So am a little confused. At my age I should know what is good and bad. But I can't ignore the warning from a man who rose to become a Sheikh in the system. I guess what it means is that I should be cautious with what I see when dealing with these people! I return good gestures but don't let down my guards! Nor do I make sweeping generalizations! I think u should do likewise!
============

What do I say to the above?  Danjuma is right: there is something good and something bad in every person. No one is perfectly good or wholly bad, though some may come close.  But what about that question when it is applied to Muslims?

What do I say to that?  I really don't like to think that way, but what can you say about the wisdom gained from experience?  Ignore it?  Reject it?  Or should I argue that this may be the case in Nigeria but not necessarily in other countries?  

I not only read Christian books written about Muslims, but also Muslim books. Some of the latter address Christians and are meant to attract them to Islam.  But some are also written by Muslims for Muslims. That is to say, to instruct Muslims to be more faithful in their adherence to Islam.  The previous post of this blog is an example.  Should I say that such materials are written simply to hide or cover the real truth?  Are Muslims even writing to fool other Muslims and make the religion seem better than it is?  

My answer to the last few questions is negative.  But if that is the case, then what should be my response to Danjuma's challenge or, even stronger, to that converted Sheikh's challenge?  A senior and now late Nigerian friend of mine, whom I also quote frequently in my series was also a convert from Islam and he made the same claim as the above Sheikh. 

I am always in a kind of state of confusion. That's one reason you may have found that I kind of flip flop throughout this blog. I say this and then turn around to say that.  I will leave it at this.....  

Monday, December 4, 2017

Post 59--Rights of Men



There is this website < www.fridaynasiha.com > that is published every Friday and publishes basic Qur'anic teachings in a positive way. It shows the best face of Islam and leaves you with thoughts to ponder. If you're a Christian, as I am, then it leads you to comparisons with your own faith. All in all, I find much of it very uplifting, even though at almost every turn I am tempted to counter the teachings with my version of Christianity, which is "Reformational."  If you want to know what that means, you will have to go to my website < www.SocialTheology.com > where it is explained in a few places but, more important, where it is displayed and woven into the text. I plan to fill more posts with these Friday Nasihas and hope thus to instigate personal Christian dialogue with Islam.  In terms of Reformational theology, you will find traces of both "common grace" and "antithesis." Perhaps these terms are useful tools for such dialogue. 

Here then the first of the Nasihas with more to follow as we go along.:

                                                         Rights of Men
Hud (Hud) - Chapter 11: Verse 117
"And your Lord would never destroy human habitations wrongfully, while their inhabitants are righteous."
The verse implies that Allah does not destroy a people even if they commit association in His divinity so long as their dealings between themselves are carried out in justice. It is only when they begin to wrong each other on a large scale that they meet with their destruction. Hence it is said that a dominion lasts despite disbelief but not despite justice. [Zamakhshari, Shawkani]
God's chastisement does not afflict any people merely on account of their holding beliefs amounting to shirk or kufr, but afflicts them only if they persistently commit evil in their mutual dealings, and deliberately hurt other human beings and act tyrannically.
Hence those who are learned in Islamic Law hold that men's obligations towards God rest on the principle of [His] forgiveness and liberality, whereas the rights of man are of a stringent nature and must always be strictly observed - the obvious reason being, that God is almighty and needs no defender, whereas man is weak and needs protection. [Razi, Asad]
It is imperative that there should always be a good number of righteous people in every society. A community that is prepared to put up with everything except a group of righteous people in its midst is certainly destined for self-destruction. God's final decision, whether to punish a community or not, depends on the extent to which that community possesses the elements that would enable it to respond to the call of truth.
If we truly love the society we live in and don't want the punishment of God to come down upon us, we should try our best to develop a group of people who will call people to do good and forbid them from evil.
Compiled From:
"Ishraq Al-Maani " - Syed Iqbal Zaheer, Vol. 5, pp. 294, 295
"Towards Understanding the Quran" - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi, vol. IV, pp. 138, 139 

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Post 58--Islamophobia and Christophobia

                                                   
Islamophobia and Christophobia or "Christianophobia." I prefer the former simply because it is easier to write or pronounce. However, "Christophobia" and "Christianophobia" are, strictly speaking, not the same.  The one means "fear of Christ;" the other, "fear of Christianity" or "fear of Christians." That's all strictly speaking. I prefer and use "Christophobia" except when quoting.

They seem to be opposites, but that's not always the case.  There are adherents of other religions, including secularism, who either practice both of these phobias or eschew both even when they disagree with both Christianity and Islam. And then there are Christians who reject Islamophobia and Muslims who reject Christophobia. It's a mixed up world we live in.

There is this British organization called "BarnabasAid" that supports and helps defend Christians who are being persecuted, whether that persecution is by Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists or Secularists. Though British in origin and location of its international headquarters, it has branches in a number of other countries. If you've been reading this occasional blog, you may remember that I have referred to them before. Their website is < https://barnabasaid.org/ >.  They publish daily prayers for the persecuted church as well as a monthly that provides the background to many of the prayers.

It must be admitted that "Barnabas," as I will call them here, writes more about persecution perpetrated by Muslims than by anyone else. As a result, one might expect them to practice Islamophobia, but that is not the case.  At the end of this November they posted an article under the title "We need to tackle BOTH Muslimophobia AND Christianophobia." The article deals with the British situation. Please read and ponder:

========== 

Today the media is awash with stories about the extremist organisation Britain First, whose videos were retweeted by President Trump. Barnabas Aid wishes to put on record that we totally reject the ideology of this organisation and explain why it is so wrong.

Although the organisation “claims” to stand up for Britain’s Christian heritage, it is racist – having split off from the BNP not because it rejected the BNP’s racism, but because of corruption within the BNP. Any form of racism is completely contrary to the Bible. Britain First also engages in “street patrols” to try to enforce its ideology, a tactic similar to that used by some Islamists. Far from standing up for Britain’s heritage as it claims, in fact Britain First significantly undermines it.

Then the article goes on to quote one Elizabeth Ellis:

The UK was the first country in the world to begin to establish human rights such as freedom of religion, freedom of speech and freedom of the press. There are seven important aspects of freedom of religion that have developed in the UK over the last five centuries:
Freedom
Year achieved
to read the Bible in public
1547
to interpret the Bible without government interference
1559
of worship
1689
to choose or change your faith or belief
1689
to preach and try to convince others of the truth of your beliefs
1812
to build churches, synagogues, mosques etc.
1812
from being required to affirm a particular worldview or set of beliefs in order to hold a public sector job or stand for election
various “Test Acts” requiring this were abolished between 1719 and 1888
This heritage of freedom of religion spread out from Britain to countries such as the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand and many others around the world. It is one of the most important parts of Britain’s heritage. However, Britain First have policies which significantly undermine this heritage of freedom. For example, they state that they wish to:
  • “Disbar followers of the Islamic ideology from holding public office” i.e. introduce a new “Test Act” (issue 7 in our list above).
  • “Introduce a comprehensive ban on the religion of ‘Islam’ within the United Kingdom. This ban will include the prohibition of…religious publications (such as the Quran, Hadiths), the operation of mosques, madrasas and ‘cultural centres’ and the public preaching and / or teaching of Islamic scriptures and doctrines” (issues 3,4,5,6 above).
  • “Anyone found to be promoting the ideology of Islam will be subject to deportation or imprisonment” (issue 5 above).

However, we also need to say that it is NOT just Britain First who are undermining the UK’s heritage of freedom of religion. There is increasing Christianophobia in the UK, coming from a variety of sources.  In the last few years we have seen a Crown Prosecution Service lawyer claim in court that, in the context of modern Britain, quoting from the King James Bible in public must be considered to be abusive and is a criminal matter; we have seen attempts to enforce government registration and Ofsted inspection of Sunday schools; and in the last general election we saw several major media outlets, including the BBC, Buzz Feed, The Daily Mirror, The Independent and The Spectator, either asking Christian candidates overtly theological questions or claiming that, because they held Biblical Christian beliefs such as believing in miracles or Christian marriage, they were “unfit” to hold public office. We need to tackle BOTH Muslimophobia AND Christianophobia.