Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas: Holding Forth Justice

Post 20—:

This post is being written on Christmas Eve, 2010. The Christmas event is too large to just let it slip by without at least a nod. So, I am interrupting the flow of thought to offer you something Christmasy. I am going to place this post also on my other blog, .

I am offering you some quotes from the Old Testament Prophet Isaiah. This is a prophet of peace and justice. He repeatedly talks of the future in terms of hope for peace and justice. The Messiah whom the Jews had long been waiting for would introduce a new framework for society that was to be characterized by those two features, peace and justice. A new set of standards, if you like. To be sure, even Isaiah’s vision was an Old Testament one that allowed practices that we no longer approve today but have not yet been able to stem in our own lives and nations. And, of course, it is all written in terms of an ancient culture most of us no longer understand. Hence, it takes extra effort to understand it all. Don’t even try. Just go over these passages a few times and appreciate the emphasis on and the hunkering for peace and justice.

Of course, some readers will object that it is all very nice and idyllic, but tell me about it once Christians actually demonstrate or live up to this perspective. I fully understand the objection and am ashamed to admit that it is a reasonable one. Christians will be the first to admit their failure to live up to this picture. We believe in Jesus, in God, to save us from ourselves. We do not believe in ourselves, in our own capacity to make this all come true. We cannot create utopia. It is God who will one day turn this hope into reality. In the meantime, we struggle towards it as best as we can and ask for forgiveness where we fail.

Of course, you Muslims have the same challenge. You swear that yours is a religion of peace and quote the Qur'an left and right to prove it. In the meantime, your history is full of war and Muslim governments have been more oppressive than just and peaceful. Some of you make the distinction between what Islam teaches and what Muslims do--and they are not the same. So, if you object like readers in the above paragraph, you will have to answer for yourself and your own religion as well. We are in a similar boat in this respect.

There are more such prophecies in Isaiah and in other prophetic writings in the Old Testament. However, I am giving you perhaps more than you can or care to chew for one day. I will probably continue featuring such quotations next Christmas. In the meantime, here goes. Participate in the poetry; ponder the promise.

Isaiah 2--The Mountain of the LORD

1 This is what Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem:
2 In the last days
the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established
as the highest of the mountains;
it will be exalted above the hills,
and all nations will stream to it.
3 Many peoples will come and say,
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,
to the temple of the God of Jacob.
He will teach us his ways,
so that we may walk in his paths.”
The law will go out from Zion,
the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
4 He will judge between the nations
and will settle disputes for many peoples.
They will beat their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will not take up sword against nation,
nor will they train for war anymore.
5 Come, descendants of Jacob,
let us walk in the light of the LORD.

Isaiah 9:5-7

6 For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the LORD Almighty
will accomplish this.

Isaiah 11:1-9

(Jesse is the father of King David and ancestor of Jesus.)

1 A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
2 The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him—
the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and of might,
the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the LORD—
3 and he will delight in the fear of the LORD.
He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes,
or decide by what he hears with his ears;
4 but with righteousness he will judge the needy,
with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth.
He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth;
with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked.
5 Righteousness will be his belt
and faithfulness the sash around his waist.
6 The wolf will live with the lamb,
the leopard will lie down with the goat,
the calf and the lion and the yearling[a] together;
and a little child will lead them.
7 The cow will feed with the bear,
their young will lie down together,
and the lion will eat straw like the ox.
8 The infant will play near the cobra’s den,
the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest.
9 They will neither harm nor destroy
on all my holy mountain,
for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the LORD
as the waters cover the sea.

Isaiah 32:15-20

15 till the Spirit is poured on us from on high,
and the desert becomes a fertile field,
and the fertile field seems like a forest.
16 The LORD’s justice will dwell in the desert,
his righteousness live in the fertile field.
17 The fruit of that righteousness will be peace;
its effect will be quietness and confidence forever.
18 My people will live in peaceful dwelling places,
in secure homes,
in undisturbed places of rest.
19 Though hail flattens the forest
and the city is leveled completely,
20 how blessed you will be,
sowing your seed by every stream,
and letting your cattle and donkeys range free.

Isaiah 42:1-9 The Servant of the LORD

1 “Here is my servant, whom I uphold,
my chosen one in whom I delight;
I will put my Spirit on him,
and he will bring justice to the nations.
2 He will not shout or cry out,
or raise his voice in the streets.
3 A bruised reed he will not break,
and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.
In faithfulness he will bring forth justice;
4 he will not falter or be discouraged
till he establishes justice on earth.
In his teaching the islands will put their hope.”
5 This is what God the LORD says—
the Creator of the heavens, who stretches them out,
who spreads out the earth with all that springs from it,
who gives breath to its people,
and life to those who walk on it:
6 “I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness;
I will take hold of your hand.
I will keep you and will make you
to be a covenant for the people
and a light for the Gentiles,
7 to open eyes that are blind,
to free captives from prison
and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.
8 “I am the LORD; that is my name!
I will not yield my glory to another
or my praise to idols.
9 See, the former things have taken place,
and new things I declare;
before they spring into being
I announce them to you.”

Posted by Jan/John H. Boer at 4:48 PM 0 comments

Major Differences between Christianity and Islam

Post 19—:

Recently, the editor of Christian Courier (CC), a bi-weekly Christian newspaper published in Ontario, Canada ( ), asked me to write a series of six articles about Islam that would address the “faq” –most frequently asked questions--of their readers. Now, their readers are mostly Canadian Christians, as am I. I wrote those six articles. Some have already been published by CC, while others are still in the lineup. I plan to reproduce them in this blog in slightly edited form. The questions reflect the interests and concerns of Christian Courier’s constituency more than my own. Without these questions, I might not even address the issues of this series on my own. These posts then serve to satisfy their curiosity without reflecting my own preoccupation with Islam. My answer to today's question does not cover the entire subject. The women issue, for example, is one not covered today, but that is because there is a separate question on the subject that will be addressed in due time.

However, most of my experience with Muslims and most of my very extensive research on the subject has focused on Nigerian Islam, not Canadian Islam. My orientation, interests and response will definitely be coloured by my 30-year experience and 15 years of research in Nigeria. Some of the things I wrote and repeat in these posts may not fully reflect or apply to the majority of Canadian Islam or Muslims, but these articles reflect where I have been or am going. Every country’s Islam has its own local characteristics, sometimes even contradictory.

I was going to say that in spite of these local variations, the broad outlines are universal. But that would not be entirely true. Yes, the core of the religion, the five pillars, is indeed universal, but the relationship of Muslims to Christians, for example, varies widely from historical tolerance through different degrees of intolerance to outright and harsh persecution. While some Muslims consider the secularism or soft secularism adopted by Christians as the core relational difference between the two, other Muslims describe themselves calmly as secular. That difference even divides the Canadian Muslim community.

I encourage Muslim readers to correct me where they think I am wrong about their religion. It is the easiest thing for one describing a religion not his own to go in the wrong direction. So, please, be free. I will appreciate it.

The above comments are written as an introduction to each of the next six posts, including this one. Please remember them when you read the rest of the series. I promise to assist you by reminding you in each post in this series.

The first question: What are the differences between Christianity and Islam?

You can divide differences between these two religions in various ways. My favourite way is between the core differences that will always remain and cultural differences that have developed over time and could theoretically either change or be overcome. These changes could take place within either Christianity or Islam or within both.

The core difference between the two religions centres on a complex set of ideas about God, humanity, sin and salvation. Muslims fulminate against the notion of the Trinity and emphasize the unity of God exclusively. The thought of God having a son is the ultimate blasphemy to them. However, Jesus is a revered prophet, second only to Muhammad. They reject the notion of original sin—as do some major Christian traditions. They also reject the need for a mediating saviour. God just forgives—if He pleases. God has not bound Himself to any promises and is free to decide everyone’s ultimate destiny. He will weigh everybody’s deeds, but remains free to reject or accept each individual. Though there is no ground for assurance of salvation, in practice, Muslims do not seem to live in constant fear of hell. They emphasize that, though God is absolutely free, he is also the Merciful and Compassionate. These differences have been there from the beginning and will never disappear. This is where the basic antithesis resides. But there is more....

The Muslim attitude to sin is, compared to the Christian idea, superficial and often results in hypocrisy. I believe this helps explain why they seldom admit to wrongs. While they castigate the West for imperialism and intolerance, they seldom if ever recognize their own imperialism and intolerance and are not prone to apologize. They complain about intolerance in the West, while their (ancestral) home countries are shot through with it. They accuse the West of racism, while racism—or tribalism-- is rife on their ancestral turf. Some persecute Christians in their countries of origin and destroy churches, but demand freedom of religion for themselves in the West. Admittedly, they have no monopoly on hypocrisy; it just comes in different shapes and forms for different people. While the core differences are permanent, these results could potentially change due to internal shifts or to the influence of Western secular tolerance.

Then there is the core issue of church-state relations. While almost all Christian traditions support the separation of church and state-- not to be confused with the separation of religion from state/politics--, with the notable exception of minority secular Muslims, Muslims generally tend to insist on the unity of state and religion, including mosque. They see the state as the handmaiden of Islam that supports the latter’s institutions, pillars and mission, including financially. That is a major reason for violence in Nigeria. We don’t hear much of that emphasis in Canada, which does not mean it’s not there long-term in the minds of Muslim strategists.

As to historically conditioned differences, Muslims themselves often point to Western secularism as the most crucial difference. For today’s Western Christian, secularism is almost our “native air” with which we have grown up and become accustomed to. It has deeply penetrated our hearts and mind. Secularism confronted Muslims in the context of oppressive colonialism. Hence, to most Muslims it has always been a hostile and ungodly worldview. Although there are secular Muslims, most Muslims have resisted the influence of secularism much more than have Christians. Many have contempt for its adherents, especially for its Christian adherents. They hold secularism responsible for Western moral decadence and tend to be angry at Western attempts to impose this corrupt system on them in the context of imperialism and globalism. I do not consider this a core difference, for at its core Christianity is also anti-secular, even though most Christians have been unduly influenced by it.

Over against secularism, Islam is a wholistic, comprehensive religion that covers all of life, theoretically much like the Reformed Christian tradition. They are not shy about praying in public or dressing differently and are not averse to making public demands on issues that wimpy Western Christians have long surrendered to secularism or shoved with embarrassment into a hidden “religious” corner of life. Islam is a political religion that insists on using the organs of state, United Nations, corporations and all other structures, even its oil money, for its advance. Politics, economics, education—all of life is of one piece and all of it is to be harnessed to the global Islamic mission. In reaction to the aggressive push of Western secularism, Muslims have in recent decades revived and strengthened their wholism, while most Christians have at least partially cashed in theirs for a soft secularism. Christians can learn some powerful lessons from Muslims in this regard with respect to our politics, culture and personal lifestyles, including decreasing modesty in our dress codes and free-lance sex. Actually, not learn so much as to be reminded of what Christianity is meant to be about as well. Under the pressure of secularism, Christians have forgotten much and surrendered much that Muslims can remind them of.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Muslim in You (2)

Post 18—

Remember the topic from the last post? The influence of Islam in you, influence that goes way back to the Middle Ages, but that has wormed its way deeply into Western culture, hearts and minds, including yours. I emphasized the Muslim philosophical heritage, but today I will point out another but related segment of culture where Islam has also left its mark on the West, a segment very closely related the philosophical. Sorry, I just can’t run away from that abstract world in you. But remember what I wrote in Post 17: This stuff is part of you and you cannot escape it even if you wanted to.

The topic of today is the influence of sharia or Muslim law on Western law, including British law that, in turn, has given shape to the laws of former British colonies, including Nigeria and Kenya. I find it very interesting to see how Christians in Nigeria and Kenya as well as leaders of some Christian organizations like the UK-based Barnabas Aid strongly oppose attempts to impose sharia, Muslim law, on Christians. Note that it is the how or the reason for their resistance that I find interesting. I understand their resistance as well as their reasons, but, in distinction of the resistance itself, I find their reasons for it partially wrong. For a very detailed example of that resistance I point you to volumes 7 and 8 of my series Studies in Christian-Muslim Relations, where I show the Nigerian Christian resistance. Though I fully sympathize with their resistance, I am advising them to change the parameters of the foundation on which they resist. They resist Muslim law in favour of colonial law they inherited from the British on basis of secular thinking that regards British law as neutral, objective and non-religious. I need to devote a post to that subject one of these days.

The issue here is that scholars tell us that Western law in its early beginning was influenced by the same Muslim philosophy referred to in the last post, the philosophy of Islam in general but especially the Andalusian or Spanish branch. How do you like that for an interesting twist? Joseph Schacht (1902-1969), a British-German orientalist scholar whom Muslims do not regard as their friend, is regarded by some as an important if not the most important Western authority of his day on sharia or Muslim law. In other words, he was a man you cannot ignore in the context of this issue. He regarded sharia or Muslim law as “one of the most important bequests which Islam has transmitted to the civilized world. It is a phenomenon so different from other forms of law that its study is indispensable….” Then he went on about its far-reaching influence on various non-Muslim peoples and cultures:

Several of its institutions were transmitted across the Mediterranean to medieval Europe and became incorporated in the law…. Another significant influence occurred in Islamic Spain. At the opposite end of the Mediterranean, Islamic law has exerted a deep influence on all branches of law of Georgia. There is finally the effect of Islamic law on the laws of the tolerated religions, the Jewish and the Christian. It is certain that the two great branches of the Oriental Christian Church, the Monophysites and the Nestorians, did not hesitate to draw freely on the rules of Islamic law

Schacht thus asserted a far-reaching influence of sharia in medieval Europe, where strands of it were incorporated into the culture and legal systems. Various branches of the ancient church drew freely on the rules of Islamic law. A more contemporary Nigerian Muslim scholar, Ibrahim Ado-Kurawa of Kano, came away from a conference in the UK making a similar claim. He wrote about “the earliest Islamic influences dating back to King Henry, who imported Islamic law from Muslim Spain and modified it into English Common Law.” (See my vol. 6, pp. 66-67, 121--note 33; vol. 8, pp. 351-352, 466-467, note29).

Sorry once again for the scholarly sound of the above, but the claim that Western law in its infancy was influenced by Muslim law and even incorporated aspects of Muslim law will be so startling to most Western and most Christian readers anywhere that it needs the support of serious scholars. This claim is not just picked up out of the clear blue sky; it has authoritative support we cannot ignore.

So, another aspect of the Muslim in you. There is more to come, but for the next week or so I do not have the time for the necessary research. So, for now this is it on this subject. Just realize that there is considerably more of Islam in you than touched upon so far and hopefully I will get back to the subject in due time.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Muslim in You (1)

Post 17

Most people in the West think that there is little or no connection between Western cum Christian culture and that of Islam. They look down upon Islam as a religion cum civilization that is chaotic, destructive and that has never offered anything constructive to the cultures of the world in general or, more specifically, to Western culture as well as Western Christianity. Well, Westerners have heard plenty about the negative aspects of Islam, often in slanted and distorted form. Since we are now neighbours who daily rub shoulders with each other, it is useful to be aware of the positive contributions of Islam to the Western world so that we can also respect them.

Actually, the Muslim world has for centuries led in terms of cultural development and was far advanced in civilization compared to the primitive medieval West.
Syria’s Baghdad was the place to be. Especially medical students from the comparatively primitive West would study in Baghdad. Noah Gordon’s The Physician is a delightful novel that is relevant here. Published in 1986, a New York Times reviewer judged the book “surprisingly relevant in an age when fanatical fundamentalism and intolerance are…on the rise….” Its relevance is precisely its depiction of a high culture that could not possibly have arisen out of the negative and chaotic picture Westerners have of today’s Islam. A book I am currently reading is Stephen Glain’s Mullahs, Merchants, and Militants, in which he has a chapter on Syria that, chaotic as it is today and far behind in modern development, was at one time a major centre of international culture and economics.

In Spanish Andalusia, the underdeveloped West had a high Muslim culture right at its doorstep for some 700 years, during which time it developed a flourishing culture. Superior Muslim cultural spillover into the Christianizing West was inevitable. Andalusian culture itself was the product of centuries of multi-cultural interaction and fermentation in Asia between Muslims, Christians and Jews, going back many centuries. It was Christian Syriacs who translated Greek philosophy, especially Aristotelian works, into Arabic before Islam saw the light of day even. From those translations, Muslim scholars became familiar with that philosophical tradition, interacted with it and was influenced by it.

As Islam moved westward, Muslim scholars translated these works into the language of the West, Latin. It was from there that the West learned about Greek philosophy and developed its own interaction with it. Christian theologians and philosophers also interacted with their Muslim counterparts, some in agreement, while some developed their own in opposition to Islamic philosophy, but they were all influenced by it one way or another. Then the various Christian philosophers, influenced as they were by their Muslim counterparts, interacted and discussed among themselves, but again in ways that can not be fully understood or appreciated without recognizing that Muslim background. Much of pre-Reformation theology and philosophy was heavily indebted to that culture and religion. (For a scholarly summary of this development I refer you to Frederick Copleston’s A History of Philosophy, volume 2, part iv.) Though today the residue of that background has become increasingly difficult to trace, it is only a lack of historical awareness and prejudice against Islam that have combined to produce gross ignorance of the Islamic foundational roots of our current culture.

You may agree with the above summary of philosophical developments, but dismiss it as irrelevant. So what if these abstract philosophers were influenced by Islam? What does that have to do with you, the reader of this blog or with the man/woman on the streets of Vancouver or Toronto? In short: the common sense of today in the West is the product of centuries of philosophizing that trickled down into the consciousness of the common person. “Trickle down” may not always work in economics, but it surely does in philosophy. Even if you know nothing about these ancient philosophers, they are woven into the fabric of your common sense.

I will continue with more of “The Muslim in You” in my next blog. Stay tuned. If things get too philosophical or abstract for you, let me know by writing a comment. I am trying to shift back and forth between abstract and more “practical” realities.

That is a distinction I make only halfheartedly, for in fact there is nothing more practical than philosophy, for the philosophy of yesterday becomes the “common sense” on tomorrow’s streets via the university. Today, you are thinking and doing as you are because of what abstract philosophers wrote over the past few centuries. Ideas, as they say, have legs. You may not know their names or have read their books, but they are part of you. They are in your veins, not to say DNA. Muslims are among your cultural ancestors. Welcome them back into your psyche and into your world, though, being a Christian, I step back from encouraging you to become a Muslim. I am, after all, Christian missionary.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Other Side of the Coin

Post 16—

Dr. Aliyu Tilde is formidable Nigerian Muslim journalist whose columns can be found on < >, a Nigerian news website. He is fiercely critical of corruption and oppression wherever he sees it in Nigeria, whether perpetrated by Muslims or Christians or those who merely claim such epithets for themselves. Some of my Christian friends in Nigeria dislike him, for they strongly disagree with his stance on the violence that has racked Nigeria’s Plateau State and its capital Jos, a city I have lived in for two decades. Yes, they strongly disagree with him, for you can only react strongly to his equally strongly worded columns, whether you agree or disagree. In the case of Plateau State, he is squarely on the Muslim side. Having come to know him a bit more personally through recent correspondence, I should re-read his articles on the Plateau situation. Sometimes knowing a person personally can bring a change in interpreting him.

Recently Tilde published a column under the title “Poor Northerners!(2), referring to Nigerian Northerners, mostly Muslims. He unhesitatingly admitted that “countries in the Muslim world are not democratic and they represent perhaps some of the worst living specimen of tyranny and oppression.” But then he goes on to explain how this situation arose. While most Westerners are convinced that the reasons are internal to Islam, Tilde shows the other side of the coin and locates the cause in the hypocritical and oppressive behaviour of Western nations. Listen to him:

“However, that is neither the tenet of Islam nor the choice of its Muslim citizens. It is the practice of their puppet leaders in strong collaboration with the western powers that support them with aid, intelligence, equipments of torture, guns, etc. Take Saudi Arabia for example. That kingdom is a monarchy which, in the first place, could not have come into existence without the support of the British or survived this long without deploying American might. In fact this is the root cause of the terrorism that America so much complains about these days. The same thing applies to Egypt and other tyrannical regimes in the Muslim world. Let America and the Western world support the democratization of the Muslim world by withdrawing its support for those oppressive regimes and you will see them collapse in less than five years. But the West cannot risk that because of its entrenched strategic and economic interests.”

I largely agree with Tilde that this Western behaviour is a major cause of the situation we all bemoan. A major cause; not the only one. Forty years ago I might have disagreed with him, but since then I wrote a doctoral dissertation on colonialism and was forced by the facts to recognize the nefarious and oppressive nature of Western colonialism. It was an eye opener for me. The facts that I unearthed had been carefully hidden from me by a domesticated educational process right through undergraduate university as well as post-graduate theological seminary. What I leaned was not pretty. If you turn to volumes 2, 4, 6 and 8 of my Studies in Christian Muslim Relations, you can find it all there as well. (You can access these free of charge by typing < Jan H Boer> in the opening page of < >.)

Yes, the pre-Renaissance/Enlightenment internal Muslim factors play the other major part. Note that I said “Muslim” factor, not necessarily Islamic factor. They are no more the same as are “Christian” and “nominal Christian.” Both these internal and external factors need to be recognized and admitted by both sides. Writing as a Christian, we must heed the word of Jesus Christ who warned us to first take out the beam in our own eyes, before we reach for the splinter in the eye of the other.

(ForTilde’s article turn to his columns on and check Discourse 308, November 2010.)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Canadian Press Owns up to Muslim Persecution of Christians

Post 15—

While the media, especially the Canadian press, is quick to publish reports and discussions about discrimination against Muslims in Canada itself, the USA or in Europe, that same press is remarkably silent about discrimination or, worse, persecution of Christians in Muslim-majority countries. Sometimes such persecution is due to government policy; sometimes, simply to the local citizens, often with the connivance of government agencies like police and court. Today, such persecution is due to Muslim angry reactions to Western violation of their sovereignty and interference in their affairs. Whatever the reason, no one can deny that such persecution is widespread in these countries, for in the previous two posts we record government acknowledgements of this tragic phenomenon.

So, it is a relief to note that there are signs the media may be opening up to reports about the persecution of Christians. The past few posts seem to indicate that there is some relief in this area. Another recent indication is a guest editorial in the Vancouver Sun (Nov. 17, 2010) borrowed from The Calgary Herald. The opening salvo: “Respect for religious beliefs is supposedly a universal value applicable to all faiths, making the world’s silence on recent attacks directed at Christians so puzzling, and so very unacceptable.” Then: “This lack of action is especially lopsided considering the willingness of governments and organizations to attack anyone offering insults to Muslims.” The article then goes on to catalogue a whole series of cases of persecution against Christians by Muslim. I should really summarize each case the article reports on, but I will spare my Muslim friends the embarrassment. The writer of the editorial writes, “Not one of these incidents has garnered even a fraction of the attention the proposed Qur’an burning caused. This begs the question: Why?” Indeed, why?

He suggests that perhaps this situation is “because Christians rarely riot in difficult circumstances.” Glad that the word “rarely” qualifies the assertion, for I know of circumstances where Christians have rioted—in Nigeria, for example. And if in the USA Christians do not usually riot, ultra-rightists and fundamentalists have loudly demonstrated and elicited Muslim violence by threatening to burn Qur’ans. In Canada, of course, Christians are far "too polite" to go beyond occasional domesticated demonstrations. Or would "too scared" be a more accurate description?

The Calgary writer ends his piece with a strong statement: “By cherry-picking causes for concern, governments and groups expose the hollowness and hypocrisy of their vaunted values. It’s justice for all or justice for none.” Hooray! Thumbs up for the writer and the Herald for bringing this situation to the attention of the general public as well as for the Sun for picking it up. That’s pretty courageous for main stream media. The last post contains reference to an article about Christian persecution printed in Vancouver’s other daily, The Province. Thank you, reporters and editors. Is there is change in the wind? Keep it up!

Of course, if the main stream media have (consciously?) suppressed such stories, there are agencies that exist for the very purpose of reporting on such developments on their websites., while others collect funds to support the victims of such persecution. For some reason they have not managed to penetrate the main stream media, at least, not in North America. It is time the general public become aware of them. This is not the day for me to bring them to you attention, but it is on my agenda for the near future.

The next post will feature a Nigerian Muslim columnist who uses some tough language to explain the lack of democracy in most Muslim countries and their oppressive practices. So, hang around. I’ll be back.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Iraqi Govt to Protect Christian Minority

Post 14

A few days ago, I read an encouraging news item about the Iraqi government promising to repatriate Iraqi Christians who have fled their country because of persecution and discrimination. The report was something similar to that in the previous post about Pakistan. Statistics tell us that Iraqi is emptying of Christians, who have lived there as minorities since the beginning of Christian history. I read the following report from the UK-based Barnabas Aid for November 14, 2010:--

Praise God for encouraging news from an Iraqi ambassador to a European state, who said that his government is committed to assisting Iraqi Christians who have fled their homeland because of the anti-Christian violence. He said that the government will assist Christians who return to Iraq with jobs, money and land to build houses. He also affirmed the possibility of creating a semi-autonomous region for Christians, similar to what Kurds in Iraq have, should the Christians with it. Pray that the Iraqi government will have the will and the ability to carry out these pledges and protect Christians from Islamic militants.

That is indeed an encouraging report. However, since Barnabas does not reveal the identity of the man nor the country to which he is assigned, it seems they must have felt it necessary to hide the identity of this ambassador, which makes me wonder whether he truly spoke the mind of his political masters. It was at least an official acknowledgement that Christians are fleeing his country and that his country is producing Christian refugees. But was he sincere? Did he represent official policy?

I ask such questions because I also read a story today that totally contradicts the above promise. A short report in today’s Province, a Vancouver daily (Nov. 11/2010), tells of continuing attacks on Christians:--

Baghad—A string of anti-Christian bombings has cost six more lives in the wake of a Baghdad church bloodbath, sowing panic in Iraq’s 2000-year-old minority on Wednesday, many of whom now want to flee. “Since Tuesday evening, there have been 13 bombs and two mortar attacks on homes and shops of Christians,” a Defense Ministry official said. The attacks come less than two weeks after 44 Christian worshippers, two priests and seven security personnel died in the seizure of the Baghdad church by Islamist gunmen and the ensuring shootout.

Some readers may argue that you need to give the government time to implement its new policy. You need to realize that Barnabas reports always come some months after the matter reported. There’s been time to implement the ambassador’s promise.

As in the case of Pakistan, we keep hoping….

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Pakistan Govt. to Recognize and Protect Christians

Post 13

Pakistan is a Muslim country with a very small percentage of Christians. At one time, it was held up as an example of healthy inter-religious interaction and its legal system was considered an example for other multi-religious nations. But so was Sudan! During the time Nigeria was preparing for independence (1960), a group of Nigerian and British specialists were sent to these two countries to observe how they managed their inter-religious situation. Today, neither of these two nations are thought of as shining examples of religious tolerance, if you don't mind a slight understatement! We are all aware of Sudan's atrocious and cruel wars. Many people are not so aware of the high level of anti-Christian discrimination practiced by the Muslim people of Pakistan. I tended to think it was the Muslim citizens who were guilty of this religious outrage, rather than the legal system. However, recently a newly-appointed Minister for Minority Affairs--not sure I have the correct label here--, a Muslim himself, admitted to the prevailing legal discrimination against Christians and promised to correct the situation.

Apart from a final "P.S.," the rest of this post consists of an article by Sheraz Khurram Khan in which he reports on the new dynamic Minister Shahbaz Bhatti is trying to introduce. Now that article was published in February, 2009, a year and a half ago. I invite readers familiar with the Pakistani situation to write in and tell us about whether any real improvements have been made and experienced by Christians. Here's Sheraz Khan:--

"NCCP awards Pakistan Government Minister Shahbaz Bhatti."

The award was presented to Mr. Bhatti in a ceremony the representative body of all churches and missions in Pakistan held in his honor.

The reception was largely attended by Church leaders from the various denominations including Archbishop of Lahore Lawrence Saldanha, Mr. Victor Azariah Secretary NCCP, Dr. Arthur James, the Principal of the Gujranwala Theological Seminary, Colonel Yousaf, Salvation Army, Sister Pillar, Principal of the Convent of Jesus & Mary, Azera Shuja, Advocate, Lahore High Court, and other eminent people from the Christian community, who admired Shahbaz Bhatti's level of "dedication and appreciated his unfaltering commitment to attain equal rights for religious minorities in Pakistan."

"In the fields of health and education the services of Christian community are meritorious and in the social sector too Christians have been second to none," said Bhatti.

"In the Armed Forces of Pakistan outstanding performances and exceptional levels of professionalism have been attained by Christian officers," he maintained.

He said previous governments had neglected the rights of religious minorities, discriminatory laws were imposed in the past and under the rigidity of these draconian laws the minorities have suffered tremendously.

He said that safeguarding minorities' rights was the present government's top priority. The government, he claimed, is committed to the vision of Qaid-i-Azam, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, to empower the religious minorities and is working towards their uplift.

The Minister went on to say that the government has announced a 5% job quota for religious minorities.

He told the audience that religious festivals of minorities will be celebrated on a national level.

"Minority prisoners will be provided with separate place for worship within the jails," he went on to say.

"All laws that discriminate against minorities especially the blasphemy laws, under which numerous minority members have wrongly been implicated would be reviewed in consultation with minority representatives, religious clerics and scholars."

Mr. Bhatti said that these laws have hampered the efforts of interfaith harmony and national unity and he stated that the blasphemy laws have been misused by the extremists to victimize the minorities.

The Federal Minister said that the bill has been drafted for minority representation in the Senate and increase of reserved seats in the National and Provincial Assemblies, which will soon be tabled in parliament.

Commenting on the current security situation of the country, Bhatti stressed that "terrorism can be defeated through tolerance, national unity and interfaith harmony."

The Federal Minister for Minorities said he has devoted his entire life for the oppressed and marginalized religious minorities of Pakistan and is committed to raise a voice for the voiceless and does not seek any personal benefits or privileges.

His only objective is to bring "justice and equality to the downtrodden suffering minorities of Pakistan."

The Archbishop of Lahore said he appreciated the efforts of the Federal Minister and praised his "courageous and bold stand" on minority issues.

He said that the Churches and Christian community stand by him in his efforts to uplift and empower the minorities of Pakistan. He also mentioned that the discriminatory laws were creating disharmony in the country.

Mr. Victor Azraiah said that minorities have always served the country whole heartedly but in return they have always been neglected. He stated that some of the countries top leadership has been produced by Christian institutions.

He appreciated the Federal Minister's efforts for the rights of Minorities and assured him complete support of all the churches and Christian community of Pakistan. He emphasized the need for Christian representation in the Senate.

Azra Shujaat, advocate, said that the Federal Minister as Chairman APMA has been advocating the cases of victims of the discriminatory laws and has always stood by the oppressed and marginalized, he appreciated his commitment dedication.

===========End Article

PS--Vancouver's daily, The Province, reported on Nov. 12, 2010, that a Pakistani court in Punjab has just "sentenced to death a Christian mother of five for blasphemy, the first such conviction of a woman. As the story goes, Asia Bibi "went to fetch water and Muslim women labourers objected, saying that as non-Muslim, she shouldn't touch the water bowl. From there the incident somehow convoluted into a blasphemy charge. Hmm.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Muslim Canadian Congress and Secularism

Post 12

This current discussion started some posts ago and has dwelt on the issue of violence. The discussion continues in this post, but violence now takes a back seat.

I mentioned in Post 11 that there is a contradiction in MCC’s rejection of violence and its embrace of secularism. It uses a secular perspective to reject violence. This stance stands in sharp contradiction to that of millions of other Muslims. I have written an 8-volume work on Christian-Muslim relations in Nigeria, where violence has erupted time and again against secularism. Nigeria is by no means the only country where this is the case. It is more common among Muslims throughout the world to regard secularism as their enemy than as an inspiration for tolerance and non-violence.

This is not to say that all Muslims opposed to secularism are violent. I, a Christian, am also opposed to secularism, but I am not violent and do not intend ever to engage in it. The same is true by far for most anti-secularist Muslims, though it may be fair to say that all militant Muslims are anti-secularist, with perhaps a few unusual exceptions. That MCC is at odds with that other Canadian national Muslim organization, Canadian Islamic Congress, does not surprise me, even though at this point I am not sure of the exact nature of their friction. I do need to look into that one of these days.

So, the stance of MCC contradicts that of the world’s Muslim majority.

There is an additional contradiction in the stance of MCC. They are a Canadian organization that has adopted a liberal and secular stance in the Canadian context. They want to contribute to that context in a positive way, an admirable goal that can only be lauded. Their embrace of the alleged Canadian secular ethos is part of that programme. That’s the way to get accepted by the Canadian establishment. A Muslim organization embracing such values is sure to get plenty of kudos from the Canadian populace and media. Wonderful!

However, the Canadian secular establishment really amounts to the establishment of one worldview called “secular” at the expense of other equally Canadian worldviews, especially if these other Canadian worldviews are of an overt religious nature. They may actually have deeper and longer roots in Canadian history, but the upstart liberal-secular establishment has managed to upstage it and assign it a small niche best described as comprising of church, family and the personal. As long as the groups with other worldviews agree to that assigned restrictive place, they are considered good boys and girls. But once they object to that assigned position, you will have the media on your neck and you run the great risk of having all the powers of human right commissions firing their canons of political correctness at you in ways that can legitimately be described as legal violence. You may even be described as, mother of all horrors, a vile stooge of American fundamentalism, surely the worst of all possible Canadian castigations!

MCC, by having adopted this establishment perspective, has in fact allied itself with a very intolerant worldview that may not shoot with the gun but with the weapons of scorn and political correctness that guide the dubious legal interpretations of human rights commissions. Though that establishment uses such great words like “liberal,” “tolerant,” etc., those words hardly catch the venomous spirit with which it operates.

I have let one of my cats out of the bag in this post. I have not defended my allegations, but I will do so as time allows in succeeding posts, though not necessarily in succession to each other. So, if you want to pursue my line of reasoning or have become curious about my Calvinistic-Kuyperian worldview, you’re just gonna have to stick with me for a while. Good luck—a very unCalvinistic parting!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Muslim Canadian Congress Denounces Violence

Post 11

Yes, more on violence. Are you getting tired? Well, this post is different from the previous ones. I am going to introduce you to a Canadian Muslim organization that opposes and condemns all manner of violence and terrorism. For the name, see title of this post. I will refer to it as MCC, with apologies to that other MCC, namely, world-wide renowned Mennonite Central Committee.

I introduce MCC with a few statements of their own so you know what they are about.

As Muslims we believe in a progressive, liberal, pluralistic, democratic, and secular society where everyone has the freedom of religion.

We believe in the separation of religion and state in all matters of public policy. We feel such a separation is a necessary pre-requisite to building democratic societies, where religious, ethnic, and racial minorities are accepted as equal citizens enjoying full dignity and human rights enunciated in the 1948 United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

We believe that fanaticism and extremism within the Muslim community is a major challenge to all of us. We stand opposed to the extremists and will present the more humane and tolerant face of our community.

I introduce MCC not because I agree with all of its philosophy. In fact, I don’t. But I want to let you know that Muslims speak up against violence and terrorism more than many of us realize. The Organization of Islamic Conferences (OIC), the world’s largest international body, speaks up against it frequently. I invite you to check out their statements on their own website or go to Volume 8-2 of my Studies in Christian-Muslim Relations and check out the OIC with the help of the Index. But MCC is more local; it is Canadian and proudly so. It has published many articles denouncing violence and terrorism in newspapers and in their own published documents. Please verify this by going to their website.

Below follows a sample of titles of their published documents that will give you a good flavour of how strongly they reject violence and terrorism in all shapes and forms. Here we go:

“MCC Condemns Islamic Extremism”

“Muslims Should Speak out”

“Don’t Be Silenced by Extremists”

“MCC Condemns Burning of Churches in Nigeria and Pakistan”

“No Need for Force, Violence”

“MCC Condemns Bombing in Bumbay as Crime….”

“Muslims Must Denounce Terror Forcefully”

“MCC Condemns Islamic Extremism”

“Muslims Must Speak Out”

“MCC Condemns London Bombing as Barbaric and Cowardly”

I encourage you to go and read at least some of them. If you’ve laboured under the impression that Muslims do not condemn these activities, reading this material should disabuse you of this false impression. You might still argue that Muslims don’t do enough of it. Even MCC President Farsana Hassan has admitted as much: “The near absence of such movements is hurting Muslims more. Their silence in not denouncing acts of terrors as forcefully as they should is consequently exacerbating Islamophobia.” However, I am sure you will find more if you do some surfing on the internet.

Fair is fair. Just thought you would want to have your attention drawn to MCC and their work. It’s just too bad that it is secular Muslims who publish such anti-violent declarations, for there is a built-in contradiction between their embrace of secularism and denunciation of violence. I will address that in the next blog.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Frequency of Violence by Muslims

Post 10

I am a busy man and hence sometimes make silly mistakes. One of these is that the content of Post 9 should have come at least two posts after this one. Well, consider it a humorous break from the subject of violence. You deserve such a break.

Please refresh your memory re. the closing of post 8. There is this “but….” that needs to be cleared.

Let me be clear once again, that I am writing about violence and terrorism committed by individuals or groups, not by governments or nations. That would be a different story.

Before you read any further, note also that the title of this post is not “The Frequency of Muslim Violence,” but “The Frequency of Violence by Muslims.” I hope you catch the difference. I am not talking here of Muslim or Islamic violence, but of violence committed by individuals or groups who are Muslims. Herewith I am suggesting that this violence does not emerge from core Islam. As per our jurist Verkouteren in Post 3, I have no way of proving that this violence emerges from the bowels of Islam. In the case of violence committed by Christians, I know theirs does not come from core Christianity. On what logical basis would I determine otherwise for Muslims?

Nevertheless, my Muslim friends, that “but….” keeps tugging away at me. I wrote at the end of the last post that violence or threats of violence by Muslims are common these days. If we cannot blame it on their religion, then, what of their culture? Violent Muslims come from many different cultures, including Western cultures where they are in a minority. Unless we could agree that every culture is violent by nature, I would not go there either.

Well, then, what of social class? Can it be said that one social class is more violent than another? I don’t think I want to go there either. For some time, it was argued that terrorists and other violent folk must come from the underprivileged strata of society, but it soon became clear that terrorists are often well heeled and well educated. Another brick wall.

I want to turn elsewhere. First of all, there is the historical fact that the West has over the past centuries treated the Muslim world with disdain and a strong sense of superiority, all the time trying to control and exploit them for their own Western purposes. It is called “colonialism” and “imperialism.” During that period, serious attempts were made to pry Muslims loose from their religion, mostly by the inculcation of secularism through education and the legal system. It almost worked. Muslims did not turn from their religion, but the more they were subjected to secular education, the more secular they became in their thinking about the world of business, science, politics and government, while they often continued to practice the five pillars. The Muslim world went into a spiritual coma, a process that went largely unnoticed by the victim communities.

Then, suddenly Ayatollah Khomeini burst on to the scene with his angry and strident demands for a rejection of secularism and a revival of classical wholistic Islam. The Shah of Iran and all that represented the secular West had to be wiped off the face of the earth, especially from Muslim territories. Khomeini fired the imagination of the dormant Muslim community, stirred up the entire Muslim world and turned them into an indignant umma. I experienced it all in northern Nigeria and have described it in some detail in my series Studies in Christian-Muslim Relations, especially in Volume 2. (You can find it by typing in the appropriate box in
< >.) Khomeini may have triggered a dynamic that went further than he could foresee or that I approve of, but as I observed it from my Nigerian perch, I could only applaud in principle this awakening of Nigerian Muslims from their stupor and breaking the secular chains that had bound them.

They became angrier than hell, millions of Muslims did. They realized they had been had. They had been tricked and sidelined. A virus had been inserted in the soul of the umma that now needed to be excised. They had swallowed the poison pill of secularism. They went back to their main source, the Qur’an, for renewed inspiration and a new beginning--and in their anger now took it in a very raw and literal sense, for that gave them an excuse to take revenge. Kill the bastards! A, yes, so many verses supported that kind of aggressive action. With joy, glee and enthusiasm they stirred up each other to this new liberating mission. With Allah on their side, history would be on their side as well. They were sure of victory.

And so they proceeded, millions of them. And who can deny that currently most non-governmental violence and terrorism comes from the Muslim side?

In many places it turned pretty ugly for Christians. Where Muslim majorities had at least tolerated Christians, they now became hostile and associated their local Christian neighbours with the hated West. One reads of so many situations where former friendly relations turned sour. Christians are accused of all kinds of crimes without proof in many countries, especially the “crimes” of apostasy and blasphemy. Stories are simply cooked up and the victims taken to court. Even when declared innocent, they feel so threatened by their accusers, they often escape to neighbouring countries. Some of them end up as refugees in the West. My archives are full of such stories. Simply beyond belief and reason. And even if these situations are not officially approved by governments or their agents, they often simply stand by and let it happen. Sometimes they connive with the perpetrators. Churches and Christian properties burnt. Families broken up. Careers cut short. Jobs lost., In Middle Eastern countries where some of the oldest Christian communities have lived in relative peace for centuries, their numbers are fast depleting by Christians escaping to neighbouring countries. They simply cannot take it anymore.

The West has done its thing. Whether Western colonialism was as bad as the Islamizing process of the Middle East and North Africa centuries earlier may be worth a debate. The Muslims are still there and now standing up for themselves. The same cannot be said of the earlier Christians supplanted by Muslims. They have largely vanished, while those remaining live under severe stress.

The time has come to put and end to this spiral of violence. Muslims know that Allah is the Compassionate and Merciful one. He forgives. Does Islam not promote forgiveness and reconciliation? Similarly, the Bible calls upon Christians to forgive. It is here that leaders of both religions must make their influence felt. People like Howitt and Cooper from the previous post are right in calling upon Muslim leaders to apologize. The non-governmental perpetrators of violence of today are mostly Muslims, even if they are not guided by a right understanding of the Qur’an. Their leaders must take a much stronger public stand against violence than they have. Arar seems to be either blind to the violence Muslims commit or he is trying to deny it. Given its widespread nature, that is rather foolish and makes him appear dishonest in my eyes. Arar and other Muslims should realize that the hesitation of the Muslim community at large to openly recognize and acknowledge the widespread violence among them constitutes a serious barrier to the Islamic da’wa or mission in God’s world.

One of these days I will give you a peek at the Nigerian situation where you have two equal majorities of 65 million plus of each of the two religions. That’s a dynamic that calls for a totally unique strategy for reconciliation and moving forward together from the rampant religious violence in that country. For those who are curious, check out the e-book version of my studies as I showed you above.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

"Humour" from the Left

Post 10--

I want to share with you some humorous attitudes of the so-called “left” in the US towards Muslims. First, the very interesting insights of Laurence Elder, a syndicated columnist, from a copyrighted article of his. That means I can describe the article, I can summarize it, I can interpret it, but I cannot reproduce it in this forum. But it’s so interesting and, really, sort of humorous, that I will take the trouble to describe/ summarize part of it for you. The title of the article is “Australian Muslim cleric calls for beheading -- who cares?”

He refers to two incidents: (1) an Australian Muslim cleric’s call for the head of Dutch alleged anti-Muslim politician Geert Wilders and (2) the threat of the American pastor Terry Jones to burn the Qur’an. The first evoked hardly any reaction from anywhere, while the other provoked “an international outcry” from the highest authorities in the land, if not the world. Actually, these are three incidents, with the first being two in one—a Muslim cleric and a Dutch politician.

The Australian, Feiz Muhammad, was already infamous for other pranks. He allegedly called for the radicalization of young children and held rape victims responsible for their misfortune. As to Wilders, "(De Telegraaf, the Netherlands' largest newspaper) posted an English-language audio clip in which he [Muhammad]refers to Wilders as 'this Satan, this devil, this politician in Holland' and explains that anyone who talks about Islam like Wilders does should be executed by beheading....”

Elder reports that “civil libertarian groups vigorously defended Muhammad’s vile but protected speech,” while they were completely silent about events surrounding Wilders, who was attacked for his rather wild but also protected speeches against Muslims. He asks, “Where are the free-speech groups denouncing the prosecution of Wilders for making abrasive comments?” Put more clearly, how come those same libertarians do not defend Wilders’ right to free speech? Elder continues, “If a proposed Quran burning generates international news and condemnation, isn't the call by an Australian Muslim cleric for the beheading of a democratically elected European politician worthy of a few moments on the network nightly news?” Should that Muslim call for Wilders’ head not evoke similar indignation from those same libertarians?

Elder wonders why offensive acts by Muslims provoke calls for sensitivity and understanding” from the left without anyone defending Wilders’ right to free speech. Barbarous statements and acts by Muslims in the name of Islam generate indifference. Wilders can be attacked for his anti-Muslim statements with the same libertarians merely standing by with folded arms. And then, of course, the leftist uproar about Pastor Jones. His threat to burn the Qur’an evoked fearful and fierce antagonism from many quarters, including the highest authorities in the land right along with that from our libertarian goons. Elder wonders why the contradiction. Indeed, why? Why the double standard?

Humorous lob-sidedness on the part of these libertarians. Who has the liberty to do or say what? Within that community, why can some say what they want, no matter how vile, while others have their mouths sown shut or are attacked? Extremist Muslims must be protected and treated with sensitivity and understanding. A radically right Western politician, may be vilified and prosecuted for expressing his political beliefs, the job for which he was legitimately voted into office. As to that ludicrous call to burn the Qur’an, well, it goes without saying that, in view of the Muslim violence this would provoke and the added danger this would create for Americans abroad, this is scandalous. I am happy that libertarian leftists were so eager to protect the American establishment and its soldiers out on Asian adventures! Unusual, to be sure, but appreciated—and humorous! Or was there some other motive? Mmm.

The Elder article continues on to other things, but somewhere along the line he provides an explanation for this kind of leftist attitude. He comments, “Barbarity in the name of Islam is not even remotely condemned [by these leftists] to the degree that the West condemns insensitivity by cartoonists, politicians and anti-Islam clerics." Why? A denunciation of Muslim practices suggests a superiority of American values and culture, something the left finds a very objectionable notion.

Elder also refers to an article by Fred Gottheil from the University of Illinois, who in another context came to the same conclusion. He wrote, "If leftist 'progressives' really cared about women, gays and lesbians, then they would be fighting for their rights in places where such rights are really violated -- like under Hamas in Gaza and under the mullahs in Iran. But doing so would legitimize their own society and its values and therefore completely cripple their entire identity and life purpose, and so their purported concern for women, gays and lesbians has to go out the window."

It has not always been so. The US-based Egyptian Muslim Leila Ahmed, in her book A Border Passage (1999), expressed her absolute shock when she first entered the world of American university feminists. She remembers being openly besieged with “furious questions and declarations openly dismissive of Islam.” She would be attacked about the veil and clitoridectomy when these were far removed from the subject at hand. She encountered an atmosphere of outright hostility and sheer ignorance on the part of her fellow feminists who, by implication, demanded that she and others in similar situations abandon their culture because it was “intrinsically, essentially, and irredeemably misogynist and patriarchal.” They were expected to give up on their culture and adopt that of their American colleagues. While the entire enterprise of these feminists was to critique, destroy all their own cultural traditions and restructure their own society, suddenly, when it came to Muslims, the latter were expected to join and adopt the very culture they so vehemently vilified! Go figure.

Today, the attitude of these feminists would, of course, lean in quite different directions. Apart from the veil and clitoridectomy issues, they would likely mirror the image of the first crowd of libertines in this article—the very opposite of what they once advocated. Or would they now possibly defend the veil and clitoridectomy in the name of sensitivity and understanding?

I just wanted to draw your attention to “leftist” humour when it comes to Islam. But the humour does not stop here. I was kind of horrified when Ahmed referred to these American feminists as Christian and amazed that she expected them to have any knowledge of Christianity at all, apart from utter negativity. Now we run into the Muslim tendency to regard everything in the West as Christian. Ahmed was shocked at the ignorance of her colleagues about Islam; I am shocked at the ignorance of Ahmed about the West. Humour has no bounds, it appears!

I guess one of these days, in order to be "fair" and "balanced," I should write about rightist humour. Not sure there is such a thing, but if I dig deep and long enough.... Who knows.

(Note: Since I write about leftists and rightists, you may be wondering where I live. I use these terms only because those are the ones used in popular discussions. Though I have little choice in the use of this vocabulary, I do not identify with either. I am a Calvinist with different parameters. You can find me all over the place, then here, then there, not because I am a wavering person, but because Calvinism simply does not fit those categories.)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Question of Violence and Apology

Post 8

This post being the 8th, this is a rather new blog. But already quite a few posts have been devoted to violence in a blog devoted to Christian-Muslim relations. I am in no way trying to convey that violence is the main characteristic of Christian-Muslim relations. I argued that no religion is violent by nature. Instead, violence inheres potentially in every human being. All we need is the right trigger and there we go, if not as individuals, then as groups, nations—or religions.

So, then, why do I keep writing about violence in this blog? Have I been carried away by the prevalence of discussions and reports on violence featured in the media? Probably. Who can resist the media's influence 100%? As Qamarul Huda of the US Institute of Peace wrote recently, "It is nearly impossible to speak about contemporary Islam without referring to the subject of violence." It is such a popular discussion and one so often derailed, that it is a good thing if you have something that helps diffuse the subject. Sometimes I think I have. I believe my idea of tracing the root of violence to human nature instead of religion should lead us to look in a different direction for the causes of violence and not blame any religion so automatically or quickly.

This brings me to the issue of apologies. Maher Arar, publisher of the online Canadian magazine Prism, criticizes Muslim leaders and organizations who seem so ready to apologize for all Muslims when some Muslims are arrested for alleged terrorist acts, even before they have been tried and judged guilty. Why should they? he asks. When Catholic priests are abusive, no one speaks of “Christian abuse” or “Catholic abuve,” for all know that both Christianity and its Catholic version vehemently reject abusive behaviour. But when some Muslims engage in terrorism, it immediately is touted as “Muslim terrorism.” What accounts for the difference? Arar suggests it is fear called up by sensational journalism that constantly interprets such acts as the natural product of core Islam, its logical outcome. Remember the statement by Verkouteren, that Dutch jurist in Post 3 of this blog, who insisted that you cannot blame the misbehaviour of an individual on his religion, unless you can prove it to be the natural result of that religion’s core beliefs. Arar’s argument is the same.

Of course, not all readers accept Arar’s argument. Bruce Howitt from Vancouver, referring to the readiness with which Germans today apologize for the Holocaust, asks rhetorically, “Is it too much to ask Maher Arar and other Muslim spokespeople to take a lesson from them [Germans] and apologize for the mayhem and destruction of lives and property caused by Muslims in the name of jihad and religion?” Alan Cooper, another Vancouverite, does not accept Arar’s critique of Muslim leaders. He finds that the Canadian Council of Imams is doing the right thing by their condemnations of Muslims involved in terrorism. Their statements tell us that being a “decent Muslim requires vocal condemnation of so-called radical Islam.” Herewith he urges Arar to get out there and apologize when Muslim leaders fail to prevent terrorism on the part of Muslims or “disgraceful treatment of women by others.”

So what gives? Who is right? The answer, I suggest, depends on the situation these writers either imply or assume. Arar’s argument seems to imply or assume that violence and terrorism by individual Muslims or by Muslim groups is a rarity. It seldom happens. That being the case, why blame their religion if some isolated group of extremist Muslims goes off the deep end? Howitt and Cooper imply or assume that such violence and terrorism occur frequently, so frequently in fact, that people have begun to think of it as common to Muslims and is a result of their religion.

I guess I need to give some direction here. A question: Is violence/terrorism by Muslims rare or frequent? I wish I could say “rare” and be done with the question. Unfortunately, the facts force me to admit it is a frequent occurrence.

I really would like to leave the issue of violence for a while, as if that were the only issue between Christians and Muslims. But there is this “but….” that still needs to be cleared away.

Violence in/and Religion (4)

Post 7

In 2009, before the long interruption in this blog, I wrote a few posts about violence and rejected the notion that religion, any religion, is violent by nature, even though religions do from time to time act violently and feed into it. Instead, I argued, violence is ingrained in human nature. In this post, I simply want to draw attention to various ideas and facts about violence, mainly to Western and Muslim violence, including war and other military exploits.

Today religion is still associated with violence, on a massive scale even. Though the governments involved in the Western efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan do not argue their case on basis of Christian tenets, many citizens, especially in the USA, support it for religious reasons. At the same time, many Christians are either doubtful about the legitimacy of these exploits or strongly oppose them, for religious as well as political reasons. Muslims the world over tend to interpret these exploits as expressions of Christianity, which many of them regard as inherently violent.

Westerners, both Christian and secularists, currently talk, write and publish furiously about Muslim violence. As Muslims see the entire colonial enterprise, including the Crusades, as a Christian violent onslaught on them, so do Westerners, especially Western Christians, remember how Islam has overrun the early Christian civilizations, mostly by violence. They point to the current prevalence of violent Muslim attacks on Western establishments both at home and abroad. They are aware of the violence evoked by Salmon Rushdie’s book, Satanic Verses, some decades ago. Then there was the violence in response to the Danish cartoons. They are fearful of Muslim terrorism that attacks both Western and Muslim targets. In fact, most Westerners, including Christians, regard Islam as a violent religion. And not only Westerners. 60 million plus Nigerian Christians have years of negative experiences with their 60 million plus Muslim compatriots and are convinced that Islam is violent in its very core. They are supported in that by former Muslim terrorists converted to Christ and who have told their stories of terrorism against Christians.

Even fear of potential violence against the West is common. At the time of writing, Muslims in various countries have already reacted violently to the announced but unrealized plan to burn the Qur’an and threaten more of it in various places if the planners proceed with it. Western governments at their highest levels are condemning the threat to burn the Qur’an because it has elicited threats of violence on the part of Muslims. Most Christian leaders have strongly condemned the plan, not only because of threats of violence, but also because it would seriously set back the gains achieved in Christian-Muslim dialogue and relations and because it would obscure the peace with which Christianity aims to and is designed to bless the world.

There is a feeling in the air that Muslims resort to violence or threats to violence all too often and all too easily. A Spanish discotheque recently adopted the name “Mecca” and decorated the place with Muslim features like “a minaret-like tower, a blue dome with a half-moon on top, which made the building look like a mosque, and verses of the Qur’an inside,” according to Sinikka Tarvainen of Deutsche Presse-Agentur. The name and style of the placed sparked an international “wave of protests on the Internet,” including a threat of “war between Spain and the people of Islam.” Even diplomats got involved in the issue. It does seem that violence or threats of violence that could be defused by negotiation come too easily

There is a difference between Western responses to perceived Muslim provocations and Muslim responses to perceived Western or Christian provocations. Western governments may react with military violence or war, but Western citizens seldom incite violence against Muslims. To the contrary, Muslim governments seldom react militarily against perceived Western violence—or perceived insults to Islam. They leave it to their citizens to organize seemingly spontaneous outbursts of emotional violence that the media delight in broadcasting. (If other writers have noticed this difference, I am not aware of it. It is, to the best of my knowledge, original with me. Readers, if you have reasons to disagree with me here, please leave your comments and correct/challenge me.)

Muslim governments do militarily and politically respond to Muslim terrorists like Al-Qaeda and the Taliban within their own borders, especially when these forces threaten those governments. Various North African governments have done so at different times as has Saudi Arabia. At this very time Mauritania and Mali are fighting terrorists within their borders. But they have seldom, if ever, actively helped defuse Muslim terrorist attacks on Western targets outside of their own countries, though they may have condemned them in stirring statements and impressive declarations. The Organization of Islamic Conferences is a good example of the latter practice.

All of this brings up the question of apologies. Should anyone apologize to anyone? Well, that’s for our next post to consider. In the meantime, chew on this one. Good night.

Christian Reformed Church (CRC) Laments Plan to Burn Quran

Post 6

Christian Reformed Church (CRC) Laments Plan to Burn Quran

First of all, a comment or two by myself. I republish the CRC statement below, because it is a good, simple and succinct. Secondly, because it is the church to which I belong and largely represents me. Sometimes the CRC aggrevates me; sometimes, it makes my proud. This statement is not of the quality to evoke pride, but it is sufficient and says what needs to be said. I have also recently republished a statement on the subject by Barnabas Foundation on the Companion Blog .

A footnote may be needed to prevent confusion. I have earlier identified myself as a Canadian, but this statement presents the church I belong to as American. In fact, it is an international denomination found in both Canada and the USA. This statement comes out of the American office, since it addresses an American development.

The document embraces also a statement by the much larger National Association of Evangelicals, of which the CRC is member.

And now, the two-in-one statement:

September 9, 2010—Rev. Jerry Dykstra, Executive Director of the Christian Reformed in North America (CRCNA) has joined with other Christian leaders to express sadness and concern about a Florida church's plan to burn copies of the Quran on September 11.

"At at time when Americans reflect with sadness and pain on the events of September 11, 2001, the Christian church is called to bring the shalom of Christ to a divided and broken world", Dykstra said. "The extreme actions of few in the burning of the Quran do not represent the church of Jesus Christ. As those who follow the Prince of Peace, we are called to be people of peace and reconciliation."

Dykstra strongly affirmed a statement made yesterday by the National Association of Evangelicals, of which the CRCNA is a member. That statement reads as follows:

The National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) asks Muslim neighbors to recognize that the plans announced by a Florida group to burn copies of the Qu’ran on September 11 do not represent the vast majority of Christians.

“To all followers of Islam: Please do not judge all Christians by the behavior of one extremist,” NAE President Leith Anderson said. “One person with 30 silent followers does not speak for 300 million Americans who will never burn a Qu’ran.”

Switching Gears after a Long Break

Post 5

In a way, part of this post is no longer helpful, since it announces a break that this new situation does not indicate. After all, these first few blogs--8 or so, I believe--have been transferred from that other blog on the same day and thus show the same date! Nevertheless, I have decided to retain it as is.

It's been a year and a quarter since my last post. That’s the sentence with which I recently revived or re-started the Companion Blog to this one, < Worldly Christianity >. I’m reviving this one with much the same language and info. Glad to be back and promise to stick with it this time. Here goes….

Things got too wild for me. Felt pressured to complete the last volume of my 8-volume series on Christian-Muslim relations. For details, go to my < >. I did get it completed after close to ten good years, a lot of dollars that I was surprised to be able to muster, several computers and printers and 2700+ pages. You can purchase them from me, from the publisher, from Amazon and their ilk. You can also access it free of charge as e-books from < >. Yes, free of charge! Just peck "janhboer" there and you will find them, all eight of them. The archives that emerged from this project are now lodged at Yale University.

After completion, I had to spend more time on getting the Nigerian side of the publication in place and I continue to be busy with that. Nigeria? you ask. Well, yes, my wife and I spent 30 years there. This series has ramifications for the entire world with its Christians and Muslims, but its primary focus is on Nigeria as a detailed case study of its 60 million plus of both Christians and Muslims. The place is a virtual laboratory of how these two religions can co-exist in relative peace.

Relative peace. I don't think you can expect more than that, if for no other reason than that they tend to have such opposite views about the functions of government. In addition to that, they have such different views on the nature and function of religion as well as on freedom of religion, that achieving anything more than relative peace may be asking for too much. But that is a whole lot better than what they have today, each with a knife at each other's throat. My series has a number of purposes, but the main one is to provide especially my fellow Christians there with more wholistic parameters so they can better understand the Muslim challenge and thus better respond to it.

OK, you got me going on the main subject of this blog already. Please remember it is the Companion Blog of < Worldly Christianity > where I already described myself as to my worldview and my locus in the world of perspectives. So, let me repeat that part as well under the title, “Calvinism by Any Other Name.” Once again, here goes….

In my previous blog, I introduced myself as a modern-day Calvinist. I did not define it but encouraged you to continue reading my blogs and so discover for yourself what's involved. So, you got yourself a job--you've become a detective!

But things are not quite as simple as I put it last time. Like every philosophy, school of thought, worldview or religion, so Calvinism has numerous variations. You've got orthodox, conservative, liberal, Swiss, Dutch, Scottish versions. Then there's the American scene in which you find all of them. Even within these schools you find variations.

OK, here comes a bit of a boring paragraph. So, either brace yourself or just skip it. If you are academically inclined, you may find it interesting. I am about to describe my life orientation with reference to schools of thought. Here goes:

Though I am a Canadian citizen and live in Vancouver, I am born in The Netherlands and hold dual citizenship. I have also spend around 15 years in Michigan, USA, and nearly 30 in Nigeria. My root Calvinism is of the Dutch variety, the most unique of which is known by names such as "Kuyperian" after its founder Abraham Kuyper(see Kuyperiana page on my website). I tend to lean towards the "Neo-Kuyperian" or "Neo-Calvinistic" branch of this one, which is also described as "Reformational. I am only giving you these names in case you decide to follow up on some of my blogs in the future. Then having these terms at hand will facilitate your research on the internet. Apart from that, forget these names.

You still there? Great! It is from that Reformational perspective that I am going to approach things. Of all Western Christian perspectives, it is the most world-affirming Christian tradition that I know of,that has not lost its classical orthodox orientation. World affirming! Now you can understand the title of this blog and where this comes from. If you're interested in knowing more about this school and its world affirmation more quickly, without waiting for my blogs, you can google any of the terms found in the above paragraphs and you'll find plenty to occupy yourself.

I promise that I am going to engage in discussions in terms of the world-affirming perspective promoted by Kuyper and his followers. You will probably find that I move around quite a bit between left and right, liberal and conservative, if those are your categories of thought. You may even wish I could make up my mind about where I belong. The reason for that is that Kuyperianism is beyond those categories. It is simply different. I was almost going to say that it is a third way, but that is a tired claim made by so many who reject those narrow cliches. So, let's just say I am beyond the conservative/liberal axis, while clearly within the orthodox camp. Like mainline Islam, I am wholistic. That is to say, I maintain that religion covers the whole of life.

I am going to respond in a Christian spirit to events or writers or to you, my readers, as they happen or write, without pretending to have the last Christian wisdom and I'm going to do this from a contemporary Calvinist point of view. If you stick with me, you will slowly discover what such an exotic perspective might look like. Yes, there is such a perspective and it is alive and well in Canada and many other countries. You might be surprised at the organizations and institutions it has fostered. It is active and working and making a difference, but often without flying the Calvinist flag, so that people do not recognize it even as they benefit from it.

If this post kind of gives you cold feet, relax, put your socks on—or your sandals. I promise from here on not to bore you with this kind of stuff and deal with more interesting topics about Christians and Muslims and, in a secondary way, Secularists.. If you have any suggestions as to topics, send it to me and l will try to accommodate you. But be careful: I just might engage you in a private discussion before I go public.

This, then, is my re-introduction of my good self. I hope that in time you will draw your friends to this blog and join me in conversation. Till next time--inshallah!

Violence in/and Religion (3)

Post 4
I want to offer a daring proposition that flies in the face of many if not most worldviews and religions. It does represent one of the deepest insights of both the Bible and the Calvinian branch of the Reformation, including its Kuyperian strand.
The Proposition: It is not religions that are inherently violent; it is the human race itself as a whole that is afflicted with a deep-seated streak of violence that is humanly impossible to eliminate and that is easily activated by that other (in)human(e) natural characteristic, lust for power, or provoked when under duress and threat.
I am not suggesting that every individual is inherently violent. There are millions of peace-loving individuals everywhere, espousing every religion and most worldviews. But the human race as whole has this streak, not as something superficial, but deep down in its very bowels. You cannot understand world, national or even more local history without acknowledging that fact.

That’s not the only thing to be said about the human race. Some great things can be said about us as well. The Bible uses very laudatory terms for us. Just one example: God has made every person a “little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honour. You [God] made him ruler over the works of Your hands; You put everything under his feet…” (Psalm 8:5-6). This is one important side of the coin of the human condition, but it does not eliminate its opposite, that deep-seated propensity for violence.

One of the roles of religion is to bring out that glory with which we have been created by chaining the brute within us. That has happened frequently and till today happens more commonly than most hostile or ignorant despisers of religion want to recognize or want us to believe. Like much of the modern media, those despisers prefer to cover up the positives by highlighting the negatives and then attribute them to religion. If love is blind, so is hate. The first nuclear bomb was not created or thrown out of religious fervor or out of love!

That being the case, we/I cannot avoid or cover up questions about religious wars and the involvement of religious folk in violence. I am going to pursue these questions in the next few posts, but I will insist that the basic problem does not reside in religion so much as it does in human nature.

I find it interesting and revealing that abuse in/by religion often evokes calls for the elimination of religion, but abuse in economics, politics, media, sports or art never leads to calls for eliminating those forces or sectors from human life. Then we call for better laws, improved morals or transformation of the structures, for we realize we simply cannot eliminate those sectors from human life. While I do not regard religion as simply another sector of human life—but that’s for a later discussion—, because religion seems more susceptible to emotion than other facets of life, abuse here easily provokes emotional calls for its abolition rather than reformation or revival. Responsible and rational people will lend their ear to and respect leaders of thought in economics, political science and other fields during times of crisis. These same people will often throw caution to the wind, totally disregard empirical research and facts, and with emotional and hateful fervor call for the abolition of religion. This reaction is usually the result of their instinctive pre-rational worldview rather than of rational and objective deliberation.

Violence in/and Religion (2)

Post 3

First, a note. You may notice that these first posts have the same date. The reason is that they have been transferred from another newish blog whose name was giving troubles. So, I opened this new blog and transferred the posts to this one. Originally written on different dates, they are being transferred on one date. Hence, the same date for the first blogs.

I want to pursue the violence issue a bit further. First of all, it is hardly a new question. Already a century ago, a Dutch jurist Verkouteren, discussing the same issue, acknowledged that Christians have all too often been involved in violence of one kind or another. But he argued that such violence can be attributed to religion—in this case, Christianity—only if you can prove that the violence in question has its origin in the teaching of the religion. You would have to prove that this violence logically flows out of the religion, that it is a natural consequence of its principles and that it necessarily had to happen. It was Verkouteren’s strong opinion that “Christians” involved in violence in fact did not apply their religion but denied it. They did not adhere to the laws of Christianity but trampled upon them. None of it derived naturally from the religion itself. It happened in spite of the religion.

The question is once again at the top of the agenda, especially with respect to Islam. Westerners, both Christians and secularists, are all too ready to point an accusing finger at Islam anytime some Muslim (group) has perpetrated an act of violence. All of Islam is blamed for it. True, often lip service will be paid via a quickie acknowledgement that the perpetrator was Islamist or terrorist, but from there on the discussion tends to ignore that distinction and leaves us with the impression that the violence was the direct result of Islam.

That Islamist terrorists are Muslims and claim to be guided by the Qur’an is not the issue. That these are dangerous people and need to be stopped in their tracks is the need of the hour. But are they truly Muslim? They may call themselves “Islamist,” but are they Islamic? There are any number of Muslim scholars who deny them that status. In my book Christians and Muslims: Parameters for Living Together I discuss this issue and quote many Muslim scholars, both from the 2/3W and from the West, who convincingly demonstrate that the violence we are witnessing today is a false application of the Qur’an. Its perpetrators are ignorant of the Islamic rules for interpreting the Qur’an. Though they may be called Fundamentalists, they have wandered far from the Islamic fundamentals. It would be similar to Christians basing their violence on the Old Testament. Both religions have certain established rules by which they interpret their holy books. Ignoring these rules leads to misinterpretation and heresy—and often to violence.

So, here, too, we may have an occasion for applying Verkouteren’s test. Joseph Lumbard, an American Muslim, edited a collection of essays written mainly by Western Muslims under the title Islam, Fundamentalism, and the Betrayal of Tradition. In his introduction, Lumbard writes that the fundamentalist militants “represent a complete break with traditional Islamic teachings—not a conscious development from them or of them. Of all the possible ‘Islams’ one could choose from, these are the least representative of its traditional teachings and classical heritage, for they have no scriptural, historical, or intellectual foundations.”

Violence in/and Religion

Post 2

The question of violence in/and religion is an uppermost question these days. There are any number of people, most of them really quite ignorant of history, especially religious history and its nuances, who love to pile up accusation after accusation of violence against specific religions or religion in general. Most of these people have never bothered to consider or study seriously all the positive contributions religions often have made to their various societies. They dislike religion and are not ready to listen to any defence. Religion is equated with violence throughout history. Punkt. There is no religion without violence.

Of course, I realize that there are also genuine scholars who make the same accusation. They can hardly be accused of ignorance. But it usually does not take a lot of pumping to discover that if they are not driven by ignorance, they are driven by what is called their worldview. That is to say, they, like every one else including yours truly, have committed themselves to a specific set of paradigms through which they regard the entire world and on basis of which they judge and analyze everything. This is, I realize, a huge statement that needs more than simple affirmation, but that will have to wait for a later post. For now I just affirm it and use it as an interpretive tool of what people, including scholars, do with and because of their worldview.

Then there are those who equate violence with a specific religion. In the Western world, many consider Islam the source and perpetrator of violence. Many citizens of the Two-Thirds World, from here on referred to as “2/3W,” in turn accuse the West of violence, usually implicating the West’s traditional religion, Christianity. Muslims, countering the Western charge, often air this accusation.

It would be foolish to deny that religious people have frequently engaged in violence. This is true of Christianity, of Islam, of Sikhs, of Hindus as well as of people who regard themselves as non-religious, the secularists, including Humanists and Marxists. As a Christian, I am shamefully aware of how much violence Christians have inflicted upon each other and on the rest of the world.

Without explaining this terrible reality away, in the next post or two I hope to shed some light on this history. There are some responsible Christian and Muslim perspectives that can help us understand. I hope to have you curious enough to return to the next post.
For an introduction regarding my good self, please turn to the “About” page on my website www.SocialTheology. Amongst other things, you will learn there that, though I am a Caucasian, I spent 30 years in Nigeria’s Middle Belt in various capacities. You will also learn there that I hold a doctorate from the Free University of Amsterdam, where I specialized in mission studies and wrote a hefty dissertation on missions and colonialism under the title Missionary Messengers Of Liberation In A Colonial Context (1979). For info about other publications of mine, please turn to two other pages on that same website: the “Boeriana” page for a more or less complete list of my publications and to the “Islamica” page for my publications on Christian-Muslim affairs. The more you peruse the various pages on that website, the more you will find out about me. That may be helpful in understanding where I come from in my posts, that is to say, my worldview.

In addition to this blog, I have also started one with the name “” That one will further develop issues of Christian worldview, a favourite topic of many people these days. It is the same worldview that will underlie this blog. So, these two blogs will be supporting each other.

This blog will concentrate on Christian-Muslim relations and other issues related to these two religions. I do not claim final or complete expertise on that subject, but I definitely claim to know a thing or two about it. After all, 30 years of mature living in a Nigeria with a cleft population of over 60 million adherents of both religions has provided a rich mine of experiences. So have my doctoral studies equipped me with considerable qualifications. On top of all that, from the Islamic page on the website you may have learned that I have written 8 volumes on the subject of Christian-Muslim relations in Nigeria. That took me about 10 years of concentrated research and writing. So, come along, read me and challenge me as we go. I love challenges, for they often sharpen our mind and improve our understanding. I especially invite my Muslim friends to join the “party.”

The entries will sometimes be slightly edited materials from my series Studies in Christian-Muslim Relations, a series of 8 volumes, plus the COMPANION CD that counts as Volume 9. For more information about its layout, see my website That series is a Nigerian case study of Christian-Muslim relations—often about how not to do “it.” Nigeria is a unique case in that you find some 65 million plus Christians facing 65 million plus Muslims. There is no constellation like this anywhere else in the world. No country has two such huge and equal blocks of both religions within its borders. Another part of the dynamic is that though both are on the increase in Nigeria, Christians appear to be increasing faster and are poised to outnumber Muslims. At the moment, both insist they constitute the majority along with the rights they claim with that status. However, neither the 2007 census nor earlier ones included religious statistics, so that it is anyone’s guess as to which religion can boast the larger following. But, as always, perception and propaganda outstrip the facts in power and significance.
Though I concentrate on Nigeria, it is Nigeria as a case study with global implications from several points of view:
• What dynamics develop when you have two large blocks of these religions living together?
• What happens when you have these two aggressive missionary religions competing for a place in the sun?
• What happens when a once almost supreme Muslim community is confronted with an emerging Christian community that has woken up to a growing sense of political awareness and power?
• What happens when you have a confrontation between a Muslim community that vehemently rejects secularism in favour of sharia and a Christian community that insists on a form of secularism?
• What happens when both communities are fearful, mistrusting of and angry with each other so that they can no longer hear each other out?
The flow of events in Nigeria is a powerful example of how things are NOT to be done from either side. I expect that Nigerians who read these monographs will feel deeply ashamed of the violence they unleash on each other in the name of their respective religions.
But these studies are not written primarily to embarrass Nigerians. Their purpose is to arrive at some parameters within which we can develop more positive relations with each other, relations of respect and tolerance, that will allow both religions to flourish within the one nation.
These relations have been bedeviled by untold blood shed and destruction ever since 1980. The series describes and explains the riots themselves and the issues of confrontation. Most of the study concentrates on the opinions of Nigerian Muslims and Christians themselves by providing extensive quotations and appendices, especially from the media. Each volume deals with a separate aspect of the relationship.
These studies do away with taboos, now politely dubbed “political correctness” and as well as with religious wishful thinking. We are encouraged to get real. The fatal influence and role of secularism in these relationships in Nigeria come across very pointedly. The weak inheritance of a dualistic gospel transmitted by Christian missions also is explained and constitutes a major reason for confusion in Nigeria.