Thursday, November 10, 2016

Post 47--Muslim Reactions to US Election

Post 47  Muslim Reaction to US Presidential Election*        Posted   Nov 10  2016
Today, I welcome a special guest for the occasion.  Many Christians have problems with the secular establishment of both Canada and the USA, even though that establishment includes many Christians, including both our Canadian Prime Minister and the American President.  In my opinion, though I appreciate some of their decisions, I am dumbstruck at some others. In both countries the secular establishment is slowly putting the screws on religious liberty. However, no time today to deal with that in detail.
Many Muslims are having similar problems. So, today I welcome Abdul Malik Mujahid, who sends out emails under the name Sound Vision. This is what he circulated today:
Assalamu Alaikum (Peace to you)

Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, whom we love so much, would get all sorts of questions. One day, while sitting in the wilderness, someone asked him about trust in God: “Should I trust in God and not tie my camel?” 

The camel was the primary mode of transportation at the time in Arabia. If you lost your camel, you’d lost one of your key assets. And if you were traveling far in the desert, losing your camel could mean death.  

The Prophet’s answer: Tie your camel, then put your trust in God.

That principle does many things for us. 

As Muslims, we have been become political footballs, first in Europe, then in Canada, and now in America. We are the number one victims of ISIS, as well as war and terror. Yet, we are blamed for causing terrorism. 

We had two choices in this election: Someone who hit us where it hurt us the most. Then there was the other presidential candidate who swung right back, defending Muslims and the diversity of this country. 

For many of us Muslims, who spent millions of dollars and votes supporting Hillary Clinton, we tied the camel - I guess. 

Now is the time to trust God. He controls the world. We do not. He sees the whole picture and truly knows the best for everyone. We love Him, we trust Him. He is the Creator of us all. He created you and I, as well as Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. He strategizes and He is the best strategizer (Quran 8:30).

Houston Rockets NBA star Hakeem Olajuwon illustrated this beautifully. He had always been a good basketball player, and was always a Muslim. However, when he truly embraced his faith in a mosque in Houston in the 1990s, he transformed. 

He would still lose games, but he ultimately led the Rockets to victory. And this is what he told me about trusting God (Tawakkul). 

"Before I started practicing my faith, I used to completely rely on myself,” he said. “When I had done my best, I would be extremely frustrated if I didn't win. It would irritate and anger me. And that was causing me to be bad to others by fighting and swearing.

"But when I started practicing my faith, I learned that results are not my property. I started doing my best but then I left success and failure to my Creator. Now I was not irritated by failure and was not overinflated by success. That caused me to calm down and improve my behavior towards others on my team and we became a team."

So trust God. Don’t despair (Quran 39:53), and don’t give up. That is not Sabr (patience). Sabr is to do your utmost and endure whatever it takes to achieve that goal. 

I have a personal goal. And I would like you to be my partner in achieving that goal. To liberate America from fear, hate, and anger, which were there before Trump, and may not end with this election cycle. 

We must engage with America to end the cycle of war, terror, and hate, which has caused us to lose trillions, kill millions, and dehumanize each other, despite all of us being God’s creation, Who created us from the same man and woman (49:13).

Seek help with Sabr (patience) and Salat (prayer). That increases trust in God. Open your hearts and minds for your neighbor, white, blacks, and all shades in between. 

And pray that God opens the hearts of our neighbors toward us. 

It is time for reflection as well. It will take many Sajdas (prostrations to God) and many Duas to achieve balanced, thoughtful conclusions. But for now, I will say this: American Muslims are achievers. They achieve what they set their mind to. We wanted to build mosques and we have doubled the number of mosques since 9/11; we wanted to build Muslim schools and we have tripled the number of Muslim schools since 9/11; following the beautiful example of the Prophet, we have responded to disasters in America and abroad by rushing to help, thus multiplying our relief organizations. 

But what we have not done is devote resources to take America forward. We have not invested even one percent or .01 percent in what we have invested in mosques, schools, and relief organizations. 

So for now, I would just say, let’s do a personal audit: An audit of our personal time and money. What percentage are you committing to your empowerment to take this country forward? That is the camel that still needs to be tied before we expect God to do miracles for us. 


Comment by Boer: Though there are significant core differences between our two religions, we also have many similarities that we need to capitalize on. Much of what Abdul writes today resonates with me. I similarly feel that Christians spend way too much time, money and effort on “religious” matters when they should instead be religiously engaged in society by contributing to its welfare, to the common good. But religiously, not secularly. With the Spirit of God in their hearts not only but also in their minds, in how they create images of a just society according to the insights of their religion.

So, thank you Abdul. Perhaps we ought to sit down together and see how far we can work on this together.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Post 46—Christian Genocide by ISIS

It is generally recognized in the media that Christians are having a hard time of it in pretty well all Muslim-dominated countries, whether in Asia, Africa or Europe. I have drawn attention to this in several posts in both this blog as well as in another blog I operate under the name “My World—My Neighbour,” the latest being number 124.
Now that claim may smell like Islamophobia to some, but that derisive term is over-used to cover almost anything that is less than laudatory with respect to Islam.  It means “fear of Islam,” which is a far cry from disagreement with Islam. I have high respect for orthodox Islam and for its adherents, but I disagree with them. If you want to know what exactly that translates into, I refer you to my series Studies in Christian-Muslim Relations on my website  < >. Even Muslims have praised me for the spirit pervading that series. Disagreement? Yes.  Phobia? No, not one bit. So, let’s not have that misnomer stand in the way of the rest of this post. 
Today I discuss not mere Muslim persecution of Christians, but genocide. According to one edition of Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, it means “the deliberate and systematic destruction of a racial, political or cultural group,” with the last one, I take it, including religious groups.  It is much more specific than the more general term “persecution.” While the latter is common place throughout the Muslim world, genocide is more local and currently widely applied especially to ISIS, who are widely recognized to consciously and officially be practicing Christian genocide.
You need details of this recognition?  Carl Anderson, the CEO of the Knights of Columbus and a New York Times bestselling author, together with  Archbishop Bashar Warda, a Chaldean Catholic Archbishop in Iraq (A&W), wrote an article, “ISIS perpetrates genocide against Christians” (Vancouver Sun, Aug. 5, 2016, p. A11) that is fully worth a serious read. They write:
Based on overwhelming evidence, Christians have been included in genocide designations by the European Parliament, the US State Department, the US Congress, parliaments and officials of a number of European governments, as well as the Iraqi cabinet and the Kurdish Regional Government.    
In addition, according to Barnabas Aid, certain members of the British House of Lords urged their Prime Minister some months ago that, “jihadist attacks on  Christians and other religions in the Middle East should be classified as genocide.”  In other words, the UK Government hesitated to join the authorities in the paragraph above. And they are not the only ones. The same Barnabas report states that “The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has said that she ‘stands ready’ to begin a genocide enquiry but needs an order from the UN Security Council.”  So, the UN also hesitates. Given its membership, that should be no surprise to anyone.
But coming closer to home, our own Canadian Government also has rejected the call to declare a genocide on the part of ISIS.  A&W advocate that Canada should take leadership on the question of genocide by ISIS, but it is following the lead of the UN. The argument against the genocide issue turns on a definition of a tax Islam calls “jizya”, a tax Christians and others have historically paid to Muslim rulers for protection instead of the traditional “convert or die” ultimatum. However, according to A&W, ISIS has widened the definition of this protection so that it includes even “kidnapping, rape and confiscation,” all actions from which that tax is supposed to protect them. In fact, a former ISIS leader “publicly revoked any special treatment of Christians years ago.”  Its official magazine, Dabiq, has threatened to “conquer your Rome, break your crosses, and enslave your women.” 
The result of all this violence? A&W tell us that the number of Christians in Iraq “has plummeted by nearly 90 percent, Syria’s by almost 70 per cent. “In the land where it first took root, Christianity could be stamped out entirely—within our lifetime.”  Such threats and actions hardly represent the preferential treatment Jizya is supposed to offer, as A&W put it.
And so I strongly support the call of A&W and the campaign being waged by Barnabas Aid for both Canada and the UN to become realistic. A&W urge, “It is time for both Canada and the UN to join the international consensus, supported by a majority of the Canadian people at a rate of two to one in our recent K of C-Leger poll.” As a Canadian I will be extremely embarrassed if our Government were to renege on this life-and-death issue for thousands of people. If there is no change at this front, I will definitely campaign against the Federal Government on basis of this offensive indifference during any future election. I will help arouse the Christian community against them in my writings. It is one more spike in the coffin of death with which the politicians of almost all parties are saddling our country, the others being easy abortion and easy assisted suicide along with the more general ones of poverty and injustice.
Though I am always wary of one-issue politics, the matter of life and death trumps all other issues in importance along with poverty and injustice.  Come to think of it, when you lump these “few” issues together, you’re really talking a pretty wide umbrella of issues that can hardly be considered “single-issue” stuff. I am aware this could leave me a political orphan without a party to vote for. I may be left to vote for the least of all evils, a position that an increasing number of Canadian Christians find themselves in.

Though I drift in this post from the specific issue of genocide of Christians to more general politics, what I want you to take away from it is first of all the genocide issue. That’s my issue for today.  It is more than an “issue” for thousands of Christians in the Middle East; for them it is indeed literally an issue of life and death that goes far beyond mere politics. We need to press the Government of Canada to recognize and declare ISIS genocide of Middle Eastern Christians and others of various persuasions. Does the pretty face of our current PM mask an attitude of indifference to the lot of the most vulnerable and, thus, of an underlying cruelty? I leave the answer to you.                  

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Post 45--Muslim Persecution of Christians

Post 44 of this blog talks about whether Muslims want peace or terrorism. I quoted Canadian Muslims who are fiercely opposed to violence and terrorism. I also wrote about some who want both!  Yes, as strange as it seems, terrorists who claim to be Muslims resort to violence as the only way to peace.  They base their definition of peace on a very literal, unhistorical and fundamentalist interpretation of the Qur’an.
Most Muslims reject that interpretation as well as the attitudes and actions that result from it. One of its results is the death of thousands of Muslims at the hands of those militant “Muslims” throughout the regions where militancy has a hold, especially those claimed by ISIS in the “Middle East” and Boko Haram in the north-east of Nigeria and neighbouring countries. Probably more Muslims are killed than Christians and others. Most of the global Muslim community strongly resist and resent any suggestions that Islam and the Muslim community are violent or approve of terrorism. They wonder why Westerners associate Muslims with violence and terrorism. Why, Islam is a religion of peace and tolerance, they will argue up and down. Those militants do not represent Islam.
Well, that may be true, but that does not take Muslims off the hook. There is another form of violence that may not be described as “terrorist” but is violent none the less. I am talking about persecution. Persecution of other religions is rife within the Muslim community, even within the most liberal or secular Muslim countries. 
There are various Christian organizations that monitor situations of such persecution. One of them has been introduced to you in the past and I’m going to resort to them again: Barnabas Aid.  Their international headquarters is in the UK, while they have regional offices in Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Northern Ireland & Republic of Ireland, Singapore and the USA.  They publish both a bi-monthly magazine and a prayer bulletin.  I am going to simply quote a few random reports of theirs from the May/June 2016 prayer bulletin.
My stories will zero in on ordinary Muslims, their governments and their agencies in Muslim-majority countries. There are many other fronts where there is serious persecution, but I hope to address them sometime in the near future. These could include reports of ISIS atrocities that will be addressed one day under the rubric of “genocide.” There is also persecution of Christians at the hands of Muslim minority communities in the West. Then there are Hindu persecution of Christians, Chinese persecution, Buddhist persecution,Secular persecution in the West, etc., etc.  One of the most puzzling forms of persecution is that of Christians by Muslims in Christian-majority countries, mostly in Africa! I reserve all of that for future blogs. In all of this, I am aware that there are also situations where Muslims are persecuted. Perhaps that subject will be treated as well in due time.
But for today, persecution of Christians by ordinary Muslims in Muslim-majority countries:
May 1—“Iraqi Christians in Baghdad have recently lost their homes, businesses, cultural sites and church buildings when they were seized by Iranian-backed militias, forcing the owners to leave.” “They are being targeted in a type of ethnic cleansing designed to rid the Iraqi capital of all Christians.”
May 16—“A Pakistani Christian was beaten to death by police in January 2016, after having been stripped naked and hung up until his shoulders were dislocated. Liaquat Masih had worked as a driver for 18 years for a Muslim politician when he was accused by his employer’s wife of stealing jewelry. The police also beat Gull Khatab, a former employee of the politician, to try to pressure him into accusing Liaqat, but Gull refused. When local Christians staged a peaceful protest the following day outside the police station at which it all happened, police used batons against them, injuring six women and four men.”
May 18—“Tahira (21) and her sister Reema (20), both Christians, were kidnapped by Muslims towards the end of last year, forcibly converted to Islam and forced to marry their kidnappers in Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan. Tahira has managed to escape but dares not return to her family, who are now in grave danger because the kidnappers have filed a police complaint against them. The police typically take the side of the Muslim husbands in such cases. Pray that Reema may also find a way to escape and that both sisters may find a hope and future in a culture where their reputations are now ruined and they and their relatives are in danger of physical attack by the Muslim family or arrest by the police.”
May 19—“There are estimated to be around 700 cases like Tahira and Reema (see above) every year in Pakistan. Pray for the courageous Christian lawyers…who put their own lives at risk to give legal assistance to the victims and their families. As the Lord to grant them favour as they argue their cases before the authorities and to protect them from the many enemies they make as they speak up in defense of poor and vulnerable believers.”    
June 6—A fifth-century underground cave church has been discovered in Turkey’s Cappadocia region, a place where some of the earliest Christians lived (Acts 2:9; 1 Peter 1:1 in New Testament).  As Christians in Turkey today face pressures of many kinds, particularly with regard to their buildings, and are made to feel unwanted in their own country, pray that this tangible reminder of their historic roots may bring them encouragement and hope. Pray that the Muslim population (99% according to government figures) will recognize that Christians are not foreigners or traitors, but have a rightful place in society.  
June 7—A church building in Bursa, Turkey, dating from the 1880s, is currently used by four different denominations. When the Christians made a routine application to renew their permission to use the building, they were refused and ordered to leave the premises by February 26.  When this became known, local residents and the Turkish media reacted in support of the Christians—a very unusual occurrence in Turkey, where the Muslim majority and media are generally negative towards Christians. Perhaps even more surprising was the response of the Turkish authorities on February 23 withdrawing the eviction order.            

In closing this post, I think it only fair to tell you that this very day my wife and I were brunch guests at the home of a Turkish Muslim family who are our friends and who are the most cultured, gentle and kind people you can imagine. It almost seems ungrateful to publish this report today. I apologize to them, but the truth must be told. By no means all Turkish Muslims fit that description when it comes to Christians, but the percentage is too high, high enough to dub such events as “common place,” while resistance to them is considered “unusual” and “surprising.”  The end result after centuries of Muslim domination of these early Christian regions is a greatly reduced Christian community. 

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Post 44--Muslims and Peace

NOTICE: I also operate a blog called MyWorld--My Neighbour. That's a more general blog than this one. I publish more posts on that one. From here on, all the posts of this blog also appear on that one. That's more than useless repetition. That blog attracts a different kind of reader.  End of notice.
Some of my Christian friends try to make me feel guilty and may even consider me a traitor when I say or write anything positive about Muslims or Islam, especially if it is about Muslims and peace. For Muslims, that’s one of the major aspects of their religion and life. That’s what their religion is all about they claim time and again. Of course, peace can mean and does mean different things to different people, different religion and to different ideologies. During the Cold War, both West and East claimed to be promoting peace, while their goals were diametrically opposite to each other. Everyone claims to be for peace, Christians, Muslims, Secularists and all the rest.
It is also true that some Muslims practice terrorism in the pursuit of “peace,”  but this has been true for the West and for Christians as well. I only make this claim without substantiating right now, for that is not the major point of this particular post. I would like to say that this was true of Westerners, including its Christians, only in the past, but the wars and incursions the West has waged over the past few decades in the Middle East under the Bush regimes and in which Obama is still caught can only be described as terrorist, even if they have government sanctions, even international sanctions. Only a few days ago a British report states those wars were not necessary and had no good reasons!  Ach, let me get back to my intended subject for the day.
Muslims and peace.  Muslims against terrorism.  (Before continuing, let me credit Bethany Linsay of Vancouver Sun [VS] for the substance of the rest of this article—July 6, 2016, A10.) That’s the spirit in which BC Muslims are celebrating Ramadan, their annual period of fasting. Ahmed Yousef, President of the Islamic Society of Ridge Meadows makes no bones about it. Ramadan 2016 has been marred by an unusual amount of terrorism and violence by groups such as ISIL and others. In fact, in Yousef’s memory, this has been the bloodiest Ramadan ever. A truck bomb killed 250 people in Baghdad; dozens were killed at the Istanbul airport; 20 hostages were slain in Bangladesh; suicide bombings hit Yemen, Lebanon, Jordan and Saudi; four met their death in Medina, one of the holiest of all Muslim cities. Yousef calls the perpetrators of all this violence “TB: terrorists and beheaders.”  They are, he says with a voice rising with anger, “a disease, a plague that is taking hold throughout the entire universe. They have no affiliation of any kind to anything.”
This situation has left BC’s Muslims “feeling sad and frightened.”  “It depresses us Muslims, it takes the wind out of our sails.” I’ve looked into the eyes of some of our Muslims “and it’s taken away their spirit,” he says. Yes, those terrorists hit everyone, “Christians, Yazidis, soccer fans, police officers and even members of their own organizations, but Muslims…are the most frequent target.” (Boer comment: The same seems to be true of the Boko Haram [BH] crowd in Nigeria.)  He goes on, “For people who think that these idiots have anything to do with Islam, please consider the fact that most of their victims have been Muslims…. They are thugs, they are criminals, they are mentally unstable individuals who continue to commit these horrid acts under the name of one of the most peaceful and most loving religions that there is out there.” Yousef “feels compelled to speak out and condemns all violence committed in the name of Islam, calling it a responsibility of his faith.”  So far Yousef.
A Vancouver Muslim outreach worker with the Muslim Association of Canada, Tarek Ramadan, says, “Those are trained groups who actually hate (fellow) Muslims or even… claim to be Muslims and to love Allah, but hate what He has brought. They (are) hypocrites who get their stomachs filled with cash, from who knows where, to do these acts in the name of whatever.”  “He’s tired of outspoken politicians and members of the media mixing up terrorist groups and ordinary Muslims.”  Tarek “blames anti-Islam rhetoric from public figures for a reported rise in Islamophobic incidents across Canada that prompted the National Council of Canadian Muslims to launch a campaign against hate crimes this week.” So far, Lindsay’s contribution to this article, with thanks.
The real distortion and perversion in all of this is that ISIL and BH tell themselves they are committing all this heartless violence in the name of peace! Since mainstream Islam has become so heretical and so secular and does not listen to good Islamic reason, there is no alternative to violent methods to force them to return to the fundamentals of the faith. Even they claim to favour peace and are working towards its establishment!  I have heard/read it said quite often that while millions of Muslims agree with the fundamental aims of these terrorists, they reject the methods they follow towards reaching it. I am quite sure that is the case. They want to arrive at their salama in a peaceful, that is, non-violent way, that is physically non-violent way.

Whether that is the case with Yousef or Tarek  Ramadan, only they would know. I am sure they want peace; I just don’t know how they define it and what form they would like to see it take on ultimately and what their approved method of achieving it might be. Yousef is president of his local society. I take it that means he represents their general orientation. The family picture in the VS seems to indicate his is an average Canadian family with nothing to particularly identify them as Muslim. Whether that is a hopeful sign, I do not know. 

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Post 43-- Neo-Calvinism and Islam

This is a post with a difference. Well, actually every  post is unique, but this one is "more unique" than any other so far on this blog, the only one of its kind. It is an announcement of a conference that lies very close to my heart.  I am one of those Neo-Calvinists and I have published almost profusely as a Neo-Calvinist on Islam in Nigeria. So, I cannot resist the temptation to share this info with you. I only wish I had found out about it in time. I might have foregone our trip to The Netherlands I have told you about in the last two posts and used that travel budget to get me to Istanbul. Alas!  Money gone!

But here's the info anyhow. Perhaps some of you have the dough to fly there and attend. If you do, share your conference experience with me, please. If you wish, you should write it in a style that can be used on this blog and I will publish your report or comments.


                                                        ANOTHER RELIGION? 

                                     Neo-Calvinism and  Islam 


                             Istanbul, Turkey 25-56 August, 2016 

 Theme: At the end of the nineteenth century, military and economic expansion in Africa, the Middle East and Asia brought Europe into contact with Islam. This interaction sparked European political debates on how to deal with different religions and cultures. 

The study of Islam was encouraged within the contexts of missiology and the science of religion, and missionaries were sent to the Arab world. A range of opinions on Islam within emerged within European Christianity, varying from a comparative view to radical rejection, from the need for conversion to the search for dialogue. 

The late nineteenth century was also the context for the development of neo-Calvinism: a movement that attempted to articulate an orthodox Reformed faith in the modern world. Which views of Islam were held amongst neo-Calvinist theologians, missiologists, missionaries and politicians? How did these views work out in the encounter with Islam? 

The conference will focus on the theological, ecclesial, philosophical, political, historical, social and cultural interactions between the two religions: in what ways did they approach each other? On which aspects did they continue to differ, and why? How could their relationship over a century and a half best be described? 

Plenary speakers-- Among others: 
             Prof. George Harinck, Theological University Kampen                    Prof. Kees van der Kooi, VU University Amsterdam 
             Prof. Richard J. Mouw, Fuller Theological Seminary,                               Pasadena 

Call for Papers--The conference organisers welcome proposals for short papers. Proposals (approximately 300 words) should be sent to by April 30th, 2016. Conference papers will be in English. 

Registration-- The conference registration fee is €100, which includes two lunches and drinks. Conference places must be reserved by email ( by May 30th, 2016. 

Location and Accommodation--  Participants are responsible for finding their own accommodation. 

The conference will be held on invitation of the Deputy Consul General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Istanbul at: Palais de Hollande Consulate General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands Istiklal Caddesi 197, Beyo─člu, Istanbul Turkey 

Host Institutions: 
      Historical Documentation Centre, VU University, Amsterdam         New College, University of Edinburgh 
      Kampen Theological University Archive and Documentation                 Centre, Kampen