Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Post 60--

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

                      < >--that is my website. 

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

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

Danjuma Byang:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 4, 2017

Post 59--Rights of Men

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

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

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

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Post 58--Islamophobia and Christophobia

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

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

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

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


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

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

Then the article goes on to quote one Elizabeth Ellis:

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

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