Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Interesting religious dialogue with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia

Some thing seem to be changing... King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia had a good idea in convening an interfaith conference in the Spanish capital, Madrid, earlier this month. The meeting brought together some 200 representatives of the three monotheistic faiths - Christianity, Islam and Judaism. The Saudi king even met Jewish people - including one from Israel. Fr Samir Khalil SJ, gives some excellent comments (as always, a pleasure to read him!) in AsiaNews.

The Jerusalem Post caught the importance of the event. More can also be read in the International Herald Tribune. And this is how Rabbi David Rosen describes its significance.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Liberalization? Keep dreaming....

This week The Economist has an article that describes that in the Muslim world, there is an increasing hardline attitude towards Muslims who want to leave their religion.

“Can a person who is Muslim choose a religion other than Islam?” When Egypt’s grand mufti, Ali Gomaa, pondered that dilemma in an article published last year, many of his co-religionists were shocked that the question could even be asked.

And they were even more scandalised by his conclusion. The answer, he wrote, was yes, they can, in the light of three verses in the Koran: first, “Unto you your religion, and unto me my religion”; second, “Whosoever will, let him believe, and whosoever will, let him disbelieve”; and, most famously, “There is no compulsion in religion.”

More here in The Economist.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Turkey, democracy and Islamism

Turkey is in a very interesting situation these days. The secularist watchdogs in Turkey are about to see the ruling AKP party made illegal, writes The Guardian this morning. The verdict of the judges is expected this week. Will the army have to roll out the tanks into the streets again? Just as interesting is the response of the US and the EU. Neither the EU nor the US are happy with the trend of islamization in Turkey, but it will be hard for them to support the murder of the budding Turkish democracy.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

At the time of the prophet Muhammad...

I came across this piece of information on an Islamic website today, and marvelled ;-)
Look how the very dark situation the whole world was in at the time when Islam began, is described by the author. But in a brief sentence, he says: 'no-one seemed to take any notice of this malaise'. This supposed malaise cannot have been too bad then? May I suggest that Islam did not spread in the Mediteranean world because the darkness of those days, but because Islamic armies conquered those areas? It took hundreds of years before the number of Muslims became a majority in those lands. The islamization was a very slow process and the resistance was great. People did NOT flock to Islam in great numbers. Here the text I read on this website:

At the time of the advent of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), the entire world was steeped in darkness. Belief in multiple gods and worship of idols had shaken the foundation of civilized life. The light of civilization had faded over the then known world from Egypt to India and from Greece to China. Banners of the Roman and Persian empires immersed in the worst forms of tyranny, and terrorism fluttered over the degraded humanity.

Not only did the rulers claim to be the representatives of God but, in some cases, they also claimed to be gods with whom fiefdoms and religious orders were allied. The combined forces of the three had strangled the common people, who were already overburdened with heavy taxes, bribes, and grafts and were forced to labor under duress.

No one seemed to take any notice of this malaise, and no one provided any remedy or escape from this course. The then going overlords sank in moral degradation, and the devastating wars and frequent changes in ruling dynasties further grounded the common people under heavier strain, instead of giving any relief to them.

Ethical Behavior in Mission

Oslo Coalition on Freedom on Religion or Belief has published a valuable document in March 2008 - sorry I am so slow to mention it here... The document, Missionary Activities and Human Rights: Proposing a Code of Conduct regarding Missionary Activities is a discussion paper about the ethics of missionary work. In the Arab World, we can use these guidelines, because so many Christians think they should hammer Muslims on the head and bash Islam. Here the link to the document.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

No place to call home

Ziya Miral recently wrote a great report - No place to call home - about the fate of converts from Islam. He himself is one, and works for Christian Solidarity International (CSI) in London. A sobering report, as it underlines the hard fate of Muslims who embrace Jesus Christ. The whole report can be downloaded from the website of CSI.

A must read. May the Lord be with all of our friends in Christ who come from Islam, where-ever they are.

The website of CSI is good for being in your favortites. It also contains a report about the anti-christian legislation of Algeria.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Interesting example of enculturation...

Abraham Sarker grew up in an Islamic culture in Bangladesh and chose to dedicate his life to Allah. But at age 15, he encountered God in a dream that made him question Islam and begin a search for truth. Sarker recalled hearing a voice that told him to look for a Bible. He searched diligently for a Bible four years, finally finding one in his own Bengali language when he moved to Florida to attend college. After reading the Bible and meeting with a missionary at his campus, he chose to become a follower of Christ. And his life radically changed.

I was a Muslim missionary, but now I am using the Muslim mission strategy to reach others for Christ. The Muslim strategy is to impact a community economically, religiously and politically. Now, this is my strategy to reach Muslims for Christ.
An interview with Abraham Sarker can be found HERE in the Baptist Standard.

What is a mahram in Islam?

One of the aspects of life covered in Islam is the interaction of males and females. Islam has developed a system of mahram and ghayr mahram - people who are not allowed to be married and those who can marry, and this system has great impact on the life of women, for instance in regard to the permissibility to travel. Maulana Sultan from the UK gives us some clear insight in this issue. Have a read.

Suicide is never not permitted in Islam

Suicide is never permitted in Islam, according to sheikh Ahmad Kutty. He answered this question on Islamonline.net:
Respected scholars, as-salamu `alaykum. I was wondering in certain situations, if one commits suicide without killing anyone else, can it still be considered jihad?

For instance, at Guantanamo Bay Detention center, some Muslim men killed themselves in order to bring public attention and political will to stop the injustices detainees face there.

So, let's say a young Muslim man hangs himself knowing that it will one day help stop future injustices committed against Muslims by his government and hopefully publicly expose injustices committed against him because of his religion, can that person be considered a martyr?

For Kutty's answer, see HERE.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Things do not go better in Egypt

Ethan Cole reports for the Christian Post The divide between Egypt’s Coptic Christian community and the Muslim majority is growing bigger as an increasing number of Christians are cutting ties with Muslim neighbors and turning to the Church for all their social needs.

Many Christians in Egypt are now sending their children to schools run by the Church, letting their children play on all-Christian soccer teams, and moving to all-Christian neighborhoods. The trend is in part a reaction to increased persecution by Muslim extremist groups that have grown in Egypt in recent years.

“When we all go together as Christians on those things (vacations to holy sites), we feel like we’re one,” said Ayad Labid Faleh, a Coptic Christian living in a Christian neighborhood in Cairo, to The Washington Post. “We’re secure, and we’re able to relax,” he said.

Domestic workers in Saudi Arabia suffer

You would think that in a land with the sharia as its law, life would be rather good - if you are of the persuasion that the sharia is God's own law. Why then is life so miserable for many in Saudi Arabia?

Domestic workers are often subjected to abuse that in some cases amounts to slavery, as well as sexual violence and lashings for spurious charges of theft or "witchcraft," Human Rights Watch published in a 133-page report. The organization urged Saudi Arabia to implement labor, immigration and criminal justice reforms to protect the workers, saying employers often face no punishment for such abuses. The report said that rather than receiving justice, domestic workers - most of them migrants from Asia - are more likely to face counter-accusations of witchcraft, theft or adultery.

"In the best cases, migrant women in Saudi Arabia enjoy good working conditions and kind employers, and in the worst they're treated like virtual slaves. Most fall somewhere in between," said Nisha Varia, senior researcher in the Women's Rights Division of Human Rights Watch.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Yemen imprisons 7 MBBs

YEMEN - The Washington-DC based human rights group, International Christian Concern (ICC) released a report on June 27, 2008, regarding seven Christians who were arrested by Yemeni Authorities.

ICC says that all seven are Yemeni Christians. 'They are being held in prison and face mistreatment by Yemeni authorities.' ICC adds: "Please pray for the safety of these seven Christians, and that the Lord will protect them from torture and other types of mistreatment. Please pray for strength and courage for the seven as they go through this difficult situation, and that they will be released quickly."

For more information, contact Darara Gubo, Regional Manager for Africa, 1-800-ICC (422)-5441, darara@persecution.org.