“We do not condemn Jesus because he, too, is a prophet in Islam. Neither do we destroy the many temples and places of worship because our religion refrains us from doing so.”
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Monday, December 29, 2008
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Missionaries, not aid money, are the solution to Africa's biggest problem - the crushing passivity of the people's mindset; this is argued by self-declared atheist, Matthew Parris, in the Times. Have a read! The whole article is HERE.
Here a start:
Before Christmas I returned, after 45 years, to the country that as a boy I knew as Nyasaland. Today it's Malawi, and The Times Christmas Appeal includes a small British charity working there. Pump Aid helps rural communities to install a simple pump, letting people keep their village wells sealed and clean. I went to see this work.
It inspired me, renewing my flagging faith in development charities. But travelling in Malawi refreshed another belief, too: one I've been trying to banish all my life, but an observation I've been unable to avoid since my African childhood. It confounds my ideological beliefs, stubbornly refuses to fit my world view, and has embarrassed my growing belief that there is no God.
"Right now, the police and the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission are still trying to trace the blogger said to have insulted Prophet Muhammad. "We will come in once the culprit is found," he said.
Wan Mohamad also said there were bound to be "extremists" among religious followers or leaders in view of the country's multi-ethnicity. He also said they would not lodge any police report against the blogger as the matter was still being investigated by the police.
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarek's "emergency rule" is deep into its third decade, with modernizing son Gamal teed up as the pharaoh-in-waiting. While Gamal's efforts to open up Egypt's state-heavy economy have progressed nicely the past few years, so has Mubarek the Elder's repression of all political opponents, yielding the Arab world's most ardent impression of the Chinese model of development.
But with the global recession now reaching down deeply into emerging markets, serious cracks emerge in the Mubarek regime's facade. Unemployment is - unofficially - somewhere north of 30 percent. Worse, it's highly concentrated among youth, whose demographic bulge currently generates 800,000 new job seekers every year.
Ask young Egyptian men, as I did repeatedly on a trip, what their biggest worry is, and they'll tell you it's the inability to find a job that earns enough to enable marriage - a terrible sign in a society becoming more religiously conservative.
At 83, Hosni Mubarek is an unhealthy dictator who's achieved a stranglehold on virtually every aspect of Egyptian life, creating an immense undercurrent of popular resentment. While Washington focuses on Iran's reach for nukes and its upcoming presidential election, Egypt is more likely to be plunged into domestic political crisis on President-Elect Barack Obama's watch.
"Confessions over the telephone are forbidden, because there is a chance the telephones are monitored and the confessions will reach state security," the independent Al-Masri Al-Yom quoted Pope Shenuda III as saying.
Friday, December 26, 2008
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Mission News Network reports that while conversion from Islam is not a criminal offense in Morocco, new believers have endured social ostracism.
The 1992 constitution guarantees freedom of religion for all, but it designates Islam as the state religion. Missionary work is not allowed, but there are foreign workers in other roles seeking to share their faith.
According to Voice of the Martyrs Canada, any criticism of Islam is banned under the Penal Code and is punishable with up to five years in prison. Publications that could "threaten the fundamental institutional policies or religion of the kingdom" can also be banned.
Currently in North Africa, a team from IN Network is working to expand the correspondence course both in terms of numbers enrolled in the course and the Arabic countries into which it is sent. They are also concentrating more on church planting. Nationals are joining the ministry to handle this task.
Retreats are planned to gather believers together so they will have a chance to meet other Christians and have an encouraging time of fellowship and teaching.
IN Network also reports the Lord has opened another door for evangelism in Casablanca, the biggest city in Morocco. Plans are on track to open an evangelical center in 2009.
Pray for the right person who will take responsibility of the center as a worker of the Gospel. Pray, too, for those who are seeking Christ, that they will have the freedom to come to faith in Him without fear of punishment or harassment.
Hans-Gert Poettering, chairman of the parliament of the European Union, asked Arab governments to allow Christian Churches to be built in their countries. The Middle East Times reported about this. We praise Poettering for bringing this issue up. Let us be honest: the backwardness of the Arabs is rather staggering in this respect. We should not allow any mosque to be build in any country as long as all Arab countries do not accept this very basic element of religious freedom. Look at the backwardness of almost all Arab (and Muslim) countries.
Poettering said at the end of a tour of Oman, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia to discuss EU-Gulf relations that he had pressed the point of religious freedom in all his meetings.He pointed out that while he was able to attend a Roman Catholic mass during his stop in Muscat, he could not do the same in Saudi Arabia. As home to Islam's holiest sites Mecca and Medina, the latter maintains that it cannot allow the practice of other religions.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Ashoora is a time of deep spiritual significance for Muslim, especially Shi’a, people. The purpose of this document [see HERE] is to help you meaningfully discuss Ashoora with your Shi’a friend, so you may both grow in appreciation of each other’s faith. The method is to outline some of the similarities between the Shi’a view of Ashoora and the Christian view of Easter.Thanks for this and continue a steady flow of helpful articles like this to us!
Ask your Shi’a friend if you can go to an Ashoora event with him. It is quite a powerful experience and you will have much to discuss ... etc.
A Saudi company has funded a campaign highlighting the abuse of foreign domestic workers.The television advert has been shown on Saudi-owned satellite channels and ends with the slogan: "He who has no mercy, will have no mercy from God".
BBC shows the video on its website HERE.
You'll also find more on this issue of the situation of the 1.5 million domestic workers in Saudi Arabia. Most Saudi media refused to accept ads against the abuse of maids, as they believe the situation is exaggerated.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Dr Abdul Hamid al-Ansari, former dean of the Shariah and Law faculty at Qatar University, has dismissed the apostasy law, which states that a Muslim who rejects Islam must be killed, as a “political weapon used during the first century against opposition figures and currently used against writers, intellectuals and journalists”. He said that many Muslims renounced Islam during the life of Prophet Muhammad, but he did not kill them.
“Even those apostates who were ordered to be killed by Prophet Muhammad were punished for the crimes which they committed against Muslims or for joining the camp of enemies to fight Muslims rather than for apostasy. The Holy Qur’an believes in religious plurality. The penalty of killing apostates itself is not mentioned at all in Qur’an. Apostates in Islam have been only warned of a punishment in the hereafter and not in this world. There are some 200 verses in the Qur’an affirming the freedom of belief.”
“The inauguration of the first church in Qatar has been faced with waves of hatred. We have to admit that national minorities in our communities are subjected to many nuisance when it comes to their religious rituals. More on his opinions HERE in the GULF TIMES
Arabs and Iranians should sit together to try to resolve regional disputes, including the Persian nation's nuclear ambitions, the head of the Arab League said Tuesday. The International Herald Tribune reports:
Amr Moussa's statement is the first by a top Arab official calling for a regional dialogue with Iran at a time of increasing tension between Arab countries and Tehran. Many, mostly Sunni Arab nations are worried about the majority Shiite Iran's gaining power in the region, particularly its influence over Iraq, Lebanon's militant Shiite Hezbollah group and the militant Palestinian Hamas.
"Time has come for an Arab-Iranian dialogue which should include all issues," Moussa told reporters. "We have differences and problems but these can be solved because Iran is an important country."
Moussa warned that Arabs should not let the Iranians and foreign powers decide the "fate of the region" — a reference to U.S. efforts and those of Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany to resolve Iran's controversial nuclear program — without an Arab say. The six countries have offered Iran a package of incentives in return for suspending its uranium enrichment program. The West fears Iran's enrichment masks a quest for nuclear arms, a claim Tehran denies, insisting it's for energy production only.
"It is not their right to talk about the region's issues without everybody present," said Moussa.
Moussa said the dialogue should have a "regional system" in the future. He was likely referring to a recent proposal by Bahrain's Foreign Minister Sheik Khalid Bin Ahmed al-Khalifa to create a regional organization that would include all Arab countries, Turkey, Iran and Israel. The Bahraini minister has said the proposal was submitted to the Arab League.
Earlier this month, representatives from several Arab countries, mostly U.S. allies, met in New York with foreign ministers of the six international powers to discuss Iran's nuclear ambitions. But some Sunni powerhouses in the region, such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia, have maintained that talks should come only after the overwhelmingly Shiite Iran stops what they claim is Tehran's interfering in internal affairs of Arab countries.
They accuse Iran of helping Iraqi Shiites gain power over the Sunni minority in Iraq, and also backing Hezbollah and Hamas.
Meanwhile, Iranian officials and state-run media have stepped up their criticism of a Saudi-backed Arab peace initiative with Israel. Iran rejects any peace with the Jewish state.
As a result of these tensions, diplomatic contacts between Iran and many Arab countries have been very limited.
Monday, December 22, 2008
Egyptian novelist and scholar Youssef Ziedan, a Muslim, has angered the Egyptian Coptic Church with his best-selling novel Azazeel, the story of a 5th-century Egyptian-born monk who witnesses early Christian disputes. "The Egyptian Coptic Church imagined for years that the centuries that preceded the arrival of Islam (in 640 AD) are a history private to the Coptic Church, and I cannot accept that, and I see no meaning or logic to it," he said. Sure, any Muslim should study all part of his country's history; it is not strange that Zeidan has an interest in pre-Islamic history.
In his novel the monk Hypa watches a Christian mob lynch the pagan Greek scholar Hypatia in Alexandria in 415 AD. He later plays a minor part in the conflict between St Cyril of Alexandria and the Syrian-born theologian Nestorius over whether the Virgin Mary gave birth to God or to Christ.The modern Coptic Church, followed by up to 10 percent of Egyptians, counts St Cyril one of its most illustrious fathers, and is extremely displeased by the violent character Zeidan ascribed to St Cyril.
Zeidan, who calls himself a religious liberal, said he did not deny the importance of St Cyril in Christian history, 'but he was violent and his thinking was violent. Now the fathers of the contemporary church say he was innocent of the blood of Hypatia. Okay, but look at his language in the Letter of Anathema with which he replied to Nestorius," he said.
He defended his interest in Christian theology on the grounds that it is part of a shared heritage."I believe that this heritage is connected. I will not understand the Islamic heritage unless I go back to the Christian period," he said. "So in this respect I should not be counted as Christian or Muslim, but as someone who thinks and tries to interpret the reality he is in."
Daniel Pipes gathered some good information on efforts by the Russian Orthodox and the Roman Catholic Church to convince Saudi Arabia that it should allow churches on its soil. This interest in the theme is triggered by 'the impolitic Russians [who] demand a church in the forbidden city of Mecca, Paul Goble explains in "A Saudi Mosque in Moscow in Exchange for a Russian Church in Mecca?"
The story begins with a Muslim population in Moscow estimated as many as 2.5 million but a mere four mosques – no more than at the end of Soviet times, when Muslims were many fewer. In response, on Nov. 20, Rushan Abbyasov, the head of the international department of the Union of Muftis of Russia (SMR) announced that, "if the Russian authorities will offer" an appropriate site, Saudi King Abdullah would finance a mosque and Islamic cultural center in Moscow.
Goble reports that while local Muslims "were delighted by the offer and the attention from abroad it suggests, … many non-Muslim Russians were horrified that another mosque might be opened in their capital." In particular, three Russian Orthodox groups (the Moscow section of the Union of Orthodox Citizens, the Radonezh Society, and the Byzantine Club) released an open letter to Abdullah suggesting conditions for Moscow's fifth mosque:
- As the Saudi government "is building mosques in dozens of Christian countries," it should give permission for Christians to build a church within Saudi borders.
- It is "very important" to lift restrictions against Christians visiting Mecca and Medina.
- Christian visitors to Saudi Arabia should be allowed to wear crosses.
- Courses about Christianity in general and Russian Orthodoxy in particular should be taught in schools.
- In exchange for the Saudis broadcasting television programs on Islam to the Russian Federation, "it would be just" to offer Saudi subjects "the opportunity to watch Russian Orthodox channels." This would, they note, help Muslims learn that "Christians don't believe in three gods, don't distort the Bible and don't pray to idols."
Individual Russian commentators were yet more outspoken. Arkady Maler, an author on cultural issues, urged rejection of the king's funds not just for reasons of reciprocity but also some Russian jurisdictions have declared Wahhabism illegal. Dmitry Volodikhin, a Russian nationalist writer, suggested that Moscow needs to restore Russian churches for Orthodox Christians before it permitting new mosques.
Muslim leaders tended to lie low during this dust-up, but Nafigulla Ashirov, head of the Muslim Spiritual Directorate of the Asiatic Portion of Russia commented that the each country's laws should determine what the followers of each faith can do. Building mosques in Russia, in other words, has nothing to do with opening churches in Saudi Arabia.
Comment: Under Benedict XVI, the Catholic Church's policy of reciprocity toward Islam finds some of its leading figures calling for churches in Saudi Arabia:
- Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, the Vatican equivalent of foreign minister, in 2003: "Just as Muslims can build their houses of prayer anywhere in the world, the faithful of other religions should be able to do so as well."
- Cardinal Karl Lehmann, head of the German bishops' conference, demanded in 2007 that if Muslims can built mosques in Europe, he should be able to hold a mass in Saudi Arabia.
- Archbishop Paul-Mounged El-Hashem, papal nuncio to Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen: "Discussions are under way to allow the construction of churches in the kingdom."
Were the Russian Orthodox seriously to add its weight to the Catholic effort, it could pay off – not with a church in Mecca but perhaps with churches in those places where Christians live.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Thursday, December 18, 2008
After the Qur’an, al-Bukhari’s collection of hadiths (the acts and sayings of the prophet Muhammad) is considered the most sacred book in Islam; never before has any Muslim scholar who lives in the Arab world, thrown so much doubt – publicly - on the sources of Islam.
But Mr Jamal al-Banna (86 years old now) is used to being attacked by al-Azhar, and he says he does not care. He excludes six kinds of hadiths:
- Those that explain the Qur’an: the Qur’an can’t by explained by hadiths.
- Those that talk bad about women - like the one’s that call them equal to dogs and cows and to beat them up and so on.
- Those that forbid the freedom of religion and that threaten those who leave Islam.
- Those with extreme ideas for encouraging people into Islam and the ones threatening people wit physical violence.
- Those that talk about Muhammad’s miracles.
- Some others of which he thinks that the story is not true at all.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
In Tunisia, 21 reformists have been sentenced to four to 10 years in prison.
In Syria, 12 members of the Damascus Declaration have been sentenced to two and a half years. In Egypt, four months ago, an administrative court handed down a two-year sentence to democracy advocate Saad Eddin Ibrahim, in addition to the trial of a number of editors of independent newspapers. In Saudi Arabia, reformist Matruk Al-Faleh is still in prison since his arrest eight months ago. In Algeria, parliament has amended the constitution to allow President Abdel Aziz Bouteflika to enjoy eternal presidency. In Morocco, demonstrators demanding improved living conditions are suppressed.
The human rights situation in the Arab world is the worst; only overtaken by the African continent.
For his whole article, see HERE.
Twenty-Year Plan: Islam Targets America
When we immigrated from Jerusalem, Jordan* in January, 1967, little did I imagine that Islam would become center-stage in world news. As my sincere interest in the growth of Islam in America intensified, I began to discuss, dialogue, and then debate Muslim leaders throughout the world from an Arab Christian’s view of Islam. So far, I have had the privilege of participating in over 20 debates and discussions on every continent plus T.V. and radio. “Islam Revealed” was released in 1988 and is now in its 8th printing. The True Furqan is now in its third printing in the three years it has been published. It is the only book which challenges the Quran in substance, style, language and contents. “The True Furqan” can be located on http://www.answers-to-islam.net/ or http://www.islam-exposed.org/.
This is my analysis of the Islamic invasion of America, the agenda of Islamists and visible methods to take over America by the year 2020! Will Americans continue to sleep through this invasion as they did when we were attacked on 9/11?
- 1. Terminate America’s freedom of speech by replacing it with hate crime bills state-wide and nation-wide.
2. Wage a war of words using black leaders like Louis Farrakhan, Rev. Jesse Jackson and other visible religious personalities to promote Islam as the original African-American’s religion while Christianity is for the whites! Strange enough, no one tells the African-Americans that it was the Arab Muslims who captured them and sold them as slaves, neither the fact that in Arabic the word for black and slave is the same, “Abed.”
3. Engage the American public in dialogues, discussions, debates in colleges, universities, public libraries, radio, TV, churches and mosques on the virtues of Islam. Proclaim how it is historically another religion like Judaism and Christianity with the same monotheistic faith.
4. Nominate Muslim sympathizers to political office for favorable legislation to Islam and support potential sympathizers by block voting.
5. Take control of as much of Hollywood, the press, TV, radio and the internet by buying the corporations or a controlling stock.
6. Yield to the fear of imminent shut-off of the lifeblood of America - the black gold. America’s economy depends on oil, (1000 products are derived from oil), so does its personal and industrial transportation and manufacturing -41% comes from the Middle East.
7. Yell, “foul, out-of-context, personal interpretation, hate crime, Zionist, un- American, inaccurate interpretation of the Quran” anytime Islam is criticized or the Quran is analyzed in the public arena.
8. Encourage Muslims to penetrate the White House, specifically with Islamists who can articulate a marvelous and peaceful picture of Islam. Acquire government positions, get membership in local school boards. Train Muslims as medical doctors to dominate the medical field, research and pharmaceutical companies. Take over the computer industry. Establish Middle Eastern restaurants throughout the U.S. to connect planners of Islamization in a discreet way. Ever notice how numerous Muslim doctors in America are, when their countries need them more desperately than America?
9. Accelerate Islamic demographic growth via:
a. Massive immigration (100,000 annually since 1961)
b. No birth control whatsoever - every baby of Muslim parents is automatically a Muslim and cannot choose another religion later.
c. Muslim men must marry American women and Islamize them (10,000 annually). Then divorce them and remarry every five years - since one cannot have the Muslim legal permission to marry four at one time. This is a legal solution in America.
d. Convert angry, alienated black inmates and turn them into militants (so far 2000 released inmates have joined Al Qaida world-wide). Only a few have been captured in Afghanistan and on American soil. So far - sleeping cells!
10. Reading, writing, arithmetic and research through the American educational system, mosques and student centers (now 1500) should be sprinkled with dislike of Jews, evangelical Christians and democracy. There are 300 exclusively Muslim schools with loyalty to the Quran, not the U.S. Constitution.
11. Provide very sizeable monetary Muslim grants to colleges and universities in America to establish “Centers for Islamic studies” with Muslim directors to promote Islam in higher education institutions.
12. Let the entire world know through propaganda, speeches, seminars, local and national media that terrorists have hijacked Islam, not the truth, which is Islam hijacked the terrorists. Furthermore in January of 2002, Saudi Arabia’s Embassy in Washington mailed 4500 packets of the Quran, videos, promoting Islam to America’s high schools–free. They would never allow us to reciprocate.
13. Appeal to the historically compassionate and sensitive Americans for sympathy and tolerance towards the Muslims in America who are portrayed as mainly immigrants from oppressed countries.
14. Nullify America’s sense of security by manipulating the intelligence community with misinformation. Periodically terrorize Americans of impending attacks on bridges, tunnels, water supplies, airports, apartment buildings and malls. (We have experienced this too often since 9-11.)
15. Form riots and demonstrations in the prison system demanding Islamic Sharia as the way of life, not American’s justice system.
16. Open numerous charities throughout the U.S. but use the funds to support Islamic terrorism with American dollars.
17. Raise interest in Islam on America’s campuses by insisting that freshman take at least one course on Islam. Be sure that the writer is a bonafide American, Christian, scholarly and able to cover up the violence in the Quran and express the peaceful, spiritual and religious aspect only.
18. Unify the numerous Muslim lobbies in Washington, mosques, Islamic student centers, educational organizations, magazines and papers by internet and an annual convention to coordinate plans, propagate the faith and engender news in the media of their visibility.
19. Send intimidating messages and messengers to the outspoken individuals who are critical of Islam and seek to eliminate them by hook or crook.
20. Applaud Muslims as loyal citizens of the US by spotlighting their voting record as the highest percentage of all minority and ethic groups in America.
* Jerusalem was held by Jordan from 1948 when it attacked Israel until 1967, when it again attacked Israel.
Dr. Anis Shorrosh, D.Min, D.Phil, and a member of Oxford Society of Scholars, has traveled in 76 countries. He is a Palestinian Arab Christian American, who is an author, lecturer and producer of TV documentaries. He is author of the best-seller “Islam Revealed” and his tenth book - “Islam: A Threat or a Challenge.” - was published in the spring, 2003.
Egypt canceled a scheduled visit of an Iranian delegation to Cairo, further escalating a political row between the two nations. Egyptian Parliament Speaker Dr. Ahmad Fathi Surour announced the cancellation of an Iranian visit, which was supposed to be dedicated to the final preparations toward a scheduled conference of the Islamic Parliament's (IP) troika later this week.
The IP's troika is comprised of Egypt, which currently holds the parliament's chairmanship, Iran, where the IP headquarters are based, and Indonesia, which will head the next IP session. "The Iranian leader's hostile statements toward Egypt do not allow a serious preparation for conference," said Surour, according to the London-based daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat. MORE HERE.
Monday, December 15, 2008
I love this youtube site. Dr. Amari and Father Zakaria Botrous, well-known Christian experts on Islam and the Arabic Quran, are guests on a 60 minute TV program called Daring Questions, Episode 1, that can be seen in Arabic at http://www.islamexplained.com/. Brother Rachid is the host of this live, weekly TV program seen on four continents each week by millions of Muslims and Christians who speak Arabic. Many sincere Muslims discover things about Islam through these programs that they have never known before!
2) God’s Crucible: Islam and the Making of Europe, 570 to 1215, by David Levering Lewis.
John Derbyshire writes this book review: good reading! For the complete review see here.
Here are two very different history books covering some of the same territory: the early conquests of Islam. Hugh Kennedy's book is the more comprehensive and scholarly, with detailed accounts of all the Arab advances into Africa, Asia, and Europe up to the fall of the Umayyad dynasty in A.D. 750. David Levering Lewis writes mainly of Europe, though the Arab conquest of the Roman possessions in Africa and the Middle East is adequately covered. His subtitle notwithstanding, Lewis spends little time—only the last three of his 16 chapters—on events later than the 8th century, so that the chronological overlap between the two books is greater than their titles indicate.
It is a sad reflection on the current state of popular historical writing that one approaches any book about Islamic history with the question: what's the angle? Historians with a bill of goods to sell are of course nothing new. Gibbon's pro-classical, anti-Christian bias; Macaulay's Whiggism; Carlyle's heroes; the Marxists' modes of production; Spengler's declinism; Churchill's Anglo-Saxon triumphalism; it sometimes seems to the general reader that "dispassionate historian" is an oxymoron.
In the matter of Islam, though, matters have become more serious lately. Some part of this has been a reaction to the anti-Western tone of "post-colonial" propagandists like Edward Said. Much more has been driven by the notion, widely held since September 2001, that the West is engaged in a critical civilizational conflict with the Muslim world. Whether or not we truly are in such a conflict is a large question all by itself. (My opinion: no.) If you believe we are, though, you ought to take sides, and many scholars have done so.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Is it okay that as western Christians living the Arab World, we are a bit, just a tiny bit upset by Western politics re. Iraq? We must of course be very careful to not sound as if we do not agree with our beloved 'Christian' politicians of the Western world, because our churches back home may not appreciate our viewpoints. We must always take great care, avoid the issues (Israel/Palestine likewise!) and be true patriots. At the expense of speaking the truth. But the least we can do is rejoice in some critical voices back home... especially if the voices are coming from our own government.
An unpublished 513-page federal history of the American-led reconstruction of Iraq depicts an effort crippled before the invasion by Pentagon planners who were hostile to the idea of rebuilding a foreign country, and then molded into a $100 billion failure by bureaucratic turf wars, spiraling violence and ignorance of the basic elements of Iraqi society and infrastructure.
The history, the first official account of its kind, is circulating in draft form here and in Washington among a tight circle of technical reviewers, policy experts and senior officials. It also concludes that when the reconstruction began to lag — particularly in the critical area of rebuilding the Iraqi police and army — the Pentagon simply put out inflated measures of progress to cover up the failures.
In one passage, for example, former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell is quoted as saying that in the months after the 2003 invasion, the Defense Department “kept inventing numbers of Iraqi security forces — the number would jump 20,000 a week! ‘We now have 80,000, we now have 100,000, we now have 120,000.’ ”Mr. Powell’s assertion that the Pentagon inflated the number of competent Iraqi security forces is backed up by Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, the former commander of ground troops in Iraq, and L. Paul Bremer III, the top civilian administrator until an Iraqi government took over in June 2004. MORE IN THE NYT HERE.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
This statement of Mubarak comes at a times of rising tensions between Sunni's and Shiites in the Arab World. Egypt recalled the country's diplomatic envoy from the Iranian capital earlier this week following an increase in tension between the two countries. Recent strain between Cairo and Teheran has grown as several demonstrations in Iran called for the hanging of the Egyptian leader. The Iranian FARS news service reported that participants in recent student demonstrations outside the Egyptian diplomatic mission in Teheran also chanted "Death to Israel" and "Death to America" and burned an Israeli flag.
The next major battle over evolutionary theory is likely to occur not in the United States but in the Islamic world or in countries with large Muslim populations, because of rising levels of education and Internet access there, as well as the rising importance of biology, a scientist now says.
Like with Christians or Jews, there is no consensus or "official" opinion on evolution among Muslims. However, some of them say that the theory is a cultural threat that acts as a force in favor of atheism, says Hampshire College’s Salman Hameed in an essay in the Dec. 12 issue of the journal Science. This is the same beef that some Christians have with evolution.
However, a general respect for science in the Islamic world means scientists have an opportunity to counter anti-evolution efforts, including the "Atlas of Creation," a glossy 850-page color volume produced by Muslim creationist Adnan Oktar who goes by the name of Harun Yahya. Numerous university scientists and members of the media received copies of this book as an unsolicited gift in 2007. More HERE on LifeScience.
This is how the article begins:
The purpose of this document is to help you discuss Hajj with your Muslim friend. The method is to give an outline of some Hajj/Eid Al-Adha rituals, briefly explaining their spiritual significance for Muslims. Hajj is quite a detailed process and it is not possible to discuss every step. But for the main steps described, we will consider some ‘points of contact’ between Hajj and Christianity.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
I read that the Church quotes some verses of the Qur’aan to prove that ‘Eesa (peace be upon him) is the “son of God.” Their evidence is that when Allaah was alone He said, “Verily, I am Allaah! Laa ilaaha illa Ana (none has the right to be worshipped but I)” [Ta-Ha 20:14 – interpretation of the meaning], in the singular; but when He created ‘Eesa the style used in some verses changed to the plural, as in the verses (interpretation of the meaning): “Verily, We, it is We Who have sent down the Dhikr (i.e. the Qur’aan)” [al-Hijr 15:9] and “And certainly We! We it is Who give life, and cause death” [al-Hijr 15:23]. And they say, God is speaking in the plural, i.e., in the sense of “God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit”.Read his arguments further HERE
Good news in the Arab world usually translates as no news when it comes to the Western, especially American media, coverage, and the success of this year's Hajj is no exception. The greatest annual religious pilgrimage in the world set new records this year for the sheer number of pilgrims who performed it – more than 2 million in all. Improvements in security, construction, policing and infrastructure made this one of the smoothest-running Hajj's in recent years.
The success of the Hajj and the degree to which this was ignored, taken for granted and plain forgotten in the Western media may be taken as a metaphor for the extremely biased and selective reporting of our region.
So eh gentle men at Middle East Times, you think it is important to widely report that the hajj went well? My goodness, big deal. You want journalists to show that the Saudi's are able to organize something and for once there were no crowds killed in stampedes? 'My dear viewers, we have now watched half an hour of the shaving of the heads of 800,000 men, and we report that all is well. Back to the studio in Atlanta...' More in the Middle East Times HERE.
By the way, CNN as always did a great job in reporting many many boring hours of this. Please do not treat us to this non-news for days!
Watching with me on television the terror nightmare unfold in Mumbai over the past three days, my children have repeatedly asked me: "Who are these terrorists and why are they doing this?" Every time I wished I could offer them a convincing answer.
What could I tell them? For one, I was equally clueless why these individuals had taken over India's financial and cultural capital and were targeting people who had nothing to do with them and had done nothing to harm them. Second, I was too ashamed to tell them these individuals were ostensibly Muslims and came from a country that was created in the name of Islam.
A distraught friend who has devoted her life to speaking and fighting on behalf of Arabs and Muslims wrote a few days ago, "I've had it with the Arabs and Muslims and Islamic militancy. Forgive me, but I am throwing in the towel."
I couldn't write back to her but understood her pain. She grew up in Mumbai and is understandably upset.
Rami Khouri, Arab Media Watch adviser, director of the Issam Fares Institute at the American University of Beirut, editor-at-large of the Beirut-based Daily Star, and co-laureate of the 2006 Pax Christi International Peace Award, is critical of how President George W. Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice have 'tried their hand at real-time historical revisionism and plain old-fashioned political fantasy', by claiming that they leave the Middle East in better shape than it has been for decades.
Khouri is very harsh. I will not repeat all of his words. But he lists these events/idea/facts to show that the Arab World in a a worse shape that before:
1. The situation in Iraq is very delicate and violent, and is likely to remain so for years to come. Ethno-sectarian tensions in Iraq have been institutionalized, and have started to spill over into other countries (for instance, Shiite-Sunni tensions and occasional clashes in Lebanon are new, and a direct consequence of the Iraq war).
2. The precarious situation in Iraq could - if it deteriorates as the United States withdraws - spark trouble or active warfare with several neighboring countries, notably Turkey, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Iran.
3. Iran's influence in the region is far greater now than it was in 2001, due in large part to the Iraq war adventure.
4. Iranian relations with the United States and major Western powers have deteriorated badly, while the American-led strategy of confronting Iranian nuclear ambitions with sanctions and threats has failed. Iran has advanced rapidly in its nuclear enrichment industry, and this has generated new tensions with some Arab governments and Israel.
5. Major Arab allies of the United States - such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan - are in more precarious condition now than they were eight years ago. They find themselves uncomfortably perched between their own reliance on US support and protection, and their people's growing anti-American sentiments, and also between their fears of Iran and their people's cheering on of Iran's defiance of Israel and the United States.
6. The hysterical American over-reaction to 9/11 - a combination of warfare and aggressive ideological exhortations and pressures for freedom and democracy - has neither promoted democracy nor reduced terrorism. In fact it may have achieved the opposite: Terrorism is a continuing and expanding problem in the Arab-Asian region that has been exacerbated in part by on-the-job terror training and recruitment in Iraq; meanwhile, Arab allies in the US "global war on terror" have strangled and silenced the few nascent liberal or democratic openings that existed in the Arab world eight years ago. Indigenous Arab democrats are an extinct species for the moment, partly due to their association with Washington's deadly policies.
7. Worse than this perhaps is the damage done to the United States' own standing in the Middle East, where Washington is deeply marginalized, and is neither feared nor respected - an astounding situation for a country of such immense global power, vital national interests in the region, and natural allies in the hundreds of millions of Middle Easterners who gravitate to its historical principles of justice, equality, freedom, democracy and opportunity.
8. Every internal or local political battle the United States has entered - such as in Lebanon, Palestine, Somalia - it has lost, and its enemies have been strengthened.
9. This has bolstered the broad regional alliance of forces that is headed by Iran, Syria, Hizbullah and Hamas, and that gravitates heavily - perhaps primarily - around resistance to American-Israeli policies.
10. Political violence that had once been episodic and locally anchored is now chronic and often inter-linked throughout the region, in part as a response to the actual or threatened use of force by the United States all over the Middle East and South Asia.
11. The Arab-Israeli conflict remains beyond resolution for the moment, partly due to the United States heavily siding with Israel and refusing to deal with Hamas, which is now entrenched in its own little mini-state that it will not easily give up.
That was one of the most provocative questions raised this morning at the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life’s annual seminar in Key West where about two dozen media and think-tankers have gathered for seminars today and Tuesday.
Vali Nasr, an adjunct senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, made the startling-to-many assertion that the Persian Gulf is the new center of the world’s critical power struggle and that the Levant (the Middle-Eastern, Arab-based region) is a surrogate for the larger battle.
He sees in the post-Saddam, post Iraq-invasion world a “palpable, significant and irreversible shift” in the balance of power toward the rise of the Shia, a sect centered in Persian Iran that was once “invisible to us.”
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Qaddomi told Yemen Times that “democracy in the Arab world does not exist because of the totalitarian political regimes and absolute monarchies.” He said democracy does not mean election only and that democracy is practiced in Lebanon and Palestine where people have the right to express their own views and the newspapers can criticize.
He observed that newspapers in other countries just praise the rulers who are far away even from self-criticism, adding that these countries have nice constitutions but they are not followed and that these regimes are concerned with how they can control the people, mainly through the intelligence offices which are “watching the people rather than the enemies of these countries.” He said that the only way to get rid of these dictatorships is not by ousting them by the U.S. like Saddam but through the continuous struggle of the people ,which will of course need time. MORE HERE IN THE YEMEN TIMES.
Monday, December 8, 2008
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Friday, December 5, 2008
My time in Egypt's notorious Mazra Tora prison gave me the opportunity to finally study Islam myself from its primary Arabic sources. I also had the opportunity to debate with some of Egypt's most well-known convicted terrorists, such as the surviving assassins of late Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and the founders of al-Gama'a al-Islamiyyah – formerly Egypt's largest terrorist group. I also had access to imprisoned liberals such as the runner-up in the Egyptian Presidential election Ayman Noor, and the then imprisoned Sociology Professor Saad el-Din Ibrahim. My adoption by Amnesty International as a 'prisoner of conscience', and in particular the tireless efforts of one Amnesty activist – John Cornwall – served to open my heart to non-Muslims again for the first time in 10 years. My mind, however, would still not follow without rigorous investigation. After four years of daily debate and organised studying with the whole spectrum of reformed political prisoners I gradually came to the realisation, subconsciously at first, that what I had thought was Islam, was in fact a modern political ideology masquerading as the ancient faith of Islam. Islamists had taken modern day political paradigms and superimposed them onto religion. I now refer to this ideology as Islamism, so as to distinguish it from Islam the faith.
In this report the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) finds that the status of human rights in the Arab region in 2008 has increasingly worsened. Attacks on the limited public and political liberties that exist have escalated in most countries in the region. For more, read HERE.
Let me take this opportunity to address the leader of Europe, and the leader of America, who is the leader of the world, the recently-elected Obama, who is the leader of the Byzantines – he is like the Byzantine leaders in the days of Prophet Muhammad.
My message to him is three-fold. First, I invite him to convert to Islam. This is the call of the Prophet and of Allah. Oh Obama – convert to Islam, and you will be saved. I hope that Allah will reward you twice: Once for converting to Islam, and another reward for all those who will convert in your footsteps. If you want glory – you will find it in Islam. If you want honor – you will find it in Islam. In religions other than Islam there is utter humiliation, even if you are the president of the entire world. [...]
You, Obama, are among those who have pledged before Allah – Allah who created you, sustained you, and brought you to this position – to be a Muslim who believes that Allah is the one God, especially since you have some kind of roots in Islam. Convert to Islam, and you will be saved. All glory and honor lie in following Allah and His messenger Muhammad. Know that the true religion is the religion of Islam, and all other religions are fabricated religions, which are null and void – religions that were abrogated by the shari’a of Muhammad.
If you refuse to return to your [Islamic] origins, to the way Allah created you, withdraw your huge armies and military bases from the lands of the Muslims. Know that all your predecessors have ended up in the garbage bin of history, and that America’s black and bleak history in the land of the Muslims and the Arabs constitutes an evil omen for you, your predecessors, and your successors. Know, Obama, that America, with all its size and might, will know no peace, as long as a single Muslim child lacks food, drink, medicine, or housing. If you refuse, Obama, and insist on remaining in Muslim lands, know that Allah still plants in [Muslims] obedience to Him, and they are willing to wait for Paradise, which is closer than their own shoelaces.
Know, Obama, that in the lands of Islam, there are people who seek death, and are eager for it, even more than you and your people are eager for life – any kind of life, even a life of humiliation.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
This is some advice I came across: how muslim women can do Da'wa. Goodness, where did they learn all this?
If you’ve always wanted to be a Da’iyah; to invite people to the Truth, but felt you don’t have time, then you better take a fresh look at Da’wah! Check out these 10 ideas and make your home a Da’wah hub.
1. Bake a cake for your neighbours
It’s amazing what effect reaching out to our neighbours can have. A simple gesture such as baking a cake for them can really change their perception of Islam and Muslims. It is those little day-to-day interactions that make people think twice about how Islam is often portrayed in the media.
The Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “O Muslim Women, do not think that any gift is too insignificant to give to a neighbour, even if it is only a sheep’s foot”.
For the next 9 advices, go HERE.
One of Colin Powell's best moves as Secretary of State was to pull out of the 2001 United Nations Durban confab against racism once it became an anti-Semitic rant. One of the best moves the new U.S. administration and Europe could make is to stay away from the follow-up meeting altogether.
"Durban II," planned for April in Geneva, promises to be an encore of the same old Israel-bashing. The draft declaration says Israel's policy toward the Palestinians amounts to no less than "a new kind of apartheid, a crime against humanity, a form of genocide and a serious threat to international peace and security." We'll spare you the rest of the diatribe.
Israel will be the conference's main object of obsession, but it's not the only target. The draft declaration also goes after the West's freedom of speech and antiterror laws under the guise of protecting religion -- read: Islam -- from "defamation."
More on this issue here in the Wall Street Journal.
Carter said Wednesday night that "We Can Bring Peace to the Holy Land" will be published in January, just after the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama.
"I was going to call it, 'Yes, We Can.' My wife talked me out of it," Carter joked toward the end of a panel discussion on human rights at The Carter Center. He offered no further details on the new text, to be published by Simon & Schuster.
As president, Carter brokered peace between Israel and Egypt. But Jewish groups and some fellow Democrats strongly objected to his book published two years ago because it compared Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories with former racial oppression in South Africa.
The poll, published by the independent daily Liberte, showed that 49.5 percent of Algerian men aged 15 to 34 wanted to immigrate illegally in countries such as Britain.
Half of these said they were "certain" they'd try to leave. The second half said it was "likely" they would attempt to reach Europe, despite the risks linked to crossing the Mediterranean Sea in a flimsy boat.
Read the rest of this article on International Herald Tribune.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Created by Teshkeel Media Group CEO Dr. Naif Al-Mutawa, The 99 hit comic stores in 2006 and has been popular with Muslim readers, though some disapprove of the blending of Islamic culture and religion with superhero lore. Teshkeel is building the first of five planed theme parks around the property and plans to open it in Kuwait in 2009.
The heroes are ordinary teenagers and adults from across the globe, who have come into possession of one of the 99 mystical Noor Stones that grant specific powers that work in unison with others to resolve conflicts. The series aims to promote values such as cooperation and unity throughout the Islamic world, while also reaching out to a wider audience with universal values. The animation will be produced in India, with post-production being completed in the U.K. Endemol Intl. will exercise worldwide rights across all platforms.