Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Richard Dawkins on Muslims and Nobel Prizes

Richard Dawkins is reported to have said:

"All the world’s Muslims have fewer Nobel Prizes than Trinity College, Cambridge."

Can this be true? I mean, not that he said it (I don't doubt it), but that the content of his statement is true?

Friday, July 25, 2014

A Baptismal Liturgy for Converts from Islam

Greetings, 

Here is part IV of my series on sacraments and mission, which I started many years ago for St Francis Magazine. This one contains an introduction summarizing why I think that liturgy is valuable for those engaged in mission to and among Muslims, and then contains a liturgy for baptism (of an adult) based on the Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church (USA), which yes is very liberal, but the liturgy in the Prayer Book  is very good.

So check it out, try it out if you are doing any work among Muslims, and let me know what you think.

'Mission and Sacrament, Part IV: A Liturgy for the Baptism of Muslims, to be Conducted on the Feast of Pentecost' in St Francis Magazine Vol 10:2, June 2014.

The first three articles can be found (in order) here, here, and here.

Peace,

Abu Daoud

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Why the rise of Extremism in the Middle East?

Why the rise of Extermism among Muslims in the Middle East?
by Abu Daoud

I was recently asked to comment on this topic, and here is what I wrote

There is a complex web of reasons, but I think overall here are the main reasons:

1. The failure to achieve success by copying European models, including capitalism and communism. Capitalism cannot work in the ME because it requires a) rule of law, and b) freedom to form new businesses and c) creativity to invent new products. All of these are lacking because of deeply ingrained traditions of favoring one's own religion or family or tribe. I do trace this back to Islam (a lot of people don't), where the dhimmi system forces people to discriminate against non-Muslims, and where the shari'a is clear that women are worth less than men, and of course the Arabo-centric facet of Islam, which more or less implies that God is an Arab, because his book is in Arabic and cannot be translated, and thus Arabs are (in reality, not in theory) better than non-Arabs. (This last reason is why lots of Berbers and Pakistanis and Iranians have left Islam, by the way.) 

2. Regarding creativity, I feel that Islam clearly suppresses it because when you cannot ask basic questions about God and his prophet and book, then at a basic level you are taught not to be critical and analytical. This then overflows from the area of religion into other areas like commerce and computer science and so on. I trace this back historically to the victory of asharites over the mu'atazila and the affirmation of bila kayf--that certain doctrines must be affirmed but without asking why. The doctrine of al insan al kamil (the ideal or perfect man) comes up here too, because a quick glance at Muhammad's life shows he is clearly not perfect.

3. A related, but minor, point: commerce was hindered in the Ottoman Empire because the formation of corporations was legally impossible. So there was no incentive to form large international businesses, because upon the owner's death it had to pass on to his sons, whether they were good or bad. This has been remedied, but centuries too late.

4. This rise of independent nation states and authoritarian governments. One of the most unfortunate aspects of society in the ME is the tendency to always blame others for any problem that takes place, rather than to try to address problems as far as on can. Anyway, with the end of European hegemony countries were formed and to a real degree free to govern themselves. It is true they were never entirely free to do as they please, but this does not matter--no country (or person) is entirely free to do as they please. So authoritarian governments arose and they did not prosper, at least not to the extent that some people thought they should. I too attribute this to the very DNA of Islam. When Muhammad died there was right away a great struggle between the Shi'a and the Sunni, and we also see this principle operating in the wars of apostasy or hurub al ridda. Historically one finds that Islamic societies over the long term alternate between authoritarian governments and anarchy/tribalism. The period of European colonialism artificially enforced Western practices of government and business that were foreign to Islam. And when Europe left, these traditions started to deteriorate. Authoritarian governments silenced public discourse, but they could not or would not silence the discourse of Islam, including Islamic reforms which we in the West call radicalism or extremism, but which are really just reformed Islam.

5. The problem of natural resources. Egypt's population in 1900 was about five million, today it is about 80 million. Many of the countries in the Middle East do not have the natural resources to feed their enormous populations. Right now Egypt imports over 50% of its wheat. That is an amazing number. This naturally results is large numbers of unemployed young men, many cannot get married because they don't have a job. With the reformed Islamic militant ideology (a more accurate term than fundamentalist, I think) present, the opportunity to be part of something new and good and powerful (like the Caliphate) is attractive. This is not so much a reason for the Islamic reformation (to radicalism) but is a key reason that right now it is easily able to get recruits. The Middle East has a demographic profile that makes economic prosperity almost impossible in many countries, coupled with the non-critical education (mentioned above) and the lack of rule of law

6. One often hears that the Arab-Israel problem is at the heart of the problems in the region. I think that even if all Israel-Palestine was again ruled by Muslims and the Jews who arrived by Aliyah were made to leave and then a lot of European and American Jews would leave voluntarily this would not solve anything at all.  Indeed, even if every Jew left and every Palestinian refugee returned and all those apartments in Tel Aviv and Haifa were given to them, it would not decisively change the dynamic described above. I do believe, as unpopular as it is to say so, that many of the problems we see in the ME today can be traced to the very heart of Islam--the life and practice of Muhammad.

More than you wanted to hear I think! Why do you ask? I liked the book Sandcastles: Arabs in search of the Modern World by Milton Viorst on this topic. They have it at the library at St George's College in Jerusalem. I still think that reading Qutb's Milestones is the best intro for people who want to know more. His writings are like those of Martin Luther, sometimes brilliant, sometimes with gaping holes of logic.

Monday, July 07, 2014

Emir Rishawi on the hypostatic union

Emir Rishawi, a convert from Islam, composed this fine reflection, directed at Muslims, trying to explain (I think) what Christians call the hypostatic union and the incarnation:
The mystery of Christ's person, as it seen through the New Testament, is epitomised in his relationship with God the Father. Christ is a man who is related to God through the heart of his message and the depth of his being. There is no difference between the person of Christ, the Word of God, and his message and being. His message is his being, and his being is his message. No one else could say the same, not even the prophets. Every man has his own being, and later he receives from God a message that is independent of his being. But with Jesus the message and the being are identical. His message is to reveal the will of God, manifest his love, and establish his kingdom.
This is from his book Light of Life which you can read online here.

Monday, June 30, 2014

"The sun of jihad has risen..." A new caliphate is born!

A letter written to Muslims around the word from the new Caliphate, just proclaimed!

“The sun of jihad has risen … The glad tidings of good are shining. Triumph looms on the horizon. The signs of victory have appeared. Here the flag of the Islamic State, the flag of tawhīd (monotheism), rises and flutters. Its shade covers land from Aleppo to Diyala.

"… So rush O Muslims and gather around your khalīfah [caliph], so that you may return as you once were for ages, kings of the earth and knights of war. Come so that you may be honored and esteemed, living as masters with dignity. Know that we fight over a religion that Allah promised to support. We fight for an ummah [global Muslim community] to which Allah has given honor, esteem, and leadership, promising it with empowerment and strength on the earth. Come O Muslims to your honor, to your victory. By Allah, if you disbelieve in democracy, secularism, nationalism, as well as all the other garbage and ideas from the west, and rush to your religion and creed, then by Allah, you will own the earth, and the east and west will submit to you. This is the promise of Allah to you. This is the promise of Allah to you."

Read it all HERE and thank you to TIME for a brief article on the topic.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Muhammad interpreting Jesus, according to Richard Croft

From a recent article in St Francis Magazine by Richard Croft:

If Muhammad were accepted as the last universal prophet or even if a last universal prophet is expected, then it would mean that the revelation that came through Muhammad has the authority to correct/reject the previous Scriptures and correct/reject Muhammad's perception of Jewish and Christian ‘false’ doctrines.
 
For example, he rejects the Trinity but understandably, as he conceives it as three gods–God, Jesus and Mary. He rejects Jesus as the ‘Son of God’ but then he understands it to mean that God had sexual intercourse with Mary, and Jesus is their biological son; rather than Jesus being the only one born out from God, the Word. He clearly struggles to understand and rejects Christ’s incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection; hence he has not understood the significance of the cross in his own life...
 
So what do you think? Is this an accurate assessment of how Muhammad interpreted Jesus?

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Pope Francis in Middle East: People mus be free to choose their own religion

Good news from the pope's recent visit to the Middle East:
During his first official visit to the Middle East, Pope Francis repeatedly told Muslim audiences that religious freedom is “a fundamental human right” and that governments must allow people to choose their own faith.
From HERE. Pray that freedom to convert from Islam to Christianity will triumph in the Middle East, and that people will disobey the Prophet of Islam who said that, 'whosoever changes his religion, slay him.'

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

William Kilpatrick on the human authorship of the Qur'an

I'm reading an interesting article by William Kilpatrick wherein he, among other things, presents an argument for the human authorship of the Qur'an. None of this is new to me but I thought the following point was argues nicely and in a concise manner:

The purely human origin of the Koran is further suggested by the very human defensiveness displayed by its author. He never tires of reminding his audience that the Koran is a genuine revelation, not a fake one. This obsessive concern with the Koran’s authenticity is exhibited on almost every page. Here is a small sampling:
This Koran could not have been devised by any but God. (10:37)
This is no invented tale, but a confirmation of previous scriptures…. (12:112)
This Book is beyond all doubt revealed by the Lord of the Universe… Do they say: “He has invented it himself”? (32:1-2)
When our clear revelations are recited to them they say… “this is nothing but an invented falsehood.” (34:43)
As I say, these assertions about the authenticity of the revelation appear over and over. Far more space is allotted to vouching for the genuine nature of the revelation than to telling what the revelation is. But what sort of author feels compelled to tell us ad nauseum that his word is not a human invention? It’s not likely that the Author of all Creation would be so insecure about what he had written. On the other hand, a man who had invented it all himself would have good reason to be defensive. Muhammad, however, also realized that the best defense is a good offense. Thus, as the Koran repeatedly reminds its readers, the surest path to hell is to doubt “Our revelations.”

Check it all out here. More articles by Kilpatrick can be found here.

Christians in UK offer safe-houses for converts from Islam

Here is some great news:

A CHRISTIAN campaign group is launching a national network of safe houses for Muslim converts who face ostracism or violent reprisals for leaving their religion.

It says it knows of up to 1,100 former Muslims at risk in Britain but the true number could be 3,000.

Andrea Williams, chief executive of Christian Concern, which is organising the network, said: “We are motivated by a deep sense of love and compassion for those that feel trapped in a situation from which they cannot escape.

“The penalty for them at best is to be cut off from their family; at worst they face death. This is happening not just in Sudan and Nigeria but in east London. The government has failed to deal with the rise in anti-Christian sentiment.”

News of the support network for converts comes in the wake of international outrage at Sudan for imposing a death sentence on Meriam Yehya Ibrahim, a pregnant Christian woman, for refusing to renounce her faith. Her estranged father was Muslim.

Michael Nazir-Ali, a former bishop of Rochester, said a “mistaken respect for culture” meant that British converts were not being protected.

From Nicholas Hellen at The Sunday Times and HT to David Virtue. God willing we will see similar moves in France and Italy and Germany, where they are much needed.