Thursday, September 21, 2006

Sultanate of Oman on How Islam Spread

click HERE .

And just in case they decide to take the page down, here is the relevent portion :

"After God empowered Muslims to enter Mecca, Islam became the prevailing power and was spread by use of fear. This was particularly evident in the tribe of Quraysh, who had responded to the Prophet Muhammad’s new message of Islam with unrelenting persecution, eventually putting its resources in the service of the ever growing new religion. The Prophet then saw it preferable to contact neighbouring kings and rulers, including the two kings of Oman, Jaiffar and Abd, sons of Al Julanda, through peaceful means. History books tell us that the prophet had sent messages to the people of Oman, including a letter carried by military escort from Amr Inn Al Aas to Jaiffar and Abd, sons of Al Julanda, in which he wrote: ‘In the name of God the Merciful and the Compassionate, from Muhammad bin Abdullah to Jaiffar and Abd, sons of Al Julanda, peace be on those who choose the right path. Embrace Islam, and you shall be safe. I am God’s messenger to all humanity, here to alert all those alive that non believers are condemned. If you submit to Islam, you will remain kings, but if you abstain, your rule will be removed and my horses will enter your arena to prove my prophecy’. "

H/T Little Green Footballs

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Reflections on the Papal controversy

The movie put out by Mel Gibson two and a half year ago stimulated a lot of interfaith heat. And now, we have another interfaith controversy with the Pope himself at it’s epicentre.

When it comes to Jesus and/or Christianity we seem to be going from one fitful controversy to another – a bit like the proverbial birth pangs.

The earlier cartoon controversy and now this present one suggests to me that the person of Muhammad and what Muslims have made of him might be the greatest barrier to the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Let me explain why.

First, I find it highly significant that Muhammad has inserted himself directly into the Muslim creed which goes as follows: "There is no God but Allah and **Muhammad is his messenger**".

Second, the evidence from the Koran and the Hadith with respect to (among other things) the change in the direction of prayer from Jerusalem to Mecca and with respect to Allah's permission for Muhammad to have unlimited number of wives as against four for all other believers clearly indicates that Allah is very much a respecter of this person and even bends his own divine will to accommodate Muhammad's whims and wishes.

Therefore, wherever Islam becomes dominant via political, economic or military means it is not difficult to understand how the person of Muhammad then comes to function as an absolute show stopper on the preaching of the Gospel of the Son of God (Mark 1:1).

N.T. Wright has stated on a number of occasions in his writings that the gospel which the Apostle Paul preached was “Jesus is Lord and not Caesar. Isn’t that partly or even greatly why early Christians suffered so much under Rome?

Similarly, the message that needs to go out now is “Jesus is Lord and not Muhammad”. What the Pope did was clumsily and indirectly hint at the second part of this message without addressing the first:”Jesus is indeed Lord”. We need both clauses.

We need both clauses but this is becoming ever more difficult to express.

In fact i had blogged about this very point back when the cartoon controversy was upon us.

In our day we have the force of secularism in the West which is allied with political correctness. Misguided notions of tolerance are having a stifling effect on the preaching of Christ.

Will it be a force as strong as Islam in this regard?

Probably not.

Yet, despite areas of incompatibility it is still possible that Western secularism and Islam will find in this, the stifling of Christian preaching, their common ground and become united in more vigorous enmity against Christianity.

Have we not all heard the saying : "Politics makes strange bedfellows" ? It is true. The danger is real but I hope this does not happen.

UPDATE : Get Religion assures us that the English translation of the German utterances of the Pope should have been rendered as "bad and inhumane" as opposed to "evil and inhuman" which casts a slightly different shadow.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Quote of the Day

"Anyone who describes Islam as a religion as intolerant encourages violence,"

says Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Philippians 4:5

"Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near"

A few days ago I prayed to the Lord to help me understand this verse:

Why should our gentleness be "evident to all”? And what is the connection between this and with the immediately following phrase “the Lord is near”?

Last night, I was watching and my wife was half-watching a dramatisation on BBC about some folk who happened to be have been in the Twin Towers during the attack. At one point there spoke a fireman (Capt. Jay Jonas - he tells his story on YouTube as well) who with a colleague had been helping a lady come down the stairway.

First, he revealed that he happened upon this lady just as she had been having difficulty walking down the stairs because of injury or smoke inhalation. This was just after the other building had collapsed. So the fireman knew he needed to get out of this one in a hurry. But when he was asked why he didn’t just pass her by and that nobody would know he said “I would know”.

So here is a man with a conscience.

Then he said that as they were slowly making their way down and as the stress levels grew and grew, he started speaking softer and softer. He said he consciously trained himself to do this because he said that at times like these you don’t want to add to the tension by screaming down at people – hence ”let your gentleness be evident to all”.

But what is the connection with “the Lord is near”?

Well, it may or may not be like when it was with the Twin Towers on September 11 but it is the testimony of the New Testament that the second coming of the Lord is going to be accompanied by very stressful times indeed referred to as “times of tribulation”. So it seems that, like this firemen, our comportment during times of “tribulation” must of one of “gentleness”. It may not be an automatic kind of gentleness but one which is maintained with conscious effort like the effort this fireman put into speaking softer and softer as the tension grew and grew.

But why gentleness?

I suppose one reason might be to help those around us who are also waiting for the coming of the Lord to endure the “tribulations”.

It’s also a fruit of the Spirit and a character trait of the Lord Jesus himself which was especially evident in his earthly ministry.

And I suppose we should be more like him generally but especially as we wait to greet His coming again.

Here is how William Hendriksen in his commentary on this verse puts it:

“ The idea seems to be : since Christ’s coming is near, when all the promises made to God’s people will become realities, believers, in spite of being persecuted, can certainly afford to be mild and charitable in their relation to others”.

By the way, this fireman, the lady and the other fireman who was helping the first carry the woman all came out of the building AFTER it had collapsed around them.

Maybe this true story is a good model of how Christians are to go through and finally emerge out of “tribulation”.

Friday, September 08, 2006

The Jerusalem Declaration on Christian Zionism

"We affirm that Palestinians are one people, both Muslim and Christian. We reject all attempts to subvert and fragment their unity."

This is a rather odd statement for the heads of Christian Churches to make. It's not a Christian statement but a patently nationalistic one that opposes any seperate discussions of rights for Christian Arabs ; essentially the heads of the top four Christian churches in Israel just signed away their own parishioners who are being persecuted by the Arab Muslim authorities. It's not a statement being made by the heads of Christian Churches but by prominent Arabs who prioritize Arab nationalism over Christianity.

Source : Sultan Knish

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Did Israel give Lebanon full and fair warning of attacks ?

I keep a stack of old newsprint beside my bed to use to catch my whiskers when I trim my beard.

The other day, as I was tearing off the top few pages of newsprint for this purpose, I casually looked down and the article caught my eye. It happened to be the June 2nd edition of the Jewish Chronicle. The news report was written by Joseph Millis, Foreign Editor of the paper. It's on page 9 . As I quote from that article bear in mind that the Israeli onslaught on Lebanon did not happen until July 12th:

"Israel this week warned Lebanon that the country would pay a "heavy price" if it allowed Hezbollah to continue to operate from the south of the country. The warning-- issued by a top military commander -- came after Israel responded with air strikes to a Katyusha rocket attack across the border on Sunday. (...) One of the rockets hit an Israeli Air Force installation on Mount Meiron, near Safed. "We hope the message from our response [on Sunday] was understood correctly by the other side", Brigadier-General Gal Hirsch, the commander of the Galilee division, told reporters on Monday. (....) The fighting ended on Sunday afternoon after the Lebanese government requested via the UN a cease-fire with Israel. On Monday, senior officers revealed that prior to the Lebanese cease-fire request, Israel had threatened to bomb additional parts of Lebanon, including Beirut, and not just the southern part of the country controlled by Hezbollah. "We told them that we would expand our firing to other parts of the country", one senior officer told the Jerusalem Post. "they understood very well what we meant". Last Wednesday - the [sixth] anniversary [of Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon] - the pro-Syrian Lebanese President Emile Lahoud praised Hezbollah, saying it should "stay[ in place] until a just and comprehensive peace is achieved in the region". However, Lebanese Christian, Sunni Muslim and Druze groups were less enthusiastic about Hezbollah "Firing rockets from South Lebanon is a violation of Lebanese sovereignty," the anti-Syrian March 14 Forces executive committee said in a statement. "There is a serious security vacuum in the area due to the lack of the government's control." [The group's] leaders include include Sa'ad Hariri, the son of assassinated former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, and Walid Jumblatt, the Druze leader.