The antigovernment protests that erupted in Iran in the last days of 2017 showed that millions of Iranians are now disillusioned with the Islamic Republic. Moreover, there are signs that quite a few Iranians are now also disenchanted with Islam itself. Often silently and secretly, they are abandoning their faith. Some opt for other faiths, often Christianity.
This trend is being observed and reported, with understandable excitement, by Christian news sites. “Despite Regular Targeting and Imprisonment, Christianity in Iran Is Spreading,” the Iranian Christian news agency Mohabat News reported recently. The Christian Broadcasting Network, which transmits globally from Virginia, even declared, “Christianity is growing faster in the Islamic Republic of Iran than in any other country in the world.”
While a 2015 study by two researchers, Duane Alexander Miller of St. Mary’s University in San Antonio and Patrick Johnstone of WEC International in Singapore, estimated Iranian converts to Christianity from Islam from 1960 to 2010 at 100,000, it is hard to know the exact number. But the trend seems strong enough to worry Iran’s religious establishment — and make it turn to a solution it knows well: oppression.
The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom has reported that since 2010 more than 600 Christians in Iran have been arbitrarily detained. Iranian authorities have also raided services, threatened church members and imprisoned Christians, particularly evangelical Christian converts.
FULL ARTICLE FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES
Earlier this week, a federal judge in the United States dismissed charges against two doctors and six others involved in the genital mutilation of nine girls at a suburban Detroit clinic.
While many are disappointed the case had to be dropped because of state-federal complications, what outraged me the most was that the accused in this case claimed female genital mutilation (FGM) was a ‘religious’ act and that it should, therefore, be above the law.
As a young Muslim woman, I am tired of hearing about medieval and regressive social behaviour that supposedly has some kind of religious justification; especially when it concerns my faith of Islam.
Muslim women like me are caught between Islamophobes who condemn Islam and every Muslim for anything that moves – and our own medieval zealots who use Islam to justify practices like FGM, forced marriages and domestic violence.
It should be clear to all that FGM has absolutely no basis in any of the Abrahamic religions – and there is no mention of it in the Quran. In fact, we find quite the opposite: That the Quran strongly condemns ‘mutilating the fair creation of God’ as being something inspired by the Devil himself.
FULL ARTICLE FROM THE TORONTO SUN
The agony of Asia Bibi, a 54-year-old Roman Catholic and mother of five, shows there is something rotten in her country, Pakistan — and in the broader world of Islam.
She was arrested for blasphemy in 2009 after Muslim co-workers on a destitute farm denounced her for merely drinking from the same cup and, during the subsequent quarrel, for “insulting Prophet Muhammad” — a charge Ms. Bibi always denied. Yet she was convicted in 2010 and spent the next eight years in solitary confinement, on death row.
Luckily, Pakistan’s Supreme Court last month saved her from execution, clearing her of the charges and also setting her free. But Pakistan’s militant Islamists, especially those in the notorious Tehreek-e-Labbaik religious party, which is obsessed with punishing blasphemers, were enraged. They forced the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan to accept a court petition to reverse the case and bar Ms. Bibi from leaving the country. She and her family, fearing vigilante violence, went into hiding.
I am hoping that the traumatized family will be able to leave Pakistan safely, to find asylum in some free nation. As a Muslim, I feel ashamed of the cruelty they have suffered at the hands of people who act in the name of my faith.
FULL ARTICLE FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES
It started with our own curiosity. Every year at my church, St. Martin-in-the-Fields in central London, we have a fall lecture series. A parade of speakers, panels, and dialogues explores what we take to be the most pressing issues of our time. For the last few years, with series themes such as “Who is my neighbor?” and “Reformation,” we’ve felt the need to include a Muslim perspective. The great thing about inviting a speaker from a different social location is that it can draw in people who share that identity, and so we started to find a number of Muslims coming not just to the lectures given by a Muslim but to the other lectures as well.
And so it was that an invitation came for me to return the favor. A mosque in South London asked me to come and speak. We had decided our fall series theme for this year would be “Encounter,” and we had asked the usual pageant of distinguished speakers to come to St. Martin’s. But this year there was also something different: an opportunity to go to a mosque together and not just talk about an encounter but actually have one.
“It’s the mosque,” he replied.
“But it’s huge,” I gasped.
“Oh yes, it’s the largest mosque in Western Europe. They get 14,000 people here for Eid and several thousand every Friday.”
FULL ARTICLE FROM THE CHRISTIAN CENTURY
As Christmas approaches, devout Christians feel the need to reconnect with the places where Christ was born and raised, where he tried to spread his message, where he suffered and died. They are beguiled by trips offered by travel companies and Tourist Israel. The Holy Land includes modern day Israel, Palestine and western Jordan.
This business is booming. Do the virtuous seekers of spiritual healing know that they are going to some of the most disputed, heartbreakingly conflicted zones in the world today? Over the centuries, various holy land sites have been sacred to all three Abrahamic faiths – Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
Jewish believers believe these were promised to them by Abraham, and for Muslims, Jerusalem is where Prophet Mohammed was sent glorious dreams and despatches from Allah. For centuries the three faiths were able to coexist in peace. Not any longer.
The current Israeli government is exerting its dominance like never before. Bethlehem has been turned into a walled prison; last year Palestinians were denied entry into Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, one of Islam’s most revered sites. Benjamin Netanyahu’s voracious mission is now backed by Donald Trump and various fanatical US Christians, to the extent that the President moved the US embassy to Jerusalem, to show Muslim Arabs that they meant nothing to him or his government. The all-powerful Abrahamic God, it seems, has been colonised.
FULL ARTICLE FROM I NEWS
‘Greater jihad’ is personal, internal struggle to defeat ego, share a world of peace, harmony, love — King
AMMAN — His Majesty King Abdullah said that Islam is a religion of holistic vision, “not the cherry-picking of verses to suit a political agenda”, stressing that all 1.8 billion Muslims around the world are working to defend Islam against the “malignant sub-minority who abuse our religion”.
In his speech at a ceremony in Washington, DC, as he accepted the 2018 Templeton Prize on Wednesday, His Majesty underlined Jordan’s historic privilege as the land of prophets and its role in maintaining and defending their message of peace and goodness, according to a Royal Court statement.
His Majesty said that he accepts the award on behalf of all Jordanians, because all he is being honoured for “simply carries onward what Jordanians have always done”, and that is to live in mutual kindness, harmony and brotherhood.
FULL ARTICLE FROM THE JORDAN TIMES
In a story most Muslims believe to be authentic, the Prophet Muhammad stands up as a Jewish funeral procession goes by. His companions wonder why he shows such respect. “It is only a Jew,” they say. The Prophet replies, “Was he not a soul?”
I have mixed feelings about this story. I like its message: everyone has a soul and should be honored. But it bothers me, too; the need to remind us that even a Jew has a soul, and must be honored, leaves me uneasy.
In the early hours of Saturday, Oct. 27, when I first learned of the attack at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, I felt cold shivers. I worried the attacker was a Muslim. I suppose every minority reacts with similar insecurity, because we know how blame works.
Now we know the attacker was Robert Bowers, who is not Muslim. But probably random white men of Christian origin were not asked, as if they all shared blame, “What do you think about the attack on the Tree of Life synagogue?”
To be honest, my initial fear that the attacker might be Muslim wasn’t just an expression of an insecure minority but the result of what I know to be a real problem: the persistence of anti-Semitism in Muslim communities. Like many Muslims, I grew up with anti-Semitic attitudes, in my case in the Beyoglu neighborhood of Istanbul. I remember when, in 1986, only a few miles from my home, a terrorist killed 22 Jews at the Neve Shalom Synagogue during a Shabbat service.\
FULL ARTICLE FROM THE POSTBULLETIN