Why Islam Overtaking Christianity is Good for Christians

14359962849_1440794a9b_cApparently, Pew Research projects that Islam will overtake Christianity as the world’s largest religion by the year 2070.  This projection is based mainly on birth rates – Muslim women have more children than other religious groups, at 3.1 per woman for Muslims versus 2.3 for others.  In addition, the average age for Muslims is seven years younger – 23 – than other religious groups.

Naturally, many American Christians, especially conservative-evangelical types, are terrified.  Many already hold persecution complexes, and this knowledge seems to vindicate their xenophobic fear that “they” are taking over (even though by the time Islam becomes the world’s largest religion, Muslims will still only make up about 2% of the US population).

Reactionary violence aside (and no matter what happens, reactionary Christians gonna react), this impending de-throning of Christianity as the world’s largest religion is the best thing to happen to Christianity since the Reformation.  Finally, at long last, Christians will have to wake up.

No more can we rest on our laurels, assured that we’ve somehow “won” the game of religion.  No longer can Christian spiritual arrogance and chauvinism stand when Christians are a minority.

It will no longer be enough that we have converted the most people, or hoarded the most wealth.  Churches will no longer be able to fall back on the argumentum ad populum.

FULL ARITLCE FROM PATHEOS

On Islam, Christianity, and Violence

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It appears that Steve Bannon believes Islamic values are antithetical to almost everything that’s American and even that Islam today is essentially violent. At the same time, college students in my Introduction to Religion are certainly aware of the slogan that “Islam is peace.” Therefore it cannot be associated with disagreement and certainly not violence in any way. (One might just as easily quip that Christianity centers on “Jesus, the Prince of Peace,” and with that, we can be done with the history of violence in the name of Christ.)

To my mind, worst of all is the idea that “my religion” isn’t violent—and when it is, it’s not my religion. (And conversely, “your religion” is always violent.) Even the great Christian thinker Blaise Pascal realized that this is a phony rejoinder (the “No a True Scotsman” defense) and commented scathingly,

“Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.” Pascal

(If this topic doesn’t seem important question, can I remind you that this week Trump signed a revised travel ban, targeting Muslim-majority nations?)

Actually, none of these actually describes us what Muslims and Christians are doing today, or have done throughout the years. At the center of this controversy over religious violence lurks the human tendency toward oversimplifications, especially what is one of the most difficult realities to figure out: human nature… especially when fueled by religious devotion.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE HUFFINGTON POST 

National ‘Meet a Muslim Day’ aimed at building acceptance

sjm-meetmuslim-0312-01SAN JOSE — With signs that read “Ask me anything” and “Meet a Muslim,” dozens of young Muslim men and boys in the Bay Area and beyond stood in public places Saturday in hopes of combating Islamophobia simply by talking with people.

The first “Meet a Muslim Day” was held in at least 50 cities and 120 locations nationwide. In the Bay Area, Muslims participated in San Jose, Antioch, Mountain View, San Francisco, Pleasanton, Berkeley and  Pleasant Hill. The event was organized by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association USA, a Maryland-based group that works with an estimated 5,000 Muslim boys and men spread across 70 chapters nationwide.

It was something Iftikhar Khan had never done in his life. The 38-year-old San Jose resident brought his son, Rizwan, 10, and neighbor, Raees Qadir,14. The trio stood on Paseo de San Antonio near the Fairmont Hotel downtown.

“A large percentage of America has never met a Muslim before. And the perception of Muslims is that we’re violent and dangerous — and people are afraid of us,” Iftikhar Khan said. “It’s not surprising, to be honest, that people have that perception because there is a lot of violence in the world, and a lot of it is perpetuated by Muslims. But the vast, vast majority of the 1.6 billion Muslims in the world are peaceful. Our religion means peace. Literally, the word Islam means peace.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM MERCURY NEWS

I’m a Christian and an Interfaith Educator. America Needs Islam.

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Elizabeth is a Presbyterian-Quaker serving as Interfaith Engagement Fellow at Davidson College in North Carolina. 

 

I am a Christian who was raised, and now choose, to profess Christ as Lord and Savior. I was born into a white middle-class family in suburban Maryland. I was part of the majority of Americans who received little education on Islam. I didn’t know that, in addition to sharing a common humanity, we also shared core teachings of our faith. It was not until I left home, at age 17 that I even met anyone who identified as Muslim.

Now I work at Davidson College in the Chaplain’s Office, as an interfaith educator. My job includes supporting students who live faithfully according to the practice and teachings of Islam. Every day, I find that students who identify as Muslim teach me to be a better Christian and a better citizen.

Islam deeply values humility. The Arabic word Muslim means “one who submits [to God].” Submission takes many forms, including daily time for prayer and bowing oneself before God, offering hospitality to one’s family and neighbors, and cherishing peace. I learn from practitioners of Islam the teaching of Jesus that “those who humble themselves will be exalted,” for they place God before all else (Matthew 23:12). Without humility, we destroy our own social fabric.

FULL ARTICLE FROM SOJOURNER’S MAGAZINE 

 

 

Islam in America

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Lynsey Addario made a name for herself photographing conflict in the Muslim world: women living under Taliban rule in pre-9/11 Afghanistan; the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; the civil war in Libya; the genocide in Darfur; the ongoing refugee crisis. Some of those images earned her a MacArthur “genius grant” and a share in a Pulitzer Prize, and her experiences—she’s been kidnapped twice, in Iraq and in Libya—gave her plenty of fodder for a recent memoir (soon to be a movie directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Jennifer Lawrence).

Lately, though, the Norwalk, Connecticut–born, London-based photographer, who has lived abroad for years, has been more and more interested in training her lens on her own country. “It’s a very important time to be working in America,” she says. “We see this rise in hate. People seem to be governing by fear. In my time abroad, I’ve realized that so many people look to America for guidance, to be the country to fall back on. People are confused about what’s going on.”

When Vogue sent Addario to the Baltimore area to follow a handful of American Muslim women for a week, photographing their daily routines, it was early January: Donald Trump had been elected but not inaugurated; the Islamophobic rhetoric of his campaign was fresh in people’s minds, but his outrageous, ill-conceived “Muslim ban,” and the wave of protests that it sparked, were not yet a reality. There’s a sense, looking at these images, of the calm before the storm.

There’s also a sense of how individually each woman wears her faith. “We’re not a monolith,” says Zainab Chaudry, a Baltimore-born Muslim of Pakistani descent and a spokeswoman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations. “There’s this idea that we’re all cookie-cutter versions of one another. The fact is, we come from very diverse backgrounds. We all have unique experiences that define who we are.”

If there’s one experience many share, it’s that of having their hijab misunderstood. In this country, Muslim women—many of whom choose to cover their heads—are often the most public, visible symbol of Islam. Their head scarves make them targets, not only for Islamophobes but also for misinformed non-Muslims, who see the practice as a marker of oppression. “I could probably write a book,” Chaudry says, laughing. “The condescending statements. The sympathetic looks. The Oh, you poor thing. It’s like: No, no, you’ve just never been inside a Muslim household. In many cases the woman is the one who calls the shots.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM VOGUE MAGAZINE

Islam Without Extremes: The Muslim Case for Liberty (video)

41ipldkfujl-_sx332_bo1204203200_“There is a tradition of Islam that actually values enterprise and free trade,” says Mustafa Akyol, a New York Times columnist and author of Islam Without Extremes: A Muslim Case for Liberty. “Islam was born as a very trade-friendly religion. Prophet Muhammad was a merchant himself.”

Akyol says the current state of affairs in the Islamic world can lead people to feel pessimistic about its future and the prospect of a free society. But “to extrapolate this out to all Muslims and to say ‘this is what Islam probably is,’ would be the biggest mistake,” Akyol says. “What Islam can be, and what Islam was in the past, is a different discussion.”

While the historical basis for compatibility with the West exists, there are still many challenges that face the Islamic world. Akyol says a change to Islam along the lines of the Protestant Reformation isn’t necessarily what’s needed. “What we need is the Enlightenment…not Luther, but John Locke.”

FULL ARTICLE AND VIDEO FROM REASON.COM

All of Islam Isn’t the Enemy

09thu2web-master675.jpgIs President Trump trying to make enemies of the entire Muslim world? That could well happen if he follows up his primitive ban on refugees and visa holders from seven Muslim nations with an order designating the Muslim Brotherhood — perhaps the most influential Islamist group in the Middle East — as a terrorist organization.

Such an order, now under consideration, would be seen by many Muslims as another attempt to vilify adherents of Islam. It appears to be part of a mission by the president and his closest advisers to heighten fears by promoting a dangerously exaggerated vision of an America under siege by what they call radical Islam.

The struggle against extremism is complex, and solutions must be tailored both to the facts and to an understanding of the likely consequences. Since 1997, the secretary of state has had the power to designate groups as foreign terrorist organizations, thus subjecting them, as well as people and businesses who deal with them, to sanctions, like freezing their assets. President Barack Obama resisted adding the Brotherhood to that list.

There are good reasons that the Brotherhood, with millions of members, doesn’t merit the terrorist designation. Rather than a single organization, it is a collection of groups and movements that can vary widely from country to country. While the Brotherhood calls for a society governed by Islamic law, it renounced violence decades ago, has supported elections and has become a political and social organization. Its branches often have tenuous connections to the original movement founded in Egypt in 1928.

Under State Department guidelines, the “terrorist” designation is intended to punish groups that carry out terrorist attacks. There’s no question that some such groups have grown out of the Muslim Brotherhood, like Hamas, the adversary of Israel, which the United States named a terrorist organization in 1997. Egypt’s president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, has worked to crush the Brotherhood in his country since he overthrew his predecessor, Mohamed Morsi, a former Brotherhood leader, in 2013. But there is no evidence that senior Brotherhood leaders ordered any violence or carried out any of the recent major terrorist attacks in Egypt, according to the analysts Michele Dunne and Nathan Brown of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES