Obama: Terror, Not Islam, Is the Enemy

463794348After months of delays and weeks of internal and external discord surrounding the White House’s Summit on Countering Violent Extremism, President Barack Obama finally got to tell officials from more than 60 countries that terrorism, not Islam, is the enemy.

“We are not at war with Islam. We are at war with people who have perverted Islam,” Obama said Wednesday, the second day of the summit. He later called on Muslim leaders “to do more to discredit the notion that our nations are determined to suppress Islam.”

Obama’s sentiments were welcomed by the audience, which politely applauded throughout his speech. But they did little to overshadow the controversy surrounding the buildup to the summit or the fact that not much is expected from the three-day event.

The White House has taken heat from all sides in the run-up to the summit. Within the administration there was discord because the White House waited until Jan. 11 to tell the State Department it would be participating. Muslim leaders criticized the White House for focusing narrowly on threats from Islamists. Meanwhile, Republicans blasted the administration for approaching the threat too broadly and called on it to focus on threats from Muslim extremists.

FULL ARTICLE FROM FOREIGN POLICY 

A Letter Concerning Muslim Toleration

by Jan LuykenISTANBUL — Over the past decade, headlines from the Middle East have reintroduced Westerners to terms from centuries past. “Heresy,” “blasphemy,” “apostasy” — these are some of the charges that the radical Salafist group known as the Islamic State invokes when it executes its enemies, sometimes by crucifying or burning them alive.

Some Muslim governments, including United States allies, also mete out harsh punishments for similar offenses. The liberal blogger Raif Badawi was publicly flogged in Saudi Arabia last month on a charge of heresy, which he allegedly committed by criticizing the oppressive Saudi religious establishment.

Although there are contextual differences for these practices, as well as the sanctions for religious offenses in Iran, Sudan or Afghanistan, they all share one fundamental objective: Punishing people in the name of God.

A 2013 poll by the Pew Research Center showed that while not all of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims approve of this notion, a significant proportion of them do. Majorities in Egypt and Pakistan, for example, support the death penalty for Muslims who dare to abandon their religion.

Looking at this, some Westerners conclude that Islam is inherently more rigid than the creed that has defined their own civilization: Christianity. But they are forgetting that Christianity had its own, no less violent, history of punishing in the name of God. For centuries, churches burned people they thought were heretics at the stake or tortured them to purify their souls. The main difference with Islam is that Christianity gradually outgrew that age of religious persecution by grounding its theology in tolerance, reason and liberty.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES 

Reflecting on Christian Muslim Relations: Dr. Kenneth Cragg

In the years 1957 to 1962, the Near East Christian Council published a sequence of Study Papers under the title OPERATION REACH, of which there were five series, covering some fifty different, and basic, topics in Islam. The whole was intended as a venture in Christian understanding of Islamic belief and practice and as an aid to intelligent, expressive Christian ministry among Muslim neighbors.

This is the third in a series of reflections Dr. Cragg prepared on Islamic themes.  More will be added in weeks to come.

John Hubers, PhD

——————-

INTRODUCTION

kenneth-craggThe purpose of these studies, which it is hoped to continue from September, 1957 to June, 1958, is to provide material for intellectual and spiritual activity in the Churches and to serve them in their attitudes and duties towards Islam today. There is a very real relationship between a growing mind in Christ and a growing expressiveness towards Muslims.

 

THE QUR’AN ON ITSELF

“Alif, Lam, Mim” so run the first words when we turn out of the Fatihah into Surah ii of the Qur’an, “that Book wherein” as it goes on to say, “there is nothing dubious.” A fair number of other Surahs have these letters of the Arabic alphabet at their head and in four cases “Ta Ha” (Surah xx): “Ya Sin” (Surah xxxvi): Sad” (Surah xxxviii) and “Qaf” (Surah L) these letters provide the Surahs’ actual titles. “Ta Ha” has become familiar as a Muslim Arabic name.

The subject of much fascinating speculation, these letters will serve to provide a useful point of departure into the Quranic doctrine of the Qur’an itself, its status, form and authority. Some have conjectured, though without much conviction, that the letters derive from the initials of the owners or scribes of mss. or fragments on which the original deliverances of the Prophet were recorded. This is unlikely. In one case (that of Surah xix) the suggestion has been made that the five letters there appearing — “Kaf, ha, ya, ‘ain, sad” — have to do with the Christian I.R.N.I. “Jesus of Nazareth King of the Jews” since His birth is the main topic of this Surah.

But it would seem that we are on firmer ground if we suppose that the Arabic characters serve to remind the reader that the sacred book is “an Arabic Qur’an” (Surah xlii.5 and elsewhere). Here, so to speak, are the mystic symbols of language, the raw material out of which Divine literature is composed. Though recognisably Arabic on earth, they stand for that heavenly tongue of which the pre-existent Qur’an is indited.  For letters are potentially words and meanings: in their order and their sequence they convey sense and serve apprehension. Thus God vouchsafes through His Prophet and in His Book the meanings of His Divine Will. The letters thus become “signs” of the revelation from above, portents, sureties, guarantees of significance. Just as the eye seeing hieroglyphics at once assumes that sense is intended and meaning is accessible, so the reader of the Qur’an sees the tokens of a Divine intention to speak and to do so in literal form.

THE QURAN ON ITSELF

Yes, There Are Christian Terrorists

1424000718762.cachedThe anti-Muslim militias in the Central African Republic may not get the same attention as ISIS, but let’s not forget that people are still doing awful things in the name of Christianity.
“There are still nine Christians here. We will capture them. We will kill them. When we finish here, we will go to the next village and kill the Christians there, too.”

If an ISIS leader made a statement like this publicly, Fox News would probably cut into their programming bring you a special report about the Muslims’ “religious war” against Christians. Mainstream media outlets would most likely cover it as well.

But that statement was indeed uttered in 2014. Except there was one simple word difference: “Christian” was replaced with “Muslim.” That is exactly what a Christian terrorist said about his militia’s plan to exterminate the remaining nine Muslims in a village in Central Africa Republic (CAR). But, of course, stuff like that doesn’t really make news here in our country.

Or did you hear about the Christian militant who publicly beheaded a Muslim man in the streets of the CAR capital last year?  That was actually covered by the U.S. media—in a short Associated Press paragraph buried in papers like the New York Times. Anyone doubt that if a Muslim terrorist beheaded a Christian man in the public square it would’ve made the U.S. news?

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE DAILY BEAST 

Time for honest debate about Islam

cnnHarris Zafar is national spokesperson and youth vice president for Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA, which describes itself as an international revival movement within Islam. He is also author of “Demystifying Islam: Tackling the Tough Questions.” The views expressed are his own.

150130190426-zafar-harris-head-shot-medium-169(CNN)Just a month into the year, and already the role of extremism in the Islamic faith has been at the center of heated debate. But while the attack on the office of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris garnered most of the international headlines, another argument has been simmering much closer to home — one that all of us should be engaged in. Unfortunately, it’s also one that many might be tempted to sweep under the rug.

Earlier this month, Duke University, in North Carolina, said it would allow the Muslim call to prayer to play via the chapel bell tower’s speaker system for the weekly Friday prayer service. Unfortunately, what should have been seen as an inclusive gesture not only sparked controversy, but was met with outright hostility by critics, including some who tried to suggest the move was an attack on liberty and the call to prayer was somehow tied to terrorism.

Leading the charge toward this deliberate ignorance was the Rev. Franklin Graham, son of renowned evangelist Billy Graham. The younger Graham used the announcement as another opportunity to attack Islam.Reacting to Duke’s decision on Facebook, he wrote: “As Christianity is being excluded from the public square and followers of Islam are raping, butchering, and beheading Christians, Jews, and anyone who doesn’t submit to their Sharia Islamic law, Duke is promoting this in the name of religious pluralism.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM CNN 

Shi’ite Lebanese cleric holds out olive branch to Jews, Christians in non-violence campaign

ShowImageA Shi’ite Lebanese cleric has extended an olive branch to Jewish and Christian leaders around the world with a message of  non-violence.

 Sayyed Muhammad Ali Husseini, secretary general of the Arabic Islamic Council, took to Facebook on Sunday to warn of the dangers of religious extremism.
“We call on rabbis, priests, cardinals and Muslim clerics, Sunni and Shia, to play down the verses, the scriptures, the traditions and the religious texts that call for violence, because they are more dangerous than nuclear weapons,” he wrote at the beginning of a long message.
“The various religious texts which call for the use of violence and cruelty to achieve goals are extremely dangerous texts when used by groups that we have warned against in the past, as these texts give religious authorization to commit acts of violence and murder,” he added. “Obviously, these are texts that were implemented in specific and even limited times, places and situations – they cannot necessarily be applied to our time, since every situation has its own unique conditions and circumstances.
This message comes just a few weeks after he posted two videos to his Facebook page, one in Hebrew which he addresses his Jewish “cousins”, and the other in English in which he addresses both Jews and Christians. “Know that we are your cousins and followers of Prophet Ishmael, son of Prophet Abraham. We both belong to the same family and are relatives as your ancestor and ours were brothers who had the same father, i.e. Prophet Abraham,” he says.
“We respect and sanctify Holy Scriptures and we believe in the Torah, Bible and Koran. We also believe in all prophets and respect them and we do not differentiate between them,” he continues. “We believe that not all Jews are evil, not all Christians are depraved and not all Muslims are terrorists. Our cousins, let us therefore leave behind our differences, stay away from evil and hatred, reject extremism and violence and refuse to accept bigotry.”

The Muslims of Early America

09Manseau-1423266788353-blog427IT was not the imam’s first time at the rodeo.

Scheduled to deliver an invocation at the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo last week, Moujahed Bakhach of the local Islamic Association of Tarrant Countycanceled his appearance because of the backlash brought on by a prayer he had offered a few days before. The imam had been asked to confer a blessing on horses, riders and members of the military. He was met with gasps from the audience and social media complaints: “Outraged at a Muslim prayer at an all American event!” “Cowboys don’t want it!”

Vocal anti-Islamic sentiment is undergoing a revival. Four days before the imam’s canceled benediction, protesters at the State Capitol in Austin shouted down Muslim speakers, claiming Texas in the name of Jesus alone. In North Carolina two weeks earlier, Duke University’s plan to broadcast a Muslim call to prayer was abandoned amid threats of violence. Meanwhile Gov. Bobby Jindal, Republican of Louisiana claimed that if American Muslims “want to set up their own culture and values, that’s not immigration, that’s really invasion.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES