These Muslims gave Christians a Christmas gift – and went to the heart of the gospel

mosulLook back on 2017, and one of the most alarming things about it has been the rise of the far right. Trump’s America, Duterte’s Philippines, and in Europe Hungary, Austria, Poland, and – may God help us all – even Germany have seen politics thrive on language that’s fundamentally about identity. It’s us versus them, and ‘they’ are usually of a different religion, sexuality, colour, income or ideology than ‘us’. Because of this, we should fear and hate them.

In the so-called ‘Christian’ West, of course, the religion dog-whistle is tuned to Islam. Muslims are the enemy. They are relentlessly opposed to decent Christian people, and decency in general. Any evidence to the contrary just proves how duplicitous they are. The fact that they might speak with an accent, that their skins might be a slightly different shade from the majority’s, and that they – or their parents, or grandparents – might have been born somewhere else is catnip to conspiracy theorists: it’s just more (rather circumstantial) proof that ‘they’ hate ‘us

Well, for people who believe this tosh and are prone to ‘liking’ and ‘sharing’ posts that reinforce it, here’s something to think about.

Christians in the Iraqi city of Mosul were driven out by Islamic State three years ago. It’s still not really safe for them to return, in spite of the government declaring the conflict over, though they are dribbling back. But at Christmas around 2,000 of them made the journey from camps near Erbil for a Christmas service, the first there since the war began.

What made it possible, according to Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, was a group of young Muslims.

These young people helped to clean the debris from the church, make it ready for the service, and even erected the cross that had been thrown down by ISIS.

That’s right: ‘they’ did this for ‘us’.

FULL ARTICLE FROM CHRISTIAN TODAY

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Muslims are Often the First Victims of Muslim Fanatics

EGYPT-UNREST-SINAIThe terror in Egypt on Friday is only the latest grim reminder that Muslims are often the first victims of Muslim fanatics.

 The massacre of at least 235 people attending a Sufi mosque in Bir al-Abd on the Sinai coast is being attributed to a local affiliate of the Islamic State, known as Ansar Beit al-Maqdis. This slaughter was particularly venal. Gunmen waited for ambulances and first responders to come to the mosque after an initial detonation and sprayed bullets into the survivors and those dispatched to save them.

An anonymous Muslim cleric told the New York Times that he was shocked the killers would attack a mosque. Prior targets for the terrorists in the Sinai included Coptic Christian churches and a Russian airliner in 2013.

FULL ARTICLE FROM BLOOMBERG

The Prophet Muhammad’s order to protect Christians

isis-weapons-raqqa-syria

The inevitable demise of the Islamic State—initiated by the liberation of Mosul in July 9 of this year and completed by the liberation of Raqqa a few days ago, has effectively put an end to the reign of terror by a most extremist and violent “Muslim” organization.

Mosul and Raqqa were the capitals of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria respectively. Although some of its leaders and die-hard fighters are still in hiding, the Islamic State and its self-declared Caliphate now belong to the past.

The fall of Islamic State shows, once again, that extremism and intolerance have no place in Islam and will not be tolerated by Muslims.

In both Iraq and Syria, Muslims were the ones who resisted the terror group’s rule and ideology and consequently paid the biggest price for it. Similarly in other countries Muslims, were often the main target of the wrath of Islamic State, who could not tolerate being rejected and condemned unconditionally and universally by Muslims.

There was, however, another unfortunate consequence of the extremists’ reign of terror.

They showed an unprecedented hatred and violence towards non-Muslims, particularly Christians. This they claimed was their Islamic duty and their strategy to establish an Islamic society. Yet contrary to their claim, the hatred and violence against non-Muslims has no precedent in Islamic history.

The mere fact that in almost all Muslim countries there are Christians, and to a lesser degree Jews, living there and the fact that their places of worship are still operating and serving their communities indicates many Muslims have not regarded them as enemies.

The fact ISIS introduced a system of ethnic cleansing and genocide against Yezidis and Arab Christians shows the Yezidis and Christians were present in those countries and were not eliminated by their Muslim neighbours prior to the rise of ISIS. If ISIS was able to destroy the churches and places of worship belonging to Yezidis, as well as pre-Islamic cultures, it proves that they were not destroyed by Muslims prior to the emergence of ISIS—otherwise they would have been non-existent.

The fact of the matter is followers of Abrahamic religions are to be protected by every Islamic government as its duty— this I will discuss in a future column. As far as Christians are concerned, there is a historical document that clearly demonstrates this principle.

At the library of St. Catherine monastery at the foot of Mount Sinai in Egypt, which is the oldest functioning monastery in the world, there is a very interesting letter on display.

The letter, signed and sealed with his handprint, was written by Prophet Muhammad and offers protection and religious freedom to Christians in all Islamic territories and at all times. It was issued in response to the request of a delegation from Sinai who met him in the year 626, the second year of establishment of the Islamic society in Medina.

“This is a message from Muhammad ibn Abdullah, as a covenant to those who adopt Christianity, near and far, we are with them.

“No compulsion is to be on them. Neither are their judges to be removed from their jobs, nor their monks from their monasteries. No one is to destroy a house of their religion, to damage it, or to carry anything from it to the Muslims’ houses. Should anyone take any of these, he would spoil God’s covenant and disobey His Prophet. Verily, they are my allies and have my secure charter against all that they hate.

“No one is to force them to travel or to oblige them to fight. The Muslims are to fight for them. If a female Christian is married to a Muslim, it is not to take place without her approval. She is not to be prevented from visiting her church to pray. Their churches are to be respected. They are neither to be prevented from repairing them nor the sacredness of their covenants. No one of the nation [i.e. Muslim] is to disobey this covenant till the Last Day (end of the world).”

The Other al-Baghdadi — and the Christians Fighting for Freedom in Syria

by ANDREW DORAN October 10, 2017 4:00 AM

syriacThey are a moderating force in the region, like the Jews before them and the secular Muslims who fear they might be next. Raqqa, Syria — The soldiers of the Syriac Military Council sit on a rug in an abandoned home in the urban wreckage of the caliphate’s capital, perhaps 200 yards from ISIS, drinking tea and chain-smoking. The predominantly Christian unit is a small but symbolically important part of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which have encircled ISIS and are slowly closing in.

The Syriac officers point out that those who’ve joined their ranks — including Muslims, both Arabs and Kurds, foreigners, and other Christians — are a symbol of the Syria for which they are fighting: a federated Syria, an alternative to Baathism and Islamism. “For the first time in our history, we are fighting for each other,” says one Syriac commander. A few moments later, a Muslim soldier in the Syriac unit enters the room, unfurls a prayer rug, kneels toward Mecca in the south, and prays. He then rises and sits beside the interpreter, and a lengthy debate about the interpreter’s unruly hair ensues. Their tension-relieving banter doesn’t even pause for the small-arms fire and artillery outside; they take no notice.

The Syriac officer points to the interpreter, Ibrahim, as another example of their diversity. Ibrahim, like the late caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is originally from Iraq. Ibrahim is a convert to Christianity, but he was born into one of the last Jewish families of Baghdad — a community that numbered well over 100,000 in 1948. His ancestors arrived in Mesopotamia 26 centuries ago, when thousands of Jerusalem’s citizens were taken into captivity in Babylon, modern-day Iraq. The Psalms recall the heartbreak of that exile: “By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE NATIONAL REVIEW 

 

Florida Killings: Radical Islam And The Far Right, Under One Roof

The Hamptons condo and apartment complex in Tampa is quintessential Florida. Lush and modern, the stucco homes are painted in a soft rainbow of pastels. All around are palm trees, Spanish moss and lily pads.

“It is a very quiet place. You have a lot of children that live here. A lot of professionals live here, retirees,” said resident Michael Colon, 66.

But on May 19, that tranquility was shattered in an improbable case that involves four young roommates at the complex.

Two of the men are dead and the other two are in jail.

The story brings together fundamentalist Islam, neo-Nazis, guns and explosive materials — all under the same roof.

And the investigation has morphed to include Tampa police, the FBI, the ATF, the National Guard, as well as state and federal prosecutors.

From one extreme to another

The case began with a hostage drama.

Devon Arthurs, 18, was holding three people at gunpoint in a strip mall across the street from the Hamptons complex, according to police. Arthurs told police he was angry about U.S. military attacks in Muslim countries.

After 15 minutes, Tampa police persuaded Arthurs to surrender. He then led them to the apartment he shared with three other young men.

Arthurs said all four once held neo-Nazi beliefs (though some family members dispute this claim). But here’s the twist: Arthurs said he had converted to Salafi Islam, an ultraconservative form of the religion.

He told police he shot dead two of his roommates inside the apartment because they disrespected his new faith.

And the story kept growing stranger.

FULL ARTICLE FROM NPR

“Stunning Stories” of Muslims Saving Christians in the Philippines Hailed by Church Leaders

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Roman Catholic church leaders in the Philippines have hailed the “stunning stories” of Muslims saving Christians from the Islamic State terrorist group in Marawi, and said that Christians are also helping thousands of Muslims.

“We all cry from our hearts: War in Marawi, never again! War in Marawi, no more!” the Philippine bishops said in a statement on Monday, as reported by Catholic News Agency.

The IS-backed Maute militants in Marawi, who attacked and captured parts of the city at the end of May, have carried out vast atrocities. The militants are said to be torturing civilians, including the minority Christian population there, and are using people as sex slaves and human shields.

The Filipino military said on Tuesday that as many as 500 people have been killed in the battle for the city, with 381 of them believed to be IS-linked fighters. The civilian death toll has also been rising, Al Jazeera reported.

Some local reports have said that as many as 2,000 civilians may have been killed so far, though army officials have said that such numbers stem from “unverified reports.”

The Catholic bishops insisted in their statement that the war is “not religious,” and said that Muslim and Christian civilians have been helping each other escape the radical militants.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE CHRISTIAN POST 

Members of Manchester’s Muslim community among those most strongly condemning deadly bombing

la-fg-britain-muslim-manchester-20170523Greater Manchester police ran a mock anti-terrorist operation a year ago featuring a bomber shouting in Arabic, “Allahu akbar,” or God is great.

Eight hundred volunteers took part in the overnight drill at a huge shopping center on the outskirts of the city to make it as realistic as possible and prepare the city’s emergency services for an attack.

But the day after the practice drill, authorities apologized to the city’s Muslim community and admitted they had been guilty of stereotyping.

After Monday night’s suicide bombing, many Manchester residents praised police, fire and ambulance workers for their rapid response. The 22-year-old suspect in the suicide bombing, for which the Islamic State extremist group claimed responsibility, was described as an English-born son of Libyan immigrants.

Muslim leaders were among those who were quick to condemn the attack, which killed 22 people and wounded dozens, and declare that the city would not be divided.

Mohammed Shafiq, the chief executive of Ramadhan Foundation in Manchester, said in a statement that the deadly explosion after an Ariana Grande concert was the “darkest day” in the city’s history.

Shafiq said the people of Manchester would not be divided and would instead “mourn, remember the victims and get on with our lives.”

“I love Manchester and its people — we are a resolute people and will not be divided by these barbaric animals or cowered by their violence,” he said.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE LA TIMES