Islamophobia Hurts America

Religious Freedom and Islamophobia Conference in Philadelphia October 6-8, 2015

Douglas Johnston is known as the “Father of Faith Based Diplomacy. Opening the conference on Religious Freedom and Islamophobia, Johnston said, “The greatest asset we have to fight militant Islam is the American Muslim community. Unfortunately, we have alienated many in this community.” Johnston also said, “As the Muslim community is marginalized, it plays into the hands of extremists.”

Many in evangelical circles are concerned with the impact of overgeneralized anti-Islamic rhetoric and how that impacts common goals that we all share for religious freedom and security. The polarization between the Muslim communities and the Christian communities is doing great harm to our nation and to our Christian witness.

Louisville Peace Feast helps Children in Pakistan

The mob surrounded the house as the couple hid behind a locked door. It was not strong enough to protect them. The bolts broke and the young couple was beaten because they had burned some paper with Arabic words that some thought came from the Qur’an. They were barely alive when they were then dragged to a brick kiln, where they were burned to death. The angel from Daniel’s fiery furnace did not appear to those gazing in, they did not emerge unharmed, but the injustice of this vigilante execution touched the hearts of Muslim men in Louisville, Kentucky.

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“Do you remember that couple that was killed in Pakistan last year?” Younathan, my Christian Pakistani friend asked,

The look on my face said, “No.”

“They were a Christian couple. They were accused of blasphemy and a mob surrounded their house and killed them.”

Younathan went on. “Two Pakistani men at the mosque here in Louisville contacted me and wanted to set up a scholarship for the four children that were left behind. They asked if I could help them.” Younathan took the request to his father.

Saudi scholar says Muslim women do not need to veil their faces

National Public Radio
December 17, 2014

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Ahmad Aziz Al Ghamdi. He’s a religious scholar, the former head of the religious police in Mecca, a group officially known as the Committee for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice

But norms are changing as global culture is beamed into the kingdom through social media and satellite television.

Hilali-Khan English translation of the Qur’an may promote extremism

The Malaysian Insider
December 1, 2014

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In researching English translations of the Qur’an, I came across this article.  Technically, there are not “translations” of the Qur’an, but rather interpretations. Any translation interjects a certain degree of bias, that is part of the reason people are compelled to make new translations of Bible and the Qur’an.

The Hilali-Khan is the most widely distributed English translation in the world and officially recognized by the Saudi government.  However, a forum in Malaysia has “called out” the translation as promoting extremism.

This widely available translation, called the Hilali-Khan, made Muslims think that Islam was a religion hostile to other faiths, said academic and progressive Muslim thinker Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa.

The seeds of the “Allah” controversy, the custody battles between Muslim and non-Muslim spouses and the spread of anti-Christian feelings in Malaysia can be traced to a certain translation of the Quran, a recent forum on Muslim extremism in Kuala Lumpur was told.

The “Allah” controversy is where some Muslims teach that Christians should not use the word Allah to refer to God.

 

Are Non-Muslims Treated Equally?

treatment of non-muslims

One of the questions I have received asked me to address the relationship between Muslims and non-Muslims. In this video, Imam Wasif explains the taxes (Jizya) that are required of non-Muslims and contrasts Jizya with Zakat that is required of all Muslims. He also references letters written by Muhammad promising protection for non-Muslims.  There is an interesting video on one of these letters here  and a Wikipedia article here.

The Diversity of Islam

New York Times
October 8, 2014

Nick Kristof in the Green RoomPulitzer Prize-winner Nicholas D. Kristof says,

Sure, denounce the brutality, sexism and intolerance that animate the Islamic State and constitute a significant strain within Islam. But don’t confuse that with all Islam: Heroes like Mukhtar, Malala, Dadkhah and Rehman also represent an important element.

Let’s not feed Islamophobic bigotry by highlighting only the horrors while neglecting the diversity of a religion with 1.6 billion adherents — including many who are champions of tolerance, modernity and human rights. The great divide is not between faiths, but one between intolerant zealots of any tradition and the large numbers of decent, peaceful believers likewise found in each tradition.

Good News on Religious Freedom from Indonesia

Breaking Christian News
September 29, 2014

Delegates at AM4Peace gathering in JakartaIn a time when the barbaric actions of ISIS toward minorities fill the headlines, it is good to see that Muslim and Christian religious leaders in Indonesia have agreed on the importance of religious freedom for all.  Ambassadors for Peace was started shortly after the events of September 11, 2001. They have traveled around the world promoting the “Ambassadors for Peace Resolution

 The document’s main theme is to “foster religious tolerance, the right to faith, freedom of speech, and freedom from reprisal or persecution, and open dialogue.”

If you can get past all of the Washington Times advertisements, they have a good article on the status of freedom of religion. Thomas Farr, professor at Georgetown University and author of “World of Faith and Freedom: Why International Religious Liberty is Vital to National Security,” says.

“I cannot identify a single country under this administration that has advanced religious freedom or reduced religious persecution.”

Currently, the position of Ambassador at Large for Religious Freedom is vacant and has been for some time. Rabbi Saperstein has been nominated but not confirmed.  This leaves the US without a credible voice in the push for religious understanding and freedom.  Additionally, many feel this position does not have adequate access to decision makers to truly be effective.