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Archive for the ‘Islam’ Category

Islam for Lent?

From getreligion.com.

I’m still here in Israel on an Act For Israel media fellowship. After many days, packed with meetings, yesterday we visited the Golan Heights. On our way from there, we stopped at Yardenit, a site on the Jordan River where, in honor of Jesus’ baptism near there, some are baptized into the Christian faith.

While there, a young woman was wearing a white robe indicating she was to be baptized. I overheard a conversation she was having with someone else. She said she was going to be baptized but “not really” as she’s not very religious and just wanted to do it for her own interest. I’m not easily offended but I was sickened and saddened by this behavior. I thought of that incident as I read this fascinating report from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “Episcopal cleric tries Islamic rituals for Lent”:

The Rev. Steve Lawler should have just given up chocolate or television for Lent.

Instead, Lawler, of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Ferguson, decided to adopt the rituals of Islam for 40 days to gain a deeper understanding of the faith.

On Friday, he faced being defrocked if he continued in those endeavors.

“He can’t be both a Christian and a Muslim,” said Bishop George Wayne Smith of the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri. “If he chooses to practice as Muslim, then he would, by default, give up his Christian identity and priesthood in the church.” (more…)

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You’ve heard about the so-called “pastor” down in Florida who plans to burn the Qu’ran this Saturday. First, the guy is a publicity hound and his tiny little sect, consisting of no more than fifty members, are infamous in the Gainsville area for pulling stunts. The “academy” he runs down there is, to say the least, weird. You can read their “rules” here. PastorMichael Walther had these excellent thoughts on the issue of burning the Qur’an:

“The announcement by a pastor in Florida to burn the Qur’an in a public protest has raised concerns by many. Foremost among the concerns is that radical Muslims will use the event and the images it generates as propaganda to incite violence against Christians.

“The violent activities of radical Muslims, the rampant religious intolerance in Muslim countries, and the hair-trigger sensitivity to any criticism of Islam frustrates many non-Muslims. But will it serve any purpose to use their own tactics? Absolutely not!

“The rising tide of Islam could not be possible without God’s allowance. Before we fall into the temptation to “fight fire with fire,” we need to think of our basic Christian principles. Christianity is not a religion that relies on physical force or violent protests. Christianity moves forward on the proclamation of God’s word of grace in Jesus and deeds of mercy done for the sake of our neighbors.

“Luther and his countrymen faced a much worse situation with the invasion of the Muslim Turks in the 1500s. Luther considered this invasion nothing less than punishment from God for a church and a society that had drifted from God’s word. He called the church to repentance and to renewal through the word of God. Could the American Christian church and culture stand a little reforming? I certainly think so!

“And what did he think about the Qur’an? Luther called for its publication and encouraged Christians to read it! He knew that side by side, the Bible would overwhelm the Qur’an with its truth and with its message of salvation.”

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One blog site that I frequent daily is called cyberbrethren.  I’m copying a recent post on Islamic Tolerance.  I think it’s applicable to what’s happening in the world today.

Muslims and non-Muslims who live in nations where Islam is not the law of the land talk a lot about how Islam is a religion of peace and tolerance. Christians who live in Islamic nations tell a different story. I (Paul McCain – Cyberbrethren blog author) picked this up from Ron Dreher’s blog, who writes: “If you want to know what it’s really like to live under persecution for your Christian faith and culture, listen to this presentation by Bishop Thomas, a Copt who serves in Assiut, an area of intense Islamic persecution of Christians. I ( Paul McCain) met him once, and the man is so luminous, and peaceful. It’s almost humiliating to be an American Christian, with such an easy life despite it all, and to hear what life is like for Christians in Egypt and elsewhere. If you don’t have time to watch the whole nine minute video, start at about 2:45:

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Here’s an interesting article.  I found it from Christianitytoday.com

Agnes Monica is the Miley Cyrus of Southeast Asia. The Indonesian teen singer’s face is ubiquitous. Her performances are packed out. But in Selangor, Malaysia, no one is allowed to play her song“Allah Peduli” (”God Cares”). Monica is a Christian, and Malaysian law bans non-Muslims from referring to God as Allah.

The ban on “God Cares” is one application of state laws widely opposed by the island nation’s Christians and other non-Muslims. Few question whether Allah is the God of the Bible—to Malaysian Christians, Allah is simply the word for God.

The decades-old state laws have gained recent prominence through The Herald, the national Catholic newspaper. Beginning in 1998, Malaysia’s Ministry of Home Affairs has sent letters to editor and priest Lawrence Andrew asking him to cease using Allah in the paper’s Malay edition. In 2007, the government threatened to ban the newspaper. Thus began a long legal battle, with government representatives issuing conflicting orders and the paper suing to both publish in Malay and continue its use of the theonym.

The newspaper acquired a printing permit for 2009. But on May 28, the church lost its suit to legally use Allah. A high court hearing that began July 7 should resolve the newspaper’s legal status.

Perhaps in anticipation of another unfavorable ruling, the Indonesian organization Yayasan Lentera Bangsa has published a new translation of the Bible in Indonesian. Allah does not appear in the Kitab Suci Indonesian Literal Translation (KS-ILT). Instead, the publishers transliterated Hebrew terms (such as Elohim) and substituted some less-common Indonesian names for God.

“Coincident with the forbidding of the use of Allah by non-Muslims in Malaysia, we think it is the time for us to release ourselves from the dilemma,” said editor Jahja Iskandar.

Mainstream churches, however, have been hostile to the KS-ILT. Neither the Bible Society of Indonesia nor that of Malaysia has approved the translation. The National Evangelical Christian Fellowship (NECF) of Malaysia issued a statement “strongly opposing” the translation. “We continue to maintain the right to use Allah as it has been so used for over 300 years in Malaysia,” the group said.

Evangelical observers support NECF’s move. “Theologically and missiologically, Allah is a very appropriate way [for Southeast Asian Christians] to refer to God,” said Ajith Fernando, national director of Youth for Christ in Sri Lanka.

Christians and Muslims sometimes misunderstand Allah to be purely Islamic. Instead, it is the Arabic word for God and a close semantic relative of the Hebrew El.

Christians have used the word for centuries, and the conflict is not new. A Wycliffe translator who has been in the region for several years said this debate began when the first Bible was published in Malay, using Allah, in 1985.

The Herald’s leadership and the NECF see the debate as a matter of freedom rather than linguistics. They are concerned that the law marginalizes non-Muslims, who make up almost half of Malaysia’s population.

Andrew says the crackdown on his newspaper indicates “the country is moving away from the multireligious and multiethnic composition that negotiated independence from the British to a domination of one race over all.”

In addition to the linguistic and human rights aspects of the debate, Malaysian Christians must also keep missiology in mind.

An Allah-free translation into a Malay language can be done correctly, but it would be confusing, said the Wycliffe translator. Importing a word for God instead of using the most accessible local term often causes people to think of God himself as a foreign import.

“My opinion is that using Allah in Indonesia is strategic, if the point is to have people understand who Christ is,” said the translator, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “The negative impact of not using it is that it would make it harder for a Muslim to pick up a Bible.”

On the other hand, the controversy itself may make Allah a less appropriate term, said Fernando. “We want to make the Muslims our friends. We are not there to defeat them in a battle or an argument. We want them to come to Christ,” he said. “This is the practical reality we have to bow down to, although theologically it may be unnecessary.”

Should Christians in Malaysia stop calling God Allah? If so, Fernando said, it would be for reasons other than accurate translation. “The only advantage is to avoid outrage,” he said. “I can’t see any other advantage.”
• Susan Wunderink

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images-3Wow!  We think we have it rough here in the United States.

 

ISTANBUL, January 27 (Compass Direct News) – After her arrest at Cairo’s airport on Dec. 13 while attempting to flee anti-Christian hostilities in Egypt, convert Martha Samuel Makkar was granted bail on Saturday (Jan. 24), but not before a judge took her aside and said he would like to kill her, according to her lawyer.

 

Attorney Nadia Tawfiq said Judge Abdelaa Hashem questioned Makkar extensively about her Christian faith during the hearing. Makkar, charged with forging identification documents, explained her reasons for her conversion, avowing her Christian faith and repudiating the judge’s claims that converting from Islam to Christianity was impossible. (more…)

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