Where Do You Go for Repair Work?

Whom do you trust with important matters in your life: someone with name recognition whose character you don’t know, or someone not in vogue but whom you know personally?

Two days ago, my wife took her car in to Midas (4055 N. Academy, CS) because of clanking noises in the right rear wheel well. After brief examination, they told her the problem was worn struts, and she would need to replace them, estimated cost at $900, but they could do it that day. After agreeing to this and asking for a ride home, she was gladly ferried there by a Midas employee. A few hours later she called in to see how the repair was progressing. Another big job had come in and taken priority, so they hadn’t started on her car yet. Miffed, she told them to come pick her up so she could take the car somewhere else. Thankfully, she then called me, told me the story (revealing what she would have paid…; now I have a better idea why they named themselves after King Midas — everything he touched turned to gold….), and asked me if I would call a mechanic I know personally (whose shop unfortunately is at the other end of town) and see if he would take her car in for repairs. My friend’s garage is not a big-name franchise – Johnny’s Star Auto Repair – but he is a Syrian friend with a big heart. So he told me to bring it the next day, which we did. Johnny said he’d have it done by the end of the day, if not sooner, but didn’t give me an estimate. Cindy dropped me off at a Bible study group downtown and then drove off to do errands. By the time the study was over, there was a message on my phone to come pick up the car – it was ready. Rather incredulous, I called Johnny and learned that the problem was a loose strut – all that was needed was a tightened bolt. Everything else looked great, he said. “What do I owe you for your time and effort?,” I asked. Nothing, he said. “Come on,” I argued. “Okay,” he said, “I’ll take a hug.” We’re sending a “goodies basket” to their home as a thank you. The car is working great.

A false diagnosis, which we initially accepted based on the naïve assumption that a well-known repair place wouldn’t try to rip off innocent customers, would have cost us dearly. The correct diagnosis, and a solution wrapped in grace, was a godsend.

That got me thinking.

Many people know something is wrong in their spiritual lives, but don’t know where to turn for diagnosis and repair. In the Western world today, there are two options at the top of the list for consideration. One seems favored today in the media: Islam. The other is not in vogue: Christianity.

Islam diagnoses the human condition this way: You have been disobedient to Allah and are doomed to hellfire as an infidel. But repair of this condition is possible, although it will cost you dearly. You can be assured of paradise if you accept the bargain Allah is offering, as found in the Quran, 9:111 –

Allah has bought from the believers their selves and their possessions against the gift of Paradise; they fight in the way of Allah; they kill, and are killed; that is a promise binding upon Allah in the Torah, and the Gospel, and the Koran; and who fulfils his covenant truer than Allah? So rejoice in the bargain you have made with Him; that is the mighty triumph.

Allah offers a contract to any human being willing to accept his terms – he will grant paradise to those willing to exchange their “selves and possessions” for that promise. How is this exchange verified? They must be willing to “kill and be killed” as they go to war for Allah against all who refuse to bow before him. There is nothing metaphorical about this contract, as history demonstrates. Millions of Muslims over fourteen centuries have killed and died while pursuing jihad in Allah’s cause, hoping Allah’s promise of remedy for their problem will prove true.

Christianity, on the other hand, diagnoses the human condition this way: You have broken fellowship with God by your sin, and nothing you can do is able to repair the breach. God, however, by bearing the consequences of your sin, can both forgive you justly and welcome you back into eternal fellowship with himself. He does this by becoming a human being (while remaining God – this is the meaning of the Incarnation –, taking the punishment of human sins upon himself in his ignominious crucifixion and death, and granting his resurrection life to all who place their trust in him. God’s repair promise is that He will exchange our sinfulness for Christ’s righteousness – piling our evils upon His Son, and clothing us instead with His Son’s righteousness. The New Testament text that spells this out clearly is found in 2 Cor 5:21, where Paul, speaking of Christ, says:

 For our sake he [God] made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

In real life, all of us are broken down and need repair. Which garage are you going to go to? Between Islam and the Gospel, which is able to correctly diagnose your breakdown and offer you the repair you truly need? Islam says: give your all in death and destruction for the cause of Allah, and you will have Paradise. The Gospel says: God in love has given His all for you, in the death of His Son. What do you have to do to benefit from His repairs? Hand yourself over to His tender care and become a follower of the Good Shepherd who has laid down his life for his sheep.

When it comes to auto repair, we are never going back to Midas. Johnny has our trust, because we know he has our interest at heart and can solve our car problems. When it comes to eternal life, I am never going back to a god who calls human beings to kill and be killed as a ticket to eternal life. Instead, I gratefully place my soul in the eternal charge of Him who gave His all for me, and who calls me to give myself away in love for the benefit of others.

How about you?

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Fake News Headline #5: Muhammad Was the Greatest Man Who Ever Lived, and the Model for All Human Life!

In the orthodox Muslim world, Muhammad occupies a place higher than any other human being in creation. He is known as al-Insan al-Kamil, “the ideal man” whose life is to be imitated by all Muslims as nearly as possible. It is this belief which led over the first three hundred years of Islam to the Ahadith (plural for Hadith), collections of reports concerning the conversations, actions and perspectives of Muhammad as remembered (or created) by his companions or later believers. As well, the earliest biographies (Sirat) of Muhammad are mined by Muslims for what light they shed on the practices of their prophet. The Qur’an, Ahadith and Sirat together form the body of material which produce the Sunnah, the Way or Practice of Muhammad that all Muslims are meant to observe.

Since the Qur’an itself sheds very little light on the personal habits and actions of Muhammad (and since the vast majority of Muslims cannot read the Qur’an in Arabic), most Muslims are actually better acquainted with parts of the Hadith than they are with the Qur’an. Since their practical goal is to emulate their prophet as closely as possible, the traditions loom much larger in their lives than their Scripture. Indeed, the Qur’an is almost impossible to make sense of contextually without the Sirat and Ahadith, which provide alleged historical anchors for the otherwise “floating” revelations attributed to Allah by Muhammad.

Why does Islam consider Muhammad to be the ideal man? Essentially because their holy book declares him to be the paragon of those who please Allah, and because it commands them in scores of places to obey him without question – to disobey him in anything is to risk the eternal fires of hell. In terms of authority, the Qur’an puts Muhammad on a par with Allah himself:

“O you who believe, obey Allah and His Messenger …” (8:20); “Say: Obey Allah and obey the Messenger …” (24:54); “Obey Allah and the Messenger and perhaps you will be shown mercy” (3:132); “If you obey him, you will be guided …” (24:54); “Whoever obeys the Messenger has obeyed Allah …” (4:79).

According to the Qur’an (which of course came from the lips of Muhammad), Allah declares that Muhammad is “a beautiful model of conduct” (uswa hasana; found in 33:21) and a man of “sublime moral character” (khuluq adheem; found in 68:4). The combination of these two honorifics, as well as the unique stature accorded Muhammad as Allah’s unparalleled and final spokesman, leads Muslims to the claim that their prophet is the most virtuous human being ever to grace this planet.

Naturally, in all the traditional, hagiographical materials on Muhammad one finds many praiseworthy attributes, actions and attitudes reflected. This makes sense, for otherwise nobody would ever have been drawn to follow this man. But this Muslim claim is that Muhammad is the best of humans, worthy of complete emulation. That means there is nothing in his life (as recorded by Muslim sources) which should cause us to question his morality. Let’s check out this proposition by drawing solely from early Muslim sources acknowledged as authoritative by orthodox scholars today.

  • Muhammad personally commanded or ordered over 70 military raids/campaigns against his enemies in the last 9 years of his life (averaging one over every 6-7 weeks!).
  • As a result of these raids/battles, Muhammad allowed his followers to steal the wealth of those his army conquered, as well as to enslave those defeated. His soldiers were free to rape females taken through battle before being classified as slaves. Slaves could be executed (if male), sold for ransom, set free, or kept. Female slaves could be used by their Muslim owners for sexual purposes. If previously married, their marriages were annulled so they could become legal sexual objects for their masters.
  • Muhammad himself owned multiple slaves (historical lists names some 27 male slaves and 11 females); some of these were captured in battles, others were bought on the market, still others given him as gifts. Muhammad in turn gave slaves as gifts to foreign rulers or to his own companions as rewards.
  • Muhammad believed that women were not equal to men in this life, or in the next. Muslim men could marry up to four women at a time (and divorce any woman for the least of causes). Of course, Muhammad himself was exempted by Allah from this limitation, and had somewhere between 11 and 14 wives at one time. One was his daughter-in-law, whom his adopted son divorced after discovering that Muhammad found her attractive so that his father could marry her; another was a Jewish newlywed who lost her father and brother in the Muslim attack on Khaibar, and whose husband, Kinana, was ordered tortured and then beheaded by Muhammad – that evening, Muhammad made her his wife and consummated the marriage in his tent; another wife was the famous Aisha, daughter of his best friend Abu Bakr – she was 6 years old when Muhammad betrothed her to himself, and then 9 years old when he took her to his bed and “made her a woman.” In imitation of this, many Muslim men around the world seek child brides.
  • Muhammad taught that women were deficient in intelligence and religion compared with men, and that the majority of hell’s inhabitants were women. Through Scripture and his own practice, he allowed husbands to beat “unruly” wives.
  • Muhammad permitted or commanded his followers to lie to non-Muslims in order to save their lives or to advance the cause of Islam.
  • Muhammad had a thin skin and believed in revenge. He ordered the murders of a number of men and women who had insulted him. When word came that the deed had been done, Muhammad responded with praise to Allah. In one particular case, his appointed assassin contended that in order to get close enough to the target he would have to lie, claiming to despise Muhammad in order to win the trust of his victim. Muhammad immediately gave him that permission.
  • In addition to the torture of Kinana (see above), Muhammad ordered the torture and death of others who went afoul of his dictates. He hurled epithets and curses at his enemies, even those already in the grave.
  • Muhammad developed a great hatred for the Jews, a stance which has poisoned Islam forever through anti-Jewish screeds enshrined in the Qur’an. According to 5:82, Jews are the “strongest in enmity” to the Muslims, and while the Muslim community is the “best of peoples” the world has ever seen (3:110), Jews and Christians (and all other idolaters) are the “worst of creatures” whose fate will be hellfire (98:6). Muhammad’s loathing of the Jews is celebrated among Muslims who remember two particular interactions: the destruction of the Jewish Quraiza tribe in Medina; and the defeat of the Jews of Khaibar.

In the first instance, Muhammad lays siege to the Jewish precinct of Medina in which the Quraizas lived; his claim is that they had broken the treaty they had made with him. The punishment for this is determined to be the death of all adult males of that tribe, the enslavement of all women and children, and the forfeiture of all their goods and property to the Muslim community. Muhammad commands this penalty to be carried out, and helps for a while with the beheadings before retiring to watch the rest of the spectacle with his favorite wife Aisha, now 12, at his side. According to tradition, these beheadings went on into the evening, under torchlight, until somewhere between 600 and 900 Jewish men and pubescent boys were dismembered.

At Khaibar, where another Jewish tribe was routed and their goods plundered, Muhammad mercifully spared the remaining Jews by allowing them to continue to harvest their date farms as long as they gave him half their proceeds annually – this is the first instance of dhimmitude and the imposition of what would become known as jizya – the poll tax required of all non-Muslims who are allowed to live under Shari’a law as third class members in Muslim society. Still today, Muslims around the world know and chant this little ditty in Arabic when they want to demean and humiliate the Jews as a race:

                        Khaibar, Khaibar, ya Yahud, Jaysh Muhammad sauf ya’ud.

Literally, that translates as “Khaibar, Khaibar, O Jews, the army of Muhammad will return.” It is a prediction that the Muslim world will ultimately exterminate the Jews, whom Allah has condemned as a people for their rebellion against him. In the Qur’an, the Jews are the preeminent example of those who oppose Allah, but all who follow their lead will experience the same eternal fate.

  • Accordingly, the Islam of Muhammad produces a supremacist ideology – Muslims are commanded to be merciful to fellow believers but “severe against unbelievers” (48:29). Believers are to subjugate all unbelievers and use them and their resources for the benefit of Islam. The ramification of this, in clear English, is that Muslims and non-Muslims will never be able to live in harmony as equals should Islam gain ascendancy in our world.

Is Muhammad then “a beautiful example of conduct” for all humanity? Does his life demonstrate a sublime morality making him the “ideal human being” worthy of emulation by all? Even early Muslim sources make clear the answer to these questions has to be an unqualified NO. In the words of Wafa Sultan, a Syrian doctor who used to be a Muslim:

The problem with Christians is that they are not as good as Jesus. But thank God most Muslims are better than Muhammad.

 Amen to that!

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Fake News Headline #4: Jihad Merely Means “Striving to Become a Better Person”

The word “election” is a fairly common term in the American vocabulary, especially every four years during Presidential campaign seasons. Its basic meaning, of course, is “the act of choosing or selecting.” However, were you to ask what the term “election” means in the Bible, and a Christian were to answer you, “Oh, it simply means “choosing or selecting someone or something,” you would be right to think him/her rather disingenuous, because in the Bible the word has become a technical term, typically associated with the thoughts of predestination and the historical or eternal plans and purposes of God.

The situation is similar in Islam with the word “jihad,” which is commonly translated in the non-Muslim world as “holy war.” Muslim apologists regularly dispute this, declaring that the word itself literally means simply “effort or striving.” brennanMany are quick to point out a minor tradition in the Hadith collections where Muhammad, upon returning from battle with his troops, declares, “We have all returned from the lesser jihad to the greater jihad.” His companions, confused, asked him, “What is the greater jihad, O Prophet of God?” His response: “Jihad against the desires.” As a result, Muslim apologists insist that the main meaning of jihad involves the spiritual battle against the baser lusts of human nature, in spite of the fact that Islamic scholars universally rate this particular story as “da’if,” meaning “weak” and therefore unreliable. On top of this is the overwhelming evidence in the Qur’an and Hadith and other early Islamic traditions that “jihad” principally is of the “lesser” variety.jihad

A simple investigation of these texts reveals that “jihad” is a technical term within Islam – most common meaning is “striving with whatever means available/necessary for the supremacy of Islam.” It has little to do with an internal spiritual battle in the heart for holiness, but is almost exclusively concerned with the advancement of Allah’s cause in the world.

As such, “jihad” is an expansive term. It does not only refer to the use of force to increase the sovereignty of Islamic control in the world. Muslims refer as well to the jihad of the mouth or the pen, i.e., the effort to persuade others of the supremacy of Islam through argument. This form of Muslim “evangelism” is spoken of as “da’wah,” which means literally “call or invitation,” and is the softest form of jihad – an effort to expand the supremacy of Islam by convincing others peacefully to join its ranks. But there are other forms of jihad as well: jihad of the hand – the use of good deeds toward others to promote the greatness of Islam; economic jihad – the use of financial pressure to win advantages for the spread of Islam; political jihad – taking advantage of the freedoms and benefits of non-Muslim countries in order to weaken or subvert those nations; civilizational jihad – the expansion of Muslim populations in non-Muslim countries both by immigration and birth rate, so as to outnumber the native population and ultimately institute a Muslim government and Shari’a law; civilizational jihadand finally of course, jihad of the sword, which we now know so well since 9/11 (over 30,600 deadly Muslim terrorist attacks around the world in the last 16 years) – the use of force to terrorize and conquer non-Muslim populations.

Jihad is glorified in the Muslim world, especially jihad of the sword. Those who kill and are killed while pursuing jihad fi sabeel Allah (armed conflict “in the way of/for the sake of” Allah are promised the highest honors and pleasures of Paradise (see Quran 9:111). The term is joined in the Qur’an with two other militant terms involving bloody conflict with the enemies of Islam: qital and harb. The former denotes fighting with weapon in hand so as to slay one’s foe; the latter is the Arabic word for “war.” While jihad occurs 28 times in the Qur’an commanding or explaining the use of force “for the sake of Allah,” qital occurs 33 times and harb 6 times. There is no question that the principal Qur’anic meaning for jihad involves the physical battlefield and the destruction or subjugation of Islam’s enemies.

In addition to this, the earliest biographies of Muhammad revel in the fact that within a year of his migration to Medina, the Arabian prophet begins drumming this theme of jihad into the minds and hearts (and treasure chests) of his followers, promising them both earthly and heavenly rewards for becoming soldiers of Allah. Islamic sources relate that Muhammad commanded or led over 70 military raids or battles in the nine years from 623 until his death in 632 – an average of one every 6-7 weeks. It’s not hard to conclude that jihad played a central role in Muhammad’s vision of spreading his religion’s supremacy over the unenlightened world around him.

The greatest amount of teaching from the prophet on the subject of jihad is found in the Hadith collections. Of these six collections (in the Sunni tradition) the greatest by popular and academic acclaim is that of Bukhari. Of the roughly 200 reports dealing with jihad found in Bukhari, 2% of them might be classified as the “greater jihad” of the heart; the other 98% focus on the “lesser jihad” of the sword. There is no question as to where Muhammad put his emphasis, according to orthodox traditions collected by his followers.

The topic of jihad also occupies a prominent place in Shari’a law. undat al salik.jpgAccording to one manual of Shari’a, ‘Umdat as-Salik (which has the endorsement of Sunni Islam’s greatest university, al-Azhar), “Jihad means to war against non-Muslims, and is etymologically derived from the word mujahada, signifying warfare to establish the religion” (p.599; emphasis mine). The laws concerning jihad are based on 95 particular verses from the Qur’an as well as various hadith reports. This Qur’anic support is greater than that supplied for any other topic covered by Shari’a law!

Some apologists have conceded that while jihad may mean war against infidels, such war is always defensive – only legitimate in response to an attack on Muslims. In fact, this is not the case. Over the course of Muhammad’s career, his teaching on how to deal with infidels evolved. Early on, when his followers were few and his enemies strong, Muhammad counseled the use of da’wah – seeking to persuade unbelievers through winsome words and compelling arguments. After his followers began to experience persecution (facing the loss of possessions, being forced from their homes, etc.), he announced that they had the right to fight back to reclaim what they had lost. The third stage moved from defensive to offensive jihad – his followers could seek out and fight Islam’s enemies wherever they were, but not during the four holy months of the lunar calendar which were commonly regarded by all on the Arabian Peninsula as set apart for pilgrimages to various shrines. Finally, when Muhammad and his armies were seemingly invincible, he (and Allah) overruled the customs of the day and commanded the Islamic armies to engage in offensive jihad with no restrictions. Those commands remain in force even today, for no human being can annul what Allah has revealed through his final prophet. Thus, orthodox Islam is committed to jihad until all the world has bowed in submission to Islam by living under Shari’a law as administered by the Caliph of the Islamic state, as commanded in the Qur’an:

 “And fight them until there is no more Fitnah [disbelief and worshipping of others along with Allah] and [all and every kind of] worship is for Allah [Alone]” (2:193).

According to the Qur’an, Islam’s enemies are manifold. First to be dealt with are those who have initiated attacks against the Muslim community or lands. Of course, this can comprise almost anyone, since the Islamic mind interprets any obstacles to its expansion as an attack upon the religion. Second are the kuffar (these are not merely people ignorant of Islam, but rather those who reject Islam – disbelievers).  Third are the mushrikun (those who commit the sin of associating anything in the created order with Allah; in other words, idol worshipers or polytheists – according to Islamic theology, all orthodox Christians are mushrikun, because we believe that Jesus is divine and human). Fourth are “the people of the Book” (Jews and Christians) who have refused to recognize Muhammad as a true prophet, i.e., refused to become Muslims) – in the Qur’an, Jews are cursed directly by Allah ten times; Christians are not far behind. Fifth as enemies of Allah are hypocrites and apostates – those who mouth allegiance to Muhammad but fail to act in the interests of Islam, and those who reject Islam after having originally called themselves believers.

All these enemies are to be fought and defeated, and jihad is the divinely appointed tool to achieve this end. Frequent is the warning in the Qur’an that Muslims who refuse to go to battle will end up roasting in hell, while those who excel in warfare and achieve martyrdom will receive sensual rewards beyond their wildest dreams. It’s no wonder that after Muhammad’s death it took only a hundred years for the armies of Islam to conquer territory as far west as Morocco and Iberia, and as far east as India and the western reaches of China, all from the starting point of the Hejaz in western Arabia.

So when you hear Muslims or their propagandists declaring with great authority that Westerners are wrong to speak of jihad as “holy war,” willy-wonka-islam-means-surrender-its-all-about-peace-jihad-means-struggleand that jihad really only means “effort or struggle,” and principally refers to the work of spirituality in the Muslim’s heart, and only involves the sword when Muslims have been attacked, please set them straight. You have the weight of the Qur’an, the Hadith, the Sira (biography of the prophet), the early, bloody history of expansionist Islam, the Shari’a and the interpretations of countless Muslim scholars on your side.

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The Supernatural Power to Forgive — What Islam Cannot Fathom!

Forgiveness of others, even one’s enemies, is at the heart of the Christian faith, for it is an act of true love. “Freely you have received,” Jesus said, “freely give.” At the heart of the Lord’s Prayer, which every Christian knows and prays, is the petition, “Forgive us our trespasses/debts, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” The prayer of Jesus on the cross models this pinnacle of love when he petitions his Father for mercy toward those crucifying him: “Father, forgive them; they know not what they do.”

Islam, on the other hand, knows little of this kind of forgiveness. Muslims are encouraged to forgive fellow Muslims, but not required to. They are called to seek vengeance, though, against non-Muslims who have wronged them.

After the recent Palm Sunday church bombings in Egypt, the wife of one of the Coptic believers slain in the terror attack is being interviewed on Egyptian TV. During the interview she declares that she bears no ill will toward the terrorists, but instead forgives them and prays they will come to understand the errors of their ways. After the clip has played, the Muslim news anchor who has just viewed the interview (along with the rest of us) responds with incredulity that any human beings could muster such love. If you want to see a clear testimony of how Jesus transforms lives in ways that Muhammad or Allah never can, please watch the video below — it is in Arabic, naturally, but the subtitling in English is very accurate.

<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/212755977″>Forgiveness Incarnated</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/user22194617″>The Bible Society of Egypt</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>


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ISIS and Shakespeare!

It looks like times are getting hard for the leaders of ISIS, whose propaganda claims painted a picture of a continually expanding Islamic caliphate which would successively march through neighboring lands until ultimately it absorbed the whole inhabited world. Such a vision ignited the hearts of many young Muslim men eager to participate in a winning cause. But now that ISIS is on its heels, having lost most of the territory in Iraq and Syria that it had originally captured, the “caliphate” is having difficulty replacing those it has lost on the battlefield, much less expanding its forces with new recruits.

Evidence of this is seen in the fact that while “Caliph” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi used to order that any jihadis who fled from battle were to be executed when caught, he now rejects capital punishment for them, requiring only an ear to be cut off — with the warning that should they attempt to flee again, their other ear will be forfeit. Such was the punishment recently for 33 ISIS fighters who fled from opposing forces in Mosul.

If you want to read the whole story, check out this link as reported in the Daily Mail.

Kind of gives new meaning to Mark Antony’s panegyric in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar:

“Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears….”

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Fake News Headline #3: Islam and Western Democracy Are Completely Compatible!

Defenders of Islam in the West are quick to reassure the faint of heart that Islam and democracy are completely compatible, and that anyone who says otherwise really doesn’t know what he/she is talking about. In fact, some Islamophiles go so far as to say, with a straight face, that Islam actually created democracy!

Yet, in all the histories of Muslim caliphates and empires over almost fourteen centuries, there has never been an example of governance approaching true democracy until the rise of modern Turkey in 1923 from the ashes of the Ottoman Empire. Turkey has been touted as a true Muslim democracy, but in fact it was able to succeed (until recently) because it was founded politically not on Islam but on Western secularism. Kemal Ataturk jettisoned Shari’a in favor of a model based on Swiss civil and Italian penal codes. The country has been able to survive as a democracy despite upheavals fostered by Islamic hardliners, due in no small part to a strong military committed to maintaining a secular government. Recent events under President Erdogan do not bode well for democracy, as he has hammered through the legislature new and expanded powers for himself. Erdogan dreams of ruling over a new, Ottoman-like caliphate, starting with Turkey. He has gradually steered the country away from its secular foundations established by Ataturk, and is injecting Turkish society with heavy doses of Islam. For our purposes in this blog, it is instructive to note that the more a government leans toward the embrace of Islam, the farther it drifts from the heart of democratic rule.

Some observers point out that a few countries in the Middle East have parliaments and hold elections. Isn’t that what democracy is all about?  Well, no, not really. Certainly these are elements necessary for any true democracy, but they are not sufficient. The marks of true democracies include a recognition of the rights of all individuals to personal freedoms and private ownership as well as full or representative participation in government. Likewise, the consent of the governed is underscored by the right of a society to create and change the laws by which it operates. Shari’a law enshrines inequality in how men and women are treated, and particularly in how non-Muslims are treated in contrasted to Muslims. There is no equal protection under the law for those who refuse to convert to Islam.sharia-nutters

Islam by nature is authoritarian and unbending when it comes to governance and statute. Allah is the uncontestable authority, whose will was known and enforced originally only through one man, Muhammad, and then after his death by only one caliph (“commander of the faithful) at a time. Islam never developed the idea of a “body politic” with the authority to make decisions for the nation as a representative body. Caliphs or Sultans might consult a small body of advisers privately, but the decision was theirs alone to make. Of course, any decrees would have to line up with Shari’a, or they would be subject to expulsion or worse.

And here is the second crucial reason why Islam and democracy do not mix well. True democracies demand legislative bodies so that the people through their representatives can shape the laws which govern their collective lives. As realities or values change in a culture, the laws can be changed through legislative process to mirror those movements. democracyBut this cannot be the case with Islam, which proclaims as an unassailable maxim that Shari’a is divine law, perfect in all of its ways and therefore incapable of being amended by anyone other than Allah. Islamic countries have no need of legislatures, since Shari’a cannot be changed. Puppet legislatures are merely for show.

Indeed, if a legislator were to lobby for alteration of Shari’a, his or her life would be endangered by core Muslims in whose eyes the legislator was proposing idolatry (the enacting of imperfect, human laws) over obedience to Allah. This is precisely what took place in Pakistan in 2011 when the Muslim governor of Punjab province, Salman Taseer,salman taseer lobbied to change the country’s anti-blasphemy statutes and to set free Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian woman who had been wrongly convicted of blasphemy and sentenced to death. Taseer himself was assassinated by one of his government bodyguards, a deeply religious Muslim believing his act of murder was pleasing to Allah. The bodyguard, Mumtaz Qadri, was executed by Pakistan in 2016, but as a signal of the of popular mindset, some 100,000 Muslims gathered the day after his execution to publicly mourn his passing and to celebrate his allegiance to Allah and Islam (for full details, see here and here).In the last year, mosques have been erected in his name, and religious celebrations held in his honor. The victim, Gov. Taseer, is all but forgotten.

Democracy in essence is government of the people, by the people, for the people. Shari’a is government of Allah, by his caliph, for the glory of Islam. They mix about as well as fire and water.democracy (1).jpg

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Two More Examples of Struthianism!

Given all the evidence that has come out about Muslim terror perpetrator Khalid Masood, one might expect some straightforward conclusions leading to investigations over why Islam seems to engender so much hatred and violence against the rest of the world (as of today, over 30,500 lethal terrorist attacks by Muslims worldwide since 9/11). However, that apparently would be too rational a conclusion to reach.

Three days after the attack, Deputy Assistant Metropolitan Police Commissioner Neil Basu declared that most likely Masood acted alone (though at that point eleven others had been arrested in the ensuing investigation).  basuHe noted that authorities needed to establish “with absolute clarity” why Masood committed these atrocities so as to provide answers to victims and their families and to calm the nerves of the nation.  However, he concluded his remarks with this singularly inept remark: “We must all accept that there is a possibility we will never understand why he did this. That understanding may have died with him.”  Doesn’t the fact that ISIS has been calling Muslims to rise up against the Western world with precisely these kinds of attacks give Mr. Basu a clue? Doesn’t the fact that core Islam presents its prophet as commanding his followers to strike terror in the hearts of the unbelievers lend a further clue as to this terrorist’s mindset? Would the Western world be so willfully blind if the perpetrator had been an anti-abortion activist who murdered abortion providers and was killed in the process? Would we settle for “There is a possibility we will never understand why he did this. That understanding may have died with him”? Please. Don’t insult our intelligence with this drivel.

A second example comes by way of  tweets from a “journalist” by the name of Doug Saunders, presently the international affairs columnist with The Globe and Mail, a daily Canadian newspaper.



Mr. Saunders, who seems to be vying for either the title “Parser of the Year” or “Master of the Non Sequitur,” offers two inane arguments to divert attention away from the obvious issue of Islam as the leading cause of terrorism.

The first hinges on the meaning of the word “was” (shades of the Bill Clinton defense!). Saunders notes that the Westminster attacker was born Adrian Elms, and so obviously “was” not a Muslim at the start of his life. Apparently Mr. Saunders hopes his readers don’t pay close attention to his words (I concur with this hope), and will simply read quickly over the phrase “…was not a Muslim” and assume that Islam had nothing to do with this latest event. What Saunders means of course is that Masood did not start out his life as a Muslim. Leaving aside the quibble that in Islamic theology it is believed that all human beings are born as Muslims, but most drift away because of family or societal influences, so that if they come back to Islam as adults their return is known as a “reversion” rather than a “conversion, Saunders acknowledges that Masood started life as Adrian Elms, not as Khalid Masood. The real point that the columnist refuses to recognizes is this: Masood was not a Muslim at birth, but at some point consciously became a Muslim, and it was this decision that led to his bloodstained rampage across Westminster Bridge and the Parliament grounds one week ago.

Secondly, Saunders claims, whether accurately or not, that most UK Muslim extremists are not Muslim by background but rather converts from Christian families! The implication is that this common thread must be the cause of their bloodthirsty violence against others, no doubt because they remember Jesus’ teachings to kill the unbelievers wherever you find them, to put the sword to the necks of all who refuse to recognize him as Lord and Savior, to cut of the hands and feet of all who oppose the advance of the gospel, to strike terror into the hearts of his enemies, and to use subterfuge as a way to gain advantage over others because, after all, war is deceit.

Oh wait, I’m mixed up. It was Muhammad who commanded those things. Jesus said, “Love your enemies; pray for those who persecute you; do good to those who hate you; bless those who curse you; he who lives by the sword will die by the sword….” So how could the Christian background of these converts to Islam somehow drive them to such hateful violence against others? And if Christian beliefs are the true source of these evils surfacing in Muslim converts, then why don’t we see Christians with ten, twenty, forty years of commitment to Christ leading the terrorist charge across the world? Christianity is after all the religion with the largest number of adherents in the world.

The real truth is that Islam is the compelling factor which moves converts to become jihadis. If Muslims argue that these converts have gotten it all wrong, then it is up to them to do a better job training those they enlist in their religion by showing them that when Muhammad commands them to kill the unbeliever, he doesn’t really mean it. I wish them good luck.

The other truth which Mr. Saunders second tweet unintentionally conveys is a true indictment against the Church. Why is it that anyone from a Christian background would ever turn to Islam as a better alternative? Is our example and teaching so insipid concerning what it means to follow Jesus that many conclude the gospel is boring and that a life given to supremacy over others whether by sword or coercion is a better alternative?

church ostrichThe Western Church must shake off our worldly self-satisfaction and return to living for the Kingdom of God as exemplified in the life of Jesus and made possible by His indwelling Spirit. Until we do that, we bear some of the blame for those within earshot of the gospel who turn away in disappointment to go find their meaning in something else. We don’t have the luxury to remain strouthian in our discipleship!


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