Islam vs. Christianity
In an address in Ireland for the 2011 report by Aid to the Church in Need on Christian persecution, Archbishop Bashar Warda of northern Iraq did not mince words about the plight of Christians and other non-Muslims in his country. Christians in Iraq face “near genocide” due only to their non-Muslim status as the Iraqi government muddies the waters of jurisprudence.
What we Iraqis are suffering is a crisis in cultural change. We are living in a region which cannot decide if it is for democracy or for Islamic law. It cannot decide if it is for the rights of human beings to live in freedom in all its exciting and challenging forms, or if it is for the control of the spirit and the minds of its people.
Since 2003, roughly a million Iraqi Christians have either fled their native homeland or been massacred. The damage wrought by Islamists has also taken its toll on Christian buildings dedicated to serving and uplifting the downtrodden.
Now I would like to talk to you about the systematic bombing campaign of Iraqi churches. The first Iraqi church was bombed in June, 2004 in Mosul. Following that event, successive campaigns have occurred and a total of 66 churches have been attacked or bombed; 41 in Baghdad, 19 in Mosul, 5 in Kirkuk and 1 in Ramadi. In addition, 2 convents, 1 monastery and a church orphanage was bombed.
While Islamists have insisted on blowing up, killing, or otherwise suppressing everything and everyone identified as Christian in Iraq, the Church there has been seeking to build. In January, it was announced that the Church, with the assistance of Aid to the Church in Need, would minister to the Christian community in northern Iraq, the area Christians are fleeing to, by building a university and a hospital.
Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil said both schemes would provide jobs, training and other opportunities for thousands of Christians flooding into the relative security of Kurdistan, away from the religious violence, especially in Baghdad and Mosul.
Speaking after a committee of faithful and clergy met to advance the schemes, Archbishop Warda said: “The plans we have been developing over the past few months are symbols of hope for the Christian presence in our country.”
Christians defend life, education, employment, and religious freedom while Islamists seek only to destroy them. This is an all too familiar theme that has not been missed by Cardinal O’Brien of Britain.
The Qur’an (Quran, Kuran, Koran, Coran or al-Qur’?n), the religious text ostensibly revealed to Muhammad by “Allah” through the angel “Jibril”, is considered by Muslims to be the “final revelation” of ‘Allah”. In it, we find fables about various persons who are also mentioned in the Torah and in the Christian New Testament. Among them is “Isa”, who Muslims claim is Jesus.
Though Christians believe Jesus to be the Son of God and the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, Muslims consider “Isa” to be merely a prophet, in much the same manner that Jews and Christians consider Elijah to be a prophet. Muhammad also is considered a prophet; the last one sent by God and, therefore, because he ostensibly brought the “final revelation”, he is deemed by Muslims to be the most special prophet of all. As a “prophet”, “Isa” holds a special place in the mind of Muslims. Among the more zealous Muslims, we may find a willingness to strongly defend the name of “Isa”, who they will sometimes refer to as “Jesus”. For this reason, it is sometimes perceived that Muslims hold “Jesus” in higher honor than even Christians do. Since zeal for error should never be mistaken for holiness, it’s important that we understand more precisely what it is that Muslims believe about “Isa” (“Jesus”).
As a convert who was raised in a protestant home, I completely understand what it’s like to know “about” Jesus without really “knowing Jesus”. Today, Ash Wednesday, 2011, is the twentieth anniversary of my recognizing the Real Jesus in the Eucharist. Because of my own life experience, I understand that ignorance can be remedied through the grace of God and through our willingness to spread the truth about the Real Jesus provided that those who do not really know Jesus are willing to accept that their current view of Him is not altogether the truth. For this reason, it is important that we understand what Muslims believe, on some level, and be willing to engage them in dialogue and also to pray for their understanding of the Real Jesus.
Muhammad’s view of Jesus is fundamentally flawed, both in the Qur’an and in the “Hadith” which offers context for the Qur’an much like the writings of the Early Church Fathers offer context for the Christian Scriptures.
In the Qur’an, we can hear certain ‘echoes’ of stories from the Christian Scriptural account of Jesus. As an example, I will offer two passages from the Christian Scriptures about Jesus and a passage from the Qur’an about Muhammad’s “Jesus” character. Continue reading
by Joe Hargrave
One of the memes – the unconscious, uncritical, lazy thoughts that spreads from person to person like a virus – that has been particularly virulent during this ground-zero mosque controversy is that Christians have no standing to criticize the violence of Islam, given a supposedly violent Christian history. And no one event is more often invoked as an example of Christian hypocrisy than the so-called “Crusades” (so-called, because no one who fought in them called them that).
The latest and most appalling example appears in the NY Times, courtesy of a Nicholas D. Kristof. Among the many absurdities one can find in this column, including definitive claims as to the intentions and desires of Osama bin Laden, Kristof writes,
Remember also that historically, some of the most shocking brutality in the region was justified by the Bible, not the Koran. Crusaders massacred so many men, women and children in parts of Jerusalem that a Christian chronicler, Fulcher of Chartres, described an area ankle-deep in blood. While burning Jews alive, the crusaders sang, “Christ, We Adore Thee.”
What could be more logical, more pertinent, more relevant, than to invoke thousand-year old wartime excesses as proof that Christians have no grounds to criticize Islam?