Love in a Time of Terrorism

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The other day I paid a visit to our local Mosque. I emailed the Imam and asked for a time when he could welcome me to his Mosque. After some time (one postponed attempt) I showed up at the appointed time, just after the 1:30 prayer. The Imam welcomed me and I took off my shoes. He gave me a tour of the Mosque. First, we peeked in a washroom like area where the men do their ablutions (ritual washings to prepare for prayer). Then we went into the main prayer area, facing Mecca. Men prayed on the main floor, women on the second floor behind glass (I guess those who arrive early get a better view). I looked at the carpet and discovered that it was divided up, so individuals do not need to bring their own prayer rug. In the front was an ornate chair for the Imam to sit on during Friday prayers. I asked the Imam if he sat there when he preached – but he replied that Imams stand when they give the sermon.

After the tour we went to a meeting room that reminded me of a council room. One of his members imports tea so he had several boxes stacked up. That was to be our drink so I chose lemon. As we enjoyed the donated tea we talked a bit about ministry. Imams, like pastors, are very busy with many pressing needs in their congregation. I asked him about his preparation and training and he described a lengthy process that reminded me of my time at Calvin Theological Seminary. He told me that he was gifted with the ability to memorize the Quran. Not all apparently are.

I expressed interest in further dialogue but I am not sure his busy schedule will allow it. I explained that we in the Christian Reformed Church are interested in dialogue with our Muslim neighbor. I gave him my card and welcomed him to visit our Salaam Project website. I asked him if he and his congregants were affected by ISIS and current events in the Middle East. He told me that they weren’t really affected (there is less anti-Muslim sentiment in this part of Canada). He said that many of his congregants come from Egypt, which reminded me of our CRCNA delegation to Egypt last year where we met the Grand Imam of Al Azar Mosque. I mentioned that it was an honor to visit with this important Muslim leader. I asked him if he would be open to having people from the church come to the Mosque for a visit, and to learn more about Islam–of course he was open to that. I explained to him that as Christians we want to stand firmly in our own faith, while we learn about others. That is part of being a good neighbor.

As I was leaving I noticed a sign advertising a second hand clothing exchange to raise money for dawa. Dawa is the Islamic term for missions. That reminded me of a store I have frequented in the past–Bibles for Missions. We are a people also on mission, but it begins with dialogue and honest relationships. It also begins with obedience to God’s call to reach out to our religious neighbors. They are only a call or email away. You don’t have to start with the Imam. But you could.

A good curriculum to help your congregation get started is called Loving our Religious Neighbor. For more information see www.lorneighbors.com or go to our website www.crcna.org/salaam for more resources. If you are in the Los Angeles area please join us on October 24-25 at Anaheim CRC for a Salaam Project conference. To register go to www.crwm.org/anaheim.

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Greetings Greg:

   As I read your post, I see that you are doing something that the Apostle Paul did as he "carefully observed" the practices of the Athenians in Acts 17. Careful observation is hugely important, and careful observation will lead to questions. As I carefully observed your post, I noticed a few things.

1. You seem to insinuate that a mosque is the Islamic equivalent of a church and an imam is the Islamic equivalent of a seminary grad. From an Islamic point of view, this is questionable. If you read the description of a mosque from the hugely influential Muslim named Yusuf Al-Qaradawi in his 2006 fatwa:

<<<<The mosque at the time of the Messenger of Allah [Muhammad] was the center of the activities of the Muslim community as a whole: it was not just a house of worship and prayer, but included worship, a university for science, a forum for literature, and a parliament for consultation ... it was used by delegations from various places in the Arabian peninsula to meet with the prophet [Muhammad], and it was the place where he gave his sermons and guidance in all religious, social and political aspects of life.

In the life of the prophet there was no distinction between what the people call sacred and secular, or religion and politics: he had no place other than the mosque for politics and other related issues. That established a precedent for his religion. The mosque at the time of the prophet was his propagation center and the headquarters of the state.

This was also the case for his successors, the rightly guided Caliphs: the mosque was their base for all activities political as well as non-political.

... Politics as a science is one of the best disciplines, and as a practice and career it is the most honorable. The surprising thing is that it is politicians, who are totally immersed in it [politics] from the top of their heads to the soles of their feet, who are inquiring if the mosque should embark on and leap into political affairs. Politics in itself is neither vice, nor evil, according to Islam. ... For Muslims it is part of our religion: doctrine and worship constitute a system for the whole of life. 

... It must be the role of the mosque to guide the public policy of a nation, raise awareness of critical issues, and reveal its enemies. 

From ancient times the mosque has had a role in urging jihad for the sake of Allah, resisting the enemies of the religion who are invading occupiers. That blessed Intifada in the land of the prophets, Palestine, started from none other than the mosques.  Its first call came from the minarets and it was first known as the mosque revolution. The mosque's role in the Afghan jihad, and in every Islamic jihad cannot be denied.>>>>

      So what is the bottom line here? The mosque is essentially the "mini-headquarters of a political-religious state" for the advancement of Islam in a given geographical area. This view is also stated by Sheikh Omar Bakri, principal lecturer of the London School of Shari’ah he lists in order the following functions of a mosque.

1. the headquarters of the Islamic State's supreme leadership

2. a section of the Department of Information and Culture

3. a Judiciary Court

4. a University for Learning and Teaching

5. a platform for oratory, eloquence and poetry

6. a place where war booties are divided

7. a detention centre for the prisoner of war

     If I have not persuaded you yet, the book The Mosque Exposed, by two former Muslims, Sam Solomon and E. Alamaqdisi will attest to the above. 

    Greg, your making "careful observation" in your honourable quest to be a good neighbour might need a bit of "careful observation."

2. Your title: Since you mention love and terrorism I wonder if you could ask your imam dialogue partner a couple of questions.

a. What does he think of the Qur'anic injunction to "prepare" in Qur'an 8:60 and its relation to terror..

b.  I also wonder what he thinks about Brigadier Malik's book "The Quranic Concept of War" with its bottom line "

Terror struck into the hearts of the enemies is not only
a means, it is the end in itself. Once a condition of terror into
the opponent's heart is obtained, hardly anything is left to be
achieved. It is the point where the means and the end meet
and merge. Terror is not a means of imposing decision upon
the enemy; it is the decision we. wish to impose upon him.  p.59

c. Does he see any connecting lines between the "time of terrorism" that you refer to and any kind of primary source documents?. 

 

Shalom.