Let Islam pick up the ball where Christianity has dropped it

Yesterday, at the school where I work, a Muslim gentleman talked to us about the customs of Islam, especially as they pertain to our Muslim students and in what ways we should accommodate them. Lately they’ve requested time off from class to say their daily  prayers –  performing Salah.

As it turns out, we are required to do nothing, just as we are not required to accommodate any Christian or Jewish traditions that might interfere with the day’s education.  We do, however, want to be considerate and,  if possible, reasonably accommodating. ( For example, we always offer an alternative when we serve port at school  meals.)

The  Muslim speaker said  that he met with our students and determined that they are, for the most part, not intentional in their faith: they do not pray at home, they do not know the Arabic necessary for the prayers and most importantly, they do not comport themselves in a fashion that would show they are trying to do the will of Allah: they are constantly getting into fights and some are notorious bullies.  Basically, he thought they were just trying to get out of class.  Then the gentleman asked; what good is religion if it does not make you a better person?

He said that these boys, all from the slums of D.C., are apparently being turned on to Islam by someone there who sees it is a better lifestyle alternative to  gang membership.   A mosque can give the same sense of belonging and community support that the gangs do for these forgotten youth, yet instilling a much different set of values and goals. He felt that the students in question had just started on the right track and his intent was to teach those willing how to be good Muslims.

After the meeting broke up, one of my friends, a devout Christian, asked me how I felt about young people being led to Allah instead of to Christ.  Just fine, I said.  The conversation went something like this:

My friend: “But don’t you think that Christianity provides a better option than Islam”

“No, I don’t. Not in this case. The church has already failed these kids”

“But don’t you think that following Jesus is the best way to God? I mean, why are you a Christian then, if it’s all the same?”

“It’s not all the same. But what do you mean by ‘following Jesus’?  What do we mean by the term “Christian”? Those are loaded terms – and  if they have any meaning at all for the uninitiated they are often negative.”

“Yeah, but at least Christianity is peaceful.”

“Is it?  Consider its history.”

“But that was the past. Look at all the Muslim terrorists today. Sure there are some Christian nut jobs who are violent but they are pretty rare. Christians are pretty peaceful today. ”

“They are? Remember the violence in Rwanda? Not that long ago.”

“Sure, but they were tribal enemies.”

“And also Christians. And don’t forget the violence in Northern Ireland.”

“But their actions prove that they are not  real Christians.”

“And our Muslim friend might say that the terrorists are not ‘real’ Muslims. And they are often members of war-like ‘tribes'”

“True”

“As the speaker asked, what good is religion if it does not make you a better person? When fundamentalists of any religion emphasize belief over faith, heavenly rewards for ‘true’ believers against the evils of an ‘apostate’ world, it fosters intolerance, hatred and violence.”

“Good point”

“Jesus’ teachings help lead us to God.  If the teachings of Mohamed can help lead some of these tortured kids to Allah, which is just their word for God, then isn’t that a good thing?  God is good.  Allah is good.”


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  1. #1 by anon on April 12, 2010 - 12:47 pm

    Alamanach has clearly made my point for me with his choices.

    If your heart is filled with hate or fear—that is what you will choose to focus. What was it Jesus Christ(pbuh) said……something about a plank in the eye?…. See others as the human beings they are and you will see the world differently. Hate and fear will only destroy your own soul.

  2. #2 by anon on April 12, 2010 - 1:17 pm

    military goes to great pains to avoid the death of innocents.

    An American soldier in Afganistan wrote on his blog that he was fielding questions from the Afghan army they were training. One of the Afghans asked that with all their military and technological superiority, why were the Americans causing so much civilian casualties?—The American soldier replied that they could not tell the difference between who was the insurgent and who was the civilian.

    Gandhi said—“an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind”
    it is something we should seriously think about…….

    • #3 by Christian Beyer on April 12, 2010 - 1:50 pm

      Right. Aside from the issue over whether or not any military incursion in Afghanistan is necessary (and at this stage I think it is) we should acknowledge that fighting non-uniformed rebels, especially those who use suicidal tactics, has implicit dangers for civilians and uniformed soldiers that would otherwise not exist. There are reasons for military uniforms and this is one of them.

      But I see your point and to some extent, I agree with it. Though I don’t know how applicable it is at this time. With Pakistan and India’s nuclear arsenals, the fact that they are sworn enemies who are kept at bay by mutual assured destruction and the possibility of a Taliban takeover of Pakistan a distinct possibility then I don’t know what options are left.

  3. #4 by Christian Beyer on April 12, 2010 - 4:02 pm

    I think we’ve gotten a little off topic. I don’t know if anyone has anything to say about the idea that Islam is a viable faith alternative for at-risk teenagers in the inner city (or any teenagers anywhere) but if so, let’s hear it.

  4. #5 by Alamanach on April 12, 2010 - 9:11 pm

    “But is there that much difference between what terrorists do and Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Or the firebomb raids of Tokyo? Or Dresden? Or much farther back, Sullivan’s March?”

    If nothing else, the goals behind the actions are significantly different. That’s of no comfort to the dead at Hiroshima, Dresden, etc. Wars are awful, and as it has been said, those that have do wage them do not have choices between good and bad, but between bad and worse. The occassionally inconsistent Victor Davis Hanson reflects on this very question: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vNSdmgqbR4s&feature=channel

    If we hadn’t nuked Japan, would the world have been better off or worse? That’s not to say there wasn’t a better option out there than going nuclear, but nobody seems to know what it was. What else were these people to do? It was bad any way you cut it. War doesn’t have many good options, which is why wars are so desperately avoided in the first place.

  5. #6 by anon on April 13, 2010 - 1:38 am

    Chris
    My apologies for continuing with an off-topic conversation…I hope this will be the last said on this topic…..
    There is a lot of condemnation of terrroism—but it is difficult to make up a list—1) because it has been going on since 9/11 and covers a lot of years 2) It covers a lot of territory–from the Far East, South East, and Central Asia to the Middle East, Africa and Europe. 3)There are many venues used—from regional and international conferences to individual scholars, to groups of scholars/academics, community(denominational) representatives, political leaders, governments…..etc

    I could give examples—but these may be more difficult to double check than organizations that have websites……

    These are just a handful of hay from a haystack…
    Dr Ul Qadri-Europe
    Sheik Qaradawi-Qatar
    Tariq Bishri, M. Awwa, Fahmi Huwaydi-Egypt
    Haytha Khayyat-Syria
    Sheik Al-Alwani-American
    Sheik Tantawi-Al Azahr
    Sheik Abdul Aziz-S. Arabia
    The Amman Message -Jordan…..
    As you can see—-a List like this is pretty dry—but it can’t be helped…We don’t have a Pope or a representative body that speaks for all of Islam.

    Sheik Hamza Yusuf (Zaytuna)of the U.S. has attended many of the conferences and signed joint statements with them. He says that the number of statements and letters he has signed are too numerous to list…….

    As I said before—The West may choose to hear us or choose to ignore us—in the greater scheme of things, it matters more that we Muslims hear it.

  6. #7 by ChrisVise on April 22, 2010 - 12:05 am

    Jesus is the only true way to God…even the Bible said it…

    • #8 by Christian Beyer on April 22, 2010 - 12:08 am

      “EVEN the Bible said it”? Well, parts of the Bible said it, while other parts have people finding their way to God without Jesus. But even so, what does it mean when we say “Jesus is the only way?”

      Thanks for chiming in, Chris.

      • #9 by ric booth on April 22, 2010 - 10:57 am

        I think the thing we Christians (and everyone else for that matter) get mixed up on is the “how.” We know “what” the bible says and “what” Jesus did while here in person. We know “what” was accomplished / finished with his sacrifice. The thing we don’t know is “how” he does all this. How does he take on the sins of the world? How does he redeem the unredeemable. How does he reveal himself to each of us? If we only knew “how” we could add it to our check list and accomplish it.

        We are very uncomfortable with not knowing how, that much is for sure.

        • #10 by Christian Beyer on April 22, 2010 - 12:46 pm

          I don’t know, Ric. I’m a little iffy about some of the ‘whats’. What does it mean to say that he took on the sins of the world?

          • #11 by ric booth on April 22, 2010 - 2:29 pm

            That is the “how”. In my mind. How does he take on the sins of the world? I dunno.

            • #12 by Jonathan on April 22, 2010 - 3:36 pm

              Is the ‘how’ this easily separated from the ‘what’? To make a ‘what’ claim as any sort of proposition, seems to posit a ‘how’ – at least implicitly. If one wants to be diligent with one’s ‘whats’ then one should be clear and concise with the ‘hows’.

              • #13 by Christian Beyer on April 22, 2010 - 4:06 pm

                Good point, I think. (SWOOSH?)

                I think there is a degree of separation. For example; I agree with the statement that “Jesus died for our sins”, but with the word “for” meaning “because of”. I do not agree with PSA theory, that Jesus was the sacrificial “lamb” required to die a violent death to appease God.

                So when someone says that Jesus “took on the sins of the world” he may very likely see a meaning in that statement that others such as myself do not. In which case, the “how” question is irrelevant. He never actually “took on the sins of the world” but it was the sin of the world that killed him. And, metaphorically speaking, continue to kill him to this day.

                • #14 by Jonathan on April 22, 2010 - 6:35 pm

                  Even, though, in your explanation of ‘took on the sins of the world’ as being metaphorical, you have at least excluded a certain set of ‘hows’. It is in this regard that I claim that any ‘what’ statement in some regard implies a set of possible ‘hows’. Unfortunately, these ‘hows’ generally follow haphazardly from our ‘whats’. If we take the ‘whats’ seriously, we should at least explore the ‘hows’ of our ‘whats’.

                  And hopefully, we don’t sound as silly as I just did with my conglomeration of hows and whats.

                  haha

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