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Religion-What Can I Do?

Islam - 1 hour 37 min ago

I was scrolling through my Tumblr feed thinking about issues I could write on. One thing struck my attention- a religious fight between a protestant Christian and an atheist. The subject of the fight was if one can really impose their religious beliefs on another.

I grew up Roman Catholic, and still practice it today. The fight essentially boiled down to “the Bible is the truth. My religion is the truth so I will force it on you.” I nearly laughed.

From the point of view of the law, we are protected under the Bill of Rights with “freedom of religion” without persecution. What this means is that the GOVERNMENT cannot force us to all practice the same religion. America does not have a national religion, and they don’t for this specific reason. The government cannot tell us what to practice.

That doesn’t mean that I can’t sit out on the quad of my university protesting that people need to follow my religion. I am allowed to practice my beliefs on public property. This goes for all religions; Islam, Judaism, Protestantism, Buddhism, Atheism, the list goes on.  And unless I start to get violent or start harassing people, or things like that, the government cannot arrest me for expressing my beliefs in a public place.

I will also say that every religion has extremists. Yes you read that correctly. Islam is not the only religion where extremists exist and kill and do things that make the entire religion look bad. That happens in every religion. These extremists are the ones we see on the news, the ones who make everyone else look bad. If not all Christians are like the Jim David Adkisson, who shot and killed people because of his hatred of the liberals because his religion was conservative, then not all Islamist people are like Osama Bin Laden. That’s a fact.

As for the issue of the truth of the Bible:

I believe and will always believe that the Bible is the truth to follow. To me, Roman Catholicism is the truth, and in my own personal opinion, I think everyone should be Roman Catholic. And this holds true for every religion; it’s the basis of believing. In order to believe in a religion, you have to believe that this is the true religion, and that it’s going to get you to whatever heaven that religion believes in, or none at all.

But each Religion is different.

So Buddhists believe that the Tripitaka is the true book. Islam believes the Qu’ran is the true book. Catholics believe the New and Old Testaments are the true books. Every truth is different.

So what truth do we impose upon others? None at all.

Imposing my religion is not like saying you can’t eat cake because I’m on a diet. That isn’t what this is. It’s like telling a student of a different University that “you have to wear orange because it’s my University’s color.” While it is true that my University’s color may be orange, it isn’t the only truth.

We can’t impose a “truth” upon someone because it is the truth we believe in. Rather, we must be open to other people’s truths, and willing to allow others to believe the truths they want to believe.

We frankly don’t know what the true religion is. We believe what we are practicing is enough to secure our spot in eternal heaven and bliss, but in all honesty, we won’t know until our souls leave us and move onto wherever we believe they will go.

Categories: Islam

"This marks a shift in the usual prescription for peace, since Arab leaders have repeatedly said that normalization of relations must come only after core issues are resolved and a Palestinian state is established with Jerusalem as its capital"

Islam - 1 hour 55 min ago

ISRAEL HAYOM
PA official: Trump to launch unconventional peace plan
by Daniel Siryoti
May 25, 2017

U.S. President Donald Trump will launch an unconventional peace plan that is based on the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, focusing on upgrading Israel’s relations with Arabs states rather than on reaching an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, a senior Palestinian Authority official told Israel Hayom. The official said Trump conveyed this intent to PA President Mahmoud Abbas when the two met in Bethlehem on Tuesday. The Arab Peace Initiative, also called the Saudi Initiative, was unveiled in 2002 by then-Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah at the Arab League summit in Beirut. Under the plan, which was formally adopted by the summit, Arab states would agree to normalize relations with Israel if the Jewish state met certain conditions….READ MORE

Categories: Islam

Reduce Implicit Bias through Data Science: Focus on Islam

Islam - 2 hours 46 sec ago

In the field of workplace diversity, uncovering our own unconscious bias is the trend for raising awareness and creating equitable workplace cultures. Google and Facebook, for example, are using the online tool developed by Harvard University, the “Implicit Association Test” (IAT), to assess unconscious bias. The IAT measures our response times to different word pairings (for example, “good” and “Islam”; or “good” and “Christianity”) and associations between concepts (e.g., “black people”, “gay people”).[1] Longer response times mean that the word pairings are weaker for us, pointing to an implicit bias.

These are a truly interesting set of tests that correlate hesitation or processing time with cultural messaging. These are a great way to begin discussions around diversity. Plus they have the added benefit of being asynchronous, and private. People can take the tests on their own time, and no one needs to share their results. (You can read more about or take the range of IAT’s on Harvard’s Project Implicit website here: https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/takeatest.html.)

Given the tests are based on response times, it is almost impossible to complete them without some kind of bias in one’s result. Plus, once one receives this result, what is the next step? Just knowing we have an unconscious bias will not help us overcome our bias. Harvard asserts we may never be able to overcome our bias, and provides a couple of strategies for simply managing it and compensating for it. I aver, however, that we can take steps to overcome our bias—we do not have to simply manage or compensate for it. We can reduce it significantly through two different types of education. The first type of education focuses on where these implicit biases come from, and this is what I illustrate below. The second type is experiential education, which I have discussed formerly in some detail.[2]

Let’s take one example now to examine where implicit biases come from. I’ll use the example of Islam, as Islam has been one of the most misunderstood, misrepresented, and vilified religions in the “western” world. According to a 2017 research survey by the Pew Center, for instance, respondents were asked to rate their feelings toward Muslims on a “feeling thermometer”. The survey yielded that the general feelings toward Muslims were at about 48% (where 0 equals cold and 100 equals very warm). Atheists only slightly outperformed Islam at 50%, and other religious groups rated significantly higher.[3]

Implicit biases certainly come from our culture—they are the water we swim in, if you will. So through the example of Islam, let’s step out of our cultural water for a moment and take a look at how our culture, particularly our media, has communicated about Islam to create such abbreviated hospitality toward its adherents.

The Hype over Islamic Radicalism

For this study, seven news media stations were data scraped for mentions of radical Islam over the period of the last two years.

This first graph depicts the number of mentions of radical Islam from 2015 to the present according to news station. As the graph shows, Fox News far exceeds the number of mentions of Islamic radicalism as compared to the other stations scraped, which included CNN, Fox Business, MSNBC, Bloomberg, Al-Jazeera, and CNBC. While Bloomberg, Al-Jazeera, and CNBC had each less than 500 mentions, Fox News had over 4,500 mentions.

The next graph below depicts not just the number of mentions per news outlet, but the date-frames during which these mentions of radical Islam were made. The graph shows the enormous spike in mentions in the months leading up to the 2016 Presidential election. Mentions of radical Islam triple beginning mid-summer before the election, and then radically drop off in its wake.

These two data sets importantly demonstrate the incongruence of Fox News, and perhaps also CNN, with other “news” sources. While the various networks analyzed certainly report on incidents of violence associated with Islamic extremism, Fox and CNN perpetrate hype over such extremism. CNBC, Al-Jazeera, and Bloomberg, in particular, seem little bothered to join in to this hype.

Islam vs. Christianity in the News

This second set of graphs, as below, depict a data scraping of the New York Post, a conservative-leaning newspaper, to see what words were most likely to be found in the same phrase as either Islam or Christianity. The first chart, which shows the words most closely affiliated with Christianity, are mostly on the topic of country and presidency, also the pope and faith. Interestingly, the words Muslim, ISIS, attack, and war are also strongly affiliated, appearing between 1/3rd and 1/6th the number of times as the most highly correlated words.

The second graph on words most closely associated with Islam notably holds “radical” as one of the top four, appearing up to 2000 times in since 2015. ISIS and war also figure in the top ten words, and terrorism, anti, and terrorist, are a bit further down the list. Of import is the close affiliation of negative word pairings with Islam not only in relation to the word Islam, but also in the data resulting from the search on Christianity.

Of additional import, we notice that the mentions of Christianity in the media peak out at under 300 mentions across the seven news media outlets scraped. The number of mentions of Islam, however, adds a zero; it peaks out at just under 3000. So our exposure to media influence related to Islam is 100 times greater than media influence related to Christianity. (And even the Christianity search, as stated above, included negative word affiliations with Islam.)

In returning to the 2017 Pew survey for a moment, the survey results additionally measure opinions of Islam according to political affiliation:

Republicans also are more likely than Democrats to say they are very concerned about extremism in the name of Islam around the world (67% vs. 40%) and in the U.S. (64% vs. 30%). In addition, a December 2016 survey found that more Republicans than Democrats say Islam is likelier than other religions to encourage violence among its believers (70% vs. 26% of Democrats).[4]

The data charts above, by breaking out mentions of radical Islam according to news station, illustrate powerfully – even explain– the messages (and biases) communicated to their media consumers that emerge in these Pew results. At the same time, it is reported that most Americans know little or nothing about Islam. The media is responsible for the bulk, if not all, of our general cultural knowledge of the religion. It seems logical to postulate, given the strong and pervasive negative affiliation with Islam in our media, that this is the source of unconscious bias against it.

The Shoe on the Other Foot

It’s necessary to consider, in light of this, how negative hype (which we might even call propaganda) has constructed our biased views of Islam. Such negative and constant exposure to any religion—especially a minority religion– would raise fears and doubts about the very nature of that religion, as has certainly happened with Islam in the west.

What if, for example, a “Christian” carried out an act of terrorism (which has certainly happened on many occasions). Further, what if their religion became the focus of media attention? And what if our news media made a story out of the “religious” event 3000 times over 1½ years, in accordance with what our data shows above? This comes to an approximate 5½ mentions per day for 1½ years. As has happened with Islam, I think we might start asking if Christianity is inherently violent, too. And if we are not Christian, and happened to be unfamiliar with many adherents of Christianity, we might truly believe it. Indeed, anything we are exposed to this much cannot help but have an influence upon our thoughts—conscious or unconscious—and create biases. This is how advertising works.

If the media—at least certain popular outlets—has constructed Islam for us, then it is possible to take responsibility for our own thoughts—indeed our own biases– and construct them otherwise.

[1] https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/iatdetails.html. Retrieved on May 25, 2017.

[2] “Engaging Difference: Exercises and Tips for Creating Experiential Learning Environments,” in Modern Believing, Vol. 48:3 (July 2007), UK: Modern Church.

[3] http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/02/27/muslims-and-islam-key-findings-in-the-u-s-and-around-the-world/. Retrieved on May 25, 2017.

[4] http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/02/27/muslims-and-islam-key-findings-in-the-u-s-and-around-the-world/. Retrieved on May 25, 2017.

Categories: Islam

Britain Then and Now

Islam - 2 hours 3 min ago

There has been a lot of comparisons done recently about the reaction of Britain to attacks during World War 2 and attacks by terrorists recently. During the Battle of Britain you had famous quotations from Winston Churchill promising defiance and eventual victory. My personal favorite is “Let the Hun do their worst and we shall do our best and with God’s help it will be enough”. Fast forward to today. We have the mayor of London openly saying that terrorist attacks are something that people living in big cities will have to get used to and leftist journalists saying there is nothing we can do. Various personalities on the right have declared that this shows the cowardice and defeatism of the left. They are wrong and this shows a fundamental misunderstanding on how the left thinks.

Right and Wrong

In the past few days I have talked about the concept of the original sin and this illustrates that perfectly. In the past both left and right agreed that Nazi Germany was wrong and Britain was right therefore the British people had the duty to resist German advances. The party that had to change for peace to be achieved was the Germans.

It is different with Islam and terrorism. The right has not changed. They believe that Islam has no right to do what its adherents are doing and they have a duty to resist. The entity that has to change for peace to be achieved is Islam. Liberals do not believe this. Listen to their solutions and the way they define the problem. According to liberals the problem is income inequality. The terrorists are not getting their share of the pie. The problem is climate change destroying their homes. The problem is the US and other European countries interfering in the Middle East. The problem is they are just not educated enough so we need to send more money. Islam does not have to do anything. The onus is on the west to step up and pay their ransom and the terrorist attacks will stop. In fact the proposed solution of Cenk from the Young Turks is a Marshall Plan for the Middle East. Essentially sending up to 10% of the GDP of the United States to build the Middle East.

Original Sin

This is where the original sin comes in. The liberals have already accepted that their country and by extension they are guilty. The country is guilty of being rich. The country is guilty of being successful. The country is guilty of being a much nicer place to live in than the hellholes in the Middle East. In the guilty mind the fact that your civilization is a much nicer place to live in is not due to any special virtue of your civilization but rather due to its vices for exploiting others therefore you must spend your time atoning for your sins.

The liberals are wrong here. It has been consistently proven that the Islamics that launch terrorist attacks on the west are among the most highly educated. The fact that they speak English passably shows this. In 9/11 and the Belgium attacks for example the attackers were all from well off families and were mostly university educated. In the case of terrorist attacks originating from Islamics in the west they were people who were already benefiting from government assistance and other form of hand outs.

Islamic people are not the only ones who are poor. They are not the only ones who are uneducated. They are not the only ones who feel they have gotten a raw deal in life. Yet they are the only ones that consistently blow themselves up to hurt civilians in the west. The issue is not climate change all countries are affected by that if it exists. The issue is not poverty, there are plenty of countries in Asia full of slums. The issue is not education, there are plenty of countries in Africa where no one has seen a book. The issue is Islam, or at least the version practiced by the people in the Middle East.

As Ayn Rand once said it is not practical to support a protection racket. If the only reason you are paying someone is so they will not break your leg then they will just threaten you again in the future. We are right and the terrorists are wrong. If there is to be peace then it is on them to surrender and not us. We have nothing to be ashamed of with the success of the west. In the immortal words of Churchill ” You have enemies? Good. That means you have stood up for something sometime in your life”

Categories: Islam

BrainSparks #ISIS

Islam - 2 hours 14 min ago
© Rivenrod 2016
Categories: Islam

Some Interesting Things I Read Today

Islam - 2 hours 42 min ago

As you can imagine, after the past week I had, getting back to “normal” is just a little difficult.  Add in cooler temps and rain and you get an almost pensive set of days.  To counter this, I’ve been reading different articles on-line and playing some video games.  However, as far as the video games are concerned, I am having to be careful with the ones I select to play because one of my favorites, Warframe, is almost too “fast” for my brain and causes it to slow down quite a bit.  So, I’ve been playing a lot of Elder Scrolls Online.

So, I am sharing some of the articles because you may just be interested in some of the same things.  Sorry this post is so boring, but, sometimes, boring is good, and informative.

Viruses in subtitles.  https://www.forbes.com/sites/emmawoollacott/2017/05/25/put-away-the-popcorn-viruses-hidden-in-subtitles-can-let-hackers-take-over-your-device/#714d7e9762d7

A reporter gets body-slammed by a politician?  http://www.cbsnews.com/news/paul-ryan-signals-he-would-still-seat-greg-gianforte-if-he-wins-special-election/

Google’s AlphaGo is the best Go player in the world…..  I’m not sure how I feel about this.  https://www.engadget.com/2017/05/25/google-alphago-ai-deepmind-ke-jie-go-win/

Money still going to schools that discriminate.  Every school discriminates regardless of what they say.  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/24/us/politics/betsy-devos-refuses-to-rule-out-giving-funds-to-schools-that-discriminate.html?ref=todayspaper&_r=0

Healthcare is being screwed over again.  http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/estimated-23-million-would-lose-health-insurance-under-republican-bill-cbo/ar-BBBuOfo?OCID=ansmsnnews11

Ben Carson calls poverty ‘a state of mind’ in interview.  http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/estimated-23-million-would-lose-health-insurance-under-republican-bill-cbo/ar-BBBuOfo?OCID=ansmsnnews11

Robocop in Dubai.  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/robocop-mall-cop_us_5925d8b4e4b062f96a336c3c

Libyan coastguard opened fire at refugee boats.  http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/05/libyan-coastguard-opens-fire-migrant-boats-ngos-170525100451559.html

Queen Elizabeth II visits Manchester bombing victims.  http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/britains-queen-elizabeth-visits-manchester-bombing-victims/ar-BBBwghX?OCID=ansmsnnews11

Two white-supremacists killed and bomb-making ingredients were found in the apartment.  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/florida-white-supremacist-explosives-roommates-slain_us_59260e06e4b0265790f4ea1a

The men were killed allegedly because the shooter said it was because of the following two reasons:

because “he wanted to prevent them from committing planned acts of domestic terrorism,” Assistant State Attorney Ronald Gale wrote in a pretrial motion filed in Florida’s Hillsborough County Circuit Court.

The materials were found in Russell’s Tampa apartment Friday after police discovered the bodies of 18-year-old Andrew Oneschuk and 22-year-old Jeremy Himmelman. Police say Arthurs, the fourth roommate, confessed to killing the two men, claiming they were neo-Nazis who disrespected his recent conversion to Islam.

Categories: Islam

Daesh and the West's Solid Stench of Death

Islam - 2 hours 48 min ago
Whenever Daesh adds to its tragic litany of “lone wolf” and/or “network” att
Categories: Islam

Kolot.

Islam - 2 hours 59 min ago

Setinggi mana manusia itu telah capai nikmat kehidupannya, pasti dia takkan terlepas dari bertanya apakah maksud atau tujuan hidupnya yang sebenar. Manusia memerlukan agama, fitrah beragama. Kerna hanya dalam agama, dia akan temukan jawapan yang selama ini bermain dalam akal fikirannya. Kerna keegoannya dan kesibukan mengejar sesuatu yang fana, dia menepis tanda-tandaNya yang akal sememangnya boleh menerima. Hinggakan satu hari nanti, dia akan menjadi lali dengan nikmat-nikmat, seperti seseorang meminum air lautan yang tak akan hilang rasa kehausan, sehingga dia tidak lagi rasa seronok dengan nikmat-nikmat itu.

Setiap manusia akan mengalami situasi yang sempit sehinggakan dia tidak mampu meminta bantuan dari sesiapa kecuali Tuhan yang maha esa. Dan dari situlah, dia akan mencari Rabbnya.. inilah fitrah manusia memerlukan agama.

“Dan apabila kamu terkena bahaya di laut, (pada saat itu) hilang lenyaplah (dan ingatan kamu) makhluk-makhluk yang kamu seru selain Allah;  maka apabila Allah selamatkan kamu ke darat,  kamu berpaling tadah (tidak mengiingati-Nya); dan memanglah manusia itu sentiasa kufur (akan nikmat-nikmat Allah).

(Surah al-Isra’ 67)

Dan kerana manusia itu memerlukan, Allah pun menurunkan wahyu melalui para anbiya’ untuk mengkhabarkan berita baik dan buruk kepada kita. Dan dari situlah kita boleh lihat apa jenis manusiakah mereka bila menerima kebenaran itu. Ada dua jenis manusia iaitu manusia yang mencari kebenaran dan manusia yang hanya ingin menegakkan pendiriannya

Manusia yang mencari kebenaran

Golongan inilah golongan yang telah diberi hidayah dan taufiq oleh Allah subhanahu wa taala untuk mencari Tuhannya, agama yang benar, menerima dan menjalankan syariat-syariat Nabi Muhammad SAW tanpa rasa ragu-ragu. Golongan inilah akan menegakkan kebenaran dan berusaha untuk hidup sebagai seorang Muslim sepenuhnya tanpa mengabaikan dunyawi. Sepenuhnya iaitu meninggalkan perkara yang terang haram dan syubhah. Apabila dipelajari ilmu, dia akan praktikan dan bergegas untuk ubah apa yang kurang walaupun dia harus korbankan apa yang dia cintai selama ini. Inilah golongan yang bertaqwa, taat kepada perintahNya dan laranganNya. Semoga kita tergolong dalam orang-orang yang jujur memeluki agama Allah. Ameen.

Manusia yang menegakkan pendiriannya

Golongan sebegini ramainya dari golongan yang tidak percaya kepada Tuhan dan agama. Allah telah menghantarkan para anbiya’ dan hamba-hambaNya untuk menyampaikan kebenaran pada setiap negeri, namun masih ada yang menolak. Mereka tahu bahawa mesej-mesej yang disampaikan itu benar namun kerana sikapnya yang sombong dan ego, mereka menolaknya kerana syariat-syariat yang disampaikan itu tidak serasi dengan cara kehidupan dan nafsu mereka. Maka mereka ingkar lagi menyesatkan orang-orang lain. Kerana merekalah salah satu punca fitnah berleluasa, perkara benar menjadi bathil, perkara bathil menjadi benar, membuat orang yang yaqin dengan agama menjadi ragu-ragu dengan agamanya.

Marilah renung bersama, dalam golongan manakah kita. Sayangnya, masih ada dari kalangan kita yang berkelakuan seperti golongan kedua secara tidak sedar. Mereka hanya memilih hukum-hukum yang sesuai pada dirinya dan apabila kebenaran dikhabarkan kepada mereka, mereka tetap akan mencari alasan atau ‘dalil-dalil’ mereka sendiri untuk menegakkan pendirian mereka walaupun sudah diberi dalil naqli dan aqli, dalil naqli iaitu Al Quran dan Hadith, dalil aqli iaitu ikut hukum akal. Tidak dinafikan untuk memahami Al Quran dan Hadith dengan secara sendiri memang susah dan berbahaya. Dan dengan itulah wujudnya para ulama’ dan guru-guru untuk kita bertanya. Kadang tertanya, sebelum membuat keputusan untuk menolak dakwah atau kebenaran, sudahkah kita rujuk kepada Al Quran dan Hadith? sudahkah kita rujuk kepada guru-guru yang ada? sebelum menghukum bahawa kebenaran yang disampaikan itu adalah fitnah?  Renungkanlah dan tanyalah diri sendiri, adakah diri sedang mencari kebenaran atau hanya menegakkan pendirian atas dasar nafsu dan ego.

Kolot. Ia adalah satu kenyataan terhadap sesiapa yang cuba menyampaikan kebenaran akan dikatakan mempunyai pemikiran kolot. Jika begitu mereka juga mengatakan Al Quran itu kolot, Hadith itu kolot, para nabi-nabi itu kolot, para ulama’ dan guru-guru juga kolot. Kerana mesej yang disampaikan bukan rekaan semata-mata tetapi dari sumber yang asli.

Dan apabila terluka kerana dilukai, mereka pun bertanya ” masihkah ada lagi manusia yang baik di dunya ini? ”

Wahai si kolot, pergilah jauh kerana engkau tidak berdosa berhijrah, engkau telah sampaikan dan tanggung jawab itu telah diangkat maka beredarlah lekas, sebelum kermukaanNya tiba di lembah itu. 

Ps. Hargai para ulama’, hargai guru-guru. Semoga kita termasuk di golongan yang pertama. Ameen. 

 

 

 

Categories: Islam

Ramadan At Trump's White House Is The Invite No Muslim Wants

Islam - 3 hours 12 min ago
Source: BuzzFeed News BY Hannah Allam BuzzFeed News Reporter Pool / Getty Images President Barack Ob
Categories: Islam

What We Know About the Manchester Bomber and How to Prevent Terror in the West

Islam - 3 hours 40 min ago

Approximately 64 hours ago, an explosion in Manchester, UK, rocked Manchester Arena during an Ariana Grande concert attended mainly by children and their parents. The suicide bombing killed 22 people (so far) and maimed nearly 120, as nails and bolts flew through the air and penetrated innocent bodies. The perpetrator? A 22-year-old Muslim named Salman Abedi.

Abedi’s parents emigrated from Libya in 1993 as refugees during Gaddafi’s regime, after the Libyan government issued an arrest warrant for his father, Ramadan Abedi, for ties to the outlawed Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG).

Salman, himself, was born in Manchester within a Libyan community. He became radicalized recently, according to reports, and attended Didsbury Mosque, described as a “Salafi-Ikhwani” (i.e., jihadist) institution. Breitbart describes Salafism as “an austere, fundamentalist strain of Islam, with adherents aiming to live as Muhammad and the first Muslim did in the seventh century.” Read up on Islam in the seventh century for a better understanding of what exactly this means; it will terrify you.

Abedi had recently returned from a trip to Libya and possibly Syria only days before committing the atrocity. He flew the flag of Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) from his home. Fortunately for him, his community was chalk full of former LIFG members who sought asylum in Britain, so no one was alarmed by this.

In the last 24 hours, officials arrested Abedi’s father and two brothers after uncovering another terror plot. Salman’s younger brother, Hashim Abedi, was arrested in Tripoli yesterday by Rada, a Libyan counter-terrorism force, and was plotting a new attack there, according to a government spokeman. His father, Ramadan Abedi was also arrested in Tripoli. According to a Libyan security official, Ramadan was a member of LIFG in the 1990s and joined the Salafi Jihadi movement subsequent to the disbandment of LIFG from Al-Queda. The movement represents the most extreme sect of Salafism, the source of Al Qaeda and Islamic State.

In place of the outrage and calls to action that should have permeated the nation and the world, we have witnessed the usual campaign to define Islam as a religion of peace, despite its own insistence time and time again that it is anything but. We have heard from some in the media that this is the new normal; that this is something we should all get used to. Katty Kay from BBC stated, “Europe is getting used to attacks like this, Mika. We have to. Because we are never going to totally wipe this out…We’re going to see more of these attacks taking place in Europe, and Europe is getting used to that.” These comments mirror those of London’s Mayor, Sadiq Khan, in September 2016 when he stated that terror attacks are “part and parcel of living in a big city.” When did it become part and parcel of anything to have pieces of children lying in body bags?

And why is the Left pretending that all is lost? If you are willing to accept the truth, nothing is lost. An enemy identified is an enemy that can be defeated. That is the first and necessary step to combating terror. We must face the truth that Islam is a political ideology. Its goal is to spread its law and belief system across the globe, and terrorism is just one step in doing that. Now that we’ve opened that door, can we stop it? I believe we can, but we must first recognize and name what we are fighting: RADICAL ISLAM.

The next step to fighting radical Islam within a nation would be to infiltrate all mosques with undercover agents through a top secret program. Listen to the Imam’s sermons. Embed the agents within the community and identify possible threats. Then, eliminate them. If the Imam is preaching Jihad, he and his attendees should be prosecuted. Those who immigrated into the country should be repatriated without due process; those who were born within the nation or are citizens of the same should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, including exile and execution as applicable. The truth is, had UK officials done this, the Manchester bombing would never have happened. Didsbury Mosque, which Salman attended, would have fallen under the “Jihadi” umbrella, and all members would have been arrested, deported, exiled, or executed.

Once arrests are made, the Left will inevitably find themselves up in arms, screeching about profiling and discrimination. The virtue signaling will reach an all-time high, but guess what? That’s okay. There is sufficient evidence at this point to justify such means. We can either worry about people’s feelings or worry about their lives; nations will have to make a choice.

What if some don’t attend mosques but, instead, learn from their own families or teach themselves the doctrine of Islam? How do we identify those who are more private in this matter? We would need to ban travel to nations where Islamic State or Al-Qaeda have taken hold until both groups have been eliminated abroad. Sound like a Muslim ban? It really isn’t since there are a number of Muslim countries that would not be of interest due to lack of ties to these radical groups, but so what if it is? Radical Islam is clearly the problem, so until we can confidently separate the black sheep from the herd, we must do what is necessary to protect our own citizens.

Finally, get rid of the no-go zones. Many Western European nations have areas dominated by Muslims who are hostile to Infidels who enter, resorting to harassment, violence and even murder. No more. The military should enter these zones and eliminate those who threaten their entrance. Citizens of a nation should be able to move freely without fear of being harmed for not belonging to a specific group.

The most important thing, though, is that we stop making excuses. This is not a religion of peace. Its texts do not promulgate peace and its actions show its true colors. Face the truth or be destroyed. Those are our only options.

 

 

Sources:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/05/24/everything-know-salman-abedi-named-manchester-suicide-bomber/

 

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2017/05/24/manchester-attack-suspect-visited-syria-and-had-proven-ties-to-isis-french-minister-says.html

 

http://dailycaller.com/2017/05/23/bbc-anchor-we-have-to-get-used-to-terror-video/

 

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/sadiq-khan-london-mayor-terrorism-attacks-part-and-parcel-major-cities-new-york-bombing-a7322846.html

 

http://www.breitbart.com/london/2017/05/24/manchester-bomber-attended-jihadi-mosque-accused-funding-al-qaeda/

 

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2017/05/24/manchester-bomber-salman-abedis-father-was-part-al-qaeda-linked-group-ex-libyan-official-says.html

 

Categories: Islam

Manchester: A Line in the Sand

Islam - 3 hours 42 min ago
Please read this article on the Manchester attack, and where we go from here, at Country Squire Maga
Categories: Islam

The Islamic World Has a Blasphemy Problem

Islam - 3 hours 55 min ago

JAKARTA, Indonesia — This month, Jakarta’s embattled former governor, Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, was sentenced to two years in prison for blasphemy against Islam, based on his flip quotation of a Quran verse that addresses whether Muslims can elect non-Muslim leaders. The presiding judge declared that Ahok did not express enough remorse for his indiscretion.

The verdict shocked liberal Indonesians but probably more than it should have. Blasphemy charges have steadily risen in the last decade in Indonesia and have a near 100 percent conviction rate. Meanwhile, across the Muslim world, there has been an uptick in blasphemy charges and prosecutions in recent years. Blasphemy has been spiritedly revived in Egypt since President Hosni Mubarak was ousted in 2011. In 2001, there was only one blasphemy trial in Pakistan, but now there are dozens each year. There has been a steady drip of attacks and murders of bloggers and writers in Bangladesh in the last five years, along with a deadly mass protest in 2013 demanding the death penalty for blasphemy.

The question of how blasphemy came to monopolize the political conversation in many Muslim-majority countries including Indonesia, the world’s third-largest democracy, is clearly a question about Islam. But, contrary to what liberal intellectuals in these countries often think, the answer has to do with a lot more than just religion.

About 30 of the some 50 countries that currently outlaw blasphemy, according to a 2014 Pew Research Center report, are majority Muslim. Beyond the expected theocracies like Saudi Arabia, this includes states with aspirations to democracy and modernity like Turkey, Malaysia, Egypt, Pakistan, and Indonesia, which is officially secular but home to a population that is about 87 percent Muslim.

The use of the charge ranges from the nominal to the horrifying. Since 2016, the Egyptian poet Fatima Naoot has been serving a three-year prison sentence for criticizing the slaughter of animals during Eid al-Fitr on Facebook. A Malaysian man was charged with blasphemy for posing questions to his religion teachers. Even the mere accusation of blasphemy poses the threat of violence: In 2015, an Afghan woman was beaten and murdered by a mob in Kabul after arguing with a mullah, and last month, a Pakistani university student was killed by a mob over allegations, later discredited, of posting blasphemous content on social media.

The Quran itself says little about the charge. “There is one verse that says if you hear God’s word being mocked, don’t sit with those people — that’s all! Don’t sit with them,” said Mustafa Akyol, a Turkish intellectual currently at Wellesley College’s Freedom Project. “It doesn’t say go and punish them or even silence them.” But advocates of blasphemy laws point to verses in the hadith, the reported sayings and habits of the Prophet Mohammed that play a critical role in Islamic theology and jurisprudence, as theological grounds for punishment.

The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), a 57-country alliance based in Saudi Arabia, has long campaigned for a global blasphemy law as protection from a broadly defined “Islamophobia,” sometimes butting heads with the United Nations. “We will protect the sanctity of [the] Holy Prophet at every cost,” said a Pakistani hard-liner, calling for the execution of a Catholic woman accused of blasphemy.

Such arguments echo the basis for blasphemy trials in pre-modern Muslim states — just as injunctions in Leviticus and elsewhere did in medieval Europe. But whereas medieval blasphemy laws were gradually abandoned or allowed to fall into disuse as Christian states secularized, Islamic countries, especially Gulf states like Saudi Arabia, have kept them on the books — and in the courts.

“As far back as the 1750s, the Saudi polity really was based on religion and specifically Wahhabism [the puritanical, literalist strain of Islam founded in 18th-century Arabia],” said Kamran Bokhari, a senior analyst at Geopolitical Futures. Due to a pact between the Saudi royal family and the preacher Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab in 1744, Wahhabism is effectively the state religion of Saudi Arabia. “Wahhabism is, truly, all about blasphemy. What is true Islam and what is not,” Bokhari said. “Really, to them, most Muslims who don’t subscribe to their exacting views are committing blasphemy in some way or another.”

Modern Islamic countries, meanwhile, have accrued their blasphemy laws not as a medieval inheritance but through one of two major routes: as leftovers of European colonialism or as products of the 20th-century “Arabization” of the Muslim world in the model of the Gulf states.

The British Empire left blasphemy statutes in most of its colonies. For instance, anti-blasphemy laws were codified in British India in 1860, and Pakistan inherited them upon partition in 1947. The idea of such laws in the first place was to ostensibly maintain, through state power, inter-religious stability and (relative) harmony in staggeringly diverse colonial possessions. The rebellion of 1857 in colonial India provoked sweeping legal reforms to restore order, which came to include the 1860 blasphemy law. (The rebellion started as a mutiny of both Hindu and Muslim troops over perceived religious insults.) A desire to maintain interfaith stability remains the motive for the federal blasphemy law in places like Malaysia, a multiethnic former British colony. Egypt, although never fully colonized, used similar reasoning to add anti-blasphemy provisions to its penal code in 1981, to protect minorities during a period of deadly anti-Christian riots. (The law has since been perverted, in typical form, to disproportionately arrest minorities.)

Further evidence of the power of colonial legal memory can be found in non-Muslim-majority former British colonies like Singapore, which has a powerful sedition law that echoes the rhetoric of maintaining social harmony. That country’s current law evolved from the 1938 Sedition Ordinance, in what was then called the Straits Settlements, originally issued to control anti-colonial dissent.

If these colonial leftovers largely stem from an intent to preserve order, the parallel strain of theocratic blasphemy laws, which evolved in the Middle East, was explicitly designed to protect Islam. Saudi Arabia’s aforementioned blasphemy regulation is part of a sharia common law that has accrued over centuries and that protects its brand of fundamentalist Salafi Sunni Islam to the expense of all other sects and religions. All the other Arab Gulf states criminalize blasphemy as well, to varying degrees.

This is important context for how a country like Indonesia, which wasn’t in the British Empire, has become so invested in the offense in recent years. (It conceptualized blasphemy independently, by decree of its first president, Sukarno, in 1965.) Due to extensive Saudi cultural diplomacy over the past four decades, the Muslim world is being increasingly made in the image of the puritanical Gulf.

Over the last century, but particularly since the 1979 Iranian revolution and the secular nationalist rhetoric of Egypt’s former leader Gamal Abdel Nasser in the 1960s posed ideological threats to Saudi Arabia’s monarchy, the desert kingdom has spent billions of dollars building mosques and schools, training preachers, giving scholarships, and funding media outlets in Muslim communities around the world. There are Saudi fingerprints all over Muslim communities in countries as far-flung as Indonesia, Somalia, and Bosnia — usually accompanied by a rising appreciation for Saudi cultural values.

Of course admiration of Middle Eastern culture in Indonesia is a factor in religious virtue-signaling and blasphemy crusades, said Andreas Harsono, an Indonesia expert at Human Rights Watch.

“Not least because it contains Mecca and Medina, Saudi Arabia is widely admired across Southeast Asia as the home of the ‘true Islam,’” said Din Wahid, a Salafism expert at Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University in Jakarta.

Outside of Saudi Arabia, though, the full-throated blasphemy revival in the Muslim world is a relatively recent phenomenon, not an inherent part of Islamic culture. In the mid-20th century, a number of Muslim states like Egypt and Iraq experimented with a secular, left-wing, Marxist Arab nationalism.

“Blasphemy was just not an issue at that time,” Bokhari said. “It wasn’t really a concern until an ‘Islamist wave’ struck the region in the 1970s, after severe blows to the secular Muslim state like the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. It’s only through the rise of political Islam that blasphemy and the boundaries of acceptable discourse become prominent issues.”

There are three reasons that keep blasphemy a powerful charge in Muslim states, said Paul Marshall, senior fellow at the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom.  “First is the common close relation between Islam and the state, so that religious offenses can easily become state offenses. Second is the outrage felt by many Muslims if they think God or their beliefs have been insulted — a genuine religious element that should not be dismissed as a mere epiphenomenon masking the ‘true’ reason. And third, this outrage is then the subject of intense manipulation, which governments or others can exploit for narrower political ends, often to defeat their opponents — like Ahok in Indonesia and Raif Badawi [a dissident blogger sentenced to flogging] in Saudi Arabia.”

These threads are not mutually exclusive: Muslim-majority countries like Nigeria, Sudan, and the Maldives are all onetime British colonies that are now heavily influenced by Saudi culture. Furthermore, colonial blasphemy laws seem to have “stuck” harder to majority-Muslim states than non-Muslim ones; India, which is majority Hindu, does not have an explicit federal blasphemy law today — although religiously motivated laws are becoming more common.

Historical and political factors aside, Akyol thinks the blasphemy fixation is a symptom of a deeper unease. “I think Muslims in the modern world feel very insecure, which makes them aggressive and authoritarian,” he said. “Plus, free speech is broadly conceived as a liberal imposition.”

For instance, in 2012 Turkey’s then-prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, told the OIC: “We cannot accept insults to Islam under the guise of freedom of thought.” The Malaysian prime minister has accused “human rightism, humanism, [and] secularism” of threatening Islam.

“Liberalism has become a Western conspiracy in conservative circles,” Akyol said. “But Muslims need liberalism for its own sake. No one defends religion when it’s sacrosanct. You impede your own intellectual progress.”

There seems to be little hope, at present, for any meaningful liberal shift. “In theory, Indonesians could petition that the blasphemy law be removed again, despite an earlier rejection in 2010,” Harsono said. “Or new evidence and international requests could be presented at the Constitutional Court.” Is there any precedent for such a popular initiative working? “None,” he said.

Marshall was even bleaker. “I can’t think of any good news on this issue in the Muslim world,” he said. “Except maybe that Ahok is alive and got 45 percent of the vote.”

Photo credit: TATAN SYUFLANA/AFP/Getty Images

Categories: Islam

The Elevation of Jesus and Muhammad

Islam - 4 hours 8 min ago

What will likely be a recurring theme for me is the topic of Islam given that it’s such a major part of my life and psyche. I struggle with it, as I’ve mentioned before, because of how the practice of it, as taught by scholars and learned individuals, is not quite in line with the conceptual beliefs that it conveys about God. The elevation of man – a concept also prevalent in Christianity and other religions – into a God-like being is a problem and while Islam teaches against that, many theologians contend that certain attributes or aspects of it are valid within Islam.

How can a man be a God or a relative of God? If God is so powerful, why would He have any need for a man to be elevated to that stature or sub-stature? Jesus (known as Prophet Isa in Islam – Peace Be Upon Him) is the son of God in Christianity which makes little sense given that God is an all-powerful being with no need for offspring. It becomes even stranger especially when that offspring dies, is gone for 3 days and is resurrected only to disappear or be elevated back to quietly operate the world from above.

In Islam, while the beliefs around Prophet Isa are different, there is some strange treatment of Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Them Both) by some Muslims:

  • Some Muslims contend that Prophet Muhammad is alive in his grave and is able to answer prayers. This isn’t humanly possible and is the domain of God so how is Prophet Muhammad able to perform this task?
  • Some Muslims contend that Prophet Muhammad was the best example of mankind and that Muslims should constantly convey peace and blessings to him and his deceased family members through prayer. However, if prayer is supposed to be for worshipping God and praising God, then are we not elevating Prophet Muhammad’s stature by sending salutations to him and his family in that forum?
  • Some Muslims believe that Prophet Muhammad will serve as an intermediary with God for whether Muslims should be pardoned for their sins. Why would God – the all-seeing and all-knowing and the creator of judgement – require a man with no ability to see or know everything serve as an advocate for people he doesn’t know or have any knowledge of? Why is he only exclusive to pardoning sins for Muslims and not all people irrespective of faith?

There is much to think about when it comes to the elevation of man and how Islamic theologians justify this but the problems seem to stem from the Sunnah and Hadith – the recorded sayings and traditions of Prophet Muhammad as narrated by others – which are treated as fact when there are strange contradictions with general concepts presented from the Qu’ran. Narrations, especially after decades or even centuries after the incident, of what was said and done by a man, in what-was-then a lawless Arabia, are very hard to validate. Given how complicated it is to do that even in the present era in a world of technological aid, it’s no wonder that these ‘examples’ or ‘sayings’ of Prophet Muhammad are sometimes questionable.

We struggle with trying to ensure accuracy today so how can we accept the Sunnah or Hadiths of Prophet Muhammad to be fact? Muslims need to re-visit this concept and truly evaluate the validity and accuracy of this practice given how important a role it plays in the theology of Islam.

Categories: Islam

about the islamic archaeology in global perspective conference

Islam - 4 hours 12 min ago

Last month I visited Bahrain for a conference. You can hear short interventions by some of the conference speakers here; I am about ten minutes in.

“A recent conference in Bahrain brought together archaeology experts from over 14 countries to examine how our view of historic Islam has been distorted by the West. Sylvia Smith reports.”

 

Categories: Islam

10 Things I Should Do During Ramadan

Islam - 4 hours 16 min ago

 

(Photo by boston.com)

We’re almost there. Another Ramadan beckons. The arrival of the holy month always fills me with anticipation – childish but this is the point where I begin to ask myself if I’ll even make it through the first day, lol.

 

The funny thing is when you get to Day 20, you begin to miss Ramadan already and you wish this old friend would stick around a little longer. Anyway, here’s a short list of things that I’m telling myself I’ll do. You too, maybe? This way maybe we’ll arrive in Syawal a better Muslim and a better person than we were the month before.

1.Visit your parents

You know how we often feel that we don’t see them enough? Busy with work, busy with the kids or whatever. Well, the holy month is a good time to get busy with Mom and Dad. If they’re no longer around, say a prayer or three for them.

 

2.Solat suboh

Which is the solat that we most often miss? Yes, I know, me too. Let’s resolve to not miss any suboh prayers this month. Hopefully this behaviour will then be extended till after Ramadan.

 

3.Solat at the masjid

We have more time in the day during this coming month because we won’t be spending too much time eating and drinking. So, let’s try to make our visits to the masjid more often for our daily prayers.

 

4.Tarawih

Yup, we all know we should do this. Let’s try to do it every night. And by the way, mind how you park the car – not haphazardly please. Remember The Almighty sees everything that you do and you are accountable for every single little thing that you do in this life, my friend.

 

5.Read Quran

Don’t we all tell ourselves that we’ll read the Quran every day? This is the month to stop thinking about it and just start doing it, every day. And try not to just read – understand the meaning, make sense of what you’re reading, internalise and juxtapose what you read onto your day-to-day life.

 

6.Give to charity

I know you’ve been doing this. Do more this month. The money that you give will not make you poorer. In fact, the monetary value of what you give is multiplied up to 600 times over in pahala, InsyaAllah.

 

7.Outstanding zakat?

Got some outstanding? And we’re not just talking about fitrah, which is a small amount. Your other zakats – on your income, on your profits, property etc. Do it before it’s too late or before it gets too big. And this is an excellent time to do it. Don’t over-think, just do it.

 

8.Wear hijab

For our sisters who are not hijabbed yet, Ramadan is a very good time to start covering up. It is wajib after all. Don’t be afraid about what your friends might think – are you afraid of your God or what your friends think? And here’s another good reason for you to don the hijab – it instantly makes you years younger, honest!

 

9.Exercise

Some of us see the fasting month as a good excuse to take a break from exercise. Bad excuse. I don’t think Allah approves. Slow down the pace, intensity or time yes, but don’t stop. Working out late afternoon about 2 hours before iftar is good. The break of fast will also feel that much sweeter after. And you sleep better too. What’s there not to like about Ramadan exercise?

 

10.Be nice

Just generally be nice to everybody. Say assalamualaikum more often. And smile a bit more. Every little smile is rewarded. Isn’t this religion such a beautiful thing?

 

Ramadan kareem my sisters and brothers. May we all be rewarded for all our good deeds this month.

 

Assalamualaikum.

 

Categories: Islam

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Islam - 4 hours 30 min ago

In The Name Of Allah, The Most Merciful, The Most Benevolent.

  1. The first thing that should appear in our mind after reading this short phrases is, who is Allah? Then, why He is said to be the Most Merciful, then the Most Benevolent? What is the importance or benefit reciting this?
  2. For Muslim, they might think this is a common subject that must be recited prior to beginning any daily routine. It is a part of sunnah of the Noble Prophet p.b.u.h. Reciting this can make someone earns rewards and barakah by Allah, The Sustenance.
  3. Allah is the one and only God. If someone want to gain more knowledge about Allah, the best argument to describe who He is by turning to Sura Al-Ikhlas. Allah has got no companions, no parents and everything against creatures being. Simply said, He is Incomparable. And because of that, we Muslims manage to worship Him and put our obedience to Him alone.
  4. As I said, this is a part of Sunnah, whoever doing Sunnah with right intention, they will be blessed by Allah. Someone will feel the blessedness of Allah, later all sorts of other things will go easy.
  5. Allah has said in Quran: قُلْ اِن كُنتُمْ تُحِبُّونَ اللهَ فَالتَّبِعُونِي يُحْبِبْكُمُ اللهُ وَيَغْفِرْلَكُمْ ذُنُوبَكُمْ وَاللهُ غَفُورُُ رَحِيْمُُ -Say, (O Muhammad), “If you should love Allah, then follow me, (so) Allah will love you and forgive you your sins. And Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.”
Categories: Islam

What’s happening at IMES this June?

Islam - 4 hours 38 min ago

Without question, June is consistently our busiest month of the year at the Institute of Middle East Studies. As such, we wish to highlight a number of the projects that we have been working on as we seek to fulfill our institutional mandate: To bring about positive transformation in thinking and practice between Christians and Muslims in the Middle East and beyond.

1) Middle East Consultation 2017 – The Church in Disorienting Times: Leading Prophetically through Adversity (19 – 23 June)

We live in disorienting times. This is a reality for the church in many parts of the world today, not least the church of the Middle East. Many factors, historical and social, have reduced the church to the status of minority, in which persecution and hopelessness have become a reality for many. How must our theology inform our response?

During IMES’ Middle East Consultation (MEC) 2017 – The Church in Disorienting Times: Leading Prophetically through Adversity, participants will seek to discern a biblical framework that avoids both self-victimization and triumphalism and encourages the church to prophetically embrace adversity in a way that activates growth and development rather than discouragement and stagnation.

MEC 2017 provides a unique context for the MENA and global church to address a range of critical issues, focusing on the themes of persecution and suffering; minoritization; hopelessness and despair; and emigration. Together we will explore how the Body of Christ can best respond to such challenges, exploring Biblical and theological responses when confronted with adversity.

Click here for additional information about MEC 2017.

2) ABTS Graduation: Another Big Year for IMES! (25 June)

Immediately following MEC 2017 is the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary Graduation Ceremony. Not only are we thrilled to celebrate with our resident theology and ABTS online students, but we are very excited as this is IMES’ second year to graduate students from our Master of Religion in Middle Eastern and North African Studies (MRel in MENA Studies) program!

Having completed four core modules (MENA Islam; MENA History, Politics and Economics; MENA Christianity; and MENA Cultures), essential language learning, electives, and the MRel Final Project, our students have done remarkable work to make it to this point and have every right to be incredibly proud of themselves and their accomplishments. For our part, we at IMES are extremely proud of our graduates.

With regard to her experience, one of our soon to be graduates writes:

My time in the MRel program proved to be an extremely formative period in my life. Not only did it spur my growth both academically and spiritually, but it dramatically shifted the course of my life and ministry. It opened my eyes to realities and opportunities in the region previously unseen, while also providing me with a conceptual framework and analytical tools to engage in new and unexpected ways. It broadened my horizons from a Kingdom perspective, which has bled into every other area of my life. Moreover, I cannot overestimate the value of the relationships that were formed. I was challenged and inspired by my classmates, and was surrounded by faculty who supported and catalyzed my development. Looking back, I don’t think I could have ever predicted how such a simple decision would launch me on such a transformative journey, and I will forever be grateful to the faculty and staff who made that possible.

The MRel in MENA Studies program is a unique and innovative multidisciplinary program based in the MENA region. This postgraduate degree focuses on providing a strong theoretical understanding of the region and the issues that it faces, combined with an emphasis on developing applied skills needed to work in the region and among MENA communities worldwide. It is based upon a strong theological and Biblical framework in that each module weaves scripture and theology into its theory and practice.

3) MRel in MENA Studies: MENA History, Politics and Economics Residency (26 June –  7 July)

Immediately following both MEC 2017 and the ABTS graduation ceremony, students in IMES’s MRel in MENA Studies program begin two very full weeks for the residency portion of their MENA History, Politics and Economics module, under the supervision of Dr. Rupen Das. As lead faculty for the MENA History, Politics and Economics module Dr. Das will be assisted by Jesse Wheeler as support instructor and Elias Ghazal as holistic formation instructor.

The MENA History, Politics and Economics module seeks to develop an inter‐disciplinary understanding of the historical, political and economic dynamics that have shaped the contemporary Middle East and North Africa. This course looks at the formative historical developments of the modern era, major macroeconomic issues at present, and the complexities of regional poverty. It seeks also to explore the manner by which such realities intersect with the idea of the Kingdom of God, as a lens through which to understand and engage with the contemporary MENA. As part of the residency, students will gain training in contextual analysis, needs assessment and problem analysis, project design (developing the logic for change), and peace-building frameworks and strategies, as well visit special ministry, NGO and historical sites and learn first-hand from a variety of practitioners in the region.

During their residency, students and faculty will be together in the same location for a unique and intensive learning experience, all the while gaining critical insight into the rich historical, cultural, and religious heritage of the Middle East. Instruction and learning is accomplished through a blended delivery system combining 2-week residencies and the use of distance learning technologies that facilitate discussion and feedback.

Click here for more information about IMES’ Master of Religion in MENA Studies program. Click here to apply for the upcoming MENA Christianity module beginning Fall 2017.

4) Khebz w Meleh (“Bread and Salt”)

Finally, IMES is proud to continue its Khebz w Meleh (KwM) initiative throughout the summer months. Young people today are growing up in a country surrounded by different faiths yet often lead separate lives. As a result, Christian and Muslim young people can experience barriers of ignorance, fear and mistrust in their communities, which sometimes progress into hostility or conflict. KwM, an IMES peacebuilding initiative, seeks to bring together young people from different faith communities to discuss their faith around a shared meal, empower them to spearhead social change within their communities, and build authentic relationships in the process.

KwM is all about…

  • Exploring faith: young people are encouraged and equipped to discuss their faith in ways which draw out both the similarities and differences between them.
  • Creating friendships: by bringing together young people in a positive and fun environment we provide the opportunities for them to get to know one another, work on projects together and build ongoing friendship built on trust and respect.
  • Changing lives: having been to events run by KwM the young people are challenged and enabled to live out the lessons they have learnt in their everyday lives amongst their friends, family and the wider community.

We at IMES are very much looking forward to the coming weeks and in interacting once again with our friends, students and partners and in making new acquaintances in our efforts to bring about positive transformation in thinking and practice between Christians and Muslims within and beyond the MENA region.

Categories: Islam

Terrorist Attacks and Anti-Theism: Two Peas in a Pod

Islam - 5 hours 12 min ago

Despite the all too common view of atheists as religion hating baby eaters (LOL), many of us are not anti-theistic. We have simply come to the conclusion that religious practices and belief in supernatural beings is not for us.

Even once I escaped the alt-right Christian lifestyle I was born into, I was not anti-religion. I remain anti- restriction of knowledge and information, anti- suppression of women, etc – all facets of religion, but not religion itself. I have always respected a person’s right to believe in whatever they want to, regardless of what those beliefs were, as long as they weren’t harming anyone. (Cue the subject of indoctrinating children for another time..) 

However, with the spate of recent terror attacks, I feel myself teetering on the verge of anti-theism.  Of course there has always been religious terror, so what has changed?

The difference, for me, is that I am an adult now, and this is my world. The world that I love, and that I plan to bring children into one day. 

It is terrifying to consider a future where everyone is either dead or suppressed, and it seems that religions are hell-bent on creating one of those two realities. 

So, what can be done to stop the extremism, and do we have a moral responsibility to do so? Do I bury my head in the sand and keep repeating my progressive narrative that all beliefs matter? Or is militant anti-theism the only answer? 

At this point, I’m just not sure.

Categories: Islam

Mereka Mewariskanku Iman

Islam - 5 hours 15 min ago

Berkali-kali kutekan backspace keyboardku, menghubungkan huruf-huruf baru, dan memadankan kata demi kata, untuk menjalin rantaian cerita yang mengulur padu. Berminggu setelah penguasa negeri ini menampakkan raut kecut pada ormas Islam dan dakwah, rasa-rasanya tak banyak yang berubah. Status kenalanku yang seorang pedagang masih dipenuhi dengan laporannya tentang customer yang nyinyir, beberapa masih setia membagi tautan tentang ‘Kamu Beruntung Jadi Anak 90-an’ dan beberapa lagi memimpikan adanya hari libur nasional dengan menggunakan hashtag HariPatahHatiNasional. Di sisi lain tentu saja, media-media mainstream, tetap istiqomah meramaikan ide-ide yang sejalan dengan ‘kehendak’ penguasa, yang tak berbau Islam fundamentalis, tampaknya.

Lihat saja tulisan ‘kritis’ Afi Nihaya yang menjadi buah bibir karena membahas tentang keberagaman dan Islam warisan di laman FB nya. Tulisan itu diangkat di berbagai media seakan itu adalah jawaban kebenaran atas segala perselisihan berbau agama yang belakangan ramai terjadi. Afi ramai seakan Afi benar.

Afi dan tulisannya, sedikit banyak telah membuat topik pembahasan ‘memilih Islam’ kembali memuara, kenapa kita menjadi muslim? salahkah mereka yang ditakdirkan lahir dari keluarga non muslim? dan berbagai pertanyaan spiritual lainnya tentu saja. Aku ingin mencuplik beberapa postingan yang banyak dishare oleh teman-temanku, di sini dan di sini.

Tapi, entah bagaimana, aku merasa ada yang janggal dengan ‘rasa’ yang ditampilkan Afi dalam tulisannya. Jika memang Islam adalah sebuah warisan (peninggalan) orang tua kita, bukankah itu sebuah kesyukuran yang besar? Bukankah telah dilahirkan sebagai muslim, dididik sejak kecil dalam keluarga muslim, adalah kebahagiaan? Dan sampai pada suatu titik, aku bertanya, apakah Afi bersyukur dilahirkan sebagai seorang muslim? Maka jika Afi (dan Afi Afi lain) tidak menyadari kedudukan Islam, kemuliaan Islam, sudah sewajarnyalah ia ‘biasa’ saja dengan ‘menjadi muslim atau pun tidak’.   

Suatu hari aku yang masih duduk di kelas 4 sekolah dasar, malas melaksanakan sholat. Mamak berkata padaku hari itu, “Ni, nanti ingat ingat, kalau Mamak sudah pernah ngasih tau, sudah pernah ngajarkan Arini sembahyang, sudah Mamak kasih tau semuanya”. Dan tentang membaca Al Quran, Mamak selalu mengulang, “Di akhirat nanti Al Quran itu jadi syafaat untuk orang yang selalu membacanya”, dan aku bertanya pada Mamakku kala itu, “Apakah Quran itu menjadi perahu yang membawaku berlayar dan tak terkena api neraka?”, Mamakku bilang, “Iya”. Dan aku masih ingat bagaimana air mataku pernah bercucuran menangis karena takut dimarahi Abah kalau masih salah membaca Quran sehabis Maghrib. Abah akan marah kalau aku lupa nama ibukota kabupaten, tapi lebih marah lagi kalau aku tak pandai dan lancar membaca Al Quran.

Maka, lancar membaca Quran dengan tajwidnya, puasa full di bulan Ramadhan, hapal nama 25 nabi dan rasul, hapal rukun Islam rukun iman, tamat berulang kali siroh Rasulullah Muhammad, semuanya terjadi sebelum aku menamatkan sekolah dasar. Dan sejujurnya, orang tuaku tak pernah mengajarkan secara lugas tentang menjadi muslim yang baik, tak pernah sebenar-benarnya mengatakan. Tapi, mereka membuatku (dan tentu saja kakak abang adikku) teramat dekat dengan Islam. Seakan (dan memang) inilah satu-satunya jalan yang seharusnya kami jalani. Tak ada jalan yang lain.

Maka semua yang ditanam itulah yang mungkin telah mendarah daging. Setelah masuk sekolah menengah, atas, bahkan kuliah, aku seperti menumbuhkan benih yang pernah mereka tanam. Aku menemukan pelajaran tentang menjadi pribadi yang baik, anak sholihah harus mengupayakan surga bagi kedua orang tuanya. Aku menemukan pelajaran tentang menjadi manusia yang baik, teman yang mengingatkan akan kebaikan dan kesabaran. Maka dakwah, syariah, khilafah, misalnya, menjadi sesuatu yang tidak asing lagi, meski baru kutahu.

Sampai pada suatu sore, di ujung telepon, suara Abah terdengar. Abah bercerita tentang kesuksesan seorang teman lamanya.

“Teman Abah ini Ni, sangat berhasil, dia membangun sekolah penerbangan yang besar, berhasil sekali dia Ni, padahal dulu sama sekolahnya kayak Abah.”

Diam sesaat, tercekat kuucapkan kala itu, “Abah kan juga berhasil. Abah sudah membesarkan kami, mendidik kami, mengajarkan kami, bahkan menyekolahkan kami sampai sekarang seperti ini.”

Kudengar Abahku tertawa, tapi kurasakan suaranya bahagia, Abah berujar, “Iya Ni.”

Aku pernah mendengar bahwa iman tak bisa diwariskan. Orangtua yang beriman, tak menjamin anak yang beriman pula. Tapi, jika Islam di diriku adalah ‘warisan’ orang tuaku, kukatakan aku bersyukur telah lahir sebagai muslim dan diwariskan sebuah keimanan. Apalagi yang layak kuminta jika iman adalah kunci seluruh asa? 

Jika seorang manusia (Anak Adam) meninggal maka terputuslah seluruh amalnya kecuali tiga hal, amal jariyah, ilmu yang bermanfaat, dan anak yang sholih yang mendoakannya. (HR Muslim).

Jika anak sholih adalah kunci, maka bukankah sebaik baik ‘warisan’ adalah keimanan?   

 

Categories: Islam

A Failed Grande Experiment

Islam - 5 hours 32 min ago
The terrorist attack in Manchester should mark the end of a Grande Experiment. Sadly, this quote by
Categories: Islam

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