Friday, May 31, 2013

Missionary Secrets 5: How to fruitfully insult the Prophet

Missionary Secrets 5: How to fruitfully insult the Prophet
by Abu Daoud

It has become accepted in many missionary circles (among Muslims, at least, an that's me folks) that one should never, ever insult the Prophet. If you do it, then as Mazhar Mallouhi, evangelical turned Jesusy-Muslim, said, it is like telling someone their mother is ugly (that is from St Francis Magazine). Actually, normally he is right. Normally you touch Muhammad and that is the end of the conversation. So I appreciate his insight.

Here is a missionary secret which took me like eight years to learn: there are ways to do this fruitfully and to God's glory and to the good of the person you are speaking with. It is not an easy procedure though.

First, you need to earn the right to be heard. Say you're in Cairo, for instance. Demonstrate a knowledge of the history of the place. Show that you know a lot about Egypt and the people there. And this is the hard part: you actually need to really know this stuff. You really need to know about Chalcedon and arrival of Arab Imperialism (ie, Islam) and the Fatimids an Mamlukes an so on. You need to show that you know about the contemporary challenges faced by Cairenes: that Egypt imports more than 50% of its wheat, that the currency has become very weak, and so on. You also need to show that you know more about the Qur'an and Islam than your hearer. Not in a pompous, bossy way of course. Finally, you need to be able to do all of this by mostly asking questions and (really) listening to their answers (and really caring about what they say--there is no substitute for sincerity).

Once you have done all of this, you probably have earned the right to fruitfully insult the Prophet. This happened to me today where I'm staying, over a lengthy conversation. The speaker was emphasizing how Christians and Muslims get along well, and the proof was that Muhammad took Christian wives an the shari'a allows this. I told him, "With all respect and sincerity [that doesn't sound so corny in Arabic], the Prophet's Shari'a is precisely the reason I could never become a Muslim. That a Muslim man can take a Christian wife, but a Christian man cannot take a Muslima wife is injustice in my view. The Shari'a is not stable--sometimes it is generous and sometimes harsh. Sometimes it is peaceful but other times violent. The path that our master the Messiah [I don't even say Jesus because then I have to choose this or that] taught is one of love and perfect peace. The Prophet's Shariah is the reason I could never be a Muslim."

Was he mad? Of course not. He knows well that what I said was true. I left the guy with a Bible in Arabic and the location of a decent local church. Hopefully he will read and/or visit.

And here is the clincher--always end up with Jesus (sayyidna al masii7). Emphasize his love and the closeness of his God. Don't say something stupid like Islam is a violent religion, or Muhammad was "a violent man." Sure he was, but at times he was generous and kind.  The beauty of Messiah's way is that we was consistent. Muhammad (and hence his Shariah) were not. Muhammad (and Islam) are unstable and can't be depended on. In other words, they are not worthy of one's faith.

So there you go. You can fruitfully insult the Prophet. Just make sure you know what the heck you're talking about (history, contemporary politics) before you do, and make sure to earn a hearing, and make sure to bring it back to Jesus.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Debunking Edward Said

Readers of this blog know I despise Said's Orientalism... But here is more:
Nadim al-Bitar, a Lebanese Muslim, finds Said‘s generalizations about all Orientalists hard to accept, and is very skeptical about Said having read more than a handful of Orientalist works. Al-Bitar also accuses Said of essentialism, "[Said] does to [Western] Orientalism what he accuses the latter of doing to the Orient. He dichotomizes it and essentializes it. East is East and West is West and each has its own intrinsic and permanent nature…." 
The most pernicious legacy of Said’s Orientalism is its support for religious fundamentalism, and on its insistence that "all the ills [of the Arab world] emanate from Orientalism and have nothing to do with the socio-economic, political and ideological makeup of the Arab lands or with the cultural historical backwardness which stands behind it".
Debunking Edward Said

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Demography in England and Wales, and the end of British culture

Demography in England and Wales, and the end of British culture
by Abu Daoud

I have pointed out from time to time where I see things going in Europe. I don't necessarily think that it will be majority Muslim in the near future, but I do see the proliferation of de facto Islamic area-states, which you already see all over the place in France, Sweden, the UK and Germany (among others). Indigenous European populations (English, Irish, French, etc) are stagnating or (as is becoming more and more the case) actually in decline for a number of complex reasons which touch on de-Christianization, the proliferation of artificial birth control, the sexual revolution, and, recently, the economic downturn and emigration.

I also have opined that current figures of ethnic Europeans mask the true dimensions of this loss of European identities and the concurrent Islamization of portions of Europe. (Of course, I know that not all immigration to Europe is Islamic, but even if it Indian Hindu or African Christian, that does indicate a weakening of the strength of an given culture to perpetuate itself and influence others.) I say this because the ethnic Europeans are, for the most part, disproportionately old and will start dying off quickly in the coming years.

What matters is not so much the percentage of the population you have, but the percentage of the young population you have.

And with that in mind, here are some interesting figures on England and Wales, from here. These are from 2002 through 2009, and I suspect that birth rates from white people have gone down with the economic downturn. That may well be the case for minorities as well, but anyway, I don't have that information. What we do have says,

The White (British) population stagnated at 45.7 million, while the Irish population declined. 'Other' white population (I'm guessing a lot of Poles) did grow at 4.3% per year. I think that Poles are done coming in though, and the ones who wanted to come have come.

While the (white) British and Irish populations stagnated and declined, respectively, note the rapid yearly increase, through fertility and immigration, for the following groups:

Black African 6.2%
Asian Pakistani 4.1%
Asian Indian 3.9%
Asian Bangladeshi 4.0%
Other Asian (presumable includes people from most of the Middle East): 5.7%
Chinese 8.6%

What does this tell us? I think that with the soon-to-be-obvious dying off of more white folks, and the rapid increase of non-indigenous (and mostly non-Christian) population in the UK, I think we can look forward to a day when a common culture in the UK does not exist (already common in large portions of London and Manchester and so on). Being British will mean nothing more than carrying a British passport, and historically British institutions will continue to become increasingly irrelevant (Church of England, anyone?). The West Midlands, for instance, already has an Asian plurality (40%) and a white minority (32%).

Am I being racist? I'm not really evaluating these changes as positive or negative. I'm just predicting that British culture, which historically is indeed to specific ethnic groups who followed Christianity to some extent,  will soon (40 years?) become a strange and quaint thing, like an Assyrian village in Iraq, an Egyptian Jew, or a Huguenot town in France.

Let us wait and see.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Missionary Secrets 3: we don’t have answers

Missionary Secrets 3: we don’t have answers
by Abu Daoud (5/2013)

I sat around smoking water pipe with a guy considering a long-term career in the mission field today. He is a friend of mine, a bit younger than me, but not much. But I have been out here for going on a decade, and he and his young family are only here short term.

He asked me questions. We were there to talk about life and pray together. (Yes, at a hookah bar—I’m all about religion in the public square…maybe I’ve been too influenced by Islam? Who knows, and who cares?)

How do you handle the stress? Me: Go on vacations outside of dar al islam?

What if the local churches don’t build you up? Me: You find fellowship in…your family? Old friends? The liturgy at my church sustains me, but you don’t go to a liturgical church, so…not sure…

Who are the mature Christians who can build you up? Me: here? Not many…there are older people but they are just passing through and don’t really grasp the local context. Maybe some European monk over at that church? Maybe your missions agency will be of help. In the end, you are alone.

I would never answer questions like this to a sponsoring church. I mean, I would not hide it, but this is not the stuff of Sunday School or sermons, is it? But here we are, serving, still.
May God give us many more years in the Middle East.