Tuesday, April 17, 2012

You will know them by their fruits: Islam and terrorism

I was in college during the WTC bombings but never thought to link Terrorism and Islam. For one thing, I knew nothing about Islam and second, I firmly believed that a religious group shouldn't be ostracized for the bad actions of a few. I also remember getting upset when someone showed me a book by Bridget Gabriel, speaking on the ills of Islam from her conquered country of Lebanon. I refused to listen to anyone criticize any group of persons. To me, this was discriminatory and led to widespread ills such as anti-semitism.

In 2009, I read the book "Son of Hamas" by Mossab Hassan Yusef and it was eye opening on the history of Hamas and the Palestinian intifadas of the 80's and 90's. It was my first time reading from someone Arab and Muslim and I realized there was more I and many Americans needed to understand about how Muslims feel about this country. Furthermore, I realized that their feelings were not only political, but stemmed from their religious beliefs.

Over the past 10 years, this country has seen a sharp increase of Islamic terror plots. Not just from Muslims of other countries, but from American Muslims. I've seen movements against the American government, but never such a consistent, vehement opposition to this country that it mandated violence. I felt it was necessary to look at Islamic texts for their claims to God and why the prevalence of terrorism.

Muslim persecution of Christians have also led me to question why there is no international response. Haven't we learned anything from history? The holocaust in Rwanda? Europe? How long will we turn our head for the sake of political correctness? Muslims say that there is a "Palestinian holocaust" but their sole existence in that region is to expell the Jews. The rebirth of Israel as a nation did not spark animosity amongst Muslims--it is rooted in their Qur'an and the example of their self proclaimed prophet. Here is a detailed article addressing Islamic doctrine regarding Jews.

What the Quran says about non-muslims
Qur'an 9:29: Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the Religion of Truth, from among the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizyah with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.
Qur’an 9:73—O Prophet! strive hard against the unbelievers and the hypocrites and be unyielding to them.
Qur’an 9:111—Surely Allah has bought of the believers their persons and their property for this, that they shall have the garden; they fight in Allah's way, so they slay and are slain.
Qur’an 9:123—O you who believe! fight those of the unbelievers who are near to you and let them find in you hardness.
Qur’an 48:29—Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, and those who are with him are severe against disbelievers, and merciful among themselves.

The Hadith
The Hadith is a collection of sayings of the prophet Muhammad heard by his closest companions and his wives. It gives clarity to many Quranic verses as well as a historical account to what the prophet did. Here's what the hadith says about Muslims and their relationship to non-Muslims:

Sahih Bukhari, Volume1, Book 2, Number 25 Narrated Ibn 'Umar:Allah's Apostle said: "I have been ordered (by Allah) to fight against the people until they testify that none has the right to be worshiped but Allah and that Muhammad is Allah's Apostle, and offer the prayers perfectly and give the obligatory charity, so if they perform all that, then they save their lives and property from me except for Islamic laws and then their reckoning (accounts) will be done by Allah."
Sahih Muslim. Book 031, Number 5917 ...Ali went a bit and then halted and did not look about and then said in a loud voice: Allah's Messenger, on what issue should I fight with the people? Thereupon he (the Prophet) said: Fight with them until they bear testimony to the fact that there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is his Messenger, and when they do that then their blood and their riches are inviolable from your hands but what is justified by law and their reckoning is with Allah.
Sahih al-Bukhari 2785—Narrated Abu Hurairah: A man came to Allah’s Messenger and said, “Guide me to such a deed as equals Jihad (in reward).” He replied, “I do not find such a deed.”
Sahih al-Bukhari 2796—Narrated Anas: The Prophet said, “A single endeavor (of fighting) in Allah’s cause in the afternoon or in the forenoon is better than all the world and whatever is in it.”

The proof is in the Pudding
Now I understand that all sorts of people do heinous acts. In fact, we all have thought evil towards others. But when there is a disproportionate number of particular acts by a particular group of people, we need to figure out what is that correlation (a mutual relationship or connection between two or more things). Here are some examples of Islamic terrorism we've seen:

And this is just a small sample...

Is Islam a religion of peace? To arrive at a most objective, definitive answer, simply look at Islamic countries. Is there peace? No. Is there freedom of religion? No. Even countries claiming to be "secular," like Turkey, persecute Christians because it's a Muslim majority nation. Saudi Arabia doesn't permit the building of churches but they fund the building of mosques in this country! People in Islamic countries want to come here to the west where there is more freedom and economic opportunity. Then, they demand Shariah (Islamic) law to incorporate their religion into public policy, even though it runs contrary to much of our laws. Then they demand that non-Muslims comply with their Islamic laws wether we like it or not. As the muslim population increases, the Muslim community becomes more bold in it's demands and even violent. We are already terrorized into complacency and numbed by the desire to be "diverse". Amazingly, we have been kept in the dark about what Islam is and how it effects it's adherents. This is not an irrational fear, we can see how this has played out in places like Britain and Beligum, Denmark and other parts of Europe. Slowly, there are those in the live-and-let-live camp that are seeing this, and I hope you see it too.

what about the peaceful verses Muslims give me? Like 2:256 (no compulsion in religion or surah 109:6)?

It was important for me to understand the historical context of these writings so I looked at the biography of Islam's prophet and how he was given these revelations.

Muhammed was born 570 AD in Medina. At a young age, his mother died and was then raised by his uncle Abu Talib. He lived as a merchant and shepherd and married his first wife Khadijah in 595. At the age of 40, he retreated to a cave to meditate where he claims the angel Gabriel forced him to recite the words of Allah. These revelations, occuring over a period of 23 years, became known as the Qu'ran, meaning "recitation."

Since Muhammad was just starting his brand of monotheism, he needed the approval of surrounding people. The initial "revelations" were tolerant to the Jewish and Christian sects in the area. Once Muhammad gained enough followers to wield power, he received revelations that gave a very different message. For his followers to accept the conflicting revelations, the doctrine of abrogation was introduced:

Qur’an 2:106—Whatever verse we shall abrogate, or cause [thee] to forget, we will bring a better than it, or one like unto it. Dost thou not know that God is almighty?

Qur’an 16:101—When We substitute one revelation for another—and God knows best what He reveals (in stages)—they say, “Thou art but a forger”: but most of them understand not.

According to Muhammad's Qur'an, the latest revelations, cancel out the previous ones. Muslims in the West will point out previous peaceful verses of the Quran to gain our sympathies. But clearly, Muslims act according to the later verses.

Another tactic that is important to understand in Islam, is Taqiya. Muhammad's followers were allowed to deny their faith or lie about their intentions when in a disadvantaged position:
Qur'an 3:28 Let not the believers take disbelievers for their friends in preference to believers. Whoso doeth that hath no connection with Allah unless (it be) that ye but guard yourselves against them, taking (as it were) security. Allah biddeth you beware (only) of Himself. Unto Allah is the journeying.

Muhammad's companions also expound on this doctrine:

Tafsir Jalalalyn: Let not the believers take the disbelievers as patrons, rather than, that is, instead of, the believers — for whoever does that, that is, [whoever] takes them as patrons, does not belong to, the religion of, God in anyway — unless you protect yourselves against them, as a safeguard (tuqātan, ‘as a safeguard’, is the verbal noun from taqiyyatan), that is to say, [unless] you fear something, in which case you may show patronage to them through words, but not in your hearts: this was before the hegemony of Islam and [the dispensation] applies to any individual residing in a land with no say in it. God warns you, He instills fear in you, of His Self, [warning] that He may be wrathful with you if you take them as patrons; and to God is the journey’s end, the return, and He will requite you.

What about the Crusades and the Inquisition? Isn't Christianity just as violent?
Does the Crusades give Muslims the right to commit injustices against Christians, Jews, apostates and women? Many Muslims throw this rationale out to divert from the real issue of today. The Crusades and the Inquisition were waged not by the Church of Jesus Christ, but by the Church of Rome. The emperor, Constantine created the Church of Rome (the Catholic Church) with traditions of Roman deities. They added doctrines not given in the Bible, and even persecuted Bible believing Christians like the Waldenses and the Lollards.

There are violent passages in the Bible. But just as it is important to understand the chronology of revelations in the Qu'ran, it is important to understand the different covenants (agreements) in the Bible. God used Israel to judge nations and nations to judge Israel. God also made sure to preserve Israel who would usher in the Messiah (Isaiah 7:14; 9:6; 53:5-6, Daniel 9:27). This Messiah (Jesus) would provide salvation not only for Israel but the whole world (Luke 4:25-27, John 10:16, John 4:22-23). Jesus is the fulffillment of the Mosaic Law, commanding his disciples to love one another as he loved them, even their enemies (Matthew 5:17; 5:38-39; 5:44, John 13:34, Romans 13:8, Galatians 5:22-23, 1 John 3:11...). Jesus makes it clear that his disciples should not be violent. Anyone who claims to be a Christian and commits violence in the name of Jesus is not following the teachings of Jesus. A picture of the true Christian Church is found in the book of Acts. A history of those following the Gospel of Jesus Christ through the centuries is The Pilgrim Church by E.H. Broadbent.

Do I hate Muslims? No. My objective is to critically look at Islam in light of it's own doctrines, what has historically occured and what is occuring now. These are pressing issues that I think need to be addressed.

What can we do?
I think the most important step is to inform yourself. Read the Qu'ran for yourself. Resources from middle eastern authors are great. I recommend "Who is this Allah?" by G.J.O Moshay and "Islam and Terrorism" by Mark Gabriel. Write your elected officials and UN Ambassadors to address injustices against religious minorities and women. Support American Laws for American Courts (ALAC). This is to keep any international law contrary to the American Constitution from being intergrated into public policy here. Understand Sharia (Islamic) law and how it affects it's adherents. The more closely Muslims follow Islamic law, the more likely they are to support/commit Islamic terrorism. Read Islamic texts on Sharia and learn more here.

As Christians, we need to pray for the leaders of this country to open their eyes regarding Islamic terrorism. Most of all, pray for the Muslims here to find true salvation that only comes through Jesus Christ. Now is the time for the Body of Christ to pray fervently for lost souls and reach out with the love of Christ. Support our bretheren overseas through prayer, much needed Bibles and medical aid for the physically injured. You can learn more by checking out Voice of the Martyrs.

Be salt and light! (mark 9:50, Ephesians 5:8, 1 Thessalonians 5:5). Prayerfully seek opportunities to witness to others what Jesus has done in your life! Hand out tracts or small New Testaments.

The Good News
The Good news is that God is in control and his word is being fulfilled. Many Muslims are coming to faith in Jesus through visions and dreams. This is why persecution is getting worse. Satan knows his time is short and he tries to use physical terrorism to shake people's faith. Jesus has has warned us of this persecution (Matthew 5:10-12, Luke 21:12, John 15:20) but we need to pray and support our bretheren (Hebrews 13:3). Jerusalem is a burdensome stone in which all nations that come against her will be destroyed (Zechariah 12:3;9, Psalm 83). If this is on the horizon, the rapture of the church of Jesus Christ is much closer!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Lung and Vocal Cord Exercises

I've been taking speech therapy and working on my lung capacity and strength of my voice. These exercises have been very helpful so I want to share. I've been using a simple device called "The breather" to exercise breath support. There are settings to increase the resistance during inhalation and exhalation. Start at the first setting (1) and slowly inhale and exhale as much air as you can. Do this for a couple of minutes a few times a day until you can do it for as long as 15 minutes without feeling fatigued/winded. When you can do that, increase the resistance until you have it at the highest resistance for as long as 10-15 minutes. This is called Resistive Breathing Training (RBT). It describes strengthening the diaphragm and intercostal muscles (accessory breathing muscles surrounding the ribs). Exhalation resistance develops and strengthens the abdominal muscles.

Another exercise I've been doing is specifically for the vocal cords. I take in a deep breath, pull the armrests of my wheelchair upwards and vocalize "ah" for as long as I can. Then I open my mouth wide and inhale in as if I'm yawning and then let out a sigh. This relaxes the vocal cords after forcing them together during the "ah" phase. This exercise strengthens the ability to cough and vocalize louder.

These exercises are great for people with weak lungs/diaphragm from neurogenic disorders like Multiple Sclerosis or Spinal Cord Injury. Great for general inprovement of lung capacity, breath support and vocalization.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Resurrection Sunday

It is the day to celebrate the resurrection of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! There is no other figure in history that compares to the God-Man who laid down his life and conquered the grave. I am so blessed to have this assurance, to be sealed by the Holy Spirit, part of a royal priesthood.

Yesterday, I saw the Dead Sea scrolls exhibit at the Discovery Center downtown. What a wonderful testament to the validity of the scriptures, the prophecies that Jesus fulfilled! Artifacts of daily living were also displayed, giving a picture of life at that time. I only had an hour before my ride came to pick me up, but it was worth it. Read more about the Dead Sea Scrolls here.

No one is "good enough" to get to heaven by their own merits. We have a Holy God, who cannot be in the presence of sin. Thankfully, God sent Jesus as a perfect atonement for our sin, past, present and future. Through faith, we are regenerated spiritually, having the righteousness of Jesus justify us before the Father. (Romans 5:1). Through the washing of the word, we are sanctified to live Holy and have the mind of Christ (John 17:17; Romans 12:2; Ephesians 5:26; Philipians 2:5). Through death, we are glorified and have eternal life with Jesus (Colossians 3:2-4; Romans 6:4).

This was God's plan even before the world began! (Acts 2:23; 1 Peter 1:19-20). We didn't surprise God when we sinned in the garden. God wants us to freely choose him and love him. He has revealed himself in the historically accurate texts of the Old and New Testaments. God wants more than anything, to have fellowship with you in perfect peace (שָׁלוֹם שָׁלוֹם--Isaiah 26:3). Will you accept this gift? It starts with recognizing you are bankrupt without God. In thought, motive, word and deed you have erred from his standards. Surrender this all to him and turst that his death and resurrection satisfies the penalty of your sin. Ask him to come into your life and renew you, to live for his glory. Read the scriptures to understand the nature of God and how he wants us to live (Romans 15:4).