How to respond to the anti-Muslim propoganda

I don’t know about you, but I get angry anti-Muslim emails all the time.  They are always under the guise of “bringing understanding and awareness.”  How do we respond?

First let me ask some questions to the Christians who might be reading this:

Question #1. Are we called to fear or love?

Question #2.  Are we calling fear “understanding” in order to mask our fear?

Question #3.  What drives out fear?

Question #4.  What emotion do some of these emails invoke in your heart? What does that emotion lead you to do?

Question #5. What does God think of Muslims?

Question #6. What do you think of Muslims?

If you can answer these questions honestly, then read on….

Here is the text that I’ll refer to from this recent email I received:

‘Please, correct me if I’m wrong,but I understand that most Imams and clerics of Islam have declared a holy jihad [Holy war] against theInfidels of the world and, that by killing an infidel, (which is a command to all Muslims) they are assured of a place in heaven. If that’s the case, can you give me the definition of an infidel?’

It’s crazy talk.  I have lived amongst and served Muslims in the name of Jesus for 28 years and I know of NO Muslim who would agree with anything here. I know of NO Imam who has called for an indiscriminate holy war against infidels.The Qur’an says nothing even close to that.

The word “infidel” in English is “Kafir” and it means pagan. One without religion.  Christians and Jews are called “the people of the book.” “The friends of God.”  “The closest to us.” One verse in the Quran has God speaking and it says “I will make the followers of Jesus greater than all the rest.”

Saying these things does not mean that I think Muslims are okay without a personal relationship with Christ – I’ve given my life so they would know Jesus.  But it’s an entirely other thing for Christians to spread fear and hatred of a whole people group by propagating such nonsense as these emails.  Why do we have to make someone look bad? Does it make us feel better? More righteous?

At the most there are 4 million Muslims in American – making them somewhere around 1%.  They feel hurt. Misunderstood. Alone. Scared.  When Chris or I see a Muslin on the street we immediately go and speak with them, often bringing them to tears just because we stopped and said hi.

Think: the Muslim may be the hero in Jesus’ story – the Good Samaritan may be the Good Muslim.  Or maybe they’d be the hurt one in the ditch. Don’t be the Jewish priest or Levite who passes by – too busy being religious to see the hurting man (Muslim) in the ditch. Stop and help.  In the name of Jesus. Stop.


Comments

  1. Mark says:

    Hi there,

    I often get similar emails sent from Christians, and it really saddens me. They are full of fear and hatred, and I just have to respond. If we would truly be followers of Jesus, then he calls us to love all people.

    From personal experience, I have many friends who are Muslim, work regularly with Muslims, and I’ve spent time in the middle east, and other Muslim countries. They’ve been incredibly generous, and hospitable, and are people full of honour. In fact many of my close Muslim friends constantly challenge me to become a better follower of Jesus, just as I witness their desire to know God more, and be totally submitted to him. (They love Jesus too)

    I would just challenge those who might have fear or prejudices inside for whatever reason, to go on a journey of discovery, and just be friends to Muslims. The journey might only be in your local neighbourhood, but that’s a great place to start.

    My 2 pennies worth.

    Mark

    1. alex.kerimli says:

      Response to Carl:
      Question #1. Love, love to the lost person in order to save him.
      Question #2. What will you feel if you know about hidden in your room poisons snake, will you fear it? Will your fear save your life?
      Question #3. What drives out fear? Self preservation.
      Question #4. Welcome to reality
      Question #5. What does God think of Muslims? What God think about practicing Satanist, Communist, etc? Is He pleased?
      Question #6. What do you think of Muslims? What God think?

      If you can answer these questions honestly, then read on….
      Here is the text that I’ll refer to from this recent email I received:
      ‘Please, correct me if I’m wrong,but I understand that most Imams and clerics of Islam have declared a holy jihad [Holy war] against theInfidels of the world and, that by killing an infidel, (which is a command to all Muslims) they are assured of a place in heaven. If that’s the case, can you give me the definition of an infidel?’
      It’s crazy talk. I have lived amongst and served Muslims in the name of Jesus for 28 years and I know of NO Muslim who would agree with anything here. I know of NO Imam who has called for an indiscriminate holy war against infidels.The Qur’an says nothing even close to that. –

      Yes, it does: Qur’an, Sura 2:190-193,243-244; 4:89; 5:33-35, 51; 8:15-18, 38-40, 58-67; 9:1-14, 29-34, 38-41, 73; 7:4-6; 48:13-14, 29; 62:5-8; 66:9

      The word “infidel” in English is “Kafir” and it means pagan. One without religion. Christians and Jews are called “the people of the book.” “The friends of God.” ”The closest to us.” One verse in the Quran has God speaking and it says “I will make the followers of Jesus greater than all the rest.”

      Allah also said: 9:30. And the Jews say: Uzair is the son of Allah; and the Christians say: The Messiah is the son of Allah; these are the words of their mouths; they imitate the saying of those who disbelieved before; may Allah destroy them; how they are turned away!
      5:51. O you who believe! do not take the Jews and the Christians for friends; they are friends of each other; and whoever amongst you takes them for a friend, then surely he is one of them; surely Allah does not guide the unjust people.

      Kafir (Arabic: كافر kāfir; plural كفّار kuffār) is an Arabic term used in a Islamic doctrinal sense, usually translated as “unbeliever” or “disbeliever”, or sometimes “infidel”. The term refers to a person who rejects God or who hides, denies, or “covers” the truth. The Qur’an uses the words Kafir, Kuffar, and Kufr 470 times in 451 different verses.[1]
      In Islamic parlance, a kāfir is a word used to describe a person who rejects Islamic faith, i.e. “hides or covers [viz., the truth]”.[3] “kafara” ~ the root verb ~ means “he hid (something)” and “he covered (something)” or “He hid (something) by covering it up.” Both “hiding” and “covering up” are indelible significations of all of the words arising on the verbal root. In recent times, the Arabic term used as a loanword in English is seen as derogatory, which is why some Muslim scholars discourage its use and suggest the neutral term non-Muslim instead.[4]

      Saying these things does not mean that I think Muslims are okay without a personal relationship with Christ – I’ve given my life so they would know Jesus. But it’s an entirely other thing for Christians to spread fear and hatred of a whole people group by propagating such nonsense as these emails. Why do we have to make someone look bad? Does it make us feel better? More righteous?

      A simple facing a reality and self-preservation, as with the example of a snake in a room.

      At the most there are 4 million Muslims in American – making them somewhere around 1%. They feel hurt. Misunderstood. Alone. Scared. When Chris or I see a Muslin on the street we immediately go and speak with them, often bringing them to tears just because we stopped and said hi. I meet them and they are not at all scared or alone. Rather they are very strong in spreading the Islam and very bold.
      Think: the Muslim may be the hero in Jesus’ story – the Good Samaritan may be the Good Muslim. Or maybe they’d be the hurt one in the ditch. Don’t be the Jewish priest or Levite who passes by – too busy being religious to see the hurting man (Muslim) in the ditch. Stop and help. In the name of Jesus. Stop.

      True, we MUST spot and help wounded person. But do we LOVE Muslims enough to save them from HELL??? We must be a Good Samaritan in order to help them to see a True God and come to Great Physician – Jesus who will save them from their sins and Bring to the relationship to the Father.

  2. randdmiller says:

    It’s sad to see anti-Muslim propaganda being spread by Christians in the name of Jesus.

    Right now, I’d guess there’s more anti-Muslim hysteria available in the bookstore than plain old ordinary discipleship material.

    It’s easier to criticize Muslims than it is to examine ourselves.

  3. dwmtractor says:

    Carl, I’m absolutely with you here. I am dealing with someone at my church right now who is convinced that all Muslims are the enemies of all Christians. He keeps sending me sources like the Wall Street Journal and (far sadder IMO) World Magazine which purports to be Christian, to bolster his claims. The tragedy is there are at least a few vocal “Christian” missionaries that are spreading this message of hate throughout the conservative church, and people are buying it.

    What to do? Encourage each other, and do our best to show our Muslim neighbors that at least some believers in Jesus actually love them. I don’t know what else…

  4. Todd G. says:

    I think that one thing that can be useful as we show our brothers and sisters in Christ, just how easy it can be for them to love Muslims, is to show them a little bit of the Muslim’s culture; aspects of that culture that Christians will actually like.

    I happen to love the music of: Youssou N’dour & Tinariwen, & even Amazigh Kateb (although he is a little bit irreverent) very much. Sometimes logic and good sense and theology won’t work but maybe music and art and architecture; those type of things may be a means of showing our brothers and sisters that we can not only tolerate Muslims, but we can appreciate them as well.

    Todd

  5. EllieAnn says:

    Your post makes me think of these verses in Romans 2:
    “1 You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. 2 Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. 3 So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? 4 Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?”

    I’m so thankful for God’s kindness, forbearance, and patience to me. I’ve never met a Muslim that I’ve feared, they’re just like me. But that fear mongering sure is popular among religions these days.

  6. travist81 says:

    Carl,

    I recognize that you have spent much more time than I have working with Muslims, and I agree with a large majority of what you say on your blog and books (almost finish with “Speaking of Jesus”). However, I spent almost two years in South East Asia teaching English to a large amount of international students, mainly from the Middle East and North Africa and I lived with South East Asian Muslims. I heard from a majority of these Muslims some kind of hate towards Jews. One lady went as far as saying all the Jews should be killed, with the class of 9 agreeing with her. My roommates along with all of their friends had hate for the Jews as well.

    The interesting thing is they’re all friendly people. They were warm and inviting to me and I shared a lot about Jesus with them. I don’t pay that much attention to all the media out there painting Muslims as horrible people, etc. However, the Muslims I encountered and shared life with do have a clear hate for the Jewish people. As a follower of Jesus I am not surprised by this because I too have that in my life towards other people not like myself. It’s a human condition.

    Hate is out there, it’s in the WEST and it’s in the EAST! The only person who can drive that hate out of an individual is Jesus, because his perfect love dwells within me and all those who follow him, and he will cast out hate, which is based on FEAR. We and they need to be changed by Jesus. That truth once realized is very humbling.

  7. I agree that hate-mongering is not Christlike, and it’s way too common in the Church.

    But we need to be balanced. The qur’an has plenty of violent verses, and Muhammad killed plenty of Jews and Christians to set an example. For example, he once beheaded 800 Jewish men who had surrendered to him. That’s just history, and you can read it in the seera (biographies of the prophet).

    The Qur’an also has peaceful verses. Most of these were revealed in the meccan period, and the violent ones in the later, medinan period. I’m sure you know this, but it seems you are covering that up to make your point.

    Which brings me to my next point- “Kafir” does not mean “pagan”. It means one who “covers” or “hides” the truth. And yes, it does mean infidel or heretic or godless. And, it can be, and is applied to Christians by many (but not all) Muslims.
    The Arabic words for pagan are “wathni” and “mushrik” (polytheist), because “shirk” is the unforgivable sin of joining partners with God or giving God’s attributes to humans.
    To the vast majority of Islamic scholars, believing in the divinity of Jesus is “shirk”, which makes Christians polytheists.
    That doesn’t mean that all Muslims are out to get us. I have a lot of Muslim friends who are really nice and great people. But that doesn’t change history, or the Arabic language.

    Thanks Travis, for your balanced response. We don’t need more mis-information to cancel out other misinformation. We’re not fighting over a teeter-totter here…

  8. Carl Medearis says:

    Pierre and Travis

    So I will assume your answers to my 6 questions are correct (as in – I would agree with them). So no issue there.

    And…you’re right – I DO focus on the “other” other side. On purpose. Because there are plenty of Christian teachers and well-meaning missionaries to Muslims trying to convert them to the religion of Christianity, who say all the negative stuff.

    We just had some folks at a large church near our house that scared the hell out of the Christians in attendance. I had several tell me about it. They left feeling fear towards Muslims. And we know where that spirit comes from. It’s so sad.

    And Christians and Jews are NOT called “Kafirs” in the Qur’an. That’s my point. Can and do some Muslims mistakingly include Jews and Christians in that category – of course. Like many Christians do silly and/or terrible things and claim it’s in the Bible.

    Muhammad was a “prophet” a war-lord and a “king.” Much like those of the Old Testament. And it didn’t end well for them either. So I am NOT defending Muhammad, the Qur’an or Islam – but we don’t need to demonize it in order to make ourselves feel superior.

    There is only one who is superior!

    carl

  9. travist81 says:

    Are we called to fear or love? Yes we are called to love.

    Are we calling fear “understanding” in order to mask our fear? Yes, unfortunately there are those who don’t even know they are thinking that way. I have to admit, I’m guilty of that way of thinking. I went to North Africa in the summer of 2003 in order to get a true understanding of Muslims, which benefited me greatly.

    What drives out fear? It’s not what drives out fear, it is who. It’s Jesus. Studying his life and teachings, with the help of the Spirit, and might I add taking a risk is what drives out fear.

    What emotion do some of these emails invoke in your heart? What does that emotion lead you to do? These emails actually make me sad and angry to know that my Muslim friends are being labeled and stereotyped in a way that is negative. Every opportunity I have I will try to break the stereotype people have towards Muslims. I actually did it this morning with a couple of my co-workers.

    What does God think of Muslims? He loves them and wants them to know that they can know Him.

    What do you think of Muslims? By the grace of God, He showed me that I once was an enemy of His but He loved me anyways and made a way for me through Jesus. I can only act out that love towards Muslims as well.

    Carl, those are my short but specific answers to your questions.

  10. travist81 says:

    Also, my comments about hate that was found in my Muslim friends towards Jews was just an observation of mine. I’m not sure where this hate comes from but it comes from somewhere. I can’t make a comment regarding Arabic words in the Quran, because I don’t have a deep understanding of the language.

    1. alex.kerimli says:

      Hi Travis,
      Your observation of Muslims hate towards Jews are based on Qur’an, Sira and Hadith. Muhammad hated Jews and ordered many of them being killed in Medina (700-900 surrendered) and Khaibar (7 villages) and told his followers on the death bed to keep Arabia clean from Jews and Christians.

  11. Carl,

    My issue with you is not just your focus, but your suppression and denial of truths that are necessary for a balanced and Christlike perspective.

    The answer to your question #3 is that perfect (teleia) love drives out fear. teleia in Greek means “complete in all its parts”. Love cannot be teleia without truth- without truth it is stunted and lopsided.

    You are right that the Qur’an says some nice things about Jews and Christians, and calls them ahl-ul-kitab (people of the book), but you are incorrect when you say:
    “Christians … are NOT called “Kafirs” in the Qur’an”

    In Surah 5 of the qur’an, vs 71, it says “They do blaspheme who say: “Allah is Christ the son of Mary.”
    The word blaspheme in this verse is “kafara”.

    So that clearly makes anyone (who says that Jesus is God) a kafir. That includes me, and I hope it includes you.

    I appreciate that Travis says he “can’t make a comment regarding Arabic words in the Quran, because I don’t have a deep understanding of the language.”

    I would also appreciate it if you had the same attitude, rather than giving incorrect definitions of Arabic words and making claims about the Qur’an not saying things that it does say.

    I’m not saying you’re not allowed to make mistakes, but please be more careful, because you are misinforming a large audience.

    Let’s not fall prey to the fallacy that in order to love Muslims we have to be blind to the lies that Islam tells them.
    “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.” Eph. 4:15

  12. Carl Medearis says:

    Travis, thanks for your words…

    Pierre, we’re not likely to agree. Pulling the “I speak Arabic better than you card” is unfortunate. I’ll not comment on that. You’re free to have your opinions and that’s what this blog and response are for. So please continue to feel free….
    carl

  13. Carl,

    I do appreciate the fact that you allow contrasting opinions.

    I agree that we’re not likely to agree (except perhaps on that), but why should that stop us from dialoging?

    And why should the fact that I corrected a couple factual errors constitute me “pulling the ‘I speak Arabic better than you card'”?

    I feel like you’re just putting up a smokescreen instead of dealing with the facts.

    Would I be pulling the “I speak English better than you card” by telling you that you spelled “propaganda” wrong on the title of this blog post? (you wrote “propoganda”) It was just a typo…No big deal…

    Ok, so my knowledge of Arabic and the Qur’an was sufficient to correct your definition of “Kafir” and it’s application to Christians, but that could have been done by anyone who knows about Wikipedia and has 5 minutes to check the facts.

    Can we just keep to the facts? Would it hurt so much to just say “Okay, I was wrong about the exact definition of Kafir”? I wouldn’t wag my tongue, point at you and laugh- I would probably just respect you a bit more.

    I just have to say though- how could “kafir” possibly mean “pagan. One without religion.” ? Pagans have plenty of religion- actually, way too much. Yeah, pagans are “kuffaar” (unbelievers, or disbelievers), but not all “kuffaar” are pagans.

    I’m just saying let’s be accurate, and open to correction. If I’ve said anything incorrect, feel free to correct me too.

  14. alex.kerimli says:

    Hello Carl,
    What do you think about this video:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cjboUaeNQFQ
    Do you think it is exaggeration?

    Thank you!

  15. Great stuff, Carl! Thank you.
    I’m not very familiar with the Quran and am trying to find the following quote: ‘I will make the followers of Jesus greater than all the rest.’ I tried an online search engine with no success. Can you help me out?

    Thanks!