84. Muslims in America and One Nation Under Which God?

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Part I – The Majority of Muslims in America are Concerned (Fearful?) about Islamic Extremism

I read a recent article by Ken Chitwood, a guest on episode 16 of Reconnect, entitled, “What Does God Require of Us Amid Rising Islamophobia?” that exhorts us to defend the rights of Muslims, reach out to Muslims with compassionate friendship, and to be humble knowing that we cannot rebuild the brokenness of the world on our own (namely, we need God to wholly fix the world).

These points are very good reminders to us for what we need to do and I affirm them throughout the episode, yet with caution.

In the article Ken states, “A recent study by Public Religion Research Institute shows that people who interact with Muslims — even those who have just had a few conversations in the past year — hold much more positive views of Muslims and refugees.”

It seems to be implied that if more Americans just knew Muslims personally and had more knowledge of Islam they wouldn’t be as fearful of Islamic extremism.  However, according to a 2011 Pew Research study the majority of Muslims in the United States are concerned (is that the same as fearful?) about the rise of Islamic extremism within America, as well as a large number of Muslims in America (231,000) that say suicide bombings and violence against citizens can sometimes be justified to defend Islam, while ONLY 33,000 Muslims in America say such attacks on citizens is often times justified.

The report also says, ““A significant minority (21%) of Muslim Americans say there is a great deal (6%) or a fair amount (15%) of support for extremism in the Muslim American community.” This means that one in five Muslim Americans say there is a great deal or fair amount of support for extremism in the Muslim American community? Really? So about 660,000 Muslim Americans say there is a great deal or fair amount of support for Islamic extremism in the Muslim American community.

To support this perception within the Islamic community, the study also showed that 5% of the Muslims in America are favorable of al-Qaeda. That’s 165,000 American Muslims who are favorable of al-Qaeda.

Since such answers come from the Muslims in America, it helps explain why there is a fear of Islam in America? I don’t think it is an irrational fear based on the numbers, especially when we ask how many would legitimately tell the truth about supporting al-Qaeda and suicide bombings while living in America. Then consider that the statistics on these points in Islamic states is extremely high, and the fear is very much understood among Americans. It shouldn’t be dismissed as white America simply not knowing Muslims or Islam, when the Islamic community in America itself has a majority concern for the rise of Islamic extremism in America too!

But the Christian is exhorted to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly as Ken reminds us in his article.  How do we then respond if we are fearful, or simply concerned about Islamic extremism as many of the Muslims in America are also concerned?  Many of the examples Ken gives, we should follow, but I don’t think we ALL should follow them, depending on our family duties and responsibilities, which I explain in this first segment.

Part II – In God We Still Trust

I read quotes from the early founding fathers, statesmen, and presidents of America!  If America is a nation under God, which God are we under?  Wouldn’t the founding fathers’ words best tell us?

The quotes are compiled by Dr. Richard G. Lee in his book, In God We Still Trust.
As usual, both of these parts are connected to sharing the good news of Jesus Christ.

Show Links

Ken’s Article

Ken’s Reconnect Episode

August 30th, 2011 Pew Research Center Study on the Views of American Muslims

January 206 – New Estimate of Muslim Population in America by Pew Research Center

PolitiFacts’s “Is Donald Trump’s Executive Order a Muslim Ban?”

Contradict Movement

Samson is NOT a Biblical Parallel to Suicide Bombers!

A colleague approached me yesterday and said, “I have a good one for you.  What’s a Biblical parallel to suicide bombers?” He answered, “Samson.”

Intentionally committing suicide to kill those who are your enemies in recent decades has been almost exclusively associated with Islam.  Many are arguing that all forms of terroism have no role or place in true Islam, thus those who claim to be killing themselves to kill others in the name of Allah are not true Muslims.  I don’t want to address that topic, right now.  I did find a very good article post from Middle East Forum entitled, “The Religious Foundations of Suicide Bombers”, that I believe has done a very fine job of citing early Islamic theologians, the Qur’an, and the Hadiths to demonstrate why we are witnessing suicide attacks in the name of Allah.  I want to take the time to find all the citations and then write a post afterwards to show if I agree with the article after reading the citations. Without looking up all of the citations first hand, I think the Middle East Forum presents authoritative Islamic texts that Muslims can use to support terrorism and violent acts against non-Muslims. But that’s not the intent of this blog post.  I want to address the point that Samson is a Biblical example that parallels Islamic suicide bombers.  Is it justifiable to kill yourself if it is to kill those who are enemies of God?  If the Christian says no, how could we respond if someone raises the objection of Samson?

If you are unfamiliar with Samson’s life and death, it can be found in Judges 13-16.

Samson was the product of a miraculous conception.  (Judges 13:3)  His mother was told that he should be a Nazarite from birth!  (Judges 13:5)  A Nazarite vow entailed no drinking of alcohol or cutting of your hair from the time the vow was taken, hence, Samson never had his hair cut.  Samson is known for his superman strength.  Samson attributes his great strength to having been a Nazarite from birth.  (Judges 16:17)  Once his hair is cut, he loses his strength and is captured by the Philistines.  They gouged out his eyes!  (Judges 16:21)  The Philistines then gathered to offer a sacrifice to their god, Dagon.  They had Samson shackled and were entertained by his failure and misery.  Samson requested to be able to rest against the pillars that held up the roof of the courtyard.  3,000 Philistines were gathered, men, women, and children.  (Judges 16:27) Samson then said, “O Lord God, please remember me and please strengthen me only this once, O God, that I may be avenged on the Philistines for my two eyes.”  He then tore down the building by pushing on the two pillars that held up the roof.  Scripture says that he died there with them and that he killed more Philistines in his death than during his life.  (Judges 16:30)

Samson brings down the house, killing about 3,000 Philistines.
Samson brings down the house, killing about 3,000 Philistines.

This passage of Scripture can certainly be troubling.  It means that God empowered Samson to kill not only himself, but also women and children.  He wasn’t just killing the men who captured him and took his eyes. There are answers to this moral conflict that fit within the Biblical worldview that can ease the tension we sense over this horrible calamity, but outside of the Christian worldview they likely won’t satisfy, and even within the Christian worldview, we may not be satisfied.  There are also some very clear ways in which this event is far different from God giving his approval on such acts as suicide bombing!

1st – Samson was a judge over Israel, the people of God.  The position he had was appointed by God.  Justice needed to be served.  The false god and the temple of the Philistines should not prevail against the real God of the universe.  Samson prayed to the Lord and asked for vindication against the enemies of God, and he was willing to offer his own life in the process.  His death was not a self-righteous vindication either.  He was laying his life down for the good of God’s people, that they  might be spared from their enemies, even if it cost him his own life.

2nd – Samson’s strength always came from God.  He attributed it to his long hair and vow, but in his final prayer, he is acknowledging that his strength was from the Lord.  Scripture says that the Philistines were entertained by the spectacle of their enemy, Samson, captured and blinded.  How were they entertained, unless they were laughing and mocking him?  They likely were calling on him to save himself, to perform a great act of strength as he had done before, many times in his life.  Since he was a judge, a representative of God, the Philistines in the house of Dagon were thus mocking and challenging the one true God.  Foreshadowing and pointing to Jesus’ death, Samson gave his life to put an end to the enemies of God.  Jesus Christ, when he was mocked, delivered a death blow to sin, death, and the devil, and reconciled all of humanity back into a relight relationship with God through the shedding of his own blood. 

3rd – Samson’s death was far different from that of a suicide bomber.  Samson was captured, his eyes had been taken, he was shackled, and he was likely going to be put death.  The taking of his own life was clearly done through supernatural powers given by the Lord that he directly prayed to for help for vengeance against his enemies.  A suicide bomber on the other hand is not doing anything supernatural.  Bombs are not supernatural, thus cannot be confirmed to be approved by God.  Suicide bombers have not been captured, they have not been tortured, and they are not being held captive and mocked in an act of worship towards the god of their enemies. Suicide bombers are not God’s chosen representatives of his judgment amongst his people.

4th – From the Biblical worldview, all life comes from God and it is his to give or take.  All humans die as punishment for our sin (man, woman, or child).  When and how death shall come is a matter left to God.  When suicide bombers take their own lives and the lives of the innocent, it means that God has allowed the evil action to occur.  It does not mean that he ordains it to be good.  Samson’s sacrificial death brought glory to God and confirmed to all the remaining Philistines that the God of Israel is real and he is not to be mocked!  The death of the Philistines quite possibly led to others in their community to repent and be brought to saving faith in the one true Lord, turning from Dagon  The hope that we have from the Bible is that no matter what occurs, God will work through all situations for the good of his people who love him. (Romans 8:28)

Jay Smith – Comparing the Bible and the Qur’an

I recently attended the Vertias Evangelical Seminary National Apologetics Conference 2014 at Calvary Chapel, Costa Mesa (technically Santa Ana), CA.

Jay Smith

One, Jay Smith spoke, comparing the Qur’an to the Bible.  Here are some notes that I pulled from the Veritas conference page:

The Qur’an is not narrative. There is no beginning, no end. It is not a book for Muslims to study, but to memorize. This is the book they do not question; it is above criticism. It’s a capital offense to criticism it in certain countries; penalty is seven years imprisonment.

The radicals have read the Qur’an, they trust it. Don’t we Christians do the same thing? We read our Bible, we trust it? Don’t we start from the same paradigm? We are uniquely positioned to reach Muslims.

Radical Muslims force Christians to convert, pay the tax or die. This is based on the Qur’an.

We are the only ones that can confront their ideology. The government cannot do this. In order to confront violence, we have to confront the Qur’an. When you compare, there is simply no comparison with the Bible.

Muslims always say the Bible has been corrupted. I always ask 2 questions: where and when? But Qur’an says to come to the Christians for answers and don’t even argue with Christians.

Portions of the Qur’an were copied from Jewish commentaries and apocryphal  works. This is a problem for the Qur’an. If it were from God why would it borrow from embellished stories and misrepresentations of the biblical stories that the Qur’an actually says to reject?  [I wasn’t taking notes on this, but the details shared were fascinating, so this is all I can provide easily from the notes the conference was posting live during the speech]

We have had a real problem with Muslims confronting our manuscripts. We have more than 5000 Greek and when you add the copies into other languages it’s more than 24000 copies. But it is true we do not have the originals.

What manuscript evidence is there for the Qur’an. Muslims claim to have the original manuscripts. It was supposedly given by way of divine revelation to Muhammad who couldn’t read or write, and then passed through a few people. Four copies was made and sent to different cities. Those four copies exist today.

They claim that there is no comparison to any of their Suras but just open Psalm 23 and compare to any Sura.

5 questions to ask:

  1. Is the Qur’an ETERNAL? (Sura 85:2 says so)
  2. Was it SENT DOWN to Muhammad via the angel Jibril? (Gabriel)
  3. Was it compiled COMPLETE at the time of Ithman in 650AD?
  4. Is the Qur’an UNCHANGED since 650 AD? Every letter, word, sentence, chapter?
  5. PROVE IT! Provide a complete manuscript

Where are those Uthmanic copies from 650 AD? The claim is that the original copies still exist. Topkapi Mushaf, Sammarqand Mushaf, Shabir Ally and a few more. The challenge is that it’s difficult to get access to these. But in 2002 study was done and released in 2009 concluding: we have none of Uthman’s Mushafs (manuscripts); they date from the early to mid 8th century and are not the originals.

They find over 2000 differences from the cannonical version, is full of grammatical deviations (errors), with spelling mistakes. The Sammarqand Manuscript is the same; only goes up to chapter 43 and the author didn’t use very good Arabic. Ma’ll Qur’an is only 53% and dated late 8th century. Petropolitanus is early 9th century, full of corrections, have obvious corrections and only 26% of the Qur’an. Husseini is early 8th century, full of vairants. Sana manuscript couldn’t be read at first; Sura 20,21 show two different styles of writing from two different time periods showing the Qur’an has evolved; also contains manuscript variants (1000 just in this Quran); they could actually see another version underneath.

Jay Smith sources all of this from Islamic Answers, a Muslim website. He challenged the founder of this website to reveal one original, complete manuscript and the founder walked away.

Jay then projects unpublished research which revealed over 800 textual variants. Since this has not yet been published yet, notes will not be provided here.

It seem to be that THERE WAS NO QUR’AN until somewhere in or after the 8th century, long after Muhammad. He debated the best Muslim debater and he had no refutation.

[All of these notes were taken from the following site on Nov. 9th, 2014: http://defendinginerrancy.com/nac2014/]

Jay Smith closed with the following but the notes weren’t on the Veritas site, so here is a type up of the final comments Jay gave:

Finally!  Let’s show what Christians know about the Word of God, that is Jesus Christ, the Word of God who made himself known in the flesh according to John chapter 1.

Jesus, the Word of God is Eternal.

Jesus the Word of God has come down to us.

Jesus the Word of God is the complete revelation of God to us.

Jesus Christ remains unchanged.

Prove it – Jesus lived, died, and rose from the grave for the forgiveness of your sins!

OH, and he shared some amazing stuff that is yet to be published and asked not to be shared yet, but he actually projected the manuscript copies for us to see of this new research.

Was Chiefs Player Husain Abdullah Penalized for Muslim Prayer?

Chiefs defensive player, Husain Abdullah, picks of Tom Brady’s pass!  I love it.  He then runs it back for a touchdown.  Tom Brady gets knocked down in the process.  I love that too.  Husain Abdullah slides on his knees in the end zone.  This isn’t rugby!  You don’t need to do anything like that to score a touchdown.  You don’t literally have to touch the ball down to the ground to score like you do in rugby (a sport that is way better than American football!).  But, whatever, I’m used to celebrations in the end zone.  I would assume that it’s OK to slide in the end zone, but I don’t know the rules about what constitutes a penalty for celebrating in the end zone, or if celebrations are fine on the sideline – or not acceptable at all – I just don’t know.  I don’t watch much football. I just watch the highlights that appear in my Yahoo news feed.

Here’s the big controversy, after the slide onto his knees, Husain Abdullah, goes into a prostrate position that resembles a Muslim prayer position.  And Husain is a Muslim!  So, he is praying to Allah, clearly, AND he gets PENALIZED! Christians do this all the time in NFL games – they get on a knee to pray, or they make the sign of the cross (which indicates not only the work of Jesus of Nazareth, but it is an invocation of the Triune Lord), or they point to the sky to indicate that God gets the glory.  Tim Timbow comes to mind, though he hasn’t played in the NFL in awhile.  Tebow never received a flag for excessive celebration, but Husain Abdullah, making a Muslim prayer DID receive a 15 yard penalty.

Husain Abdullah prostrates himself in the end zone in prayer to Allah after scoring a touchdown.
Husain Abdullah prostrates himself in the end zone in prayer to Allah after scoring a touchdown.

Husain said after the game that he thought the penalty was because of the slide onto his knees!  Not for the prayer!  He never spoke to the ref about it, and the ref didn’t speak to him!  The ref announced that the penalty was “for falling to the ground on his knees”!  This could mean he was flagged for the prayer, OR it could mean that he was flagged for the manner in which he fell/slid into the prayer position.

This obviously is controversial because Christians don’t get flagged for their signs of worship, thanks, and praise to the Triune Lord!  Was Husain flagged for the prayer, the prayer that was made to Allah in a clearly Muslim position of prayer?

Is this a sign of prejudice?  Is this a sign of intolerance that the Muslim gets penalized, and the Christian does not?  Or was it really a penalty for the slide?  Does the manner in which a player gets into the prayer position make a difference?  Christians haven’t slid into a kneeling position to prayer!  Though Tim Tebow likes to show off his guns in the manner in which he kneels when he WAS a player in the NFL.

The famous, or infamous, Tim Tebow prayer position during a football game.
The famous, or infamous, Tim Tebow prayer position during a football game.

Or is this a sign of ignorance?  Did the ref not know that Husain Abdullah was praying?  Did he not know the physical posture in which Muslims pray?  Was he just not accustomed to seeing Muslim players pray in the end zone, because there aren’t too many Muslims scoring touchdowns in the NFL, who are then wanting to display thanks to Allah?

Also, I’d love to know when the flag was actually thrown.  Was it thrown on the slide?  If it was, this wasn’t prejudice.  If it was thrown after… then this is still open to debate with the only true way of knowing if this was prejudice or ignorance, by asking the ref some questions.

For more questions, here are some theological questions for Christians:

Does it matter what physical position is in to pray?  Why do Christian players get on a knee to pray?  Couldn’t they just as easily pray and give thanks in the process of running of the field, since there are no set mandates on physical posture for praying exhorted in Scripture?  I know that I pray as a drive, in the midst of conversations, when I lift weights, when I go for walks, as I listen to music, or watch TV, throughout my entire day…

Why do we bow our heads and close our eyes as Christians to pray?  It’s not in the Bible saying that we must do this, is it?  And if I had to close my eyes and bow my head, and hold my hands together to pray, I wouldn’t be able to pray in all the times I listed above!

Here are some theological questions for Muslims:

Do Muslims have to be in a prostrate position to pray to Allah?  Can Muslims pray to Allah as they go about their daily activities?

Are Muslims able to pray in a direction that is not facing Mecca?  Was the end zone in which Husain prostrating himself facing Mecca?  If it wasn’t, is that a problem?  What if he scored on the other end zone later in the game, would that be conflicting at all in terms of the direction he was facing?

When Christians pray, we can pray about anything on our hearts and minds.  Scripture tells us, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6).  Is it this way for Muslims?  Can Muslims present any request to Allah?  Or are the prayers rote, repetitive prayers?

Christians can pray at all times, and in all places, and God will hear the prayer that is made in his name.  Is it this way for Muslims?  Or must the prayers be made at the five daily prayer times to be heard by Allah?  If so, was Husain’s prayer even acceptable by Allah?  Especially if it wasn’t facing Mecca?

I’d love to hear feedback to these questions!  Comment away.  Subscribe to this blog or follow me @AndyWrasman on Twitter. 

Check out my book, Contradict – They Can’t All Be True!