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A Review of The Hidden Half

This week I was excited to receive the following review of my book The Hidden Half by Bill Muehlenberg, a well known commentator on current issues.

Stuart Robinson, The Hidden Half: Women and Islam. CHI Books, 2017.

For nearly a half a century Stuart Robinson has lived, worked and/or travelled in Muslim countries. He has written a number of vital books on Islam including his important 2003 volume, Mosques and Miracles. Thus he is well placed to deal with this topic. And what a vitally important subject it is. Says Robinson:

Although approximately 10% of the world’s population may be Muslim and female, within countries where Islamic law predominates, they are mostly silenced in public places and rendered effectively invisible by the clothing they are obliged to wear. They are frequently condemned to suffer abuse and indignity through male mouthpieces who determine their role and outcomes.

Image of The Hidden Half: Women and Islam

In a number of well-documented and meaty chapters, he looks at the various ways in which women are oppressed by Islam. Whether it is Female Genital Mutilation, forced coverings, honour killings, child brides, second class citizenship, or religious rape (yes, that exists in Islam), women are treated abysmally in this religion.

Consider just one issue which has made at least some news headlines of late. In the UK where the Muslim population is said to double each decade, Muslim paedophile gangs had been at work there for decades. Robinson cites a 300+ page research report on this which documents all the horrific abuse, rape and torture.

For example, a number of Muslim males were jailed for grooming up to 100 underage girls for sex. The study found that “Muslim males are 154 times more likely than others to perpetuate this sort of crime.” Much of the mainstream media has stayed silent on this story, so it is terrific to see Robinson bravely exposing it.

Facts, figures, data and research presented in the book are supplemented by numerous personal horror stories of women being treated so very poorly in Islam. It makes for frightening reading, but it is necessary reading. We all owe Stuart Robinson a great debt in producing this urgent wake-up call.

As Elizabeth Kendall says in her foreword, “The events reported in this book may disturb you and even move you to tears. But if change is to occur, reality must first be faced.” Quite so, and the reality of how women fare under Islam is expertly and carefully documented in this must-read volume.

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AN UNEXPECTED OUTCOME

Being on talk back radio is always a risk. What may happen is quite unpredictable. As I sat in my office in Melbourne, Australia, a call came in from Adelaide. the capital city of a neighbouring State of South Australia. It was a young lady who wanted to discuss an issue relating to Islam. She opened the conversation by saying that she had become a Muslim. To establish a context for the discussion I asked a few questions.

“Where did you go to school in Adelaide”?

She replied, ”All my life I attended a Christian denominational school”.

“Did you ever read a Bible”?

“Never”.

“And you have become a Muslim”?

“Yes”.

“Have you ever read the Quran”?

“No.”

“So why did you become a Muslim”?

“Some of my girlfriends and I thought it would be a cool thing to do”.

“That was your only reason”?

“Yes”.

I had heard reports that in Australia 65% of new converts to Islam were women. In the UK it was reportedly 70%. Admittedly some  Middle Eastern males may appear to some to be quite handsome. But regardless of the reasons, had any of these young women heard of law of Apostasy? Islam’s front door is wide and inviting. Its invitation is attractively presented and simply put. But perhaps unknown to such new followers of the teaching and example of Prophet Muhammad  is that unlike in any other religion there is no back door of escape once  any person enters that space. The death penalty may be applied to men and imprisonment for women who dare to leave for any reason.

It seems almost unbelievable that in this day and age so little is known about Islam by many that anyone would make such a momentous decision on no greater motive than “it seemed a cool thing to do’!

I decided to dig further. It took a couple of years of scarce spare time but now I am very excited to announce that the book is out. It’s called “The Hidden Half—Women and Islam”. You can buy it from your local Christian Book store or you may buy it directly from me at a special introductory price. Go to the section on this site headed “Books” and follow the prompts.

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From Confusion to Clarity

By early 1981 American embassy hostages held in Tehran were back home. A discreet reception was held for some of them in a suburban home in Northern Virginia, USA. One former hostage, Malcolm Kalp, was reported to have said at that meeting,

“We still think the Soviet Union is our enemy, that worldwide communism is still the principal threat to our way of life. But the real challenge isn’t the Soviet Union – it’s militant Islam. We have no idea what we are up against”.Screen Shot 2016-03-28 at 12.02.32 pm

Three and a half decades later his observation remains accurate on all counts. Mostly only those who have lived within Islamic societies and have studied their sacred texts (Qur’an, Hadith and Sira) can understand what is happening and give some explanation of likely outcomes should the message of revivalist Islam continue to spread unchecked around the world. And spreading it surely is.

Like rogue organisms from some cancerous tumour, cells of fundamentalist Islam multiply and metastasise faster than intelligence agencies can track them. United Nations Secretary, General Ban Ki- Moon said on February 5, 2016 that by the previous December 34 organisations had sworn allegiance to the Caliphate of the Islamic State. But only days after that announcement, on February 7, 2016, private counter-terrorism organisation IntelCentre claimed that the number of affiliates and supporting organisations had already risen to 43. From the Philippines in the East (Abu Sayaf and Ansar al Khilifah) to Nigeria in the West (Boko Haram), from Indonesia in the South (Jemaah Anshorut Tawhid) to Russia in the North (Caucasus Emirate) and in many countries in between, Islamist organisations are armed and ready. They are intolerant of anything that is at variance from their own claims, interpretations and demands. This expansion “demonstrates the speed and scale at which the gravity of the threat has evolved in just 18 months,” said Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.

In December 2014, General Michael K. Nugata, Special Operations commander for the United States military in the Middle East, commenting on the rapid rise of Islamic State reportedly said, “We have not defeated the idea. We do not even understand the idea.” At least he was honest in expressing his and others’ ignorance and their inability to comprehend what is happening. To begin to articulate a coherent response remains a step too far.

Screen Shot 2016-03-28 at 12.02.23 pm

 

A similar posture is evidenced but not admitted by most Western political leaders. It is a commonly heard response from bellwether politicians that even after the most atrocious Islamic terrorist attacks which killed many of their own citizens whom they are ostensibly elected to protect, they continue to claim that such activities have nothing to do with Islam. This conveniently overlooks the glaring fact that the only element common to all such attacks is that the perpetrators are committed to the fundamental tenets of Islam.

The primary reason for this current politically correct response is that in any democracy, elected representatives are dependent on votes from their constituents to retain personal privilege and power at their next election. In a country such as France where the number of Muslims is thought to be approximately 10% of the population, those votes are critical. After one of the recent attacks in France, one of the highest ranking politicians reportedly ventured to express the view that the problems they experience with some of their Muslim constituency could be overcome by building more mosques! At least that might have temporarily secured a few Muslim votes. Presumably to maintain favour with some voters and to secure personal power, France’s politicians through various statements and policies, maintain a high level of antipathy toward Israel while favouring HAMAS and the PLO whose repeatedly avowed aims include the destruction of Israel. Israel is the only state in the cauldron of Middle East furies that has maintained a record of democracy and peaceful transitions of political power for almost seven decades. No state is without fault, but surely such bias favouring one state whose avowed aim is the destruction of another, ought to be seriously challenged.

In the West, only worship at the altar of secular humanism is permitted within State discourse. Traditional religion, especially Christianity, has been marginalised, discounted and almost banned from consideration in the contest of ideas. Bereft of the moral underpinnings and Judaeo-Christian values upon which Western democracies were established, they are now almost defenseless and endangered as they are increasingly penetrated by alien philosophies and theologies. Unfettered from predictable behaviours and practices by their own set of values, Islamist invaders are intent on their goal of world domination. For those who disagree with them, the message is– surrender or die. No prisoners will be taken unless individuals are temporarily valuable as pawns in a deadly game of ransom.

Having rejected their own religious history and traditions, most Western leaders are unable to comprehend the power of religious conviction that drives emerging contemporary Islamic movements. At best all these elites seem capable of doing is to call for reform within Islam. In this they are at least partially right. They infer distinction between people, i.e. Muslims and the theological doctrines that compulsorily drive them.

The vast majority of Muslims want peace and prosperity like most non-Muslims. However the ideology of Islam as contained in its sacred texts and developed into Sharia Law is the locus of real challenge. As Muslims know, this is not open to change. The emerging movements already claim to represent reform, back to basics as was practised in the days of the Prophet in seventh century Arabia. In the meantime, to lessen our anxieties we grant equivalence to Islam. We unthinkingly accept the Muslim claim that the three major world religions worship the same God, are of Abrahamic origin and honour the same “Prophets”. But a careful analysis and comparison between the entities as described in each religion’s texts reveal they are so different as to be incomparable.

“Equivalence fosters ambiguity; ambiguity gives birth to confusion; and confusion breeds disaster, as the early 21st-century has already shown.” (Sandys and Hendey, God and Churchill, London, S P CK, 2015). To shed some light into the darkness, to discover a little clarity in the midst of confusion and to consider a modest yet powerful response get a copy of Islam Rising – the Middle East and Us by Stuart Robinson.

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Misunderstandings

As soon as I arrived in Lome, the capital of Togo, West Africa, I asked my contact a number of questions to clarify local customs. At my first two speaking engagements, which included people from 19 nations and a live radio audience of about two million listeners, I apologised in advance for my lack of knowledge of the detail of local culture and hoped they would be generous in their forgiveness and acceptance of me—in spite of my blundering ignorance. In such matters I try to be a fast learner. Even so I still make mistakes.

I like softly whistling tunes to myself. Then someone told me I shouldn’t do that. Local non-Christians believe whistling disturbs the spirits of the ancestors. It’s also thought the practice calls snakes. The only people permitted to whistle are herdsmen guiding their cattle. The poor snakes must be riven with anxiety syndrome. On the one hand they are being called to come. On the other they risk being trampled to death by cattle.

I stopped whistling. But not every foreigner tries to be culturally contextualized. The way in which outsiders know they are welcome to a home, a meeting or any gathering in Togo is upon arrival someone will immediately come forward and offer to carry whatever may be in their hands. When this gesture of welcome was extended to a European visitor he got angry. “Don’t touch my luggage. It’s mine,” was his response. He thought someone wanted to steal his luggage.

As an American couple passed by the wife paused to say “Hello”. The husband immediately called to his wife, “Come on now. Don’t waste time. We are leaving immediately.” Enquiry revealed that although the couple had been in the country for many years the husband had developed relationships with virtually no one. He had a reputation for never having time. Africans sometimes jest, “You foreigners have watches. But we Africans have time.”

Regardless of ranking in society or just pressures of work, Togolese always pause and courteously greet the other person. Outside of our own cultural contexts we are all prone to fall into the pit of misinterpretation of others’ words and deeds. Failure to investigate and study carefully what’s happening around us can have deadly effects. One such instance is seen in the West’s failure to understand Islam.

Behaviour which falls outside our secularized, humanistic, scientific worldview we label as exceptional or radical and refuse to admit it could be more general. Hence western governments speak of radicalisation and deradicalisation of their Muslim citizens. Early causes attributed to the radicalization process were claimed to be poverty, social disadvantage etc. This theory was firmly held until those responsible for violence in Western countries or the Middle East were revealed to be often well-educated, middle class citizens. Few opinion makers thought to examine the basic teachings of Islam itself.

In the Quran Surah 9:123 Allah instructs, “Fight those of the disbelievers who are near you.” Surah 9:14-15 adds, “Fight them; Allah will punish them by your hands and will disgrace them and give you victory over them and satisfy (or heal) the breasts of believing people…and remove the rage of their hearts.”

The Arabic used in these surahs is said to mean “to fight to kill.” So there is a simple timeless command—to kill non-believers.

And why not?

It’s very gradually being understood by non-Muslims that one of the few ways of obtaining certainty of entrance to Paradise for a Muslim is to die as a martyr while on Jihad. This serves as a very persuasive recruiting device for the militarily inclined. What is equally powerful but less well known outside of the Muslim community is the teaching of one of the greatly revered authoritative sources of Islam’s prophet Mohammad.

In the collection of Traditions (Hadith), Sahih Muslim chapter 789 paragraph 4661 Mohammad reportedly said, “A disbeliever and a believer who killed him will never be gathered together in Hell.” The inference is that the disbeliever obviously ends up in Hell while the believer (of Islam) is assured of residence in Paradise. Therefore the therapy to calm a troubled Muslim may be to murder a disbeliever.

Obviously not every Muslim who seeks an assured place in Paradise resorts to a Jihad or therapy that advocates killing an unbeliever.

The concepts referred to above so jar on non-Muslim minds that the only way they can reconcile realities of what is happening in the Middle East and in violence in countless other locations, is to declare such behaviours as non-Islamic, radicalism, Islamism, Salafism or by other names.

We have much to learn. To understand a little more, snatch a copy of my latest publication, Islam Rising available here, while the special introductory offer is still available.

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Islam Rising

I am very pleased to let you now that my new book, Islam Rising, has just been officially released and is already receiving high praise from a number of quarters. Secular political leaders and media minders have marginalized religion unless it serves their professional interests. Historical memory hardly extends beyond yesterday’s sound bites or delves deeper than the flutter of social media comment.Islam-Rising_cover

This book summarizes elements of how enduring turmoil in the Middle East have arisen and some implications for the rest of the world.

“With typical careful background investigation and insightful analysis, Robinson clarifies about Islamic State what some are too afraid to admit. A book to be thoroughly recommended.”

Dr Bernie Power. Lecturer in Islamic Studies, Melbourne School of Theology, Australia.

As part of our launch we have decided to reduce it from its already very affordable price.

RRP $6.99 but our SPECIAL OFFER if you purchase before September 30 $5.00 (plus postage and handling). Click here to purchase.

In doing this I am hoping that cost will not be a barrier to anyone who wants a copy of this timely book in order to understand one of the most pressing issues we face today.

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The Middle East and Us – Part 3, Why Is This Happening?

This is the third of a series of four posts I will be doing entitled  THE MIDDLE EAST AND US. The following posts will be uploaded over the coming weeks.

Part 1 is found at this link https://drstuartrobinson.com/2014/09/10/the-middle-and-us-part-1/

and Part 2 can be found at https://drstuartrobinson.com/2014/09/16/the-middle-east-and-us-part-2-northern-syria-and-iraq/

or by searching my home page.

THE MIDDLE EAST AND US—PART 3

Why is this happening?

Firstly there is the teaching of Islam. Muslims are not our enemies. Like people anywhere they hold many different opinions. The real threat is Islam itself. It’s teaching is contained in:

The Quran, which is claimed to be direct revelation from Allah through its Prophet Muhammed

The Traditions (Hadith) of which there are many thousands. These tell us what Islam’s Prophet said and did.

The Life of Mohammed (Sirat Rasul Allah) by Ibn Ishaq written a century after Mohammed’s death (632CE).

Codified collections of material that constitute Sharia Law.

Whatever is found in these volumes validates or authenticates Muslim belief and practice. There seems to be nothing in the current revivalist upsurge of Islam around the world the example of which and the motivation for which are not first sourced in these books. Variant Interpretations of this body of literature sacred to Islam, were closed a millennium ago when Muslims turned away from the processes of philosophy and rational thought and took refuge in dogma. One of Islam’s greatest mediaeval scholars, al Ghazali, declared the gate of ijtihad was closed and “since then Sunni Islam has adopted the official position that no new interpretations of the law can be entertained”.[i] Therefore reform of Islam becomes mostly a Westernized vain hope.

So, it is taught that Muslims are the best people on earth, that they will rule the whole world, that they are winners and all others are losers (Q24:52;3:85;39:65) and that once Islam has conquered a country, it is theirs forever. When these aspirations are frustrated, reformers with revolutionary zeal arise and declare that Muslim people have become nominal and apostate. Allah’s will is thwarted. Regaining his blessing will only happen if all return to the basics, to resume jihad against the infidels and against Muslim rulers who have compromised the true Way, the Sunnah.

The siren call to reform Islam by returning to its earliest practices, becomes a compelling solution to the question that bedevils all Muslim societies, “How should we live?”

The former Kuwaiti minister of information, Saad bin Tafla al Ajami, sums up what is happening thus: “The truth that we cannot deny is: ISIS learned from our schools, prayed in our mosques, listened to our media and our religious platforms, read from our books and references, and followed fatwas (religious edicts) we produced”.[ii] Precisely so.

No Muslim wants to criticize another Muslim who longs to return to Islam as practiced and exemplified by Mohammed. This is so especially if they are in a minority in a non-Muslim country. Thus when the New York Towers were destroyed, there was muted reaction by Muslims in the West. But in many Muslim majority cities there was dancing in the streets.

The second major reason revivalist Islam is running rampant in the Middle East and increasingly behaving as it does in the West is Western Democracy.

Western Democracy

Nearly all politicians want to retain personal power more than anything else. In a democracy winning votes does this. Votes are won by giving people what they want.

In the case of Australia, reportedly after careful investigation, the Hawke government’s Department of Immigration issued a deportation order for anti-Semitic activities by Sheik Taj El Din Hamid Hilaly. But he lived in Lakemba, a suburb of Sydney, where there were lots of votes by Muslims. So the Hawke government overturned its own edict. Grand Mufti leader of Muslims in Australia, Imam Hilaly would later reportedly describe the New York atrocity as “God’s work against infidels”.

In the 20 Federal Parliamentary seats in western Sydney, all have significant Muslim populations. The Labor party holds 19 of these. When the former Foreign Minister Bob Carr reportedly spent an hour with Prime Minister Gillard emphasizing the electoral importance of the Muslim vote, the Gillard government dropped support for Israel in the United Nations.[iii]

The Abbot government in August 2014 under pressure from the Muslim community and others dropped its intention to change section 18(c) of the Federal Racial Discrimination Act. It was hoping that in so doing it would gain Muslim support for its proposal to enact tougher anti-terrorism laws. Muslims leaders approved the first action but opposed the second.

Democratically elected governments seldom do anything that may risk votes at the next election.

An election in the autonomous region of Catalonia in Spain is due in 2014. 465,000 Muslims live in that region. Their leaders report that the government, the Convergence and Union Party, has promised permission to build the third largest mosque in the world financed from Qatar if the Muslims vote for them. The mosque’s minaret is planned to tower 300 metres to overshadow symbolically the spires of the Sagardia Familia Roman Catholic cathedral by 130 metres. In one of the mosques in that region, Abdelwahab Houzi preached in support of the concept saying that it would represent a significant step in Muslims accumulating power with a view to implementing Sharia Law.[iv]

Secular politicians disallow theology in public debate. World-renowned secularist sociologist Peter Berger recently said, “Those who neglect religion in their analyses of contemporary affairs do so at great peril.”[v]

Part four of this series will be uploaded next week.

If you are interested in reading more my books on this subject and more are available for purchase at https://drstuartrobinson.com/books/

[i] Robert A. Reilly, The Closing of the Muslim Mind. ISI Books, Wilmington, Delaware, 2011, x-xi.

[ii] The Clarion Project (Radicalislam.org). Issue 128. August 21 2014 (viewed August 22 2014].

[iii] Andrew Bolt, We’re muzzled, but bigots rant. Herald Sun, August 17 2014, 13.

[iv] Soeren Kern, http://www.clarionproject.org/print/analysis/barcelona-mega-mosque-promised-separatists-votes (viewed August 17 2014).

[v] Bernard Lane, Academic looks for theoretical salvation. The Australian, August 27 2014, 28.

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The Middle East and Us: Part 2 – Northern Syria and Iraq

This is the second of a series of four posts I will be doing entitle  THE MIDDLE EAST AND US. The following two posts will be uploaded over the coming three weeks.

Part 1 is found at this link https://drstuartrobinson.com/2014/09/10/the-middle-and-us-part-1/

or by searching my home page.

THE MIDDLE EAST AND US—PART 2

The situation in Northern Syria and Iraq shares similarities with the Gaza Israel conflict.

Northern Syria and Iraq APG_syria_iraq_map_sk_140611_16x9_992

In northern Syria and Iraq there are at least 18 different jihadi groups who seemingly spend as much time fighting one another as they do fighting the Shi’ite surrogate regimes of Assad in Syria and until recently Malaki in Iraq. Unleashed from the restraints imposed by dictators in those and other Middle Eastern countries, they rampage across the land causing death and havoc wherever they go. They torture, rape, kill adult non-Sunni males, by beheading, crucifying and shooting. Reports say they rape and sell women, girls and boys into slavery while saving some to gratify their own sexual desires.

To those who object to what’s happening, prominent writer and cleric, Hussein bin Mahmoud is reported as saying that “…beheading is an effective way to terrorize the enemies of Islam. Under Islamic law, American journalist, James Foley was a Harbi, that is, a non-Muslim whose life was not protected by an agreement of protection. Islam allows and encourages such acts since it is a religion of war and fighting.”[i]

UK Muslim leader Anjem Choudary justified the beheading of American journalist, James Foley, by reportedly saying that beheading was permissible under Shariah (Islamic) law. “Muslims who abide by Shariah and follow the jurisprudence do not make a distinction between civilian and army. This fellow was not just a civilian of America. He was a journalist.”[ii]

Even to question from within the community, what is happening may be dangerous. HAMAS in Gaza, like the movements in northern Iraq and Syria, is also known for its practice of extrajudicial execution. Recently about 20 people were summarily executed and their bodies were dragged through the streets. Two of those executed were women. They had been asking questions about Palestinians who had been killed.[iii]

When it comes to people like Yazidis who are regarded as infidels and Shi’ites whom Sunnis consider to be apostate, they automatically qualify to be killed.

The Quran refers to Jews and Christians as “People of the Book”. They are at least first invited to become Muslims. If they refuse they may be exiled, taxed into impoverishment or killed.

Muslims whom the West would have regarded as moderates, who have lived in harmony next to their Christian neighbors for centuries in these countries, have reportedly suddenly turned on their Christian and other non-Muslim neighbors telling them to leave because these lands are exclusively Muslim countries.[iv] Assyrian Christians equate what is happening with the genocide of 100 years ago in which it is claimed that the Ottoman government was responsible for the deaths of 1.5 million Armenian and Christian groups, which included Assyrians and Greeks.[v]

It has been estimated that 1.2 million people have been forced to flee. As in previous invasions, churches are destroyed or turned into mosques. For the first time in 2000 years, Christianity has been obliterated from these lands.

But concerning these atrocities there are few processions in the streets of Western cities. When the movements like Boko Haram in Nigeria, Al Shebaab in Kenya and Somalia, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt the governments of Sudan or Iran, carry out their atrocities, there is little overseas public response.

Mehmet Gormez, the head of Turkey’s religious affairs directorate, has claimed that around the world each day an average of 1000 Muslims are killed, of which almost 90% are killed by other Muslims. If his estimate is accurate, this means that every four days the number of Muslims killed by other Muslims is more than those who have died in the last 10 years of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.[vi] Yet the Muslim community remains muted and silent in Western countries. It’s only when Israel is involved that reaction is ramped up.

Archbishop Athanasius Toma Dewod of the Syrian Orthodox Church (UK) says, “They are killing our people in the name of Allah, telling people that anyone who kills a Christian will go straight to Paradise”.[vii]

If you are interested in reading more my books on this subject and more are available for purchase at https://drstuartrobinson.com/books/

[i]Jihadi Cleric Justifies IS Beheadings: Islam Is a Religion Of Beheading. MEMRI Special Despatch/5826/August 25 2014.

[ii] Ryan Mauro, www.clarionproject.org/print/analysis/uks-anjem-choudary-justifies-beheading-of-james-foley (viewed August 30 2014).

[iii] Khaled Abu Toameh, http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/4646/hamas-war-crimes. August 25 2014.

[iv] MEMRI Daily, Special Dispatch No.5820, August 13 2014.

[v] Rachel Baxendale, Churches demand safe haven for Christians. The Australian, August 25 2014, 2.

[vi] Sam Westrop, http://www.clarionproject.org/print/analysis/uk-islamists-join-neo-nazis-marxists-anti-semitism (viewed August 28 2014).

[vii] Elizabeth Kendall, Religious Liberty Prayer Bulleting, 273. August 13 2014.

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The Middle East and Us – Part 1, Gaza and Israel

This is the first of four posts I will be doing entitle  THE MIDDLE EAST AND US. The following 3 posts will be uploaded over the coming three weeks.

THE MIDDLE EAST AND US—PART 1

On August 8, 2014, former head of the Australian Army Lieutenant General Peter Leahy reportedly said, “Australia is involved in the early stages of a war which is likely to last for the rest of the century.”

Michael Krause a retired Major General agreed. Aware of the army’s experience in Iraq and Afghanistan he said, “I have seen these people. I know how they think. I know how they fight. There is no compromise possible.”

The headline of The Australian newspaper the next day was, “We’ll fight Islam (for) 100 years.”[i] UK Prime Minister David Cameron reportedly made similar comments in the last week of August 2014. What is happening in the Middle East has global consequences.

When Western forces first entered Iraq and Afghanistan it was said at the time they will win some battles but will lose the war. In both those countries, no matter how our political leaders reframe the outcomes, it may now be said that the losers by most measures have been western nations. Little remains of their hoped for outcomes from their interventions costing trillions of dollars and thousands of lives.Screen Shot 2014-09-06 at 1.09.02 pm

In Australia as in other Western countries, we are unable to plan beyond our election cycle of 3-4 years. Muslim leaders think in terms of centuries. Mohammed invited the Christian leaders of his time to submit to Islam. They declined. So Islamic forces determined to capture the Citadel of Christianity– Constantinople. Although their attacks were repeatedly repulsed, they finally succeeded after only 800 years.[ii]

Gaza and Israel

In the Middle East if a Jewish person is asked the basis of his claim to the land of Israel the reply may be, “We have been here for 3000 years.” To the same question persons today called Palestinians may reply, “We have been here for 6000 years.”

From the Biblical record we understand that God reserved for Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and their descendants a sliver of land on the coast along the Eastern Mediterranean seaboard, which became known as Israel. The vast expanse of land to the east and south of Israel was reserved for the descendants of Ishmael, the son of Abraham and Hagar who was a servant of Abraham’s wife Sarah. (Genesis 12-27)

In 1003 BC King David was at last able to conquer Jerusalem. The area of the city at that that time was just 12 acres, or a little less than 5 ha. The rest of the Promised Land was conquered and possessed by King David except for the Philistine territory, which is today’s Gaza.

Half a millennium later, in 586 BC most of the people of what remained of Israel were deported as captives of war to the vicinity of today’s Baghdad. Towards the end of that 6th century BC the deportees were permitted to start to return to their homeland. The Temple in Jerusalem was rebuilt in 536-516 BC. Almost a further 70 years later, about 453 BC, Nehemiah arrived to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.

Arabs and other local tribal chiefs, who were on the scene by that time, resisted his work. They ridiculed, threatened, concocted false reports and sought to terrorize the returnees. Their activities are recorded in Nehemiah chapters 2, 4 and 6. What is happening today is not a new phenomenon. Jews remained in possession of their land till 70 A.D. when the Romans destroyed the Jerusalem Temple and scattered the inhabitants.

Almost five and a half centuries later in 638 CE an Islamic Army captured Jerusalem for the first time. The city and its accompanying territory remained mostly under Muslim control thereafter. But the Jewish people did not vanish.

However by the late 1800s the brutality of the Muslim authorities was so severe that many Jews were forced to flee. Simultaneously the Muslim Ottoman government in Turkey began to repopulate the vacated land with Muslim refugees from other parts of their Empire in which there were disturbances.

In 1890 the Muslim population was only 432,000. By the time of Israel’s establishment by the UN in 1947, the Muslim population, through Turkish repatriation policy had almost tripled to 1,181,000.[iii]After 1918 with the defeat of the Turkish government in World War I the Jewish population started to return. Many of them were fleeing from European threats and conflagrations, especially the Holocaust of the 1940’s, which saw approx. 6 million Jews killed. Today the descendants of Isaac and Ishmael face off against one another.

Neither side in the current conflict is prepared to yield a centimeter of land. Article 7 in HAMAS’s charter based on Islamic texts specifically asserts they will destroy all Jews and Israel. Israel says, “If you attack we will retaliate.”

HAMAS spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri on August 17, 2014 on Al -Aqsa television declared, “Our true war is not aimed at opening border crossings. It is aimed at the liberation of Jerusalem. We refuse to accept the continued defiling of our land by the occupier. The army of Mohammed has begun its return.”[iv] HAMAS can never cannot accept the loss of territory once occupied by Muslim authorities. To them it remains a sacred trust, a Waqf, which must be regained.

The current off-again on-again war between Gaza and Israel has provided opportunity for mostly public pro-Palestinian reaction in many Western countries. In France, Germany, Italy, United Kingdom, USA, Australia and elsewhere, Muslims, formerly thought to be well-integrated, assimilated, moderate citizens who contributed to the rich mosaic of multiculturalism in those countries, have suddenly taken to the streets showing a different side of Islam, reportedly shouting:

“Heil Hitler. Hamas Hamas. Jews to the gas. We are all Hamas. We are Jihad”.[v] Many well-meaning non-Muslim people have joined these processions.

In Sydney as the crowd waved their black flags of jihad, the reported shout was:

Palestine is a Muslim land.

The solution is Jihad.

You can never stop Islam.

From Australia to Al Sham.

One Ummah (Muslim community) hand in hand

from Lakemba to Gaza.

One call –“Khalifa”.[vi]

The latest claimant for the role of Caliph, that is, a leader of international Islam, is Abu Bakr al Baghdadi also known as Caliph Ibrahim. He reportedly announced that, “The long slumber of neglect has ended. The sun of Jihad has risen. Triumph looms on the horizon. Infidels are terrified. As East and West submit Muslims will own the earth.”[vii] Those objectives are clear.

As for Israelis the Muslim objectives about them are equally clear. In his Friday sermon on August 22, 2014 in Khan Younis in Gaza, Sheikh Mohammed Abu Rajab is reported as saying, “We pledged before the commanders of the Jihad to die for the sake of Allah; we have gathered the Zionists from all corners of the globe so that it will be easier to slaughter and kill them”.[viii]

 

Part 2 will be posted within a week.

 

[i] Brendan Nicholson, We’ll fight Islam 100 years. The Weekend Australian, August 9-10 2014, 1.

[ii] https//www.raymondibrahim.com/islam/the-seige-of-constantinople(viewed August 16 2014)

[iii] Ezequiel Doiny, The Muslim Colonists: Forgotten Facts about the Arab-Israeli Conflict. http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/4611/muslim-colonists. August 15 2014.

[iv] MEMRI TV, Hamas Spokesman: Our War Is For Liberation of Jerusalem Not For Lifting Of Blockade. Viewed August 26 2014.

[v] Denis MacEoin, The New Romantics ‘Being Fair’ to Terrorist Groups. http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/4602/new-romantics. August 14 2014.

[vi] Andrew Bolt, Wake up Labor, smell the threat. HeraldSun, August 4 2014, 13.

[vii] Daniel Pipes, Caliph Ibrahim’s Brutal Moment. The Washington Times. http://www.danielpipes.org/14691/caliph-ibrahim August 5 2014.

[viii] www.memri.org/clip/en/4442.htm, August 22 2014, viewed August 29 2014.

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GENERATION NEXT

Last month I was in South Asia—again. I was a guest speaker at a conference to which people had travelled, some for days. I came away feeling I had received much more than I had given. Why so?

Having been involved in ministry for more than half a century I was aware that in South Asia, although independence from colonialism had been achieved in the 1940’s the church was still dependent on foreign resourcing till the 1960’s or 1970’s. Later in the 1970’s and early 1980’s new movements were birthed conceived and staffed by national leaders. They have achieved good results far exceeding those of the missionary era. But they were still significantly dependent upon foreign finance to underwrite the implementation of their otherwise worthy visions.

By the late 1990’s and early 2000’s a third generation of movements was being birthed. These are quite independent from organized foreign resourcing for finance and staff. It was one of these, which invited my anticipation in their annual conference

The first pleasant shock came before I arrived. An email requested me to forward the invoice for my airfare so they could reimburse me. In all of my decades of travelling to work in developing countries, this offer was quite unprecedented. I  explained I mostly raise all my own expenses through honorariums received whenever I speak in the developed world. I thanked them for their offer but politely declined.

Shortly after a second email made the same request. I deflected it.

Upon arrival I was greeted by a small reception party, given a beautiful bouquet of local flowers and driven to my accommodation. They had earlier enquired what sort of accommodation I would prefer. Aware of the many demands some foreign speakers make, I had replied, as an experienced traveller in the region, I could be quite comfortable under a conveniently located tree, provided plastic sheeting was available. It was the monsoon season and I had been so accommodated on other occasions.

Remarkably I was delivered to a more than suitable local hotel, which had a lift and air-conditioning whenever the electricity was on.

Introductory formalities included provision of a driver and car, a “gofer” to fulfill any request at any time and a security person who would accompany me everywhere as needed. All of this was for my exclusive convenience. The hotel had been booked a day earlier than the conference and retained an extra day after conference, all expenses paid, so that I would be rested.

The conference itself ran like a well-oiled clock. Everything had been tightly organized and impeccably timed. The precision was amazing for this part of the world.

Each day started with an hour of quite anointed worship led by very gifted people. One often senses in larger gatherings in the West that everything is organized by committees. It functions well. It’s organizationally efficient. It’s technologically superior—but somewhat lacking in any manifestation of the Holy Spirit’s presence.

The gatherings in this conference were characterized by zeal, enthusiasm and spontaneity. Teaching sessions in the mornings were 1¼ hours each, separated by a 10 minute tea break. In the evenings we commenced with an hour of worship followed by two hours of teaching and ministry. Concentration never wavered.

Most of the people were under 40 years of age and many were professionals. This is a new generation in every sense of the word.

The health of any group of people is somewhat determined by the health of  its leadership. If leaders are sick or impaired, inevitably those whom they lead will exhibit similar characteristics. The reverse is also true.

In the case of this movement, the founding leader and his closest companion in leadership are both only 40. One had qualified as a medical doctor and the other as a dental surgeon, when they felt God’s call to ministry—specifically cross cultural missions. They never hesitated. If Jesus is Lord at all, He has to be Lord of all. They resigned from their professions and moved far away to start work among different people groups. This was a huge leap of faith given the impoverishment of their domestic scene. Still today the former medical doctor  accepts no salary from any of the organizations he leads—preferring to live on whatever God supplies.

God favoured them in their endeavours and then called the Doctor back to home base to start new things there. This also has been blessed. Not only have various churches and training centres been established, they have also commissioned their first cross cultural workers to another country in their region.

On my second day the conference leader gently asked directly for my airfare invoice. I handed it over. I was advised that they intended not only to pay for my air travel and accommodation. They were also intending to give me a significant honorarium.

However, on the last morning an announcement was made that to clear all conference expenses a special offering would be taken. I immediately asked the leader to allow me to bear all my own expenses, as this would clear most of the debt. He replied, “Our people must learn the blessing of sacrificial giving. Your part in this is just to receive.” sacrafice

Sure enough, on the last evening the offering was taken, but no container came anywhere near me. Not to be outdone, as it passed behind me I managed to put some notes in it. Later that night as I was sorting out my papers and repacking ready to depart the next night, I suddenly had an experience similar to that of Joseph’s brothers. After they had left him in Egypt, during the journey back to

Jacob in drought stricken Canaan, when one of the opened his sacks of grain, there was the silver returned with which they had paid for the grain [Genesis 42:27-28].

In my case, firstly there fell out an envelope with foreign currency representing a huge sacrificially given honorarium for this part of the world. A little later in another envelope there were all the notes I had put into the special offering!!

As I flew back to Australia I couldn’t help thanking God that I had lived and worked long enough to see this emergence of His “third generation” post independence church, in all of its youthful enthusiasm following Jesus with youthful abandonment.

What we often have in our well-organized affluent church in the West, is but a pale imitation of the reality of life in the Spirit and exuberant faith, which is in the church of the developing world. It’s little wonder that in the post Christian West, the church is mostly plateaued or dying, while elsewhere it is surging ahead in spite of poverty and persecution.

May the richness of their poverty rescue us from our impoverishment of our riches before it’s too late to reverse our national trends.

 

 

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ISLAMIC AUSTRALIA?

 

In 2009 Siv Jensen, leader of the Progress party in Norway, used a term which translates into English as “stealth Islamisation”. Her context was that there were areas in Malmo, Sweden where ambulance crews, firefighters and police officers no longer went, because of the concentration and hostility of Muslims who live there. She also noted the trend in her country to accommodate requests for uniquely Islamic dress for women in public spaces, and the introduction of halal food in prisons.

For daring to specify her nation’s “elephant in the room”, she was attacked by media and political opponents. In September 2013 when members of her party were elected to form a coalition government, they were demonized as bigoted, racist and Islamophobic.

Elephant in the Room

Could the same  “elephant” – the possible Islamisation of Australia, be present in our nation?

It is generally accepted that Islam’s earliest contact with continental Australia was through seasonal trade between visiting Indonesian fishermen and aboriginal tribal people in the 18th century. (In the 2001 national census 641 indigenous people identified as Muslim. That number increased by 58% in the next five years.)

The 19th century saw the arrival of “Afghan” Cameleers and their animals. The 20th and 21st centuries have seen far more spectacular changes in Australia’s religious and cultural mosaic.

Outmoded Christianity

According to the 2011 Australian census figures, while the percentage of those claiming to be Christian continued its downward spiral to 69.1%, the number of people self identifying as Muslim continued trending upwards to 2.2% of the population. Sydney had the highest concentration with 4.7%, followed by Melbourne with 3.6% of the populations in each of those cities.

Prof Gary Bouma of Monash University attributed this growth of Islam to migration and high birth rates. These figures are reflective of a worldwide trend that forecasts the world’s Muslim population to grow at twice the rate of the non-Muslim population. It is estimated that by 2030, 2.2 billion Muslims will represent 26.4% of the world’s population.[i] It was estimated to be 11% at the beginning of the last century. 60% of the world’s Muslims are projected to live in the Asia-Pacific region by 2030.

Australia was once a Christian nation. 90% claimed allegiance to that faith at the beginning of the 20th century. Sunshine (Victoria) mosque president Mustapha Ramadan declared in 2011 that the view of Australia being a Christian nation was “outmoded”.[ii] What isn’t “outmoded” is Islam’s understanding of its own mission in the world.

History Indicates a Future

In the eighth century Abu Hanifah al-Nu’man ibn Thabit ibn Zuta, a jurist and founder of the Hanafi School of Law, which today claims the largest following among Muslims, defined the world as existing in two spheres. One is  dar al-Islam, the abode of Islam. The other is dar al-Harb, the abode of war. In the latter Islam and Sharia Law are yet to prevail.

Jihad, holy war or struggle, must be prosecuted until the whole world submits to Islam or until the end of the world. Australia, along with all other non-majority Muslim countries, is a part of dar al-Harb.

In October 2009 an article entitled “The Return of the Islamic Emirate” was published in the online monthly magazine, Al-Sumud. It stated that the “white settler diaspora” in Australia would have to choose between returning to Europe or being assimilated into Asia . It further stated that failure of Australians to choose would result in an extended conflict that they would lose.[iii]

Australian Sheik  Ishmael al-Wahwah represents a rapidly expanding fundamentalist interpretation of Islam. In January 2013 he reportedly outlined the future Australia governed by an Islamic regime. He is reported as saying that alcohol would be banned; strict Islamic dress code would be enforced; the teaching of all foreign languages except Arabic would be prohibited; interest charged on monies being loaned would be banned and courts would be forced to implement Sharia Law.[iv]

These provisions in various forms, apart from foreign language learning, are common within Islamic contexts. If Sheikh Ishmael’s vision is representative of Australia’s future, what is the state of progress toward it?

Cultural Change

The registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages reveals that in NSW in 2010 – 2013 “Mohammad” officially became one of the most popular names for baby boys.[v]

Australia’s largest mosque at Lakemba in Sydney published a religious ruling – a fatwa – decreeing it was a sin to wish people a Merry Christmas. Sheikh Yahya Safi reportedly told his congregation they should have nothing to do with Christmas. “Disbelievers [i.e. infidels] are trying to draw Muslims away from the straight path”[vi]

When the media discovered it, it was claimed that the text was “taken out of context”. The Grand Mufti, Ibrahim Abu Mohammad, tried to save the day by claiming that the foundations of Islam were peace, cooperation, respect and holding others in esteem. This statement has elements of truth provided the “others” are Muslim coreligionists belonging to the same sect or group. And if not…?

Conflict

Jamal Daoud identified dozens of Sydney suburban shops whose owners had been intimidated, forcing them to close, because they allegedly belonged to the wrong Muslim group dominant in that area. This was a reflection of the violent fractures within society in Syria.[vii] Where Islam rules, its 14 centuries of Shia /Sunni conflict follows, whether that’s in Iraq, Pakistan or Australia.

Commenting on the recent surge in Australian Muslims’ participation in the Shia/Sunni conflict in Syria, Australian Attorney General George Brandis concluded, “There must have already been pre-existing, sophisticated facilitation networks to enable and recruit that many people”.[viii] One might well ask what else may be in existence of which the population in general is unaware?

Education

In the education sector in NSW, the number of Islamic schools has tripled in the past 15 years to 22. They accommodate a 400% increase of students since 1998. Only 15 – 20% of Muslims students are able to attend these specially oriented religious schools.[ix]

The Bukhari Bookshop sells books for its Muslim community. Reportedly, one of its titles, “Bringing Up Children in Islam”, advocates amputating thieves’ hands, 100 lashes for fornication and death by stoning for adultery.[x] While these penalties are at variance with Australian law, they are practiced as a part of Sharia Law.

Madrassas (religious schools) in Australia, many of which reportedly receive government funding of up to  $30,000 per year, are free to teach whatever radical doctrines they choose.[xi]In such an educational environment, it’s not surprising that eight year old Ruqaya publicly declared her love for Jihad and encouraged other children to join the Syrian uprising.[xii]

Monash University in Melbourne published a handbook for Muslim students, “Salam Monash”. It lists, “Islamic banking and financial institutions, Muslim publications, women’s groups and schools… Muslim medical and dental practitioners, a halal food guide and a list of halal grocers and butchers. There was no similar handbook available for other religious groups”. In 2008, 1000 Muslims students protested against sharing prayer facilities with Christians and Jews at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology [RMIT].[xiii]  Latrobe University in Melbourne opened a prayer room in 2010 for Muslim students. It cost $927,000 .

Halal

The word “halal” means “admissible”. Its opposite “haram” means “forbidden”. These words define of what Muslims may or may not partake. Halal is commonly associated with food. It also encompasses chemicals, health, healthcare, medicines, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, finance and even leather products. Recent reports from Malaysia indicate that the principle is now being applied to shopping trolleys and even car parking spaces. It represents a US$3 trillion industry. In the West everyone from giant food to pharmaceutical companies and banks are keen to grab a slice of the pie. It’s the same in Australia.

But to participate, suppliers of goods and services first have to obtain halal certification. In Queensland a big meat processor was reportedly quoted a fee of  A$27,000 per month to obtain certification. The Indonesian Council of Ulama (MUI) reportedly banned a Brisbane certification business for not charging abattoir operators enough.[xiv] Funds thus harvested are presumably used to advance the Islamic cause.

Law

In legal matters Sharia Law already operates as a shadow legal system within Australia. Amendments to the Family Law Act in 2008 mean that polygamous religious marriages receive recognition as defacto marriages. Second and third wives of the one husband and their respective children qualify for welfare benefits.

Sheik Moussab Legha from the Islamic Welfare Centre in Lakemba reported that Imams already oversee hundreds of Sharia divorces.[xv] Similarly various reports appeared in the media in February 2014 regarding multiple underage marriages being facilitated.

The European Court of Human Rights ruled in 2010 that Sharia Law is incompatible with democracy. That did not dissuade the peak body of Australian Muslims, the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils (AFIC), from lodging a submission to the Federal Government in 2011 urging the introduction of Sharia Law into the Australian legal system under the umbrella of support for multiculturalism. Islamic preacher, Ibrahim Siddiq-Conlon was reported as saying, “One day Australia will live under Sharia; it’s inevitable”.[xvi]

Into whatever country one looks, the push is on for the acceptance of Muslim political, cultural, economic, social and religious norms. Australia is no exception. While over time, individual Muslims may change from nominal to fully observant, one thing will never change – Islam. Welcome to a different world.


[i] –, Herald Sun, September 17, 2012, pp.20-21.

ii  Benjamin Millar, Study pinpoints fear of Islam, March 29, 2011.

iii Barnabas Prayer, March/April, 2010, p.14

[iv] Paul Maley, The Australian, January 10 2013.

[v] m.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/mohammads-a-sign-of-the-times-varying-spellings-of-it-are-some-of-nsw-82175-most-popular-baby-names-story-fnic, viewed September 11, 2013.

[vi]  Natalie O’Brien, Christmas greetings a sin rules mosque, The Sunday Age, December 23, 2012, p.5.

[vii]  Rachel Olding, Home front opens in a foreign war, Monash Weekly, June 30, 2013.

[viii] Paul Maley, Aussie fighters leading Syrian terror groups, The Australian, February 18, 2014.

[ix]  Amy McNeilage, Islamic student numbers soar, http://www.smh.com.au/action/printArticle? Id=4626944, viewed August 5, 2013.

[x]  Au.news.yahoo.com/nsw/latest/a-/newshome/7890729/7news-exclusive-sydney-store-sells-extreme-sharia-guidebooks/,  viewed July 21, 2011.

[xi]  Adam Shand, Madrassa lessons worry Somalis, The Australian, September 24, 2013, p.2.

[xii]  Jared Owens, Girl, 8, calls on Islamic youth to back jihad, The Australian, September 17, 2012.

[xiii]  –, Muslim handbook is divisive, Herald Sun, November 24, 2011, p.15.

[xiv]  www. couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/religious-levy-costs-queensland-abattoirs-thousands-each-month/story-fnihsr/2-1226743106235, viewed October 20, 2013.

[xvi] Sally Neighbour, PM go and ‘let Muslims take over’, The Australian, January 20, 2011.

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