i saw this on my Australian friend Dave Andrew’s Facebook page today and i think it will give us a lot to think about if we take it seriously – if you find it too long then at least read the bolded bit at the beginning and the ten ‘commandments’ at the bottom [but seriously, just read the whole thing!]:
And Now For A Quiet Word With My Fellow Christians:
If Jesus Really Is – As We Are Want To Say – ‘The Only Way’,
Then He Is Surely ‘The Only Way We Should Treat Muslims’.
I used to teach a course on Christian community work at a Theological College near here. At the start of the course, I always got students to draw a picture of their ideal community. Not surprisingly many of the Christian students drew a picture of a Christian community with a church with a steeple with a cross on it at the centre of the community.
‘So your ideal community is a Christian community.’ I would observe.
‘Yes’ they would say. ‘It is.’
‘So where is the place in your ideal community for people who are not Christians? I would ask.
‘In our ideal community everyone is a Christian’ they would say proudly.
‘So’ I would say to them, ‘if everyone in your ideal community is a Christian, and you want to work to make this ideal a reality, then the only options for Muslims in your world would be for them to be converted – or be exterminated.’
And, believe it or not, that is exactly the same extreme, intolerant, militant, aggressive underlying attitude Christians accuse Muslims of advocating.
From time to time over the last thousand years Christians and Muslims have acted on that extreme, intolerant, militant, aggressive underlying attitude.
In 1095 Pope Urban II called for a ‘Crusade’, or ‘Holy War’, to be led by ‘Christian Knights’, who would fight against the ‘enemies of Christ’.
‘Cursed be the man who holds back his sword from shedding blood!’ was the cry of Pope Gregory VII ringing in the ears of the ‘Soldier of Christ’.
And, over the course of the next two centuries, they threw themselves into the task of killing thousands, if not millions, of ‘heretics’ and ‘heathens’.
When the Crusaders finally lay siege to the Holy City of Jerusalem, they slaughtered its Jewish and Muslim inhabitants.
Nicetas Choniates, a Byzantine Christian historian, wrote at the time, with evident distress, that:
‘even the (Muslim) Saracens are merciful …compared
these men who bear the Cross of Christ on their shoulders.’
But Raymond of Aguilers enthusiastically eulogised the massacre as ‘a just and marvelous judgment of God’:
‘Wonderful things were to be seen.
Numbers of Saracens were beheaded….
Others were shot with arrows,
or forced to jump from towers;
others were tortured for several days,
then burned with flames.
In the streets were seen piles
of heads and hands and feet.
One rode about everywhere amid
the corpses of men and horses.
In the Temple of Solomon,
the horses waded in blood up to
their knees, nay, up to their bridle.
It was a just and marvelous judgment of God,
that this place should be filled with the blood of unbelievers.’
Muslims have never forgotten these atrocities committed by Christians. And Al Qaeda was set up with the purpose to pay back today’s Crusaders
Recently my dear Muslim colleague and friend, Nora Amath, and I went to Buderim to talk about ‘How Christians And Muslims Can Live In Peace.’ Before we got there, a protest was organized by Restore Australia, who were picketing the meeting when we arrived.
Their argument was – Christians could never live in peace with Muslims because of what it said in the Qur’an. They said ‘their’ scriptures says:
– “Jews and Christians are the worst of creatures.” Quran (98:6)
– “Do not take the Jews and the Christians for friends” Quran (5:51)
– “seize them and slay them wherever ye find them” Quran (4:89)
– “when you meet in battle those who disbelieve, smite the necks” Quran (47:3-4)
– “cast terror into the hearts of the unbelievers” Quran (3:151)
– “And fight with them until there is no more fitna (unbelief) and religion should be only for Allah” Quran (8:39)
I said there was a call in Deuteronomy 7:1-2; 20:10-17 for the people of God to slaughter every living thing they came across in the name of God,
– “In the cities of the nations,
the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance:
Do not leave anything that breathes alive!
Completely destroy them –
the Hittites, the Amorites,
the Canaanites, the Perizzites,
the Hivites and the Jebusites –
as the Lord your God has commanded you!’ (Deut.20:16-17)
But, I said, only a few radical extremist Christians and Muslims would believe their scriptures would literally demand them to massacre unbelievers today.
However, Mike Holt of Restore Australia, said ‘there is no “radical Islam” or “moderate Islam” there is only Islam. They all believe in the same Prophet, and the same God, the same book, the same Suras, the same Hadiths. It explains why some Muslims who are regarded as moderate Muslims can suddenly turn and kill their Christian neighbours’.
He was so blinded by his own bias that he couldn’t see my friend Nora, who was standing right in front of him, embodying of the very Islam he said didn’t exist, absorbing his hostility and responding with integrity, dignity and grace.
Later I asked Nora what she thought about this encounter with Christians so full of hate. She replied: ‘They are just like the Muslim extremists they hate’.
Christianity and Islam are the biggest religions in world, together making up over half the population in the world. if we both quote texts out of context and use them as a pretext to convert or kill one another, we will destroy our world.
We need to find another way. I was talking about this to one of my Muslim friends, Halim, who runs a restaurant across the road. He said ‘Dave, the only hope for us Christians and Muslims, is to get beyond the letter of our texts to the spirit of our texts – the Spirit of the Bismillah, the Arabic phrase, “Bismillahi r Rahman r Rahim”, that speaks of the mercy and the compassion of God, embodied in the person of the prophet Isa/Jesus in the Qur’an and the Bible.’
Christians would acknowledge Jesus is the ‘Way’, but we need to rediscover Jesus as the ‘Way To Relate To People Of Other Religions’, like Muslims.
Jesus criticized people of all religions – including his own – of promoting domineering leadership (Mark 10:42-43); acting as closed groups not open to others (Matt. 5:47); practicing empty rituals with no compassion (Matt.6:7)
But Jesus appreciated that God was bigger than his religion, and worked in the lives of people of other religions. Eg Naaman the Syrian (Luke 4.16-30)
Note Jesus appreciated people of other religions could have greater faith than people of his own religion. Eg the Syrophoenician Woman (Mark 7:24-30)
And Jesus appreciated people of other religions could be better examples than people in his own religion Eg The good Samaritan (Luke 10.29-37)
The Way Jesus related as a Jew to the Samaritan woman at the well (Jn:4:4-42) is the Way that we as Christians should relate to our Muslim neighbours.
A. Acknowledge particularities – distinct rituals of worship (Jn.4;19-21)
B. Affirm universalities – all true believers worship in truth (Jn.4:23)
C. Don’t denigrate others – ‘don’t call down fire’ on them (Lk.9:54-5)
D. Take a conciliatory approach – ‘if not against you, for you’ (Lk.9:50)
E. Always accept hospitality – share food and drink together (Jn.4:7)
F. Practice respectful dialogue – explore the significance of Isa/Jesus as the Masih/Messiah – but not expect others to change religion (Jn.4)
Remember Jesus didn’t call us to convert others, simply to witness to others. Jesus said “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts1:8) And the best way to witness is by working for the common good. Jesus said “let your light shine before others, that they may see your good works and praise your Father in heaven.” (Matt.5:16)
And it is in that Spirit, Nora and I organised for Christians to stand together with Muslims, at the Kuraby Mosque, Friday 26 September 2014 and say:
‘We ask all people to:
1. Act in an exemplary manner, being strong but gentle.
2. Adopt a dignified, friendly, courteous approach towards all.
3. Respect people regardless of their faith. Don’t tell other people
what you think they believe, let them tell you. Please listen.
4. Respect other’s views, even if we disagree with their views.
Acknowledge both similarities and differences between our faiths.
5. Not treat an individual as a spokesperson for their whole religion,
nor judge people by what other people of their faith may do.
6. Speak positively of our own faith, not negatively of another’s.
7. Encourage positive relationships between our faith communities.
8. Encourage constructive relationships with the wider community.
9. Use their wisdom, knowledge, skills and resources to serve others.
10. Discuss any problems face to face so we can solve them peacefully.’