Given below is a response by Dr. Pittman to an
anti-Muslim email with a hope that it will benefit others. I have removed
the email addresses from the email exchanges which took place. I thank Dr.
Pittman for the response and his efforts to improve Christian-Muslim
This message is a typical Christian "spin" on Islam
which is inaccurate and misleading. I doubt very much that the interchange
between the imam and the author took place as he describes it. I think
this is what the Christian imagined was happening. But even if it did, the
author has either misinterpreted what the imam was saying or the imam was
inept at explaining his beliefs to a non-Muslim in language he would
understand. I have often encountered examples of all these types of
First the content of what was discussed. There are
injunctions in the Quran calling for resistance or struggle against
non-believers. However the primary meaning of jihad for Muslims is not
"holy war" but the struggle to love and obey God and that is waged against
sin in the heart of a Muslim everyday. As it applies to non-believers, it
is the duty of every Muslim to carry out a jihad by witnessing to
non-believers about their faith and encouraging them to turn to God.
Christians would call this evangelism.
Yes. Islam is different than the early pacifist form
of Christianity that most Christians have abandoned since about the 4th
century (except for Quakers and the "peace churches.") Muslims, like most
Christians in the world today, are not pacifists. For example, did Pat
Robertson condemn the war in
Iraq on pacifist principles?? But the jihad or
struggle enjoined on Muslims is usually assumed to be defensive in nature,
because Muslims had a similar experience to that of early Christians -
they were persecuted and threatened for their beliefs. But instead of
going to the lions meekly, they fought back. So resistance to those who
attack Islam is okay. This idea of defensive jihad was reinforced by the
attack of the Christian crusaders on the Muslims of the
Middle East in the 11th-13th centuries and the creation
of the state of
Israel by Jewish nationalists in 1948 and the attacks of
Israel in 1956 and 1967. Today some Muslims feel that
they are in a similar situation to the one in which Muhammad and his
followers found themselves in the 7th century. They feel that they are
threatened by aggressive, anti-Muslim forces from the West (USA
Israel) [Whether or not this is correct, if some Muslims
believe it, we have a problem nevertheless]
The other misperception on the part of the author of
the message is with the words infidel and non-believers. The word
infidel is an expression originally used by European Christians in
the crusades for Muslim "non-believers." Some Muslims reciprocated and
applied the word to their enemy the crusaders. The word in the Quran for
non-believer is kafir. Generally this word is not used when
referring to Jews or Christians since we share a common faith in God with
Muslims. The Quran uses another term, "people of the Book" when referring
to Jews and Christians, since Muslims revere and respect the Jewish Torah
and Christian gospels as the revelation of God.
Now it is correct that some Muslims do refer to
Christians and Jews by the term non-believers when the actions of those
"Christians or Jews" indicate a willful disregard for God. For example
materialistic and secular Americans or Israelis or Europeans who
have exhibit no faith in God are considered "non-believers" and are
considered a real threat to Islam. Some Muslims look at our Western
culture and our foreign and domestic policy towards Muslims and assume
that Americans can't be real Christians.
Finally a word about the followers of Jesus and love.
History is full of "Christians" - Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox -
slaughtering innocent people in the name of religion. And it wasn't just
in the time of the crusades or the wars of religion caused by the
Protestant Reformation (the worst bloodshed in Christian history). Even in
the world today there are Christians in
Lebanon, the Balkans, and
Africa who are killing innocent people because they are
"non-believers. What was it that Jesus said about casting stones at other
Saturday, January 10, 2004
Subject: Fw: Allah or Jesus?
I do not think anything else needs to be said-----Don
> I think everyone in the
USA should be required to read this. The author,
> Rick Mathes, is a well known prison ministry leader.
> Allah or Jesus?
> By Rick Mathes
> Last month I attended my annual training session that's required for
> maintaining my state prison security clearance. During the training
> there was a presentation by three speakers representing the Roman
> Protestant and Muslim faiths who explained their belief systems. I was
> particularly interested in what the Islamic Imam had to say. The Imam
> great presentation of the basics of Islam, complete with a video. After
> presentations, time was provided for questions and answers.
> When it was my turn, I directed my question to the Imam and asked:
> correct me if I'm wrong, but I understand that most Imams and clerics of
> Islam have declared a holy jihad [Holy war] against the infidels of the
> world. And, that by killing an infidel, which is a command to all
> they are assured of a place in heaven. If that's the case, can you give
> the definition of an infidel?"
> There was no disagreement with my statements and without hesitation he
> replied, "Non-believers!"
> I responded, "So, let me make sure I have this straight. All followers
> Allah have been commanded to kill everyone who is not of your faith so
> can go to Heaven. Is that correct?"
> The __expression on his face changed from one of authority and command
> that of a little boy who had just gotten caught with his hand in the
> jar. He sheepishly replied, "Yes."
> I then stated, "Well, sir, I have a real problem trying to imagine Pope
> Paul commanding all Catholics to kill those of your faith or Pat
> or Dr. Stanley ordering Protestants to do the same in order to go to
> Heaven!" The Imam was speechless.
> I continued, "I also have problem with being your friend when you and
> brother clerics are telling your followers to kill me. Let me ask you a
> question. Would you rather have your Allah who tells you to kill me in
> order to go to Heaven or my Jesus who tells me to love you because I am
> going to Heaven and wants you to be with me?"
> You could have heard a pin drop as the Imam hung his head in shame.
> Colson once told me something that has sustained me these 20 years of
> ministry. He said to me, "Rick, remember that the truth will prevail."
> it will!