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Terrorism>>An anti-Muslim email and its response

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          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 relations.?

Ishaq Zahid

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 miscommunication.

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 and 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 Ireland, 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 people??


-----Original Message-----
Sent: Saturday, January 10, 2004 11:44 AM
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 gave
> 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 Muslims,
> 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 of
> 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 to
> 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 Robertson
> 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 your
> 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. Chuck
> 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." And
> it will!