June 14, 2016 at 8:09 pm #15714
Brother Lawrence Damien just posted this to our YahooGroup List Serve. I thought it was worth sharing:
I am not sure about the latest report on the killings in Orlando as shared by Tom. However it was reported initially that the killer was Muslim and had dedicated his life to Isis as had the couple here in San Bernadine CA a few months back before they a dozen or so people,. Someone wrote saying it was terrible and that they couldn’t understand how any one could do something like that. To understand that we need to look at a sect of Muslims, Shiites and their understanding of the Quran the Holy Book of Islam.
First of all let it be understood that just like Christianity there are many different sects within Islam and no one way of understanding the Quran. There are two main schools of thought to which a majority of Muslims belong to. The first and largest are the Sunni making up about 85% of all Muslims in the world. They are considered to essentially be the “mainstream” Islam. They follow the “sunnah” or the way of the Prophet. They regard tradition and communal consensus when making decision. The Sunni also tend to have a practical sharia oriented approach wherein God has made the rules and a good Muslim simply follows them. Sharia means literally “the watering place or path”. So then it is the path one must take that will lead them to God and also strengthen for their through this life. This leads us to a second sect of Muslims the Shiites or Shia Muslims.
The Shiite’s make up about 15% of all Muslims. They are mainly found in Iran and southern Iraq. They are followers of Ali grandson of the Prophet Muhammad. He is killed in a battle. They also rely on inspired teachers who are related to Ali. They are called “Twelvers” because they regard the first 12 Imams after the death of Muhammad as inspired teachers. It is this group that most Jihadist belong including President Assad of Syria who is Alawis a small sect within the Shiite’s.
The Shiites teach that from the death of Muhammad 632 CE there were four rightly guided Caliphs (successors) to Muhammad. This reign ended with the death of Ali in battle. There were also caliphates which were designed to give real power at the local level.
After Ali’s death Islamic empires were formed to keep secular and religious powers separate as it was believed it was to difficult to hold both secular and religious powers. In their view the period between 632 CE and 661 CE was the “Golden Age” in which a caliphate was established or a idyllic state emulating the perceived harmonious community of the prophet. It is believed that this caliphate will at some point in the future be restored here on earth after a bloody battle called Armageddon.
Armageddon they believe will be a final climatic battle in which the Muslims and Christians will rise up against each other to try and annihilate the other. Jihadist’s believe it is their responsibility to bring about Armageddon by whatever means it takes. Thus the terrorist acts, bombings etc. in their eyes are justified as a means to bring Armageddon, Allah’s direct intervention and the restoration of the caliphate of the Golden Age. However there is a slight problem here.
The Quran prohibits the killing of women and children as well as committing suicide. Those who commit suicide according to the Quran are doomed to keep repeating the act for eternity. So how do Jihadist’s get around this and convince themselves they are true followers of Allah and are doing His will?
Jihad literally means to strive or struggle to do the will of Allah. There are three ways to do Jihad.
1. Strive to lead a good, virtuous life through self discipline
2. Strive for a moral and just society
3. Strive to defend Islam through preaching, teaching or armed struggle
It is the last two forms of Jihad that Jihadists believe they are doing by striving to bring in Armageddon and a just and moral society in the new caliphate and by waging war against all perceived enemies of Islam as infidels. This especially applies to what they see as the decadent western society and its supporters. Thus things like 9/11, the attack in San Bernadino, the attacks in England, France, Belgium and elsewhere are in their eyes justified as in defense of Islam and going for a moral and just society based on sharia law. They are also seen as leading to Armageddon. Thus they will never give up the struggle.
So then how are we to respond as Christians? How can we overcome this evil in out midst? Simply by doing what Jesus taught which is to love our enemies and do good to those who spitefully use us and persecute us. (Matthew 5:43-44) To retaliate against them by bombing and killing them as they have us accomplishes nothing but invites more retaliations against us and violence goes on.
However teaches a fourfold way to which we can defeat our enemy and overcome the evil in our midst.
The word used in this passage for love is agape. It is the type of love shown by God when he sends his son to die for us. It is also the love shown by Jesus going to the cross to die for us. It is a sacrificial love giving up what is best for those we may deem unworthy of that kind of love. We may be screaming out in pain and hurt wanting revenge that we feel we deserve. However we need to let go of that hurt and pain and show love by forgiving them. That is what Jesus did on the cross for those who condemned and crucified him. Also what St. Stephen did when he was being stoned to death and which Saul witnessed who would become the Apostle Paul. I believe that, that witness may have been a key in the softening of Saul’s heart to where finally Jesus can reveal himself to him and Saul accepts, is changed into Paul the Apostle.
The second thing Jesus teaches us to do is bless those who curse us. This word is eulogeo from which our word eulogy is taken. It means to speak well of. It also means to invoke a benediction of thanks and prosperity upon someone and to praise them. As long as we hold to our grudges and hurts than can never be peace but the pain goes on. However when we speak well of someone, seek ways to bless them and forgive this then opens the opportunity for healing and restoration to take place. It is hard to hate someone who speaks well of you, is seeking your blessing and is seeking for you to prosper.
3. Do Good To Our Enemies
The third thing Jesus teaches is to do good to our enemies. The word used here in the Greek is kalos meaning to do well by doing more, honestly. It is to restore someone to a good place or a better one than they had before. It is to do Jihad for them by bringing them back to the path that will help them find the true Allah. It is also what Jesus did for us. On the cross he died for us opening the path for us that will lead us to God and a eternal home in heaven forever even when we didn’t know or seemingly want to know him.
4. Pray For Them
Here Jesus is introducing a really radical idea. Pray as used here to supplicate, to worship, to pray fervently for someone, and to make prayers for them. Supplicate means to petition, pray for or make request for someone. It is also to bind oneself and beseech for another. Remember that we are to as best we can bring a person to a better place than they have ever been ever before.
Some may think we have nothing to be forgiven for as far as our relation with the Muslims goes. After all they attacked us first and we have then right then to avenge ourselves.However that is not how the Muslims see it.
According to them we (Christians ) started it by the Crusades (1095 CE through 1270 CE) in which we attacked the Muslims in an effort to reclaim the Holy Lands for the Christians. Pope Urban II agrees to help Emperor Alexius I of the Byzantine Empire. He is afraid that the Muslims will come and take Constantinople. The Christians raise up a huge army to come to the defense of Byzantines. When they arrive they demand that the city give them food and supplies. However the city is in the midst of a severe famine and refuses to give them any food or to let them into the city. The ” Christians (Catholic) get angry storm and take the city. They then rape the women, plunder the town, destroy their churches and kill their priests and other holy men and women, before moving on to Jerusalem. Upon arriving there they take it and do it what they had done to Constantinople. This greatly offended the Arabs there and has never been forgotten or forgiven. Although the Western church has long forgotten about the crusades seeing them as bolstering the Western papacy and diverting the energies of Feudal Europe. It was also when Europe became familiar with the sophisticated Muslim culture and to readily absorb the preserved and translated classic Greek texts especially Aristotle.
That is the Western View of the crusades. To the Muslim world however the crusades are seen as the beginning of Western Christian aggression towards Muslims from which they have never recovered. The aggression is as fresh in their minds as if it had happened five minutes ago rather than a thousand years ago. It is also the same attitude of the Orthodox Christians who refuse to fellowship with, talk to or have any communication with Roman Catholic church over what happened back then to them. That in their eyes is what we need to seek together as a church to seek repentance and forgiveness of them for and until then we are infidels and their Jihad against us is justified. The new pope Francis is taking steps to do this with both Muslims as well as with the Orthodox. Hopefully good things will come out of this.
A second issue is colonialism. From the 1700’s European began to come into Muslim lands and make colonies of them. This they did by using the tacit of divide and conquer. They would first come trading with a region and creating dependencies. They would then bring in military to “protect” their interests such as British control of India for example. They then then created artificial boundaries that cut through natural ethnic and tribal cohesion. Then they would create states dependent on their colonizers by reorienting their local, self sufficient economies into producers of goods for the colonizers such as coffee, tobacco and rubber. Christian missionaries also came to convert them which was resented. At the beginning there were three main Muslim Empires. There was the Ottoman Empire of area of the Mediterranean area including Turkey, the Safavid of Persia, and the Mugal Empire in India. By the end of World War I these had been broken up into some 50+ nations which are still existent today.
Then in 1948 the United Nations arbitrarily without consulting the Palestinians who had been been living in the land since 70 CE with the fall of Jerusalem and the massacre of many of the Jews and their being forced out of the city or remaining as a small minority. The Arabs become the main population of Jerusalem as well as the country surrounding it. However the UN decides the Jews deserve their own home land so give them the current nation of Israel. The Arabs are forced into concentration camps with the promise they too would be given their own homeland. That promise was never kept leading to much of the current unrest in the Middle East. In recent years they have been given a token state with limited power. This has helped fuel the the resistance by the Arabs against the Israelite’s as they fight for a total independent state for themselves. The trouble still goes on and the USA are seen as the aggressors as we try to intervene and bring about a peace favorable to us. As we depose one leader it creates a vacuum bringing instability until a a new leader can assert themselves and assert their control over things. This has happened in Afghanistan with the overthrow of the Taliban and Bin Laden. Also in Iraq with the overthrow of Hussein and the emergence of ISIS.
These are a few of the areas in which we as Christians have offended the Muslims and for which we need to seek forgiveness. If we wont do that, be willing to take the first step towards reconciliation then there can be no peace and Jihad will continue indefinitely. Jesus teaches us also that if we know that our brother has ought against us then before we offer our gifts on the altar we go and try to become reconciled with our brother first and then come offer our gifts on the altar.
In closing then let me state we win by acting totally different than they expect us to. By reacting in true Godly love and forgiving we present something to the Jihadists they are not prepared for and have nothing to defend themselves from it. We parent for them a pattern of love and respect for all that I believe will make an impression even as I mentioned St. Stephen did on St. Paul. That is the power of God’s love reaching out through us to them. It is allowing Jesus to shine through us and by that and showing something different about us by our deeds and actions. We win too by being the real deal. Can we by our lives and actions convince others that we have a better way of living? Can we show them Jesus by our lives and not having to speak but keep our mouths shut and let our lives tell the story? Any comments back are welcomed
Brother Lawrence Damien CoS
June 21, 2016 at 11:12 am #15834
OK – mo one else seemed to pick up on this thread and we have much to learn. Can anyone explain the Saudi sect of Sunni (Wasavi???) to me and how it differs from Sunni in general?
I think it important for us to know MORE so we can counteract the completely ridiculous Trump in his call fro profiling Muslims, banning them from the USA, etc. We do not want to have terrorists migrate BUT understanding the backgrounds of different sects helps us be sensible. We do not want radical people who belong to Nazi-sympathizer groups either (as the man who killed the British MP belonged to US Nazi sympathizer groups).
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