UK Minister and other Muslims alarmed over persecution of Christians

Could the wide tide of atrocities committed by Islamists wanting to return the world to the Dark Ages be on the turn?  Maybe many moderates are so appalled by what’s being done in the name of their god that they will be encouraged to make changes, perhaps even a long overdue ‘reformation’ of Islam? [See footnotes 1 and 2.]

Last weekend, I was given hope that change may be on its way by three instances of  Muslims being outraged at their co-religionists’ hatred of Christians. One came from the UK’s first Minister for Faith and senior minister in the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Baroness Warsi [3]. I will consider this further and with a possible prophetic connection in another post.

Another came through contacts of Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, International Director of the Barnabas Fund, which supports Christians suffering discrimination and persecution in Muslim nations. Born of a Muslim family, his expertise in racial issues and pioneering approach within British churches and extensive knowledge on terrorism led him into advising the police and army on security issues (see biography).  He’s also worked in Iraq with Canon Andrew White, renowned across the Middle East for his reconciliation work with Muslim and Jewish leaders in Israel, Egypt and Iraq (website and books).

The third was found within an article by Dr Sadek Raouf Ebeid, an Egyptian Air Force Officer, about the Muslim Brotherhood’s activities in Egypt. In a roundabout way let’s consider this first:

Egypt

It’s important to recall that Muslim protesters in Cairo were shielded during their prayers by Christians, mainly Copts. Apparently, the favour was returned on another occasion. (I became aware of the first claim through a local contact but some evidence for the second may be conflicting, as in this account.)

In view of the intense suffering of the Coptic Church at the hands of Islamists, and my reference to a leading source of its extremism at Al Azhar University (here), Dr Ebeid is very instructive about later changes [full details at 4].

He filed a complaint with Egypt’s Attorney General against Malik Obama (older half-brother of Barack Obama), accusing him of supporting terrorism in Egypt and for his involvement in managing a Sudanese terrorist connection to the Muslim Brotherhood. The official response to his application was very prompt which, he writes,

“Did not surprise me (because it) indicated that this case resonated well with the feelings of the majority of moderate Muslims in the Arab world. One has to admit that there are two distinct understandings of Islam.

A moderate, peaceful understanding of Islam that is lead (sic) by the Egyptian Grand Sheikh of Al Azhar, Dr. Ahmed el-Tayeb, an Egyptian Sheikh, who has studied philosophy in Paris and is currently the head of Al Azhar Mosque. I am proud to be the first to nominate el-Tayeb for the Nobel peace prize, for his role in spreading the moderate understanding of Islam, referred to in Arabic as “Al Islam Al Wasati”.

“The majority of the thirty-three million Egyptians who flooded the streets of Egypt in June 2013 were predominantly moderate Muslims.”

He continues,

“…any objective historian will admit (the event) was a human earthquake…that shook the ground of the Middle East, taking the Arab world out of the dark ages and into the Arab renaissance.

More than ever, Egyptians adhered to the moderate version of Islam, (Al Islam Al Wasati)…symbolized by the Sheik Ahmed el-Tayeb. He was the man whom the military Generals in Egypt consulted with and whose blessings were obtained,  while etching into stone, the post-revolution road map.

“In contrast to the earlier teachings of Egypt’s deposed president Morsi, who was recorded in 2010, saying that Arabs need to nurse their children on hatred of the Jews, Egypt’s pending constitution has a third amendment guaranteeing the right of Jews to practice their faith in Egypt.”

That implies the same should be accorded to the Copts and which may be expected as official policy, as in Mubarak’s days.

Kenya, Pakistan & Iraq

Dr Sookhdeo opens his latest blog [5] as follows:

As shocking acts of Islamic terrorism continue to fill our news bulletins, it is extremely heart-warming for me to see that Muslim leaders throughout the world are now speaking out against those who are using violence in the name of Islam. (Emphasis added)

In citing atrocities in Kenya, Pakistan, Iraq and London he recounts the brave work of many moderates in unequivocally condemning maniacs who use Islam as an excuse for anti-human barbarity (my words). He writes,

On Kenya,

“Adan Wachu, Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims, said that the wanton and indiscriminate killing of innocent men, women and children goes against all Islamic teachings and tenets. He said that the county’s religious leaders were working together to counter violent extremism…”

On Somalia,

“In an unprecedented step, Somali Islamic scholars issued in September a fatwa denouncing (al-Shabaab). At a conference in Mogadishu convened by the Somali government, which is itself strongly Islamic, around 160 Somali religious scholars condemned al-Shabaab’s use of violence and concluded that it was not a legitimate Islamic organisation…”

On Pakistan,

“Allama Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi, leader of (Pakistan’s) Ulema Council, a body of leading Muslim scholars, said that killing innocent people violates the tenets of Islam…Ordinary Pakistani Muslims have also demonstrated solidarity with their Christian compatriots by joining human chains around churches in a movement organised by Pakistan for All, a group that campaigns against attacks on minorities…”

On Iraq, ,

“Marking the third anniversary of the deadliest attack on Iraqi Christians since the 2003 US-led invasion, both Sunni and Shia Muslims gathered on 31 October outside the church in Baghdad that was besieged by an al-Qaeda front group in 2010. They lit candles and held up banners appealing for Christians to stay in the country…

On the UK,

“It is no small matter for moderate Muslims to take a stand over Islamist violence. They are putting their own safety at risk, as being Muslim does not protect them from becoming targets. In fact, the threat to a number of prominent British Muslims who condemned the killing of Drummer Lee Rigby is so great that they are now under police protection…” 

He names and admires four individuals in writing, “Despite the threats against them, the Muslim targets have remained resolute in speaking out against violent extremism.

In concluding, Dr Sookhdeo makes a Call for change.:

“…actions speak louder than words and it is time for moderate Muslims everywhere to heed the call of Aijaz Zaka Syed, a Muslim commentator on Middle East and South Asia affairs….whom he cites,

We may go on righteously protesting that this has nothing to do with faith. But like it or not, such reasoning does not cut it. The world judges us by who we are, not by what we claim to be. If we stand for peace and salvation, our lives must attest to it and our actions must show it. It is as simple as that. [6]

I cannot but concur with that commentator’s full article and Dr Sookhdeo’s exhortation,

One thing that Christians can do is support these brave Muslim leaders who are taking a stance against the violence that is claiming the lives of so many Muslims and non-Muslims. We can support them with our prayers and our friendship and by lending our voices to their courageous campaign.

Perhaps the vast majority of Muslims are now finding their co-religionists’ actions utterly repugnant. Perhaps they may realise the root issue is a spiritual one and be blessed by  personal revelations of Jesus Christ? I pray they find, as many thousands have already done, He is eager to show Himself and that He’s far more than a prophet…

To be continued…

Further Reading:

  1. Daniel Pipes: Can Islam Be Reformed?
  2. Item 1 subsequently debated here and here.
  3. Sayeeda Warsi: Extremists are driving Christians out of their homelands. We must act. Also see God and Politics in the UK
  4. Sadek Ebeid MD: Moderate Muslims vs. Obama Brothers
  5. Patrick Sookhdeo: Muslims take a stand against Islamist violence
  6. Aijaz Syed: With friends like these, Islam needs no enemies

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