Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Re-educating the masses

What would you call someone who believes Jesus was born of a virgin, ascended into heaven and will return on Judgement Day?

A Christian? Yes, but you could also call him or her a Muslim.

These similarities are part of the reason Abderazak Benyahia was so dismayed at the graffiti that defaced the outside walls of the Islamic Association of Arabi Tuesday. A little, white house on Youree Drive, the mosque is usually quiet except at prayer times, when the members -- among them doctors, business owners and engineers -- gather to share in worship of God.

To Benyahia, a former Algerian diplomat, the incident is a way to teach people about Islam. He has seen war, chose to leave his homeland in part to find peace. "I prefer to explain my cause."
He is also adamant that Islam does not endorse violence of any kind, and that according to the Quran, killing one man is like killing all of humanity.

He reminded me that Christians and Muslims look to the same set of holy men for inspiration: Abraham, Moses, Jesus. They add Muhammad, who they see as just a man who was particularly blessed to be the messenger of God.

Thankfully, he said he has never experienced any direct threats or intimidation because of his faith. I believe folks here are mostly good people, who have a great deal of respect for anyone's faith. I hope more of them step forward after this incident.


MS said...

I wouldn't call that person a Christian. The devil believes the same thing as you listed.

You left out the most important part, the reason Jesus was born of a virgin and ascended into heaven. He died on the cross for our salvation and to conquer death by rising again to new life. And we are called to live by his teachings.

While Christians and Muslims may look to the "same set of holy men", Jesus was more than just a "holy man". That is a major difference between Christianity and Islam. To my understanding (please correct me if I am wrong), but Muslims believe Jesus was simply a holy man and not a part of the Triune God. (Kindof a big discrepancy.)

I often hear and read of Muslims saying that "Islam does not endorse violence of any kind", but in several if not most countries where Islam is the primary religion, Shariah law (system of law based on the Quran) is often imposed. Shariah law is know for its more,...serious penalties where more extreme punishments for crimes of adultery can include burying the female adulterer up to her nexk in the sand and stoning her to death, beheading of homosexuals, "honor killings" of girls who "allowed themselves" to be raped. Less extreme cases include re-education classes for women who's traditional Islamic garments are too short (though still completely covering the body).

At the end of the day, Muslims do not believe the same thing Christians do about Christ. Muslims can continue to say that Islam is a religion of peace, but that doesn't change the fact that many Muslims around the world, in the name of Islam, are extremely violent and do not at all display a peaceful attitude. It doesn't help that groups like CAIR (Council for American-Islamic Relations) is suing Americans who reported suspicious behavior of some Muslims Imams on an airplane. (Article regarding 6 flying imams from New York Post.)

This is not at all to say that all or even most Muslims are violent or in favor of violence. Our neighbors in Shreveport are obviously very peaceful. Sadly, while they are saying Islam is a religion of peace, there isn't much that the public sees that proves the point.

Diane Haag said...

Actually, those ideas about Jesus require faith. Lots of non-Christians acknowledge Jesus existed but deny the virgin birth or that he has anything to do with the end of the world. I think it's fairly significant and unique among world religions that Muslims share those beliefs about Jesus, even though they don't believe he is divine.

My point in writing this was to remind folks that the Muslims who are our neighbors, doctors and co-workers are not terrorists. We actually have some common ground. And they certainly do not deserve to have their place of worship vandalized.

MS said...

My main point of contention (though maybe not the point with the most words) was that believing something about Christ does not make one a Christian.

Believing that He is God, He became a man, He died on the cross to pay for our sins, and rose again to conquer death makes one a Christian.

As a person who is not a member of the local mosque, I must have faith that they are not terrorists. In the city in which I lived before Shreveport (not too far from here), the mosque 2 miles from my house ended up being shut down by the FBI because they were raising money for and sending money to al-Qaida.

Burney_B. said...

Must agree with MS. I'm recently home after working in Iraq as a civilian for the last 3 yrs. The Iraqi christians I was blessed to work with had thier families in other countries to avoid them being killed.Anyone who has seen Islam in the middle east would say that our local muslims are meek and preaching a watered down version. Jesus' disciples said, "Let's reason together". Mohhamad's followers and generals said, "convert or die". I'll let todays modern educated minds make them up.