Wednesday, March 13, 2002

Islam Welcomed in the West

One would have thought the September 11th attack would cause a backlash against Muslims and Islam in North America. Incredibly, the opposite seems to be happening. A great spirit of generosity has emerged from our political leaders, liberal churches and the media. This generous spirit does not bode well for our North American culture nor for the True Church of Christ.

Shortly after the attack our Prime Minister went to visit a mosque. When the media would ask him what he was doing in light of the terrorist attack, he would say, "Well, you know, I visited da mosque!" When asked how this would affect Canada's pride in its cultural mosaic, he would answer, "Well, you know, I visited da mosque!" At first we wrote it off to our Prime Minister's demonstrated inability to speak either official language very well, but now we think something more dangerous is afoot. Our Prime Minister is fostering the idea that Islam is as good as Christianity, that a mosque is the same as a church.

We have seen something similar south of the 49th parallel. President George W. Bush has been seen a number of times giving interviews with the Koran lying near his elbow. The Bible, the Koran—what's the difference? On September 17th, the President honoured Islam as "a faith that brings comfort to a billion people around the world."

In her Christmas message on December 25th, Queen Elizabeth II said that the September 11th attack has shown the need for faith and community in overcoming adversity. The monarch said, "In these circumstances, so many of us—whatever our religion—need our faith more than ever to sustain and guide us.…We all have something to learn from one another, whatever our faith …whatever our background…."

The December 31st London Times quotes British Prime Minister Tony Blair as saying that Christian, Muslim and Jew are all Abraham's children. The Pope has recently said exactly the same.

Instead of a backlash against Islam and Muslims, the political and religious leaders of the West have been tripping over each other to embrace them.

The following was found on the State of Qatar web page (Qatar is a Muslim country on the Persian Gulf bordering Saudi Arabia). The article is made up of various reports in the Arab press and translated into English by the Middle East Research Institute. It can hardly contain itself in speaking about how open the "Christian" West is to Islam. The article, entitiled "The Entire World Is Asking: What Is Islam?!" reads as follows:

A wave of Americans have converted to Islam since Sept. 11.… Non-Muslim Americans are now interested in getting to know Islam. There are a number of signs.… Libraries have run out of books on Islam and the Middle East.… English translations of the Qur'an head the American best-seller list.…The Americans are showing increasing willingness to convert to Islam since Sept. 11. ... Thousands of non-Muslim Americans have responded to invitations to visit mosques, resembling the waves of the sea (crashing on the shore) one after another.… All this is happening in a political atmosphere that, at least verbally, encourages non-Muslim Americans' openness towards Muslims in America and in the Islamic world, as the American president has said many times in his speeches.... 34,000 Americans have converted to Islam following the events of Sept. 11, and this is the highest rate reached in the U.S. since Islam arrived there.

The article, then, quotes extensively a letter that Dr. Walid A. Fatihi, instructor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, Boston, sent to an Egyptian newspaper, Al-Ahram Al-Arabi, eleven days after the attack. He writes that the Harvard Medical School has recently become a center of Islamic proselytizing aimed at Christians. He describes his favourable experience in a Boston church:

On Saturday, Sept. 15, I went with my wife and children to the biggest church in Boston, (Trinity Church in) Copley Square, by official invitation of the Islamic Society of Boston, to represent Islam by special invitation of the senators of Boston. Present were the mayor of Boston, his wife and the heads of the universities. There were more than 1,000 people there, with media coverage by one of Boston's main television stations. We were received like ambassadors. I sat with my wife and children in the front row, next to the mayor's wife. In his sermon, the priest defended Islam as a monotheistic religion, telling the audience that I represented the Islamic Society of Boston.

After the sermon was over, he stood at my side as I read an official statement issued by the leading Muslim clerics condemning the incident (i.e., the attacks). The statement explained Islam's stance and principles, and its sublime precepts. Afterwards, I read Qur'an verses translated into English. ... These were moments that I will never forget, because the entire church burst into tears upon hearing the passages of the words of Allah!

Emotion swept over us. One said to me: "I do not understand the Arabic language, but there is no doubt that the things you said are the words of Allah." As she left the church weeping, a woman put a piece of paper in my hand; on the paper was written: "Forgive us for our past and for our present. Keep proselytizing to us." Another man stood at the entrance of the church, his eyes teary, and said, "You are just like us; no, you are better than us."

Continuing his letter to the Egyptian newspaper, Dr. Fatihi recounted how the next day the Islamic Society of Boston issued an open invitation to the Islamic Center in Cambridge. He wrote:

We did not expect more than 100 people, but to our surprise more than 1,000 people came, among them the neighbors, the university lecturers, members of the clergy, and even the leaders of the priests from the nearby churches, who invited us to speak on Islam. All expressed solidarity with Muslims. Many questions flowed to us. Everyone wanted to know about Islam and to understand its precepts.

Of all the questions, not a single one attacked me; on the contrary, we saw (the people's) eyes filling with tears when they heard about Islam and its sublime principles. Many of them had never heard about Islam before. Well, they had heard about Islam only through the biased media. That same day, I was invited again to participate in a meeting in the church, and again I saw the same things.

On Thursday, a delegation of 300 students and lecturers from Harvard visited the center of the Islamic Society of Boston, accompanied by the American Ambassador to Vienna. They sat on the floor of the mosque, which was filled to capacity. We explained to them the precepts of Islam, and defended it from any suspicions (promulgated in the media). I again read to them from the verses of Allah, and (their) eyes filled with tears. The audience was moved, and many asked to participate in the weekly lessons for non-Muslims held by the Islamic Center.

Dr. Fatihi then goes on to mention that on September 21st, Muslims participated in a closed meeting with the governor of Massachusetts. They discussed introducing Islam into the school curriculum. He claims Governor Jane Swift agreed to implement their plans. He continues:

These are only some of the examples of what happened and is happening in the city of Boston, and in many other American cities, during these days. Proselytizing in the name of Allah has not been undermined, and has not been set back 50 years, as we thought in the first days after Sept. 11. On the contrary, the 11 days that have passed are like 11 years in the history of proselytizing in the name of Allah.

I write to you today with the absolute confidence that over the next few years, Islam will spread in America and in the entire world, Allah willing, much more quickly than it has spread in the past, because the entire world is asking, "What is Islam?!"

A conservative Christian would be rather alarmed by this. Allowing that what the Qatari web page reports, and Dr. Fatihi writes in the Egyptian paper, is somewhat exaggerated, it is made credible and confirmed by the statements of the "Christian" religious and political leaders of the "Christian" West.

How poignant that the American Ambassador to Vienna is specifically singled out as having attended the meeting at the Boston mosque. We may have turned the Islamic armies back at the gates of Vienna in 1683, but the Muslim tide is poised to sweep the West some 300 years later. And the West has its arms open.

Lord, preserve your church!