The United States replied to 9/11 with not only military might but the hope that Muslims in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other countries would gain freedom.  Magazines all over America in 2005 showed an Iraqi voter making an ink-fingered peace sign. As this point in time the Middle East is on fire in Tunisia, Libya, Syria, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq …

The Big Question is; What will follow in its wake?  No Muslim country to date is democratic in the truest sense of the word.  I have listened to other arguing otherwise;   but try getting government permission to  build a Church in any of these lands and see how safe you would feel as you gathered to worship and how comfortable you would sleep  at night. Many Muslims see liberty as an enemy and unlike most Protestant countries have developed no free institutions.

Muslims do not recognize original sin. They contend that Allah through his prophet Muhammad laid out the rules for moral living, and that we are naturally capable of following all of them. They believe that “… there is no other means of success and salvation … except purity of soul and righteousness of behavior.”

Christians say only Christ meets that standard.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       (This is why the Christian doctrine of “substitutionary atonement” is so crucial)

 Muslims believe that they can be sinless, and that it is possible “to eliminate suffering caused by humans.” Muslims believe Allah has set out rules that can lead to a just society: Shariah law.  The liberty to disobey Allah’s rules is unthinkable.

History shows and liberty reveals it, that the problem is in mens’’ hearts, and no set if rules has ever proven otherwise.

Muslims, do not see God testing them so that they would cry out to him for  mercy; rather they see life’s tests as an exam you must pass to get to heave. . As one Muslim theologian put it,  “The harder the test you undergo and pass, the higher reward you will get on the day of judgment. . . . The easier the test which is passed, the lower the reward.”

The difference between Islam and Christianity  is profound. Christians emphasize God’s grace in changing people like Jacob and Joseph who were liars and braggarts, people like Samson and Paul who relied on their own strength or their own intelligence, people like Gideon and Peter who through God’s grace lost their fear and became bold and courageous. These individuals had to become aware of their own transgressions and limitations. They had to be broken, because often we don’t realize how much we need God until we have no other alternative.

The differences here are obvious; we do not reach God, He reaches us, often when we are in our worse situation.  The goal of the Christian is to reach heaven via the grace of God and not to gain brownie points by bowing   and prostrating that typifies Islamic law forced by the government

 The Bible story is troubling to devout Muslims. Christians read in the Bible honest reporting about twisted, sinful individuals whom God chose not because of their own righteousness but because of His love. Muslims, though, see a record of great heroes that Jews and Christians somehow twisted during centuries of transmission. Since original sin does not exist, why does the Bible tell the stories of so many sinners?

What to Christians makes the Bible ring true—its record of how Noah got drunk, Lot committed incest, etc.—is exactly what makes it ring false to Muslims. Muslims believe that Allah picked biblical leaders to carry His messages because of their strong character, which enabled them to obey the rules. In Christianity the last shall be first. In Islam the first shall be first.

Muslims respect Jesus as one of perhaps 124,000 messengers or prophets Allah has sent, and one of the 25 listed in the Quran, but not as our Redeemer: Since we have no compulsion to sin we have no need of one. Christians know that Jesus was “pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed.” Muslims ask, How can wounds heal others? Militant Muslims want to pierce others.

Muslims  think they can be sinless if we have strong character and follow all the rules, the rules (mostly taken from the Hadith, which are Muhammad’s sayings0.

Take Prayer for example:  standing, bowing, kneeling, and prostrating while reciting verses from the Quran or other prayer formulas are repeated twice at dawn prayer, three times at sunset prayer, and four times at noon, afternoon, and evening prayers. The letter of the law must be obeyed here.

Muslims also emphasize Humility; this I believe is a good think.  Islam forbids boasting about good deeds or the contributions made to build a mosque. Muslims are forbidden to build over graves, make them high, put lights over them, or write on them. Men are not to wear gold, and no one is to wear clothes that attract attention.

They also have rules of health and safety, and that certainly is a good thing  Muslims are not to urinate into stagnant water, or defecate on the side of the road or where people draw water. A Muslim is forbidden to hold small stones between two fingers and throw them because this could cause injury to eyes or teeth.  Shooting bullets up in the air seems to be another matter. A Muslim is not to walk through the marketplace carrying a sharp weapon unless it is properly covered.

Some rules seem designed to build community, and those are not bad. Muslims are not to sit between two people without their permission, or to greet only those they know, because both those known and those unknown should be greeted.

But one problem with a rule-driven religion is that adherents often think the rules will save them. Another is that rules multiply. If you have gone to any Muslim web sites lately you cannot help but be flabbergasted with their  numerous and  detailed dos and don’ts. For example, one questioner asked a cleric, “Is it permissible to kill insects that may be found in the  house, such as ants, cockroaches and the like, by burning them?” The answer was, “If these insects are harmful, they may be killed with insecticides, but not with fire.” That’s because fire, according to Muhammad, was to be used only on rats, scorpions, crows, kites [like hawks], and mad dogs.”

 There are laws piled upon laws for hunting and fishing and eating and drinking and marriage and divorce and commerce and greeting strangers. Liberty is out of sight.

 Christianity by its very nature is about the liberty of the individual   the many. We have monotheism with a trinity.  Christians has built a society that emphasizes both unity and diversity and in that way reflects the Trinity. The U.S. Constitution created a separation of powers, forbidding the federal government from preferring any religion, but Muhammad united religious, political, and military power, and Muslim leaders ever since have aspired to do the same.   Muslims try to make everything united.Tthey just do not grasp  Lord Acton’s idea that (among humans) power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. In Muslim countries a system of checks and balances seems redundant. Originally, Islamic countries had no separation between religious and civil law, between Islam and the state. And dangerously, that is how Muslims want things to be in America.   Islam does not teach people to govern themselves, to think for themselves. It is dangerous to do so; and that is why most Muslim countries   have dictators in charge.  

 A Muslim who becomes a Christian offends his general community. A Christian who evangelizes in Muslim countries offends the community. Some say Christians should be shunned. Others say they should die. In that environment, devout Muslims have shot or knifed critics of Islam, even gentle critics like Egyptian Nobel Prize winner Naguib Mahfouz.

Historically, Muslims have usually not killed the civilians they conquered. Usually, for almost 1,500 years, they have given Jews and Christians living in Muslim-ruled lands a special status as dhimmis (Arabic for “protected people”). The word dhimmi became historically significant in A.D. 628 when Muhammad’s forces defeated a Jewish tribe that lived at the oasis of Khaybar and made with them a treaty known as the dhimma. The treaty allowed Jews to continue cultivating their oasis, as long as they gave Muhammad half of their produce.

 Muhammad reserved the right to break the deal and expel the Jews whenever he wished.  As second class citizens the non-Muslims had to supply forced labor and  were ineligible for any public office and were without the right even to testify in legal battles.

Non-Muslims (Dhimmis ) were not allowed to construct new places of worship, but sometimes received permission to worship in buildings that predated Muslim conquest. (The buildings had to be dilapidated, with no crosses or bell-ringing allowed, and Muslims able to ransack them at will.) Non-Muslims were not allowed to possess weapons, marry Muslim women, meet with others on the streets, or ride horses or camels (the two “noble animals”). Non-Muslims had to wear special clothes, walk with eyes lowered, and accept being pushed aside by Muslims.

 Should Islam triumph, that’s what Christians and Jews can expect from Muslim rulers.

Muslims, like Christians, divide people into believers and nonbelievers, but the Islamic conception of future relations between the two is very different. Christians believe that final Christian victory will come only when Christ returns. For Muslims, though, the world is divided into the dar al-Harb, land controlled by non-Muslims that forms the “territory of war,” and the dar al-Islam, the land where Islamic law prevails. This is a permanent state of war, although there may be truces, because it is man’s might that will make Islam supreme throughout the world.

In Islam, therefore, a peace is not a peace, and a truce should not last longer than 10 years. A time of peace longer than a decade is occasion not for relaxation but for feeling inadequate and fidgety.  The dar al-Harb has no right to exist.

 Medieval philosopher Ibn Khaldun wrote, “In the Muslim community, the holy war is a religious duty, because of the universalism of the [Muslim] mission and the obligation to convert everyone to Islam either by persuasion or by force.”

Should Islam as a religion escape responsibility for 9/11? The terrorists who became infamous were not generic Muslims but largely came out of a radical Sunni Muslim movement founded by Ibn Abdul Wahhab (1703-1792).   In recent years Wahhabis have worked to overthrow “the American empire”: They have trained a generation of students for that pursuit through a network of madrassas (religious boarding schools) funded by Saudi oil money.

It’s clear that the 9/11 terrorists were familiar with bloody Quran verses. For instance, Sura 8:39, “And fight with them until there is no more persecution and religion should be only for Allah.” Or 9:14, “Fight them, Allah will punish them by your hands and bring them to disgrace.” Or 9:29, “Fight those who do not believe in Allah . . . until they pay the tax in acknowledgment of superiority and they are in a state of subjection.” The terrorists were also familiar with Islam’s history: Christianity initially spread through nonaggressive means, especially the blood of martyrs, while Islam initially spread at least in great part through military conflict, with the blood of its opponents often flowing.

It’s clear that the 9/11 terrorists were familiar with Quranic verses promising that good things will happen to all who die in a campaign to spread Islam. “Those who fly in Allah’s way and are then slain or die,” Sura 22:58 promises, “Allah will most certainly grant them a goodly sustenance, and most surely Allah is the best Giver of sustenance.” Some were familiar with the thinking of the 11th-century(still highly revered)  Persian philosopher Avicenna, who suggested that spreading Islam by any means creates the greatest good for the greatest number in the life to come, and any suffering inflicted in this life is minor compared to the joy to come.

Briefly, I want to talk about what  happens to those who break Islamic rules?  Some Muslims are relaxed about that, believing that daily ritual practices will cover over a multitude of sins. But some become frenzied when they break the rules—and they have so many to break.

The 9/11 hijackers evidently took advantage of America’s freedom to break lots of Quranic rules by having alcohol, prostitutes, and much more, before committing their dastardly deed.  Their actions condemned them to hell, in Muslim thinking—but they had a “get out of jail free” card called jihad.

The notebooks of two of the terrorists showed their goal on Sept. 11, 2001: “Purify your heart and clean it from all earthly matters. The time of fun and waste has gone. . . . Those few hours that are left you in your life are very few. From there you will begin to live the happy life, the infinite paradise. . . . Read al-Tawba and Anfal [traditional war chapters from the Quran] and reflect on their meanings and remember all of the things that Allah has promised for the martyrs. . . . Know that the gardens of paradise are waiting for you in all their beauty, and the women of paradise are waiting, calling out, ‘Come hither, friend of God.’ They have dressed in their most beautiful clothing.”

Evidently, three airplanes that were turned into bombs and killed almost 3000 people covered up a multitude of sins. What hope in a thousand years is there for peaceful co-existence, with anyone who holds such a destructive worldview?

 “He whom the Son sets free is free indeed.”

Freedom in Christ is only a prayer away!

That Is Plenty To Think About.

Pastor Bob