Principle # 1: If you pick up a book that seems to paint broad strokes about Islam, representing all Muslims as one thing—whether positive or negative—this should raise your first alarm of suspicion.
Principle # 2: if the book you are reading employs broad stereotyping and other methods that have been employed by racist ideologies, you might as well put it down. You will not get any wiser about Islam by reading it.
The rise of secularism is leading many Muslims away from the Islamic faith. A 2017 Pew Research Center survey of American Muslims reveals that about 24% of those raised in Islam have left the faith. This trend is not just a Western phenomenon, as The Telegraph explains: “Islam is facing a wave of desertion by young Muslims suffering from a crisis of faith … Even deeply conservative countries with strict anti-apostasy regimes like Pakistan, Iran, and Sudan have faced desertions.” It concludes, “The trend has been described as a ‘ticking bomb’ with a new generation of educated Muslims starting to question the fundamentals of their faith.” This includes Arabs, many of whom (according to Facebook), are atheists. Incredibly, Richard Dawkins’ book, The God Delusion, is the most…
Would Calvin Understand Muslim Anger Over Muhammad Drawings?
Undoubtedly, there are many motivations besides religious zeal that inspire gunmen in Texas, Charlie Hebdo terrorists in France, and ISIS in Iraq who deface historical images, but their justification is the same. It is rooted in Islam’s rejecting any depictions of their prophet–or of God. They cling to that stance for the same reason I wanted to shield Prem from a picture of Jesus. They see it as a stumbling block that pulls people towards sinful idolatry. Islam was born in a region rife with polytheism and idolatry, so like Judaism, Islam reacts against them. Though the Qur’an doesn’t specifically address prophetic images, it does reject pictures of God: “Behold! He said to his father [Abraham] and his people, ‘what are these images to which you are so assiduously devoted?’ They said, ‘We found our fathers worshipping them.’ He said, ‘Indeed, you have been in manifest error – you and your fathers” (21:52-54). Also, the Hadith (sayings of Muhammad), upon which much Islamic law is based, warns against images for the same reason.
Muslims, however, are not alone in forbidding or destroying religious imagery. In fact, during the aftermath of the horrific killings of the Charlie Hebdo staff, some French may have recalled 16th century iconoclastic riots in France in which Calvinist Protestants (Huguenots) rioted and killed clergy in their zeal to rid the land of religious images. They were inspired in part by John Calvin, who wrote extensively on images in the Institutes (1.11), and warned that depictions of divine figures have a tendency to tempt followers toward idolatry: “Since this brute stupidity gripped the whole world–to pant after visible figures of God, and thus to form gods of wood, stone, gold, silver or other dead and corruptible matter–we must cling to this principle: God’s glory is corrupted by an impious falsehood whenever any form is attached to Him.”
Reflections on Citizenship from a Lebanese-Canadian follower of Jesus
I am a native Lebanese citizen. I was born and raised in Lebanon. I love Lebanon, despite the insecurity, uncertainty, and corruption that characterize the country, and despite having grown up during the civil war. Lebanon has left its mark on me. Even the years of the war have contributed to shaping me into the person that I am today. I love Lebanon with the good and the bad. Consequently, I care a lot about the welfare of Lebanon. But what does this mean for me as a follower of Jesus? Should I care more about the welfare of Lebanon at the expense of other neighboring countries? Should I care about the holders of Lebanese citizenship more than I care about the displaced in Lebanon such as Syrians, Iraqis, Palestinians, and the stateless?