Wednesday, August 19, 2009

018. Conflict and disillusionment within Islam

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 018 | Wed 19 Aug 2009

CONFLICT AND DISILLUSIONMENT WITHIN ISLAM

Muslim states have gained independence, Islamists have risen to power and Sharia Law has been widely adopted, but the promised utopia is not materialising. In fact the Islamic world seems more corrupt, violent, conflicted and insecure than ever. Now Islamic fundamentalists are rising up against Islamic pro-Sharia regimes accusing them of not being Islamic enough! No amount of appeasement is ever enough. Many Muslims are becoming disillusioned as tensions rise and conflicts rage within Islamic states, as the demands of Islamic fundamentalists become increasingly severe and unpalatable, and as Islamic dictators show how corrupt, repressive, power-hungry and violent they can be.

In Somalia, al Shabaab (the militant wing of the ousted Islamic Courts Union) has been waging jihad against the Western-backed Transnational Federal Government (TFG) since December 2006, even though the new TFG is Islamist and pro-Sharia. Al Shabaab wants a government that will implement Sharia Law fully and support regional and international jihad (Islamic 'holy war').

In Pakistan, Islamic fundamentalists in Islamabad's Red Mosque were demanding full implementation of Sharia Law and support for jihad as a 'great sacred religious duty of Muslims'. The government crushed them in May-June 2007. Al Qaeda responded by declaring jihad against the government and the battle for Pakistan has been raging ever since.

Likewise, tensions have been escalating in Nigeria's northern Sharia states for several years as uncompromising Sharia enforcers known as Hisbah frequently clash with the more pragmatic police and State authorities. On 26 July 2009 Boko Haram (the 'Nigerian Taliban') launched an uprising with an attack on a police station in the northern Sharia state of Bauchi. The resulting conflict between Boko Haram and government forces spread to Kano, Yobe and Borno, all northern Sharia states. Fighting raged for five days and claimed hundreds of lives, mostly Boko Haram fighters. During the uprising, three pastors captured by Boko Haram in Maiduguri, Borno state, were beheaded for refusing to renounce Christ and convert to Islam.

Most recently heavy fighting broke out in Rafah, Gaza, on 14 August as Hamas confronted the al Qaeda-aligned Jund Ansar Allah ('Warriors of God'), one of several fundamentalist groups in Gaza to denounce Hamas as being simply not Islamic enough. Some Islamic fundamentalists are comparing Hamas' siege of Rafah's Ibn Taymiyya Mosque to the Pakistan government's siege of Islamabad's Red Mosque.

Ahmad Al-Khanawy (41) is a filmmaker struggling with the narrow no singing, no dancing, no mixing, no laughing, legalistic Sharia provisions in Kano, northern Nigeria. He told the Washington Post (12 August): 'People want sharia. But not this kind of sharia.' But is there another kind of Sharia? Is there another kind of Islam? Or is what the people really want actually another kind of faith?

In Isaiah 2:1-4 it is promised that eventually the God of 'Zion' will be recognised as the one true God and the nations will flow to 'Zion' seeking God's instruction so they can walk in his ways. But not only is it promised that many peoples will flow in to 'Zion' seeking God, it is also promised that God's law and word will flow out from Zion. We need to be praying for both spiritual awakening amongst the lost and disillusioned and for revival in the Church -- the two will go together.

PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY THAT GOD WILL:

* bring revival to his Church so that in these days of increasing darkness the Church may be a true servant of the gospel of light and that its message and righteousness will be magnetic as disillusionment, distress, conflict and insecurity grow in the world.

* awaken Muslims to the truth of the gospel.
May the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf be unstopped (Isaiah 35:5); the desert become fertile (vv1,2,6b,7) and be filled with joy and singing (v10).

* protect, preserve and build his Church in the Middle East and throughout the Muslim world (Isaiah 3:10).

* strengthen the faith and comfort the hearts of all persecuted believers (Isaiah 35:3,4).

Ramadan starts on 22 August. Please consider participating in the Thirty Day Muslim Prayer Focus. See http://www.30-days.net/ for booklet, PDF and email resources.
(NOTE: Following the tradition of Mohammed, the Taliban has reported that it is preparing for a Ramadan offensive in Swat, Pakistan.)


SUMMARY TO USE IN BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN THE WHOLE ARTICLE
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CONFLICT AND DISILLUSIONMENT WITHIN ISLAM

Islamic fundamentalism has taken root in the Muslim world and Sharia Law has been widely adopted, but the promised Islamic utopia is not materialising. In fact the Islamic world seems more corrupt, violent, conflicted and insecure than ever. Fundamentalist groups in Somalia, Pakistan, Northern Nigeria and Gaza have risen up against their Islamic governments accusing them of not being Islamic enough! These groups use barbaric violence to force onto the masses Sharia provisions rejected by more pragmatic Islamist regimes. This is breeding confusion and disillusionment amongst many Muslims. So we pray for revival in the Church and for the awakening of Muslims. Also see 'Thirty Day Muslim Prayer Focus' http://www.30-days.net/ to pray through Ramadan starting on 22 August.