Wednesday, September 1, 2010

071. Ramadan and provocation in the USA

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 071 | Wed 01 Sep 2010


Laylat al-Qadr (literally Night of Destiny) is the anniversary of the night Muslims believe the first verses of the Qur'an were revealed to the Islamic prophet Muhammad. Whilst the Qur'an does not provide a specific date, Laylat al-Qadr is traditionally believed to be found in the last 10 nights of Ramadan. Most Muslims observe Laylat al-Qadr or 'Night of Power' on the 27th night of Ramadan. The Qur'an describes Laylat al-Qadr as 'better than a thousand months', for on that night the angels and the Spirit have God's permission to come down in answer to prayer (Sura 97). This year, the Night of Power falls on or around the night of 5 September.

Throughout Ramadan, Muslims are not permitted to eat, drink, smoke or have sexual relations between sun-up and sun-down. The rigours of Ramadan elevate stress, frustration and Islamic zeal. In lands with pre-existing religious tensions, the last days of Ramadan can be days of extreme tension. In pre-Islamic times, Ramadan was officially a month of peace when caravans could travel unarmed. With the Muslims in decline, Muhammad decided to reverse his flagging fortunes by attacking an unarmed caravan during Ramadan. When the Arabs protested, saying that warfare in the sacred month was a 'great transgression', Mohammad had a 'revelation' and declared that fitna (anything that could shake the faith of a Muslim) was worse than bloodshed (Sura 2:216-217). According to Muhammad biographer Husein Haykal, 'This revelation brought the Muslims relief, and the Prophet accepted his share of the booty.' (Haykal p 210.) Thereafter, Islamic fundamentalists from Egypt to Pakistan to Indonesia and jihadists from Algeria to Kashmir to Thailand routinely have emulated Muhammad by escalating their jihad during Ramadan.

This year, just as Ramadan reaches its conclusion, a church in USA plans to hold an 'International Burn a Qur'an Day'. The day chosen for this event is 11 September, in commemoration of the thousands murdered by Islamic terrorists on 11 September 2001. The church -- Dove World Outreach in Gainesville, Florida -- claims to be making a statement against Islam which it denounces as false religion, unable to save. While the statement is fine, the means is provocative in the extreme and not in the spirit of Christian grace. It is one thing for a Muslim convert to Christianity to burn his or her Qur'an as a sign of liberation. It is quite another thing for Christians to burn something precious and sacred to Muslims in the full knowledge that it will cause hurt and outrage. Muslims who have been spiritually searching will doubtless be repelled. Meanwhile, Muslims looking for a reason to kill Christians will be presented one on a platter.

There is already enormous momentum building for a violent response. Muslims have posted threats to jihadist websites expressing their intention to martyr themselves as bombers in the church. Members of the Al-Falluja jihadist forum (Iraq) have threatened to 'spill rivers of your (American) blood' and 'a war the likes of which you have never seen before'. In Indonesia, the Islam Defenders Front (FPI) has vowed to retaliate if the event goes ahead. On Friday 27 August, Muslims protested outside the US embassy in Jakarta holding banners reading 'Destroy burners of the Qur'an' and 'Answer the Qur'an burning with Jihad'. According to Roni Ruslan of Indonesia's Hizbut Tahrir, 'No one will be able to control this reaction.', the website of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), reports that Dr Diaa Rashwan, the MB expert at Egypt's Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies, describes the Qur'an-burning event as 'exceedingly dangerous', adding that 'a serious crisis will arise and extremism will be initiated in the Muslim world . . .' Dr Rashwan's assertion that the event would be violating the rights of Muslims is nonsense -- there is no such right as the right not to be offended. The Qur'an-burning event will be wrong, not because it violates Muslims' rights, but because it violates Christ's law of love (Matthew 7:12).


* our Lord Jesus Christ will surprise many Muslims this Laylat al-Qadr (Night of Power) by revealing himself as the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6).

* our Sovereign God and Father will watch over and protect his children during these tense days, and 'frustrate the ways of the wicked' (Psalm 146:9 NIV).

* Terry Jones, pastor of Dove World Outreach, will be sensitive to the Spirit's call for behaviour consistent with the gospel of grace -- for the sake of witness, and so that others might not have to suffer the consequences of his deliberately provocative action.

'For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: "You shall love your neighbour as yourself."' (Galatians 5:14 ESV.)



Most Muslims observe the 27th night of Ramadan as the 'Night of Power'. Prayer that night (Sunday 5 September in 2010) is supposed to be especially blessed. May our Lord Jesus Christ surprise many Muslims then by revealing himself as the Way, the Truth and the Life. Christian minorities are vulnerable as the rigours of Ramadan cause Islamic zeal to escalate. Meanwhile, the Dove World Outreach in Florida, USA, is planning to hold an 'International Burn a Qur'an Day' on 11 September, to protest Islam as false religion. Islamic groups worldwide are threatening to respond violently. The Qur'an-burning event will be wrong, not because it violates Muslims' rights (for there is no right not to be offended), but because it violates Christ's law of love (Matthew 7:12). Please pray.