Fiddling While Rome Burns, Part 1 of 2
As any student of Bible prophecy would expect, there is much upheaval in the world today, politically, spiritually, and commercially. As a longtime “churchian” and Bible student, I am keenly aware of both the rapid changes occurring now and the deep, long-term roots of those changes. But while the Christian community has been dissecting the Body of Christ with cold and clinical detachment, both the “church” and the world have been spiraling downward to destruction. This must stop.
How is it possible that so many want to nitpick over who exactly can pray out loud, or lead a study, or exercise any other spiritual gift-- all on the basis of their genes and not their spirit or education-- while the plight of the lost and the backslidden is forgotten? We excuse this by saying (a) we can nitpick while also spreading the gospel and (b) it is natural for people of a religion or philosophy to focus on the details of their faith. But the truth is that it isn’t what Jesus set up that we are focused on, but our own rules and systems.
Now I’m as much a studier of minutiae as anyone, and I love plumbing the depths of scripture and language. But if such study leads us to deny the essentials-- freedom from the burden of religious practice, freedom from the control of sin, restored relationship with God through Jesus alone-- it has become an idol and a distraction.
The illustration is given of a farmer plowing a field. If the farmer looks down at the ground or off to the side, the rows will be crooked. But if the farmer stays focused on a distant point, the rows will be straight. The plowing still happens, but it must remember its goal. In the same way, we need to remember why we study and why Jesus came.
That focus is the purpose of my book Reconciled, and I would encourage you to read it. But now I’d like to show you what happens when we fail in this charge to be salt and light to the world. This long quote is from someone who made a journey from agnosticism to Islam to atheism, and only highlights points that either show the ways in which Christians are so easily fooled or how we utterly fail to preach the gospel accurately.
The second part will raise questions from the first, and address the reasons people reject God and specifically Christianity.
Then, I was given a prayer mat, many Islaamic books and Syed Abu-Ala Maududi’s Arabic-English Qur’aan with his famous commentary. This was a totally different ideology given to me before they knew I was “with them” and not simply interested in studying the religion as a kaafir (unbeliever).
Once the Christian had encountered inconsistencies in the substructure of his faith, he became more open to the possibility of Biblical errancy. Faced with numerous contradictions, the keen recipient would be guided to a more agreeable theology found within the Qur’aan. They knew not Arabic, so we provided selected material to them.
Once the non-Muslim was eagerly reading the Qur’aan and Islaamic material, I would present Muhammad as a prophet of God no different from the accepted Hebrew prophets. Guilt and fear were common tactics used to pressure the conversion process.
Without equivocation, the notorious “Yusuf Ali” Qur’aan was a translation that pandered to Western liberal values attempting to lure non-Muslims to Islaam.
Everyone adopted an Islaamic first name, shunned music, and only ate halaal. We new Muslims delightfully welcomed a “brainwashing” since years in kufr (disbelief, ungratefulness to Allaah) left us feeling filthy. An unadulterated Islaam was difficult for the kuffaar (unbelievers) to digest so deviants evidently had a higher success rate in their propagation of Islaam (da’wah) as they modified principles to suit the nafs (carnal self) of recipients. The moderate and sanitized version of Islaam that initially brought me to conversion had to be reassessed.
The ideal of freedom was vehemently rejected as implausible, even in a democracy; the latter we ridiculed as “democrazy.” The plan we envisioned was a homologous Islaamic ummah comprised of compliant Muslim nations willing to accept this nostalgic ideology, followed by a pan-Islaamic government. Funded by Arab petroleum sales, this jihaad could be sustained because Muslim countries held approximately 80% of the world’s readily accessible reserves of crude oil.
With hindsight, I perceive the quintessential factor sustaining my Islaamic faith to be fear. I had buckled under the coercion.
This erroneous and biased wager sought the necessity of considering God for personal convenience, without considering the necessity of truth for the sake of truth itself. There lies Pascal’s Flaw. When emotions took precedence, in dire desperation, I abandoned my most cherished opinions and chose to surrender voluntarily as Allaah’s slave.
Truthfully, I found nothing “revealed” by Prophet Muhammad that couldn’t be influenced by or plagiarized from existing sources, especially from the Judeo-Christian tradition (Tanakh, Talmud, New testament, apocryphal works). Everything Islaamic could be traced to pre-Islaamic origins, from theology to pilgrimage rites.
The god of Islaam, likely just Muhammad’s alter-ego, displayed masculinity, anger, indecision, misogyny, and other moral weaknesses unbefitting of a majestic deity. Between Muhammad and Allaah, there was an uncanny resemblance in personality. Similar to the 1939 musical fantasy film, ‘The Wizard of Oz’, I realized that the Wizard (Allaah) was a fabrication concocted by the man (Muhammad) behind the curtain.
My mind clustered with doubts and objections as I raged with discontent. The deity was fictitious and cruel, the founder deplorably barbaric and sinful, the scripture mediocre and uninspired, the laws primitive and unjust. I perceived Muhammad as a fraud and Allaah as his imaginary friend.
Reverts from a Christian upbringing, because of their dire hatred for Christianity, were blinded to the core principles as taught by Jesus. The grass seemed greener on the other side. But the reality is, where Christians sought forgiveness for sinners, Muslims sought punishment. Muslims prayed towards an inanimate object (i.e., the Ka’bah at Makkah), while Christians prayed towards the heavens. Ahl us-Sunnah proudly ate on the floor with their hands like animals, while the kuffar used chairs and utensils like rightly guided people. As for the corpus of Islaam, unable to find a shred of originality, I concluded the Qur’aan as the most unoriginal composition in religion.
For Christians, Jesus was the Word of God made flesh, while Muslims held the Qur’aan as the Word of God made text.
The Qur’aan says to make no distinction between the Prophets, yet, the hadeeth-inspired Islaam with “Allaah and His Messenger” was awfully similar to the “Father and His Son” in Christianity. Islaam has elevated the Prophet Muhammad to an infallible hero with almost godlike status. However, when Allaah commanded fifty prayers a day in the night of al-Israa’ and Mi’raaj, Muhammad could not “submit” and disobediently sought to reduce the amount repeatedly until it was down to five. Women could legally have no more than one husband, while the Prophet Muhammad could and did have several in one day.
Arrogantly speaking, we Muslims were “the best of peoples ever raised up for mankind.” (3:110) So when an atrocity occurred that was obviously committed by Muslims in the name of Allaah, my fellow brothers and sisters were complacent. We obsequiously forsook the human rights violations in Muslim countries, even when the victims were Muslims. The conspiracy theories widespread in my Muslim society were outright delusion. Not even the moderate Muslims, who neglected salaat and committed zinaa (illegal sex; fornication, adultery, etc.), could accept the Muslim identities of the 9/11 pilots. As my Afghani classmate remarked, “It was the Jews!” When the opportunity arose for self-criticism, inevitably, we instead blamed the Jews, our favourite scapegoat.
We proudly acknowledged the jihaad, yet acted stupid if questioned by a kaafir and responded to their accusations with, for example, “How do you know it was done by Muslims? Where is the evidence?” Although they were not blind to the videotaped confessions by boasting Muslim terrorists, they chose to be. Not all Muslims were terrorists, although it was unequivocally but agonizingly true that most terrorists were Muslims. Sunni Muslims, to be exact. If some Americans or Jews died, there was sympathetic joy and I observed this particular behaviour genially absorbed by one Muslimah just five years old.
The greatest threat to dogmatism is doubt because thinking leads to kufr (disbelief). Islaam thought for us. My classmate Mohammed once said, “You know what your problem is? You think too much!” Ironically, freethinking and open-mindedness brought me to tolerate their da’wah and convert. I embraced Islaam and gave Allaah my undivided worship. But because I now kindly disagree, Islaamic scholars say I should be killed. Even moderate Muslims living in the West concede with my death sentence.
I found it deplorable that Muhammad, a man over fifty years of age, married six year-old ‘Aishah and then consummated the marriage when she was nine. His hatred for the Jews rivaled the antisemitism of Adolf Hitler. The Prophet, supposedly guided by God, did not abolish slavery but actually possessed slaves. He waged systematic campaigns to exterminate opponents. I came from a civilization where murder was considered, believe it or not, wrong?
We had to agree with the inferiority of women, the amputation of the hand for thieves, and antisemitic hatred of the Jews. There was stoning of women and animal sacrifices. Even the incentives of Islaam were ignoble. Paradise, an apparent Club Med in the sky, contained earthly sensuality and materialism catering to primitive man, such as numerous women, wine, and couches. A married Muslimah would spend eternity attending her husband as he titillated with numerous women in bed. A sensible man should expect better treatment for his wife (i.e., an equal human being that is someone’s daughter, sister, or mother). No progressive interpretation of such scripture could hide the ignominiousness.
But I’m not as arrogant to claim I possess “The Truth”, with a capital tee. In conclusion, for the Muslims in the audience, a quotation from Stephen F. Roberts who eloquently said it best: “I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”