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Islam: at war within itself

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Islam: at war within itself

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Islam: at war within itself

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Dear Reader,

I have been asked by a number of Barnabas supporters to try to look at how to make sense of what is currently happening in the Islamic world.  I do hope the article below will be helpful.

Dr Patrick Sookhdeo
International Director, Barnabas Fund

Introduction

Recent months have seen a number of unexpected and extremely encouraging statements coming out of the Muslim world.  Respected, mainstream Muslim leaders in a variety of countries have voiced opinions which are at odds with traditional, conservative Islam.  They have challenged aspects of shari‘a and are calling for a liberal, modernist, enlightened Islam compatible with Western norms.  Perhaps the most significant of all is a comment by a group of British Muslims calling for an end to the apostasy law and for full freedom in all religious matters.

Since modernisation first impacted the Muslim world following the imposition of secular laws and education systems by Western colonial empires, there have been tensions between Muslim conservatives and liberal intellectuals. Islamic traditionalists and Islamists have on the whole gained the dominant voice within Islam, especially since the Islamic resurgence which began in the 1970s and has swept all before it. These conservatives saw shari‘a as divinely inspired and unchangeable, valid for all times and places, and attacked the few liberal voices seeking to reinterpret the Muslim sources in line with modern contexts and human rights.

A small minority of marginalised Muslim progressives has been bravely defying traditional and Islamist pressures by reinterpreting Islam in a way compatible with modern concepts of secularity, individual human rights, religious freedom and gender equality.

However, recently some significant cracks seem to be forming within the mainstream Islam. Important mainstream leaders are coming out against long-held key traditional views and Wahhabi-Salafi doctrines and practices, openly supporting ideas compatible with modernity. It would seem that the reformist teachings of Ahmad Khan (1817 - 1898) and Muhammad ‘Abduh (1849 -1905), which had been suppressed, are now resurfacing within mainstream Islam. As some experts on Islam have always been saying, "the really decisive battle is taking place within Muslim civilization, where ultraconservatives compete against moderates and democrats for the soul of the Muslim public." [1]

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  • Give thanks for the Christ-like responses of Christian leaders in CAR to the crisis that threatens them and their churches. They have distanced themselves from the anti-balaka militias, saying that these should not be labelled as Christian and that they hold no mandate from the churches. The leaders have also condemned the violence in the country, whatever its origin, and have called on Christians to pursue forgiveness, reconciliation and healing. Churches are hiding, defending and caring for thousands of Muslims endangered by the anti-balaka, and one of CAR’s most senior church leaders has invited the president of the country’s Islamic community to move into his church compound. Pray that this powerful witness to the grace and love of Christ will help to bring peace to the shattered country. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed 5 hours ago

  • On this Good Friday, give thanks to God for the death of Christ and for His gift of eternal life. Praise Him too for the example of those Christians who have persevered in their faith at the risk of their lives and who have made the ultimate sacrifice for the sake of Christ and the Gospel. Pray that their martyrdom will inspire their suffering brothers and sisters in Christ to endure whatever hardships befall them and will convince their persecutors of the truth and power of the Gospel. Pray too that their bereaved families and churches will not grieve without hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13). Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Fri, Apr 2014 00:00

  • Cry out to the Lord for Christians in the Central African Republic (CAR) who have been driven from their homes by the violence that has engulfed their country. Attacks by Islamist Séléka militants and retaliation from “anti-balaka” militias has generated a huge humanitarian crisis in which around two million people, many of them Christians, are in need of emergency assistance. Give thanks for the work of Barnabas partners who have been providing food rations to hundreds of displaced believers in the capital, Bangui, and distributing food, medicines, clothing and seeds to thousands in various regions. Pray that the aid will reach those who need it most, and that the Lord will comfort the relatives and friends of the thousands who have been killed in the fighting. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Thu, Apr 2014 00:00

  • “Jesus Christ performed tremendous miracles in all our lives through this Shalom Camp.” A pastor spoke of how God had worked through a Barnabas-sponsored weekend Bible camp for persecuted Christians in Sri Lanka. The camp was attended by believers from five different churches that had been the target of threats or attacks by Buddhist or Hindu extremists. The participants heard teaching on the Biblical basis for persecution and took part in group discussions; they came away refreshed and encouraged, and for many the camp was a time of great spiritual renewal. Give thanks to the Lord for the peace He has brought to these persecuted believers, and ask that the weekend will continue to bear much fruit in their lives. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Wed, Apr 2014 00:00

  • Pray for a church leader in Sri Lanka, S.S. Johnpillai, who was threatened at gunpoint by attackers who claimed to be Special Forces officers. The minister was in a hut next to his church building in Guadalupe, Trincomolee when, he said, the men “appeared out of nowhere”. The intruders put a gun to Johnpillai’s head and accused him of holding a Communion service in honour of the founder of the Tamil Tigers, the government’s opponents in the country’s long and bloody civil war. The government had that day made it a criminal offence to commemorate the group. The gunmen ignored Johnpillai’s protests that he had not dedicated Communion to the group’s founder, and they threatened to shoot him. Ask the Lord to support and strengthen Johnpillai as he recovers from this terrifying ordeal. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Tue, Apr 2014 00:00

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