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Muhammad's Night Journey and President Ahmadinejad of Iran

Country/Region: IRAN

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran has stated that his reply to the international demands that Iran stop enriching uranium will be given on the 22 August 2006. Observers noted that this date is an important Muslim festival, commemorating Muhammad's Night Journey (isra') on a miraculous winged steed (Burak) from Mecca to Jerusalem and his Ascent (mi'raj) from the Temple Mount into paradise where he conversed with former prophets like Abraham and Moses and led them in prayer, thus proving his God-given pre-eminence over them. In some variations of the story, Muhammad sees God's throne and God himself face-to-face. On this day around the Muslim world, gatherings are held in mosques, the story is recited and sweets and food distributed with great joy. There has been much speculation as to the symbolic meaning of Ahmadinejad's choice of this day as the appropriate date for delivering his response to what he perceives as demeaning Western demands.

The Quran does not mention Jerusalem by name, but simply "the farthest mosque" (al-masjid al-aqsa), which some Muslim commentators identified as a place in the Arabian Peninsula. However, later commentators, and modern Muslim consensus, agree that Jerusalem was the locale, and the story is used to stake Islam's claim to Jerusalem as against Jewish and Christian claims and to institutionalise Jerusalem as Islam's third most holy city.

While some Muslim commentators believe the event was a dream or a mystical vision, for most Muslims Muhammad's Night Journey and Ascension are a factual real-life historical event which bears witness to Muhammad's exalted position as the last and final Prophet, and to Islam's elevated status as God's final revealed religion superseding Judaism and Christianity and given supreme power and dominion in this world.

The Night Journey thus has deep symbolic meaning for Muslims in their rejection of Jewish religious rights in Jerusalem, and for Muslim claims of superiority over the Christian West as God's chosen people, given political dominion and power over those who did not accept God's final revelation in Muhammad.

In Ahmadinejad's worldview, the time of Western infidel hegemony in the world has come to an end. This is the time of the resurgence of Islam, when in preparation for the return of the Mahdi, the Muslim end time saviour, God is restoring Islam's natural right to power and dominion in the world, giving Muslim states the oil, money, weapons and power to assume a leading position in world affairs. The time of humiliation is over, and given the assured final victory of the Mahdi and of Islam, there is no need for pragmatic accommodations and compromises.

Bernard Lewis, one of the foremost scholars of Islam, warns that Ahmadinejad might use this event to go further than merely reject the latest proposal. He might even unleash a strike against Israel to precipitate the apocalyptic process.

While all such forecasts are speculative, what is clear is that the West is not facing localised terrorist dangers or conflicts that can be isolated and safely handled as separate issues. Rather, the West is facing a world-wide resurgence of a virulent form of Islamism in Shi'a and Sunni varieties, bearing apocalyptic features, that is determined to restore Islamic hegemony in the world and weaken and destroy the Western "Crusader and Jewish-Zionist" enemy by all means at its disposal. These include terrorism, proxy wars, alleged liberation struggles and the acquisition of nuclear weapons by Islamic states such as Pakistan and Iran. Combined, these measures will finally tip the strategic balance in the world in favour of the Islamic global nation (umma).

 

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Daily prayer

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  • 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 2 hours ago

  • “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

  • Lift up to the Lord persecuted Christians in Sri Lanka, where at least 65 anti-Christian incidents took place during 2013, including repeat attacks on several believers and their property in October 2013. However, a Sri Lankan government minister from a Buddhist nationalist party denied the accounts, saying that they might be “made up”. The minister claimed that Sri Lankans are “one family … trying to live together after a long civil war”. Pray that the Sri Lankan government will recognise the danger that our brothers and sisters face from militant Buddhists and that the authorities will provide effective protection for vulnerable Christians. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Mon, Apr 2014 00:00

  • Condemned Christian mother Aasia Bibi’s final appeal hearing is scheduled to take place tomorrow (14 April) having been deferred twice. She was sentenced to death for blasphemy in November 2010 having been falsely accused of insulting Muhammad following an argument with Muslim co-workers. Aasia has been languishing in jail since the accusation was made in June 2009. Pray that her appeal will finally go ahead and that the judges will have the courage to acquit and release Aasia; there are concerns that they may give in to pressure from hardline Islamists who have been calling for her execution. Pray that Aasia, her husband and children will know the Lord’s peace as they await the verdict. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sun, Apr 2014 00:00

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