Sunday afternoons are a great time for a nap. Its also a good time to catch up on football scores. As I flipped through the channels to see who was winning, I came across ABC and was surprised by the show. Normally, coming into the American Christmas holidays, if a football game is not being shown, then some family holiday flick is certainly to be expected. Today was different.
A Visit to A Mosque was the title of the show. I was curious to see what would be said, so I watched. Click here for info on this program.
Did you know Muslims are Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts? Or that Muslims in America are following the American dream, just like the rest of us? That they view themselves as modern day pilgrims seeking a land of freedom for worship? That Islam is a religion not unlike other faiths in America? On and on the propaganda went. Half way through the show I became convinced that Islam in America has adopted the strategy of Mormonism in America–pro-family, pro-America. I understand their strategy and I can’t blame the Muslims for trying it. It is working for the Mormons and Muslims in America need some good PR.
Here are some of my reflections from the program:
First, most Americans do not understand Islam or Muslims. For many, to be a Muslim is to be a terrorist. This stereotype does not apply to American Muslims. I agree with the program on that point.
Second, American Islam cannot the same as Islam of Asia or the Middle East. The show did a good job highlighting the role of women, personal choice, and interfaith cooperation that is prevalant among American Muslims and Islamic Communities. Good luck finding those same qualities outside of the West. (One of the speakers noted himself that women are not involved at the Mosque in other countries…hmmm…which is the norm? America or elsewhere? Are they reading the same Quran?) If Islam is to survive in America, it has to be something other than world Islam. I think Muslim leaders in America have figured this out.
Third, it is quite interesting the terms used in the program. Of course, they used the term “Allah” for God, but also spoke of “sunday school,” “community” (not in the general sense, but in the hot-topic sense prevalent in the emerging church conversation), “Lord” (common Christian-speak for Jesus or God), and other minor terms more associated with the ways Christians speak of religion. One “scholar” said that Muslims listen to the same prophets as other religions, like Moses, Abraham, Noah, Jesus, Ishmael, and David. For one thing, the order he gave them in was rather suspicious, as well as sneaking in Ishmael, which no Jew or Christian would ever give the status as prophet. Sneaky, Sneaky…But their goal was to paint Islam as an American religion, in American religious speak. That’s contextualization, but the type that should make you beware:
2 Corinthians 11:14 “For even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.”
I’m really not worried about true Christians being decieved; it is way too obvious the deception of the program. However, it aids the worldview of the secularist who believes that all religions are basically the same. Furthermore, some people who are more spiritually inclined than the secularist will be decieved into joining the false religion. Overall, if the program raises questions for you, don’t run off to the closest Mosque. Ask a more knowledgeable friend. You can set up an appointment at almost any Mosque in America, and they won’t shy away from trying to convert you. So be prepared.
The main problem with the show is that it claimed that the average misunderstanding about Islam will be solved by observing the life of Muslims in America. Well, this just isn’t true. The show can only claim that we can overcome our misunderstandings about American Muslims. That would be a worthwhile goal; I have not qualms about that. We should treat our Muslim neighbors with respect and be tolerant of their rights as Americans to assemble and their rights to worship. However, American Islam is not pure Islam. They may argue otherwise.
The types of advances Muslims have been able to make in America rises out of the American context. The American context is deeply influenced by a Christian worldview which values individual choice and religious freedom. The type of freedom being offered to Muslims in America exponentially exceeds the level of freedom offered to peoples of other faiths in Muslim countries. The ability for women to be educated and have religious leadership rises out of the Western worldview, not Islamic. Just ask the scores of Afghani women I met in Kazakhstan who were forced to flee by the Taliban. Ask the women who are being beaten and mistreated in fundamentalist Islamic states.
Nonetheless, do not underestimate the proselytic intentions of the program. Even if American Islam were pure Islam, we must still beware:
Galatians 1:8 “But even if we, or an angel of heaven, should he preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed.”
Islam and Christianity cannot both be true. They are mutually exclusive. Let us understand our Muslim neighbors, let us tolerate their rights to freedom, but let us not forget our responsibilities to evangelize them. They need Jesus. They know him not.