Night of Power

2014 Ramadan Prayer Day 27The Night of Power ( in Arabic) is the holiest night of the year in Islam. It commemorates the night that Muslims believe Muhammad received the first revelations of the Qur’an, which are recorded in the first five verses of Sura 96. Sura 97:3 describes the Laylat Al Qadr as “better than a thousand months.”

Sahbir Ally, President of the Islamic Information Center in Toronto, Canada explains the significance, “The very fact that the Quran states that this night is better than a thousand months is an added incentive for Muslims to worship on this night because the traditions further expound on this to say that worshipping on this night is better than worshipping for a thousand months, and a thousand months as you know is translated to 83 years and four months, that’s a lifetime for many people. …So if a person worships on the Night of Power, then we believe that he or she gets the reward as worshipping for a whole lifetime.”

Tradition says that anyone that prays on the Night of Power out of sincere faith in hopes of attaining Allah’s rewards will have all of his past sins forgiven.

Muslims also believe angels and a special spirit descend from God on the Night of Power. The angels come down to grant requests and bring proclamations about the coming year.

The Night of Power is a time when Muslims are open to receiving dreams and visions as they seek guidance. Many will pray throughout the night believing that those who remain awake all night will be blessed with peace and the blessings of God.

Dr. Ally explains, “It is also narrated in some traditions that the angels tour the world looking for those people who are engaged in the worship of God on Night of Powerthat night, and they, according to the tradition, shake hands with the person.. …Human beings do not actually experience the angels in their presence, but generally the idea that the angels do come down on this night inspires Muslims to worship.”

Prayer Points:

Worship for Muslims on the Night of Power becomes an obligation in order to receive a reward – how different from those of us who are honored to worship our God – not in order to receive a reward, but simply because He alone is worthy of all worship, honor and praise.  Take time out today to worship God – lift His name on high and thank Him for His abundant blessings.

As we “Contend For the Captives” of Islam – pray that they will long for the true and living God, hunger for His truth, desire a deeper relation with Him and have visions and dreams in the days ahead of Jesus Christ as the living Son of God!

Muslims are taught that believing Jesus is the Son of God is blasphemy and will send a Muslim (and all others) to hell. Ask God to give a true revelation of Jesus to Muslims, giving them understanding and strength to push past false teaching and fear and have the courage to receive Christ as Lord.

May heaven be abundantly populated with the souls of “former Muslims” as a result of the prayers of God’s people on the Night of Power!

The Forgotten Girls of Nigeria

2014 Ramadan Prayer Day 26Tuesday marked the 100th day since the terrorist group Boko Haram kidnapped approximately 200 schoolgirls from their school in Nigeria. Deborah Sanya, an eighteen-year-old who managed to escape the kidnappers described her ordeal to the New Yorker magazine. She said the terrorists showed up on the night of the abduction dressed in Nigerian military uniforms and told the girls they were there to take them to safety. After the men took food and other supplies from the school, they set the building on fire. At first she and the other girls thought they were safe, however once the men started shooting and shouting, “Allahu Akbar”, she realized the men were not Nigerian soldiers. “I thought it was the end of my life. …There were many, many of them.”

She recounted how she begged God for help and watched as several girls jumped out of the truck they were in. Eventually they reached the terrorists’ camp. After a couple of hours she and a couple of her friends fled behind some trees. Despite the terrorists’ demands to return, the girls kept running until they reached the safety of a friendly stranger’s home. The next day they called their families.

Sanya’s father described the conflicting emotions he now has. Although grateful to have his daughter returned, he feels guilt for those who are still missing. “Every house in Chibok has been affected by the kidnapping.”

Boko Haram has continued their attacks throughout Nigeria and have ignored international cries for the girls to be released. Earlier in July, Boko Haram leader, Abubaker Shekau released a video that mocked the “#BringBackOurGirls” campaign. The social media campaign brought worldwide attention to the plight of the kidnapped girls. The Twitter accounts of celebrities quickly brought attention to the kidnapping. United States First Lady Michelle Obama Bring Back Our GirlsMichelle Obama received nearly 58,000 retweets of the “#BringBackOurGirls” hashtag. Sadly the social media campaign has waned, although at least one U.S. Representative, Frederica Wilson (D-FL) is still attempting to encourage U.S. celebrities to keep the Nigerian girls’ story in the news. She has promised to tweet until the girls are returned to their families.

The Associated Press reported today that eleven parents of the missing girls would never be reunited with their daughters. Boko Haram killed seven fathers of the girls in further attacks, and at least four more parents have died from illnesses that the community blames on the stress of losing their daughters – such as heart failure and high blood pressure. A community leader described the anguish of one father, “[he] just went into a kind of coma and kept repeating the names of his daughters, until life left him.”

Social media campaigns may be short-lived, but we serve a God who has not forgotten these kidnapped girls.

Prayer Points:

Jesus taught in Matthew that a sparrow could not fall to the ground without our Father knowing it. Our God knows exactly where each kidnapped girl is being hidden. Pray that He will reveal to the Nigerian army where each of these girls have been taken, and will give them wisdom to rescue them and bring them home to their families.

Pray for each of these young girls that God will surround them with His angels, comfort and heal them. Pray for their grief stricken families that they will be reunited with their daughters.

A massive assault by Boko Haram in the Nigerian town of Damboa displaced more than 15,000 people on Monday. Over 2,000 people were killed by the terrorist group in the past six months. Pray for the protection of the people of Nigeria – especially for the Christian communities that are often the target of the Islamist group.

Twitter Definition

The Australian Jihadist Cheerleader

2014 Ramadan Prayer Day 25There are two emerging Islamic religious figures from the West that have become especially popular with foreign fighters that have joined the rebel forces in the Syrian civil war. These two Westerners, American Ahmad Musa Jibril and Australian Musa Cerantonio, are popular with Western and European jihadists on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. These foreign fighters look to these men for guidance and inspiration.

Yesterday we looked at Ahmad Musa Jibril, an American cleric from Dearborn, Michigan. Australian Musa Cerantonio was born into an Italian Catholic family as Robert Cerantonio. He claims he converted to Islam after a visit to the Vatican left him disillusioned with Catholicism. After his conversion he traveled to study Islam in Cairo. His status as a Western convert helped him to become popular on Islamic satellite television programs, which gave Cerantonio a global audience.

His most popular platform, other than his television programs, was Facebook. At times, he was critical of the terrorist group, ISIS, but he also referred to the group “as the best forces on the ground in Syria.” Cerantonio called for war against the United States. “If we see that Muslims are being killed by the tyrant leaders of the USA then we must first stop them with our hands (i.e. by force). This means that we should stop them by fighting them, by assassinating their oppressive leaders, by weakening their offensive capabilities etc. …This is not something that is beyond us at all.”Musa Cerantonio Facebook

Cerantonio’s Facebook page was eventually taken down, but at the time it was removed he had about 12,000 subscribers. He used Twitter account earlier this month to announce that he was traveling to Syria. After he tweeted that he had arrived in the Middle East to join with the terror group, ISIS, he was actually discovered to have been living in the Philippines for about a year.

Australian authorities cancelled his Australian passport, which left him without proper travel documentation so he was arrested and is to be deported to Australia. There is now a Facebook page calling for his release that has more than 1,500 “likes.” There are no warrants for his arrest in Australia so he will probably be allowed to go free when he arrives.

Ahmad Musa Jibril and Musa Cerantonio have had much influence on the number of foreign fighters in the Syrian civil war. Their styles are different, but rather than competing for followers they have appealed to their audiences in different ways. This combination has encouraged their followers to consider fighting in Syria as honorable.

Prayer Points:

Ask God to give His wisdom and insight to counter-intelligence and counterterrorism organizations to enable them to have the information needed to stop or arrest those involved in recruiting others to becoming militant.

Social media has been used to encourage Westerners to join in the Syrian civil war. Pray that Western authorities will identify those who are inspiring others to jihad and terrorism and recognize legal ways to stop them from furthering their cause.

Jihadists are very successful in utilizing social media to spread a message of hate – pray the Holy Spirit will guide Christians and Christian ministries in ways to use this powerful tool to spread the message of the Kingdom of God. Declare His Lordship over all forms of social media!

Western “Cheerleaders” of Jihad

2014 Ramadan Prayer Day 24NBC News reported more than 160,000 people including over 8,000 children have been killed in the three-year civil war in Syria. The figure from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights includes civilians, members of the Syrian military, foreign fighters and rebels. An estimated 9 million Syrians have left their homes since the war began in March of 2011. Of those, 2.5 million have fled to neighboring nations, and the other 6.5 million are internally displaced within Syria.

The conflict in Syria is recognized as the most “socially mediated civil conflict in history.” Few journalists have had direct access to battles within Syria in part because the nation was considered “the most dangerous place in the world for journalists” in 2013. Most television media has relied heavily on YouTube videos and citizen journalists to report what is happening. According to the United States Institute of Peace, “An exceptional amount of what the outside world knows – or thinks it knows – about Syria’s nearly three-year-old conflict has come from videos, analysis, and commentary circulated through social networks.”

A team of researchers from the International Center for the Study of Radicalization and Political Violence (ICSR) created a database containing the social media profiles of 190 Western and European foreign fighters that have joined Syrian rebel groups. More than 2/3 of these foreign fighters are affiliated with either Jabhat al-Nusrah or the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) – both groups which were at one point connected to al-Qaeda.

By studying the social media profiles of these fighters, the Center discovered a large number of the foreign fighters did not receive their information about the Syrian conflict through official channels of the fighting groups, but rather through individuals who are not affiliated with any of the terror groups.

These individuals, sympathetic to the rebel cause, are primarily based in the West and have most likely never been to Syria, however through social media they control significant influence over how the conflict is perceived. They encourage, justify and give religious legitimacy for their social media followers to fight in the conflict – basically serving as jihadist “cheerleaders.” Through social media they have become new spiritual authorities to whom Western and European foreign fighters are looking to for guidance and inspiration. The most prominent social media spiritual authorities are American-based cleric Ahmad Musa Jibril and Australian cleric Musa Cerantonio.Ahmad Musa Jibril

Jibril was born in Dearborn, Michigan in 1972. He enrolled at the Islamic University in Medina, Saudi Arabia graduating with a degree in sharia (Islamic law), and completed his advanced law degrees at a Michigan law school. In 2004, he was convicted on a string of federal offenses. A memorandum produced in the case revealed he was running a radical website that “contained a library of fanatically anti-American sermons by militant Islamic clerics, in English and in Arabic. Prior to his arrest, Jibril was banned from two mosques because of his radical views. He was incarcerated in a federal prison until March of 2012.

Jibril does not openly promote violence or encourage his followers to join the Syrian jihad, but he supports the principles of armed conflict against Assad. Much of his popularity is from Twitter and YouTube where there are videos of him delivering impassioned lectures on many topics including the situation in Syria. He does not openly support ISIS, however British ISIS fighters have reported watching the cleric’s lecture series before joining the jihad. His Facebook page has over 218,000 likes, and 55.6% of the “likes” and follows are from members of the terrorist group, ISIS.

Jibril often interacts with his followers on Twitter, which helps him generate a much higher following. For instance, after the death of a foreign fighter in Syria, Jibril sent a condolence message on Twitter to the jihadist’s brother. The brother uploaded the message to his public timeline, which was then retweeted multiple times. This type of interaction demonstrates to Jibril’s followers that he is more than just a religious leader, he also provides friendship and comfort to those fighting in Syria.

Tomorrow we will look at Australian Musa Cerantonio, and his influence with Westerners engaging in jihad. Prayer points for both of the articles will be in tomorrow’s post.

Western Jihadists

2014 Ramadan Prayer Day - 23It is not a new phenomenon for Muslims in the West to travel to areas around the world to engage in jihad, however with the ongoing war in Syria and the recent announcement of the formation of a new caliphate by the terror group known as ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria), the practice is becoming more prevalent.

Gatestone Institute reports that there are now at “least twice as many young British Muslims who have gone to Syria to fight alongside ISIS and other such groups than there are fighting for Queen and country here in the British armed forces.”

A California man was arrested on July 2 before he could board a flight to Turkey where he eventually planned to go to Syria to fight with ISIS. The young man, Adam Dandach, also known as Fadi Fadi Dandach, graduated from an American high school only two years ago. He told investigators, “he would assist ISIS with anything that ISIS asked him to do, and that he believed the killing of U.S. soldiers are justified killings.” When his mother learned that he planned to travel to the Middle East, she hid his passport. He was arrested for lying on an application for a replacement passport. He claims he was more disappointed that he did not get to go to Syria to join the jihad than he was that he was arrested.

New Zealander, Mark John Taylor, burnt his New Zealand passport and claims to have already been involved in fighting for the rebels in Syria. His Facebook page displays his burnt New Zealand passport and declares that he is on a “one-way trip,” declaring his intentions to die as a soldier of Mark Taylor - New Zealand JihadistAllah.

As of December 2013, the International Center for the Study of Radicalization and Political Violence (ICSR) estimated that up to 11,000 fighters from 74 nations had gone to Syria to fight. Over one quarter of these fighters are from Western countries, mostly from Britain, France, Germany, Sweden and Belgium. Although not as numerous, Australians, Canadians, and U.S. citizens have also joined the fighting.

Those joining with the jihadis are not limited to young men. Sabina Selimovic, 15, and Samra Kesinovic, 16 disappeared from their homes in Austria in April. At first it was believed that the young girls had also gone to fight in the conflict in Syria. However, it was later discovered the girls were not in Syria, but most likely in Turkey. School friends confirmed the girls had become radicalized after attending a local mosque in Vienna. Police believe that whoever helped them leave the country is manipulating their social media accounts to “turn them into pin-up girls for the call to join the civil war.”

Perhaps they were the inspiration for British twin girls, aged 16 that left their Manchester homes to travel to Syria to become jihadi brides. The girls, Salma and Zahra Halane, were among the top twenty students at their school. It is believed they may have followed their older brother who joined ISIS. The family, originally from Somalia have said they are “absolutely devastated.” It is believed the two girls and their older brother may have been radicalized over Internet forums.

Earlier this month, around 100 Muslim leaders from different Islamic theological backgrounds launched an appeal to young would-be British jihadists: “Don’t’ travel to fight in Syria and Iraq.” This call came as claims emerged that as many as three Al Qaeda instructors tutored by a master bomb-maker are believed to have gone to Syria to teach British and other Western jihadists how to make “stealth bombs.”

Frank Gaffney from the Center for Security Policy said, “What they learn there are the skill sets to bring the violence to us.”

Prayer Points:

Pray that radical terrorist teachings in mosques and through the Internet will be discovered and stopped by the authorities and appropriate leaders.

For Muslim families with children who are leaning toward becoming radicalized, ask God to intervene and give the parents His wisdom and strength in dealing with their particular situation in their family – stopping the flow of these young people into a life of jihad.

In many Western nations, the Muslim population is rapidly increasing yet they are not integrating into the Western society. Pray that Western Christians will not be fearful or allow the threat of terrorism to keep them from reaching out to Muslims in their nation and in their local community. Pray they will realize that Muslims are not the enemy, they are treasured by God and are His prize. Ask God to stir their hearts and reveal His unconditional love for them.

Women, The West, and Sharia Law

2014 Ramadan Prayer Day 22The Law Society represents solicitors in England and Wales. In the United Kingdom, a solicitor is a lawyer who generally advises clients and prepares legal documents. The Society has written a guide on Sharia inheritance laws for use in the British legal system, and also conducted a seminar in June called, “Developing Services for Muslim Clients – An Introduction to Islamic Rules For Small Firms.”

The seminar covered inheritance laws, Islamic finance, marriage, divorce, and child custody issues. Sharia or Islamic law discriminates against women in several of these areas. For instance, when adjudicating a case dealing with inheritance laws, under sharia law male heirs receive twice the amount inherited by a female heir (Qur’an 4:11). Non-Muslims are not allowed to inherit anything from a Muslim and only Muslim marriages are recognized. Children born outside of an Islamic marriage cannot inherit anything.

The Sharia law position regarding child custody says that the children go to the mother until the age of 7, but thereafter they are returned to the father. The best interest of the child, which is the usual consideration in Western courts, is not taken into account.

Polygamy is allowed within sharia law with men marrying up to four women, however women cannot marry more than one man (Qur’an 4:3). Under sharia law a wife has no right to divorce her husband without his permission, although a man may divorce his wife for any reason. The Qur’an also states that if a husband divorces his wife, he cannot remarry her until after she has married another husband and he has divorced her (Qur’an 2:230).Discrimination Shoe

As one participant in the seminar noted, “By promoting these services for Muslims in England and Wales, they are offering the prospect for Muslims to live according to a different set of rules than other people.” There are now at least 85 sharia courts in the United Kingdom operating from mosques. They are used to settle financial and family disputes according to Islamic law.

The Australian reported in 2011, that sharia law had become a shadow legal system within the nation by endorsing polygamous and underage marriages that are outlawed by Australian law.

Several states in the U.S. have passed laws against the use of sharia law in American courts. Critics have argued that sharia is not considered in cases in the U.S., however an assessment of state appellate court cases have shown that sharia has been considered in many cases across the United States, and in at least 15 trial court cases and 12 appellate cases, judges made decisions based on sharia law even when the decisions conflicted the U.S. law.

Prayer Points:

The multiculturalist movement in the West has convinced many politicians and lawmakers that sharia law is simply religious law that Muslims observe. Pray that lawmakers will awaken to the fact that sharia law is in conflict with Western laws that consider men and women equal.

Jihad Watch reported about a talk show on Egyptian television where an Islamic cleric compared the teachings of Islam to the teachings of Christianity in regards to women. He said, “the Christian religion does not differentiate between women and men, but it confirms their perfect equality: it gives them an equal share in inheritance, it bans divorce, and it bans polygamy. ….Now, if my son hears such things while he’s in school, he’ll come home and say to me, ‘Father, why do you have many wives? You are unjust – unlike Christianity which is full of justice!’” Pray that Muslim sons and daughters will hear the teachings of Christianity and realize that sharia law is unjust.

Many Westerners believe Christians and Muslims worship the same God. Some even have a fascination of Islam and are drawn toward it. Ask God to reveal the stark differences between Christianity and Islam, disclose the bondage of living under sharia law and draw them to a relationship and fellowship with the living Christ.

Islamic Casualties

2014 Ramadan Prayer Day 21Terrorism is once again in the headlines as news spread after a missile downed a Malaysian Airlines jet, killing all of the 298 people on board. In this particular case experts believe those responsible are most likely Pro-Russian separatists.

However, acts and threats of terror attacks happen almost daily. The website, The Religion of Peace has been keeping a record of Islamic attacks around the world since 9-11-2001. Since that date, the website has documented 23,418 attacks by Islamists.

The following chart shows the number of people killed or injured in attacks since January 1, 2010. These attacks range from acts of terror involving multiple casualties to acts of honor violence.

Islamic Casualties from 1-2010 to 7-2014
Country/Territory Killed Injured
Iraq 18,072 40,688
Nigeria 8,948 6,284
Pakistan 8,887 14,779
Afghanistan 6,061 8,398
Syria 5,200 6,091
Yemen 2,473 2,451
Somalia 1,836 3,124
Thailand 1,151 2,085
Egypt 508 2,270
Kenya 421 1,001
Dagestan 391 631
Lebanon 366 2,459
India 354 759
Philippines 329 735
Algeria 266 348
Russia 215 671
Libya 175 334
China 169 446
Sudan 164 219
Central African Republic 136 84
Iran 122 176
Bangladesh 102 934
Uganda 80 66
Mali 69 86
Turkey 64 111
Ingushetia 62 125
Indonesia 57 372
Israel 57 250
Democratic Republic of the Congo 55 33
Chechnya 49 106
Tunisia 42 68
Tajikistan 40 56
Ethiopia 35 68
South Sudan 28 54
Myanmar 28 12
Kazakhstan 21 3
Palestinian Authority 20 48
United States 19 272
Morocco 17 23
Saudi Arabia 16 35
Cameroon 16 16
Jordan 15 56
South Africa 14 0
Brazil 12 20
Tanzania 9 77
Bahrain 9 14
France 8 35
Bulgaria 7 31
Belgium 5 3
Malaysia 5 3
Macedonia 5 0
Germany 4 40
Liberia 4 23
Kosovo 4 12
Oman 4 0
United Kingdom 3 7
Azerbaijan 3 3
Georgia 3 0
Turkmenistan 3 0
Italy 2 2
Somalia 2 2
Sweden 2 2
Mexico 2 0
Switzerland 2 0
Ukraine 2 0
Djibouti 1 15
Bosnia 1 7
Abkhazia 1 2
Maldives 1 2
Sir Lanka 1 2
Canada 1 1
Ghana 1 0
Kuwait 1 0
Mauritania 1 0
Netherlands 1 0
Ghana 1 0
Senegal 0 24
Norway 0 6
Total 57,261 97,160

Because Islamic violence and terrorism have become somewhat commonplace in our world today, many of us have become desensitized to the news of yet another act of violence or terror attack unless it involves a large group of people at once like the bombing at the Boston Marathon.

In the past three days, there have been 85 people killed in six separate attacks by Islamic terrorists in Iraq, Tunisia and Nigeria. Statistically 35 people a day have died in attacks by Islamists since January of 2010, many of whom are Christians. Although most attacks have occurred in nations such as Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Syria, and Yemen, there are 78 nations plus Palestine that have experienced acts of terror since 2010. Although as Westerners we typically think of acts of Islamic terrorism as being directed against non-Muslims, the vast majority of those killed and injured in Islamic acts of terror are actually Muslim.

Prayer Points:

Authorities have stopped countless terror attacks, and many attacks have simply failed due to the grace and love of God. Thank God for His protection, His wisdom for law enforcement officers, and for raising up intercessors whose prayers have often been instrumental in helping thwart terror attempts.

As we see from this list, there are nations who are experiencing consistent attacks on a daily basis. Remember the families of those who have been killed or injured by acts of terrorism and pray that God will minister His love, comfort and peace to their hearts.

The majority of Muslims do not want to have anything to do with terrorism and because of the violence in their religion they are turning away. Pray for them – that God will soften and prepare their hearts for truth. Ask the Lord to send Christians to them who can become a friend and reveal the love that Jesus Christ has for them.


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