Arab Support for Hamas in the Israeli-Hamas Conflict Waning

2014 Ramadan Prayer Day 20The current conflict between the nation of Israel and the terrorist group, Hamas in the Gaza Strip has sparked criticism of Hamas in Arab media. The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) reports, “Arab media voiced sharp and extensive criticism of the Hamas leadership’s handling of the crisis. …Media in Saudi Arabia and in Al-Sisi’s Egypt…accused Hamas of taking unreasonable and irresponsible steps, of trading in the blood of the people of Gaza, and of exposing them to inevitable attacks.”

Following a call by Hamas’ political bureau head for the Egyptian army to aid Hamas in Gaza, many Egyptian columnists responded with anger. One questioned why the bureau head was not joining the fight himself and urged him to “Leave Doha’s [Qatar] hotels, which you have enjoyed, and go down into the trenches and fight…we are tired of defending the [Palestinian] cause that you have sold for cheap to a Muslim Brotherhood gang.”

Another columnist, Dr. Nagla Al-Sayyid criticized Hamas saying that it was trading in the blood of Palestinians while using the financial aid it receives to promote political and ideological interests rather than giving the money to those in need. “All the Hamas leaders are doing – as they sit securely in their hiding places while leaving the people of Gaza alone under the fire of the Israeli shelling – is collecting donations in order to use them in the service of their ideas.” Dr. Al-Sayyid continues by calling Hamas a failed movement.

Mahmoud Sultan, a pro-Muslim Brotherhood editor of a daily Egyptian newspaper criticized Hamas for not caring for their own people. Another Egyptian writer compared Hamas to Hitler saying that Hamas has done more damage to the Palestinian people than Israel has.Newspaper Rack at Souk

The Saudi Arabian editor of a London-based Saudi daily also claimed that Hamas was trading in the blood of its own people. “Nobody [in Hamas] is asking if the loss of [Palestinian] life if justified.” Another Saudi warned his readers to not be fooled by Hamas’ tactics. “The same sights are repeating themselves in Gaza once again: an abduction followed by mutual rocket fire, which triggers an Israeli invasion of Gaza. The result is always dozens of dead and hundreds wounded from among the weak Palestinians, and minimal damage on the Israeli side… While the poor, defenseless people …stand exposed to rockets and tanks, the jihadi and Brotherhood leaderships flee to the fortified holes they prepared for themselves.” He also points out that much of the leadership of Hamas are living outside of Gaza and tells his readers to “Beware of them!”

Hamas describes itself as one of the wings of the Muslim Brotherhood. The toppling of the Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt seems to have helped open the eyes of Muslims in the region to the tactics of Hamas in Gaza.

Prayer Points:

Each of these journalists still would like to see a separate Palestinian state, and they still support Palestine over Israel. However, we thank God that eyes are beginning to be open to the tactics of Hamas and these journalists have been courageous to speak out against them.

In Isaiah 56:6-7 and 62:6-7 God spoke prophetically through Isaiah that He would raise up intercessors for Israel – and we see this today in the nations of the world. Continue to pray that Christians will see the current situation through the Lord’s eyes and have the understanding to make His proclamations and declarations that will cause a shift in what is happening in this critical time, releasing the will and glory of God and bringing peace in the midst of it.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently stated:

“Israel targets Hamas terrorists and not innocent civilians. By contrast, Hamas targets Israeli civilians while hiding behind Palestinian civilians. Hamas, therefore, bears full responsibility for any harm that comes to Israeli and Palestinian civilians alike. We are determined to give our citizens the safety and security they deserve.”

Pray that God will protect the innocent people in Gaza and that the nations in the world will recognize when Hamas is using their people as “human shields”.  Just as these Arab journalists are courageous, pray for the media in the nations to also be courageous, recognize what is happening through the eyes of truth – and report about Israel and Hamas with honesty and accuracy.

The Blessing of Having a Voice

2014 Ramadan Prayer Day 19Most of you who are participating in the Ramadan prayer series this year receive the articles each day either through email or through a social media site such as Facebook. In Western nations, social media is considered an effective way to voice opinions and share with friends. Facebook reportedly has 1.23 billion users; Twitter has 500 million users, and Instagram (a photo sharing site) has 150 million active users. Most of us are used to sharing through one or more of these platforms; in fact Pew Research Center’s Internet Project reveals that 73% of online adults use some type of social networking site.

In many Muslim nations that same freedom is non-existent. The Independent reported that eight unidentified social media activists in Iran have been sentenced to a total of 127 years in prison after being found guilty of using the Internet to insult Iran’s leaders, spread anti-government propaganda, and undermine national security.

In Saudi Arabia, Raif Badawi was charged with apostasy after he began a website to allow users to discuss religion. Part of the evidence used against him at his trial was that he pressed the “like” button on a Facebook page for Arab Christians. He eventually was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes. He can still appeal, but now the lawyer who represented him in the case is also in prison.

Women in Saudi Arabia used blogging and social media in an effort to gain the right to drive. In October 2013, there was a campaign calling for Saudi women to defy the ban and drive on October 26. The government’s response was to block the campaign’s website. One of Saudi Arabia’s top clerics announced that women who drive risked damaging their ovaries and could have children with “clinical problems of varying degrees.” Interior ministry employees contacted the leaders of the campaign individually and told them not to drive, however despite the contact and a heavy police presence on the 26th, there were still 12 YouTube videos that were posted of women driving.

The Stealthy Freedoms of Iranian Women Facebook page encouraged Iranian women to share photos of themselves with uncovered heads. The My Stealthy FreedomFacebook page has over 573,000 likes, with thousands of women submitting their photos. In response the Iranian government has tried to smear Masih Alinejad’s reputation. Iranian state television reported that three men in a London subway raped Masih after she took drugs and undressed herself in public. In response, Masih filmed a YouTube video of herself standing with her head uncovered in the subway station singing a song.

Social media is a threat to Muslim government and authorities that adhere to a strict sharia (Islamic) law code. Prior to the advent of social media, citizens did not have an uncensored platform to express their opinions or even discuss religion. We in the West are blessed to have multiple platforms to have a voice, and we must continue to contend through prayer forothers to share in the blessing.

Prayer Points:

Be grateful and thank God that we can “like” Facebook pages without fear of punishment. Our freedom to speak what is in our heart is becoming fragile in many nations and we must contend to maintain this right.

It is very important for Westerners to be aware that oftentimes “hate speech” laws are simply a stealth method to take away our freedom of speech. Pray that citizens in these nations will recognize simple ways that our rights are diminishing and speak out. Influence leaders who make decisions about speech and laws that hinder what we are permitted to say and urge them to maintain a strong stand for freedom of speech. Above all, be faithful to pray about the situation.

Thank God for Muslim women who are bravely speaking up to be treated equally. Pray for their protection and encourage them in showing your support. Click “Like” on their Facebook pages and help spread their message for individual freedom.

Pausing for Perspective

2014 Ramadan Prayer Day 18Our prayer series this year is called, “Contending for the Captives.” Contend in modern English means “to struggle in opposition, to strive in debate, dispute earnestly.” Captive simply means “a prisoner or slave.” Yet when we look at the meanings of these two words in the Bible, there is a depth that modern English does not convey.

Jude 1:3 says, “Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people.” The word, “contend” is from the Greek verb, epagónizomai meaning, “to contend …i.e. with skill and commitment in opposing whatever is not of faith (God’s persuasion).”

In Luke 4:18 Jesus declares, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.” The word, “captives” in this verse is aichmalótos. The origins are from aichmé (a spear) and haliskomai (to be taken, conquered).

Putting the two together our series this year encourages you to, “contend with skill and commitment in opposing whatever is not of faith on behalf of those taken by the spear.” How appropriate when you consider that Muhammad took portions of Christianity along with other religions and pagan traditions and created Islam. Teaching that Christianity had been corrupted, Muhammad’s message is an example of the fulfillment of Jude 1:4, “certain men…deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.”

In addition, as his religious message was rejected, Muhammad’s new message evolved from primarily a religious one toLuke 4-18 Prison more of a political and militaristic one. In the first 13 years of Islam, the religion averaged only 11 to 12 converts a year, but after Muhammad’s message evolved to a violent, militaristic one, Islam averaged 1,000 new followers each year for the remaining years of Muhammad’s life. It is a religion that has truly taken captives by use of the sword. In fact, throughout the 1400-year history of Islam, it is estimated that 270,000,000 non-Muslims have been killed through jihad as Islam has increased its influence.

Perhaps what is most tragic regarding Islam is the number of innocent people, both Muslim and non-Muslim, who are negatively and sometimes tragically impacted by the system of Islam. It is also for those victims – it is for the captives that we contend.

Jesus proclaimed, “The thief comes not, but to steal, and to kill and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).

It can be difficult to read about practices such as stoning, female genital mutilation, sodomy of young boys, forced marriages and other human rights abuses that go on around the world. It takes Christians with the heart of God for the Muslim people to intercede for them despite the evil practices that are committed in the name of the “religion of peace”. When it comes to contending for the captives of Islam, each of us needs to hear from heaven – to know what Father is saying, and then proclaim His will be done in each situation.

There is an expression that says, “Don’t be so heavenly minded that you are no earthly good.” Yet, we must be so heavenly minded that we are earthly good! The world and the captives need Christians to be a relevant majority once again.

Prayer Points:

It is so important to remember that Christ died for each of the 1.6 billion Muslims in the world. He loves them with an everlasting love.

As you have read the articles throughout the series, ask God to reveal anything in your heart that is not pleasing to Him. Ask Him also to continually help each of us to separate the system of Islam from loving the people of Islam. Our prayers will prevail in their lives – releasing them from the captivity of the system to the love and heart of God.

Stoning to Protect Honor

2014 Ramadan Prayer Day 17In May, Farzana Parveen and her husband, Mohammad Iqbal walked toward the court in Lahore, Pakistan to contest a court case filed by her family against her husband. As she and her husband walked up to the court, they were met by nearly twenty of her family members including her father and brothers. The family fired shots into the air and tried to snatch her away from her husband, but when she resisted her father, brothers and other relatives began beating her. Eventually they used bricks from a nearby construction site to stone her to death.

Her father confessed to the murder, telling a police investigator, “I killed my daughter as she had insulted all of our family by marrying a man without our consent, and I have no regret over it.” Her father, two brothers, a cousin, and a man who claimed he had been married to Parveen were indicted on charges of murder and torture.

The public nature and the brutality of the stoning in front of the court was shocking even to Pakistanis, although honor killings are not rare in the nation. The Human Right Commission of Pakistan said that 869 women were murdered in honor killings in 2013.

There is not a present day Qur’anic verse that advocates stoning, however there are multiple passages in the hadith that advocate the practice especially as a punishment for committing adultery. “The Jew brought to the Prophet a man and a woman from amongst them who have committed (adultery) illegal sexual intercourse. He ordered both of them to be stoned (to death)” (Bukhari 2:23:413).

Stoning is a penalty that some modern nations practicing sharia law do enforce. It has been written into the penal code of Iran since the Islamic Preparation for Stoning in IranRevolution in 1979. According to Amnesty International the Iranian penal code states that men should be buried up to their waists and women up to their breasts to execute them by stoning. The practice of burying someone up to their chest when stoning them is also found in the hadith. “We took him out, dug a pit for him and put him in it. We then threw stones at him until he died” (Abu Dawud 38:4421) and “The Prophet (peace be upon him) had a woman stoned and a pit was dug up to her breasts” Abu Dawud 38:4426).

The Iranian penal code also dictates that the stones used in a stoning should, “not be large enough to kill the person by one or two strikes – nor should they be so small that they could not be defined as stones.”

Stoning has been used as punishment under sharia law in predominantly Muslim nations including Iraq, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen and Pakistan. It has also been practiced in some states of Nigeria and in Aceh in Indonesia. The Sultan of Brunei’s recent decision to implement sharia law may also include stoning as a punishment unless protests against the implementation of the strict code are successful.

Prayer and international pressure does make a difference. For instance, in 2012, Layla Ibrahim Issa, a 23-year-old Sudanese woman was sentenced to death by stoning. After international pressure, the Court of Appeals in Khartoum dropped the stoning sentence and changed the charge against her from adultery to “egregious acts.” They also determined that she had already spent enough time in prison so she was released.

Prayer Points:

According to Amnesty International, women are more likely to be punished by stoning than men. Stoning is more predominant in nations where the majority of the population of women is illiterate, and therefore they are vulnerable to signing confessions of crimes they did not commit. Ask God to provide advocates for them who are literate and have the legal knowledge to advise women accused of crimes – so they do not confess to something out of fear or misunderstanding.

The manner of stoning today is a barbaric practice. Pray for a worldwide public outcry against this kind of punishment.

Families in honor-based societies are taught to believe that the only way their honor can be restored is by murder. Pray that God will change their hearts and that they can begin to understand that there is no such thing as honor in murder of the individual; rather there is honor in forgiveness.

The Dancing Boys

2014 Ramadan Prayer Day 16The practice of bacha bazi or “boy play” is destroying the lives of young boys in Afghanistan. Jamel, a “bacha bereesh” or “boy without a beard,” says, “We are not happy with this line of work. …We say that it would be better if God could just kill us rather than living like this.”

At age 20, Jamel continues to dance even though the powerful warlord that once owned him has left Afghanistan. He dances to provide for his younger siblings. In a CNN interview he said, “I make them study, dress them, feed them. Any money I make I spend on my family. I don’t want them to be like this, be like me.”

Jamel’s friend and dance partner, Farhad was forced into bacha bazi when he was only 13. An older neighbor tricked him into coming into his home. Once there he was forced to watch a sex tape and then raped. Following the rape he was moved to another location, locked up, and used as a sex slave for five months. He stayed with his abuser, because he said he got used to him. Although it is likely that Farhad stayed with his rapist because in a shame based society such as Afghanistan, the victims are often persecuted and punished rather than the criminals.

A documentary about bacha bazi called “The Dancing Boys of Afghanistan” was aired in the U.K, and U.S. in 2010. In the film Afghan journalist Najibullah Quraishi went undercover to expose the practice. To learn about the illegal, but popular practice, he met with men that owned dancing boys and some of the dancers.

Quraishi met a bacha bazi pimp, known as “The German” as he was searching for a boy in a park. He recruits and supplies boys to some of the powerful men in the region. “Some boys are no good for dancing, but they can be used for other purposes,” the German said. When asked for what other purposes, he replied, “for sodomy and other sexual activities.”Bachi Bazi Photo

A 14-year-old boy, Nemat seemed upset as Quraishi interviewed him. The boy explained, “I’m afraid of those who will beat or kill me. My life is completely ruined.” Abdullah, another dancing boy revealed the danger the boys face, “If they stray, they get killed. Sometimes fighting happens among the men who own the boys. If you don’t please them, they beat you, and people get killed.”

Hafiz, a 15-year-old dancing boy that Quraishi saw at a party as he began research for the film the previous year, was considered one of the most sought after dancing boys in the region. Hafiz’s master, a warlord and drug baron had mistreated him so his brother Javad helped him escape. As soon as he escaped, he was threatened. Javad described the situation, “They terrified him and warned him that if he didn’t return, they would kill him. A few days before the incident, someone told me that two guys who hang with my brother had a deceitful plan. …The plan was to do something awful to him.”

Javad warned Hafiz, but he was caught alone and murdered. Javad explained, “One of the men, named Ahmadullah, was a policeman. He supplied the gun to kill my brother. …He brought the gun from the police station.” Ahmadullah was convicted of the murder and sentenced to 16 years in prison, however he was released within a few months. It is believed Hafiz’s former owner paid off the authorities.

Thankfully the producers of the documentary were able to help rescue a young boy that was recruited during the filming named Shafiq, and return him to his family. In order to protect the boy, they relocated the family to another region of Afghanistan and helped them financially so Shafiq can go to school. The boy wants to become a doctor. He said, “I want to be able to help other boys to improve their futures.”

Prayer Points:

Thank God for the rescue and protection of Shafiq who was returned to his family. Pray that this evil in Afghanistan will be exposed and many other boys will be rescued from the abuse and protected from further exploitation.

Pray that young men like Jamel and Farhad will find another way to support themselves and their families. The CNN report described them by saying they “look and act more like women than men, a trait that can be deadly in Afghanistan’s male-dominated society.”

As difficult as it is to read about the life of these young boys, it is so important that we pray for those that are still trapped in this violent lifestyle. God has created them for His purposes. In Jer. 29:11 they are told, “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Declare His goodness and mercy is overtaking their lives. May the love of Jesus Christ be revealed to them, delivering them from all evil.

Bacha Bazi

2014 Ramadan Prayer Day 15Most Westerners have seen the photos of Afghani women, completely covered with their burkas, but probably have not considered what it is like to live in such a strict Islamic culture. Mohammad Daud, an Afghani mechanic, has rarely seen the faces of women. In fact, the 29 year old believes he may have seen only about 200 faces of women in his lifetime. Most of those were family members. The rest were glimpses he has caught of women without their face-shrouding burkas.

“Daud is unmarried and has sex only with men and boys. But he does not consider himself homosexual, at least not in the Western sense. ‘I like boys, but I like girls better,’ he says. ‘It’s just that we can’t see the women to see if they are beautiful. But we can see the boys, and so we can tell which of them is beautiful.’”

The segregation and treatment of women in the strict Islamic society makes them unapproachable. Women are portrayed as being unclean and therefore undesirable. As an example, a 2009 Human Terrain Team report by the U.S. Army titled “Pashtun Sexuality” recounted the team’s encounter with an Afghan man seeking advice on how his wife could become pregnant. He approached a U.S. Army medic stationed in a rural area of the Kandahar province. After the medic explained to him what was necessary, he replied, “How could one feel desire to be with a woman, who God has made unclean, when one could be with a man, who is clean? Surely this must be wrong.”

"How could one feel desire to be with a woman, who God has made unclean, when one could be with a man, who is clean? Surely this must be wrong." - Afghan Man
“How could one feel desire to be with a woman, who God has made unclean, when one could be with a man, who is clean? Surely this must be wrong.” – Afghan Man

Men across Afghanistan and especially in the more heavily Pashtun areas of the country interpret the Islamic prohibition on homosexuality to mean they cannot “love” another man. They do not consider themselves homosexuals because they use men for sexual gratification. As a result there is a commonly accepted notion among Afghanistan’s Pashtun male population that “women are for children, and boys are for pleasure.”

PBS’s Frontline and the BBC’s The Documentary have both presented eye-opening reports about the “Dancing Boys of Afghanistan” also known as bacha bazi. The practice of bacha bazi or “boy play” is sexual companionship between powerful men and adolescent boys. The practice was banned under the Taliban, however after the fall of the Taliban it has become more rampant. Young boys from poor families are groomed for sexual relationships with older men. In some cases poor families will provide a son to a warlord or government official in order to gain family prestige and monetary compensation.

These boys often are made to dress in women’s clothing, wear makeup and dance for parties of men. Oftentimes following the parties the boys are then expected to engage in sexual acts with the men that attended the party.

The practice is against the law in Afghanistan, however some estimates say that as many as 50% of men in the Pashtun areas of the nation participate in the practice. This means a significant portion of government, police and military officials also engage in the practice.

Daud claims to have had relations with different boys for varying lengths of time ranging from one month to six years. He does not believe his relationships with the boys are bad for them, because he buys them things. He still contends he would eventually like to marry a woman, but he explains, “I’m just waiting to see her.”

Prayer Points:

Many of those who purchase a boy were actually abused when they were young and are now continuing the cycle. Pray for the international community – that this will be exposed and there will be a public outcry for the abuse of these young boys.

The demeaning treatment of women and the idea that women are unclean contributes to the abuse of these young boys. Pray that eyes will be opened, restrictions on women’s dress will be lightened and men will be convicted by the Lord that they are abusing these children.

Ask God to intervene, raise awareness and bring this cycle of abuse to an end. II Cor. 3:17 declares . . .”where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom”.  Proclaim that the victory of Christ is being released in the lives of these men and boys, delivering them from the deception of this evil practice. Declare that the love of Christ is bringing them to freedom from this generational bondage in their culture.

Apostasy Laws

2014 Ramadan Prayer Day 14

Twenty-seven countries consider leaving the religion of Islam or apostasy from Islam illegal. The penalties for apostasy vary, but many nations do have provisions to invoke the death penalty, because of their adherence to Islamic sharia law. The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain published an extensive report called the Political and Legal Status of Apostates in Islam which lists the nations and the penalties for apostasy.

Although the actual constitutions of some of these nations do not prescribe the death penalty for apostates from Islam, many of their constitutions are based on Islamic sharia law which means the nation can put an apostate to death based on sharia law rather than the nation’s laws. Different practices and punishments are carried out between countries and even within the same nation depending on the region.


Nation  Penalty
Afghanistan Death (by adherence to Sharia law)
Algeria Apostasy is not a criminal offence, however in 2009 religious leaders declared that apostasy is subject to capital punishment.
Bahrain Death (by adherence to Sharia law)
Bangladesh Death (by adherence to Sharia law)
Brunei Death (by adherence to Sharia law)
Comoros Death (by adherence to Sharia law)
Egypt Not forbidden by state, however Islam is the official state religion and Sharia law the primary source of legislation
Indonesia Death (by adherence to Sharia law)
Iran Death (by adherence to Sharia law and Penal Code draft)
Iraq Death (by adherence to Sharia law)
Jordan Apostasy is not a criminal offense, however the government does not allow conversion from Islam. In cases decided by an Islamic law court, marriages have been annulled; custody of children has been taken away; individuals have lost their property rights, etc.
Kuwait Death (by adherence to Sharia law)
Libya Legal status currently unknown (interim government)
Malaysia Up to 5 years imprisonment, and/or death
Maldives Death (by adherence to Sharia law)
Mauritania Forced repentance, followed by death by adherence to sharia law
Morocco Death (by adherence to Sharia law)
Nigeria Death (by regional adherence to sharia law)
Oman Not a criminal offense, but apostates are stripped of familial status and rights
Pakistan Death (by adherence to Sharia law)
Qatar Death (by adherence to Sharia law)
Saudi Arabia Death (by adherence to Sharia law)
Somalia Death (by adherence to Sharia law)
Sudan Imprisonment or death
Syria Stripped of legal status and/or death
Tunisia Legal status currently unknown (interim government)
Turkey Not a criminal offense
UAE Death (by adherence to Sharia law)
Yemen Forced repentance, followed by death

Prayer Points:

If we live in a nation where there is religious freedom we do not have to fear for our lives when we worship God. With a grateful heart – thank Him for this freedom. Pray that we will never take this blessing for granted.

Many nations have groups who try to gradually take away our freedom of religion. Ask the Lord to expose their attempts, reveal their strategies, and cause those in authority to resist their tactics.

Pray for a shift in world agencies such as the UN to refrain from supporting regimes that do not allow for religious freedom in their nation.

Ex-Muslims in each of these nations will most often face severe persecution for leaving Islam. Ask God to watch over them, keep them in safety. Pray they will become grounded and established in His Word and His ways.


2014 Ramadan Prayer Day 13Muslim apologists often quote “there is no compulsion in religion” (Qur’an 2:256) to argue that Islam does not punish those who may abandon their Islamic religion. Quoting tolerant verses such as this is a tactic that is often used, but the apologists fail to reveal that the tolerant verses were written in the early days of Islam while Muhammad was trying to garner support through peaceful means. It is the verses Muhammad received later that are crucial since the later verses have abrogated (annulled) the earlier verses.

This becomes especially important for those in the West when we look at the number of Westerners who converted to Islam, but then changed their minds. The New Statesman reports that over 100,000 people in Britain converted to Islam between 2001-2011, but up to 75% of them have since become apostates – leaving the religion. Many of those that have left Islam are women who married a Muslim, but later divorced. This puts not only the women themselves in danger since they are apostates, but it also jeopardizes any children from the marriage. Islam considers children of an Islamic father to be Muslim regardless of whether or not they are raised in a Muslim home. The arrest of Mariam Ibrahim in Sudan is a good example. Her Muslim father’s family believes she is an apostate from Islam because her father was a Muslim – even though her Christian mother raised her as a Christian.

Yusuf al-Qaradawi is one of the most influential Sunni Islamic clerics in the world. He is the chairman of the International Union of Muslim Scholars and the European Council for Fatwa and Research. He hosts a weekly television program called Sharia and Life that is broadcast on Al Jazeera to an estimated audience of 60 million, and he is also the chief religious scholar for IslamOnline, a popular website containing a wide range of Islamic topics ranging from news to fatwas (religious rulings on matters of Islamic law). He is also considered the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood. His opinions on topics are embraced by millions of Muslims around the world.

Yusuf al-Qaradawi Apostasy Screenshot
Yusuf al-Qaradawi

In an interview, al-Qaradawi admitted, “If they had gotten rid of the apostasy punishment, Islam wouldn’t exist today… Surah 5:33 says, ‘The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His apostle…is that they should be murdered or crucified.’ According to Abi Kulaba’s narration, the verse means the apostates. And many hadiths, not only one or two, but many, narrated by a number of Muhammad’s companions state that any apostate should be killed.”

Perhaps the best evidence that killing apostates from Islam is still held by many Muslims can be found in the fact that 27 countries consider apostasy from Islam illegal and a prosecutable offence. The punishments vary from fines, imprisonment, flogging to the death penalty in 11 of the 27 nations.

Apostasy laws are the ultimate form of control over the Muslim people. Islam imprisons its adherents and eradicates its rivals.

Prayer Points:

Pray that citizens in nations that are democratic in nature and allow many freedoms will value their liberty and thank Almighty God for His incredible blessings.

Jesus came to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and to set the oppressed free. People who are unable to leave a religion are not free – pray for God’s discernment and declare His freedom to those who are captives of Islam. In addition, pray for protection for those that have left the religion of Islam.

Pray that Western governments and the United Nations will expose the nations involved in religious oppression. Ask God to reveal to them to reconsider giving financial support to nations that do not allow basic human rights such as the freedom to choose your religion.

Leaving Islam

2014 Ramadan Prayer Day 12Amal Farah has not spoken to her family since 2005 after she told them she was leaving the Islamic faith. She believes if she still lived in her native Somalia, rather than in Britain, she might actually be dead for leaving Islam. She shared her story with The Telegraph for the first time after reading about Mariam Ibrahim, the Sudanese woman that remains trapped in Sudan after being released from prison for refusing to renounce her Christian faith.

Amal’s father was a high-ranking general in the Somali army and very secular. A landmine killed him when Amal was only three years old. After the death of her father, Amal says her mother became more religious. “We were all Muslims, of course, but the older I got the more I was told to pray, to wear conservative clothes and so on. …I disliked being told what to do, like being forced to wear the hijab. I dreamt of having control over my own life.”

This loss of control became quite tangible when her mother prepared her to be circumcised. She says, “I was really scared, and she was talking about how it was religious purification – an essential rite. I asked if there was anything I could do to change her mind, and she said no. I think that’s when I realized that I hated this feeling of powerlessness.”

Amal began to question her faith even more as she attended a British university. “I met atheists, staunch Christians, Jews, Hindus – they challenged me about my views, and I about theirs. It was an incredible sensation to be able to ask questions, and discuss ideas without fear, without looking over my shoulder. I had been in a cocoon- unquestioning, with everyone told they had to think the same way.”

She read different translations of the Qur’an and listened to tapes of imams from other nations such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt, but ultimately she made the decision that Islam was not for her. Her mother was heartbroken with her decision and told her that she was going to hell. Amal describes her mother as feeling guilty that had daughter had left Islam, and also as “very, very angry.”Apostasy in Reliance of the Traveller

Her mother believed exposing her daughter to “corrupt Western ways” had cause her to abandon Islam, and she moved with the rest of her family back to Somalia in order to ensure that her other children remained Muslim.

Prayer Points

The experience of many young women in Islam is similar to the life of Amal – as a Muslim, they are disenchanted with the control over their lives. Pray that many young Muslims will find themselves in a position of safety where they are able to ask questions and explore their faith without fear.

Ask God to equip Christian students on college campuses to understand the fundamental differences between Christianity and Islam that will enable them to have encouraging and truthful conversations with other students.

Oftentimes Muslims who leave the Islamic faith have a distorted view of God and it is difficult for them to be open to the Christian faith. Pray that the Lord will divinely connect the Christians with Muslims who are open to truth, empowering the Christians to stand strong in their faith and share the gospel without compromise.

Over 1400 Years of Hate

2014 Ramadan Prayer Day 11Muhammad is considered the perfect example for Muslims to follow. The Qur’an states over 90 times that Muhammad’s life – his words and actions are to be the pattern for humanity.

In Islam, the term “People of the Book” refers to Christians and Jews. They consider portions of the Bible as divine guidance, but they believe it has been corrupted. They emphasize that Muslims, Christians and Jews are brothers in the Abrahamic faith, however in order to be brothers, Christians and Jews must believe in an Islamic view of their own scriptures.

Because Islam has a dualistic nature there are verses that speak positively about Christians and Jews, but there are also verses written later that call for Muslims to make war on Christians and Jews. In Islam the verses that Muhammad received later in his revelations abrogate or rescind the previous verses.

When Muhammad began to supposedly receive his “revelations” in Mecca, the revelations came through the angel, Gabriel – an angel from Jewish scriptures. Therefore Muhammad considered himself in the lineage of Jewish prophets.

When Muhammad moved to Medina, the city was half Jewish. Muhammad saw himself as a reformer of Judaism, however Muhammad had most likely picked up bits and pieces of Jewish scriptures on the trade routes in ancient Arabia so the Jews were able to easily point out World Religionssome of the contradictions in Muhammad’s revelations and their scriptures. The rabbis in Medina, quite correctly, did not accept him as a Jewish prophet. Because the Jews refused to accept Muhammad, he developed a hatred for the Jews and eliminated most of them either by death, enslavement or expulsion.

The Qur’an retells many of the stories of Moses, Noah, Adam and other characters in Jewish scriptures, but they are twisted to show that all people who deny any of the prophets of Islam are ultimately destroyed. Therefore anyone that denied Muhammad, as a prophet of Allah should be destroyed.

The early Qur’an accepts Christians and Jews, “Those who believe and those who are Christians and Jews and Sabians, whoever believes in Allah and Judgment Day shall have their reward with the Lord” (Quran 2:62). But the later Qur’an states, “Make war on those who have received the Scriptures [Jews and Christians] but do not believe in Allah or in the Last Day. They do not forbid what Allah and His Messenger have forbidden. The Christians and Jews do not follow the religion of truth until they submit and pay the poll tax [jizya] and they are humiliated” (Qur’an 9:29).

Certainly not all Muslims wish to see the Jews and Christians destroyed, but the “People of the Book” can trace the root of the hatred against them to the rejection of Muhammad’s teachings, which were contrary to Jewish and Christian scriptures.

Prayer Points:

Pray that Muslims and non-Muslims will both begin to question a religion whose scriptures encourage hatred and the destruction of people of other religions.

Because Muslims believe Allah gave the Bible and man corrupted it, they believe most of it is abrogated (annulled) and that the Qur’an and the Hadith are the only books that are now “pure”. Fortunately in 2014 most Muslims can download a Bible from the Internet in their native language. Ask the Lord to draw them to Himself and give them an insatiable hunger to read the words of Jesus in their own language.

Muslims who have read the Bible are so touched with the sincerity and love of Jesus in our scriptures. Many, however, are afraid to read it believing Allah has cursed it. Pray that Muslims will have discernment and the courage to read the Bible and discover the truths that are contained in it.