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Ramadan 2013 – Day 20 – Christians – An Endangered Species

2013 Ramadan PrayerOmar M. Ahmad, former leader of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) was quoted in 1998 as saying, “Islam isn’t in America to be equal to any other faith, but to become dominant. The Koran, the Muslim book of scripture, should be the highest authority in America and Islam the only accepted religion on Earth.” He has since claimed that he never made the statement, however the reporter and editor that first published the story continue to be quite certain that he did.

Regardless, simply by an examination of the trilogy of Islamic texts and an observation of the history of the Middle East, it is clear this idea of Islamic supremacy exists and has thus far triumphed. Nowhere can this be seen more clearly than with the Christian population of the Middle East.

During the last nine years of Muhammad’s life, he and his followers averaged one act of violence every six weeks. Immediately after Muhammad’s death in 632, the first major conquest of Islam occurred in Arabia. These were known as the “Ridda Wars” or Wars of Apostasy. According to historical accounts, tens of thousands of Arabs were attacked and forced to re-submit to Islam. After conquering Arabia, Islam conquered Syria, Egypt, Mesopotamia and the Persian Empire. All of North Africa, Spain, central Asia and India were all brought under Islamic control by the early 8th century. Overall Islam murdered over 60 million Christians since Islam began its conquest of the non-Muslim world.

The incredible growth of the Islamic world eventually slowed, and in 1856 the Ottomans (leaders of the Islamic caliphate), under pressure from European powers issued a decree that said non-Muslims should be treated equally and given the freedom to worship.

In 1924, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk abolished the Islamic caliphate and brought in reforms to modernize Turkey including giving women the right to vote, adopting the Western (Gregorian) calendar rather than the Islamic calendar, and requiring the Islamic call to prayer and public readings of the Qur’an to be done in Turkish rather than Arabic.

Following the abolishment of the caliphate, the non-Muslim world experienced a time of relative peace until fundamental Islamists began to gain power and reassert themselves beginning at an accelerated pace in the 1970s.

The result of this acceleration is a disappearance of Christianity in the Middle East. In 1900, twenty percent of the Middle East was Christian.  Today, it is estimated that less than 2% of the region is Christian. The number of Christians currently under assault range from 100 to 200 million, and forty-two of the top fifty countries persecuting Christians either have a Muslim majority or a sizeable Muslim population.

In Islamic nations such as Saudi Arabia, a strict sharia adherent nation, converting to a religion other than Islam is punishable by death. Prior to the war in Syria, Christians lived peacefully in the nation, but in a civil war that has claimed more than 93,000 lives, rebel forces often made up of foreign radical Islamists have killed thousands and forced tens of thousands of Christians to flee. The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom said, “The flight of Christians out of the region is unprecedented and it’s increasing year by year…Christians might disappear altogether from Iraq, Afghanistan and Egypt.”

Paul Marshall of the Hudson Institute estimates that if religious discrimination is included as part of the persecution of Christians, there are 600 to 700 million Christians. Persecution can range from a loss of life to a loss of livelihood. Secular media outlets in the western world for the most part completely ignore persecution of Christians in part because they fail to perceive the religious root of much of the persecution.

Prayer Points:

Pray for a shift and an awakening for agencies such as the United Nations to not support regimes and nations that are guilty of religious persecution.

Evidence shows that with civil wars and persecution of Christians, 150,000 to 160,000 are martyred every year. Pray for the protection of the persecuted church and imprisoned believers around the world.

Ask God to enlighten Christian leaders and cause them to unite and insist upon action by western governments to stop the slaughter of Christians around the world.

Ramadan 2013 – Day 19 – Sunni, Shiite and the Many Sects of Islam

2013 Ramadan PrayerAlthough Islam divides the world into two parts Dar-al-Islam (the world ruled by Islam) and Dar-al-Harb (the world ruled by non-Muslims), many westerners do not realize that Islam itself is divided into different sects.

Muhammad did not leave any instructions as to who should lead his followers after his death, which eventually led to a split within the group of early followers. The Shia Muslims, making up approximately 10% of the Islamic world, believed only Muhammad’s direct descendants could succeed him, and acknowledge Ali as the first successor to Muhammad. In addition there are sects of Shia Islam such as the Twelvers and Ismalilis.

The Sunni Muslims (approximately 85% of the Islamic world) acknowledged Abu Bakr, Muhammad’s father-in-law and friend as the first caliph (leader). They believed the first four caliphs were the true successors of Muhammad. Wars and disagreements between Sunni and Shiite Muslims have continued since the split of the two groups.

Islam expanded its empire across Persia, Egypt, and North Africa during its first century of existence. Because of the wealth Muslims acquired through their conquests, many Muslims lived a life of ease. Some within the Islamic community began to protest against the secularization of Islam and actually began to wear clothes made up of coarse cloth much like that of Christian monks. The cloth was called “suf”, and these Muslims became known as Sufis. The Sufis sought an experience with Allah, and Sufism emphasizes personal experience with the divine rather than focusing on the teachings of human religious scholars.

Other groups emerged from Islam throughout the centuries including the Baha’i Movement – which in now not recognizable as Islam. The Ahmadiyya Movement, an Islamic reformist movement was founded near the end of the 19th century. Followers believe Ghulam Ahmad, their founder was sent in the likeness of Jesus to end wars and divest Islam of fanatical beliefs. India has a significant Ahmadiyya population. Fundamental Islamic groups however have declared the Ahmadiyya as kafirs (unbelievers).

The Nation of Islam had its roots in the African American community of the United States in the 1930s, and is more of a cult of Islamic teachings than an actual sect. Followers of the Nation of Islam were taught that Black Americans had “adopted” Christianity, the religion of their slave masters and that their true religion was Islam.

Some members of the Nation of Islam followed reformer W.D. Muhammed as he integrated the Nation of Islam teachings into an orthodox community of Sunni Muslims. This group came to be known as the American Muslim Mission.

In the Islamic hadith, there is a statement that says, “My Ummah will be divided into seventy three sects. All of them will be in the Fire except one. “ (Saheeh Muslim, no. 976). In actuality, it is estimated that there could be 150 sects of Islam.

Prayer Points:

As Christian believers we recognize that all sects of Islam need a revelation of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, as their Savior. Pray for these sects, that laborers will be sent to them to share the truth of the gospel.

The vast majority of citizens in western nations believe that Christians and Muslims worship the same God.  Pray for the church and our leadership – that they will recognize the great differences between the two religions and have a heart to pray for them and witness by sharing the love of Christ.

Ask God to continue to visit all sects of Islam throughout the nations with dreams and visions!

Ramadan 2013 – Day 18 – Muhammad’s Concept of Adoption

2013 Ramadan PrayerIn the 1990s the phrase, “What would Jesus do?” abbreviated to WWJD became popular among evangelical Christians in the United States. The acronym was printed on bracelets and t-shirts, as a reminder that Christians should act in the same way that Jesus did.  If a similar acronym were developed for Islam, it would be “WDMD” meaning “What DID Muhammad do?” The Qur’an repeatedly says that Muhammad is the perfect Muslim so in order to practice Islam correctly a Muslim should imitate Muhammad.

It is easy to see this when looking at the issue of adoption. In pre-Islamic Arabia adoptions were similar to western adoptions with children taking on the name of the adoptive parents and receiving an inheritance from them.  However Muhammad rejected this procedure so the western concept of adoption does not exist in Islam. Instead there is a system more akin to a foster care relationship in the west, called “kafala.” In western adoptions the child becomes a full member of the family taking on the name of the adoptive family. In Islam the child retains his biological name.

Zayd bin Hâritha (Zayd, son of Hâritha) was captured in an inter-tribal raid and sold into slavery. Upon arrival in Mecca he became a slave for Khadijah (Muhammad’s first wife.). She then gave him as a present to Muhammad when they were married. Zayd’s biological father and uncle later found him in Mecca, and wanted to buy him out of slavery. Zayd confirmed to Muhammad that the men were his father and uncle, and they offered to pay any price to Muhammad in order to free the boy. However, Muhammad offered Zayd a choice to leave with them or stay with him.

Zayd chose to stay with Muhammad so Muhammad freed him and adopted him as a son. His name became Zayd bin Muhammad (Zayd, son of Muhammad), and he was one of the first converts to Islam.

Years later Muhammad and his followers migrated to Medina. Zayd was married to a woman named Zainab and eventually divorced her.  Later during a trance, Muhammad stated that he received revelation that Allah wedded Zainab to Muhammad in heaven.

Muhammad married her, but this caused a problem for him since in their culture it was considered wrong to marry your son’s wife. Muhammad then stated he received new revelation from Allah, which said Allah did not make your adopted sons your real sons. (Sura 33:4). From this point forward an adopted son was no longer considered a full part of the family. Muhammad continued to say that Allah gave him permission to marry Zayd’s ex-wife (Sura 33:37). Zayd’s name once again became Zayd bin Hâritha.

This is how the concept of adoption was established in Islam. Since Muhammad received the revelation that adopted sons are not real sons, even in the West today Muslims are unable to fully adopt children.

Prayer Points:

In Islam, Muslims are discouraged from questioning anything within their religious texts. Pray that modern Muslims will begin to see that there is little freedom or choice within Islam.

As Christians, we are fully adopted as children of God and co-heirs with Jesus Christ. Pray that the Holy Spirit will reveal to Muslims that through Jesus, they too can be fully accepted into God’s family.

Ramadan 2013 – Day 17 – Sharia Exploits Compassion

2013 Ramadan PrayerIn February, Spanish Justice Minister Alberto Ruiz-Gallardon announced Spain would agree to demands of the Moroccan government that children adopted from Morocco by Spanish families must remain culturally and religiously Muslim. The concession to the Moroccan government was made in order to end a freeze on the adoption process.

The Feminine Solidarity Association based in Casablanca reports an average of 24 children are abandoned every day throughout the nation of Morocco. This high rate of child abandonment is thought to be due to Moroccan law that imprisons anyone found guilty of having sexual relations outside of marriage. It is also estimated that only 10% of children growing up in Moroccan orphanages become productive members of society. Sadly 10% of the orphans end up committing suicide and 80% become delinquents.

In 2011, the year before the Islamist government implemented the freeze, 254 Moroccan children were entrusted to Spanish families.  Almost 60 families were assigned children but were unable to bring the children to Spain because of the freeze. Some of these families moved to Morocco in an attempt to adopt the children, and in approximately a dozen cases the Spaniards converted to Islam to try and obtain custody of the children.

The agreement obligates the Spanish government to establish a system to allow Moroccan religious authorities the ability to monitor the children in Spain until they reach adulthood and to make sure they have not converted to Christianity. The requirement conflicts with Article 16 of the Spanish Constitution, which protects religion.

This also means Spanish parents would be unable to fully adopt the children, because they would be forced to comply with sharia law which prohibits adoption. Adoption does not exist in Sharia compliant nations. Instead there is a system called, “kafala.”

Kafala comes from a word that means, “to feed,” and can be traced back to Muhammad and his adopted son. The system for orphans in Islam is more of a foster parent relationship than an adoption.  According to kafala the “adopted” child must keep the name of his or her own biological family and does not change their name to match that of the adoptive family. The child’s inheritance comes from his or her biological family not automatically from the adoptive parents. Once the child becomes an adult, he or she could marry members of the adoptive family because they are never considered a blood relative. It also means the rules of modesty would exist between the grown child and the adoptive family members of the opposite sex. For instance, a female from the adoptive family would have to be covered in the presence of an “adopted brother” and could never be left alone with him.

In what is reported as being in the interest of “cultural pluralism,” the French Civil code gives kafala precedence over French law in all cases of Muslim children born outside of France. A French citizen challenged the law when she was prohibited from adopting an Algerian child who had been abandoned at birth, but lost the case. The European Court of Human Rights said the ruling was in compliance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child that calls the kafala an “alternative care” equal to adoption.

In an attempt to save innocent children Spain and France have all heedlessly allowed Islamic Sharia law become part of their legal code.

Prayer Points:

For orphan children around the world, pray the words of Psalm 10:14: “But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted; you consider their grief and take it in hand. The victims commit themselves to you; you are the helper of the fatherless.”

There are many couples and families that yearn to reach out with love to these children who have been abandoned and bring them into their homes. Pray that God will raise up leaders who recognize the life-giving potential of the love of a family.

Pray that leaders of western governments will recognize the subtle nature of sharia law in situations like this, and rather than bowing their knee to the demand of the Islamists, become advocates demanding the Islamist governments stop using innocent children as pawns in a power struggle.

Ramadan 2013 – Day 16 – Forced Marriages

2013 Ramadan PrayerA video of an 11-year-old Yemeni girl and her escape from a forced marriage has gone viral since being posted by MEMRI (Middle East Media Research Institute). The Internet video posted on July 21, 2013 has received nearly 6 million views and brings the issue of forced marriage to the attention of people across the world. Most often forced marriages are between young girls and much older men.

Although most frequently occurring in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, forced marriages of child brides can be found throughout the world. According to Plan UK, 14 million girls under the age of 18 marry each year that means that there are 38,461 marriages of girls under the age of 18 every day.

In Niger, Chad and Mali the rate of early or forced marriage is greater than 70% of all marriages. Countries in Europe with the highest rate of forced marriage are Georgia (17% of marriages), Turkey (14%), and Ukraine (10%). In Britain and France at least 10% of adolescents marry before the age of 18. The Tahirih Justice Center in the United States discovered that there have been over 3,000 forced marriages in the U.S. in the past two years. In Australia, figures released from 2011 revealed that more than 200 17-year-old girls were granted “prospective spouse visas” to enter the country with hundreds more 18, 19 and 20 year-olds. The majority of the teenagers were from the Middle East or Southeast Asia.

The reasons for forced marriages in western nations vary. In some cases parents may force their daughters to marry to keep them from becoming too “westernized” or for family honor or to gain economic security. Tahirih explains, “Whatever the rationale, the result may subject the woman or girl to severe and sustained harm, including domestic abuse, marital rape, and other forms of violence. It is important to note that child marriages are not limited to members of the Islamic faith, however Muslim men following the way of Muhammad can justify marrying children. “

In many Muslim traditions, Muhammad’s wife, Aisha is described as his most beloved wife. The Hadith (Bukhari 58:234 and Muslim 8:3309) describes Muhammad becoming engaged to Aisha when she was only six years old and consummating the marriage when she was nine. A prominent Muslim cleric in Saudi Arabia issued a fatwa in 2011 “asserting that there is no minimum age for marriage, and that girls can be married ‘even if they are in the cradle.’”

Two Yemeni girls have died due to marriage at such a young age. A 13-year-old-girl died five days after her wedding after she suffered a rupture in her sex organs and bled to death, and another 12-year-old child died during childbirth. This practice whether due to religious or cultural practices is an abuse of the basic human rights of children.

Prayer Points:

Pray that the international community will speak out loud and clear regarding young girls being forced into marriage and possible abuse when they are too young to understand what is taking place or too young to take on this responsibility.

When parents are taught in their culture that child marriage is acceptable, ask God to open their eyes to the truth that this will most likely be frightening and harmful to the young girls.

Pray for strong Christian marriages to be an example to other cultures and religions of God’s plan for a husband to have one wife and to live in an atmosphere of love and mutual respect – rather than a subservient relationship based on fear.

Ramadan 2013 – Day 15 – Ramadan Entertainment – Incitement to Hatred

2013 Ramadan PrayerJust as Christians may enjoy special holiday television shows during the Christmas season, Middle Eastern television produces specials for Muslim families during Ramadan. This year’s family entertainment includes a mini-series called Khaibar produced by a Qatari company. The series refers to the Muslim conquest of the Jews in the Khaibar in 628AD.

MEMRI (Middle East Media Research Institute) revealed a trailer for the series consisting of interviews with several of the actors that gives a sense of the tone of the mini-series. When describing the events the series was portraying, one actor said, “He [Muhammad] allowed them [the Jews] to live there as citizens and extended his hand in cooperation but this was met by treachery and conspiracies. The only language they understood was the language of force.”

Khaibar was a strategic victory for Muhammad. The village was a fertile oasis in the Arabian Desert populated by Jews. When Muhammad conquered the village, the Jewish population living there negotiated surrender. Under the conditions of the surrender the land now belonged to the Muslims, but the Jews could remain and work the land and continue to practice their faith as long as they paid 50% of their harvest to the Muslims. This set the precedent for dhimmitude (lower status) and paying the jizya (protection tax).

The protection of the Jews in Khaibar only lasted about 12 years. In 640AD Umar, the second Muslim caliph (ruler) cleansed the entire region of non-Muslims in order to fulfill Muhammad’s dying wish that “two religions shall not remain together in the peninsula of the Arabs.”

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) monitors media in the Middle East. The group reports Ramadan television specials are “rife with anti-Semitic themes and expressions of hatred for Israel.” Anti-Semitism is a common theme in Muslim media, but the amount increases during Ramadan when there is an increased audience. ADL director, Abe Foxman sums up the goal of shows like Khaibar, “The uprisings in the Arab and Muslim world have revealed a hunger among much of the Middle East for democracy, accountability and the development of effective civil and pluralistic society…Khaibar and other productions of its ilk represent the old detrimental approach of promoting Muslim societal unity through focusing hatred on Jews and Israel.”

Prayer Points:

Arabs and Muslims are seeking freedom; pray that they will see that true freedom only comes through the cross of Jesus Christ.

Many churches across the West do not realize the root of anti-Semitism in the Middle East began when Jewish tribes in Medina rejected Muhammad’s message. Pray their eyes will be open to truth.

Pray that the love of God will be so overwhelming for Muslims across the world that any hatred they may feel toward Israel or the Jewish people will simply melt away.

Ramadan 2013 – Day 14 – Is Some of the Food We Eat Blessed by Allah?

2013 Ramadan PrayerA British cafeteria worker lost her job after an “unintentional error” of serving non-halal food to Muslim students at the Moseley School in Birmingham. Despite having children of multiple faiths at the school, all 1,400 students are served halal meat only regardless of their religion.

Last year a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant in South Africa was forced to rehire a worker that was fired for bringing a non-halal meal, consisting of uphuthu and bean curry to work for his lunch. The group that owns several restaurants in the franchise around South Africa had a policy that restricted employees from bringing food to work because they follow Islamic laws.

McDonald’s Restaurant in Dearborn, Michigan has now stopped serving halal items after settling a $700,000 class action lawsuit that was brought against the company alleging the company had served a non-halal chicken sandwich to a Muslim customer. Halal chicken had been served to Muslim customers since 2005.

Many prisons, universities, restaurants, and American retailers such as Costco offer halal products. The website, Zabihah lists restaurant and grocery chains that have one or more outlets that serve halal food or products in several nations including the U.S., the U.K, Canada, France, Germany, New Zealand, and Australia.

Halal is an Arabic word meaning “lawful” or “permissible.” In Islam the term is used to designate items seen as permissible according to Islamic sharia law and covers not only food and drink but also all matters of daily life. The opposite of halal is “haram,” an Arabic word meaning “sinful” which refers to any act that is forbidden by Allah.

Food in Islam can be haram if it includes blood, alcohol, meat or any byproducts from a forbidden animal (pigs, birds of prey, carnivorous animals), and meat or any products of an animal that has not been slaughtered according to sharia law.

Halal Choices describes the ritualistic slaughter, “To be halal certified the animal must be facing Mecca, have its throat cut while still alive and then ritually sacrificed by a Muslim who recites a prayer dedicating the slaughter to Allah. Because the animals must be slaughtered alive, stun guns are often not an option as they can kill and animal before the heart pumps out all the blood.”

Halal certification is big business in western nations, and in order for a company’s food to be certified the companies must pay a fee to the Islamic certifying agency. Halal certification most often is related to meat products, however sometimes companies will have food certified as halal even if the designation is not necessary. For instance the Sydney Morning Herald reported in March that Cadbury chocolate Easter eggs had been certified as halal.

The article further revealed that western companies are being forced to pay for halal certification even if the product would already be considered halal. As an example, Capilano Honey when asked why their product was halal certified replied, “While we appreciate that honey is considered halal under Islamic law, it our customer’s requirement to provide halal certification in order for us to conduct business with them.”

Consumers in Australia can see a listing of halal certified products on a website called Halal Choices. In Australia, some of the international companies are listed are Heinz, Purina, Nestle, and Kelloggs. Similar listings are not available for other countries, however the Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America, a certifying agency has a current list that consumers in the United States can search of products this particular agency has certified. The listings do not include halal products that may be certified by another Islamic group.

Prayer Points:

Serving halal products to schoolchildren who are not Islamic is a form of dhimmitude. It places the halal food in a superior position to western food, and in order to be certified as halal, it is also economically supporting the religion of Islam. Pray that parents of children of other faiths will insist their children have a choice of the food they are served.

Pray that western companies are not forced to certify their products as halal in order to do business in their own nations.

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