Bridge Building vs. Crossing the Bridge

Crossing vs Creating Bridge

Since 2012, Best Current News has produced a prayer series for Christians that corresponds to the Islamic month of Ramadan. We are certainly not the first or largest Christian group that produces a prayer guide for Ramadan, however our approach is unique. In addition to encouraging our readers to pray for Muslims, we often ask that our readers pray for their fellow Christians during this time. This year we are beginning by asking you to pray for your Christian brothers and sisters in your families, churches, neighborhoods and communities.

Because Islam is called one of the three “Abrahamic faiths” along with Judaism and Christianity, many Christians do not realize that the Abraham of the Bible is radically different from the Abraham in the Muslim faith and that Islam is radically different than Christianity. Sadly few in the western Christian church realize the differences between the teachings of Islam and Christianity, and surveys of Christians unveil this fact.

A report by the Pew Research Center revealed that 65% of Christians believe that many religions can lead to eternal life – breaking down the report further, 77% of Catholics, 82% of Mainline Protestants, and 47% of Evangelicals believe that at least one other religion (not denomination) can lead to eternal life. Interestingly, 56% of Muslims believe many religions can lead to eternal life.

Depending on which church you attend, there is a good chance that the majority of those sitting around you no longer believe Jesus’ words in John 14:6, “…I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Many of these Christians speak of “bridge building” as a way to find “common ground” between Islam and Christianity. However there is a problem when Christians begin to cross the bridge they have constructed. No one can cross a bridge without taking a step toward the middle and ultimately those steps lead Christians away from the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

So we ask as we begin this Ramadan season that you pray for your fellow Christians. Pray they may have an understanding of and most importantly an encounter with “THE TRUTH,” Jesus Christ the Son of God, and that as the eyes of the Church are open to Truth they will be bold and uncompromising in their witness to our Muslim neighbors.

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Love in the Qur’an

Please note that “love” in the Qur’an is quite different than the unconditional love of God in the Bible. Because the Qur’an says Allah loves not unbelievers, his love is only for good, righteous, just Muslims. Allah’s “love” is completely conditional on obedience to his laws even for Muslims.

 

BCN Love in Quran Ramadan 2017


Is Islam Monolithic?

2016 Ramadan GraphicMuslims and Western apologists often claim that Islam is misunderstood in the West. Articles listing myths about Islam are easily found on secular, Muslim and even Christian websites. In the next few days we will be examining a wide range of some common assumptions non-Muslims may have about Muslims and Islam to determine their accuracy.

Assumption: Islam is a monolithic religion in which people all practice and believe the same thing.

First it is important to understand that there is much diversity among the 1.6 billion followers of Islam. Often Westerners see Islam as a Middle Eastern religion, however the nation with the largest Muslim population is Indonesia with over 209 million Muslims. Indonesia is followed by India (176 million), Pakistan (167 million), Bangladesh (134 million) and Nigeria (77 million). Collectively these five nations contain 48% of the world’s Muslim population.

Just as there are many denominations within Christianity, there are different sects within Islam. The two major sects in Islam are Sunni and Shi’a. The split between the two sects occurred following Muhammad’s death over a dispute regarding his successor. 85% to 90% of Muslims are Sunni, and among Sunni Muslims there are four major schools of thought. Shi’a Muslims make up approximately 10% of all Muslims, and there are also sub-sets among Shi’a Muslims with three main schools of thought.

There are multiple branches from the main schools of thought of both Sunni and Shi’a Islam. In addition, there are Muslim sects that have formed in more recent history such as the Ahmadiyya Movement founded in India in 1889, and as Islam has spread throughout the world native folk beliefs and practices have also been incorporated in some regions. Folk Islam can include belief in traditional magic systems and ecstatic rituals along with the use of shrines and amulets. Sufism, a mystical form of Islam and a form of Sunni Islam is often integrated into folk Islam.

Islam_branches_and_schools.

Shi’a and Sunni Muslims use the same Qur’an, agree that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah and follow the five pillars of Islam. The main difference is that Sunni Muslims rely on the Sunnah (the teachings and sayings of Muhammad) to guide them while the Shi’as rely on their leaders to be their spiritual guides.

Just as Christians in different denominations may have vastly different beliefs, Muslims also vary in their beliefs. We must see Muslims as individuals created by God in His image in need of an encounter with Jesus, God’s Son.

Prayer Point:

Pray that you will see your Muslim neighbor, coworker or friend through God’s eyes, and then pray that he or she will have a divine encounter with God’s Son, Jesus.

 

Graphic  Attribution: By Angelpeream (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons


Why Pray for Muslims During Ramadan?

2016 Ramadan GraphicRamadan, the Islamic month of fasting begins today, June 6. Ramadan, translated as “scorching heat” or “dryness”, is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, which began in 622 AD. Muslims believe that it was during the month of Ramadan when Muhammad first began to receive his revelations so it is considered the holiest month in Islam.

During the month of Ramadan, most Muslims will observe a fast from sunup to sundown for each of the 29 to 30 days of the month. Muslims are to abstain from smoking, drinking, eating and sexual pleasure during the daylight hours. All Muslims are required to fast when they reach puberty as long as they are sane and have no illnesses such as diabetes. It is to be a time of spiritual reflection and increased devotion to Allah, and Muslims believe the rewards for fasting during this time are multiplied.

In addiction to fasting, “according to Islamic practice, sacrifice during Ramadan can be considered more valuable than that made at other times, so a call to martyrdom during the month may hold a special allure to some,” said a report by the US State Department led Overseas Security Advisory Council. Affirming the report, in an audio message released by the Islamic State, ISIS followers are urged to commit lone wolf terror attacks during the month of Ramadan.

“Ramadan, the month of conquest and jihad. Get prepared, be ready … to make it a month of calamity everywhere for the non-believers … especially for the fighters and supporters of the Caliphate in Europe and America.”

Last year during Ramadan, terror attacks occurred on three continents on the same day following a similar message by an Islamic State spokesman. On June 26, 2015, attacks occurred in France, Kuwait, Syria, Somalia and Tunisia killing 403 people and injuring 336.

It is currently estimated that there are 80,000 ISIS members worldwide with 36,000 foreign fighters recruited from 80 countries. Of the 36,000 foreign recruits, approximately 6,000 are Westerners. This past fall U.S. FBI Director James Comey warned that the FBI was investigating more than 900 ISIS suspects in all 50 states. CNN reports that in the past two years since the formation of the Islamic State, they have either conducted or inspired over 70 terrorist attacks in 20 nations killing at least 1,200 and injuring over 1,700. That number does not include attacks in Syria and Iraq.

When statistics and quotes such as these dominate Western news, it can be difficult to separate the Muslim people from the radical Islamist teachings that groups such as the Islamic State follow. In the natural the facts seem grim for the future of our world, Truth Trumps Factshowever TRUTH ALWAYS SUPERSEDES FACTS. What truth supersedes the grim facts? Jesus said, “I am the Truth.” HE supersedes the facts.

The natural, inferior reaction to facts is to be suspicious and fearful, but as Kingdom minded Christians we live in a superior realization. Christ attained the victory over sin and death…and terrorism, so as His children we walk in triumph because the victory is already won.

“Your ancestors have also been taught ‘Love your neighbors and hate the one who hates you.’ However, I say to you, love your enemy, bless the one who curses you, do something wonderful for the ones who hate you, and respond to the very ones who persecute you by praying for them. For that will reveal your identity as children of your heavenly Father. He is kind to all by bringing the sunrise to warm and rainfall to refresh whether a person does what is good or evil. What reward do you deserve if you only love the loveable? Don’t even the tax collectors do that? How are you any different from others if you limit your kindness only to your friends? Don’t even the ungodly do that? Since you are children of a perfect Father in heaven, you are to be perfect like him” (Matthew 5:43-48 The Passion Translation).

During the next 30 days ask God to give you His heart for the Muslim people. Today ask Him to reveal and cleanse anything in your heart toward Muslims that is not from Him. Then join us as we pray and declare what Heaven is saying each day during this time of heightened spiritual awareness for Muslims.


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.


Ramadan Prayer Day 28 – Business: “Congratulations U.S. Taxpayer – You Are the Proud Owner of Shariah Compliant Products”

The American International Group better known as AIG is a massive insurance company that was considered “too big to fail” during the 2008 U.S. Financial Crisis. The U.S. government decided that if AIG declared bankruptcy, it would trigger the bankruptcy of many other financial institutions that had conducted business with the insurance giant. Beginning in September of 2008, the U.S. Government used more than $180 billion of taxpayer money to buy 79.9 % of American International Group (AIG) preferred shares in order to keep the company afloat.

AIG is considered a world leader in promoting shariah compliant financial products. Shariah compliant financing follows the dictates of Islamic law. 2.5% of the assets of a shariah compliant financial instrument (insurance, mortgage, investments, etc.) must be donated as “zakat”. Islamic scholars, serving on the advisory boards of shariah compliant companies determine how to distribute this money including giving the money for jihad.

In December of 2008, The Thomas More Law Center (TMLC) filed a lawsuit against the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve Board. The lawsuit alleged that because the U.S. Government owned a majority portion of AIG, they were in violation of the First Amendment’s Establishment clause since shariah compliant products promote Islam over other religions.  The Establishment clause states, “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion.” The clause is typically interpreted to prohibit the establishment of a national religion and preference by the U.S. government of one religion over another.

The American Freedom Law Center reports additional information obtained during the discovery process for the lawsuit, which includes:

  • AIG has five wholly owned subsidiaries that promote and practice shariah.
  • The government places absolutely no controls on how its billions of taxpayer dollars are used by the shariah-compliant companies or to whom they support with their “zakat” (“charitable”) dollars.  Moreover, these companies all accept the mandate of shariah law to support jihad with zakat as long as they abide by the authoritative rulings of the world’s leading shariah authorities.
  • Over one billion taxpayer dollars have flowed through AIG’s headquarters into supporting AIG’s shariah businesses worldwide.
  • The Treasury Department has published, edited, and updated articles about shariah-compliant finance, which essentially promote Islamic law uncritically.
  • The Treasury Department has created and staffed a position called the Islamic Finance Scholar-in Residence.  No other religious law is so honored.
  • After the AIG bailout, in December, 2008 the Treasury Department co-sponsored a half-day conference called “Islamic Finance 101” for government policy makers, which was in effect a cheerleading program to promote shariah and shariah-compliant finance.

In January of 2011, a federal district court judge dismissed the constitutional challenge, and in June of 2012, the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled the taxpayer who first brought the suit lacked standing to challenge the government’s use of taxpayer funds. The decision will be appealed.

PRAYER FOR BUSINESS:

  • Pray the American taxpayers will awaken to the “creeping shariah” that is taking place in our large financial corporations.
  • The subject of shariah-compliant finance is complicated. Pray that there will be a simplistic way for this to be explained to the average taxpayer so they will have wisdom and understanding to not become involved.
  • Ask God to bring revelation to our government leaders of the dangers of shariah-compliant finance, especially when taxpayer funds are supporting this (as with AIG).

Ramadan Day 27 – Arts & Entertainment: “Appreciation or Proselytizing?”

Captain Paul Fields, a Tulsa, Oklahoma police captain who is described as an officer with a “stellar career” was stripped of his command, transferred to another division and suspended without pay for two weeks in 2011 because he refused to attend a “Law Enforcement Appreciation Day.”

The event hosted by the Islamic Society of Tulsa included mosque tours, watching the Friday prayer service, meeting local Muslims, and receiving presentations on Islamic beliefs. The event was originally voluntary to attend, but because few people signed up the Deputy Chief of Police made the event mandatory saying that each patrol division should send six officers and three supervisors to the event. At the time, Captain Fields was the shift commander for 26 officers and 5 supervisors.

Captain Fields, a Christian, refused orders to attend the event because he felt it violated his Christian beliefs. He also informed his superiors that he would not require officers under his command to attend “if they share similar religious convictions.” He wrote in a memo that he believed the order was illegal and said the police department had never before ordered officers to attend an Appreciation Day at a religious venue.

According to a motion filed in federal court on behalf of Captain Fields, “unlike many of these other ‘appreciation’ events, the Islamic Event was advertised as involving religious content and religious activities, including proselytizing…Plaintiff [Fields] who understands Islam and its ‘dawa’ mission (‘the call’ or ‘invitation’ ‘to Islam’), knew that this event would involve proselytizing that was contrary to his Christian faith.”

As for the Tulsa Police Department and city attorney, they claimed the Appreciation Day was a “community policing event.” Captain Fields is suing for damages related to “his suspension, loss of command, transfer to the graveyard shift and loss of a promotion for at least a year.”  The American Freedom Law Center filed a motion for summary judgment for Captain Fields on August 14, 2012, and the case is expected to go to trial in December.

PRAYER FOR ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT:

  • In western society, a “Day of Appreciation” would be considered a time to be appreciated and entertained, not a day of proselytizing. Pray that Muslims will understand the separation between Church and state that Americans hold dear.
  • Pray for Captain Paul Fields that through this event he will be a Godly witness to other members of the Tulsa Police Department and to members of the Islamic Society of Tulsa. He has stated that he does not have a problem with Muslims. He believes the mandatory requirement to attend the event by his employers violates his first amendment rights.
  • Ask God to vindicate Captain Fields by seeing him returned to his position on the police force and to receive restoration of all he has lost.
  • Pray that police officers across the United States will not be forced to compromise their spiritual beliefs in regard to their employment and have the freedom to live their faith without being reprimanded.