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Monday, May 2, 2016

Islam: Bringing out the facts

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Rev. Peter Whalen of Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, left, and Kent Lewis, pastor of Christ Lutheran Church, discuss their Lenten class on Islam.
(T-G PHoto by Mary Reeves) [Order this photo]
Islam is the second largest religion in the world -- and the fastest growing -- yet few Americans know anything about it.

That, according to the Rev. Peter Whalen of Episcopal Church of the Redeemer and pastor Kent Lewis of Christ Lutheran Church, could be a grave error, and the root of future misunderstanding.

Together, the two churches will be hosting a five-week class about the religion every Wednesday night during Lent except Ash Wednesday. The first class will be March 16, beginning at 7 p.m. at Church of the Redeemer.

Shared observances

"This goes back to when he (Lewis) first came to Shelbyville," said Whalen. "We got together and decided we wanted to do things together as churches."

Episcopalian and ELCA Lutheran churches share many of the same doctrines and Whalen and Lewis share Catholic -- and catholic -- backgrounds.

"We do the Easter vigil together, Fat Tuesday, and the Seder meal to commemorate Jesus' last supper," he said.

The ministers heard about a class in Islam being taught by the Rev. Jill Zook-Jones of Nashville.

"We thought this would be something good," said Whalen. "Islam is attracting people in both ways, good and bad."

A need for facts

He said while some people are drawn to join the religion, others react in anger, suspicion -- and ignorance.

"As long as we live in ignorance, we don't live very well," he said.

Lewis has been involved with the "Welcome to Shelbyville" film and has traveled to Washington, D.C, on several occasions to speak about the movie and the issue.

"It's raised my consciousness level and I've done a lot more reading up on it," he said. "As Peter said, there's an absolute need of knowledge."

Whalen said he spoke with another minister who had hosted the program.

"He said, 'Usually when you have a program, your attendance declines every week. We didn't lose a single person,'" said Whalen.

'Who are these people?'

Lewis said a large part of the misunderstandings Christians have about Islam stem from their concept of it as a singular religion. But, he said, like Christianity, there are many different sects within Islam, just as there are anywhere from 3,500 to 35,000 Christian sects.

"It's so complicated," said Lewis. "There are a lot of different Muslims. Historically, factually, Muslims have been a benign influence."

In fact, he added, during the Middle Ages, when the Jews were being persecuted, they were offered sanctuary in Baghdad -- not exactly something that would happen today.

"Things change historically," he said. "We need to know -- who are these people?"

Similar beliefs

That history, and the evolution of the religion, are some of the things that the program will discuss. Not only will Zook-Jones explore the differences within Islam, she will show the similarities between Islam, Christianity and Judaism, three major religions that all look back to Abraham as a beginning point..

There are about 5 million Muslims who call America home, she said, and some of them live in our neighborhoods, own stores we shop in, manage restaurants where we eat, and serve our society as doctors, lawyers and engineers.

"Unfortunately, there is another side to Islam around the world," she writes.

"Angry threats, terrorist attacks, and suicide bombings speak loudly in the name of Islam, creating fear and loathing in the minds of non-Muslims.

"How are we to understand these opposing expressions of Islam? And specifically, how are Christians to relate to Muslims?"

Building bridges

The class will begin by directly addressing the issue of "Islam: Violent or Peace-loving?"

"During the remaining weeks, we will look at the history, basic beliefs and practices of Islam," she stated,. "We will conclude with a discussion about how to build bridges to Muslims from the Gospel."

Lewis and Whalen both stress that this does not mean attempting to convert them. Building bridges can only be done when there is respect, said Lewis, and telling them they need to convert is being manipulative.

"It's about conversation, not conversion," he said.

'Live with love'

They hope that increased knowledge will lead to increased understanding, if not tolerance.

"You have to learn to get along with everybody," said Whalen. "It's easier to get along with fellow Christians, people you know. But the Gospel tells us to live with love towards everyone."

They realize there will be some negative backlash for all their efforts.

"When you try to love the Gospel, you're going to have persecution," said Whalen. "Goodness is always going to be harder, especially when it interrupts your comfort zone."

Zook-Jones will lead the programs, but Lewis and Whalen will be there, and each class will be followed by refreshments and a question and answer session.

For more information, call Church of the Redeemer at 684-5506 or Christ Lutheran at 684-0202.

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The problem I see with this is that it is one sided . . . where are the religious leaders of Islam and why are they not taking classes to better understand Christianity? It takes both sides to work together if one wants to achieve understanding and peace.

-- Posted by jaxspike on Wed, Feb 23, 2011, at 10:55 AM

I'm just curious as to why this article is open for comments? The blogs have all but died, there's nothing of any real interest posted anymore and most of the bloggers rarely post anything at all!

-- Posted by Disgusted on Wed, Feb 23, 2011, at 11:45 AM

I agree with jaxspike. Where are the leaders of Islam on this issue??

It seems to me that the Christians are always "reaching out" but the Muslims continue to BLAME Christianity for all that's wrong in the world today.

-- Posted by puppydinks on Wed, Feb 23, 2011, at 12:55 PM

Were those

Muslims that were in America when the Pilgrims

first landed? Funny, I thought they were

Native American Indians.

Were those

Muslims that celebrated the first Thanksgiving

day? Sorry again, those were Pilgrims and

Native American Indians.

Can you

show me one Muslim signature on the United

States Constitution?


of Independence ?

Bill of



think so.


Muslims fight for this country's freedom from

England ? No.


Muslims fight during the Civil War to free the

slaves in America ? No, they did

not. In fact, Muslims to this day are

still the largest traffickers in human

slavery. Your own half brother, a devout

Muslim, still advocates slavery himself, even

though Muslims of Arabic descent refer to black

Muslims as "pug nosed slaves." Says a lot

of what the Muslim world really thinks of your

family's "rich Islamic heritage," doesn't it Mr.


Where were

Muslims during the Civil Rights era of this

country? Not present.

There are

no pictures or media accounts of Muslims walking

side by side with Martin Luther King, Jr. or

helping to advance the cause of Civil


Where were

Muslims during this country's Woman's Suffrage

era? Again, not present. In fact,

devout Muslims demand that women are subservient

to men in the Islamic culture. So much so,

that often they are beaten for not wearing the

'hajib' or for talking to a man who is not a

direct family member or their husband.

Yep, the Muslims are all for women's rights,

aren't they?

Where were

Muslims during World War II? They were

aligned with Adolf Hitler. The Muslim

grand mufti, Mohammed al-Sistani, himself met with Adolf Hitler,

reviewed the troops and accepted support from

the Nazi's in killing Jews.

Finally, where were Muslims on Sept. 11th,

2001? If they weren't flying planes into

the World Trade Center , the Pentagon or a field

in Pennsylvania killing nearly 3,000 people on

our own soil, they were rejoicing in the Middle

East . No one can dispute the pictures

shown from all parts of the Muslim world

celebrating on CNN, Fox News, MSNBC and other

cable news networks that day.

To many Americans, their silence has meant approval

for the acts of that day.


Oh, I'm sorry, I

forgot to mention the Barbary Pirates.

They were Muslim.

And now we can

add November 5, 2009 - the slaughter of American

soldiers at Fort Hood by a Muslim major who is a

doctor and a psychiatrist who was supposed to be

counseling soldiers returning from battle in

Iraq and Afghanistan ..

-- Posted by puppydinks on Wed, Feb 23, 2011, at 3:21 PM

Normally, I am an easy going and let everyone be type of guy. On this issue though, I see a threat to our country like no threat has ever been presented. I say NO to the Muslims. I will give no quarter in my views. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see what they are doing to the world....same as they have for centuries.

I prefer NOT to be led to slaughter like a dumb sheep by their lies and distortions.

-- Posted by Flyncarpet on Wed, Feb 23, 2011, at 3:21 PM

Aside from the fact that all religions have extremists sects, yes that includes Christianity, absolutely nothing is wrong with people of open minds trying to understand cultures of such polar opposites. After all, what makes America the greatest country on Earth is the fact that we don't exclude those with different beliefs. We welcome them. Our Founding Fathers bemoaned forced religious beliefs and it is why a religious test is not required to become a citizen or to run for political office.

Bravo to these men, for being true leaders! It is one thing to throw stones at those you don't understand. It's quite another to learn the totality of something, from your own research, rather than spewing forth sound bites of negativity from the lack of your own research. Good job!

Leaders, form all faiths hold these type of meetings, all across the country. It is only fitting that in Bedford County, predominately Christian, that Christian leaders would be holding these meetings. In larger cities, such as Nashville, New York, Chicago, and Atlanta many Muslim leaders how the same type of gatherings for, not for the sake of conversion, but for simple conversation, just as these two are doing.

-- Posted by darrick_04 on Wed, Feb 23, 2011, at 8:54 PM

When Sharia Law becomes the law of the land, you will change your tune!!

I'll be ready...LOCK & LOAD!!!

-- Posted by puppydinks on Thu, Feb 24, 2011, at 11:47 AM

Following the attacks of 9/11, I had the opportunity to attend an open house at a local Mosque. The forum was supported and encouraged by religious leaders hoping to bring the community together to address the national tragedy we had all witnessed. There were many participants that day, people of faith from every recognized religion, all seeking answers to so many questions. We toured the Mosque, had lunch together and then exchanged ideas, opinions, and comments for the rest of the afternoon and into the evening. I came away with a new understanding of our differences and a heightened appreciation for our shared commonality.

I am not a 'Pollyanna' and fully recognize the strife that exists in this world, but I also recognize every religion has followers that do terrible things in the name of their God. They are the exception, not the rule. We must not respond to the horrific acts of misguided people in kind. As a Christian, I am commanded to love my neighbor -- no qualifiers- no litmus test; and as challenging as that may be at times, I must continue to try. Only through educating ourselves will we gain an understanding and respect for each other, despite our differences. Then and only then will we begin to experience a universal change in attitudes and actions.

Peace be with you.

-- Posted by shasha1680 on Thu, Feb 24, 2011, at 11:56 AM

Here are the top ten reasons why sharia or Islamic law is bad for all societies.

10. Islam commands that drinkers and gamblers should be whipped.

In 2001, Iranian officials sentenced three men to flogging not only for illicit sex (see reason no. nine), but also for drinking alcohol.

In 2005, in Nigeria a sharia court ordered that a drinker should be caned eighty strokes.

In 2005, in the Indonesian province of Aceh, fifteen men were caned in front of a mosque for gambling. This was done publicly so all could see and fear. Eleven others are scheduled to undergo the same penalty for gambling.

It is sometimes argued that Islamic countries are pure, whereas the West is decadent.

No one can argue with this latter claim, but are Islamic countries pure?

9. Islam allows husbands to hit their wives even if the husbands merely fear highhandedness in their wives.

The Quran says:

4:34 . . . If you fear highhandedness from your wives, remind them [of the teaching of God], then ignore them when you go to bed, then hit them. If they obey you, you have no right to act against them. God is most high and great. (MAS Abdel Haleem, the Qur'an, Oxford UP, 2004)

It is claimed that Islamic societies have fewer incidents of fornication and adultery because of strict laws or customs, for example, women wearing veils over their faces or keeping separate from men in social settings.

But these results of fewer incidents of sexual 'crimes' may have unanticipated negative effects in other areas, such as the oppression of women.

Generally, sharia restricts women's social mobility and rights, the more closely sharia is followed. For example, in conservative Saudi Arabia women are not allowed to drive cars. In Iran, the law oppresses women. For example, women's testimony counts half that of men, and far more women than men are stoned to death for adultery.


8. Islam allows an injured plaintiff to exact legal revenge--physical eye for physical eye.

In 2003, in Saudi Arabia a man had two teeth extracted under the law of retaliation.

In 2003, a court in Pakistan sentenced a man to be blinded by acid after he carried out a similar attack on his fianc�e.

In 2005, an Iranian court orders a man's eye to be removed for throwing acid on another man and blinding him in both eyes.

Islamic law calls all of humanity to march backwards 1,400 years BC and to re--impose the old law of retaliation--literally, and the evidence suggest that the Torah never intended the law to be carried out literally, as the supporting article demonstrates.

7. Islam commands that a male and female thief must have a hand cut off.

The Quran says:

5:38 Cut off the hands of thieves, whether they are male or female, as punishment for what they have done--a deterrent from God: God is almighty and wise. 39 But if anyone repents after his wrongdoing and makes amends, God will accept his repentance: God is most forgiving and merciful. (Haleem)

At first glance, verse 39 seems to accept repentance before the thief's hand is cut off. But the hadith states emphatically that repentance is acceptable only after mutilation. Muhammad himself says that even if his own daughter, Fatima, were to steal and then intercede that her hand should not be cut off, he would still have to cut it off (Bukhari, Punishments, no. 6788)

6. Islam commands that highway robbers should be crucified or mutilated.

In September 2003, Scotsman Sandy Mitchell faced crucifixion in Saudi Arabia. He was beaten and tortured until he confessed to a crime he did not commit: a bomb plot masterminded by the British embassy. The article says of this punishment that it is the worst kind of execution and that two have been carried out in the last twenty years.

In 2002 Amnesty International reports that even though Saudi Arabia ratified the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (Convention against Torture) in October 1997, amputation is prescribed under both Hudud (punishments) and Qisas (law of retaliation). AI has recorded thirty--three amputations and nine cross--amputations where the alternate hand or foot is mutilated.

5. Islam commands that homosexuals must be executed.

In February 1998, the Taliban, who once ruled in Afghanistan, ordered a stone wall to be pushed over three men convicted of sodomy. Their lives were to be spared if they survived for 30 minutes and were still alive when the stones were removed.

In its 1991 Constitution, in Articles 108--113, Iran adopted the punishment of execution for sodomy.

In April 2005, a Kuwaiti cleric says homosexuals should be thrown off a mountain or stoned to death.

On April 7, 2005, it was reported that Saudi Arabia sentenced more than 100 men to prison or flogging for 'gay conduct.'

These homosexuals were lucky. Early Islam would have executed them, as these hadith demonstrate.

4. Islam orders unmarried fornicators to be whipped and adulterers to be stoned to death.

The Quran says:

24:2 The fornicatress and the fornicator, flog each of them with a hundred stripes. Let not pity withhold you in their case, in a punishment prescribed by Allah, if you believe in Allah and the Last Day. And let a party of the believers witness their punishment. [This punishment is for unmarried persons guilty of the above crime (illegal sex), but if married persons commit it (illegal sex), the punishment is to stone them to death, according to Allah's law]. (Hilali and Khan).


In December 2004, Amnesty International reports:

An Iranian woman charged with adultery faces death by stoning in the next five days after her death sentence was upheld by the Supreme Court last month. Her unnamed co--defendant is at risk of imminent execution by hanging. Amnesty International members are now writing urgent appeals to the Iranian authorities, calling for the execution to be stopped.
She is to be buried up to her chest and stoned to death.

This gruesome hadith passage reports that a woman was buried up to her chest and stoned to death:

And when he had given command over her and she was put in a hole up to her breast, he ordered the people to stone her. Khalid b. al--Walid came forward with a stone which he threw at her head, and when the blood spurted on his face he cursed her . . . (Muslim no. 4206)

The Prophet prayed over her dead body and then buried her.

Truthfully, though, how effective was the prayer when Muhammad and his community murdered her in cold blood?

3. Islam orders death for Muslim and possible death for non--Muslim critics of Muhammad and the Quran and even sharia itself.

In 1989, Iran's Supreme Leader issued a fatwa (legal decree) to assassinate Salman Rushdie, a novelist, who wrote Satanic Verses, which includes questions about the angel Gabriel's role in inspiring the Quran. Now the extremists in the highest levels in Iran have recently renewed the fatwa.

In 2005, The Muslim Council of Victoria, Australia, brought a lawsuit against two pastors for holding a conference and posting articles critiquing Islam. Three Muslims attended the conference and felt offended. The two pastors have been convicted based on Australia's vilification law. While on trial, one of them wanted to read from the Quran on domestic violence (see 9, above), but the lawyer representing the Council would not allow it. The pastors are appealing their conviction.

2. Islam orders apostates to be killed.

In Iran an academic was condemned to death for criticizing clerical rule in Iran. The rulers assert that he was insulting Muhammad and Shi'ite laws. He was charged with apostasy.

Apostates are those who leave Islam, like Salman Rushdie (see the linked article in no. three, above), whether they become atheists or convert to another religion. They are supposed to be killed according to the Quran, the hadith, and later legal rulings.

See the previous point no. three for acts that entail leaving Islam according to Islamic law.

And the number one reason why sharia is bad for all societies . . .

1. Islam commands offensive and aggressive and unjust jihad.

Muhammad is foundational to Islam, and he set the genetic code for Islam, waging war. In the ten years that he lived in Medina from his Hijrah (Emigration) from Mecca in AD 622 to his death of a fever in AD 632, he either sent out or went out on seventy--four raids, expeditions, or full--scale wars. They range from small assassination hit squads to kill anyone who insulted him, to the Tabuk Crusades in late AD 630 against the Byzantine Christians. He had heard a rumor that an army was mobilizing to invade Arabia, but the rumor was false, so his 30,000 jihadists returned home, but not before imposing a jizya tax on northern Christians and Jews.

Money flowed into the Islamic treasury. So why would Muhammad get a revelation to dry up this money flow?

What are some of the legalized rules of jihad found in the Quran, hadith, and classical legal opinions?

(1) Women and children are enslaved. They can either be sold, or the Muslims may 'marry' the women, since their marriages are automatically annulled upon their capture.

(2) Jihadists may have sex with slave women. Ali, Muhammad's cousin and son--in--law, did this.

(3) Women and children must not be killed during war, unless this happens in a nighttime raid when visibility was low.

(4) Old men and monks could be killed.

(5) A captured enemy of war could be killed, enslaved, ransomed for money or an exchange, freely released, or beaten. One time Muhammad even tortured a citizen of the city of Khaybar in order to extract information about where the wealth of the city was hidden.

(6) Enemy men who converted could keep their property and small children. This law is so excessive that it amounts to forced conversion. Only the strongest of the strong could resist this coercion and remain a non--Muslim.

(7) Civilian property may be confiscated.

(8) Civilian homes may be destroyed.

(9) Civilian fruit trees may be destroyed.

(10) Pagan Arabs had to convert or die. This does not allow for the freedom of religion or conscience.

(11) People of the Book (Jews and Christians) had three options (Sura 9:29): fight and die; convert and pay a forced 'charity' or zakat tax; or keep their Biblical faith and pay a jizya or poll tax.

The last two options mean that money flows into the Islamic treasury, so why would Muhammad receive a revelation to dry up this money flow?

Thus, jihad is aggressive, coercive, and excessive, and Allah never revealed to Muhammad to stop these practices.

Therefore, Islam is violent--unjustly and aggressively.


Sharia ultimately degrades society and diminishes freedom.

-- Posted by puppydinks on Thu, Feb 24, 2011, at 12:36 PM

If all the above is fact ,then how do we stop Islam since we all have freedom of religion in America?

-- Posted by jdem on Thu, Feb 24, 2011, at 4:57 PM

Sadly, many believe that freedom of religion means, freedom to choose which of the 35,000 different Christian denominations to attend. The truth is, freedom of religion means every American citizen has the right, as bestowed upon as by the United States Constitution, Amendment 1, to practice whatever religion they choose.

This article isn't even about that, though, it is about how we can all learn from one another. Though, trying to have rational conversation with irrational people has proven difficult throughout history, regardless of their religious preferences.

-- Posted by darrick_04 on Thu, Feb 24, 2011, at 5:17 PM

You make a good point darrick, however, I don't think this country would tolerate Sharia Law, as it would make ALL of us SLAVES to Islam and to THEIR God - ALLAH!

Just remember, under Sharia, there is NO PREFERENCE! It's their way or no way!

Everyone I know, including myself, will be prepared!!

-- Posted by puppydinks on Fri, Feb 25, 2011, at 6:22 AM

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