Monday, March 8, 2010

No god but God...

I am reading a book that shares its title with part of the twofold profession of the Islamic faith, the shahadah, which says, "There is no god but God and Muhammad is God's messenger." Written by Reza Aslan, it is by far one the most enlightening books I have read on the Islamic faith, its origins, and its current state. It places Islam in term that most can understand, certainly anyone with any background in Church History. He claims, as I have long thought, how Islam is progressing in much the same manner that Christianity has. The struggle for any religion, especially one as mystical and prophetic as Islam or Christianity, to meet with Modernity is violent and bloody. I am amazed by the similarities, the shared stories, and the common growth patterns between the two religions. Both proselytizing religions, the tools and methods used throughout history to gain new members are almostly laughably the same.

The most striking observation (or rather instruction) I have come across yet, is that the "terrorist acts" committed by extremists (and we must remember that most Muslims are not extremists), are committed in portions of the world, which will not only goad the West into engaging with them in Jihad, but that will also, and more importantly, directly affect, through pain and death, those Muslims that are tempering their faith with Modernity. Christians saw much of the same intensity during through the Crusades and again during the Spanish inquisition, and the Protestant Reformation. I find it horrifyingly sad that those Muslims that are trying to bring their religion into their western lives, are meeting the painful and disgusting rebuke of those that should most understand them.

This idea is one I can so connect with, although I have never seen any rebuke as difficult as these eastern brothers. Although I have met those that disdainfully call the "The Catholic" or even those who try to convert me to Christianity, or oppositely those who believe I am not fully committed to the Catholic church, I have never worried that I would be physically harmed. There is still pain though in that moment when I see the horror in the eyes of someone opposite me wondering why I no longer love Jesus in a way they can understand. They feel immediately disconnected from me and from my religion, they question my faith and my commitment to Christ, and this breaks my heart. Not only because I am personally hurt that they could believe such of me, but also because my heart so desires the merging of my two worlds that my heart may find a place to be complete. I can only imagine what those Muslims now living outside of those areas in which their society is fully entrenched in their religion feel when they walk about. It must be something like leaving Bible College, where you know that every person with whom you speak shares at least the basics of your faith and the core of your value system, and going to a world where you are lucky to have one friend that also believes in Jesus, let alone a community of faith.
I want so now to embrace those that are working to bring their faith into a society that is trying to reject them. To say that I can see that we share common bonds, and that we should join in discourse over coffee and hookah to remember those men from whom we both spring, Abraham, Moses, Adam, God.

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