If you think December in Virginia is cold, what do you think its like in the rest of those Atlantic coast states? Brrrr. It makes me shiver just to think about the icy winds and snow-bound earth where the Pilgrims landed in 1620-Massachusetts. We are reminded once again of that cruel winter in Virginia about which we read in our last article. This story is from Governor Bradford?s own account of the Pilgrims. Because of reading about the Pilgrims exploration of this frigid area I?m sure ...
ANYANG, South Korea, Sept. 2 (Yonhap) -- A pastor at the South Korean church whose volunteers were held hostage for six weeks by Afghanistan's Taliban said some of the captives were "severely beaten" by the insurgents when they refused to convert to Islam.
When I went to school that morning, I felt like I had rockets under my shoes. I walk all around and I just couldn't feel my feet. I could not help smiling. God's presence was everywhere. For some of my addictions, I sought help. My grades in school improved big time. My relationship with my parents and sibling also improved. I owe all of this to Jesus Christ who demonstrated His love by dying on the cross so that I don't have to pay the consequences for my sin.
I accidentally got a Kurdish Qur'an, translated by the famous Kurdish poet, Hajar. It was just as empty and dead and boring (with respect) as the English was. I finally made my decision that I would not read it again as there is nothing I could gain. It could not solve my problems.
One day, I was with my girlfriend at a bookstore. I bought a book that just made me curious. It was called Siddartha by German author, Herman Hesse. When I read that book, I started thinking about Buddhism since the book was based on Buddha's life. But I still felt like the answers weren't there and something was missing.
One day, I met a few people who told me about God's love and His mercy. It led to a lengthy discussion. When I was about to leave, I accepted a Bible and a tract. When I went home, I opened it and closed it, and then put it aside. When I woke up, it was 4:30 in the morning. Whenever I get up that early, I get headaches and I become dizzy, but this time, I felt like I had been up all night and I did not feel sick at all.
To my surprise and shock, the tract that I was given the day before was on my chest. Still hard-headed, I told myself that all of this time I have been running from God. I would try to just read the Bible this time and see what it really had to say. As I opened it, I saw a verse where it was written, "He who is in Christ is a new creation, the old has gone and the new has come." I thought to myself that all this time I have been looking for a new life and here it is being offered. I put my Bible down and went to the bathroom. I washed my face. I looked in the mirror and all of my disgusting life just felt like "an old thing". I could feel God's Holy Spirit. When I came back to my bedroom, the Holy Spirit just brought me to my knees and that morning at around 6 o'clock, I accepted Christ as my Savior.
I was born in eastern Kurdistan (Iran). My parents were nominal Muslims and I never really gave much thought to religion. At a very young age, I was sent to an Islamic school to learn the Qur'an but I dropped out after a few months and never went back. All of the washing and different times for prayers never made sense to me. Whenever there was talk about religion, I would just become sick in the stomach. I hated religion. I have always thought that it was something that enslaved people and that religious people were dumb.
Because of my dad's political activity and his troubles with the Iranian police, we had to leave our homeland. After a few years we settled in the west. Life became a hell. Discrimination was everywhere, not knowing what to do; I started hanging out with the wrong people. Without thinking twice, I started experimenting with drugs even though it was hard for me to get my hands on them. My friends and I would drink every Saturday night and watch pornographic films.
At one point, I just became sick of this kind of life and I was searching for a new life, for a way to escape all of these problems. As problems were mounting day by day, I started thinking of suicide, but I did not have the guts to do anything like that. When I told a Muslim friend of mine all of these problems, he suggested that I go with him to the mosque and so I did.
That night, when I left the mosque, I brought a copy of the Qur'an home with me. Reading it just made me depressed and I could not get anything out of it. When I told this to my friend, he told me that I should read it in Arabic. But Arabic was not my mother language and I did not speak it. I started taking Arabic classes but it was so hard and I felt like this was just making the problem grow.
Imprisonment, torture and death continue to dog the path of Christians in Pakistan. In August 2004, 26 year old Nasir Masih was arrested on false charges of theft and subsequently beaten to death while in police custody. Christians who gathered to protest were disbanded by police who proceeded to arrest seventeen of the demonstrators. In March 2005, a group of women who had gathered for prayer and fasting in Miskeen Musharaf Colony in Islamabad were attacked by Muslims from a nearby mosque. The Imam reportedly led the attack along with his students. The Pakistani news agency, Dawn, reported that the Imam objected to the construction of the church. Before building, the local Christians had interviewed the seventy-five households in the neighborhood and heard no objections. Just a few days later, in the village of Khambay near Lahore, the Victory Church International was attacked during their Easter services. Six men were injured during the attack, one critically, and another was killed. This, too, was motivated by individuals in the area who opposed the presence of the church, even though it had been on that property for more than a century. A neigbouring Muslim family apparently wanted the land on which the church and cemetery are. In all of this, Pakistani believers continue to remain faithful, even while risking their safety and property for the sake of Christ.
Rest assured that we will jealously guard your secret. You may wish to submit your testimony anonymously, that is perfectly understandable and honourable even. For many ex-Muslims living in the West often travel back to the Islamic country of their birth, where they still have close relatives who themselves might be endangered by the apostates public declaration.
Here are some guidelines if you wish to write a testimonyl, but of course you have no obligation to follow any of them. If you know exactly what you want to say, just write directly on our website.
Were your parents religious?
What was their mother tongue?
Did they know Arabic?
How often did they go to the Mosque?
Education: did you go to Koranic school?
Do you understand Arabic?
Did you read the Koran? Did you understand it?
When did you start questioning religion? Islam?
Was there someone who encouraged you in your freethought?
Were you influenced by any book?
Were freethought books available to you at home? In town? At friends??
Do your parents know about your present feelings?
Does anyone else in your family or circle of friends know?
What is their reaction?
Do you feel threatened?
Have you been attacked physically for your beliefs?
How would you describe yourself now?
a) atheist b ) humanist c) rationalist d ) agnostic e ) deist f) secularist?
18. Perhaps a mixture of the above (e.g. some call themselves "atheist humanists," others "secular humanists")
Looking forward to reading your testimonies. Remember they can be powerful agents of change, and a source of inspiration and solace for others.
There was a remarkable article translated from the Algerian Arabic Daily, al-Yawm and published in the Courrier International recently. It shows that the deterioration of the image of Islam during the Algerian crisis has played its part in the rise of conversions to Christianity and the adoption of its principles. What is happening and what has happened in Algeria, such as the massacres and killings [in the holy month of Ramadan, December, 2000, alone, 340 people were killed, making a total of 2700 killed by the Islamists in the year 2000. Source CI.No.531] in the name of Islam, has led many, when asked what the difference, in their view, was between Islam and Christianity, to declare: "Christianity is life, Islam is death." For Samia, a secondary school pupil, the proof of the difference between Islam and Christianity was the mixing and relationship between the sexes, the former forbidding it, and the latter allowing it. One church alone recorded 50 baptisms a year; and this in a country where a woman wearing lipstick could result in an entire family, elderly women and children included having their throats cut. Apostasy is punishable by death under Islamic Law.
Ernest Renan was once asked whether it was true that he had, on abandoning Catholicism, embraced Protestantism. He replied testily, "It was my faith that I lost and not my reason." Here we are not celebrating those who have left one form of unreason only to adopt another form of unreason, but those who face unflinchingly a world devoid of fantasy, who look the world in the face without the crutches of irrational dogma.
We wish to encourage ex-Muslims to declare themselves, to liberate themselves, to make them take conscience of the fact that there are many who think like them, and who have taken the same lonely road to rationalism, and humanism.
Conversions, apostates, and free-thinkers
Muslims are triumphalists especially when they parrot the journalistic clich? that Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world, or when they present the testimony of someone who has "embraced Islam;" Islam, "that least huggable of faiths," as Rushdie calls it. Frithjof Schuon, a Western convert to a mystical variety of Islam explains the Muslim mindset:
The intellectual?and thereby the rational?foundation of Islam results in the average Muslim having a curious tendency to believe that non-Muslims either know that Islam is the truth and reject it out of pure obstinacy, or else are simply ignorant of it and can be converted by elementary explanations; that anyone should be able to oppose Islam with a good conscience quite exceeds the Muslims? power of imagination, precisely because Islam coincides in his mind with the irresistible logic of things.
Despite appearances, the fact remains thousands have left Islam behind along with other childish beliefs from Father Christmas to the Tooth Fairy. A few courageous souls have not only resisted the "irresistible" but braving family and friends, social ostracism, mob violence, and state assassinations and executions, have also come out of the closet, and have made their unbelief a matter of public record: Salman Rushdie, Taslima Nasrin, Anwar Shaikh, Ali Sina, Mahmoud, Syed Mirza Ali, Mohsen, to name some of them.
People will show you facts that according to the Quran the sun sets in a pond, or that mountains are pegs that Allah installed on the earth to keep it from moving and I can go on and on, but the only flaw of the Quran is not what is in it. The biggest flaw of the Quran is what is not in it. There are many many crimes a person can commit, yet the Quran only mentions the punishments for only a mere 3 or 4 crimes. I was astonished at the fact that the Quran mentions nothing about the punishment for rape. The word rape is not even mentioned once in the Quran as if it is not worth bringing it up. Apparently Allah thought that it is worthwhile to repeat praying and paying alms to his prophet, over 1000 times but rape is not worth mentioning. When you read the Hadithes about the obvious rape of Safiyah the Jewish women by Muhammad and then you back it up with the verse (Q. 4:24) and you also realize that this is not considered a crime according to the Quran, it all starts to fold together and make sense.
There are an unlimited number of acts of kindness that we can use to help each other and make this world a better place for everyone, yet you do not see these in the Quran. How can the Quran be a perfect guidance from god when it lacks so many important issues?
What I have done for the last six months on the internet is debate with Muslims and try to show them the light of truth.
When you debate with a Muslim and they don't know what to say they always say "god is the author of the Quran because that's what it says in the Quran." It is absurd to prove something by itself. Sometimes when I hear these responses I feel like giving up on exposing the truth about Islam and religion, but then I realize that I would be abandoning my dear friends like Dr. Ali Sina and the many people who have given their lives for the truth.
My reason for leaving Islam is very simple. I simply read the Quran. For me it was as easy as just reading the Quran and using a little reason, logic, and thinking.
I thought the story of the Noah's Ark that is recorded in the Quran is one of the most bizarre stories I have ever heard. Apparently the world was run over by water and the only survivors were the people who had followed Noah. Noah apparently had the ability to communicate with animals to ask them to come aboard the ship, so that their species do not extinct.
Back then the early Arabs looked around themselves and they saw a few camels and a couple of dogs and they thought that these are all the animals in the world. They were unaware of the fact that there are over a billions species in the world and some that haven't even been discovered yet. What about the animals that did not live in Arabia? Did Noah fly on a winged horse like Muhammad, to go and collect the animals from all around the world? What about the species that we are unable to see without a microscope? How did Noah collect them? Most importantly in the research of earth-biology we have discovered all the facts about the earth and its past. Can anyone find in any book of earth-biology any evidence that proves that the earth was once over taken by water?
This was enough for me to realize that the Quran is just a book of fables.
Here's a profile of Adam Gadahn -- nothing we haven't posted before, but perhaps some of you have not yet made his charming acquaintance. "Dirty rat behind dirty bomb scare: Raised by hippie parents, then turned to hate & radical Islam," by Celeste Katz for the New York Daily News:
The homegrown terrorist at the center of an Al Qaeda dirty bomb threat against the city is the first American charged with treason in more than 50 years and lives with a $1 million bounty on his head.
Adam Yahiye Gadahn grew up the son of California hippies. He lived on a sprawling goat farm at the foot of the San Jacinto mountains. He is the grandson of a Jewish doctor.
He dabbled in death metal music as a teen, but by all accounts had a peaceful childhood until he embraced a virulent strain of Islam to fill a void in his life.
Gadahn was 17 when he announced his conversion and began frequenting an Islamic center where authorities say he came under the influence of foreign-born Islamic radicals.
As a U.S. citizen, he represents a growing breed of homegrown extremists who have turned against their country.
Gadahn, 29, is known as Azzam the American and serves as a key Al Qaeda mouthpiece, appearing frequently in the terror group's propaganda videos.
On the fourth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, Gadahn declared in a tape that Osama Bin Laden's followers "love nothing better than the heat of battle, the echo of explosions and slitting the throats of the infidels."
One wonders how this convert got the Religion of Peace so terribly wrong. And what programs do CAIR, MPAC and the like have planned to prevent this sort of thing in the future. Ibrahim? Salam? Anyone?
Tradition rules in religious matters
There is no Egyptian law against converting from Islam to Christianity, but in the case of Mohammed Hegazy, tradition takes precedent.
Under a widespread interpretation of Islamic law, converting from Islam is apostasy and punishable by death -- though killings are rare and the state has never ordered or carried out an execution on those grounds.
Most Muslims who convert usually practice their new religion quietly or leave the country. Egypt is overwhelmingly Muslim. Only 10 percent of the 76 million population is Christian and converts are typically ostracized by their families.
If the conversion becomes known, they may receive death threats from militants or harassment by police, who use laws against "insulting religion" or "disturbing public order" to target them.
Christians who become Muslim can get their new religion entered on their IDs and face little trouble from officials, though they too are usually thrown out by their families.
There have been similar cases in other parts of the Muslim world. In May, Malaysia's highest court refused to recognize the conversion of a Muslim woman to Christianity, saying the case should be handled by religious authorities.
CAIRO, Egypt -- An Egyptian Muslim who converted to Christianity and then took the unprecedented step of seeking official recognition for the change said he has gone into hiding following death threats.
Mohammed Hegazy, who sparked controversy when pictures of him posing with a poster of the Virgin Mary were published in newspapers, was shunned by his family and threatened by an Islamist cleric vowing to seek his execution as an apostate.
"I know there are fatwas (religious edicts) to shed my blood, but I will not give up and I will not leave the country," Hegazy said from his hideout Thursday.
Hegazy, 25, made a public splash when he took the unusual step of going to court to change his religion on his national ID card. His first lawyer filed the case but quit after the uproar; his second is still considering whether it's worth pursuing.
Hegazy said he received telephoned death threats before he went into hiding in an apartment with his wife, a Muslim who took the name Katarina when she converted to Christianity several years ago. She is four months pregnant.
He said he wants to change the religion on his ID for two reasons: to set a precedent for other converts and to ensure his child can openly be raised Christian. He wants his child to get a Christian name, birth certificate and eventually marry in a church. That would be impossible if Hegazy's official religion is Muslim, because a child is registered in the religion of the father.
Hegazy, who took the Christian name Beshoy after an Egyptian monk, converted to Christianity nine years ago and began attending church in his hometown of Port Said on the Suez Canal.
"I started readings and comparative studies in religions," he said. "I found that I am not consistent with Islam teachings. The major issue for me was love. Islam wasn't promoting love as Christianity did."
"Items and articles belonging to religions other than Islam are prohibited,? the national airline states. ?These may include Bibles, crucifixes, statues, carvings, items with religious symbols such as the Star of David and others."
An unidentified official with the Saudi Consulate in New York told the Post that entering the country with any of those materials will mean losing them.
?You?re not allowed to bring that stuff into the kingdom,? the official told the Post. ?If you do, they will take it away.?
Christians and Jews are still not allowed to bring non-Islamic religious items into Saudi Arabia , including Bibles, Stars of David and crucifixes ? and if they do, the government will confiscate them, according to a report in The Jerusalem Post.
?Saudi customs authorities enforce strict regulations concerning importation into Saudi Arabia of such banned items as alcohol products, weapons and any item that is held to be contrary to the tenets of Islam,? reads the U.S. State Department?s travel advisory on Saudi Arabia. ?This includes non-Islamic religious materials, pork products and pornography.?
Click here to read the entire story in The Jerusalem Post.
The restriction isn?t new, but the government seems to have recently stepped up its enforcement of it.
Saudi Arabian Airlines warns of the rule on its Web site, the Post reported
"It wasn't through the eloquence of a preacher, or the beauty of a building that I came to Christ," Caner explains. "It was through the simple witness of a high school boy who did not care that I wore my [Muslim] robes, and looked different, and spoke different, and had poor English. He did not care that I hung out with other Muslims because everyone else was an open enemy according to my faith. All he knew was that Jesus Christ had died for him and had died for me, and he was saved and he wanted me to get saved, too."
That high school boy invited Caner to a four-day revival campaign at a local Baptist church in Columbus, Ohio, where Caner experienced the love of God for the first time. "That church loved me to the cross of Jesus Christ," Caner recalls. "They were nice to me in spite of my open hatred toward them as Christians."
For four days, Caner heard the good news that Jesus Christ was more than just a prophet of Allah as he had always been taught. He was God who came in the flesh to die for the sins of all people. By the fourth night, the 17-year-old devout Muslim was ready to become a new creature in Christ. Caner recalls that the pastor explained God's mercy and grace in the simplest possible terms.
"Please understand that this is not about conquering Muslims, but about seeing them find peace and hope in Jesus Christ," Caner says. "It's not about defeating them. It's about winning them and loving them, because it's easy to love the people who love you back, but it's hard to love the unlovable."
Says Caner, "That church loved me, the unlovable. They shared mercy and grace. That is how you reach a Muslim."
The Caner brothers note in Unveiling Islam that such a war was declared in February 1998 by a coalition of five radical Islamic factions, who issued the following order: "The ruling to kill the Americans and their allies -- civilians and military -- is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it...."
Caner asserts that the men who carried out the deadly attacks on America were not following some corrupted version of Islam, but embraced Orthodox Muslim doctrine. "Those 19 men believed that by flying those planes into the World Trade Center towers, and into the Pentagon, and wherever the other jet was supposed to hit, that somehow they would find forgiveness by shedding their blood," Caner says. "It is the only eternal security a Muslim has."
Caner tells Christians that the only hope they have for leading Muslims to Christ is to demonstrate the pure love of Jesus -- which is how he was introduced to Christ.
Caner says that there was a crucial message being offered by the media in the days following the terrorist attacks, a message that his 17 years as a devout Muslim caused him to immediately recognize as false.
He says that most Muslims who call America home were as shocked as the rest of the nation by the attacks on their country. To them, "jihad" -- the struggle against "infidels" (non-Muslims) which inspired the men who flew themselves and the other passengers on the four jetliners to their deaths -- is nothing more than a theoretical doctrine of Islam.
Almost exclusively, the Muslims who appeared on the major news shows to explain their religion insisted that Islam is a religion of peace and submission. They pointed out that the term "jihad" is not even found in the Koran. But Caner explains that the only peace that is found in Islam is found in submission to Allah, and all Muslims are called to conquer all non-Islam forces -- even through martyrdom.
"For the first 17 years of my life, I assumed that I was to be at war" with Christians, Jews, and other non-Muslims, Caner recalls. He adds that according to a conservative U.S. State Department estimate, there are currently 300,000 Muslims worldwide with that identical driving ideal -- the doctrine of jihad.
"I did not switch anything," explains Caner with emotion. "I got saved. I'm born again. It wasn't like I went from worshiping God with one name to the same God with another name. I went from a false idol to a true, living, sovereign God, the sovereign King of the universe."
Caner explains that in the American culture, there is a deep desire to find a common ground among religious faiths -- what he refers to as the "Oprahization" of our culture. "We all want to have one big Oprah group hug."
But there is a wide chasm between the God of Islam and the God of the Bible, Caner explains. One is cold and impersonal with no desire for intimacy with man, while the other is defined by His active desire for intimacy with people. Caner notes that there are 99 names given for Allah in the Koran, many of which describe him as beneficent and merciful. But there is not one name for Allah that reflects a desire for intimacy.
By contrast, "When I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior, I was astonished to find that we have a God who not only calls us to pray, but one who hears us when we pray," says Caner. "It was an astonishing thing for me to realize that I am the temple of the Holy Spirit, that I am indwelled by God."
Ergun Caner says that immediately following the terrorist attacks, the media's assumptions about the differences between Islam, Judaism, and Christianity compelled him to speak out with righteous indignation. He explains, "The central theme of the media was, 'I don't understand why the Muslims, Jews, and Christians are fighting so much, because they're all basically worshiping the same God.' " He says that in the minds of most of the talking heads on the news shows, "Jehovah and Allah are the same God, like these are divine nicknames."
Caner's response to this fallacious assumption is emphatic. "As a Muslim, if I had heard someone say that Jehovah and Allah are the same God, I would have been offended," he declares. "As a Christian, I find it blasphemous." He notes, "I have never met one intelligent Muslim who ever said that Allah of the Koran and Jehovah of the Bible are the same God."
Caner recalls that as he appeared on such television programs as Fox News and Talkback Live, he was often asked by the hosts, "So you were a Muslim, and now you're a Christian. When did you switch?"