Children Bombing Children—The Surabaya Church Bombings

23 05 2018

Church bombing family

The family that bombs together…

On May 13, 2018 a Muslim family of six took on three suicide bombing missions, attacking 3 churches in Surabaya, Indonesia. At least 18 people died, and dozens were injured.

A nine-year-old Muslim girl blew herself up in front of a church. An eleven-year-old Christian boy died.

Children raised to kill children. What has become of us?

That evening a bomb accidentally went off in a nearby apartment complex, killing a Muslim man, his wife and oldest child as they were preparing it for an attack. Their other kids happened to be playing outside and their lives were spared. Had the bomb been successfully armed, perhaps those children would have been carrying it to the next target.

The following day another local Muslim family of five suicide-bombed the police station. Their youngest, an eight-year-old girl, somehow survived the blast. I imagine she won’t make it back to her 2nd grade classroom in time to finish the semester with her friends. And if she does, how will they look at her now?

Indonesia is no stranger to terrorist attacks. However, this is the first time children have been sacrificed. These families are said to be inspired by ISIS.

I am not against Islam. I count several Muslims among my closest friends. Like Jesus, I try to be most critical about my own religion’s problems.

But I hope that my Muslim friends will agree with me, this is an example of religion at its ugliest.

David Garrison writes: “There is an evil in Islam, as with all religions, when it is used to control and manipulate its followers or incite them to violence against those who would exercise their freedom of conscience to embrace a different way. Islam today is perhaps the most intrusive and egregious world religion at squelching nonconformity of belief. We must remember, though, that Islam is probably no more controlling than was Roman Catholicism in the Middle Ages or, closer to home, Puritanism in the early years of Anglo-American history. One can only hope that Islam, too, will experience a reformation in its relationship to its adherents.” (From A Wind in the House of Islam p.233)

Historically, Christianity has done equally heinous and barbaric deeds. We have no right to condemn, for we need God’s mercy as much as modern-day Muslims do. Thankfully, the Bible and the Qur’an agree that Jesus is God’s mercy to us.

When we receive God’s mercy, we have mercy to give to others. These two are always connected. As Jesus said, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” (Matthew 5:7)

If we want God to show mercy to us on the Judgment Day, neither bombing our “enemies” nor condemning them will do. Receiving mercy requires two things—1) being merciful to others; and 2) receiving Jesus, God’s mercy to us.

I implore my Christian friends who are wounded and outraged at this tragedy, to pray as Jesus prayed, “Father forgive them, they don’t know what they’re doing.” (Luke 23:34)

I urge my Muslim friends to become activists within Islam to promote this saying of Muhammad from the Hadith:  “Those who are merciful will be shown mercy by the Most Merciful. Be merciful to those on the earth and the One in the heavens will have mercy upon you.”

When religious leaders kill their own family members who want to leave the faith; when minorities from other religions are beaten or killed if they refuse to convert or refuse to follow Sharia Law; when parents teach their children that God wants to kill the children of other religious faiths, O my dear Muslim brothers—as Garrison said, “There is an evil in Islam.” I pray that you will not stand idly by, but will passionately pursue a reformation of mercy.

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The Atheist Muslim

8 07 2017

The Atheist Muslim book“The left is wrong on Islam. The right is wrong on Muslims.”

This tweet by Ali Rizvi, author of the new book The Atheist Muslim: A Journey from Religion to Reason, was followed up by an interview with Vox that was one of the most honest, objective, insightful discussions of modern Islam I’ve read in a long time. I’d love for you to read the whole interview!

Rizvi was born in Pakistan and raised in a “moderate to liberal Muslim family.” He now works as a doctor and author in Canada. He is a liberal who is critical of liberals; a Muslim who is critical of Islamic ideology; an honest intellectual that represents a large population of modern Muslims seldom heard.

In the interview, Rizvi discusses the difference between Islamic ideology and Muslim people living in an Islamic culture. He addresses Trump and the Travel Ban, ISIS and terrorism, the search for Muslim identity, and what a reformation within Islam might look like.

Now back to his tweet: “The left is wrong on Islam. The right is wrong on Muslims.” Rizvi explains—

“On the left, people were saying that if you have any criticism against Islam, then you were a bigot against all Muslims. On the right, it was like, there are a lot of problematic things in Islamic scripture, so everyone who is Muslim must be banned, or profiled, or demonized. Both sides weren’t making that distinction between challenging ideas, which has historically moved societies forward, and demonizing human beings, which only rips societies apart.”

Have you noticed this in your interactions about Islam or Muslims? I sure have. Actually, I’ve noticed it in conversations about Christians or homosexuals as well. Liberals tend to label any critical analysis of ideas as intolerant, while conservatives sterotyped or demonized people because of their association with such ideas. (Although when I talk with atheists about Christians, there’s somewhat of an ironic role reversal.)

Have you ever heard the term, “Islamophobo-phobia”? Rizvi continues—

“Several white Western liberals have confided to me that they agree with what I say, but won’t say it themselves because they’re afraid they’ll be labeled bigots or Islamophobes. I call that ‘Islamophobo-phobia,’ the fear of being called Islamophobic. It’s a great way to shut down the conversation and silence people with colonial or white guilt.”

One of the strengths of this interview, and no doubt the book, is that Rizvi enlightens us as to the ongoing conversation millions of Muslims around the world are having about these issues right now. They are wrestling with their own identity, culture, ideology, faith and the future of Islam. Rizvi concludes the interview like this—

“Today, this conversation and this movement is happening within the Muslim world. It doesn’t just include the hijab-wearing women and bearded men you see on your TV. It includes the beer-drinking Muslim colleague you work with; it includes the Muslim girl at college who had doubts about her religion’s views on women; it includes agnostics, atheists, and free thinkers like me who want the freedom to change our minds without literally having to lose our heads. There are many voices in this conversation, and you don’t have to choose. Just let it happen.”

What can we do? Be a sympathetic listener to your Muslim friend as he or she processes their own faith journey. Ask sincere questions without making assumptions or generalizations. And share your own journey of questioning within your own religion.

For those of you whose curiosity is piqued to read the interview, I’d love to read your comments!