Years ago, I read a James Michner novel entitled Caravans. It was the first book I remember reading that really introduced and explained in any detail, the Islamic culture and mindset. All these years later I don’t recall a great deal about the plot, but, there was a passage in the story which stuck with me, vividly describing the dance of the Whirling Dervishes.
Dervishes are members of a Sufi Muslim sect who begin to dance and spin around and around until they go into some sort of prophetic state ( or throw up!) Don’t try this at home!
As some of you may be aware, I have recently been called back into active duty. No, not the military. An ongoing family emergency has returned me to active Grandmothering duty! My Temporary Duty Orders have brought me to Tucson, Arizona for a month or so during what I suppose I am calling my grandson, Joey’s, latest ,” autism crisis”.
My dad was a Navy man in WWII, so I know what that “General Quarters” alarm means. All hands on deck! Everyone to their battle stations! Anything can happen and probably will! Hope y’all will be praying for all involved. It’s exhausting on many levels!
In this particular emergency- and subject to change at any given moment! -I have the privilege of being on toddler duty, laundry duty, and assorted kitchen and chauffer duties; while all other eyes are kept on our 13 year old Whirling Dervish of destruction and mayhem.
While this certainly wasn’t my plan for this winter; my plans had seemed fairly specific and I had deemed them pretty important but one never actually steps away from the mom/grandmother mantle. That’s what we do. So, I am writing from a different place today, and from a different perspective. I wonder how God plans to use me while I’m here. What miracles, small and large, will He accomplish in this, my small chaotic sphere of influence. I’m excited to find out and delighted to just love on all these kids while I wait and see what happens.
Islamic Whirling Dervishes and my grandson have little in common beyond engaging in non-stop, frenetic activities which I am wary of and do not understand. However, it does conveniently bring me back around (full whirl) to the topic I originally intended to talk about today.
Lost in that “Whirling Dervish” which we call our American mid-term elections this past November was a horrible story out of Pakistan. Shama Bibi and Sajjad Masech were the parents of four children and Shama was pregnant with another baby. They were brazenly burned to death…get this, in a kiln, right in front of their children, by a Muslim lynch mob in because of a false blasphemy accusation.
The mother, was wrapped in cotton as she would not burn quickly enough to suit the mob. There was no comment at all, much less any slamming condemnation by our White House or the State Department of this horrific crime. The story was barely reported in American markets. Please remember that the Islamic Republic of Pakistan receives millions upon millions of dollars of aid from US taxpayers and our President has entertained his Pakistani counterpart in the White House.
According to a recent article in The Pakistani Christian Post, the President of Pakistan’s Christian Congress wrote a letter to President Obama expressing surprise and dismay that the United States did not even bother to condemn this crime and appealed for Obama to put pressure to government of Pakistan to end misuse of “blasphemy laws” against Christian, Ahamdiyyia and other religious minorities and “condition” US aid to Pakistan to human rights and to the immediate repeal of blasphemy laws.
In what is becoming a hauntingly familiar theme from Islamic countries these days: American citizens and Christian pastors, Saeed Abedini and Youcef Nadar Khani are still imprisoned and actively brutalized for their faith.
Inconceivably, without tying negotiations to the immediate freedom of these men, our administration is even now plowing forward with nuclear negotiations with the Iranians, releasing frozen assets and relaxing sanctions for a country who not only threatens to destroy Israel but is falsely incarcerating American citizens.
Reports are surfacing that several of the Christian school girls kidnapped last spring by this violent Islamic group are being used as suicide bombers. Coptic Christians are routinely being attacked and murdered in Egypt, I could go on and on!
American viewers seem to struggle with these images and like trying to cram one’s queen- sized derriere into a pair of regular sized panty hose, they don’t seem to realize that this thinking is never ever going to fit into our Western mindset. No matter what our American background and/ or belief system-our laws and culture(until recently) have been framed and lived out in a Judeo-Christian world. For instance: thou shall not steal, thou shall not kill/murder and so forth… We realize that without a rule of law our society begins to crumble and life as we know it begins to go sideways. We must begin to acknowledge this foe as one empowered demonically in the supernatural realm. Islam, no matter what you hear on television, is NOT just calling God by another name.
When the news reports that Muslim factions such as ISIS are repeatedly beheading journalists or little Christian children who refuse to renounce their faith in Jesus we are shocked and appalled and try to squeeze ourselves into some sort of rationalization of this outrageous behavior.
This does not fit into our three-meal-a-day, western educated, “sit-com” psyche so we resort to entire news programs and press conferences from the White House blathering on about the difference between Islamic terrorists versus “violent extremists”. Unwilling to be offensive to anyone, these talking heads suggest that the Muslim extremists hate us because we are rich and decadent, have Imperial tendencies, or because we lock muslims up unfairly at that nasty camp on Guantanamo Bay!
Americans by in large, haven’t read the Koran so we just don’t get it. They just hate. It’s their thing.
It is demonically driven and it’s going to get worse. (* For more info on Islam you may want to go into the archives and read Mazel Tov Part 2) There are a lot of Muslims in the world. Obviously most, now, are peaceful. Thank goodness. We all know that there are many, many, many folks who claim to be Christians. Just as they are members of the PTA and a certain political party. These folks may have grown up in Church or Gramma took them to VBS every summer. They are nice folks, with nice jobs, and just like every one else they put their pants on one leg at a time. But, they aren’t really paying attention, they never made it personal or relational with Jesus. They have no interest nor do they place any value in reading their Bible, they don’t truly have a handle on what the Word of God says or where it’s going. They can take it or leave it: they are clueless. Just so, there are tons of Muslims, Hindu’s and Buddhists who do the same thing. In Islam, in a lot of places, if you aren’t a Muslim they kill you. That’s certainly motivational for townsfolk who don’t really have a dog in the hunt. Why not get on that Islamic apple cart?
The Muslims that actually dive into it, who read, study, believe and follow the Koran and the teachings of the Prophet- they are the “faithful.” These are the followers that are “All In” and they are focused and dangerous. By comparison, the totally sold out, all-in Christians who are truly following Jesus. The ones who read, study and follow Him may annoy you by sharing their faith–telling you their testimony or sending you their blogs. They won’t however, lob off your head if you decline to accept their invitation to join them in their faith. True Christians, foundationally, are all about Forgiveness, Joy, Everlasting life and deliverance, love, oh… and love and more love.
There is inevitably some smarty-pants who at this point, pipes up and says–“Yeah well, what about the Spanish Inquisition or The Crusades where the Christians were killing the Jews and the Muslims and anybody else that looked at them crooked. They were Christians and they were violent!”
Historically speaking, let me just say that there is a vast difference between what the Catholic Vicar of Rome says, orders, or enacts and what the Bible actually teaches. ( especially during the Middle Ages) While I am in no way endorsing the Pope, the Spanish Inquisitors nor the Crusades I will say that the rising threat of Muslim expansionism during the Middle Ages must have terrified the European potentates and the Papal States. They were sitting ducks. These were, however, political decisions and were not following the dictates or themes of Biblical scripture.
Admittedly, this is a pretty simplified examination due to the brevity of this venue. This is a very basic comparison of the differences between Christian believers who actually read and act upon what the Bible says- straight up- and what Muslim believers read and act upon in their sacred writings. One assures eternal salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. It encourages us to love one another and to turn the other cheek to our enemies. The other assures eternal salvation ( and a bevy of virgins) by violent Jihad against anyone who will not convert to Islam. Killing “infidels” is your fast track; bypassing the prayers and laundry list of strictures and in some cases, as with the Sufi sect referenced earlier, vows of poverty and whirling incessantly, arms outstretched. until you grow closer to god…or throw up.
The yearning for freedom, security and a nurturing, loving God is universal however, and knowing that Jesus loves every people group it is joyful to hear reports that the fastest growing church is now in Iran with Pakistan bringing in a close second. Dreams and visions are waking Muslims in the night and convincing them that Jesus is the only road to salvation. Miracle healings in the underground church are building faith and giving them a glimpse of what a loving Father our Lord really is.
I have often heard Dr. Robert Jeffress, prolific author and pastor of The First Baptist Church of Dallas, say that the definition of any other religion is continually based on what it’s followers DO. In Christianity, Jesus DID it all. It’s done because He loves us. Enough said.