Sunday, June 29, 2008

Islam's Number One Enemy? Hardly.

Recently, a popular Catholic blogger (Mark Shea) described Coptic priest Zakaria Botros as Islam's Public Enemy #1 (link to description). Among the reasons given were nine demands that Botros has made of the Islamic world. The demands appear to me to be purely polemical. I've rewritten them in my own words based on the presentation provided at Crossword Bebop (link).

Here are his demands, with my comments:

1. Revise Koran so that it does not deny Jesus' divinity, nor the "revelation of God in him."

It would be helpful to the reader of Botros would specify the particular portions of the particular Surrahs he has in mind. The Koran clearly does deny Jesus' divinity, but it does also seem to claim that Jesus was a prophet.

2. Admit that they believe Jesus is the spirit and word of God.

This is a very odd demand. I don't know any mainstream Muslims that would agree with such a statement, and I don't see any reason for Botros to claim that the Muslims really do believe that Jesus is the "spirit and word" of God.

3. Revise Koran and Hadith literature to remove verses that suggest Christians should be killed.

Some examples are provided.

4. Revise Koran and Hadith literature to remove portions that incite terrorism and oppression.

Some examples are provided.

5. Stopping the attacks on Jesus and the Bible in mosques and media.

The blogger linked above provides an alleged example.

6. Granting people in general and Muslims in particular freedom of speech/association.

Essentially the claim here is that Muslims (and people in Islamic countries) are nor free to express their beliefs.

7. Terminate the punishment of "apostasy" as well as stopping the torture, imprisonment, and killing of those who convert to Christianity.

No example was provided.

8. Formally apologize for the murder of Christians in countries invaded by Islam.

The apology is to come from the leaders throughout the "Arab world."

9. Formally apologize for the insults to Christianity throughout Islamic history.

The apology is to come from the leaders throughout the "Arab world."

Some Comments/Observations

These 9 points are mostly polemical/rhetorical. It would not be reasonable to expect the Islamic world to meet all 9 demands and continue to be Islamic. The demands generally seek to encourage Islam to moderate itself toward Christianity in a way that most (if not all) Muslims would find inconsistent with their form of Islam.

Certainly, some points could be accommodated. Undoubtedly, there are some Muslims who reject the severe punishments for apostasy, or who think that murders of Christians is reprehensible.

On the other hand, the idea of revising the Koran (and, among some, the Hadith literature)
is fundamentally opposed to the rudimentary principles of Islam. It is like asking Christians to revise the Bible! Making such a request is not likely to be taken seriously, except by the most liberal of Muslim scholars.

In the end, the 9 demands are essentially about pluralism not the gospel. The Muslim that grants all 9 demands does not thereby become a Christian, though he may cease to be a true Muslim. The campaign may get Muslims talking, but it's hard for this author to imagine that the message of these 9 demands is really a significant threat to Islam.

There is a number one threat to Islam, and that is not a man, but the Gospel. The Gospel of salvation from the guilt of sin, through faith in Christ alone. A Gospel of God's grace - of the mercy of God shown through the person of Christ. It is the Gospel of Christ crucified, buried, and risen again from the dead: Christ who will come again to judge the world at the last day.


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