2003 May 27 Tuesday
Evangelical Christians Organize To Proselytize Muslims

The New York Times has an article about evangelical Christian efforts to proselytize Muslims.

In evangelical churches and seminaries across the country, lectures and books criticizing Islam and promoting strategies for Muslim conversions are gaining currency. More than a dozen recently published critiques of Islam are now available in Christian bookstores.

Arab International Ministry, the Indianapolis group that led the crash course on Islam here, claims to have trained 4,500 American Christians to proselytize Muslims in the last six years, many of those since the 2001 terrorist attacks.

Historically attempts by Christian missionaries to reach Muslims have yielded few converts. There are a number of reasons for this. First off, as Franklin Graham has repeatedly pointed out, few Muslim majority nations allow Christian missionaries to work inside their borders.

In most countries where Islamic law dominates there is practically no freedom of religion (not to mention freedom of speech or the press). In most Islamic countries, including so-called moderate Islamic states such as Saudi Arabia, it is a crime to build a Christian church, Jewish synagogue, Hindu temple or any other non-Muslim house of worship. In contrast, there are about 3,000 mosques in the U.S., with new ones being built every week.

Lebanon is one Muslim majority country where some Christian missionaries work and they do so at some risk to their lives.

ISTANBUL, May 7 (Compass) -- An Arab convert to Christianity was killed in a bomb blast last night outside his Tripoli apartment, adjacent to the home of a European missionary family thought to have been targeted in the attack.

There are some heavy disincentives for conversion to Christianity in many Muslim countries.

Becoming a Christian in many Muslim countries such as Saudi Arabia, Iran or Afghanistan can mean that one loses one's job, one's ability to be educated, one's family, and even one's life, Wendy Norvell of the Southern Baptist Convention's International Mission Board told UPI.

Also, Muslims in other countries are hard to reach. Islam is a particularly resilient meme. Therefore the latest Christian attempts to seek converts are unlikely to do much to reduce the size of the Muslim ummah that has such hostility toward Western Civilization.

As for the more liberal Christian church leaders who emphasise what is in common between Christianity and Islam: as P.T. Barnum would say "there's a sucker born every minute". Liberal church ecumenical meetings with Muslim counterparts which down play the size of the differences between the major religions are naive.

Alan F. H. Wisdom, vice president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, who drafted the guidelines, said that much of the dialogue that Christians carried on with Muslims across the United States after Sept. 11, 2001, was motivated by "a genuine, perhaps naïve wish to be reassured that they don't all hate us."

Mr. Wisdom said, "There has been the tendency to put reconciliation above witness to the truth here."

Diane Knippers, President of the Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD), charts a middle position.

Knippers observed that conservative Christians tend toward oversimplifications that are pessimistic. In their zeal for the Gospel, they are quick to make stark distinctions between Christianity and Islam. “This approach thwarts true dialogue with gratuitous insults that cut short the conversation – indeed can lead to unnecessary conflict and violence.”

Liberals, on the other hand, tend toward oversimplifications that are idealistic. Motivated by a desire to be peacemakers and reconcilers, liberals are often quick to downplay theological differences between Islam and Christianity. “This approach thwarts honest dialogue because it takes off the table the very issues that most need to be discussed, including human rights,” Knippers explained.

The IRD has released an interesting document entitled Guidelines for Christian-Muslim Dialogue. Worth a read.

The IRD folks make a number of good points. But one is still left with a basic question: What is the nature of Islam? I do not automatically assume that just because a religion has hundreds of millions of believers it is inherently good or that it has a set of effects that, on balance, are good. Also, I do not automatically assume that just because a belief system is a religion it is bad or that its net effect is bad. In my view one has to judge each religion based on its unique combination of beliefs and practices and even according to the circumstances of an era.

When it comes to Islam one has to seriously consider the possibility that the most vociferous critics of Islam may well be right in arguing that our conflict with Islam may be the consequence of Islamic beliefs that are core to Islam. One might hope that the conflict is due to beliefs that are peripheral or that are the result of misinterpretation by some Muslims of their faith. But belief systems can be incompatible. Some conflicts can be due to basic differences in world view where there is just no way to reconcile the conflicting values and beliefs.

For more on views about Islam among prominent figures in the American Religious Right see my previous post Debate On American Right About Nature Of Islam. For more general discussions of the conflict between the West and Muslims see my Clash Of Civilizations archive and Religious, Secular Ideologies archive.

Update: Razib comments on the NY Times article over on Gene Expression. Also, he makes an excellent point in the comments section of this post: Islam came along after Christianity and therefore its "meme shape" (not sure what to call it) is tailored to being resistant to the Christian message. It is very important for a belief system to have a message that can effectively dismiss the arguments of competing belief systems. It is quite possible, though, that Christianity has gone thru (or is going thru?) enough mutation and development (I really do think in biological metaphors) that it might be able to present itself in a way that will allow it to make some in-roads. Still, I expect the in-roads will be quite small for many years to come.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2003 May 27 12:29 PM  Civilizations Clash Of

razib said at May 27, 2003 3:09 PM:

in traditional islamic jurispurdence you could not leave the faith-islam is a one way street. that is why those who are forced to convert will be attacked if they go back to their original faith. also-the resilience of islam to christian meme prolly has something to do with the fact that islamic civilization grew up in response/interaction with christianity.

Bob said at May 30, 2003 6:45 PM:

I have been thinking about Razib's observation about islam and christianity. I think it goes even deeper. When Mohammed was inventing the religion, he could observe not only christianity but paganism and judaism.

Paganism had no immunity to christian proselytization. Judaism showed some immunity to erosion from christian proselytization but was not really making inroads to conversion either. I think Mohammed learned from his observations and designed a religion to compete directly against christianity. He designed a religion to convert members of other religions while retaining adherents. So many of the rules he invented speak directly to this--especially with respect to the rules of marriage.

Person said at October 21, 2003 9:19 PM:

Our Prophet Muhammad(saw) didn't INVENT Islam, no human could invent this message.Why did our prophet Muhammad(saw) go through so much hardships to make this message known? Because he was the final prophet after Jesus(Isa). I suggest you start reading the Quran.Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world because it's a logical religion. In Islam there is no coercion of religion, the religion of God was spread mostly be merchants and their only weapon was the Holy Quran not a sword. In Islam its not an obligation on the believer to convert people, but those who Allah guides will be guided to the only true faith, Islam.

Randall Parker said at October 21, 2003 9:50 PM:

Person, You are peddling falsehoods. Islam was spread at the end of a sword throughout the Middle East, across northern Africa and up into Spain. It was spread into what is now Turkey and into southeastern Europe the same way. Its spread was stopped because some Christian dukes and kings beat it back in repeated battles. It was stopped in a battle at the gates of Vienna.

There is no point in building logical structures on top of false assumptions.

Jack said at November 3, 2003 10:11 AM:

to Person:

It is quite evident that Muhammad invented Islam. It has all the hallmarks of a cult: for instance, the "prophet" gets sexual advantages (supposedly from God) that no one else enjoys (ie he could marry as many wives as he wanted while everybody else is allowed only four); God "said" he could marry his adopted son's wife, which such an act was forbidden to others; God "tells" everyone to obey him, which means he obtains political and economic power (ie, he got a quarter of the spoils of caravan raids); and God settled his marital spats for him when his wives objected to the fact he was sleeping with a slave.

I have read the Quran from cover to cover. It is a collection of trite, disorganized junk. It amazes me that any rational, thinking person could take this stuff seriously.

The notion that Islam was spread by merchants is propaganda, a fairy tale. Islam emerged from Arabia as the governing ideology justifying Arab imperialism. Palestine, Syria, Persia, Anatolia, Egypt, all of North Africa, Spain, the Balkans, India -- these are all only some of the lands conquered for Islam and that now form the Dar-al-Islam, the land of Islam. Indeed, Spain is still considered by many Muslims as rightfullly belonging to the Land of Islam, and they have demanded that it be returned. The driving force in this stream of conquests is the core Islamic belief that Muslims have a divine obligation to conquer the world for Islam. It is a belief that Muslims have not surrendered, and which drive Al-Qaeda and the other "terrorist" groups.

Of all the world's religions, Islam is the most intolerant. It bills itself as a compassionate, just religion, but there is no justice for non-Muslims in Islam's embrace. There is only persecution, oppression, second class citizenship, and often violent death.

One significant thing that is often overlooked in debates about Islam is that it is more than just a religion. It is a political ideology that, like communism, seeks to regulate all facets of human social and political life. Why else is such emphasis placed on Islamic law, or Sharia, and why do we so often hear the call for the imposition of an Islamic state? Because that is Islam's political objective. How can the West deal with a doctrine that is at once a religion and a political ideology? That is our supreme challenge for the 21st century?

wahida said at December 23, 2003 7:25 AM:

in response to the above comments, i would like to say that the whole of the "WEST" is in fear of Islam thats why people like JACK find it necessary to pollute the internet with their small minded crap. Islam is the one and only true religion on earth and i hope you burn in hell for what you have written. islam teaches its followers to be loving peaceful and respectable human beings. what sort of respect do you teach people in the west?
you degrade women by promoting porn and prostitution, you promote homosexualilty (which totally goes against the laws of nature) more sexually horrific crimes are committed in the so called FREE WORLD (the west) and then you have the cheek to say Islam is an ideology? tell me....what the hell do you follow over there in the west? in a few years time you will be claiming that its ok for fathers to sleep with their daughters.
you mock Islam because you know that in the world today, it is only Islam that offers a true challenge to the fucked up ideologies of the west. the clash of civilisations is yet to come and as ever Islam will triumph.
have a an extremely fucked up life you small minded piece of shit.

Awais said at July 13, 2004 12:34 PM:

You all the people have read the article above mentioned now read in the following URLs have is the fact. All these survays from cristian websites show that islam is the most increasing religion. Mad people like Jacks can say what they want. If many people from all religions are converting and joining islam then there must be some reason for it. See what the converts say and you all non muslims then try to understand islam so that you might also know the reality and not get fooled by the propaganda made by jews and some extremist christans. You all non muslims just ask your conscience that do they find the propaganda against some other religion on true islamic websites? Surly they will not find any Propaganda then why do you make propaganda against islam?

These are some of many links which show that islam is the most increasing religion.



Devon Hill said at August 11, 2004 2:19 AM:

Hey Jack.........can't you just feel that Islamic love from those posters.......remember Jack, when you expose Islam, it behaves like a hive of bees and counterattacks fiercly with force........Islam never has and never will tolerate critique or analytical thinking........that is why Muslims are terrified of the internet which there religious leaders cannot keep there communities from accessing and learning about the dark side of Islam..........and people...boy oh boy........does Islam have a dark evil side to be sure..

Notice in a small sense how Wahida replies to a fairly mild and correct critique of Islamic brutality...

Notice in the name of peaceful Islam, Wahida, hopes Jack burns in hell for eternity simply for exposing this barbaric Arab Imperialist movement born from the crazed mind of that Meccan!!

And too think, we have allowed far far too many millions of Muslims into our Western Civ countries......they are not here to assimilate people......they have made it clear what they are here for........to overtake and enslave us under Dhimmi or out and out kill us........that has been Islam's 1400 year way.......

It is brutal to its core and deserves to be destroyed and thrown into the dustbin of history along with its cousins, Marxism and Nazism......

The good news is that Millions of Persians have left this murderous cult and have gained freedom from Islam.....Also, Islam is hemorraging quite badly in sub sahara Islam ie Black Muslims of Africa are leaving in decent numbers.......

Islam's only weapons are a high birth rate and immigration and we need to limit these options completely one way or another........

It's sad it has to come to this.........many many fine muslims......but they are too scared to speak up against the Orthodox practicing radicals whom they know are correct in there brutality..........

Abdul Mutalib Ibrahim said at August 18, 2004 8:28 PM:

I hope I am not too late to join you guys. I am a Muslim, to be particular, a practising Muslim, a term that you may understand. I see there is a lot of hope on the one party to see Islam pulverised and annihilated. But the fact of the case is Islam is still around, eventhough Islam met with resistance since its early days in Mecca.

I also see a lot of misunderstanding about Islam. The way you guys understand Islam is very much different from the way we Muslims understand it. My question is, how can you deal with something that you don't not understand completely?. Sun Tze basically said in his book, the Art of War, know yourself and know your enemy so you may achive one hundred victories in one hundred battles.The Christian world has spent untold quantities of resources, both tangible and intangible to quash Islam since the early days but the results just does not commensurate with the huge resouces poured in over the millineum.

I see all these misconception about Islam actually working against you in the long run. People who are indoctrinate with these misconceptions will often stunt or do not know what to say when they are told something else about Islam. Or otherwise they would become defensive/ offensive.

The core teachings of Islam is designed to be resilient against all other teaching that is contrary to it, be it Christianity or others. If you want to teach the Muslims about Jesus, I want to tell you that we know a lot about Jesus. My self spent months telling my young kids about Jesus and his message to the Jews. Not only that, we teach our kids about all the prophets mentioned in the Quran, including Moses AS, Abraham AS, Noah AS and Muhammad SAW. If you guy teach us about the prophets, most likely you will teach something else other than what we already knew.

For your info, the Muslims "derived" their strenght to go on as Muslims from the Quran and authentic hadiths. So it is in your interest to part the Muslims from the Quran or to change the text of the Quran just like other people do with their holy scriptures.

To change the Quran is not possible because as at to-date, not even a letter has gone missing since the first manusripts were compiled after the death of prophet Muhammad SAW. Any diference that you may point out between the original manucript and the one I have in my hand now would mostly be answered with ease. Even if you could destroyed and burn all Quranic text available today over the net or the hard copies or all form of storage in computers, chances is that, within a month, new texts would be published as there are million Muslims out there that can memorise the Quran back-to-back letter by letter or part of it. Myself included.

I wish you luck. You can only hope...

Thank you for reading this reminder.

yousuf yacoubi said at October 31, 2004 6:40 PM:

[ParaPundit Editor Note: Someone posting as "yousuf yacoubi" inserted a large piece of text here as if it was his own. In fact, he was quoting atheistic thinker Emma Goldman and her essay The Failure of Christianity. I get really annoyed when people try to post really long essays in the comments and even more annoyed when they do not indicate the real source of such essays.]

zia ullah awan said at December 20, 2004 7:15 AM:

hi mail me later I have a problem here to dicuss 2 u.thanks

Kasper Steele said at January 17, 2005 2:00 PM:

Jack, ur a fool, a single minded fool at that for youe bad-mouthing of Islam. Im not a Muslim, I'm a Christian, and It sickens me to see all of the hatred and tension built up over religion. Christianity is an excellent religion, as is Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, and all other religions of the world. Christianity, Judaism, and Islam are like brothers and sisters to each other. They have so much in common, but like individuals, they are all unique in their own way. Everyone on earth, and all religions have the same goals in life, its the path to reaching those goals is what is different about each religion/system of beliefs in the world. Jack badmouths Islam, yet he fails to say anything about Christianities horrible history. Religions are perfect, its just when ppl get involved, things get distorted. Christians have done a lot of bad stuff and misinterpreted their own Bible, to justify things that are far worser then what any corrupt Islamic regime may be doing now. The US is doing terrible things now....my thoughts are jumbled right now....so many bad things going on....but hope still exists....a Clash of Civilizations does not have to occur......we don't need a World War III.....stop the bickering ppl.....i apologize for my scrambled thoughts but, one last comment, Christianity went through a phase of fundementalism, ive never read the Quran, perhaps i should one day, but maybe Islam should also move away from fundementalism...just a thought

ermays said at June 28, 2005 8:50 AM:

I concur with jack assertion that Islam is a political ideology invented by mohammed to promote arab imperialism. In places where islam spread many wonderful civilization have been vanquished and replaced by arab culture. It is hard to see and living relic from the pre-islamic civilization where islam dominates now. The great copts of egypt, the true heirs of egyptian civilazation, are now treated as dhimmis and live under constant fear of anhilation by hostile muslim arabs invaders who came from asia to the region. The berber in north africa are now second class citizens to arab speaking muslims who invaded northern africa during islamic invasion of north africa. The extent of massacre that india and ancient persia, present day iran, endured under islam is beyond comprehension especailly when one reflects it was done in the name of religion. The wonderful pre-islamic civilization in iran is destroyed beyond recongition. Many non arabs in the world conquered and islamized by arab invaders are brainwashed to the extent of chaning their identity to arabic. In some cases some non arabs are brainwashined is to such an extent they prefer arab culture and language to theri own culture and language. To be Others conquerors have destroyed civilization and committed genocide, including western power but none of them did it in the name of religion. they committed the attrocities for secular reasons.

It amazes me when muslims say their religion is tolerant when it comes to christians and jews whom they refer as people of the book. Is leting others pursue their faith as dehimis tolerance? forcing them to pay additional tax for following a relgion other than islam, revoking whatever limited right they "given" to them by muslims, whenever the muslim majority whishes, subjecting them to repeated outburts of massacer, impovershing them. Is this tolerance? empahtically no,this is the so called notrorious dihimituded, a cunning method designed at strangulation and slow death or conversion of non-muslims. An alternative to the sword. Besides, who gave muslims the right to deny the budhist, the hindu, the atheist, the animist, the zoroastarian, the bahai..etc his right to worship whateve he feels is right. Muslims have every right to preach and evangelize, proselytize peacefully but beheading a person in this day and age for his religous beliefs shows the evil nature of the relgion and its "messenger"

The basic difference between islamic nations and majority non-islamic countries is that the most non-islamic countries grant a free platform to people of all faiths to practice their relgion with peace. I can think of any muslim country in the world where non-muslims feel free and not threatened by the muslim majority. None.

Raz said at July 25, 2005 4:47 AM:

I think, its a bit unfair to judge the religion when you know absoultely nothing about it the history and what its done for mankind. We have to respect all religions, all you see is the bad side what do use really know? honestly? not much i gather about ISLAM. I am a Muslim and I agree with Casper its not the religions fault. Its like if your a teacher you can teach them everything but if they astray how can u be held responsible. Let me show you what WESTERN SCHOLARS non muslim have said about Prophet Muhammad (SAW)

Edward Gibbon and Simon Oakley in ‘History of the Saracen Empire,’ London, 1870
"The greatest success of Mohammad’s life was effected by sheer moral force."

“It is not the propagation but the permanency of his religion that deserves our wonder, the same pure and perfect impression which he engraved at Mecca and Medina is preserved after the revolutions of twelve centuries by the Indian, the African and the Turkish proselytes of the Koran....The Mahometans have uniformly withstood the temptation of reducing the object of their faith and devotion to a level with the senses and imagination of man. ‘I believe in One God and Mahomet the Apostle of God’ is the simple and invariable profession of Islam. The intellectual image of the Deity has never been degraded by any visible idol; the honors of the prophet have never transgressed the measure of human virtue, and his living precepts have restrained the gratitude of his disciples within the bounds of reason and religion.”

Islam was the first to give FEMALE RIGHTS and inhertiance and a chance for education and freedom of speech. Yes there are people who treat their woman wrong in islam but thats every where u go another thing is the West for example did not give woman rights till 1900s. and It was islam who civilised the world do you know all the maths science and culture and family calues came from ISLAM oh yes the europeans than stole it for example the word algebra comes from arabic they are the ones who invented because of one man Prophet Muhammad (SAW) told the uneducated arab world back than to go and educate urselves and become scholars etc Western Scholars are shocked and amazed of the civilization.

And guess what the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) is prohpesised in great detail in every scripture (hindu,buddihst,parsi, torah and the gospel) and another thing how did prophet Muhammad (saw) Prophecies precise prophecies about the future come so true i mean it was like he was reading out of an open book of the future, but anyway my point is instead of insulting Islam, maybe you should learn something about it Open your Minds about it and yes
Quran says "The closest to you muslims you will find are the christians because they belive in GOD PRAY AND ARE NOT PROUD" You should read how the prophet respected the jews and christians and made a treaty to protect each other. So before attack research my freinds anyway Just dont judge every Muslim as a terrorist I think it is really unfair ISLAM has made me everything.

Peace everyone

minna said at September 25, 2005 2:32 PM:

u guyz dont even tell the amount of people

Wu Ming said at October 3, 2005 11:41 PM:

"i hope you burn in hell for what you have written. islam teaches its followers to be loving peaceful and respectable human beings"

The religion of peace strikes again.

"in a few years time you will be claiming that its ok for fathers to sleep with their daughters."

Not like Mohammed who only married his favorite wife when she was 9 and he was 50; made his adopted son give up his bride to him; ordered men to be tortured; and said that anyone who stopped believing in Islam (="submission" which says it all) should be killed.

Mohammed's only Christian concubine was given the choice to convert to Islam and be Mohammed's wife, or stay a slave. She knew Mohammed. She chose to stay a slave.

There are a lot of good things in Islam, and many, many good people. But there are also a lot of things that just look as if a Dark Ages Arab male invented them for his own purposes.

davansta said at July 24, 2008 6:55 AM:

we can claim that some muslims are peaceful, and maybe even that muhammad was peaceful, but the simple fact is that muslim countries do not allow conversion from islam to any other religion in almost every muslim country. proselytizing is met with a death sentence. if it is only people that are misinterpreting islam, why is it so pervasive in every muslim country? are whole nations misled about islam?

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