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Prince Charles reveals heartbreak at Christians persecuted across Middle East

  • The Prince of Wales visited Armenian Church in London today
  • Charles addressed issues facing Christians in the Middle East 
  • He said Christianity is being ‘grotesquely and barbarously assaulted’

Sara Malm for MailOnline

 

The Prince of Wales has spoken of his heartbreak at the ‘soul destroying tragedy’ facing Christians in the Middle East.

Prince Charles said Christianity is being ‘quite literally, grotesquely and barbarously assaulted’, particularly in Syria during the nearly four-year-long civil war.

The heir to the throne addressed the congregation of the St Yeghiche Armenian Church in South Kensington, London today.

Royal anger: The Prince of Wales said Christianity is being 'quite literally, grotesquely and barbarously assaulted' in the Middle East

Royal anger: The Prince of Wales said Christianity is being ‘quite literally, grotesquely and barbarously assaulted’ in the Middle East

He said: ‘We must all as Christians seek to do. For some time now I have been troubled by the appalling atrocities faced by Christians suffering in the Middle East… It is the most soul destroying tragedy.’

Prince Charles added that Armenian Christians had long lived peacefully with their neighbours.

 

The community have suffered as a target of Syria’s civil war and from the violent unrest in the wider region.

The Prince said: ‘It is heartbreaking to learn of the attacks on Christians and on Churches where they gather, such as the Church in Deir el Zour (Syria) earlier this year.’

The Prince finished his address by expressing his sympathies to the congregation for the ongoing attacks, saying: ‘They seem so hopelessly inadequate but please, please just know truly heart felt they are.’

Royal guest: The Prince of Wales visited the Diocese of the Armenian Church in the United Kingtom at the St Yeghiche Armenian Church in London

Royal guest: The Prince of Wales visited the Diocese of the Armenian Church in the United Kingtom at the St Yeghiche Armenian Church in London

Prince Charles called atrocities committed against Christians in the Middle East, and in particular in Syria, a 'soul destroying tragedy'

Prince Charles called atrocities committed against Christians in the Middle East, and in particular in Syria, a ‘soul destroying tragedy’

United: Avak Asadourian, the Armenian Archbishop of Iraq and The Prince of Wales listen at the St Yeghiche Armenian Church

United: Avak Asadourian, the Armenian Archbishop of Iraq and The Prince of Wales listen at the St Yeghiche Armenian Church

During the service, Avak Asadourian, the Archbishop of Iraq, spoke of the problems facing Armenian Christians in the region from his own experiences.

‘Due to assaults Iraqi Christians are leaving the country of their forefathers. In 1980 there were 1.5 million, this is now down to 400,000 due to the encroachment of Isis,’ he said.

‘If political measures are not adopted very soon, then in the Middle East Christian manifestations will cease to exist in its own birthplace,’ he said.

While at the church, Charles also spoke with Bishop Vahan Hovhanessian, Primate of the Armenian Church in the UK, and doctor Armen Sarkissian, the Armenian ambassador.

Charles has existing ties with the Armenian community and has shown an interest in encouraging inter-faith dialogue over the years.

He visited Armenia in May 2013 and spoke with some of the country’s leading Christian figures.

In December last year Charles expressed concern about the challenges facing Christians in some Middle-Eastern nations in a visit to the Coptic Orthodox Church Centre in Stevenage and the Syrian Orthodox Church in Acton.

 

Conyers: More must be done to save Christians from ISIS

Seventy years ago, as the horrors of the Holocaust were revealed, the world rallied around a simple promise: never again. If a minority group in any nation should face the threat of systematic slaughter, we pledged not to avert our eyes.

Right now — in a region awash with media attention — it’s happening again. Yet few are paying attention.

In Iraq, the Chaldean Christians — an ancient sect with unique traditions and deep ties to Roman Catholicism — have been ruthlessly targeted by extremist militant groups, including al-Qaida and, most recently, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Over the past decade, monasteries have been raided, prominent clergy have been abducted and executed, and churches have been bombed and attacked during worship. With the rise of ISIS in northern Iraq, entire communities have been purged of their Chaldean populations.

As a member of Congress from Michigan — home to the largest Chaldean diaspora population in America — these devastating stories are all too familiar to me. The world needs to know. The Chaldean people need help.

The Obama administration has initiated military action against ISIS in response to the grave humanitarian threat to minority groups in northern Iraq. This year, the U.S. has dedicated $200 million to deal with the emergency. Laudably, Saudi Arabia recently pledged $500 million. But Chaldean leaders in the U.S. continue to receive reports of communities encircled by ISIS and cut off from aid. It’s become clear that the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, which oversees much of the relief effort, must do more to collaborate with leaders from the Chaldean community and other minority groups to learn where people are suffering most.

America’s failure to accept many Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany in the years leading up to World War II remains a stain on our conscience. There are steps our government can and should take right now to avoid repeating this moral failure. Last month, I, along with colleagues from both parties, wrote to President Barack Obama to encourage the administration to coordinate with the government of Iraq and international and regional partners on the ground to resume in-country processing of Iraqi refugees.

When sufficient embassy staffing can be safely provided in Iraq, our government should prioritize the swift resettlement of Yazidis, Chaldeans and other persecuted people to safe places. The administration should also use its broad authority to parole people into our country on a case-by-case basis during a humanitarian emergency, using a mechanism through the Department of Homeland Security.

Through this authority, religious minorities who already have family living in the U.S. can be reunited with their loved ones.

The destruction of Iraq’s minority communities has been much slower than the mass atrocities in Rwanda, Yugoslavia, Cambodia and Nazi Germany during the 20th Century, but there’s simply no word other than genocide to describe the complete purging of a people from their land. As Americans, we have not only an obligation but also some important tools to stop this from happening.

John Conyers Jr., a Democrat from Detroit, represents the 13th District in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Are Christians Getting Jesus All Wrong? Preacher Reveals the Bible Verse That …

What if some contemporary Christians are getting Jesus all wrong? That’s the question at the center of Pastor Dharius Daniels’ new book titled, “RePresent Jesus” — a text that promises to paint a picture of Christ that “people will want to follow.”

Daniels, founder of the Kingdom Church in Ewing, New Jersey, told TheBlaze recently that he believes there’s sometimes a disconnect between the Jesus that many Christians are taught about and the Jesus who appears in the Bible — a scenario that can lead believers astray.

The pastor said that the image of Christ that manifests in many believers’ minds is often colored by individuals’ own desires of what they think or want Jesus to be like — a paradigm that is predicated upon assumptions surrounding how the Christian savior would react to certain contemporary issues.

“I believe that disconnect exists, because in many Christian circles the emphasis is so much on his death — which is important — but I think equal attention is not given to his life,” Daniels said. “So we really don’t know what he was like.”

As an example, the preacher noted that he would have given very nebulous terms if someone asked him to describe Jesus’ character before reconsidering his understanding of Christ.

But he said mere terms aren’t enough, as one must explore Jesus’ actions and interactions in the Bible to truly understand how to look at at him through a contemporary lens.

“If you take John 8 — the woman who was about to be stoned … what I did in my time of study was look at that and ask myself, ‘Now who is this woman today, because she’s got a private moral failure that’s become public knowledge?’” he said. “Well, this could be the latest politician, pastor, coworker who drank too much at the Christmas party, [or] the boy or girl who did something crazy at the prom.”

Christian Bautista, naipapakita ang iba pang talento maliban sa pagkanta


 
Nagpapasalamat si Christian Bautista sa GMA Network dahil nabibigyan siya ng pagkakataon na maipakita ang iba pa niyang talento maliban sa pagkanta.
 
Halos isang taon mula nang maging Kapuso, napanood na sa ilang serye si Christian. Ngayon, kabilang siya sa primetime series ng GMA na Strawberry Lane kung saan kailangan niyang magpatubo ng balbas para sa kaniyang karakter.

Halos dalawang buwan raw niyang pinatubo ang kaniyang balbas para maging mas effective ang medyo gray character niya sa nabanggit na soap opera.

“Paminsan-minsan inaaahit ko, kasi [kapag masyadong humaba], si Jay Manalo na yun,  yung puro bigote,” ang natatawang pagtukoy pa ni Christian sa isa pang co-star niya sa teleserye.

Bukod sa telebisyon, may pagkakataon na abala rin siya sa musical play kung saan napagsasama niya ang kaniyang talento sa pag-arte at pagkanta.

Host din si Christian ng Saturday dance show na Marian, kung saan kailangan naman niyang magpakitang gilas sa dance floor.

“First, thank you sa GMA na lahat ng areas, binigyan ako ng chance! So I’m very grateful.”

Sa Marian, lagi siyang pinipilit ni Marian Rivera na sumayaw sa pagtatapos ng show na kaniya namang pinauunlakan.

“Si Marian, parang nakakatuwa na nagkaroon kami ng connection especially sa hosting ‘tsaka sa dancing.

“Lagi niya akong, ‘O, Christian, ikaw naman, Christian!’

“Kasi nung una, ‘di ba, parang awkward.

“Ngayon parang katuwaan na lang, na ‘Halika, magsayaw tayo!’”

Kumuha ba siya ng dance lessons?

“Hindi pa seryoso kasi meron pa ito [Strawberry Lane], ginagawa ko pa ito.

“Siguro pagkatapos nitong soap baka puwede na akong alam mo yun.

“Hindi naman yung… hindi ko naman ini-expect na maging Gary [Valenciano] or Billy [Crawford].

“At least, confidence lang ba na kahit hindi malinis basta makagalaw.”

Nilinaw naman ni Christian ang Twitter post niya na last two taping days na lang nila para sa Marian.

Sinabi mismo ni Marian sa launch nito as celebrity endorser ng Nailandia Nail Salon Body Spa na tuloy ang show hangga’t kaya pa ng Primetime Queen.

Paglilinaw ni Christian, “What I meant sa post ko is this season. So this season.

“Kasi blessing na rin itong second season ng Marian kasi akala namin one season lang, e.

“So ang running joke nga habang hindi pa buntis si Marian, e magkakaroon ng third season,” at tumawa si Christian.

“So yung second season, medyo malapit na [matapos] by the end of the year.

“’Tapos yung third season, depende. Iyon ang we’ll see.” — Rommel Gonzales, PEP

For the full story, visit PEP.

It’s Time to Speak Out on Global Christian Persecution

ISIS fighters
ISIS fighters (CBN)

Do a computer search for “ISIS” and “Christians” and prepare to gasp in horror. ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or simply Islamic State) is slaughtering Christians in the Middle East in a war on Christianity that is more deadly than the one between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

While most of the Western world focused on Gaza last summer, ISIS was murdering people mercilessly. And as shouts of outrage concerning the war in Gaza proliferated, the virtual silence on the war against Christians was deafening.

During the civil rights movement in America, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. voiced concern that people refused to speak up when injustice reigned. “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends,” he said. Today in the war on Christians, the silence of friends speaks volumes.

“Is anybody listening?” asked Kirsten Powers in her July USA Today article “Iraqi Christians’ nightmare.” “Thanks to ISIS persecution, Mosul is without Christians for the first time in 2,000 years,” she wrote. ISIS had swarmed into Mosul demanding Christians convert, pay a tax, leave or die. It robbed, pillaged, tortured and expelled all the Christians there.

Speaking on Breitbart.com in July, counterinsurgency and counterterrorism expert Dr. Sebastian Gorka called the situation “a Christian version of the Holocaust and nothing less.” He also said, “The mainstream media are warped in terms of their world view. … So when it comes to the idea of religious persecution, they say, ‘Well who really cares, because I don’t believe in God. If you are not sophisticated enough to be a postmodernist secularist … tough on you!'”

There are some voices trying to be heard. U.S. Congressman Frank Wolf (R-Va.), co-chairman of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, tried to get an official White House response to the war. In June 2013, he called the U.S. government’s response to persecuted Christians in the Mideast “anemic and at times outright baffling.”

Just over a year later, this past July, on the House floor, Wolf referred to Dr. King’s statement, saying, “The silence of the president and the silence of this administration is unbelievable.” Later, in an interview, Wolf added, “This place doesn’t want to do anything.”

U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) asked Congress to pass a bipartisan bill establishing a special envoy to the Middle East to promote religious freedom and protect minorities, condemning the deadly violence against Coptic Christians in Egypt.

The American Center for Law and Justice started a petition calling on U.S. President Barack Obama to demand that Christians be protected in Egypt in exchange for U.S. foreign aid. David Brog, executive director of Christians United For Israel, declared, “This is a modern pogrom. The silence must end. The United States must lead.” Raymond Ibrahim, with the David Horowitz Freedom Center, said, “The overwhelming majority of Christian persecution around the world today is being committed at the hands of Muslims of all races, languages, cultures and sociopolitical circumstances.”

According to Open Doors USA, which ministers to persecuted Christians worldwide, nine of the top 10 countries where Christians suffer the most are Islamic. The majority of anti-Christian persecution in the world in 2013 took place at the hands of Muslims. In 2009, President Obama delivered a major speech in Cairo, Egypt, declaring, “I’ve come here to Cairo to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world, one based on mutual interest and mutual respect, and one based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive and need not be in competition.” The Palestinian Authority hailed it as “the beginning of a new American policy.” Maybe that is why the White House so far has said so little.

Steve Herzig is Director of North American Ministries and a Bible teacher for The Friends of Israel.

Christian | Christians | ISIS | Islam | Islamic State | Islamist terror | Persecuted Church | Persecution

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Christians in danger in ‘North Korea of Africa’

While the UN and its members continue to go after North Korea for crimes against humanity, another North Korea-type nation remains a major concern. 

Eritrea, located in East Africa, is often referred to as “The Great Prison” and the “North Korea of Africa.”

According to Cameron Thomas at International Christian Concern, Eritrea is one of the most concerning countries to his organization.

In 2002, the current dictator of Eritrea passed a law that established state religions.

“Now if you don’t practice one of those state religions – and evangelical Christianity is not one of those state religions – you are driven underground,” warns Thomas.

If Christians are found to be practicing religion freely, such as meeting outside a state-sponsored church or possessing a Bible, not only will they be taken away from family, they also face torture, too. 

Thomas explains: “There is extreme likelihood that you will be tortured while being detained, often times in an underground prison with no sunlight for months, if not years, at a time.” 

Traditional views of marriage, and a protest sign, got a British man tossed as a Red Cross volunteer.

Kenyan Christians lobby for strict IVF rules

NAIROBI, Kenya—Kenyan lawmakers are facing a backlash from a Christian lobby group over a law aimed at regulating in vitro fertilization, an assisted reproduction technology that is gaining popularity there. The Christian group says the bill doesn’t go far enough to protect women or children.

The Kenya Christian Professionals Forum claims the bill is another way of legalizing selective abortion, which they term as illegal, unethical, and unacceptable in Kenya. The lobby wants the bill to state clearly that there should be no placement of more than three embryos in a woman’s womb because of the grave danger posed to the mother and the risk of premature birth of the children. 

The group also wants the bill to define “infertility” and make it available only to married couples who cannot achieve pregnancy by natural means. And the group wants the bill to prohibit people from offering compensation for sperm or egg donation and bar export or import of eggs or embryos. It is now left to the medical practitioners to determine whether or not to compensate, and how to compensate, those who donate eggs or sperm.

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The lobby argues enacting the bill as it is presents an avenue for abuse through scientific research, which could be done without the knowledge of the donors.

In vitro fertilization has been taking place in Kenya without any regulation until now. According to the bill’s sponsor, the legislation will fill that legal gap and make provisions that address the consent necessary for the procedure; the regulation of the handling of embryos resulting from the processes; protection of the identity, status, and welfare of children born as a result; and the obligations of people seeking the procedure and their status as parents.

The bill also creates an In Vitro Fertilization Authority which will regulate the processes and develop additional standards, regulations, and guidelines.

Millie Mabona, the bill’s sponsor, has declined to meet with her critics, but she said their misgivings are not valid since she is working even for the interest of Christian women who are having difficulty conceiving. Without legitimate fertility treatment options, Mabona suggested, women might be tempted to seek other partners in an attempt to get pregnant.

“I have not met [the Christian Professionals] but all I can say is most women who have approached me are Christian faithful who do not want to have kids with other men behind their husbands back due to their Christian faith,” Mabona said.

The Kenyan constitution recognizes that every person has a right to life, and that life starts at conception. The forum contends in vitro fertilization means human life will come into existence in a laboratory.

Robert Aseda, media officer at Network for Adolescents and Youth, said although it is important that the concerns raised by the forum be addressed, technological revolutions throughout the world have provided opportunities to answer old challenges and that as a nation, Kenya cannot afford to be left behind. 

“Reproductive technology such as in vitro fertilization and surrogacy will go a long way in ensuring that women who cannot achieve pregnancy through natural means have an opportunity of bringing to life their own blood through surrogate mothers,” he said. “Women with damaged reproductive system either due to disability, accidents or diseases finally have an opportunity to do what they could never have imagined possible.”

Rayhab Gachango, a Christian woman who has followed the debate over the bill, said Kenyan society wrongly defines a woman by her ability to have children. But women sometimes struggle for years to have children of their own.

“The Bible says God is the giver of life,” she said. “Even those test tube babies are part of His creation. The children are not being formed out of artificial sperm or eggs. It is not an issue whether it is in a test tube or the womb. There is no magic or witchcraft there. Sometimes it is just that the process of fertilization in a woman’s body does not take place because of various issues affecting either the man or the woman.” 

The debate comes at a time when reports indicate more and more Kenyan couples are embracing in vitro fertilization since the procedure was first successfully done in Kenya in 2006. 

Dr. S. R. Mishra, chairman of the Mediheal Group of Hospitals, said initially the group handled about 20 cases every year. Now his team does 40 to 50 treatments each year.

In African society, infertility has always been considered a taboo subject, but Dr. Praful Patel, a fertility expert, said nearly one-third of the Kenyan population has difficulty having children for one reason or another. 

Christian singer Lacey Sturm: God saved me from suicide

Christian singer and former Flyleaf frontwoman Lacey Sturm opened up about her difficult past Tuesday, saying she was planning to commit suicide when she had an encounter with God that saved her life.

Sturm spoke to Fox News’ Lauren Green about her experiences.

“When I was ten-years-old, my cousin, who was about three at the time, was beaten to death by his stepfather,” Sturm said. “My mother always talked to me about God, but at the time I just remember thinking I couldn’t reconcile how God could allow something like that to happen.”

Over time, Sturm said she began to see herself as an Atheist and was resentful toward Christians.

“I realize now I was actually searching for something that was true. I didn’t find anything solid, anybody’s faith that I saw from the outside,” Sturm said. “In that moment, the day that I had planned to commit suicide, I realized this encounter with God was so much more real than anything that I’d ever heard from anyone.”

Sturm left the band Flyleaf in 2012 to start a family. She now has two children and is working on a solo album. Her book, “The Reason: How I Discovered a Life Worth Living,” details her dark past and her journey to find faith and help others.

“God just rescued me,” Sturm said. “All of the blessings that I’ve seen come out of my life have been from Him just rescuing me. It’s not like from I was this great person; I wasn’t. I just think it’s amazing what He can do with our mess.”

Watch the full interview in the video above.

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In Iraq’s Tel Skuf, Christians Reportedly Hold Mass Again

There have been reports this week that refugees from the Christian town of Tel Skuf in northern Iraq have managed to hold the first mass in the town since it was recaptured from Islamic State (IS) militants in August.

Tel Skuf is a predominantly Assyrian town in Iraq’s Nineveh Province, some 30 kilometers north of Mosul.

Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga forces managed to dislodge IS gunmen from Tel Skuf in August, amid U.S.-led air strikes targeting IS in Nineveh Province. 

There are several discrepancies between various accounts of the mass in Tel Skuf, however.

According to reports in various Iraqi outlets, the mass was held in the Mar Yacob (St. Jacob’s) Church, one of two churches in Tel Skuf. The Vatican news outlet Agenzia Fides, however, reports that the mass was held in another church, St. George’s. 

According to Fides, the mass was celebrated by a group of refugees who fled the town when Islamic State took over the area.

The refugees did not stay in Tel Skuf after the mass, according to Fides, which cited a Chaldean priest in Mosul, Paul Thabit Mekko, as saying that “a group of young men, now refugees in Kurdistan, wanted to go there with a priest for a few hours, with the intent to open the church, ring the bells and celebrate mass. After the liturgy they returned to the north, in places where they are currently living as refugees.”

Tel Skuf has remained a virtual ghost town following its recapture by Peshmerga forces, with residents too afraid to return. However, some Assyrian Christians from the area have formed a militia group to combat IS, according to reports from September.

“We want to take our cities back from the Islamic State. We want to protect the Christian villages. No one wants their home, life, and land taken from them, no one wants this. I am doing this not just for me but for the Christians of my country,” one Assyrian Christian, named as Tabya, told “Scotland on Sunday” in September. 

– Joanna Paraszczuk

Imam insulted Christians, Jews in National Cathedral

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Islam is hard-wired with a “conquering” mentality that dates back to its earliest days, says a noted author, and that mentality was on display Friday at the Washington National Cathedral.

Even in a service billed as a symbolic olive branch to Christianity, celebrated inside an iconic church, Islam’s air of supremacy could not help but leak out, says Dr. Andrew Bostom, author of several books on Islam including “The Legacy of Jihad: Islamic Holy War and the Fate of Non-Muslims” in 2005 and “The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism: From Sacred Texts to Solemn History” in 2008.

Not that anyone in the Episcopal cathedral cared to notice.

“After viewing Friday’s ostensible exercise in ‘ecumenism’ at the National Cathedral, it is impossible for me to discern whether the Christian event organizers are more ethically, or intellectually cretinous,” writes Bostom in his blog at AndrewBostom.org.

Bostom is an associate professor of medicine at Brown University Medical School and author of four exhaustive studies on Islam.

He said the verses that Imam Ebrahim Rasool, who is South Africa’s ambassador to the U.S., read to those gathered for Friday’s “call to prayer” were familiar to Muslims but probably did not resonate with many Christians. The verses are widely interpreted by the Muslim hadiths and Quranic commentaries as stinging rebukes of Christianity and Judaism, Bostom said. The hadiths are the written reports of the teachings of Muhammad.

Dr. Andrew Bostom

Rasool quoted only the latter portion of Quran 5:82, which says “you will find the nearest in love to the believers (Muslims) those who say: ‘We are Christians.’ That is because amongst them are priests and monks, and they are not arrogant.”

But Rasool cleverly omitted the opening half of 5:82: “Verily, you will find the strongest among men in enmity to the believers (Muslims) the Jews and those who are Al-Mushrikun (i.e., ‘idolatrous’ Hindus, Buddhists and Animists).”

Bostom, who is Jewish, explained that part of the verse is about Christianity, but the imam didn’t read the first part about Judaism.

“I don’t blame him. He is a pious Muslim. That’s what he is supposed to do. He’s a proud Muslim. It’s the church that makes me outraged,” Bostom said.

Rasool later invoked the Quran’s questionable intent toward Christians and all non-Muslims who refuse to submit to a Shariah-based Muslim order, quoting Quran 3:26: “Say ‘O Allah! Possessor of the kingdom, You give the kingdom to whom You will, and You take the kingdom from whom You will, and You endue with honor whom You will, and You humiliate whom You will. In Your Hand is the good. Verily, You are Able to do all things.’”

While the above verse may sound innocuous to the untrained ear, Bostom cites authoritative Muslim interpretations, from classical to modern, which “consistently reveal its inherent threat of violent jihad conquest by Muslims against non-Muslims.”

The commentaries span 600 years, Bostom says, starting with Ibn Kathir (d. 1373), one of the best-known historians and traditionalists of Syria during the reign of the Bahri Mamluks. His commentary on 3:26 states:

This Ayah [verse] encourages thanking Allah for the favors He granted His Messenger [Muhammad] and his Ummah [the Muslim community]. Allah transferred the prophethood from the Children of Israel to the Arab, Qurayshi [Muhammad’s Arab tribe], Meccan, unlettered Prophet, the Final and Last of all Prophets. … Hereafter, Allah allowed Muhammad’s Ummah to reach the eastern and western parts of the world and gave dominance to his religion [Islam] and Law [Shariah] over all other religions and laws.

Following Rasool’s sermon, a verse from the opening chapter of the Quran, the Fatiha, was recited. It doesn’t specify Christians or Jews, but authoritative commentaries by Muslim scholars interpret it as a reference to members of the two religions.

“That verse, 1:7, is repeated by believing Muslims 17 times a day. It’s a curse on Christianity and Jews,” Bostom said. “But it is more subtle than some of the other verses in the Quran, because it says those who have engendered Allah’s anger, the Jews, and those who’ve gone astray, the Christians, if you look back to the very first exegeses of the Quran, that’s exactly how Muslims are taught to interpret this verse, that they are following the correct path and those allegedly following the religions closest to them are wrong.”

For a more modern analysis of the Fatiha’s meaning to Muslims, Bostom turns to “The Quran: An Encyclopedia,” a mainstream publication authored by 43 Muslim and non-Muslim academics. The prayer from the Quran mentions two groups of people, one blessed and one destined for wrath. The encyclopedia identifies them:

[T]he phrase in the daily prescribed prayers “Guide us to the straight path, to the path of those you have blessed, not of those who incurred [Your] wrath, nor of the misguided” (al-Fatiha, 1:5-7.) … mention two groups of people but do not say who they are. The Prophet [Muhammad] interpreted those who incurred God’s wrath as the Jews and the misguided as the Christians.

So the prayer spoken over the participants in Friday’s Muslim service by Rasool reminded Muslims they are blessed while Christians and Jews are forsaken.

By citing 3:26 from the Quran, Rasool was clearly making a point about who Allah chose to humiliate, Bostom said.

“It’s a little plain sounding, but the classical commentaries say it’s about the conquests of Christian Byzantium and Zoroastrian Persia,” he said. “And this is also about a contemporary threat, because they (the Christians) haven’t learned.”

Bostom cites the “very authoritative commentary” on the verse by the grand mufti of India, Maulana Muhammad Shafi, who died in 1976. Shafi brings current-day threatening overtones to the passage in 3:26 when he says “appearing in the form of a prayer this verse so eloquently brings into focus the most perfect power of Allah as it manifests itself in the rise and fall of nations and in the revolutions that rock countries.”

The commentary goes on to say that Persia and Byzantium fell to Muslims and “the enemies of Islam have not learned their lesson from the rise and fall of past wielders of power for they judge events and personalities from the material angle while the truth is that all powers and governments of the world are in the hands of the most pristine power of Allah, the one in whose hands lies all honor and disgrace.”

Rasool’s quote from 5:82 in the Quran was tricky, Bostom said, but he does not blame Rasool for using the opportunity that was handed to him by the

South African Ambassador to the U.S. Ebrahim Rasool is also an Islamic imam.

Episcopalians who run the National Cathedral.

“That was a very deceptive ploy by Rasool to only recite the second part of 5:82. He says the ecumenical-sounding part but not the rest. It’s incredible, but then he goes on to warn about the conquest of Byzantium and explained how that applies today,” Bostom said.

“This is what’s so incredibly different about Islam,” he said. “The current grand imam of Cairo’s Al-Azhar University, Ahmed Al-Tayeb – in terms of stature way beyond Mr. Rasool – he says this verse (5:82) of the Quran explains relations between Muslims and Jews.

“See how we suffer today from Jewish and Zionist interference in Muslim affairs, this is a cause of great distress in Muslims,” said Al-Tayeb on Oct. 25, 2013, in a television interview.

“Can you imagine if Pope Francis made such a comment?” Bostom asked.

But the Christians in attendance Friday would have heard nothing inflammatory in these verses, Bostom said.

“When you read the commentaries, which explain the way Muslims are supposed to interpret the verses, every Christian in that church should be outraged,” Bostom said. “He’s succeeded at humiliating us, he’s lording his creed over the infidel on the infidel’s own turf.”

To use a football metaphor, Bostom said, “This is like they’re already up at least two or three touchdowns, and now he’s slamming the football down on the turf, your turf.”

“And they (the leaders of the National Cathedral) were oblivious to this. It had to be pointed out to them.”

Looking through history’s lens

When it was pointed out to the dean of the National Cathedral, Gary Hall, that two of the prayer service’s sponsors, the Council on American Islamic Relations and Islamic Society of America, were created by the Muslim Brotherhood and that the service was held on the 100th anniversary of the Ottoman Turks’ jihad against Christian Armenians, Hall responded as follows:

“I did not know that it was that anniversary. But knowing it now, it actually seems to be more appropriate to have an event that is on an anniversary of a hard time… There have been atrocities on both sides. There have been extremists on both sides.”

Hall said Christians were just as guilty of violence as Muslims throughout history.

“The Christian church … a few centuries before was doing similar kinds of things in the Holy Land with the Crusader states and the Crusades themselves,” Hall told the reporter from Breitbart. “Almost every religious tradition is guilty at some point of fostering violence in the name of that religious tradition.”

Bostom finds Hall’s comments both factually misleading and ethically suspect. The Crusades, while they did include atrocious conduct by Christians, came after 400 years of vicious attacks by Muslims on Christians, he said.

Bostom also looks at the historical response by Christians to their own violent acts and compares it to the way Muslims have responded to their atrocities.

‘Mea Culpa’ and the Crusades

Modern Christians have displayed a healthy sense of “mea culpa” about the Crusades, but Muslims show no such remorse about their holy wars, he said.

“You could say, well, this is the way Westerners and Christians understand the principle of mea culpa, but you never get that from Muslims,” he said. “You never hear them discuss the fact that it was 400 years of Muslim jihad campaigns, some of which were genocidal by Western standards, that preceded the Crusades.

“Heading east, they conquered Sindh Province in Pakistan and slaughtered hundreds of thousands of Hindus. You had the threat on Western Europe and the Seljuk Turks causing massive destruction on their way to the Holy Land, and those were the threats that Christians were under at the time the Pope called for the Crusades,” Bostom said. “Sure, Christians talk openly about the atrocities … and there’s a debate and always a strain of mea culpa in Christianity, but there’s no such thing in Islam.”

Then came the Ottoman wave of conquests that was not broken until 1683 at Vienna, Austria.

Not only does the principle of mea culpa not exist in Islam’s major teachings, but the jihad is perceived as a just and holy endeavor, Bostom said.

“Just like jihad can’t be criticized, it’s like Muhammad can’t be criticized, like Allah can’t be criticized,” Bostom said.

But to remove these criticisms from school textbooks as many American schools are now doing under pressure from CAIR can provide a distorted view of history.

Bostom said Muslims, in their own triumphant accounts, wrote of the booties they captured and the numbers they slaughtered in India and Central Asia.

“As they ravaged the Indian civilization in Afghanistan and India, smashed the Hindu idols and shrine, then grind them up and use them to pave the walkways up to the mosques,” he said. “And look what’s happening now in Israel with the whole issue of the Temple Mount. And this kind of exercise at the National Cathedral feeds and reinforces this supremacist strain that is in Islam that is hardwired into it. The creed believes Islam is the final revelation.”

On a 13-year journey

Bostom said he has been on a 13-year journey to understand Islam as Muslims understand Islam.

“It was hard for me, in exploring the Quran over the last 13 years, until I learned you have to really look at the commentaries to see how Muslims have been taught to understand these verses over the years,” Bostom said. “It’s really important when in any doubt to go back to the authoritative commentaries. The harshest are the authoritative ones, and it’s very consistent. Muhammad became increasingly intolerant of those who didn’t abide by his ways, and that’s how it became a conquering creed, and that is the overriding theme.”

But the conquering doesn’t have to be done by violence. And that’s where events like last week’s Friday call to prayer at the National Cathedral come into play.

Bostom said Muslims have “learned how to engage in Muslim-Christian dialogue as a form of conquest.”

“Everywhere they go now it’s, ‘Oh, we need dialogue with this group, and we need dialogue with that group.’”

Bostom said he wasn’t sure how the National Cathedral service was going to play out.

“It was actually very threatening. It’s very demeaning,” he said. “I thought maybe they would just cite some of the more pacifistic parts of the Quran or parts trying to get Arabs to pay attention to them. But, no, they don’t feel they have to do that. They feel they can do a traditional Muslim service that preaches all of its supremacism right there in a church.

“It’s incredible to me how they did that. I guarantee you [the Episcopal leaders] will not look up the classical interpretation of these verses. They will remain in a state of denial,” Bostom said.

“This is the way civilizations are lost.”

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