Shuck and Jive

Opinions expressed here are my own and do not represent the views of the congregation I joyfully serve. But my congregation loves me!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Muslim Community Reaches Out

This is in today's Johnson City Press:

Newly converted Muslim Angie Travers has been asked what she can possibly get out of a religion espousing violence.

Islam has nothing to do with violence, she must explain. Most people only see the violence attributed to Muslims on the news and not how the majority of the Islamic community live and worship.

But it is only fair to learn about Islam from a Muslim, said Muslim Community of Northeast Tennessee committee member Ihab AbuZayda. And on Thursday and Friday, will be the chance to do that as MCNET hosts “Common Word Between Us: Islam in America.”

“I’m sure there are many common things between us,” Ihab said. “And this event is to see the common things between the Muslims and non-Muslims. This whole idea is for the non-Muslims to come. We want our co-workers, our neighbors, the students we study for exams with, everybody to come.”

Standing in front of the Muslim Community Center on Antioch Road are Angie Travers and Deena and AbuZayada all members of MCNET (Rex Barber / Johnson City Press)

The event will be held at East Tennessee State University’s Rogers Stout Hall, room 102, on Thursday at 6 p.m., and Friday at the newly built Islamic center at 3010 Antioch Road at 6 p.m.

Speaking will be Yusha Evans, a former Christian youth minister who converted to Islam several years ago. Ihab and his wife, Deena, said Evans’ testimony should make it easier for non-Muslim guests at the event to learn about Islam.

MCNET held a similar event this past November called “Bridge to Faith.” It was similar in concept, but different in the topics discussed. Travers said she found it hard to find a seat at those events because they were so popular.

“Well it was very successful, actually,” Deena said of the November event. “And we had a lot of people from various communities come.”

Listeners traveled up to two hours for November’s lectures. And that is encouraging, Deena said, because Islam is a rapidly growing faith.

“This is definitely the opportunity for everybody to get educated on that, to break those misconceptions and misunderstandings.”

The center on Antioch Road has been there just more than one year. MCNET serves Muslims in the entire Northeast Tennessee/Southwest Virginia area. Ihab said chances are good that most people know a Muslim.

“And there are Muslims many people would interact with on a daily basis, but they do not know they’re Muslims.”

Deena said everyone is invited not only to the program, but to the Islamic center anytime.

“It doesn’t matter who you are, where you’re from,” she said. “You’re always welcome.”

I hope many folks in the Tri-Cities will take this opportunity to meet our Muslim friends. Do check out the blog I created for our congregation to be acquainted with the Qur'an.



50 comments:

  1. Are you up to the bit in the Koran where Muhammad gets a revelation telling him he can divorce his wives if they do not toe his line?

    That was a remarkably convenient revelation.

    Sura 33:25-27

    25. And Allah turned back the unbelievers in their rage; they did not obtain any advantage, and Allah sufficed the believers in fighting; and Allah is Strong, Mighty.

    26. And He drove down those of the followers of the Book who backed them from their fortresses and He cast awe into their hearts; some you killed and you took captive another part.

    27. And He made you heirs to their land and their dwellings and their property, and to a land which you have not yet trodden, and Allah has power over all things.

    Doesn't this describe the public heading of 600+ Jews, inhabitants of the town that the pagans had attacked?

    And whose land , dwellings and property now belonged to Muslims?

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  2. No, I am not up to that "bit" yet.

    I am not sure how that has anything to do with my post, unless of course some asshole wants to further stereotypes and misconceptions about the lives of my neighbors and friends.

    That wouldn't be you would it?

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  3. I see.

    You think only an 'asshole' would report what the Koran and the Hadith say?


    Sura 66:1-5 of the Qu'ran reads as follows
    1. O Prophet! why do you forbid yourself that which Allah has made lawful for you; you seek to please your wives; and Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.
    2.Allah indeed has sanctioned for you the expiation of your oaths and Allah is your Protector, and He is the Knowing the Wise.
    3. And when the prophet secretly communicated a piece of information to one of his wives-- but when she informed others of it, and Allah made him to know it, he made known part of it and avoided part; so when he informed her of it, she said: Who informed you of this? He said: The Knowing, the one Aware, informed me.
    4.If you both turn to Allah, then indeed your hearts are already inclined (to this); and if you back up each other against him, then surely Allah it is Who is his Guardian, and Jibreel and -the believers that do good, and the angels after that are the aiders.
    5. Maybe, his Lord, if he divorce you, will give him in your place wives better than you, submissive, faithful, obedient, penitent, adorers, fasters, widows and virgins.

    What is the story behind these verses, according to the Islamic sources?

    As Muhammad had many wives, he visited each in turn. Once , Hafsa found Muhammad and Mary together on a day when it was supposed to be Hafsa's turn.

    Mary was a perfectly legal concubine of Muhammad, but Hafsa was still upset as she had found them in her hut. Hafsa and Muhammad argued and Muhammad agreed to keep away from Mary, if Hafsa agreed not to tell Muhammad's other wives what had been happening.

    However, Hafsa told Aisha and one thing led to another and Muhammad was soon on bad terms with all his wives.

    Then, Muhammad had the divine revelation quoted above, allowing him to expiate his oaths and permitting him to threaten to divorce his wives and replace them with more obedient ones.

    Naturally, his wives soon caved in.

    Even hardened cynics would be pressed to come up with stories better illustrating how convenient for Muhammad the revelations from God were than the stories found in the Islamic biographies of the Prophet.

    Of course, those Islamic bioggraphies of the Prophet were all written by 'assholes' who wanted to perpetuate sterotypes about American Muslims.


    The Flame - Sura 111.
    In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.
    1. Perdition overtake both hands of Abu Lahab, and he will perish.
    2. His wealth and what he earns will not avail him.
    3. He shall soon burn in fire that flames,
    4. And his wife, the bearer of fuel,
    5. Upon her neck a halter of strongly twisted rope.
    In The Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

    I wonder why a chapter of God's eternal, unchanging, divine revelation is devoted to cursing one poor 6th century Arab and his wife. Does this curse sound like a beneficent, merciful God?


    Even an 'asshole' can read the Koran, you know.....

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  4. And one can read the Bible for all kinds of juicy tidbits about a violent God who endorses genocide among other things.

    Again, point: Nothing to do with my neighbors and friends in Johnson City and to bring your stuff up in this post simply furthers stereotyping and misconception about real people who live in my neighborhood.

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  5. BTW Steven,

    If you want to discuss or debate interpretations of the Qur'an, take it up with these guys.

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  6. I gave no intepretation.

    I simply reported what Muslims say about their prophet.

    And Muslims said such things a thousand years before Johnson County was even thought of.

    Of course, you can always find all sorts of juicy tidbits about murder, mass beheadings in any 'spiritual classic'.

    It would hardly be a spiritual classic if there were not reports of people being killed because they worshipped the wrong God.

    Or killed for adultery, as Bukhari's revered collection of Hadith says was the way of Muhammad

    Volume 7 Number 195:

    A man from the tribe of Bani Aslam came to the Prophet while he was in the mosque and said, 'I have committed illegal sexual intercourse.'

    The Prophet turned his face to the other side. The man turned towards the side towards which the Prophet had turned his face, and gave four witnesses against himself.

    On that the Prophet called him and said, 'Are you insane?' (He added), 'Are you married?' The man said, 'Yes.' On that the Prophet ordered him to be stoned to the death in the Musalla (a praying place). When the stones hit him with their sharp edges and he fled, but he was caught at Al-Harra and then killed.

    Ask any of your Muslim friends if this Hadith is genuine.

    I hope some of them have the decency to say they do not follow the way of Muhammad.

    Many Muslims do indeed renounce Muhammad's teachings.

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  7. Any translation from Arabic is an interpretation.

    Let me say the point again:

    I posted about an event in our local community.

    You use this post as an opportunity to cast a shadow on real people by quoting texts.

    In so doing, you reinforce misconceptions and stereotypes.

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  8. You wanted people to learn about Islam.

    So I posted Islamic texts.

    What 'misconceptions' are there in repeating Muslim claims that Muhammad ordered the assassination of people?

    Here is one of Bukhari's hadith (Volume 4, Number 270), showing how one person was dealt with after he wrote satirical poetry about Muhammad.

    The Prophet said, "Who is ready to kill Ka'b bin Al-Ashraf who has really hurt Allah and His Apostle?" Muhammad bin Maslama said, "O Allah's Apostle! Do you like me to kill him?" He replied in the affirmative.

    So, Muhammad bin Maslama went to him (i.e. Ka'b) and said, "This person (i.e. the Prophet) has put us to task and asked us for charity." Ka'b replied, "By Allah, you will get tired of him." Muhammad said to him, "We have followed him, so we dislike to leave him till we see the end of his affair."

    Muhammad bin Maslama went on talking to him in this way till he got the chance to kill him.

    The elimination of Ka'b took place after the Battle of Badr. The story goes that the head of Ka'b was placed at Muhammad's feet. There are other stories of elimination of the opponents of Muhammad. For example, Ocba, Asma bint Marwam and Abu Afak were all murdered.

    If you don't want people to learn about Islam, then don't invite people to learn about Islam.

    If you want people to be in ignorance of Islam, then say so.

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  9. If you want to learn about Islam talk to Muslims. That is what this post is about--an invitation for those in our area to talk to real people.

    If you want to learn about Episcopalians, talk to them. Little is learned from an outsider talking about the exploits of Henry VIII.

    If you want to learn about Christianity, talk to Christians. Little is learned by taking texts and using them to splatter real people in the present.

    If non-Muslims have questions about Islamic texts that's great. Bring them up with Muslims and ask them. That is what this event is for.

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  10. I used to live in a part of Bradford that was about 30% Muslim.

    Muslims have already spoken about these texts.

    Islamic scholars see nothing wrong with the ordering of the public beheading of 600+ Jews after the Battle of the Trench in 627 AD, and the taking of the women and children into slavery, with Muhammad marrying Rayhana.

    Ask them. I have done so.

    Ask Muslims if it was wrong for Muhammad to order the assassination of Ka'b bin Al-Ashraf

    I have done so.

    Muslims speak on Islam

    'He then returned to Madinah to start a fresh campaign of slanderous propaganda that took the form of obscene songs and amatory sonnets with a view to defaming the Muslim women.

    At this stage, the situation became unbearable and could no longer be put up with. The Prophet [pbuh] gathered his men and said: "Who will kill Ka‘b bin Al-Ashraf? He had maligned Allâh, and His Messenger." '

    Hey, if somebody writes sonnets, he should be killed.

    Muslims agree on this.

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  11. It's funny, John, that you would advocate on behalf of someone jumping off the Christian bandwagon and heading in to a very fundamental religion. Don't you see the irony in this?

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  12. I can't see where John was advocating that.

    He was just advocating that people learn about Islam.

    Most Muslims don't know all that much about their religion, just as most Christians cannot name the 4 Gospels.

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  14. Did you know that if you're a kid and you call a prophet bald, you're fair game for having him call some bears over to maul you to death? Yeah, that's in the Bible, as are a good number of other remarkably interesting revelations.

    Anyway, I'm not sure why it matters what the Koran says about divorce. Jesus was quite clear on the matter and it isn't like Christians today actually bother following what He had to say.

    Interesting how easy it is to spot the motes in other people's eyes....

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  15. Alan, you're quoting the Elisha and the two bears story out of context, and you know it. It was a cautionary tale for bad children way back then, but I haven't heard a baldy headed pastor preach that during a children's sermon in any church today.

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  16. Well, not to get too off topic, but "out of context" explains a prophet having bears maul children to death? I see, that makes mauling so much better. ;)

    Knowing it's one of my favorite Bible stories (because that's the kinda guy I am) our pastor preached on it last summer ... but alas, not during the children's sermon.

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  17. Or put another way, I'll just paraphrase Steven, "I gave no interpretation. I simply reported what Christians say about one of their prophets."

    ;)

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  18. I am looking forward to attending at least one of these gatherings this week. I hope no one takes that statement out of context. ;-)

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  19. Well, Steven Carr...

    30%? LOL

    I lived in Muslim countries for over five years and you're full of it.

    First of all, you bring up "Jews" when the "Jews" wiped out entire civilizations leaving nothing alive. Women, children, livestock... Nothing.
    All according to "the word of God".
    The same God the Muslims worship.

    Then there was this think called the Inquisitions....

    And what's really childish and intellectually challenged about your assertions is the fact that you insist that all Muslims will follow the Koran in every literal detail when the fact is that they do not.

    When was the last time the Jews burned offerings on the alter "as pleasing odor to God"? They don't.
    Nor do Christians, you included, follow their text in such a fanatical fashion.

    Radicals make up a small sect of each religion and to claim that all members of any religion, or even a majority of them, follow as fanatically as you insist the Muslims do shows you know exactly nothing about those people or their religion.


    Now, go sell everything you have and give the money to the poor.

    No?

    Imagine that.

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  20. CARR (previously)
    Many Muslims do indeed renounce Muhammad's teachings.

    CAPTAINKONA
    ...you insist that all Muslims will follow the Koran in every literal detail when the fact is that they do not.

    CARR (now)

    Hey, just because I already stated that many Muslims renounce the teachings of Muhammad is no reason for CaptainKona not to wheel out his stereotyped prejudices.

    I have zero intention of selling all I have and giving to the poor.

    You must be mistaking me for Jesus.

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  21. ALAN
    I simply reported what Christians say about one of their prophets.

    CARR
    Indeed you did.

    No wonder people objected to you reporting what the Bible says.

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  22. He was just advocating that people learn about Islam.

    Actually, this post was more than that. I am advocating that people get to meet and know actual Muslim people and allow them to tell us what their faith means to them.

    I am a Christian. But I certainly object if someone links to an historical event in Christianity (ie. the Crusades) and say that is what Christians believe was a stellar event, or link to a screed by Al Mohler or on the other side John Shelby Spong and say that is what Christians believe.

    "This is what Muslims believe" is a false statement as there are 1.3 billion of them, people capable of thinking for themselves as is any one who is commenting here.

    Ask Stushie, Alan, CaptainKona, Snad, or myself what Christians believe about virtually anything and you will find a wide diversity of opinion even though each of them has at least some connection with Christianity.

    I object to digging into someone's textual closet and saying "this is what they all believe."

    These folks in Johnson City (the point of the freaking post) live and work and raise families and pay taxes and grieve loss and are American citizens.

    And they happen to be Muslim. Because of that they are often treated less than charitably in this great pluralistic nation of ours because they are perceived of as 'foreign' and because they are Muslim.

    The anti-Muslim rhetoric in the media is not helping.

    I am not advocating embracing Islam, I don't really care. I am advocating treating others as you would like to be treated, and that means getting to know real live flesh and blood people before judging them.

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  23. 'Ask Stushie, Alan, CaptainKona, Snad, or myself what Christians believe about virtually anything and you will find a wide diversity of opinion even though each of them has at least some connection with Christianity.'

    CARR
    I already said that as well.

    Most Muslims don't know all that much about their religion, just as most Christians cannot name the 4 Gospels.

    This is a fact.

    Most Muslims are not fanatical religionists, just as few Christians read the Bible each day.

    They abstain from alcohol, say prayers and behave just like Christians.

    You don't need to know much about Islam to be a practicing Muslim.

    It tends to be just the Islamic scholars who claim that Muhammad was correct to order poets to be killed, and that it was right to publically behead 600+ Jews after the Battle of the Trench.

    Most Muslims do not know these stories and are perfectly reasonable people.

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  24. "Most Muslims do not know these stories and are perfectly reasonable people."

    Then I guess it's good that most Christians don't know the stories of God-ordained genocide and terrorism that are collected in the OT (not to mention the bear mauling.) Perhaps if fewer fundamentalist Christians knew those stories they'd be more reasonable people too, eh?

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  25. sigh. I think what John has been trying to say throughout these comments is that this discussion belongs on this comment page about as much as Fred Phelps belongs at a military funeral.

    Get it?

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  26. Ya know I've been only in the christian tradition (fundie thru progressive) and I find now I have a hard time with any religion. I want to ask a question about Muslims belief but wanted to ask at progressiveislam. As I began to write I became concerned about offending these people due to my lack of knowledge on why we use G-d and the like. I just don't know how to ask the question. Is it ok to ask it here or can you give me some help to phrase things properly so as not to offend. Thanks.

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  27. Must ask -

    If you look at www.quranandjive.blogspot.com and look for the commenter called Kat. I think she might be a person from you may get guidance on protocol, etc. I've done that myself, and found her to be quite open and informative.

    I'm sure John has other suggestions as well.

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  28. Nice try, but "Many Muslims do indeed renounce Muhammad's teachings."

    and

    "...you insist all Muslims will follow the Koran in every literal detail when the fact is that they do not."

    Are not the same thing.

    What's your point other than to indicate that most/all Muslims will kill just because certain parts of the Koran were written during a time of war?

    You can't dance around the motive behind your original post. Fear mongering is fear mongering.

    What point are you trying to make?

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  29. CAPTAIN KONA
    "...you insist all Muslims will follow the Koran in every literal detail when the fact is that they do not."

    CARR
    I never said anything of the sort, as shown by your total inability to quote me saying anything of the sort.

    Why do you want to make yourself look foolish by doing that sort of thing?

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  30. ALAN
    Then I guess it's good that most Christians don't know the stories of God-ordained genocide and terrorism that are collected in the OT (not to mention the bear mauling.) Perhaps if fewer fundamentalist Christians knew those stories they'd be more reasonable people too, eh?

    CARR
    This is quite possibly the case.

    I wonder if anybody has done any research on whether liberalism is correlated to Bible knowledge or not.

    It would be interesting to see statistics on that.

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  31. Heh. I like how you keep skipping over my points, Steven. Not interested in engaging? Well then, why bother commenting?

    As for liberalism being correlated to Bible knowledge, I'd say I'm pretty liberal, and I'd put my Bible knowledge up against anyone's. That's why I know that it is just as easy to find all sorts of "interesting revelation" as you put it in the Bible, as there probably is in the Koran.

    What I notice from this discussion is that you don't seem to know that. Perhaps it would be worthwhile to get a copy of the book of Bible stories John mentions in his latest blog post. ;)

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  32. ALAN
    Then I guess it's good that most Christians don't know the stories of God-ordained genocide and terrorism that are collected in the OT (not to mention the bear mauling.)

    CARR
    I would agree with that.

    Both the Koran and the Bible are 'spiritual classics' so they are bound to contain stories about divinely approved genocide.

    That is what 'spiritual classic' means.

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  33. Sounds like PLO propoganda to me -- These muslims should be in South Florida, California or Minnesota where violent protests are taking place. Why are they not there? The Koran says if you have to lie for the good of Islam -- it's ok. So WHY should we believe anything they say? They have proven (since 640 AD) that they can NOT be trusted. This is how Lebanon started it's downfall -- they welcomed all religions/people etc -- like we do in the US -- and look where they are now. . .

    P.S. The koran is a POLITICAL book - -NOT like the bible at ALL.

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  34. As I pointed out , most Muslims have renounced many of the things Muhammad did and said.

    Ask them at this outreach if those Jews should have been beheaded after the Battle of the Trench and you will see that I am right.

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  35. Webmaster,

    They have a bad book and they are bad people. We have a good book and we are good people.

    The comments on this thread confirm to me that we have a lot of work to do overcoming ignorance and prejudice.

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  36. My web pages are designed to remove Westerner's ignorance about Islam.

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  37. "Both the Koran and the Bible are 'spiritual classics' so they are bound to contain stories about divinely approved genocide."

    Interesting. Odd then that only the Bible gets a pass from you.

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  38. No, they are both spiritual classics, which is why Muslims, Jews and Christians have to try to work together to overcome hostility between their faiths.

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  39. Steven, did you know God is a giant chicken?

    Psalm 91:4: "He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler."

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  40. That is very interesting, Alan.I never knew Christians believed that.

    John Shuck wrote 'If you want to learn about Christianity, talk to Christians. '

    And they will tell you that their god is a giant chicken!

    Or call you an 'asshole' as John did, with the love of Jesus shining through him.

    Talking to Christians is always an education.


    Psalm 91 also says
    ' 9 If you make the Most High your dwelling— even the LORD, who is my refuge- 10 then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent.'

    More nonsense in the Bible, as even Christians have worked out that harm can befall even those who put their trust in the LORD.

    Still, sceptics know about Islam. Those Islamic sources were written 1000 years before I was born and document a religion where enemies are assassinated, where Muhammad tells you which hand to use when going to the toilet, and where Muhammad said you could not eat garlic before going to a mosque.

    Not that he was a control freak, of course.

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  41. "That is very interesting, Alan.I never knew Christians believed that."

    That must be because they don't know the Bible. I'm glad I could educate you about it. Go and proclaim it now.

    If one just applies the same pedantic gloss to reading the Bible as you do toward reading the Koran, you can learn all sorts of interesting things about the Bible.

    "Muhammad said you could not eat garlic before going to a mosque."

    That seems wise. I wish Christians would practice something like that (and leave off the old-lady perfume while they're at it.)

    God doesn't seem to have much to say about garlic, but of course there's the whole thing with forbidding pork and shellfish. Not that he's a control freak, of course.

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  42. "No, they are both spiritual classics, which is why Muslims, Jews and Christians have to try to work together to overcome hostility between their faiths."

    So in a post in which I am actually attempting to do that, you come in with your 'texts of terror' painting modern day Muslims in this light.

    I am confused, Steven. What exactly is your point?

    I have been very clear about what my point is.

    Sorry about the asshole comment. Don't take it personally, I am one, too. : )

    Seriously, what are you saying?

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  43. I said clearly that modern day Muslims very often renounce these texts.

    Ask at the event about the assassination of Ka‘b bin Al-Ashraf who had written 'obscene songs and amatory sonnets' to quote a Muslim web site.

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  44. ALAN
    If one just applies the same pedantic gloss to reading the Bible as you do toward reading the Koran, you can learn all sorts of interesting things about the Bible.

    CARR
    What is 'pedantic' about pointing out that the Koran says real Jews were killed after the Battle of the Trench (a battle Muhammad won and in which he defeated the pagans, not the Jews)?

    According to Islamic sources, real Jews were publically beheaded ,600+ of them.

    And real women and children were taken into slavery.

    And Alan says this is just like a text saying God protects ,like a bird protects her young.

    Real people were killed and sold into slavery and Alan thinks it a 'pedantic gloss' to point this out.

    Sorry Alan, but your point that these beheadings were as metpahorical as calling God a chicken is childish.

    I don't often descend to that, but when somebody belittles the beheading of 600+ people and belittles the taking of the woman and children into slavery, then that is quite mild to how I really feel about Alan, and his pathetic word games about God being a chicken.

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  45. You said that. And you said this:

    Hey, if somebody writes sonnets, he should be killed.

    Muslims agree on this.
    So what is it?

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  46. Gee, a some random stranger on the internet has got his panties in a twist because I think he's being intentionally stupid with his readings of the Koran, while simultaneously giving the Bible a pass on the various genocides there. I will give your concerns all the consideration they deserve. ;)

    I find your phony indignation about the killing of Jews in the Koran, but not the wholesale slaughter of Canaanites (and others) recorded in the Bible, hypocritical, to say the least.

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  47. Ah .... I get it now.

    Though he's apparently not interested in identifying himself as such, it's helpful to understand that Steven is an atheist. I guess he only happens to pick on Islam in this post because it was convenient to do so. But looking at his blog, he appears to be an equal opportunity misinterpreter.

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  48. "What point are you trying to make?"


    Which word is it you don't get?

    "Point"?

    The word "point" has many variations. In this case it indicates the purpose of your posts.

    John put forth that people should make an effort to know something about Muslim people.
    You posted text from the Koran that was carefully selected to include only the references to violence.
    Which makes you as transparent a bigot as I've ever seen and as pathetically ignorant of a topic as anyone I've ever seen try to debate.

    Again, what point are you trying to make? Other than the fact that you're a typical bigot with no knowledge of Islamic people or their proclivities.

    All you've accomplished here is a intellectual face-plant.

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  49. "But looking at his blog, he appears to be an equal opportunity misinterpreter."

    Well stated.
    Those who live in fear of the unknown tend to spread their fearful mindset across a wide range of things they do not understand.

    What a miserable existence it must be.

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