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Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Islam Neighborhood?

I've blogged about this before, but I think it is worth revisiting the fact that Islam is coming to your neighborhood. If you already have Islam in your neighborhood, then it is growing.

I live in the Dallas-Forth Worth metroplex (U.S.A.). Today there are 13 Islamic mosques in that metropolitan area. (Two of them are in Plano, where I live.) They represent more than 100,000 Muslim people - who hail from 62 different countries as immigrants - and who speak 65 different native languages. (Talk about a melting pot!)

The Islamic Association of Collin County (where I live) claims to serve about 7,500 Muslims in the area. They do it through the mosques. They do it with child care centers and schools. They do it it with classes. And of course, they do it with a variety of services, prayer, Sunday school, summer school and Qur'anic and Arabic classes.

Should we be concerned about Muslims who live in our neighborhoods, own businesses in our communities and go to school with our children? Are these Muslims working on any specific agenda in our midst that should concern us?

I may be one of the few Christians who own a copy of the Qu'ran (aka Koran). Let's consider some facts from the Qu'ran and some news bites in America today.

1. There are more than 3,000 Islamic mosques in America today. Most were constructed at the direction and with the financing of the federal government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

2. The Qu'ran, Islam's holy book, states that Jesus is the word and spirit of God. But - it considers Jesus not as the exclusive word and spirit of God. Rather it considers Jesus as one revelation. It considers Noah and Abraham as as other revelations of the word and spirit of God. Islam considers Muhammad the final revelation of the word and spirit of God. They view Jesus as equal to Muhammad, but they view Muhammad as the last word.

3. Every Muslim is on a jihad to please God and spread what they consider to be the only true religion on earth, Islam. The rest of us mistakenly understand jihad to be the violence committed by Muslims. Rather the Qu'ran describes it as the lifelong struggle to do what they understand God requires of them. Ironically, Christians have a very similar belief. Jesus said, in His Sermon on the Mount, "Blessed are those who are persecuted for doing what God requires."

4. Many Muslims presume that Christians believe in three deities, God, Jesus and the Virgin Mary. Why would they? We can thank the Catholics for this heresy. They have, for generations, prayed to the Virgin Mary, worshipped her, and treated this dead woman as a god. A sect of Catholicism actually exists completely around Mary. (It's called, 'Maryology.') So Muslims see a brand of Christ-follower that doesn't make sense to them. Ironically, it doesn't make sense to true Christ followers either!

5. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has given tens of millions of dollars to Harvard University and the University of Arkansas to fund Islamic study centers. Other prestigious American schools are developing Islamic studies. Recently in the DFW metro area, a high school was in the news for hosting an Islamic briefing for its students - where the religion was "explained" to the entire school student body.

6. Islam is the fastest growing religion in America. Various surveys and news reports, including those run by Christians, reveal that more Americans are turning to Islam. Ironically, more Americans are turning from Bible-based Christianity as well. Reports indicate that they are disillusioned with Christianity and that Christianity "has not met their expectations." (I wonder if Islam will.)

Islam is a missionary religion. One of the fundamental practices of Islam is to share one's wealth with the poor and invest one's wealth to spread the cause of Islam. Muslims celebrate their growth.

So should we be concerned that Islam is in our neighborhood? Should we be concerned that more and more, Muslims are our neighbors?

I should think at the very least, we should be aware. American Christians, it is time to stop being ignorant about Islam and Muslims. They are becoming an increasing part of our world with increasing influence. Anything that does that should get our attention.

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