Islamophobia: The “Elephant In The Room”

I still remember sitting in a crowded room at the University of Michigan for the above event on Islamophobia. I went because of my desire to be a “bridge-builder” between Muslims and Christians (I want Muslims who are good citizens to live in America without any form of discrimination, prejudice, or hatred). But I have to admit to a certain discomfort with the discussion that evening. It wasn’t because of the hosts. No, the Muslim Student Association did a fine job (my wife and I have always found these Muslim university students to be polite, respectful, articulate, kind, modest, dedicated, and service oriented). My discomfort was because no one – including me – really wanted to talk much about the proverbial “elephant in the room” that contributes to Islamophobia: violence and terrorism.

Today, our cable news stations are filled with reports of violence and anti-American protests in the Middle East (and beyond) which are spreading and could turn even more deadly tomorrow and in the coming days:

+++ Benghazi, Libya – 4 American citizens (including our U.S. Ambassador who dearly loved Libya and the Libyan people) were murdered there on – of all days – September the 11th.
+++ Cairo, Egypt – demonstrators scaled the American embassy compound walls, burned the American flag, and forced the evacuation of embassy workers. This too happened on September 11th. 224 people were injured in protests.
+++ Sanaa, Yemen – demonstrators stormed the U.S. embassy compound and burned the American flag; thousands of others marched in protest; 4 people were killed and 34 others were wounded.
+++ Tehran, Iran – up to 500 people protested chanting “Death to America!”
+++ Tunis, Tunisia – American flags were also burned outside the U.S. embassy in the capital.
+++ Gaza City, Palestine – a small crowd also burned an American flag.
+++ Baghdad, Iraq – American flag burning there and demonstrations in Basra.
+++ Dhaka, Bangladesh – angry protesters filling the streets.

What is the source of this most recent wave of anti-American hatred? Supposedly it is a response to an obscure, amateur, 2 hour long film entitled Innocence of Muslims which reportedly denigrates Muhammad and Islam.

How did such an obscure film come to have such tragic, quick-spreading, international impact? After all, the YouTube excerpt is really all that any one in the Middle East has seen of this movie (I refuse to watch this excerpt). And the whole movie has reportedly been shown only once in America!

I say to all my Muslim readers: although I have not seen them, I am saddened and embarrassed by this movie and the YouTube video trailer if it contains the kind of content that is widely reported. It may be legal to make such a movie in America (free speech) but as a Christian, I can say that it is not loving. In fact, just the opposite is true.

Having said this, I also say to all my Muslim readers, please bear with me as I ask you difficult questions that relate to the subject of this blog post. I don’t want to shame you but to try to understand how you think and what you believe. Here are my questions – and questions of other non-Muslims who are bewildered:

1. Can you see how Americans and westerners would have attitudes of “Islamophobia” when they learn of events from the past two days?

2. Can you see how they might recoil in anger when they see signs such as these from protests which came – not from the Middle East – but from Muslims in England (one from 2006, one from 2009)?

3. Tomorrow is Friday – the day of prayer for Muslims all over the world. But. . .there is great fear that protests and violence might actually increase tomorrow. Why? How can Muslims come out of a time of prayer with more anger in their hearts and more anger on their faces? Don’t the sheikhs, the immams, and the mullahs encourage peace in the mosques?

4. Critics of Islam look at all these things but hear Muslims say they have a “religion of peace.” I ask you with sincerity and respect, how can you explain to non-Muslims what seems to be a huge contradiction between a religion self-described as peaceful but with so many actions of violence?

5. Finally, can you appreciate and understand that – in spite of how it is abused – freedom of speech in America is a freedom that is extremely rare in predominately Muslim countries?

I speak at churches on a regular basis – 9 different ones this past summer. In each church I bring a message of love for Muslims. A message of building bridges of friendship, trust, and understanding and tearing down walls of suspicion and anger. A message of planting seeds of peace and inspiring dialogue about issues of faith.

For several years and in many places, I have defended you as a people that I truly love and I will continue to do that. I have told people not to make sweeping generalizations about you. I have told them not to associate all Muslims with the violent extremists and jihadists or even those caught up in these mob protests.

But because people see pictures like those above, because of media reports that create fear or anger, and because of e-mails that people circulate that truly are “islamophobic,” I find that bridgebuilding is not an easy task.

And so, my Muslim friends. . .

I need you. . .to help me. . .help you.

I need you to speak to this subject of violence and terrorism – the “elephant in the room” which contributes greatly to Islamophobia.

I need – no, the world needs – for you to speak up.

Please leave a reply. Be honest. Be totally honest. Use an anonymous name if you like. But please respond.

As always, I love you. I really do.

35 thoughts on “Islamophobia: The “Elephant In The Room”

  1. I don’t fear Islam. I am not ashamed that I live in a country where individuals can post videos on the Internet that aren’t censored by our government. The international violence is not about a stupid movie – it was a planned response on the 9/11 anniversary. It is time to stop walking on eggshells worried that the truth will offend. The government in Egypt is planning mass protests tomorrow against America and yet we still provide them with billions in foreign aid. The Muslim brotherhood is a known terrorist association that was banned in Egypt. Now they are the freely elected leaders of that country. Most Muslims are not violent extremists but many violent extremists are Muslim. The loving response to someone who is being misled is to speak truthfully.

    • Dear Sick & Tired,

      I so appreciate your honesty – your straightforward “this is the way I see it” approach. No eggshell walking here!

      I look forward to seeing how my Muslim readers respond to my post and to your reply here, especially your comment: “Most Muslims are not violent extremists but many violent extremists are Muslim.”

      Finally, though I think you make some valid, thought-provoking points, may I ask you, do you love Muslims on a personal level? We can and should have our patriotic ideals as Americans as it relates to foreign policy. But in inter-personal relationships, Jesus still commands us to “love our neighbors.”

  2. Salam,
    well, let’s first look to the motivation of this violence, you’l find out that it started mostly after 9/11; if a group did 9/11 (who always appears to be linked to the CIA in all cases..) the US generalized the even from the first single moment, I’l go back with you to the first speech of George Bush when he linked it to Islam, then he started to reply next day..
    Europe and the West showed a hate toward Islam since long time, look to the war against Iraq, there was nothing called (Al Qaeda) during the whole life of Saddam Hosen..Why Just Only today we hear about them?? simply bcz this group (that appeared later that it was created by the french origin Jews Bernand Henry Levy) gave the US government the reason to stay in Iraq (Oil and money talk of course).
    your friend in the first reply talk about the aid of US, I’l tell him look how much your government stole from our middle east then tell me about its aid toward us (actually it didnt bring except the mess and the corruption to us in the middle east).
    this hate toward the US is planned, well planned from the white house..and there is no reason for an arab (Including Christians in the middle east, which am shocked u didnt mention about their hate with us toward the US policy) there is no reason for them not to hate the US government.
    I personally hate the US government (many american do, and i mean “many”).

    lately, for the film, well its not new, look how many films hollywood created and still creat against the muslims, (bringing hate toward them, no reason for me to love them..)

    you will find out that there is no logic reason for us as arab to love the policy of your government, especially when we die in Palestine by its aid (Weapons, tanks, planes helicopters; to Israel)

    regarding your american embassador, its very easy to find out that the arabs and muslims in Europe and the West are more civilized (much more civilized) than those in the middle east; (which is normal; you already know how arab condemn the US because of its policy that didnt bring for us except the corruption and the mess).

    you can’t control this anger, especially when US government planned and wanted that (otherwise it will not help Israel, It will not Kill all those iraqis; it will not let Bernand Henry Levy “the jews guy” to create Altawhid and Aljihal terrorist group in Iraq”).
    If you see by the eye of truth clearly you’l find out that this terrorist group dont belong to us as muslims, and many reports revealed the truth about them and what they do…
    however, as nation, we all hate the US government policy, (not necessary all of its policy; from the family that i have in the US I do LOVE its policy regarding the Freedom of Worship and Pray, I do respect the US much more than France that am living in)…

    and here, finally, I wanna quote for you my status on the American Embassador which I wrote:
    (you can find out this status on my wall in facebook bro Mark):
    ________________________
    “The people who killed the American Embassador in Libya are not better than the cattles, they are even worse.
    Our serious condolence to his family and Country.
    (O ye who believe! Be steadfast witnesses for Allah in equity, and let not hatred of any people seduce you that ye deal not justly. Deal justly, that is nearer to your duty. Observe your duty to Allah. Lo! Allah is Informed of what ye do. (8) / Holy Quran:5”
    _______________________

    • Ammar,

      Thanks so much for your condolences regarding the death of our ambassador. I sincerely appreciate it.

      Regarding the rest of your comments, what you have said is a lot to process.

      It seems like you truly believe that there are a lot of nefarious plans going on behind the scenes since you blame the “CIA,” the “White House,” the “Jews,” “Israel,” the “U.S. government,” and “George Bush” for conspiring together against the Islamic world. I don’t pretend to say or believe that all my government has done in the Middle East has been the right course of action. I cannot defend every move that we have made or that Israel has made. No, I grieve for the thousands of innocent civilian lives lost in Iraq and elsewhere. I grieve about the deaths of Palestinian children when bombs dropped upon them in Gaza. It pains me to see the land and homes of Palestinian people taken from them – in 1948 up until today.

      But Ammar, I do not believe the U.S. government or the government of Israel is behind all the violence that is happening right now in the Middle East protests. It is easy for you to blame Israel since you and other Palestinians have suffered hardship. But. . .why can’t you blame jihadists and extremists who call themselves Muslims for recent events? Why is it so hard for you to blame them?

      In spite of all of its faults and failures, I thank God for America. I thank God that I am an American. We have done much that is not right in God’s eyes – here and around the world. For that, He may well punish us with His great wrath. But we have done a lot that is right too – here and around the world. Our resources of money, medical care and engineering have been gladly given and many precious human lives have been willingly sacrificed.

      And here in the U.S. we can express ourselves freely and worship freely. You are free here to choose your political views and your religious views – or change them. Can you say that about every country, particularly the ones where the protests now ring out so loudly, hatefully, and violently?

      Ammar, my friend, you are welcome to express yourself on this website blog. I genuinely believe that we cannot build bridges and tear down walls without this kind of honest dialogue.

      But sometimes, like today. . .we must agree to disagree. . . agreeably.

    • Ammar,

      I started to watch this video (I did not know what it would be about) but could not continue in good conscience. It is not right for me as a follower of Jesus to watch material which contains any form of sensuality or immorality. The Bible says, “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.”

      I pulled the link off your comment (so others would not see material that is inappropriate) but maybe you can tell me what the commentator said about the movie and how it relates to the unrest that is happening.

      I refuse to watch excerpts of the movie itself because I love the Lord and want to please Him.

      Hope you understand.

  3. Hi my dear friend Mark,

    I am so embarrassed of all the violence that is happening, our prophet if he’s alive he will just ignore it, and will try to know why and how can we fix this hate.

    I feel bad for the Americans, since the one who produced this movie is a copt egyptian.

    • Haitham,

      You are a special friend – a man I know I can talk to about these issues with mutual honesty and respect. You are a tremendous listener and slow to react in anger.

      (Now that I think of it, that is exactly what our Bible commands of us! James 1:19-20 says, “Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.”)

      I hope our recent conversation did not bring a hurtful shame to you personally. May God forgive me if I did that! No, I just want to learn from my Muslim friends and readers how one’s religion and culture affect their thoughts and actions – particularly in this present time of anti-American protests and riots in the Middle East (and beyond). I truly want to understand.

      Thanks again for your listening ear and kind responses!

  4. Salam Mark,
    for condeming the (what u called them “Jihadist”) it is not difficuly my dear brother, If they belong to Islam I will pray on them if they died, but that’s will never ever happen..
    any Muslim touch a non Muslim in any way that is not according to the teaching of Islam Allah from the sky condemn him.
    “Allah forbiddeth you not those who warred not against you on account of religion and drove you not out from your homes, that ye should show them kindness and deal justly with them. Lo! Allah loveth the just dealers. (8) Allah forbiddeth you only those who warred against you on account of religion and have driven you out from your homes and helped to drive you out, that ye make friends of them. Whosoever maketh friends of them – (All) such are wrong-doers. (9)” Holy Quran:60.
    so if we are agreed on this, then its perfect.
    and the problem you called them (or what they call themselves “Jihadist”) is not Jihadist my dear brother, its like they claim that they are Muslims and they are not really “Muslims”.
    If any of those extrimist belong to Islam we will not find hundreds of non Muslims in US and Europe converting to Islam every year.
    (I am not talking now only on youtube), I am actaully looking to marry here in Paris, and I am very surprised of the huge number of womens who are converting to Islam here (am talking on the real ground, no youtube). 19years old to 70years old, converting each year.
    Its logically impossible for them to convert to Islam if those extrimist represent any meaning of ISlam (Its impossible), and the shocking proof is NONE of these convertors to ISlam LOOKs like the terrorists (Surprising my brother, right? here we have to agree).
    The Real Jihad IS ALLAH’s Was against Terrorism.
    I recommend a person like you to know more about the beautiful Jihad in Islam by looking at this website:
    http://www.aboutjihad.com/

    since we agreed on whats above, then its time to agree that there is lot of (terrorist muslim groups) funded and invented by the CIA.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ogfWR9DvgQw

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c8oVi1RGCJc

    I am not though against the US, but am only against the bad of the government their toward the middle east. only that precise point.

    and I haven’t mention the Jews brother, you already know that we distinguish the Jew from the Zionism, both different.

    hope now its well explained and we clearly see the points that we both agree on.

    • Ammar,

      Always good to hear from you! Hopefully I can answer your comments here in a wise and loving manner.

      “Jihad”: yes, I totally understand that the term can refer to “struggling or striving and applies to any effort exerted by anyone” (quote from the link you gave me). My friend, I have to struggle, strive – even wage war – every day against my desires to be lazy and undisciplined! But. . .I think we both know that some people use the term as part of their justification to fight against those who simply believe differently than they do.

      I know also that some people who call themselves Muslims are not Muslims by your definition. But. . .might they say the same about you – and about the majority of peace-loving Muslims who disagree with their interpretations of the Qur’an and their tactics of violence which derive from those same interpretations?

      As far as the intelligence agencies of the U.S. are concerned, I am not smart enough or important enough to know anything about their activities! I will say this: all intelligence agencies from all countries will have to answer to God for their actions. Most of us cannot see what they do but He does. He requires truth and fair and just treatment of all people.

      Yes, I am quite aware that people convert to Islam – just as people convert to Christianity (or even atheism). With all my heart I believe that converting from one religion to another should be the right and freedom of every person. People should have the right to choose their faith and how they practice it. Do you agree? Or should it only go one way?

      My emphasis is not on “conversion” but on JESUS and asking all people everywhere to follow him, live for him, obey his commands, and believe in his incredibly loving sacrifice for their sins.

      Thanks for clarifying what you are against politically. You made your “precise point” very well!

      Finally, if you are looking for a wife in Paris, I pray that you will find a wonderful woman who loves God and lives for Him with all her heart!

      God bless you, my friend.

  5. Hi Mark. Thanks for asking some serious and deep-probing questions, in fact, I think more of such questions should be asked. Thanks for doing God’s calling in Michigan and abroad. While I have not had a chance to study Islam as extensively as I would have liked, there are some scholars (an Australian one who was interviewed in WORLD magazine a couple years ago http://www.worldmag.com/2010/02/beware_progress [2 pages]) who have taken a historical look at the Quran and the interpretation of the Quran through the centuries in comparison to Christianity. I’m curious on your thoughts about this.

    Blessings,
    Thomas

    P.S. I couldn’t find the interview, but I believe the author of this article is the same man I was thinking of.

    • Thomas, great to hear from you and thanks for the link you sent.

      The World Magazine article talked about the Christian “Protestant Reformation” from the 16th century and a possible “Islamic Reformation” in the 21st century. In the article it was suggested that a reformation of Islam would mean going back to its roots. What might that mean? Possibly a return to the words and actions of Muhammad as seen in the hadiths and the Qur’an itself.

      One thing I have noticed is a beautiful anti-violence voice of Muslims in the world today. Unfortunately, they don’t get much press but they speak with real passion for peacemaking and genuine bridge-building. Check out this website for denunciations by Muslims of terrorism, extremism, and violence: http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php. I have not researched it thoroughly but the artices I read, particularly by Sheila Musaji, are very intriguing.

  6. Dear Thomas, Wafa Sultan is not a Muslim, and she know ZERO about our religion, so forget about it.
    those who know about our religion, you can take the best example of them those who were not Muslims and the did convert to Islam.
    just make a research and you’l find hundred of them (formet christian priests also).

    • Ammar,

      You are right. Wafa Sultan grew up as a Muslim in Syria but in an interview with Time magazine in 2006 she said, “I even don’t believe in Islam, but I am a Muslim.” As you know, she is quite controversial, especially after her part that same year in Al Jazeera’s weekly 45-minute discussion program The Opposite Direction.

      Ammar, have you heard of The American Muslim (TAM) website (http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php)? As I told Thomas, I have been fascinated by the writings there of Muslims like Sheila Musaji. I would love to hear your opinion on her writings regarding peace.

      • Thanks Mark for the link, I’ll try to read some of her writings when I get a chance. I haven’t read any of Wafa Sultan before, but I know that writers like Ibn Warraq and Ayan Hiirsi Ali have put forth arguments as ex-Muslims that are obviously not highly-regarded by Muslims. Given that all three, to my knowledge, have turned towards secularism rather than other religions, their arguments express skepticism rather than love.

        • Thomas,

          You make a good point. Ex-Muslims probably don’t get a lot of love from Muslims when they put forth their arguments! Would that change if they expressed their views in ways that were genuinely kind and loving? Only our Muslim friends can answer that one.

          I just know that I want all people to be free to choose – or change – their beliefs and practice them without fear of persecution or death.

  7. Salam Mark,
    first of All, we are against what you called them (Jihadist) and we dont pray on any Muslim kill innocents. thats impossible for me to pray on such kind of people.
    Allah said in the Holy Quran:
    “It may be that Allah will ordain love between you and those of them with whom ye are at enmity. Allah is Mighty, and Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. (7) Allah forbiddeth you not those who warred not against you on account of religion and drove you not out from your homes, that ye should show them kindness and deal justly with them. Lo! Allah loveth the just dealers. (8) Allah forbiddeth you only those who warred against you on account of religion and have driven you out from your homes and helped to drive you out, that ye make friends of them. Whosoever maketh friends of them – (All) such are wrong-doers. (9)” / Holy Quran:60.
    those terrorists or exrimists are not called (Jihadist) the word Jihad is a good word, it don’t apply on them, its like they claim that they are Muslims but they are not Muslims according to the Quran.
    I suggest you this website to know more about the beautiful Jihad in Islam:
    Allah’s War Against Terrorism
    http://www.aboutjihad.com/

    now if we agreed on this, its perfect.

    next, I haven’t mention the Jews, you already know that we distinguish the Zionist from the Jews, (its like how you distinguish the terrorist from the Muslim) so no generalize on this.
    If we agreed on this, its coool!

    now, you talked about the good things in your Country as if I am denying that, however I clearly mentioned my opinion about the good things in your Country , especially the freedom of belief and worship; its just the unique, and the best..I did mention that, so I am not Anti-American my dear brother, I know you didnt mean that, but I want to make it clear that If I am critisizing the Evil of the US, that doesnt mean everything is evil there, NO OF COURSE.

    I hope that you can agree on that.

    now, I am very proud of you that you talked about Israel and the occupation since 1948, Huge Hug for you ! 😉

    last thing, the reason of the anti-american raise in the middle east is a result of the US policy in the middle east. Look to the White House, IN Each single Arab country the White house deal as if he’s the lord of the universe, i think you watch news and you hear about this.

    many terrorist groups were created by the CIA, I am not talking about consipiracy theories. the Jews guy of the french origin Bernand Henry Levy is the person who created Altawhid and Aljijhad terrorist group in iraq 2001. the documents that revealed that is Algerian secret documents, Its not wikilks reports.
    Habib AlAdly was minister of Egypt, he was accused by the BRITISH INTELIGGENCE AND THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT of the Church bomb in Cairo, Israel asked him to create a terrorist group in the name of Islam so he could make troubles between Muslims and Christians in Egypt (2009).
    Now, he’s in the Jail for that.
    check the reports here from a very respected international website:
    http://www.aina.org/news/20110604123732.htm

    I hope that you will have the willing to agree that there is terrorists groups in the name of Islam was created by the CIA, there is a lot, and what I mentioned for you was only example, and I can give you lot of more, and reports by Britain and US.

    • Ammar,

      My friend, thank you for clarifying your views on America and for stating what you like about it: freedom of belief and worship. I also understand and believe in your right to criticize what you don’t like about it. We have that freedom in America and you have that freedom on this blog.

      As I said earlier, I just don’t know enough to understand what is going on behind the scenes by governments and their intelligence agencies. That is far beyond my knowledge! I just pray for peace to prevail. I pray for governments and individuals to deal with each other with total honesty instead of deception; with justice instead of injustice; with humility instead of pride. Because there is only one “Lord of the universe.” And He doesn’t sit in any human house or palace. He rules from heaven above and will judge us all. Amin?

      Finally, thanks for the “huge hug!”

  8. Ammar, It is only natural to return hate for hate but what does is accomplish? It is like adding gasoline to a fire and expecting it to go out. Is this the kind of world you want to live in? One where everyone hates each other? Even if you have good cause, (and I believe that you do not) you are only making things worse by your hatred. If you hate America because you think Americans hate you, (and you know in your heart they do not) then it would be expected that Americans should hate you because you hate them and then you can hate them again because they hate you. Get it? It is self propagating and never ends. And do not say they started it. That is what you hear in a children’s playground.

    It does not matter who started it because hatred is mostly a response to misunderstandings or ignorance. Real factual information is always lost in the high level of hateful emotions. Returning hate for hate will always escalate into all out war, consuming both parties, leaving only the possibility of a Pyrrhic victory. Everyone loses. No one wins. There is nothing to be gained.

    Someone has to break the cycle and it can only be done by responding in a spirit opposite the one that has caused the problem. In other words return love in response to hate.

    They reason you hate is as you have said “you cannot control this anger”. You have quoted the Holy Koran as stating “Be steadfast witnesses for Allah in equity, and let not hatred of any people seduce you that ye deal not justly”. Why don’t you do as it says? I respectfully suggest to you that your first statement has more weight “you cannot control this anger” because even though you may desire to follow this teaching you are not able to. You are not capable of restraining your anger. It is in your human nature and you cannot overcome it. I am not picking on you as a Muslim. Everyone is like that by nature.

    Christian’s are commanded by Jesus to “love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. Luke 6:27 – 28 (NLT). That is totally impossible to do by ourselves. It is not natural. But it can be done supernaturally. Christianity when practiced as God intended is a supernatural religion. (It is not always practiced this way)

    A man who accepts Jesus as his Lord and Savoir, (his God) is “born again” in his spirit. The Holy Spirit of God takes up residence within him. He becomes a new man, a different person than he was formerly. The Spirit of God lives within him and gives him the supernatural power to do the impossible, i.e. to return love for hate and blessings for curses.

    Now admittedly Christians do not always do a good job of letting the Holy Spirit empower them to keep this command and fall into the same anger and hate that Muslims and everyone else does. However for Christians it is a sin to hate another person or let the sun go down on our anger. It is sinful because God, through His Holy Spirit living in us has given us the supernatural power keep His command, to “return love for hate and blessings for curses.”

    If this make any sense to you, If you would like have peace within yourself, If you would like to transcend the normal and live at a spiritual level that is above the fray and have supernatural power over your own emotions ask Jesus to come into your heart and give you His Spirit. You will not understand this until you try it. You will be amazed and delighted with the peace and absolute joy that comes over you. And you will be secure in the knowledge that God loves you and accepts you without preconditions. You will know that your sins are forgiven and you have a guaranteed place in heaven. I challenge you to test my proposition. Please let me know what happens.

    • Bob,

      Thanks so much for your comments to Ammar. In his defense, I don’t think he means that he hates America altogether. He and I clarified that in some back and forth exchanges. What he hates are some elements of American foreign policy. He grew up in Palestine and is in the middle of a lot of strong feelings expressed on every side. It is hard for us who live in the U.S. to know what it is like to feel like your land is being stolen and then occupied. You feel helpless and angry. When it happens for decades, it can turn to deep hatred.

      I do thank you for your words from Jesus regarding the need for all of us to forgive – and that none of us can do that in our own willpower or strength. I appreciate your clear explanation of how this can change in the heart of anyone who is supernaturally “born again.”

      Keep up your comments to my friend Ammar. But please express your love to him in the process. He comes from a place on this planet where his people have experienced a lot of hurt that we can only read about but never truly understand.

  9. Dear Bob,
    maybe because you don’t know me this is why you wrote this kind of reply which I couldn’t continue reading it.
    please, not like this the person reply, I didn’t say I hate America, I said I hate the bad poilicy of America; Its so disgusting after all of those who are killed each day because of the US that you have to love it for this point!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    If my father did sth wrong to you I have to hate his (bad) even though he is my father, and at the same time that doesn’t mean i hate his good!!!!!!
    sorry, I can’t go further with the reply to you, I’l keep it to my friend MarK.
    but I am honestly disappointed now from you.
    It seems if people are taking my replies out of its context it doesn’t deserve now that I look to this website anymore.
    If It will make you happy that I have to lie to say US is GOd, it don’t work for me bcz I don’t like to reply.
    what a disappointing.

    • My friend Ammar,

      Please go back and read the rest of Bob’s comments to you – and my response to him. I tried to clarify what you hate.

      Actually the Bible commands us to hate something? Did you know that? Most people don’t (including Christians). Here it is:

      “Let those who love the Lord hate evil. . .” (In the Holy Zabur – Psalm 97:10).

      My friend, please don’t let what you believe to be Bob’s misunderstanding of your words stop you from reading the rest of what he said, especially his emphasis on Jesus’ beautiful words to all of us to “love our enemies” – a command that can only be fulfilled when he is asked to take residency in our hearts and rule there.

  10. and for loving the enemies, God oredred as to do that too:

    ““It may be that Allah will ordain love between you and those of them with whom ye are at enmity. Allah is Mighty, and Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. (7) Allah forbiddeth you not those who warred not against you on account of religion and drove you not out from your homes, that ye should show them kindness and deal justly with them. Lo! Allah loveth the just dealers. (8) Allah forbiddeth you only those who warred against you on account of religion and have driven you out from your homes and helped to drive you out, that ye make friends of them. Whosoever maketh friends of them – (All) such are wrong-doers. (9)” / Holy Quran:60.

    But it is so disgusting to love a government killing your family. It is a big lie on each christian if he said so because his heart as human will refuse that.
    do you love the terrorists of 9/11?????
    you see, so don’t just write as if i am hating the bad for nothing.

    • Ammar,

      I feel your frustration. As I explained to my friend, Bob, you live in a part of the world where you feel like your people have experienced horrible injustice for many decades. We can’t understand what that is like or how it feels.

      Yet. . .Jesus commands us to “love our enemies” – even those who war against us because of our religion. And yes, he would command us to love the terrorists of 9/11 as it relates to their eternal souls. It is here that the preacher and the soldier have different jobs. The preacher cares for the eternal soul of every human and tries to say and do everything possible to introduce each person to the one who died for their sins. The soldier has taken an oath to defend his country but not to abuse power.

      I care about you, Ammar. Hang with us. Keep making comments. I need your perspective whether we always agree or not!

  11. Yes, you are right Mark.
    Any one can stake out positions and blame the other party. However, when was the last time we heard a Muslim (cleric or not) dedicating his speech and his time to fight violence, terrorism, and hatred? Therefore, Muslims cannot overlook all this and play the same old childish game “Look at what he/she did” whenever confronted with stark violence. We should look at ourselves, and start self-evaluating and self-criticism. There should be lectures and discussions about this phenomenon incessantly and on a big scale.
    Regarding the movie, I don’t know where that stands in law. I can’t tell if it is legal or illegal, as there is always a fine line between freedom of speech, criticism, and vilification. In the least, I can say that I agree that it doesn’t encourage love and co-existence. But, if that amateur movie spoils the image of Mohammad and Islam, I think our reaction as Muslims has gone beyond that and unfortunately spoiled the image of Islam and its prophet way more.

    • Omar, great to hear from you.

      I am quite fascinated by your comments regarding self-evaluation and self-criticism. We all – Muslims and Christians – need to do that. If we don’t, how can we find peace?

      Also, this comment of yours really is worthy of response from your fellow Muslims:

      “. . .if that amateur movie spoils the image of Mohammad and Islam, I think our reaction as Muslims has gone beyond that and unfortunately spoiled the image of Islam and its prophet way more.”

      Would anyone care to comment?

  12. sorry, what you called yourself (Omar) if u are trutthful, well, I can write my name as (John) to decieve the readers maybe like you.
    trying to play a name of muslims to critisize them on sth that they didn’t even did.
    Its so dissappointing to see readers like you saying such kind of lies, how many muslim friends do you have? try to see how many of them are agianst the violence and the terrorism.
    go to the mosques in your area, and I am very sure Mark knew very well the muslims from his relationships with them, and he can clearly know that all muslims in US and Europe against the violence.
    I am really disappointed by such kind of readers, hence am not going to open this website anymore.

    • I apologize if I was harsh, but I wanted to say that we should take this as a chance for self-evaluation and self-criticism. Some violent protests were massive and cannot be overlooked. It seemed like violence became accepted for SOME people.
      I am not going to refute your allegations, because I don’t intend to take it personally and because I am not into debates.

      • Omar,

        Thanks for your very mature and kind response to Ammar.

        Yes, I hope that no one on this site takes things personally. It is open for good, honest dialogue and everyone is welcome to their opinion here – as long as it is done with respect for each other.

    • Salam, Ammar!

      Hey, habibi, don’t give up on this website! We need you!

      Listen my friend, isn’t Omar just trying to say that we all make mistakes – Muslims or Christians? We all fail. We all do things wrong. If we can’t admit that, what kind of people are we?

      By the way, “Omar” really is his name and he really is a Muslim. I met him in the Middle East.

  13. Salam Mark,
    It didn’t hurt me that is disagreeing, actually in my personal believe all the non-Muslims for them Muhammad either a lier; or a man made religion , or ect….
    or maybe a good man but inventor of a religion from his mind….
    I don’t ask my friends to say the opposit otherwise they will become Muslims (If they believef that he’s a real prohpet…)…
    buy what hurted me in the begining taking my answer -even though it was clear and I stated my love to the good in the US- and generalizing my reply , either toward the Jews or toward America….
    that’s what I didn’t like….

    anyway thanks for your kind clarification 🙂

    • OK. I think there was big misunderstanding there.
      I was not replying to you, Ammar. It didn’t even cross my mind to be replying to anyone’s comment. Actually, this is the first “reply-to-comment” I post on this website. If you look at my comment again, you will see that although it came after your comment, but it wasn’t of “reply” type. It was just a comment on the original post.
      I think that clears things up even more 🙂

    • Ammar,

      Glad you are back!

      If I misrepresented your position at any point and hurt you in any way, please forgive me, my friend.

      Through continued efforts, I believe we have resolved it. As we say, “praise the Lord!”

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