In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate
Date of publishing: 28/04/2005
Dr. Ahmad Subhy Mansour
The False Alarm of Evangelism
There is widespread panic from the Western groups of Evangelists that flares up the “Conspiracy Theory” and the winds of Democracy and freedom that has started bothering the tyrants and terrorists. As usual, they have taken refuge under the name of Islam to preserve their power and influence.
In the seventies, they used to scare us of the Western culture saying that it was intellectual invasion and obliteration of our identity. This claim is an implicit attack on our culture and mentality, and now we are awaiting another intellectual terrorist campaign that frightens us of the Evangelism coming with the winds of change and democracy. This attack is addressed, by political tyrants and extremists, to Islam accusing it of the inability to stand before other beliefs. These tyrants are not, in fact, concerned with Islam or Christianity, nor Eastern or Western cultures, but what concerns them is their remaining as a heavy burden on our shoulders, suppressing our breath and usurping our riches, dignity, our dreams and our children’s future. We, in their eyes, are easily lead, directed and frightened, or maybe in a better case scenario, idiots or minors that need their custody and will never mature or be up to responsibility.
The issue of Evangelism amongst Muslims deserves tackling from an Islamic point of view and making a decisive statement on it, and we must start with the religion itself:
1. Belief in Islam is submission to God Alone, to no other god but Him and advocating peace on earth. Thus was the message of all Monotheistic religions in order to establish justice and fairness in all dealings between fellow human beings as well as with God (Iron 25). Rituals and legislations are different in these religions but that is for the sake of excelling (The Feast 48).
2. God, Almighty, does not need our worship nor our struggle as He is the “Absolute” who does not need anybody but everybody needs Him, He is “in need of no one” and “ whoever strives, strives for their own good” Spider 6. “If you disbelieve, GOD does not need anyone. But He dislikes to see His servants make the wrong decision. If you decide to be appreciative, He is pleased for you” (The Throngs 7)
3. It is us that need faith and doing good in order to pass the test in this life. A test that is based on complete choice and freedom in either belief or heresy as each one of us will be solely responsible for his own deeds and choices before God in the Day of Judgment. <lt;br />
4. On this basis guidance is a personal choice; whoever is in the right path it is for his own benefit, and whoever goes astray it is to his disadvantage and bears the consequences in the Hereafter. This is a Quranic truth that was mentioned in several verses to confirm that the prophet himself could not guide anybody (even those he loved), and his duty was restricted to passing the message over and not to guide anybody. Therefore, it is not a human responsibility (whether in the form of government, clergy, ruler, society or religious institutions) to interfere into a person’s religious or intellectual choice. Everyone has complete freedom in what he chooses to believe in and to what he could invite other people to as long as there is no coercion involved. Religious preaching is an entirely free practice and the role of the state in Islam is the protection of people’s moral and material rights, first of which is their complete freedom to be believers or heretics without any prejudice against them. I.e. to guarantee the preservation of such a free environment and its continuity to be independent without any interference that will threaten the freedom of anybody and what he chooses for himself as a creed or religion. This way every individual’s responsibility is true over what he has chosen for himself knowingly or ignorantly.
This is with regards to religion and its principles or what ought to be so. Secondly; is the practice of religion:
Religious practice is the practical application of religion. Usually this practice starts off as ideally as possible but soon after is affected by change and adaptation according to political interests and benefits. Then the change assumes a false authority through the fabricated Hadiths and visions and as time passes by. Thus with these new practices in place the sublime truths of the religion are obliterated to be replaced with practices that are interests related and generally connected with political and economic manipulation which leads people, sometimes, to take an aggressive stance towards Islam altogether without making a distinction between religious facts and the abusive acts of those who manipulate religion in the service of despondency and corruption.
Here gain, let us clarify some points:
1- In the state of the prophet Muhammad p.b.u.h religious practice took its best form; hypocrites had complete freedom in advocating evil and prohibiting righteousness and the obedience of God’s messenger. In the same way, believers had the freedom to advocate righteousness, prayer, charity and the obedience of God and His messenger and forbid evil (Ultimatum 67-71). Righteousness in Quranic terminology is whatever is recognized as good, justice, peace, freedom, generosity, love, pity……while evil is whatever is associated with injustice, transgression, manipulation…..
2- Due to political interests, Islamic religious practices turned towards transgressing military campaigns against other nations in complete contradiction to the teachings of the Quran that limits war for self defense only. Muslims formed an Empire that fought against the Romans over the control of the world and thus the false division of the world into two different camps: that of Islam and that of War. Religious minorities within the Islamic Empire turned into second class citizens, if not worse, and the Romans applied the same principle in treating Muslims within their territories. This medieval logic prevailed until Europe emancipated but Muslims saw it live throughout the Ottoman Empire.
3- Muslims started emerging from the medieval cocoon with the reforms of Muhammad Ali in Egypt and Bay in Tunisia. The reform movement that followed the European example prospered although it stumbled against a number of obstacles the most important of which was the despotic military regimes and the Wahhabi tide that revived the worst cultures of extremism and backwardedness in Islam. Saudi Oil, in a way, has become the spokesman of Islam. It had created the movement of the Muslim Brothers and a number of secret and overt organizations that are trying hard to retune the minds of the Muslims according to medieval concepts; one of which is the division of the world into the camp of Islam and the Camp of war.
Military Despotism and religious extremism, together find their justification in terrifying people from the West. According to them, Western culture is an invasion to ours, and their religious dialect with us – to acknowledge peoples’ freedom in religious belief- is Evangelism. Islam, as previously mentioned, affirms complete freedom in belief and religious preaching through conviction and not coercion.
4- The West itself has opened its doors to Muslims and non-Muslims for religious preaching and spreading their beliefs amongst Western Christians in line with the prevailing civilized rights for religious freedom and practice. Extremists have abused this freedom for the call for Wahhabism (and not Islam), and are taking pride in being able to take over churches and convert them into mosques whilst the Copts in Egypt cannot repair a rest room in a Church without a permit from the Head of the state (as per the archaic Ottoman ruling that is still applied to date although the Ottoman Empire ceased to exist.)
5- As a result to the west opening its doors to Wahhabism, Wahhabi extremism spread in the West and inside America itself. The Wahhabis did not only abuse the great Western culture that acknowledges freedom of belief but they have also abused Islam that, in fact, stands against all their beliefs and convictions.
6- Justice determines that as long as the West opens its doors for us to preach our religious beliefs freely, the same should be met from our part. We should open our doors to them to freely preach the teachings of their religion amongst us. The West has associated religious preaching with Human rights; i.e. nobody can be forced to convert, but rather they attract people through aids, donations, building hospitals, providing education and other exemplary ways in order to win their conviction without coercion or force. This is completely different to the Wahhabi style of preaching that is based on deception and the spread of hatred of others even of those within their own boundaries.
7- Despite this, the call for Islam in the West is thriving due to the simplicity of the concept of theology in Islam. The conversion of Muslims into Christianity is so minor that it could not be converted into a percentage with relation to the billion and a half Muslims in the world. Yet, the fears of the extremists and tyrants grow against the tide of Evangelism not out of concern for Islam but out of political and religious authority. People are always the victims…..Aren’t they the “Shepherds” and the people the “Herd” according to them? What is a herd other than dumb animals? They worry if the number of herds they own and control decreases. Thus is their vision of their citizens and the reason of their fear of freedom, democracy and enlightenment is that they will turn the herd into the Human beings that God had honored.