"Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Paul to the persecuted at Philippi (2:5-11)

Friday, September 10, 2010

In The Land of Invisible Women

Islam is, without any shadow of a doubt, fundamentally incompatable with Christianity. The one says that Christ was not crucified, for Islam considers Jesus a prophet but cannot handle the shame that is the cross; the other hinges upon the historical truth of the crucifixion and resurrection. If Christ crucified is the only way to God, then there can be no hope in Islam. Islam, to the Christian is, in fact, a particularly insidious false religion, borrowing much and twisting, changing.

But equally false is the false teacher in Florida who claims to be Christian but speaks not the love that Christ demands but spews angry venom. And yet, in our culture there is a place for this man. I'm not referring to the legality of his actions, for I do believe he has every right to burn any book legally belonging to him, but for his venom. Such a response to the foreigner is a pathetic American tradition. When waves of Irish immigrants flooded the New York job markets, suddenly the Irish were unwelcome. Likewise the Chinese in California during the peak of their immigration. Japanese in World War two, loyal Americans of Asian descent, were herded into concentration camps right here on American soil. And so it should not shock us that in this era it is the Muslim who is the faceless, nameless enemy within our borders.

And how easy it is to persecute the nameless and faceless.

I recently picked up Dr. Qanta Ahmed's book In the Land of Invisible Women: A Female Doctor's Journey in the Saudi Kingdom. I'm not sure it is what I was expecting when I bought her book, but I highly commend it to you to read. In this book, the faceless are given names, stories, wit and warmth. Using the veiled, anonymous women of Saudi Arabia, the book does not come out as a scathing review of the unknown, a rally to liberate women whether or not they wish for liberation or see themselves as imprisioned. Instead, the book is a view into the other, a person behind a label, a world not our own. Flat stereotypes are brought into three dimensions; and while stereotypes are easy to label and hate, multifaceted human beings with stories and foibles of their own, are much harder to despise.

The book itself is a view into Islam which the average Christian can never experience. It is a worthy read for that alone. The author seeks neither to vilify nor to extoll, just to understand as an insider her own worldview.

I own a Qu'ran. I won't be relinquishing it to the flames any time soon; neither do I esteem it over other books. Likewise I own a book of Mormon and a few other religious texts from my undergraduate studies in comparative reigions. I don't begrudge any who would wish to burn a Bible, either (for the word of God can not so easy be destroyed... if the word made flesh rose from the dead, surely there is nothing man can do to extinguish the Holy Word) though it is the Word which I esteem as authority, revere as holy. Men have scoffed at the Word before, nothing new changes under the sun.

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