Posts Tagged ‘Unveiling Islam’

An Addendum on “Unveiling Islam”

May 10th, 2010

A friend recently brought an article about Ergun Caner, co-author of Unveiling Islam, to my attention. This article, published in Christianity Today, reports on a recent blog-flurry that accuses Ergun Caner of exaggerating his Muslim past. Among these potential exaggerations or untruths are the claims that Caner grew up in Turkey in a devout Muslim home, and trained as a jihadist to the age of 15. While the only of these claims made in Unveiling Islam is that Caner grew up in a devout Muslim home (in Ohio), the suggestion that Caner has exaggerated or falsified information regarding his Muslim upbringing is troubling.

As many of you know, I recently read Unveiling Islam and commented chapter by chapter here on bekahcubed. In light of this article, I have included the following addendum in each of my posts on Unveiling Islam:

Ergun Caner’s testimony as a converted Muslim has been challenged by several bloggers who claim that he has grossly exaggerated the extent of his Muslim upbringing. Readers of this book ought to be aware that the Caners may or may not have the experiential knowledge of Islam that they claim to have, and should therefore be careful to test the statements found in this book against other reliable sources.

I find this new information regarding Caner to be quite puzzling–since I felt that in Unveiling Islam the Caners treated Islam with a sympathy uncommon among fundamentalist right-wingers. (Classifying Ergun Caner as a fundamentalist right-winger does not seem out of place, considering that he is currently the president of Liberty University’s seminary.)

Why might Caner have felt a need to lie about his past? Certainly, he doesn’t make outrageous claims regarding Islam (or at least, not as outrageous as many claims made by those who fear Islam). I don’t see any reason for such behavior.

Nevertheless, this certainly calls Caner’s testimony as a believer and credibility as a source of information about Islam into question.

As readers, we should always be discerning, testing what we read against Scripture and against other sources to determine whether such things are true. Even when reading (or listening to) “Christian” sources, we should keep our filters on, carefully testing all things against the Word of God.

Let this be a call to us all to be wise and discerning as we read, listen, and live in a world where things are not always as they seem.

Evangelizing the Muslim

April 11th, 2010

Notes on Ergun Mehmet Caner and Emir Fethi Caner’s
Unveiling Islam
Chapter 16: Inside the Muslim (Earning a Hearing and Winning a Soul)

It is important that Christians be culturally sensitive and Biblically articulate in befriending the Muslim and communicating the gospel to him or her.

Some tips:

  • Never offer your left hand for a handshake
  • Never call a Muslim “brother”. “Friend” is a more appropriate term.
  • Accept Muslim hospitality (including eating their food and observing their household rules without question)
  • Extend hospitality (and be sure to be sensitive to their dietary protocols such as no pork, lard, or shellfish, and no alcohol served with meals)
  • Avoid conversation with the opposite sex until you have ascertained that it is safe to do so.
  • Attend an Islamic service, if asked to, but you need not (and should not) participate in the acts of worship). Instead, stand to the side quietly and ask your host questions in an unobtrusive manner.
  • Earn a right to be heard through friendship–don’t rush in to convert the Muslim. (Demonstrate love for them first.)
  • Avoid political arguments and avoid equating patriotism to American with Christianity.
  • Don’t defend or underplay the sins of so-called “Christians” throughout the ages or in the present day.
  • Remember that many Muslims face a great “cost” for converting to Christianity–including complete rejection by family and friends. It is right that Muslims should count the cost.
  • Avoid “church talk” like “born again”, “saved”, “lost”, or certainly “crusade”.
  • Clearly communicate the elements of the gospel that are most foreign to Muslims: grace (liberation from dead works and complete payment of all debt owed) and love (a personal, loving God as seen in the cross.)
  • Be prepared to defend Scripture and its sure testimony regarding Christ
  • Read the Qur’an and be able to use the Qur’an to encourage Muslims to give the Bible a hearing (This may be the most helpful section in this book–giving a clear argument for why the Bible is a reliable witness, using the Qur’an and Aristotelian logic–which is accepted by Islam.)

Addendum (May 10, 2010): Ergun Caner’s testimony as a converted Muslim has been challenged by several bloggers who claim that he has grossly exaggerated the extent of his Muslim upbringing. Readers of this book ought to be aware that the Caners may or may not have the experiential knowledge of Islam that they claim to have, and should therefore be careful to test the statements found in this book against other reliable sources.

Islam’s Jesus

April 10th, 2010

Notes on Ergun Mehmet Caner and Emir Fethi Caner’s
Unveiling Islam
Chapter 15: Jesus According to the Qur’an

Muslims believe in Jesus. Did you know that?

Well, they do.

But that doesn’t mean that they believe in the Jesus of the Bible.

According to the Qur’an, Jesus…
…is the son of Mary
…is a man like Adam (created from dust)
…is a messenger of God
…is a miracle worker with a limited ministry
…preached obedience to Allah
The Bible agrees that Jesus is the son of Mary, that Jesus is a man (although not created from dust), that Jesus is a messenger from God, that Jesus was a miracle worker, and that Jesus preached obedience.

But there were and are many other men who worked miracles and preached obedience as a messenger of God–and the Bible (but not the Qur’an) makes clear the differences between Christ and all of these.

The Bible says that Jesus was not only man, but God. The Bible affirms that Jesus came not just to POINT the way to the Father, but as THE WAY to the Father. The Bible says that Jesus’ primary work was to be crucified and rise again.

The Qur’an denies all of these. It denies the divinity of Christ, denies the necessity of Christ, and denies the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. The Muslim believes in Christ as you and I believe in Santa Claus–yes, originally there was a person named St. Nicolas who helped some youngsters by throwing money in their windows, some of which may have fallen into their stockings, or something like that. We believe in that–but it has no bearing on our life. It’s nothing more than an amusing story with some hint of truth. Except that unlike St. Nicolas, who made no claims of entering houses through chimneys and riding flying reindeer, Jesus Christ claimed that He was God. Jesus Christ truly WAS crucified. Jesus Christ was raised from the dead, and had dozens of witnesses of His resurrected body. These things that the Muslim denies are not rumors that sprung up long after the life of Christ. They are claims made by Christ Himself, witnesses born by His closest companions.

While Islam might say that Christianity’s claims about Jesus are a perversion of the true Jesus, a “Santa Claus” rumor belying Jesus’ true nature, the truth is that the scenario is reversed. Islam’s “Jesus” resembles the historical Jesus about as well as Santa Claus resembles the historical St. Nicolas. The two couldn’t be more different.

Addendum (May 10, 2010): Ergun Caner’s testimony as a converted Muslim has been challenged by several bloggers who claim that he has grossly exaggerated the extent of his Muslim upbringing. Readers of this book ought to be aware that the Caners may or may not have the experiential knowledge of Islam that they claim to have, and should therefore be careful to test the statements found in this book against other reliable sources.

Christianity through their eyes

April 9th, 2010

Notes on Ergun Mehmet Caner and Emir Fethi Caner’s
Unveiling Islam
Chapter 14: Clash of Cultures (Christianity through the eyes of the typical Muslim)

According to the Caners, Muslims interpret all religions, including Christianity, through their central doctrine “There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is his messenger.” They believe that Allah is everyone’s god. All other religions are simply corruptions of or delusions regarding the true religion of Allah.

This chapter addresses five perceptions that Muslims have regarding Christianity, and responds to each of these.

  1. The true Christian gospel has been changed. (Response: Historical evidence affirms Christianity)
  2. Christians are divided and weak (Response: Christians and Muslims are both divided)
  3. Christians have maligned true Islam. (Response: Islam maligns Christianity far more than Christians malign Islam.)
  4. Christians are blind and unreasonable. (Response: Christian faith is reasonable and can be understood.)
  5. The Christian faith overlooks immorality (Response: Western nations are not Christian nations.)
  6. This chapter gives a nice look into some of the perceptions Muslims may have about Christians and provides a jumping off point for study for anyone who desires to minister to Muslims.

    Addendum (May 10, 2010): Ergun Caner’s testimony as a converted Muslim has been challenged by several bloggers who claim that he has grossly exaggerated the extent of his Muslim upbringing. Readers of this book ought to be aware that the Caners may or may not have the experiential knowledge of Islam that they claim to have, and should therefore be careful to test the statements found in this book against other reliable sources.

Jihad: Holy or Hellish War?

April 7th, 2010

Notes on Ergun Mehmet Caner and Emir Fethi Caner’s
Unveiling Islam
Chapter 13: The Bloodshed of Jihad

Despite some Muslim apologists attempt to say otherwise, Jihad is clearly intended as a military, combat word rather than as a struggle towards personal piety. This fight includes the command to “slay them wherever you catch them” (surah 2:191)–not exactly a nonviolent expression. In different places within the Qur’an, jihad is ordered against Christians, against Jews, against pagans, and against former Muslims who have converted to another religion.

The reward for martyrdom in jihad is great. Jihad is a requirement for followers of Islam and requires a pledge of allegiance. Fighting to the death is encouraged. Jihad is considered one of the highest calls in life and martyrdom balances the scales (see Righteousness in the Balance for a closer look at Islam’s conception of righteousness). Any action taken in jihad is justifiable–there is no such thing as a “war crime” in the pursuit of jihad. What’s more, the martyr of jihad is promised fantastic houses, a huge feast, dozens of virgins, and amazing sexual prowess in paradise.

For the Muslim, war is not an unhappy necessity, but a central tenet of faith. Jihad is commanded, encouraged, and richly rewarded. Brutality in jihad is completely excused.

Addendum (May 10, 2010): Ergun Caner’s testimony as a converted Muslim has been challenged by several bloggers who claim that he has grossly exaggerated the extent of his Muslim upbringing. Readers of this book ought to be aware that the Caners may or may not have the experiential knowledge of Islam that they claim to have, and should therefore be careful to test the statements found in this book against other reliable sources.

Religious Freedom under Islam

April 6th, 2010

Notes on Ergun Mehmet Caner and Emir Fethi Caner’s
Unveiling Islam
Chapter 12: The Illusion of Religious Liberty (Terrorism from within)

Religious Freedom in a “Christian” Nation

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”
-US Constitution, 1st Amendment

Religious Freedom in a Muslim Nation

“Christians…

  • shall not build, in our cities or in their neighborhood, new monasteries, Churches, convents, or monks’ cells, nor shall [they] repair, by day or by night, such of them as fall in ruins or are situated in the quarters of the Muslims
  • shall not manifest religion publicly nor convert anyone to it… [Christians] shall not prevent any of [their] kin from entering Islam if they wish it.
  • shall show respect toward the Muslims, and shall rise from seats when [Muslims] wish to sit
  • shall not display crosses or books in the road or markets of the Muslims….[They] shall use only clappers in churches very softly.

-Caner and Caner, Unveiling Islam, page 175, quoting the Pact of Umar

Addendum (May 10, 2010): Ergun Caner’s testimony as a converted Muslim has been challenged by several bloggers who claim that he has grossly exaggerated the extent of his Muslim upbringing. Readers of this book ought to be aware that the Caners may or may not have the experiential knowledge of Islam that they claim to have, and should therefore be careful to test the statements found in this book against other reliable sources.

Muslim Sects

April 5th, 2010

Notes on Ergun Mehmet Caner and Emir Fethi Caner’s
Unveiling Islam
Chapter 11: Islamic Sects and Splinters

Sunni

  • Largest sect
  • Leader is a caliph elected from among the people
  • This group systematized Shari’a law
  • Maintains the relative uniformity of Muslim practice throughout the world

Shi’ite

  • Leader is an imam who is direct descendant of Muhammed
  • Has a messianic figure of sorts, the twelfth imam
  • Shari’a law a governmental absolute–leading to harsh intolerances (even of Sunni’s) within Shi’ite governments

Sufism

  • Mystic sect that draws from Buddhism
  • Believes in simplicity, meditation, denial of self
  • Pantheistic
  • Follow an allegorical or symbolic interpretation of the Qur’an

There are numerous other, smaller sects that make up about 2% of the worldwide Muslim population. Many of these sects are rejected by the larger sects as being cultish, not Orthodox Islam.

Addendum (May 10, 2010): Ergun Caner’s testimony as a converted Muslim has been challenged by several bloggers who claim that he has grossly exaggerated the extent of his Muslim upbringing. Readers of this book ought to be aware that the Caners may or may not have the experiential knowledge of Islam that they claim to have, and should therefore be careful to test the statements found in this book against other reliable sources.

Holidays: Celebrating God or man?

March 31st, 2010

Notes on Ergun Mehmet Caner and Emir Fethi Caner’s
Unveiling Islam
Chapter 10: Holy Days (A Calendar of Islamic Community)

“Christians must understand that Islamic holidays differ in both essence and meaning from the holy days that Christians observe.

First, and of most importance, Christian holidays remember divine interventions, while Islamic holidays are based upon human accomplishments. In Christianity, we celebrate Easter as the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ and His completion of the sacrifice for our sins. In Islam, ‘Eid-ul-Adha celebrates Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Ishmael, not Allah’s substitution of the ram in the thicket. In Christianity we celebrate [Christmas] the birth of the Savior, Jesus Christ, for our redemption. Islam celebrates Mawlid al-Nabi, the birth date of Muhammad, their warrior. Christianity and Judaism recognize Passover as the work of God sparing the firstborn children of the Israelites. Muslims mark the end of their own personal sacrifice in Ramadan with ‘Eid-ul-Fitr. The complete inversion of the purpose of holy days cannot be overstated.

Second, the communal activities and meals celebrated in Islam are exclusively for Muslims. In Christian terminology, Muslims believe emphatically in “closed communion.” While Jews often make a point of inviting their Christian neighbors to celebrate Shabbat or the Passover Seder with them, non-Muslims (even if they are friends or family) are unwelcome at Muslim celebrations….

Christians take note: While we should understand Islamic customs, we can easily fall into syncretistic idolatry [by participating in Islamic prayer or other forms of Islamic worship that the Muslim considers a pledge of devotion to Allah]. Respecting other religious traditions enables us to witness more effectively. Validating their traditions waters down the gospel witness. We center our celebrations on the provision of the Lord, not on our personal endeavors.”

-Caner and Caner, Unveiling Islam, pages 159-160

Addendum (May 10, 2010): Ergun Caner’s testimony as a converted Muslim has been challenged by several bloggers who claim that he has grossly exaggerated the extent of his Muslim upbringing. Readers of this book ought to be aware that the Caners may or may not have the experiential knowledge of Islam that they claim to have, and should therefore be careful to test the statements found in this book against other reliable sources.

Righteousness in the Balance

March 30th, 2010

Notes on Ergun Mehmet Caner and Emir Fethi Caner’s
Unveiling Islam
Chapter 9: Salvation (Mathematical Righteousness)

“Then those whose balance [of good deeds] is heavy,–they will be successful. But those whose balance is light, will be those who have lost their souls; in Hell will they abide.”
surah 23:102-103 (as quoted in Caner & Caner p. 149)

In Islam, righteousness is measured as on a balance. The righteous man is the one whose good deeds outweigh his bad deeds when the time of judgment comes.

One might think that this is a kinder, more merciful idea of righteousness than Christianity’s conception of righteousness. Christianity declares that in order to be righteous, one must be completely without sin. There is no leniency towards bad deeds, no way for bad deeds to be “made up.” What’s more, Christianity affirms the doctrine of original sin–saying that even the tiniest baby who has of yet done nothing good or bad is sinful. According to Christianity, we are all born stained–and even the smallest blot excludes one from heaven.

Original sin is a harsh doctrine. The absolute holiness of God is a harsh doctrine. That God cannot tolerate sin is a harsh doctrine. One cannot believe in the absolute depravity of man and the absolute holiness of God without hating his flesh. One cannot believe in the Christian doctrine of righteousness without being forced to depend upon Christ for his righteousness.

Christianity posits that man is helpless, stained, unable to attain to righteousness of himself. Islam, on the other hand, suggests that man can achieve righteousness. All he need do is make sure that his good deeds outweigh the bad.

Which is where the difficulty comes in. If we could all keep a scale in our house where we could collect together our good deeds and our bad and weigh them out, then perhaps this conception of righteousness could give hope. We could clearly see that the balance is tipping in the wrong direction and do some speedy acts of righteousness to even the scale.

But we do not have a scale by which to judge our righteousness. Only Allah holds that scale. How are we to know the weight of our actions? I cannot begin to comprehend the consequences of my actions in the here and now–how am I to understand their consequence in the hereafter? How much heavier is murder than lying? Is giving to charity heavier than doing street cleanup in a disadvantaged neighborhood? I know not the density of my actions.

Under Islam, my only hope is to be eternally striving–striving against bad deeds and towards good deeds. But this striving neither eases the conscience nor gives assurance for eternity. It simply begets more striving.

Compare this to Christianity, where the scale is plainly set forth. Even our smallest sins are infinitely weighty. Even our most spectacular good works are infinitesimally light. There is no way for us to balance the scale.

If this were the only information we were given about righteousness, we would have reason to despair. Better to believe in Islam, where at least there is some chance of attaining to righteousness.

But this is not the end story in Christianity. For Christianity says that man is utterly fallen and utterly incapable of lifting himself up–but Christianity also says that God has provided a way for man to be righteous.

This week, we celebrate the Passover. This week, we celebrate the Lord’s Supper. This week, we celebrate Good Friday. We celebrate the spotless lamb Jesus Christ, absolutely righteous, without blemish. We celebrate the exchange that took place on the cross: our sins placed on Jesus, His righteousness imparted to us. We celebrate God’s righteous wrath poured out on Christ; His favor bestowed on us.

Christianity teaches man to despair of attaining righteousness by good works–but it offers a far better righteousness, a righteousness attained by surrender, by the work of God Himself.

If it were not for Christ, Islam’s conception of righteousness as a giant set of scales would be a far more merciful righteousness. As it is, the reality of the cross of Christ, purchasing righteousness for those with no hope of ever earning, makes the God of the Bible’s implacable holiness infinitely more merciful than Allah’s scales.

To achieve Allah’s righteousness, man must work tirelessly, without any assurance of reward. To achieve Christ’s righteousness, man must recognize the worthlessness of his own works and receive the righteousness that has been bought for him, with eternal assurance.

When I weigh Christ’s righteousness vs. Allah’s in the scale, there can be no doubt in my mind. Christ’s righteousness is far better.

Addendum (May 10, 2010): Ergun Caner’s testimony as a converted Muslim has been challenged by several bloggers who claim that he has grossly exaggerated the extent of his Muslim upbringing. Readers of this book ought to be aware that the Caners may or may not have the experiential knowledge of Islam that they claim to have, and should therefore be careful to test the statements found in this book against other reliable sources.

Women under Islam

March 29th, 2010

Notes on Ergun Mehmet Caner and Emir Fethi Caner’s
Unveiling Islam
Chapter 8: Women (Love, Marriage, and Property)

I spoke earlier of how little I’ve discovered that I know of Islam.

This chapter speaks of the little I know first hand.

When Laura Bush and others started talking about freedom from Islamic oppression for women, I cheered. I was glad someone was finally talking about the elephant in Islam’s living room. Unfortunately, I fear that the Western world has failed to take seriously the threat that Islam poses to women.

We excuse the lack of education for many Islamic women, saying that it’s simply a cultural thing. We excuse the forced “modesty” by saying that perhaps the women prefer their burqas. And perhaps that is so–but this is only the tiniest hint of how Islam treats its women.

According to the Qur’an, women are inferior to men. No ifs, ands, or buts. Women are inferior. Women are the property of their husbands, and are a sexual object for their husband’s pleasure. While men can divorce their wives for any reason simply by declaring that he is divorcing her, women cannot divorce their husbands even those husbands are unfaithful or physically abusive. In fact, Islam not only excuses unfaithfulness and abusiveness, but explicitly encourages both polygamy and wife-beating.

Westerners deliberately close their eyes to this reality of Islamic faith, disbelieving that any modern religion could actually countenance such cruelty. This ignorance is naive and dangerous.

Truly, there are Islamic families (particularly in the US) who practice neither polygamy nor wife-beating. Perhaps there are some Muslim men who respect their wives as equals rather than as inferiors. But this is the exception rather than the rule–and is in opposition to what Islam actually teaches about the position of women in society and in the home.

The experience of a woman I know is far closer to the reality for Muslim women, even here in America. An American woman, she married a Muslim man and obtained US citizenship for him. He divorced her legally, and she lived on governmental assistance. Yet he still claimed marital rights–insisting upon conjugal visits, demanding that she not interact with other men, and taking money and work from her.

He beat her when they were married-and he still beat her after their divorce. She has had broken bones, deep wounds, even brain damage at his hand. Once he beat her badly and tied her to a chair and left her there.

I have seen the bruises. I have heard the stories. I have feared for my mother’s safety as she associated with this woman. But I have also seen the indoctrinated woman insist upon not pressing charges, do everything she could to waylay justice–because under Islam, her “husband” had every right to treat her as he did.

The Western world MUST awaken to see the threat Islam poses to women. We cannot allow ourselves to be blinded by pleas for tolerance and cultural sensitivity. Tolerance does not excuse the beating of women. Cultural sensitivity does not allow for the keeping of sex slaves. Islam not only excuses but promotes these. To “tolerate” Islam is to endorse the wholesale victimization of women. As such, no Christian man or woman is allowed the luxury of “tolerance”.

“All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” (attributed to Edmund Burke)

Addendum (May 10, 2010): Ergun Caner’s testimony as a converted Muslim has been challenged by several bloggers who claim that he has grossly exaggerated the extent of his Muslim upbringing. Readers of this book ought to be aware that the Caners may or may not have the experiential knowledge of Islam that they claim to have, and should therefore be careful to test the statements found in this book against other reliable sources.

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