Monday, July 30, 2007

Oops! It's not OK for you to commit apostasy!

As suspected, there will be clarification and stronger statements about this issue. Does a person has the right to choose his/her religion and then change his/her mind? Is the issue of religious freedom an individual matter or a state government matter? Is departing from God a spiritual issue or a political-legal issue?

What if the reverse is practiced, meaning if one were to leave Christianity, one will be punished by imprisonment? Would there be enough jail cells in Europe and North America to contain them, as millions have already denied their faith? Would it cause general disorder in society? What happens when faith in God is not politicized?

Dar El-Ifta: Grand Mufti’s statements misinterpreted

By Yasmine Saleh
First Published: July 25, 2007

CAIRO: Egypt's Grand Muft Ali Gomaa did not "by any means" sanction Muslims converting to other religions, which is referred to in Arabic as redda, Ibrahim Nagm, the mufti’s spokesperson, told The Daily Star Egypt.

Nagm's comment came a day after local newspaper dailies Al-Akhbar, Al- Masry Al -Youm published a statement from Dar El-Ifta, which included a reply to local press coverage of the Grand Mufti's posting on the Washington Post-Newsweek forum. The dailies reported that in the posting the Mufti said that Muslims have the right to convert to any other religion.

However, according to Nagm, "the Mufti did not say that," adding that the article was misinterpreted because it was translated from Arabic to English and then back to Arabic. It was also edited by the Washington Post, which made it "lose its original [meaning]."

In a previous interview with The Daily Star Egypt, Sheikh Ibrahim Atta El Fayoumi, secretary general of the Islamic Research Center, said that “the words of the Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa were misinterpreted. What he means is that if there is a traitor he should be punished and the same goes for a killer or a thief. When you convert and you don’t harm anyone then you do not deserve to be punished by anyone.”

Al-Masry Al-Youm’s headline ("Mufti: Muslims can leave their religion and God will not judge them on Judgment Day”) was not what the Mufti said, according to a statement sent to The Daily Star Egypt.

"The Grand Mufti has confirmed that Islam prohibits Muslims from leaving their religion, and that this practice should be punished," the statement read.

Gomaa had reportedly based his opinion on several verses of the Quran, which appear to promote religious freedom. “Unto you your religion, and unto me my religion,” [Quran, 109:6], “Whosoever will, let him believe, and whosoever will, let him disbelieve,” [Quran, 18:29], and, “There is no compulsion in religion. The right direction is distinct from error,” [Quran, 2:256].

However, the statement sent to The Daily Star Egypt quoted this verse again, and said that this freedom should not disturb general order and stability in society.

Muslims are free to change their religion

Egypt's Top Religious Advisor OKs Muslims Leaving Islam

by Michelle Vu, Christian Today Correspondent
Posted: Thursday, July 26, 2007, 9:56 (BST)

Egypt’s official religious advisor have declared that Muslims are free to change their religion – a statement that could significantly impact the status of Muslims who convert to Christianity and the county’s Christian population in general.

“The essential question before us is ‘can a person who is Muslim choose a religion other than Islam?’ The answer is yes, they can,” the Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa said in a posting on a Washington Post-Newsweek forum and picked up by the Egyptian press on Tuesday, according to Agence France-Presse.

The Grand Mufti is the highest official of religious law in a Sunni Muslim country. His opinions and interpretations of Islamic law assist the government in regulating civil laws but are not binding.

“The act of abandoning one’s religion is a sin punishable by God on the Day of Judgement,” explained Gomaa, emphasising that faith is a matter between an individual and God. “If the case in question is one of merely rejecting faith, then there is no worldly punishment.”

However, Gomaa noted that if the conversion challenged the “foundation of society” then it should go through the judicial system, though he did not elaborate.

Egypt has an estimated 10 million Coptic Christians – the Orthodox Christians of Egypt and the largest group of Christians in the Middle East.

Despite the fact that Christians makes up 10 per cent of Egypt’s population, the minority group has long been oppressed by the country’s Muslim majority. They are isolated from mainstream society and are often forced to convert to Islam through rape, marriage, change of legal name and violence, according to Cameel Halim, chairman of the Coptic Assembly of America.

Egypt’s Coptic oppression has for too long been “hidden under the table” and “no one knows what is going on”, lamented Halim at a recent gathering of persecuted religious minorities in Washington DC.

Yet Muslim-background Christians face even greater obstacles than believers from Christian families.

Muslims who want to legally change their religion status to Christian on official documents are refused by the state and in some cases are arrested and imprisoned.

"Even though it is not a criminal offence in Egypt, they get detained under emergency laws or are put on trial for contempt of religion if they wish to convert," said Hossam Bahgat of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, according to AFP.

Also, converts to Christianity are still legally Muslims, they cannot legally marry Christians and their children are considered Muslims.

In the Islamic world, some extremists have even called for the killing of apostates.

"This (ruling) is significant, especially coming from Gomaa," said Bahgat. "Between 2004 and now there have been many court cases involving Christian converts to Islam that want to convert back to Christianity who are unable to do so."

Bahgat is involved in the upcoming case of the 12 former Christians who want to revert back to Christianity.

Earlier this month, Egypt’s Supreme Court agreed to hear the appeal of the Coptic Christians. The case was denied by a lower court in April, which had ruled against the converts. The lower court had argued that recognising such a case would be considered apostasy under Islamic law.

The case of the 12 Copts will go to the Supreme Court in September. Bahgat said they will use Gomaa’s posting to support their case.

"Gomaa is a civil servant, the top religious advisor of the state, and technically speaking the deputy minister of justice," Bahgat said. "So his views on the matter carry authority."

Monday, July 23, 2007

Great Commission and K-Drama?

How seriously should we take the Commission of Christ to us? Should we obey Him, only in areas that are safe and secure? Should we only go to the places where the government permit us to do so? Should we stop completely as it affect others and put them in duress? Did Apostle Paul and gang considered the rest of the church members' feelings and safety when they went off preaching into dangerous places? How and where do we draw the line between wisdom and obedience? Wisdom not to rush where angels fear to tread? Courage to obey His commission, even where there are clear and present danger?

Would love to hear your comments! Do u think these 23 individuals were wise in doing what they did?

South Korea Considers Evangelical Zeal Following Kidnappings

Posted: Monday, July 23, 2007, 12:02 (BST)

The kidnapping of 23 Korean church volunteers in Afghanistan has raised questions in South Korea over whether the country's evangelical Christian groups may be too zealous in sending missionaries overseas.

There are an estimated 17,000 South Korean Christian missionaries abroad, the largest contingent after those from the United States, with many of them in volatile regions.

Several major dailies questioned why the church that sent the volunteers to Afghanistan ignored government warnings of the risk of conflict with the Islamic militarist Taliban.

"Religious groups should realise once and for all that dangerous missionary and volunteer activities in Islamic countries including Afghanistan not only harm Korea's national objectives, but also put other Koreans under a tremendous amount of duress," the right-leaning Chosun Ilbo newspaper said in an editorial on Monday.

The Saemmul church from which the kidnapped Koreans were dispatched is relatively moderate and its missions abroad have focused on volunteer medical and humanitarian work, people in the Christian community say.

But for many increasingly wealthy evangelical churches in South Korea, dispatching missionaries and Christian volunteers abroad has become a competition, with larger numbers widely considered a gauge of the strength of their beliefs.

"I have never seen this kind of zeal elsewhere," said Song Jae-ryong of Kyunghee University, in Seoul, who specialises in religious sociology. [Ed: Apparently he has not met Apostle Paul and gang yet! :) ]

Critics say that while the churches do a lot of good abroad, they can at times have a shallow view of the world.

"South Korean evangelism has a strong tendency to push for what they believe in, often in disregard of the peculiarities of the places they are trying to work in," Song said.

South Korea has one of the largest percentages of Christians in Asia, at around 30 percent of the population. The religion grew in post-war South Korea, with many seeing it as a way to a better education and social standing.

In some cases, dozens or even hundreds of South Korean evangelicals can be found in a single small city, with some even fighting one another over the voluntary work to be done, the left-leaning daily Hankyoreh reported.

A few evangelical church leaders boast about getting around South Korean government warnings and bans other countries place on missionary visas by unofficially dispatching missionaries.

This practise has drawn criticism among other South Korean churches, because it makes it difficult for locals to distinguish between Christian volunteers doing humanitarian work and those whose primary mission is to seek converts overseas.

Last August, Afghanistan deported hundreds of visiting South Korean Christians who wanted to parade through Kabul over security fears after Islamic clerics demanded their expulsion, accusing them of trying to proselytise.

This is a PG rated Blog!

I stumbled upon this rating website and discovered that my blog is rated PG! Parental Guidance suggested. Wow! I did not know I could garner such ratings. :)

What's My Blog Rated?

This rating was determined based on the presence of the following words:

  • murder (4x)
  • dead (2x)
  • death (1x)

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Missionaries from Africa vs Missionaries to Africa

The Global South church is beginning to take its' sacred responsibility of world mission. Even African churches are realizing their role in establishing the kingdom of God. No longer are they just a receiving nations of missionaries, but they are going out - being send out as missionaries. The author of this article has brought forth many pertinent factors. To read the ENTIRE article please click the link. (Its a pdf file)

Out of Africa

Duncan Olumbe

The “Sleeping Giant” Wakes Up

Over the last three decades, there has been a noticeable increase of Africans in mission. Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa and Kenya (among others) have sent out more missionaries. While such a significant increase could be related to the shift of the center of Christianity from the global North to the global South, there are several salient factors which have led to this. One such factor is an increase in mission mobilization efforts across Africa.

For quite a while, Christian ministry in Africa was left for those who had seemingly failed in academics. This was fuelled by the fact that during and immediately after independence, most educated Africans got good employment through their governments. Christian ministry, mission in particular, was therefore not considered economically rewarding for the learned African. As a result, the African church and mission leadership had compromised standards. It was not easy to mobilize educated African Christians into Christian ministry. Thankfully, the last few decades have seen a gradual change due to the courage and tenacity of a few leading African scholars who dared into often despised Christian ministry. We therefore now have more educated Africans in church and mission leadership. Mission mobilization is no longer restricted to the failures; we are now able to target the educated youth and professionals.

Another factor is the changing attitude toward and understanding of mission. Previously, many African Christians viewed mission as only for western missionaries. Partly, this was due to the poor transfer of mission vision from the early missionaries to the emerging African Church. Also, it was perhaps due to the prevailing notion that only westerners were referred to as “missionaries,” and the perception that mission work required vast resources which only our western brothers and sisters could afford. Furthermore, it has been observed that a number of Bible Schools in Africa omitted mission in their curriculum and therefore produced many African church leaders who did not give mission its rightful priority in church life.

The global village phenomenon has also considerably contributed to increased mission awareness and mobilization. With the electronic mass media, African Christians (even those in remote villages) are able to hear, watch and read of what God is doing in other parts of the world. Easier communication has increased exchange of ideas and strategies for better mission mobilization. Testimonies of amazing mission mobilization in countries like US, India and Brazil have inevitably woken up the so-called “sleeping giant” African Church into action.

In fact, increased mission mobilization in Africa is such that the current challenge is not necessarily lack of people willing to be missionaries, but rather how to handle the overwhelming response to mission! Too often, numbers outstrip available opportunities and organizations. Many such committed African Christians end up frustrated and gradually lose their passion for mission.

Click here to read the entire article.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

It is prosperous to be a preacher!

In a time where ignorant Christians (and non-Christians) believe that it is fashionable and profitable to be a pastor or preacher, this article below highlight certain risks.

Just like John the Baptist, prophet Isaiah, Apostle Paul, Stephen the deacon, Jesus the Messiah, and others like them, all were killed for preaching.

It is risky and dangerous to be a preacher! You will most probably be persecuted and martyred for being God's mouthpiece, despite what the name-it-claim-it preachers say.

Yet with this background in mind, the Bible boldly declares: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer (preacher), he desires a noble task (1 Tim 3:1).

I salute ALL those who desire this sacred task!

Two Christian Pastors Shot Dead in Colombia

by Daniel Blake

Posted: Wednesday, July 11, 2007, 14:10 (BST)

Two Pentecostal pastors have been assassinated in southern Colombia last week. Initial reports indicate that the 17th Brigade of the leftist guerrilla group, FARC, is responsible.

Pastor Humberto Mendez, 63, and Pastor Joel Cruz Garcia, 27, were abducted from their homes on 5 July, in the southern part of the country, where FARC has a strong presence.

According to church representatives, a group of armed men wearing camouflage clothing called them by name and led them away, according to Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW). The bodies of the two men were found the next day 40 metres apart. Both had been shot in the head.

While authorities and church leaders seem to agree that FARC committed the murders, the motive is unclear. The families of the pastors have said that they never received any warnings or threats from any group.

According to reports by the news agency GospelNoticias, the assassinations were in response to the participation of local churches in nationwide protests against terrorism and kidnapping.

Bogota skyline

Church representatives in the area, however, also point to the ongoing risks that accompany preaching and teaching Christian principles in a region with a significant guerrilla presence.

According to church leaders at the local and national levels, FARC has declared Protestant pastors to be legitimate military targets. They have said these two assassinations are representative of a wider problem for communities of faith, particularly those located in rural areas and conflict zones across the country.

Two church-based NGOs, Justapaz and the Commission for Restoration, Life and Peace, have documented over 100 targeted assassinations of pastors and other church leaders across the country since 2000. Many are a response to the refusal of many pastors to participate in or support the activities of the armed groups, including paying protection money or tolerating the recruitment of young people from their congregations into the armed groups.

While FARC is not responsible for all of these murders, they have been implicated in a significant percentage of them, according to CSW. Right-wing paramilitary groups and another leftist guerrilla group, the ELN, are believed to be responsible for the rest.

Tina Lambert, Advocacy Director of CSW, said, “Our prayers are with the families and the communities of these two men at this very difficult time. It is completely unacceptable for the FARC, or any other armed group, to target church leaders. These were two pastors, both civilians, who were simply preaching at a peaceful religious gathering.

“We call, once again, on all armed actors in Colombia to respect religious freedom and to uphold the rights of believers to practise and live out the tenets of their faith.”

Friday, July 13, 2007

Don't Betray the Gospel, Evangelicals told

by Daniel Blake

Posted: Thursday, July 12, 2007, 9:25 (BST)

Chris Wright, International Director of Langham Partnership International and Chair of the Lausanne Theology Working Group, has warned that the world church must become more “biblical” or else risk “a betrayal of the gospel”.

Dr Wright was in Budapest, Hungary last month for the Lausanne International Leadership meeting to launch the process that will lead to a third major Lausanne Congress in October 2010 in Cape Town, South Africa.

The leadership meeting gathered more than 300 people from all over the world, representing several generations of leaders, a Langham Partnership release has stated.

Lausanne's commission of ‘the whole church taking the whole gospel to the whole world’ would require the “whole Bible” too, he warned during the meeting.

He explained that a holistic mission demands holistic use of the Bible.

“For it is in the whole Bible that we hear the heartbeat of God himself – for the last and the least as well as the lost; for those who are dying of hunger, HIV/Aids and war, as well as those who are dying in their sins; for the landless, homeless, stateless and family-less as well as those who are without Christ, without hope and without God in the world," he said.

World renowned theologian and evangelist Rev John Stott is a unique link between the Langham Partnership International and the Lausanne movement. Not only is he the founder and honorary president of Langham Partnership, he was also one of the major figures alongside Billy Graham at the first Lausanne Congress in 1974.

That Congress gave birth to the epochal Lausanne Covenant and the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelisation. Many Langham scholars were represented and took part in the gathering as well.

More than three decades on from the historic origins of Lausanne, Dr Wright is now looking for the Church to reassess its position to ensure it is going forward with the correct focus to fulfil the Great Commission.

“My concern,” stressed Dr Wright, “is not just that the world church should become more evangelical, but that world evangelicals should become more biblical.”

He concluded: “We need repentance and renewal in the church, as well as renewed passion for world mission. Otherwise, we may become as the Lausanne Covenant put it, ‘a stumbling block to evangelism…a betrayal of the gospel.’”

Copyright © 2006 Christian Today. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Sunday, July 8, 2007


I am away in Kuching and Sibu.

Will not be able to blog anything for about a week.

Take care! God bless.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

In a world without peace, let me wish you SHALOM!

I have extracted some of Lee K. Ellenwood’s compilations on the concept of Shalom (Hebrew for peace) from Living Pulpit Oct 2006

Global South as well as North is always seeking for peace – personal peace, community peace, and international peace. In this season of wars and conflicts, bloodsheds and ethnic cleansing, senseless violence and random acts of destructions - here are some quotations to meditate upon. And if you do come across any others, please feel free to send them to me. Do remember to include the source.

Seek the shalom of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to the LORD for it; for in the shalom of it shall you have shalom.


Rabban Simeon ben Gamaliel had said: "The world rests on three things: On justice, on truth, on shalom."

Said Rabbi Mona: "But these are one and the same: For if there is justice, there is truth, and if there is truth, there is shalom."


The more we sweat in peace the less we bleed in war.


Congratulation to those who work for peace! They will be known as God's children.


Peace is not the product of terror or fear. Peace is not the silence of cemeteries. Peace is not the silent result of violent repression. Peace is the generous, tranquil contribution of all to the good of all. Peace is dynamism. Peace is generosity. It is right and it is duty.


Peace is what I leave behind for you; my peace is what I give you. What I give you is not a worldly gift.


Forgiveness is the ornament of the brave.


I think that people want peace so much that one of these days government had better get out of their way and let them have it.


Christian healing is not mere negation of disease but a ministry of life to the whole personality.


Let us not be justices of the peace, but angels of peace.


Peace is not something you wish for; It's something you make, Something you do, Something you are, And something you give away.


I do not want the peace which passeth understanding; I want the understanding, which bringeth peace.


You do not have the right to force!

This is a great report from The Observer at Guardian Unlimited. It is most unfortunate that moderate Mullah Abdul Majid al-Khoei was killed - by his own people - just like Gandhi, Lincoln, Anwar Sadat, and many others before him.

He too insisted that no one has the right to force and impose on others to accept what they believed in. Everyone should have the freedom of choice to decide and bear with the consequences.

[You should click on the link to read the fascinating history of the changes in the flag]
The current flag of Iraq since 2004

The moderate mullah who knew the Shias must change

Abdul Majid
al-Khoei was stabbed by a fanatic. Before he died he spoke of his hopes for his faith

Julie Flint
Sunday April 13, 2003
The Observer

This flag was used from 1963-1991

Abdul Majid al-Khoei was elated but worried as he prepared to return to Najaf, the city where Saddam Hussein 'disappeared' 106 Shia clerics, including his brother Ibrahim, on a single day in 1991. Not because he was returning with the help of the American army that was killing Iraqis in order to liberate them. Not because he feared for his life. But because he foresaw a battle royal ahead for the soul of Iraqi Shia.

It now seems possible that Majid was the first victim of that battle, that his killing last week, by a crowd whipped up by a violent young fundamentalist called Muqtada Al-Sadr, was an early victory for those who opposed his modernising vision of a tolerant Shiism open to critical co-operation with the West.

At the end of March, Saddam's Sunni-dominated regime was breathing its last and the Khoei Foundation in London, the charitable organisation Majid had headed since escaping from Iraq in 1991, was hosting a meeting between Sunnis and Shia, typically endeavouring to soothe fears. He 'ambushed' me - he relished his quirky command of English, not having spoken a word of the language in 1991 - and we talked for hours. He was speaking in confidence, he said; he did not to want to exacerbate tensions. But now that he is dead, his body mutilated almost beyond recognition, it seems right to recall what he said.

Najaf at night

Majid's great concern was that after 35 years of oppression and neglect characterised by wholesale murder and assassinations of the Shia leadership, the Shia of Iraq would 'follow anyone'.

'The Shia are so poor!' he said, even before seeing, with utter dismay, the new depths of that poverty in the Shia south. 'They are not well educated. All you have to do is mention the name of the Imam Ali and say: "Here is the money and here is heaven" and they will be with you!'

Already, he said, some Iranian-supported exiles were sending money and weapons to 'ordinary people' in southern Iraq. The purpose? '

Iran wants to tell America: "You can't be alone in Iraq. You have to deal with us. If you don't there will be no stability." Money and Islam and heaven is a powerful combination!'

Not withstanding his impeccable religious credentials as son and former student of Grand Ayatollah abu al-Qasm al-Khoei, Majid was a thoroughly modern mullah. The duty of a cleric, he believed, was to say: 'If you want to go to the mosque, welcome! If you want to go to a discotheque, welcome too! As a clergyman you have the right to explain which is better, the mosque or the discotheque. But you do not have the right to force. You cannot ask for belief by force.'

Nor, he said, could Iraq, despite its Shia majority, be run by religious rule. 'What about the Sunni?' he asked. 'What about the non-Muslims? What kind of Islamic rule would we have in Iraq? Sunni? Shia? We have to show our respect for Sharia law, but religious government is not good for the future of Iraq.'

Majid's body is now lying in the al-Khadra mosque in Najaf, beside his father, who died after years of house arrest under Saddam's regime, and his brother Mohammed Taki, who died in a car accident engineered by the regime. Without him to ease their passage through the city, the US troops that took Najaf without bloodshed, thanks to his mediation skills, have withdrawn to the outskirts.

Tragically, for the Shia and for Iraqis as a whole, Majid appears to have been killed by the extremism he rushed to Iraq to try to avert. Last Thursday morning, he was holding a reconciliation meeting in the Imam Ali mosque between religious leaders and Haidar Rifeii, the Guardian of the Shrine of Imam Ali who, as such, came under Saddam's Ministry of Religious Affairs.

Some in Najaf have called Rifeii an 'animal'. To Majid, unfailingly compassionate, he was just another man caught in the Baathist trap. An armed group entered the mosque and told Majid to hand Haidar over so they could kill him. Majid refused, saying: 'We don't want bloodshed. We must be tolerant.'

Rifeii was beheaded and Majid stabbed. Some say he was taken, wounded, to Muqtada al-Sadr's house, but killed when he returned to the mosque.

Majid believed that Iraqi Shias had to build a 'bridge' to the West, but was also concerned about the limits of the West's understanding of Iraqi Shias. 'The Americans think they can control Iraq,' he said the last time we talked. 'But they have to listen to the clergy and the tribes. They must not say: 'Who do they think they are, these five clergymen and 10 tribal leaders? We removed Saddam Hussein!"'

His greatest fear, however, was that a Pax Americana would not be able to distinguish between the 'mistakes' he warned the Shia would inevitably make as they pulled themselves into the twenty-first century - and manipulation by others.

Respect the Shia and help them out of their poverty, he said, and extremism will die in the bud. Interpreting his murder, and the reasons for it, will be the first test of America's understanding of the Iraqi south and the challenges it faces in the new order it has been catapulted into.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Man-made morality can never satisfy God (and society!)

Still on the issue of trying to create morality through legislation, the article below give us further insights. I took it from Dave's blog, and i think he took it from GCF.

How can a person be righteous? How can we cultivate a righteous and moral society?

The epistle of Galatians tells us that "clearly NO ONE is justified before God by the law" (3:11). We need the power of the Spirit in order to live righteous lives (5:5). We cannot "force" or "create" righteousness, it will be a futile exercise. We can only receive righteousness through embracing the resurrected Christ into our lives. For only Him alone can impart to us - feeble human beings - the Empowering Presence of God, who will make us righteous (3:1-3) and then enable us to live righteous lives, as we continuously yield our lives to Him (5:25).

Hudud Laws And Human Heart

On 8th July 2002, the Terengganu state assembly passed the Syariah Criminal Offences (Hudud and Qisas ) Bill (hereinafter referred to as "Hudud Laws Bill" ).

Viewed by many as draconian and oppressive in nature, hudud laws calls for Taliban like punishments for relatively minor offences: whipping for consumption of alcohol, hand amputation for theft and stoning to death for adultery.

However, the promulgators of the Hudud Laws Bill will hasten to point out that these laws are under girded with noble purposes. According to a recent issue of TIME magazine (2nd September 2002), this is all part of a drive by the PAS government to create what it calls a "pious, religious, disciplined, dignified, noble and trustworthy society."

The boiling question of the day is this: Can the mere imposition of hudud laws create the ideal society as envisioned by the PAS led government?

Muslim scholar Dr Chandra Muzzafar, in his book "Rights, Religion and Reforms", has this to say:

"In fact, there are a few examples of Muslim regimes today which adhere strictly to hudud and yet their people remain trapped in poverty, ignorance and ill health. One of these hudud oriented societies in West Asia has an incredibly high rate of illiteracy, in spite of its huge oil revenue. It is also totally autocratic, does not even observe minimal public accountability & denies the ordinary people any form of participation in government. The ills of this and other Muslim societies cannot be overcome through the mere imposition of hudud laws...Though it is only too obvious that the colossal challenges confronting most Muslim societies today, ranging from poverty and exploitation to authoritarianism and foreign domination, cannot be resolved through the promulgation of hudud ordinances, a significant segment of the ulama continues to believe that allegiance to these laws demonstrates fidelity to the faith."

I think Dr Chandra has made a grand point in the ongoing hudud laws debate. The ills of society cannot be overcome through the mere imposition of legislation, no matter how noble the intent. As a matter of fact, if the promulgators of the Hudud Laws Bill are desirous of regulating society's private morality through stiffer punishments, it will be but a futile attempt. This is because private morality is a matter of the heart. It lies in the unseen realm of our inner worlds of thoughts, emotions and values.

The hands of the law are too short to transform and empower the society to be a "pious, religious, disciplined, dignified, noble and trustworthy society."

Wong Fook Meng, GCF ecommentary While hudud laws can set a code of external conduct, it can never give the power for true internal change of character. Hudud laws can prohibit adultery, but it can never make a man love his wife and family. Hudud laws can prohibit theft, but it can never provide the antidote for greed and materialism. Hudud laws can prohibit murder, but it can never wash away the spirit of anger, ill temper and bitterness that poisons countless number of people. The real disease of societal ills comes from deep within us. About 2000 years ago, Jesus Christ proclaimed:

"For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defiles a person."

It is only God who can write His holy precepts on our minds and hearts (Hebrews 8 v 10). When this happens, there will be true and lasting transformation for individuals, families and societies. God is in the business of changing hearts, not legislations.

How's your dressing?

Singer held over dressing
(Link will only be available for about 7 days, as The Star online newspaper will archived it)

IPOH: The Perak Religious Department (JAIP) has ordered a singer to appear before the Syariah Court for “exposing her body” during a performance and “encouraging immoral activities”.

However, an indignant Siti Noor Idayu Abd Moin, 22, said she was wearing a sleeveless top and long pants when JAIP officers raided an entertainment outlet in Sunway City where she was performing on Tuesday.

“Our band had just finished and it was a little past midnight when they came in and rounded up all the Muslims.

“They asked to see our MyKad but one officer refused to touch the cards, referring to them as najis (unclean) ,” [literally means human waste] she said.

Siti Noor Idayu said the JAIP officers later detained seven people, including four employees of the outlet, and brought them to the department office.

“They put us in a tiny room and turned up the air-conditioner. I heard one officer tell the other: Bekulah dia orang (Let them freeze),” she said.

Siti Noor Idayu also said the male officers kept taking photographs of her, adding that she was made to stay overnight in that room until 10am.

She said the officer who finally came to record her statement at 8am, accused her of consuming alcohol and drugs, being involved in immoral activities, and that her MyKad was a fake.

“I took the breathalyser test twice and when the reading remained at zero, the officers looked frustrated.

“I heard one tell the other: Tapi dia tak minum lah (But she did not drink),” she said.

Siti Noor Idayu said an officer even told her that the money she earned working in the outlet was duit haram (illicit money) and that her parents, children and future generations would all be tainted for using such money.

“They finally wrote me a notice accusing me of dressing sexily and encouraging immorality just because I sang there,” she said.

The notice ordered her to appear before the Syariah Court here on Aug 6.

When contacted, JAIP director Datuk Jamry Sury said he was confident that his officers had not acted outside of their jurisdiction in issuing the notice.

“According to Islamic laws, a Muslim woman is not allowed to serve or entertain a man who is not her husband in a place where immoral activities usually take place,” he said.


If u are below 21 years old, please seek for parental permission to view the picture of this singer who has been served a notice for dressing sexily. No exemptions will be granted. No cheating, or peeking allowed. X-)

Entertainer: Siti Noor Idayu was dressed in a white, sleeveless, top and long black pants when the officers from the religious department raided the entertainment outlet in Ipoh and detained her on Tuesday.

Avoid the appearance of evil? 1 Thess 5:v22

Mufti: Don’t work in nightclubs

IPOH: Muslims should not work in nightclubs, not even as clerks or cashiers, Perak Mufti Datuk Seri Harussani Zakaria said yesterday.

He said this also applied to places where immoral activities were likely to take place, such as massage parlours and entertainment outlets.

“It is a sin for a Muslim, whether man or woman, to work in places that serve alcohol as they are considered to be abetting illicit activities,” he said yesterday.

He was commenting on the case of nightclub singer Siti Noor Idayu Abd Moin, 22, who was detained by the Perak Religious Department (JAIP) at a nightclub in Tambun here on Tuesday.

The department had ordered the singer to explain why she had “exposed her body” during a performance and “encouraged immoral activities” by working at that outlet.

However, Siti Noor Idayu said she was not even drinking and was wearing a white sleeveless top and long pants when JAIP officers raided the nightclub.

Harussani said even if Siti Noor Idayu had her parents’ consent to work at the entertainment outlet, it was still a sin.

“If your parents told you that you could drive on the highway at 120kph, is it still right to do so?

“A Muslim should stay with her family or look after her children rather than be in these places drinking,” he said.

JAIP director Datuk Jamry Sury clarified that Siti Noor Idayu was only asked to appear before the department on Aug 6 to explain herself, and not before a Syariah Court as claimed.

However, he declined to comment on whether the department would drop the charges against Siti Noor Idayu.

Meanwhile, Malaysian Artistes Association (Karyawan) deputy president Nasharuddin Elias said religious officers could advise Siti Noor Idayu instead of saying that she was earning illicit money.

“This is like piling pressure on her,” Nasharuddin, better known as Nash from the classic rock band Lefthanded, said.

He added that she was only earning money by using her talent.

Non-governmental organisation Sisters in Islam said in a statement that if Muslim men were offended by the sight of Siti Noor Idayu’s dress, then the Quran commanded them to lower their gaze and guard their own modesty.

“It is not the duty of the state to bring about a moral society to turn all incidence of 'bad dressing' into crimes against the state.

“It is obvious that many provisions of the Syariah Criminal Offences law are unenforceable as they intrude into issues that remain, for most Malaysians, in the realm of personal choice and fundamental liberty,” it said.

Opening or Closing? Open to close? Close to open?

While researching for my paper, I came across this sad news. Churches in the West is closing down, whereas churches in the Global South is still booming.

But this incident is important for us in the Global South to learn not to spend so much money and attention and effort to build the hardware (buildings) and neglect the software (people, leaders). Are we spending the same amount of effort and money in discipling and training our people? Or will we go the same way of closing down chu
rch buildings? This is a sobering thought.

Church members choose to close doors

By John Nickerson
Staff Writer
June 18, 2007

NORWALK - Unable to boost its shrinking membership, the congregation of First United Methodist Church has voted to close and disperse to other churches within a year, church officials said last week.

The near-unanimous vote for a "holy closing" ceremony to end the church's 164-year history on West Avenue was not easy, said Paul Deysenroth, the lay leader and board of trustees chairman.

"It is a difficult time because holy closings do not happen that often in the Methodist church," Deysenroth said. "The congregation has realized that we are not able to function as a good steward for God in a facility that size. Our congregation is on the aging side and they are not capable of doing the work they have done in past years."

On June 3, about 25 members of the yellow brick church at 39 West Ave. participated in a secret ballot vote on whether to close the church, Deysenroth said. He declined to say how he voted.

It is the second such milestone in as many years for West Avenue churches. Two years ago, the congregation of First Church of Christ, Scientist sold its white-trimmed brick church at 455 West Ave. for $850,000. A high-end carpet and furniture store based in New York City is set to open a showroom at the site of the former church, which once counted U.S. Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Bridgeport, as a member.

Norwalk has played a starring role in Methodism's past. On a little traffic island at Main and Cross streets is a small stone with a plaque marking the official beginning of Methodism in New England.

It was under a tree near that corner in 1789 that Jesse Lee, who came to be known as the apostle of Methodism, preached his "Ye Must Be Reborn" sermon to a crowd of about 20 who listened to his message of religious enthusiasm and salvation by faith.

In 1843, the First Methodist Church was founded on West Avenue. In 1898, the existing church was constructed; it can seat up to 750 people. Deysenroth said the church will close in the first six months of next year.

The Rev. Dennis Winkleblack, who was assigned to the church about a year ago to help the congregation make the decision, said it did the right thing.

"They have taken several years to explore all the options," he said. "In the end, it was a courageous vote. It was not easy to do, and there were no joyous options. They chose wisely, and I'm very proud of them."

In January 2006, after more than two years of study and negotiations, the congregation voted down a proposal to merge with Norwalk United Methodist Church at the other end of West Avenue - an act some had seen as a possible solution to declining membership. Currently, the church has only 35 active members, enough to fill just 5 percent of its pews.

Because most of the active members are older and live outside Norwalk, church dinners, the annual charity Pumpkin Patch drive and evangelical recruitments have stopped, said Deysenroth, who lives in Weston.

The church will be sold, though the property has not been appraised yet, he said, adding that he could not estimate its value.

According to the rules of the New York Annual Conference, which includes 500 churches in western Connecticut, the Hudson River Valley and Long Island, N.Y., the proceeds of the sale must be used for "new and/or existing ministries within that urban center," Deysenroth said.

Whether that means the proceeds must be used only in Norwalk will have to be interpreted by legal counsel, he said.

"It is up to the trustees of the New York Annual Conference as to how they allocate that money," he said.

Winkleblack, who is also the part-time assistant to conference Bishop Jeremiah Park, said the money will be distributed to churches around the city.

Few of the church's artifacts will be saved. The huge stained-glass windows and impressive interior woodwork probably will be included in the sale.

Deysenroth said churches built today are smaller and would not be able to display the glass. The cross, altar, candlesticks, records, hymnals and parament cloths probably will be used in other churches, he said.

Deysenroth's wife, Elaine, a fifth-generation member and church historian, said she will miss the comfort the church has brought her. The couple was married in the church in 1961.

"I guess it is time to move on," she said. "Things are always moving in the world, and it is time to move on to a new adventure for our congregation."

Copyright © 2007, Southern Connecticut Newspapers, Inc.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

More on enthusiasm

This article is from a self-development perspective. But it does provide the background for the word enthusiasm.


The source of the word "enthusiasm" comes from the Greek word enthousiasmos, which ultimately comes from the adjective entheos, “having the god within,” formed from en, “in, within,” and theos, “god.” Since its introduction in the English language in the early fifteenth century, its meaning has become disassociated with religion and god (the word god is "a god" and not "the God", because of its Greek origin) and now means great excitement for, or interest in, a subject or cause. It is this excitement, or the feeling of having a god (or the God) within oneself, which is the fuel by which success is powered.

I generally do not think the modern day definition of the word does it justice. Enthusiasm is NOT the same as just being excited. Being enthusiastic about something is very much like being inspired by a supreme being. One gets excited about going on a roller coaster. One becomes enthusiastic about building a roller coaster. Enthusiasm is excitement with inspiration, motivation, and a pinch of creativity.

Enthusiasm will empower you to do just about anything you want, but most of all it will help you do it exceptionally well. The feeling of enthusiasm has amazing effects on the physical body as well. Voice, posture, heart rate and energy, to name a few, are all positively affected when one is filled with enthusiasm. Those around you easily detect this enthusiasm. When another finds you enthusiastic about something, it is difficult for that person not to share some of your enthusiasm. This is incredibly important when selling a product, service, or idea to others. With enthusiasm, your success rate increases phenomenally.

Enthusiasm springs from desire and passion. It is difficult to become enthusiastic about something such as taking out the garbage, but certainly possible. For example, an inventor on his quest to automate the taking-out-garbage process could enthusiastically take out the garbage over and over--the source of his enthusiasm being the idea of revolutionizing the garbage industry. A great way to become enthusiastic is to visualize a time when you were enthusiastic about something. Think about what you were feeling, what you were seeing, and what you were hearing. Replay the "scene" in your head until you begin to start feeling the enthusiasm once more.

Use words, body language, and visual aids to share your ideas. Use enthusiasm to share your feelings. The ability to allow others to share your passion, even if temporarily, is priceless.

Another source elaborates a bit more.


Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Everywhere the history of religion betrays a tendency to enthusiasm.”

These two uses of the word enthusiasm—one positive and one negative—both derive from its source in Greek. Enthusiasm first appeared in English in 1603 with the meaning “possession by a god.”

The source of the word is the Greek enthousiasmos, which ultimately comes from the adjective entheos, “having the god within,” formed from en, “in, within,” and theos, “god.”

Over time the meaning of enthusiasm became extended to “rapturous inspiration like that caused by a god” to “an overly confident or delusory belief that one is inspired by God,” to “ill-regulated religious fervor, religious extremism,” and eventually to the familiar sense “craze, excitement, strong liking for something.”

Now one can have an enthusiasm for almost anything, from water skiing to fast food, without religion entering into it at all.

Inspiration vs Enthusiasm


Enthusiasm (èn-th¡´zê-àz´em) noun

1. Great excitement for or interest in a subject or cause.
2. A source or cause of great excitement or interest.
3. Archaic. a. Ecstasy arising from supposed possession by a god.
b. Religious fanaticism.

[Late Latin enthúsiasmus, from Greek enthousiasmos, from enthousiazein, to be inspired by a god, from entheos, possessed : en-, in. See EN-2 + theos, god.]

Word History: When the English philosopher Henry More stated in a work published in 1660 that "If ever Christianity be exterminated, it will be by Enthusiasme," he clearly used the word differently from the way we do now. He was also using a meaning that differed from the first sense, "possession by a god," recorded in English (1603).

Enthusiasm and this sense of the word go back to the Greek word enthousiasmos, which ultimately comes from the adjective entheos, "having the god within," formed from en-, "in, within," and theos, "god."

Henry More in 1660 was referring to belief, either mistaken or unsupported by evidence, in one's own inspiration by the Christian god. Enthusiasm, as now most frequently used, has become secularized and at times weakened, so that one can speak of an enthusiasm for fast cars.

Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-82), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. Essays, "Circles" (First Series, 1841).

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Inspiration vs Dictation?

Continuing on my thots on Inspiration on Scriptures, there is a difference between inspiration and dictation. Islam believes that the Quran is dictated by God and then recited by man. These two articles below provide a good background and understanding. I have included a third (link) for a different view.

Welcome To

Islam is based on the revelations given to Prophet Muhammed (d. 632 AD) in the early 7th century by the Angel Gabriel. These revelations were compiled into what is called the Qur'an (the recitation). Angel Gabriel, as a messenger of God (in arabic, Allah), told Muhammed (saw), Iqraa, which means, "recite" (can also mean, "read," but not in this context), and the Prophet recited after Angel Gabriel the words that have become immortalized in the Qur'an.

Longer version

The story of the revelation of Quran

It was in the year 610 A.D when the Lord of all the worlds touched mankind to change the course of the history.

The night in the outskirts of the city is quite and peaceful. But something strange is going to happen; a great power is going to overtake this man's mind and heart. The happening would be a no ordinary one, and the power no ordinary power. In fact, The Great King, Lord of all the worlds, would send one of His highest ranking angels to speak to mankind!

Verily this is the word of a most honourable Messenger, Endued with Power, with rank before the Lord of the Throne, With authority there, (and) faithful to his trust.
The Holy Qur'an, Surah 81, Ayat 19-21.

Say, the Holy Spirit has brought the revelation from thy Lord in Truth, in order to strengthen those who believe, and as a Guide and Glad Tidings to Muslims.
The Holy Qur'an, Sura 16, Ayat 102.

Verily this is a Revelation from the Lord of the Worlds: With it came down the spirit of Faith and Truth-
The Holy Qur'an, Sura 26, Ayat 192-193.

That blessed night The King of all dominions was about to touch our lives. Is this not worth contemplation? But notice one thing here: It is through the Qur'an that we are granted recognition. It is because of this communication that the seven heavens and those who dwell in them give immortal value to those who walk on the earth.

It is because of obedience to its commands that we are saved and it is because of disobedience to its commands that we are destroyed.It is based on this link, this interface of communication with our Lord and Cherisher that our lives have meaning. It is this Qur'an that seperates the believers from those who turn away. It is this Qur'an that builds nations and binds together the peoples of different lands. How significant a night it was for all of humanity, a night declared to be better and more potent than thirty thousand nights and more!

The Night of Power is better than a thousand months.
The Holy Qur'an, Sura 97, Ayat 3.

So deep in the heart of the night it happened. The high angel Jibreel (AS) descended from the far heavens to the cave, the cave of Hira, atop the Mountain of Light (jabal-i-nuur). Suddenly the cave lit up and the Prophet could clearly see someone, someone carrying a mysterious scroll with inscriptions upon it...

Think about this for a second: Jibreel (AS) did not bring down something strange in essence, it was simply a writing, a string of words from Allah (SWT). But it was not enough for the words to be written upon the scroll for then there would be no need of bringing it down from the heavens. So why was it brought down?

The answer lies in what happened next. This is the crucial part, the part where the Creator establishes connection with his servent.

"Recite" cried Jibreel (AS)
"What am I to recite" replied the Prophet
"Recite" Jibreel (AS)said again.
"What am I to recite" replied the Prophet again.
"Recite" said Jibreel (AS) once more.
"What am I to recite?!?" exclaimed the Prophet once more.

Then, Jibreel (AS) hugged the Prophet tight and cried:

Proclaim! (or read!) in the name of thy Lord and Cherisher, Who created- Created man, out of a (mere) clot of congealed blood: Proclaim! And thy Lord is Most Bountiful,- He Who taught (the use of) the pen,- Taught man that which he knew not.
The Holy Qur'an, Sura 96, Ayat 1-5.

Those were the inscriptions upon the scroll. Now in these few moments something momentous happened. What was it?

Let us turn to the Prophet for the clues. Well, the Prophet described his experience in the cave that night by the following expression:

" It felt as if the letters were inscribed into my heart "

Say: Whoever is an enemy to Gabriel-for he brings down the (revelation) to thy heart by God's will, a confirmation of what went before, and guidance and glad tidings for those who believe,-
The Holy Qur'an, Sura 2, Ayat 97.

So the nature of the Qur'an should be gradually becoming clear to us. How? Well keep going!! Now, we are in a position to answer the question- What is the Qur'an?

It is a recital that has come from Allah (SWT) through His high angel Jibreel (AS). In fact the literal meaning of the word Al- Qur'an in Arabic is The Recital.

But the Qur'an is linked to us in some way and that is why it was brought down that night. This link is set forth and established that very night. The 'magic' moments were when the Qur'an went from scroll to the prophet's (SAWS) heart. So the words are not meant to remain only on heavenly scrolls, but to take root in our hearts. There, in those few moments of that night, lie the secret to learning the Qur'an!!

But how can the Qur'an reach our hearts? To find the answer, all we have to do is realize what Jibreel (AS) did in transferring the words from the scroll into the Prophet's heart. He recited them. Remember he had said "Recite" three times, and finally Jibreel himself recited the message from the Lord of all the worlds and the Prophet carefully listened.

So the experience of the Prophet in recieving the words of Allah (SWT) was by listening to them.

So here they are, the two keys of learning the Qur'an: LISTENING and RECITING .

When the Qur'an is read, listen to it with attention, and hold your peace: that ye may receive Mercy.
The Holy Qur'an, Sura 7, Ayat 204.

Say: It has been revealed to me that a company of Jinns listened (to the Qur'an). They said, 'We have really heard a wonderful Recital!
The Holy Qur'an, Sura 72, Ayat 1. ye, therefore, of the Qur'an as much as may be easy for you.
The Holy Qur'an, Sura 73, Ayat 20.

Copyright © 1997 by SAAMIREEN. All Rights Reserved.

To read a more controversial and alternative view on this issue, read article written by Richard Hooker.

I think some of his facts may differ from the classical views, which i am more familiar with.