Saturday, May 23, 2015

William Kilpatrick: 'Needed: A New Church Policy Toward Islam [Pt. 3]'

Here is the final installment of William Kilpatrick's important three-part series advocating for a fearless, faith-based, and vigorous Church policy towards Islam. Although writing for a Roman Catholic audience, Kilpatrick's observations apply equally to the Orthodox Church:
"Theologically, Islam is a house of cards. It can’t stand up to examination, which is why Islam’s guardians go ballistic at the least hint of criticism. Nevertheless, Catholics [and Orthodox] should start making the case while there is still time — before the questioning of Islam becomes a crime, or before the Islamic world goes ballistic in the literal sense of the term."
Read and share widely, along with Part 1 and Part 2. 

Needed: A New Church Policy Toward Islam [Pt. 3]
by William Kilpatrick, Crisis Magazine — February 11, 2015

In his book America Alone, Mark Steyn observed that “there is no market for a faith that has no faith in itself.” He was referring to Christianity’s loss of faith in itself as exemplified by the decline of Christianity in Europe and the corresponding rise of Islam—a faith that does have faith in itself.

A new Church policy toward Islam should be geared toward reversing that situation—that is, undercutting Islam’s faith in itself while at the same time strengthening the faith of Christians. Many others have written about the second half of the equation, so let me concentrate on the first. How do you sow the seeds of doubt in the minds of Muslims?

I’ve already addressed the objection that sowing doubts is not a nice thing to do. Many Catholics seem to believe that religion is ipso facto a good thing, which means that weakening someone’s religious faith would be a terrible thing to do. Yet history provides many examples of religions that seem best consigned to the past—for example, the child-sacrificing religion of the Carthaginians and the human-sacrificing religion of the Aztecs.

Catholics are reluctant to put Islam in the same category as the Carthaginians for two reasons: First, Islam is a very big religion—the faith of a billion and a half people. Second, Islam bears a superficial similarity to Christianity; Muslims believe in one God and they “revere” Jesus. Yet it’s estimated that some 270 million people have been killed in the name of Islam over the centuries—far more than the combined total of all those killed in the name of Nazism or communism. It’s not politically correct to compare Islam to totalitarian ideologies, yet many respected authorities including Catholic authorities, have done just that. Consider this entry from the 1910 edition of the Catholic Encyclopedia
In matters political, Islam is a system of despotism at home and aggression abroad…. The rights of non-Muslim subjects are of the vaguest and most limited kind, and a religious war is a sacred duty whenever there is a chance of success against the ‘Infidel'.

As I suggested in the previous column, a new policy toward Islam should be based on the assumption that Islam is an ideological enemy, just as communism once was and still is. The idea is to wean people away from the ideology by undermining and discrediting it, and also by offering a better alternative. Because Islam has proven itself to be a totalitarian system, we should try to weaken faith in it just as, during the Cold War, the West (with considerable help from the Catholic Church) attempted to weaken faith in communism.

Once you’ve studied up on Islam, the first thing you realize is that the key to sowing the seeds of disbelief is Muhammad himself... If he is discredited, Islam is discredited. 

But it’s difficult to give other people second thoughts about their religion if you don’t know the first thing about it yourself. And there are numerous indications that Catholic authorities are badly informed about Islam—else why do they continue to maintain, in the face of overwhelming evidence, that Islam is a religion of peace? So the first thing that Catholics need to do is to get up to speed on Islam.

Timothy R. Furnish: 'Talking Honestly About Islamic Hate Speech'

A summary of the recent Boston University Conference, 'Apocalyptic Hopes, Millennial Dreams and Global Jihad'.

Talking Honestly About Islamic Hate Speech
by Timothy R. Furnish, History News Network — May 9, 2015

Timothy R. Furnish holds a PhD in Islamic history; writes, lectures and consults on Islamic world issues; and blogs on Mahdism and Muslim eschatology at

On May 3-4, 2015, Boston University (BU) was the site of “Apocalyptic Hopes, Millennial Dreams and Global Jihad”—a conference jointly sponsored by they BU History Department, Center for Millennial Studies (CMS) and Scholars for Peace in the Middle East. The organizer and driving force was Dr. Richard Landes, eminent scholar of medieval European (Christian) apocalyptic thought and director of the CMS until its demise in 2003. This conference, the CMS’ last hurrah as it were, brought together the dozen or so American and Israeli researchers into the topics of Muslim apolcalyptic beliefs and movements in the modern world.

Landes set the stage for the conference with his introductory lecture, In which he pointed out that Islamic apocalyptic ideas might be a “bad joke” to some, but in reality they are very “bad news.” The reason so many scholars and analysts prefer the former description is a subset of the worst problem bedeviling Islamic/Middle East studies as a whole today: the fear of the charge of “Islamophobia,” in which writing or speaking about (Islamic) hate speech is branded hate speech itself.

Landes’ position—which appeared to be the majority view among the folks attending this conference—was questioned, at times vehemently and indeed increasingly vitriolically, by several participants. The argument---which has become quite tiresome to many of us in the field, frankly—was that connecting modern jihadism and Islamic terrorism to any Islamic roots would somehow impugn all Muslims and place them at risk.

This position was ably refuted by many conference presenters, especially the journalist Graeme Wood, author of the influential article “What ISIS Really Wants” (in the March 2015 issue of The Atlantic). 

VIDEO: 'Refusing to Take Islamist Ideology Seriously'

Dr. Jeffrey Bale lays out the ideological blinders of too many analysts and politicians today.

Nowhere Man--American Policy Toward Islam Is At Your Command
Timothy Furnish,  Mahdi Watch — May 21, 2015

One of the best lectures from the Boston University conference on Islamic apocalyptic is up--although it does not, ironically, really deal with the main topic of the venue.  Dr. Jeffrey Bale, eminent expert on terrorist ideologies across the board at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey (CA), talked about "Refusing to Take Islamist Ideology Seriously."

John Lennon's lyrics, "he's as blind as he can be/just sees what he wants to see," aptly describe (too) many analysts of jihad and terrorism today--and Jeffrey Bale lays out the ideological blinders of these Nowhere Men and Women.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

VIDEO: Timothy Furnish — 'Rejecting Millennial Time: The Ottoman Empire's 700-year War against Mahdism'

The usual Ottoman kinetic response to Mahdist rebellions started with the janissaries--but often this was supplemented with IO/IW in the form of fatwas and other religious salients.

Video of Tim Furnish's presentation at the recent Boston University Conference, "Apocalyptic Hopes, Millennial Dreams and Global Jihad."  The introduction by Richard Landes is noteworthy for his high estimation of Dr. Furnish in this formerly obscure but now frighteningly relevant field of Islamic Eschatology and Mahdi Movements.

This is a profound talk, which touches on Sufism and other Islamic sects, complexities of Ottoman rule, and an array of related topics which are of great help in informing our understanding of the Islamic State and its apocalyptic ambitions.

The COIN of the Ottoman Realm Spent Against Proto-ISIS Groups
Timothy Furnish, Mahdi Watch — May 19, 2015

"My lecture from the Boston University conference on Islamic apolcalyptic movements, "Rejecting Millennial Time: The Ottoman Empire's 700-year War against Mahdism" is up. [Scroll down for video.]

Armenian Muslims Living in Turkey are Returning to Christianity

“Descendants of the Armenians who were forcibly converted to the faith of Prophet Muhammad have started realizing the significance of their nation’s history, and now they are returning by the dozens to their ancestral faith in Christ the Savior.”

Pravoslavie — May 21, 2015

(Istanbul, May 19, 2015)   

Armenians living in Turkey – descendants of the Christians who embraced Islam – are returning to the faith of their fathers in great numbers, reports the Linga news portal.

According to the famous Agos Armenian weekly newspaper published in Istanbul, the cases of conversion of Armenian Muslims to Christianity, which are becoming more frequent, indicate that they (Armenians) have preserved their ancestors’ faith deep in their memory.

Mosque to be built in Athens, Greece - Parliament Amends Law

"This serves as a support to the plan of islamization of the country... to say nothing of the uncontrolled settling of Muslim immigrants...  And then it results in slaughter and bloodshed inside a criminal caliphate that inspires islamists to preach Islam anew."  — Metropolitan Seraphim of Piraeus

AXIOS Metropolitan Seraphim! Allowing Islam a beachhead in Athens will inevitably and quickly lead to serious problems, as can be seen wherever Islam spreads.

Mosque to be built in Athens, Greece - Parliament Amends Law
Pravoslavie — May 21, 2015

(Athens, May 20, 2015)  The Parliament of Greece has made amendments to the state’s legislation allowing the building of a mosque in Athens. The changes were made by the ruling Syriza party (the Coalition of the Radical Left).

In connection with this Metropolitan Seraphim of Piraeus addressed his flock with his arch pastoral speech, reports Romfea:

“The Greek Parliament has once again made Islam a pressing problem, trying to legalize this religion whose law presupposes a death penalty for apostasy (conversion from Islam to another faith).

Gone is the Glory of Constantinople…

"... but the glory of the Christians shall not end so long as they hold fast to faith in Jesus Christ and carry Him with them wherever they wander, wherever they are taken, wherever they settle. Jesus alone is their glory."

by Fr Georges Massouh, Notes on Arab Orthodoxy – May 2015
OCP Media — May 19, 2015

Jesus announced that the worship of God is not tied to a specific place as God is not contained by space and He cannot be bound in an exclusive place toward which those who want to be in His presence must pray or make pilgrimage. Thus when the Samaritan woman asked Him, “Our fathers worshiped on this mountain (Gerezim in Samaria), and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship,” Jesus answered her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father… the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth” (John 4:20-23).

God is present in every place and there is no place on the face of this earth from which God is absent. God is present where His people gathers in His name. The Apostle Paul affirms this when he says, “I shall dwell in them and walk among them. I shall be their God and they shall be My people” (2 Corinthians 6:16). God is a wanderer who does not settle in one place. He does not require people to come to Him in a specific place. He comes to them whenever they call upon Him and seek Him.

In this context, Saint Basil the Great (d. 379) comments on Jesus’ words to the Samaritan woman and says that worship is no longer tied to a specific geographical location since the Holy Spirit has become the “place of worship”. Christ also is the place of worship and the Gospel of Saint John clearly speaks of the end of worship in the temple of Jerusalem since Jesus Himself is the new “temple” and there is no need for a temple built in a city or on a mountain.

Hereditary Martyrs: the Christian Victims of ISIS's Massacres

"At the news that her son was dead, Nana collapsed. Her cries filled the cold, desolate room. Nana's husband, a priest of the Ancient Assyrian Church, had been murdered the year before -- dragged behind his horse by Muslim neighbors. The following year, another family member would be shot by his Muslim servant..."
Read and share this powerful reflection by a descendant of survivors of the Assyrian Genocide.

Hereditary Martyrs: the Christian Victims of ISIS's Massacres
By Juliana Taimoorazy
AINA — May 18, 2015

Woody Allen once joked that sterility is hereditary: If you don't have any children, you won't have grandchildren either. In my family, we pass down a different condition: martyrdom.

My great-grandfather and my great-uncle both were murdered for their religion in 1915. Decades later, my own immediate family had to flee Islamist harassment in Iran. My colleagues' cousins even now are hiding from ISIS in isolated villages and on mountaintops. This is the heritage of all Assyrian Christians.

The butchery last month of Ethiopian Copts in Libya was not some new kind of atrocity. It's the latest incident in 100 years of Islamist religious and ethnic cleansing all across the Middle East.

The first genocide of the 20th century was launched by the Ottomans and the "Young Turks" against Assyrian Christians in Mesopotamia. The next victims were Armenians and Greeks. For nine long years the slaughter went on, ending only in 1923 after claiming 2.5 million victims. The Ottomans "cleansed" Turkey, and much of Iraq, of their Christians. In November 1916, the Atlantic Monthly reported:

"Within six months they [Young Turks] succeeded in doing what the Old Turks were unable to accomplish in six centuries .?.?. Thousands of Nestorians and Syrians [Assyrians] have vanished from the face of the earth."

For many years, my mother stayed silent about the genocide. But one cold night in Tehran, in 1985, as we huddled around the space heater, she finally opened up. She told me how Nana (her grandmother) was awakened in her little clay house by violent knocks. Nana's nephew George burst in. He threw himself down on her sickbed and wept for a solid minute. Then he reared up and whispered the news: "Nana, they killed Uncle Augustus. Those merciless animals cut his body into pieces and made me bring it home in a rice bag -- our ration bag."

May 19 – Pontian Greek Genocide Remembrance Day

Records show a minimum of 350,000 Pontian Greeks were exterminated through systematic slaughter by the Turkish Muslims. The Pontian Greek Genocide is part of the wider Orthodox Christian Holocaust, which included the Armenian Genocide, and spanned from 1894 to 1923.

In 1994, May 19 was selected by the Greek parliament as the day to commemorate the Pontian Greek Genocide by the Turks. The Pontic Genocide is one of the darkest moments in history not only for Greeks, but also for mankind. The Genocide vanished from its ancestral and historic homeland in Pontus a culturally vibrant and unique part of the Greek population that had been fighting for its survival for about 3,000 years.

Records show a minimum 350,000 Pontian Greeks exterminated through systematic slaughter by Turkish troops, deportations involving death marches, starvation in labor and concentration camps, rapes and individual killings. Entire villages and cities were devastated, while thousands were forced to flee to neighboring countries. The Ottoman government’s plan to annihilate the Christian populations living within Turkey, including Greeks, Syrians and Armenians, during World War I was set into force in 1914 with the decree that all Pontian men aged between 18 to 50 would have to report to the military. Those who refused to do so, were ordered to be shot immediately.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Islamic State captures Ramadi, threatens Baghdad, expands in North Africa

ISIS celebrates capture of Ramadi with orgy of bloodshed, 25,000 flee their homes.
Islamic State forces now only 60 miles from Baghdad.


Iraq braced for the Battle of Baghdad: Chilling images show ISIS victory parade after fanatics seize key city of Ramadi – just 60 miles from the capital – in an orgy of violence and beheadings

by Jay Akbar, Steph Cockroft, Simon Tomlinson and Julian Robinson
MailOnline — May 19, 2015 (h/t Jihad Watch)

ISIS victory parade in Ramadi
ISIS militants have held a twisted victory parade after taking the key city of Ramadi in an orgy of violence and beheadings – and the extremists could march on the Iraqi capital Baghdad within the next month.

Mutilated bodies scatter the streets of the ‘Gateway of Baghdad’, where Islamic State slaughtered around 500 and forced nearly 25,000 to flee their homes over the last few days.

Now ISIS has released images of militants celebrating, children wielding automatic weapons and a fleet of pick-up trucks carrying its jubilant fighters through the blood-stained streets of Ramadi.

Shi’ite fighters have already launched a counter-offensive to recapture the city, but these kinds of tactics play straight into Islamic State’s grand plan to spark all-out war in the region, according to the Middle East director of counter-terrorism think-tank RUSI.

Islamic State militants are already marching east towards the Habbaniya army base – around 20 miles east of Ramadi – where a column of 3,000 Shi’ite paramilitaries are amassing, witnesses and a military officer has said.

And if ISIS manage to reach Baghdad, it would be ‘utter carnage’, Professor Gareth Stansfield told MailOnline.

He said: ‘If ISIS turn up in great numbers in Baghdad, it will be an absolute slaughter between Sunni’s [sic] and Shia’s [sic] there.

‘They [ISIS] are now having so many successes, and moving so quickly, that Baghdad is under very real threat from ISIS forces outside Baghdad and also the ISIS terror cells inside Baghdad as well...

by Thomas D. Williams, PhD, Breitbart News — May 19, 2015

As ISIS influence increases daily in the North African nation of Libya, it has also succeeded in penetrating the ranks of Islamists in neighboring Tunisia, securing an oath of fealty from the Mujahidin of Kairouan.

According to reports, the Mujahidin have released an audio message addressed to the ISIS Caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi containing a sworn oath of allegiance.

The nine-minute audio message was disseminated primarily through social networks and was still able to be heard in the original language on the net on Tuesday.