Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Female Muslim Convert from Michigan who died in Syria fighting for Jihadists

This tragic story (scroll down for the Reuters report) raises questions about what prompts people to convert to Islam, especially Christians, and especially young Christian women.

It hits somewhat close to home, as several years ago a young woman from my parish committed apostasy and converted to Islam. Though she seemed to convert through marriage, she had long held affinities for Islam through her experiences with Muslim friends in college. After converting, she soon fully embraced wearing the hijab, and was sharing her new found faith through local news op eds and interviews, as well as staying in regular touch with some of my friends in the parish, presumably to witness her new faith to them. My friends and I lost touch with her after several years, so presumably she is still in the "moderate" Muslim camp, though last we knew, she and her husband were living in a city with a large mosque with an extremist imam and radical ties.

One can understand to some extent the counter-cultural attraction Islam may have for a young woman of modest manner, who sees the hijab as a desirable thing. Yet the irony is that in the Orthodox Church, a woman can also wear a head covering, and is encouraged to practice not only outward modesty, but inward holiness, being given exalted models of womanhood to emulate, from the Virgin Mary herself, to the Myrrhbearing Women, to the heroic martyrs Catherine and Barbara, St Macrina the Elder, grandmother to three saints of the Church, St Mary of Egypt, and many, many others.

In our own day, here in America, it often seems women monastics are setting the most consistent example for the monastic life, such as at Holy Transfiguration in Ellwood City and the Dormition of the Mother of God Monastery in Michigan.

Similarly, in parish life, women are every bit the pillars as the men, perhaps even more so based on my experiences, teaching church school, organizing charitable drives, welcoming visitors, serving on parish council, organizing retreats, helping form and disciple young women converts and couples, singing in the choir, leading youth camp retreats, etc.

There is simply no reason for a young woman to reject this vibrant, living tradition of sanctity, holiness, virtue, and above all, devotion to Jesus Christ, the Blessed Trinity, and the Orthodox Church. Thus cases like the young woman from my parish are clear-cut examples of spiritual delusion of some kind or another.

In her case, she came from a Quaker upbringing, with the general principle to "embrace truth wherever you find it." This syncretistic philosophy is the heretical obverse of St Justin's teaching of the "Seeds of the Logos" planted in all peoples and faith traditions, whereby a Christian can discern the points which will resonate for their non-Christian friends and acquaintances, from which she/he may begin to witness to them the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Sadly, this notion eluded this young woman, who bought into the Muslim claim that Islam properly venerates Jesus, and that Islam and Christianity are fully compatible. She seemed unable to understand or accept our priest's warning to her that if she married a Muslim man she would be excommunicating herself from the Church and denying Jesus Christ, committing outright apostasy. Thank God for his clear, true and loving pastoral counsel, yet she completely rejected his words, and is now in serious spiritual danger, though we hope and pray for her to repent and return to Christ.

Other counter-jihad writers have felt prompted by the tale of this Michigan woman to ask why yet another convert to Islam felt compelled to wage jihad, and why no mainstream Muslim organizations in the U.S. offer any solutions or programs to teach Muslims to reject the jihadist teachings. Of course, as we know, the Quran and all of Islam's source texts and all its schools of jurisprudence command offensive jihad as obligatory upon all Muslims. If they cannot fight, they are called upon to support the jihad, hence the continuous prosecutions of terrorist funding cases in the U.S. and elsewhere.

But here, we must reflect on the loss of a poor, deceived soul, who thought she was finding life, and is instead in the grave here, and God alone knows the condition of her soul after death.

The frightful tragedy of the Michigan woman who was killed fighting on behalf of jihadists in Syria is yet another shocking reminder of the pervasive spiritual blindness of our time, and of the powerful delusions unleashed upon our age.

Female convert to Islam from Michigan dies in Syria fighting for the jihadists.

A 33-year-old Michigan woman and convert to Islam has been killed in Syria while fighting with opposition forces against the government of President Bashar Assad in the country's civil war, her family said on Thursday.

The woman's aunt told Reuters that the FBI had informed her on Thursday afternoon of the death of her niece, Nicole Mansfield of Flint, but said she did not have the details of how she died.

"I'm just devastated," said the aunt, Monica Mansfield Speelman. "Evidently, she was fighting with opposition forces."

Speelman said Mansfield, a single mother of an 18-year-old daughter, had converted to Islam about five years ago but that she did not know when her niece had traveled to Syria.

"I didn't think she would stoop that low to go over there and try to harm anybody," Speelman said of her niece, who she said had worked at a group home....