Monday, November 30, 2015

NEW BOOK: Ten Years’ Captivation with the Mahdi’s Camps: Essays on Muslim Eschatology, 2005-2015

The much anticipated new book by Timothy R. Furnish, PhD, is now available at Amazon, in both Kindle and print editions.

I purchased the Kindle version last week, and after enjoying the introduction, plan to plunge into it at long last.

Tim Furnish is simply one of the clearest thinkers and writers on Islam in general, and on Islamic eschatology in particular. If you want to understand Islam — or any religion — look at its doctrines on the origins of the cosmos and mankind, and on the End of Days. Then you can see what its views are of God, Man, the purpose of Creation, and the ultimate goal and Destiny of all things.

I'll be posting my "Aha!" moments as I work my way through the text. Based on the introduction, and my familiarity with Tim's articles on his blog, Mahdi Watch, I look forward to an engaging and educational experience.

From the publisher's description:
The world received a rude introduction to Islamic eschatology (“End of Time” beliefs) via the atrocities of ISIS—which are intended to hotwire the apocalypse and spark the coming of al-Mahdi, the “rightly-guided” primary messianic figure of Islam. But such beliefs long predate al-Baghdadi’s terrorist state, having deep historical and theological roots in Islam, among both Sunnis and Shi`is. 
Movements led by a Muslim leader claiming to be the Mahdi are a staple of Islamic history, whether as bloody jihads alone (the Mahdist occupation of Mecca, 1979) or as revolutionary movements that created Mahdist states (as with Ibn Tumart of the medieval Maghrib, or the 19th century Sudanese Mahdi, Muhammad Ahmad, of Khartoum movie fame). 
Mahdism has manifested from Morocco to Indonesia, from the 8th to the 21st centuries—as as a key belief of Islam, shows no signs of disappearing in the face of modernity. As the Islamic year 1500 (2076 AD) approaches, apocalyptic fervor in all branches of Islam will only increase—empowering Sunni groups like ISIS and, in particular, the Islamic Republic of Iran. 
This book should prove helpful to anyone wishing to explore these aspects of Islam, and why US policy makers are so woefully unprepared to deal with modern manifestations of apocalyptic Islam.

Moscow wants Turkey to return Hagia Sophia to Orthodox Church

This is a stunning development, which should be read in conjunction with this post on the prophecies of Elder Paisios regarding Turkey and Russia.

Moscow wants Turkey to return Cathedral of Agia Sophia to Orthodox Church

State Duma deputies have supported the idea of the return of Agia Sophia in Constantinople to the Orthodox Church. This was stated by Chairman of Committee on Property, and the coordinator of the inter-factional parliamentary group on the protection of Christian values, Sergei Gavrilov, TSN reports.

Today, when Russian-Turkish relations are undergoing an “endurance trial,” mutually friendly initiatives and proposals are of special importance, Gavrilov says.

“The Russian side deems it possible to return to the question of Agia Sophia, the ancient shrine of the Christian world, located in Constantinople – an ancient Byzantine cathedral associated with the history of the universal Christian Church. We expect a friendly step from the Turkish side - returning Agia Sophia of Constantinople to the Christian Church,” the deputy said.

Chicago's Greek Orthodox Diocese Calls for Genocide Recognition for Middle East Christians

This is an important development, which will hopefully lead to similar statements from all Orthodox jurisdictions in North America. 

by Gregory Pappas, The Pappas Post, November 28, 2015

ISIS and other extremist movements across the Middle East are enslaving, killing and uprooting ancient Christian communities, with practically no end in sight until the last communities are extinguished. The Western governments have been paralyzed, dealing with other issues on their doorstep like the massive refugee crisis, the growing conflict between Russia and Turkey and domestic terror threats like the recent Paris attacks.

There hasn't been much said or expected of governments up to now but the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago has taken a stand, asking for the United Nations to recognize the events as an official genocide of the Christian population of the Middle East.

The Metropolis of Chicago, which covers almost 60 parishes throughout the Midwest and claims over a quarter of a million faithful, held it's Biannual Clergy Laity Assembly in Madison, Wisconsin, from November 14th -- 18th.

Led by Metropolitan Iakovos and Bishop Demetrios, approximately 400 clergy and parishioners from parishes throughout the region gathered to hear from a wide range of speakers addressing numerous subjects of interest to Greek Orthodox Christian followers.

One such speaker was Bassel Korkor, a Syrian American attorney who serves as United States Counsel to the Syrian Coalition's Washington and United Nations offices. He advises the Coalition on various legal and policy issues, including sanctions compliance, economic development, and diplomatic matters.

His presentation entitled "Contemporary Martyrs of the Middle East" educated the gathering as to the current conditions in Syria and throughout the Middle East, especially concerning the status of the significant and diverse historical Christian population.

Following Mr. Korkor's presentation, looking for a way to bring assistance in the protection of the Christian population of the Middle East currently subject to numerous documented examples of Ethnic Cleansing and Genocide, a proposal for the need for action by the Clergy Laity Assembly was introduced by Father Mark Munoz of Rochelle, Minnesota.

The result was the following Resolution, written by Metropolis of Chicago Council Member John C. Ackerman of Peoria, Illinois, and edited by Father David Bissias of Hammond, Indiana and Bishop Demetrios.

This Resolution received unanimous support and will soon be mailed to the President of the United States as well as each and every United States Senator and Representative within the jurisdiction of the Metropolis of Chicago.

Islam, via both Turkey and ISIS, threatens 5,000-year-old Assyrian culture with annihilation

  • "There is a great parallel between 1915 and what is going on in the Middle East today — in terms of destruction of non-Muslim civilizations and the continuity of Islamic jihad..."
  • "Before 1915, the population of the territory that is now Turkey was about 15 million, about 4.5 million of which was Christian (nearly a third). Today... the approximate population of Turkey is 80 million, but there are only around 120,000 Christians, less than 1% of the population.
  • "What some people in Turkey proudly say is, 'Elhamdulillah [thank Allah], 99% of Turkey is Muslim.' They brag and boast about it. It should actually put them to shame; we know very well how they made it happen...
  • "They murdered more than 300,000 Assyrians and forced almost another 300,000 to be exposed to assimilation in many countries across the world."

See also my special resource page on the Armenian-Assyrian Genocide.

5000-year-old Assyrian Culture Facing Devastation
By Uzay Bulut, Gatestone Institute via AINA, November 29, 2015

Left: A memorial in France commemorating the 1915 Assyrian Genocide in Turkey. Right: An Islamic State member destroys a Christian tombstone in Mosul, Iraq, in April 2015.

The recent invasions and massacres committed by the Islamic State (ISIS) and Al-Qaeda terrorists in Iraq and Syria have brought a persecuted but mostly forgotten people to the attention of the world: the Assyrians.

The Assyrians, a native people of Mesopotamia, have been exposed to massacres before -- throughout history, in fact.

Due to these campaigns of extermination, the demographic character of the region has been changed greatly.

Before 1915, the population of the territory that is now Turkey was about 15 million, about 4.5 million of which was Christian (nearly a third). Today, one can hardly even talk of a Christian minority. The approximate population of Turkey is 80 million, but there are only around 120,000 Christians, less than 1% of the population.

In 1915, a slaughter of minorities took place, the purpose of which was apparently to "Turkify" and Islamize Anatolia into a country with one language, one flag, one religion and one nation. To achieve this objective, all non-Turkish communities -- Armenians, Assyrians, Greeks, Jews, Yezidis, Kurds and others -- were targeted.

But there was a difference between Christians and non-Christians. Non-Christian minorities were to be assimilated; Christians were to be exterminated.

According to the founder and the president of the Assyrian Genocide and Research Center (Seyfo Center)[1], Sabri Atman, there are links between the massacre of the Assyrians and the current massacres of Christians in the Middle East:

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Elder Paisios' Prophecies of the Russia-Turkey Conflict

Turkey shoots down a Russian jet fighter, tensions rise, and in Greece, some are turning again to the prophecies of Elder Paisios of Mount Athos, who reportedly wrote,
“There will be war between Russia and Turkey. In the beginning the Turks will believe they are winning, but this will lead to their destruction. The Russians, eventually, will win and take over Constantinople. After that it will be ours. They will be forced to give it to us.”

There is no doubt we are living in dire times. We may even be living in apocalyptic times, foretold in the Scriptures and through prophecies of holy people of God. At the same time, looking for signs and fulfillment of prophecies in certain events should not be our main concern. When the Apostles asked the Risen Lord if He was now to restore the kingdom to Israel, He told them, "It is not for you to know..." 

Rather, these words from Hieromonk Seraphim (Rose) of Platina may be a trustworthy guide for us when "wars and rumors of wars" and other ominous "signs" begin to spread:

The time of the end, though it seems to be near, we do not know. However close, it is still future, and in the present we have only the same age-old fight against the unseen powers, against the world, and against our own passions, upon the outcome of which our eternal fate will be decided. Let us then struggle while it is still day, with the time and the weapons which our All-merciful God has given us!

Our times, above all, call for humble and quiet labors, with love and sympathy for other strugglers on the path of the Orthodox spiritual life and a deep resolve that does not become discouraged because the atmosphere is unfavorable. We Christians of the latter times are still called to work persistently on ourselves, to be obedient to spiritual fathers and authorities, to lead an orderly life with at least a minimum of spiritual discipline and with regular reading of the Orthodox spiritual literature... to watch over our own sins and failings and not judge others. If we do this, even in our terrible times, we may have hope—in God's mercy—of the salvation of our souls.
(Fr. Seraphim Rose, Blessed Paisius Velichovsky, St Herman of Alaska Press, Platina CA, 1976, pp 17, 20.)
Perhaps Elder Paisios would tell us similarly, not to worry about times and signs, but to repent and pray, and to struggle with philotimo.

Related Articles:

Some Greeks turn to Elder Paisios' Prophecies on Russia-Turkey Conflict
Greek Reporter via Pravoslavie, November 25, 2015

The tension that was created after the shooting down of a Russian jet fighter by Turkish warplanes has led several Greeks to refer to Elder Paisios‘ prophecies about war between Russia and Turkey.

The ascetic monk Paisios, who became Saint Paisios by the Holy Synod of the Greek Orthodox Church in January, was known for his prophecies and predictions. One of them was that Istanbul, once the capital of the Byzantine Empire Constantinople, will become Greek again.

Specifically, Paisios wrote: 
“Events will start that will culminate with us taking back Constantinople. Constantinople will be given to us. There will be war between Russia and Turkey. In the beginning the Turks will believe they are winning, but this will lead to their destruction. The Russians, eventually, will win and take over Constantinople. After that it will be ours. They will be forced to give it to us.”

The text reads further, “(The Turks) will be destroyed. They will be eradicated because they are a nation that was built without God’s blessing. One third of the Turks will go back to where they came from, the depths of Turkey. One third will be saved because they will become Christians, and the other third will be killed in this war.” This is based on the Saint Kosmas prophecy.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Putin: Turkish Leadership purposefully supports Islamization of Country

Putin has also accused Erdogan of being an "accomplice of terrorists." Hard to deny that.

Once again the Russian leader cuts through the West's politically correct myopia to clearly state simple, verifiable truths. Think back to June 2013, when Putin blasted Obama and Cameron for supporting so-called "moderates" in Syria, who were shown on video eating the organs of their slain enemies. Or his equally strong rejection of Western military intervention in Syria. Or his call to the West to unite in defending persecuted Christians in the Middle East and Africa. And of course his recent UN address, when he castigated the Western leaders responsible for the rise of ISIS and the refugee crisis, shaming them with the question, "Do you realize what you have done?"

For those who might be concerned, based on his remarks below that Islam is "a great world religion," that Putin is becoming soft on the jihad threat, recall that Putin does not hesitate to use force when required to shut down the Islamic threat. A prime example is the rounding up of 300 Muslim jihadists at a prayer meeting in 2013. Can you imagine anything like that happening in America? Certainly not under the current administration.

By shooting down a Russian fighter jet (which some analysts believe was premeditated), Turkey now finds itself in Russia's crosshairs, and its rapid re-Islamization only makes it a more urgent target for Putin.

Putin: Turkish Leadership purposefully supports Islamization of Country
TASS via Pravoslavie, November 25, 2015

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that the current leadership of Turkey purposefully supports the country’s Islamization.

"The problem is not in the tragedy we faced yesterday (the Su-24 incident), the problem is much deeper," the Russian leader told reporters. "We see — and not only we, I assure you that the entire world sees that — that the current leadership of Turkey has been for a number of years pursuing a purposeful policy of support and the Islamization of the country."

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Islam, Heresy, and 'The Dangerous Vision of Paradise'

"The Fathers, contemporary to early Islam, all judged it to be a form of Christian heresy... classical Christianity would readily agree that heresy is dangerous stuff. There’s a reason that the Church has always opposed heresy. It kills people."

The Dangerous Vision of Paradise
by Fr. Stephen Freeman,  Glory to God for All Things, November 24, 2015

Edward Hicks. The Peaceable Kingdom. 1833

A utopian vision gave birth to America. The “pilgrims” who came to New England in the 17th century, imagined an ideal state, defined by their radical “purification” of society and the Christian Church. Their dreams of a new world were constantly thwarted in England by the reluctance of the greater body of Protestants to embrace their extreme vision. England’s Reformation fell far short of their imaginings. In 1640, the English cousins of the American pilgrims managed to take control of Parliament. In short order, they began a radical reform of England, including the execution of King Charles. They sought to do for England what the Puritans in the New World were doing for “New England.” The English land endured 10 years of Oliver Cromwell’s reign of purifying terror. It’s disfiguring marks have never been erased. Such extremism with its attending violence is not an isolated phenomenon. It has been a recurring hallmark of the modern period. Paradise haunts the modern world, both as promise and as threat. Modern people do not live – they dream. And their dreams sometimes become nightmares.

There is something inherently utopian within Christianity: we look for the coming of the Kingdom of God. Christ began His ministry, preaching the coming of the Kingdom. And He acknowledged, “If my kingdom were of this world, then my disciples would fight.” Modernity, in many respects, is simply the secularizing of the Christian vision. The Kingdom that is “not of this world” must, in modernity, become “of this world.” Every dream of a better world, every hint of progress is a modern echo of the preaching of the Kingdom. Of course, the Kingdom no longer needs a king, much less the King of Creation. But the modern imagination is always turned towards a future. Our dreams are inherently eschatological (directed towards the end).

This orientation is the engine behind the constant improvement and development in technology and science. At the most fundamental level, we think we are building towards something. It is uniquely Western, inasmuch as the modern West is built on a Judeo/Christian foundation. The religions of the East (Buddhism, Hinduism, etc.) lack this eschatological vision. It’s not that there are no visions of a Buddhist or Hindu paradise, but that those visions are very much “not of this world,” indeed, this world is not even of this world.

Islam has to be seen as belonging to the Judeo-Christian world, regardless of how foreign it might seem. The Fathers, contemporary to early Islam, all judged it to be a form of Christian heresy. I think this is quite accurate and important to our understanding. For though Mohammed makes many changes in the Jesus Story, and modifies most of the elements of Christianity, he, nevertheless, still works with Judeo-Christian elements. There is an expectation of paradise – and, more ominously, the notion of a pure state established under Sharia Law.

Historically, Islam has occasionally been content to live within the borders of its religious vision. But there always lurks the haunting figure of a righteous world. Our most recent experiences with ISIS have been a modern outbreak of a drive to “restore the Caliphate,” an eschatological vision of a purified state – a Muslim paradise on earth.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Islamic State video threatens Georgians with beheadings, Caliphate

The Orthodox Church of Georgia is one of the most ancient Christian communities, with apostolic roots in the first century, its founding dating from the early 4th century. The Georgians have a long memory, and are likely thinking back to when Muslim invaders conquered Tbilisi in 1227. The Islamic State video references that slaughter — infamous for the beheadings of 100,000 Georgian Christians who refused to deny Christ — in its video.

From an historical account of the time:
Icon of the Georgian Martyrs 
... A river of blood flowed through the city. The Turkmen castrated young children, raped women, and stabbed mothers to death over their children's lifeless bodies. The whole city shuddered at the sound of wailing and lamentation. The river and streets of the city were filled with death. 
The sultan ordered that the cupola of Sioni Cathedral be taken down and replaced by his vile throne. And at his command the icons of the Theotokos [the Virgin Mary] and our Savior were carried out of Sioni Cathedral and placed at the center of the bridge across the Mtkvari River. The invaders goaded the people to the bridge, ordering them to cross it and spit on the holy icons. Those who betrayed the Christian Faith and mocked the icons were spared their lives, while the Orthodox confessors were beheaded. 
One hundred thousand Georgians sacrificed their lives to venerate the holy icons. One hundred thousand severed heads and headless bodies were carried by the bloody current down the Mtkvari River. 
from Lives of the Georgian Saints, by Archpriest Zakaria Machitadze, St Herman of Alaska Press, Platina CA, 2006, pp 403-404.

'Soon there will be time of beheading you' - Video address to Georgians released on behalf of Islamic State
Georgian Journal (via Pravoslavie), November 24, 2015:

A video address to the Georgian people on behalf of the Islamic State has been released on the internet. Fighters speaking Georgian address the Muslims living in Georgia, calling on them to support the ‘Islamic Caliphate’ and threatening to establish a ‘Caliphate’ in Georgia.

“I would like to address the faithless people living in Georgia that have been fighting Islam for a long time. Everybody who has acted against Islam, no matter in Iraq or Afghanistan, will be judged by God’s law.

God is very strict; therefore we call on you to stop persecuting Muslims. Your actions against Muslims will not go unanswered. Everybody will be held accountable for it.

Soon there will come the time of your beheading... 

Monday, November 23, 2015

Why You Never Question Allah: Islam's Problem with Blasphemy

In the conclusion to this fine article, Joel J. Miller, notes that "theology matters."  Indeed it does, as the real reason for Islamic terrorism is not poverty, lack of educational opportunities, or reaction against Western colonialism, imperialism, capitalism, or whatever, but rather Islam's sense of blasphemy, which is derived from the Koran, Muhammad's life and example, and all schools of Islamic jurisprudence.

Islam divides the world into the dar al-Islam, and the dar al-Harb — the House of Submission to Allah, and the House of War. And Muslims are compelled by the doctrine of Jihad to fight against the unbelievers to spread and advance the House of Islam.

In short, Islam's problem with blasphemy is precisely the World's problem with Islam, and why we are going to see more and worse acts of Islamic terrorism, Jihad, and rivers of blood in the years ahead.

Why You Never Question Allah: Islam's Problem with Blasphemy
by Joel J. Miller, Theology That Sticks, via Pravoslavie, November 23, 2015:

You’d better watch what you say about God if you live in the Middle East or North Africa, where seven in ten governments criminalize blasphemy.

In 2014, Palestinian poet Ashraf Fayadh was convicted of blasphemy by a Saudi Arabian court. Facing four years in prison and 800 lashes, Fayadh appealed the ruling. He was recently retried, and the court upped the ante. He’s now contending with a death sentence for apostasy.

In Egypt, TV personality Islam El-Behery appealed his blasphemy conviction. Though he escaped punishment in one case, the court upheld his five-year prison sentence in another.

The same thing happened to Egyptian author Karam Saber. Last year a court upheld his five-year sentence for penning Where is God?, a book of stories some Muslims deemed offensive.

Honest with God

Theodicy, a regular exercises in Western theology, is essentially banned in Islamic countries like Egypt. Say the wrong thing—be careful, the line is fuzzy—and you’ll pay the price. Egyptian law, according to one report, “gives all Muslims the right to file lawsuits in cases where an exalted right of God has been violated.”

Such cases, often supported by rumor and hearsay, have been on the rise in Egypt since 2011. And the 2015 annual report of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom indicates this punitive defense of God’s honor is a widespread problem in many Muslim nations, a claim for which the report offers plenty of examples.

But let’s venture something here—maybe God can take people’s anger, questioning, and criticism. That’s what Ian Punnett argues in his book How to Pray When You’re Pissed at God, a title that could spark predictable offense in predictable quarters. But why?

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Mainstream Islam and why ISIS has such strong support in the Muslim World

In one paragraph and a survey conducted by Al-Jazeera, Tim Furnish shatters the myth that ISIS is "not Islamic," or is somehow "radical" or "extremist":
Every time you repost something using the terms "radical" or "extremist" Islam, you are perpetuating the false narrative that jihad and support for violent shari`ah are fringe in Islam—when in point of fact they are quite mainstream. Here's some data from my latest public lecture:

Friday, November 20, 2015

The Missionary Vision of the Martyred Fr. Daniel Sysoev

Fr. Daniil Sysoev is — without any exaggeration — the Protomartyr and Proto-Missionary for our age, for the 21st Century, and for the Third Millennium since the First Coming of Christ.

We commemorate him and ask his intercessions daily, but especially on the anniversary of his death, 19 November 2009, when he was slain by a Muslim before the altar of the church he founded in Moscow. 

For more on New Martyr Fr. Daniil, and to order his books, see this special resource page...


The following paper was written by a seminarian at St. Vladimir’s Seminary in Crestwood, NY for a course focusing on Orthodox missionary activity throughout the world in the Fall 2014 semester.

The Missionary Vision of the Martyred Fr. Daniel Sysoev
by Edward Hunter, Pravoslavie, November 20, 2015

By all accounts, Fr. Daniel Sysoev was a powerful and effective missionary priest. According to his missionary companion and close friend, Prof. Yuri Maximov (now Priest Giorgy Maximov.—O.C.), Fr. Daniel turned “around 500 Protestants” to Orthodoxy and personally “baptized more than 80 Muslims” in his fourteen years of ordained ministry.1 He built a church community and mission center in an immigrant district in Moscow and had great success reaching persons of various ethnicities, nationalities, religions, and social classes.2 As a direct result of his efforts, and in accordance with his express desire and sense of calling, he crowned his ministry with martyrdom, being shot in the nave of his own church on the night of November 19, 2009.3

While Fr. Daniel did not leave behind extensive or systematic instructions for how to replicate his success, and the literature of the missionary center he founded remains largely untranslated, a number of his translated interviews and books are available online4 and can be used to form an outline of the principles which lay behind his ministry, as well as the methods which he used and found successful.

Fundamentally, Fr. Daniel’s missionary activity found its most basic principle in an extreme faith in the reality of eternal life and eternal judgment. When viewed from the perspective of an eternal destiny, actions in this present life gain a new significance; temporal life becomes “a school” where the human being is to prepare himself for “true life,” which “begins after the Final Judgment.”5 As such, it behooves every Christian to intentionally live a life that prepares him for eternity and to continually meditate on the transitoriness of earthly life and the inevitability of facing death and judgment.6

The funeral of Priest-Martyr Daniil Sysoev, with the clergy in white, just as for Pascha.

While Jesus has “earned paradise for us” by his death on the Cross and Orthodox Christians have “receive[d] salvation as a gift through baptism,” they still need to “assimilate” its reality to themselves by living a Christian life that is characterized by continual repentance, frequent Communion, and the performance of “good deeds”, which fulfill Christ’s commandments.7 If the Christian does not busy himself with repentance and thereby assimilate the salvation of baptism to himself, he runs the risk of his post-baptismal sin becoming a sort of “second nature” which would sever him from Christ and make him “incapable of entering into eternity.”8

ROCOR Cathedral of Our Lady “of the Sign” Hosts Event in Memory of Priest-Martyr Daniil Sysoev

Fr. Daniil Sysoev is — without any exaggeration — the Protomartyr and Proto-Missionary for our age, for the 21st Century, and for the Third Millennium since the First Coming of Christ.

We commemorate him and ask his intercessions daily, but especially on the anniversary of his death, 19 November 2009, when he was slain by a Muslim before the altar of the church he founded in Moscow. 

For more on New Martyr Fr. Daniil, and to order his books, see this special resource page...

The Synodal Cathedral of Our Lady “of the Sign” Hosts an Event in Memory of Priest Daniil Sysoev
ROCOR, via Pravoslavie, November 16, 2015

On Sunday, November 8, 2015, the feast day of Great Martyr Dimitry of Thessaloniki, Divine Liturgy was celebrated at the Synodal Cathedral of Our Lady “of the Sign” in New York by His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York. 

His Eminence was joined by Protopriest Andrei Sommer, Senior Priest of the cathedral; Protopriest Vasily Raskovsky; Hieromonk Evtikhy (Dovganiuk); Protodeacon Nicolas Mokhoff; Protodeacon Vadim Gan, as well as other clergymen gathering to attend an event dedicated to the 6th anniversary of the death of Priest Daniil Sysoev, including Priest Georgy Maksimov (teacher at Sretensky Seminary in Moscow) and Hieromonk Savvaty (Ageev), Rector of St Nicholas Church of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA in Redding, PA. A sermon was delivered by Fr Georgy on the Gospel reading about the rich man and Lazarus, during which he stressed the importance of fulfilling God’s commandments.

The sisterhood then offered a luncheon in the church hall.

At 2 pm, Metropolitan Hilarion gave the opening speech at an event marking the 6th anniversary of the death of the renowned missionary, Priest Daniil Sysoev, a leader in the missionary movement in contemporary Russia, who was granted a martyr’s end on November 19, 2009, in the Church of Apostle Thomas in Moscow, which he built. 

His Eminence noted that Fr Daniil “was able to argue convincingly and calmly, with love, and leave his opponents no option but to agree with him. It was this measured, accessible and uncompromising witness to the truth that we need today. This is the kind of renewed preaching we are in such need of today.” 

Al Azhar and ISIS: Cause and Effect

The Islamic State is not an aberration. Not only is it Islamic, it is "a byproduct of what is considered normative thinking for Al Azhar—the Islamic world’s most authoritative university."

by Raymond Ibrahim, Coptic Solidarity, November 18, 2015

Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah Nasr, a scholar of Islamic law and graduate of Egypt’s Al Azhar University—regularly touted as the world’s most prestigious Islamic university—recently exposed his alma mater in a televised interview.

After being asked why Al Azhar, which is in the habit of denouncing secular thinkers as un-Islamic, refuses to denounce the Islamic State as un-Islamic, Sheikh Nasr said:

It can’t [condemn the Islamic State as un-Islamic].  The Islamic State is a byproduct of Al Azhar’s programs.  So can Al Azhar denounce itself as un-Islamic?  Al Azhar says there must be a caliphate and that it is an obligation for the Muslim world [to establish it].  Al Azhar teaches the law of apostasy and killing the apostate.  Al Azhar is hostile towards religious minorities, and teaches things like not building churches, etc.  Al Azhar upholds the institution of jizya [extracting tribute from religious minorities].  Al Azhar teaches stoning people.  So can Al Azhar denounce itself as un-Islamic?

Nasr joins a growing chorus of critics of Al Azhar.  Last September, while discussing how the Islamic State burns some of its victims alive—most notoriously, a Jordanian pilot—Egyptian journalist Yusuf al-Husayni remarked on his satellite program that “The Islamic State is only doing what Al Azhar teaches… and the simplest example is Ibn Kathir’s Beginning and End.”

Italian Police: Muslim Migrants Threw Christians Overboard

This crime is identical to this story from back in April 2015. How many such Muslim attacks on migrant Christians go unreported?

I wrote at that time:
The Muslim attack on Christians in a migrant boat crossing the Mediterranean is a sign of our times, a dark symbol and metaphor for a future which is rapidly beginning to come into focus: 
We are all in a boat together, but there is a band of people in our boat which seeks to throw the rest of us overboard, to kill us, to sink and drown us, to eliminate us. 
The fate of the murdered Christian migrants is the image of our future, unless we too form a human chain to resist our attackers.

Italian Police: Muslim Migrants Threw Christians Overboard 
by Hada Messia, Livia Borghese and Jason Hanna, AINA, November 20, 2015:

Rome (CNN) -- Muslims who were among migrants trying to get from Libya to Italy in a boat this week threw 12 fellow passengers overboard -- killing them -- because the 12 were Christians, Italian police said Thursday.

Italian authorities have arrested 15 people on suspicion of murdering the Christians at sea, police in Palermo, Sicily, said.

The original group of 105 people left Libya on Tuesday in a rubber boat. Sometime during the trip north across the Mediterranean Sea, the alleged assailants -- Muslims from the Ivory Coast, Mali and Senegal -- threw the 12 overboard, police said.

Other people on the voyage told police that they themselves were spared "because they strongly opposed the drowning attempt and formed a human chain," Palermo police said.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Aftermath of Paris: Jihad Threat Increases, Muslim World Celebrates, US Governors urge Halt to Muslim Refugees

There is so much news related to Islam's Global Jihad against the West, that it is impossible to keep up with it all. I wanted to highlight in this post what I feel are some key headline stories, with direct links to the articles.

This could be the single most ominous headline since the Paris Jihad Attacks of November 13:

    Anecdotal evidence points to widespread Muslim approval of the Islamic State and jihad against Europe and America:
    Bomb Threats and Jihad Attacks Rampant around the Globe:

    Tuesday, November 17, 2015

    Assyrians of Paris: 'There are now many jihadists in France. We have the impression of being invaded...'

    "The entire Assyrian community is hugely disappointed and angry with the French Government. Government inaction has resulted in the problems in Syria and Iraq coming to France. The French authorities have been entirely reactive, not proactive. They have not anticipated, but waited until the problems were on their doorstep... We made public protests last year. We have issued press statements warning of the dangers. But the Government has been inactive."  —Max Yabas, Coordinator, Union des Assyro Chaldeens de France (UACF).

    The Assyrians of Paris
    by Peter Ahem, AINA, November 17, 2015

    St. Thomas The Apostle Assyrian church in Sarcelles, France
    (AINA) -- The shocking terrorist strikes in Paris on the evening of November 13 have caught the attention of the world. While political leaders send expressions of condolence and support to President Hollande and his nation, individuals with friends and family in Paris have been clambering to seek assurances of their safety.

    I am a frequent visitor to Paris where I spent time as a student. Some of my student friends were Assyrians who lived in the neighborhood of Sarcelles, where two thirds of France's 16000 Assyrians are resident.

    The Assyrian community in France represents the result of two major waves of immigration. The first influx followed the genocide of Armenians, Assyrians and Greeks by the Ottomans during the First World War. This second major wave of arrivals is far more recent, with many fleeing Iraq and Syria over the last decade because of rising persecution by Islamic radical groups. For decades France has been a place of refuge for Assyrians seeking relief from oppression.

    Mark Durie: 'Paris attacks were not 'nihilism' but sacred strategy'

    One of the most important Christian writers on Islam and the global Muslim persecution of Christians, Anglican pastor and theologian Mark Durie, weighs in on the struggle to accurately render the meta-narrative concerning the Paris Jihad Attacks.

    For a variety of reasons, there are a great many policymakers, media analysts, elected officials, Christian leaders, and ordinary citizens who are having an extremely difficult time understanding what is happening. Mark Durie offers a practical corrective to the West's epistemological blindness.

    Paris attacks were not 'nihilism' but sacred strategy
    by Mark Durie, November 17, 2015

    LEADING commentator Janet Daley's article in Saturday's TelegraphThe West is at war with a death cult’ stands for everything that is woeful about European elites’ response to Islamic jihad.

    It is a triumph of religious illiteracy.

    The jihadist enemy, she asserts, is utterly unintelligible, so beyond encompassing in ‘coherent, systematic thought’ that no vocabulary can describe it: ‘This is just insanity’, she writes. Because the enemy is ‘hysterical’, lacking 'rational demands', 'negotiable limits,’ or ‘intelligible objectives’ Daley claims it is pointless to subject its actions to any form of historical, social or theological analysis, for no-one should attempt to ‘impose logic on behaviour that is pathological’.

    Despite this, Daley then ventures to offer analysis of and explanations for ISIS’ actions, but in doing so she relies upon her own conceptual categories, not those of ISIS.

    Her explanations therefore fall wide of the mark.


    Daley writes: ‘We face a violent and highly contagious madness that believes the killing of civilians is a moral act.’  Here she appeals to Western concepts of war, reflected, for example, in the Geneva Convention, which provides detailed principles for the ‘protection of civilian persons’.

    Yet the first step in understanding a cultural system alien to one’s own, is to describe it in its own terms.

    ISIS does not subscribe to the Geneva Convention.  Its actions and strategies are based upon medieval Islamic laws of jihad, which make no use of the modern Western concept of 'civilian’.

    They do, however, refer to the category of disbelievers (mushrik or kafir).

    ISIS believes that killing disbelievers is a moral act, in accordance, for example, with Sura 9:5 of the Qur’an, which states :‘Fight and kill the idolators (mushrik) wherever you find them'.

    Not nihilism

    Daley writes: ‘The enemy has stated explicitly that it does not revere life at all’ and ‘Civilians are not collateral damage in this campaign: their deaths are the whole point.’  She goes on to lament that the latest French attacks lack any purpose, but are ‘carried out for the sheer nihilistic thrill of it’.

    The claim that ISIS does not ‘revere life’ seems to refer to any number of statements by Islamic radicals, including an ISIS militant who vowed to ‘fill the streets of Paris with dead bodies’, and boasted that ISIS ‘loves death like you love life’ (see here).  This is a theological reference to a series of verses in the Qur’an in which Jews are criticised for desiring life (Sura 2:94-96, 62:6-8).

    According to the Qur’an, loving life is a characteristic of infidels (Sura 3:14; 14:3; 75:20; 76:27) because it causes them to disregard the importance of the next life.  The taunt much used by jihadis, ‘We love death like you love life’,  implies that jihadis are bound for paradise while their enemies are hell-bound.

    The point of these statements is that Muslims are willing to fight to the death, while their infidel enemies will turn back in battle. This is not about reverence for life, but about who has the will to win. This has nothing to do with nihilism, which is a belief that there are no values, nothing to be loyal to, and no purpose in living. In fact ISIS fighters have strong and clear loyalties and values, alien though they may be to those of Europe.

    VIDEO: The Qur'an and the Siege of Paris (David Wood)

    David Wood of Answering Muslims pierces the fog of disinformation and taqiyya concerning Islam's commands to wage jihad against infidels.

    Islam and the Siege of Paris
    Answering Muslims, November 16, 2015

    Following the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, millions of people are once again trying to understand the relationship between Islam and terrorism. Both peaceful Muslims and jihadists quote the Quran to justify their views. In this video, David Wood examines two verses of the Quran to determine the Quranic stance on terror.

    Monday, November 16, 2015

    Were the Paris Attacks Motivated by Islam?

    Including two excellent, brief commentaries by William DiPuccio:
    • More Thoughts on Paris: Are Acts of Terrorism Islamic?
    • Islam's Rule of Numbers —Again

    (Anne Sophie Chaisemartin via AP)
    In response to the Paris terrorist attacks, political and religious leaders around the globe have been issuing statements. Always rich with condolences, when it comes to actual responses to such horrific levels of bloodshed, the positions are predictably bi-polar: while there are many who urge a decisive and forceful response (even declared, open warfare) against the Islamic State, there are many who choose to declare that the attacks "have nothing to do with Islam."

    A few of the more absurd, cognitive dissonant remarks by secular leaders include:

    In the Orthodox world, the positions are also very clear. Here are but three samples:

    Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, head of the Synodal Department for Church and Society Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate:
    "The fight against terrorism requires mobilization, first of all spiritual, moral. No one can stay safe in his cozy capitalist philistine world... 
    "The age of tolerance, diversity, philosophical indifference and denial of truth [which characterized the 20th century] is over. We need to understand: in the world of ideas, religious and public processes, there is good and evil, there are moral and immoral convictions and ideas, and there are also criminal convictions and views..."

    Fr. Tim Curtis, of St Anne’s Orthodox Christian Church in Northampton, UK:
    “The people who are committing these attacks are using religion as an excuse. Nothing that they say or do looks like a faith in God. 
    “They are not even taught Islam. They are in poverty and are told their children and families will be looked after and educated if they carry out these attacks. They are being sold a lie. 
    “This terrorism is not about Islam. It’s about power and poverty.”

    Patriarch Ilia II, head of the Georgian Orthodox Church:
    “Human beings reveal their hostility and the Islamic has nothing to do with it... There are people who relate these [terrorist acts] to religion, Islam, but in fact religion has nothing to do with it; a person expresses evil will.”

    While it might be a comforting thought to believe that Islam "has nothing to do with it," it seems that the purveyors of this position are willfully ignoring the origins of Islam, the example of Muhammad, and the cyclic history of Islam, which repeatedly features the arising of fundamentalist sects (Wahhabi, Salafi, Muslim Brotherhood, Islamic State, etc.) seeking to return to and fully restore the original purity of Islam, basing it exclusively on the Koran and the example of Muhammad, not mixing it with Christian morals and values, nor ameliorating it with appeals to Western values of human rights, morality and tolerance.

    It is hard to understand why so many strive to exonerate the religion of Islam from culpability for the methodology of Islamic terrorism. Perhaps it stems from ignorance of Islam's scriptures, teachings, the life of Muhammad, and its long (1400 year) history of violence against non-Muslims, coupled with some vague fear that IF this religion held by 1.5 billion persons on the planet is the root cause behind rising Muslim violence against Christians and other non-Muslims, all around the globe, THEN the conclusion is unthinkable.

    Undoubtedly much of this willful blindness is epistemological; Christians and Western leaders project their own virtuous predispositions onto Islam as a whole when they assert that "Islam has nothing to do with terrorism."

    The following two brief articles by William DiPuccio (whose excellent 2013 article, Islam and Extremism: What Is Underneath, should be required reading) effectively show exactly why Islam itself is the prime motivator and unchanging constant underlying all Muslim terrorism and violence against non-Muslims:

    Saturday, November 14, 2015

    Avenging the Defeated Caliphate: The Significance of November 13 in the Paris Attacks

    Did the Muslim jihadists in Paris choose November 13 for its symbolic value in planning their attacks?

    Over at Terror Trends Bulletin, a brief but weighty post conveys what to most of us is a forgotten historical footnote (Thanks to Emanuel):

    The Historical Significance of November 13th in Islam:
    On November 13, 1918 the Allied troops occupied Constantinople, the capital of the Ottoman Empire. The Ottoman Empire was the Caliphate, the Islamic State of its day.

    A little extra background, from the Wikipedia entry, Defeat and Dissolution of the Ottoman Empire:
    The Occupation of Constantinople took place in accordance with the Armistice of Mudros [signed on 31 October 1918], ending the Ottoman participation in World War I. The occupation had two stages: the initial occupation took place from 13 November 1918 to 16 March 1920; from 16 March 1920 - Treaty of Sevres
    1918 saw the first time Constantinople had changed hands since the Ottoman Turks conquered the Byzantine capital in 1453. An Allied military administration was set up early in December 1918. Haghia Sophia was converted back into a cathedral by the Allied administration, and the building was returned temporarily to the Greek Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch.

    Now, several additional news reports are revealing that the Paris Jihad Attacks were not only carefully orchestrated in Paris, but across Europe, with cells acting in Germany and the UK:

    It seems clear that, whether or not the date was chosen by the jihadis for its link to the Western Allies occupying Constantinople in 1918, it was indeed a carefully planned and executed operation, spanning at least three countries, and marks an ominous turn in Islam's war on the West. 

    Paris: 'The Beginning of the End...'

    “Hell is empty and all the devils are here.”

    Rod Dreher over at The American Conservative has posted a couple of updates on the Paris Jihad Attacks which convey the ominous sense that the situation has deteriorated in Europe, perhaps irretrievably so:

    UPDATE: From a reader in Paris:
    This is — in a way — the beginning of the end. More than 100 dead innocent people so far. At the same time, our best special ops troops are being deployed all over Africa. We don’t have enough soldiers and our enemy lives next door. This is war, a new kind of war and we better get ready ASAP. “Hell is empty and all the devils are here”. Thank you for you prayers, this is a combat beyond reason. We won’t go quietly into the night, but we might go at the end.

    • Under the countrywide state of emergency, “protection security zones” can be established.
    • In the metropolitan Paris region (Ile de France):
    • All people “whose activity is dangerous” can be consigned to their homes.
    • Entertainment venues and meeting halls can be closed provisionally.
    • The forced surrender of weapons and “administrative searches” permitted.
    • Border controls reestablished, with mobilization of French Customs with immediate effect.
    • Schools and universities in the Paris region to be closed on Saturday.
    • School trips on Saturday cancelled.
    • A defence council will meet at 9am and 1,500 extra troops have been mobilized

    UPDATE.2: Some people on Twitter have their noses out of joint because I tweeted earlier saying that Angela Merkel’s generous refugee policy is going to guarantee much worse than what happened in Paris tonight in Germany. They had the idea that I’m blaming refugees for the Paris attacks. I am confident that refugees had nothing to do with this attack, nor do I expect that genuine refugees would carry out the same in Germany, or anywhere else. Merkel will have accepted over a million refugees by the end of this year, and her government is expecting millions more by 2017...

    On Wednesday, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble warned that Germany faced a potentially destructive “avalanche” of refugees, adding that “avalanches can be triggered when a somewhat careless skier heads down the hill, shifting just a little bit of snow.” Many viewed that as an analogy to Merkel’s September decision to welcome thousands of refugees stranded in Hungary.

    It’s a different world now. If only a tiny percentage of those refugees are ISIS supporters or agents, Germany — and Europe — faces more of what Paris got tonight.

    The Indonesian Jihad on Christian Churches

    In the Aceh region of Indonesia, "Islamic leaders continued issuing messages and text messages saying, 'We will not stop hunting Christians and burning churches. Christians are Allah’s enemies!'”

    Pray for the Indonesian Orthodox Mission, and help support them here.

    The Indonesian Jihad on Christian Churches
    by Raymond Ibrahim, Gatestone Institute, November 11, 2015

    The remains of a church in the Aceh region of Indonesia, still on fire, after hundreds of Muslims attacked it on October 13, 2015. (Image source: CCTV video screenshot)

    In compliance with Islamic demands, Indonesian authorities in the Aceh region have started to tear down Christian churches. Their move comes after Muslim mobs rampaged and attacked churches. At least one person was killed; thousands of Christians were displaced.

    On Friday, October 9, after being fired up during mosque sermons, hundreds of Muslims marched to the local authority’s office and demanded that all unregistered churches in Aceh be closed. Imams issued text messages spurring Muslims from other areas to rise up against churches and call for their demolition.

    On Monday, October 12, authorities facilitated a meeting with Islamic leaders and agreed to demolish 10 unregistered churches over the course of two weeks.

    Apparently this was not fast enough to meet Muslim demands for immediate action. On the following day, a mob of approximately 700 Muslims, some armed with axes and machetes, torched a local church, even though it was not on the list of churches agreed upon for demolition.

    The Muslim mob then moved on to a second church, an act that led to violent clashes. One person, believed to be a Christian, died after being shot in the head. Several were injured, as Christians tried to defend their church against the armed mob.

    Approximately 8,000 Christians were displaced; many fled to bordering provinces. Their fears were justified: Islamic leaders continued issuing messages and text messages saying, “We will not stop hunting Christians and burning churches. Christians are Allah’s enemies!”

    Instead of punishing those who incited violence and took the law into their own hands by torching and attacking churches, local authorities demolished three churches (a Catholic mission station and two Protestant churches) on October 19. In the coming days, seven more churches are set to be demolished; in the coming months and years, dozens more.

    Authorities had originally requested of church leaders to demolish their own churches. “How can we do that?” asked Paima Berutu, one of the church leaders: “It is impossible [for us to take it down] … Some of us watched [the demolition] from afar, man and women. It was painful.”

    Muslim Jihadists slaughter at least 118 in Paris music hall, 40 others in separate attacks

    This horrific act of war comes immediately on the heels of the Islamic State's newest video, in which it vowed to attack Moscow and "make blood spill like an ocean."
    • At least two suicide-bombings combined with shootings at several sites in coordinated attack;
    • Muslim attackers shouted "Allahu Akbar" at the concert hall while gunning down victims from a balcony;
    • French President Francois Hollande was in attendance at one of the venues attacked; was whisked to safety;
    • Hollande closed the nation's borders and declared a state of emergency.

    DEADLY PARIS TERROR ATTACKS: At least 118 murdered by terrorist gunmen inside concert hall; at least 40 others are dead in a series of coordinated assaults
    Fox News, November 13, 2015

    Terrorists wielding AK-47s and hurling explosives executed at least 118 people inside a Paris concert hall late Friday night, in a massacre that followed coordinated attacks that killed at least 40 more people, rocking the French capital -- prompting President Francois Hollande to close the entire nation's borders and order a state of emergency.

    Friday, November 13, 2015

    Ohio Muslim: 'Kill them in their own lands, behead them in their own homes'

    While it is tempting to believe — and the media and most politicians repeatedly assure us — that American Muslims are fully integrated into our society and culture and reject Islamic extremism, this latest arrest reminds us of the reality that Muslim jihadists are in our midst, from coast to coast, as underscored by a just a few recent headlines:

    Robert Spencer prefaces the below news report with this bit of exegisis about a note this Ohio Muslim posted online:
    “And kill them wherever you find them”: that’s in the Qur’an three times (2:191, 4:89, and 9:5). Not that this has anything to do with Islam. 

    Akron man arrested on a terrorism charge
    by Eric Heisig,, via Jihad Watch, November 12, 2015:

    AKRON, Ohio — The FBI on Thursday arrested an Akron man on a terrorism-related charge.

    Terrence J. McNeil, 25, is charged with one count of solicitation of a crime of violence….

    McNeil, according to U.S. Attorney’s Office, supported the Islamic State, a terrorist organization also known as ISIL.

    He is accused of uploading a file on Sept. 24 to a Tumblr account that showed photos, addresses and military branch of purported members of the military. One of the slides in the file reads:

    “O Brothers in America, know that the jihad against the crusaders is not limited to the lands of the Khilafah, it is a world-wide jihad and their war is not just a war against the Islamic State, it is a war against Islam…