Monday, July 28, 2008

More on Missionaries

I recently made a post about a website I had come across that was geared towards explaining Islam for Christian (Protestant) missionaries. It was interesting in that at least regarding Islam it attempted to be balanced and informative instead of tilted to breed hatred towards Muslims.

What happened though, in the last couple days, is some missionary must have discovered my blog, most likely thanks to that post. And he/she left a few very odd comments on some various older posts of mine--not really comments, actually, but pasted articles mostly from a noted anti-islam website (which I will not link.) I deleted them pretty quickly since I don't have any need for that sort of thing on my blog (and it is very rude to copy/paste articles as comments, I think!)

But it was kind of amusing--in case any of you are wondering what sorts of things a missionary might post on a Muslim convert's blog, I thought I'd share a few bits.

(1) On When is a good time to let go? the comment began with what I think was the poster's own, "Jesus is so different!" she wrote. (I'll call the person a she just because I have a suspicion, that's all.) Different from what? I was feeling actually quite desperate about some events in my life, and very troubled. But by material things. Spiritually, I was actually quite on a high and I had tremendous hope in the mercy of Allah (SWT.) I think my visitor thought I must have been considering leaving Islam, which, couldn't have been further from the truth. Alhamdulillah. Anyway, what followed was a very convoluted conversion story by "sister grace." Now, sister grace described herself as, "a convert to Islam, who has rediscovered Jesus, and returned to Him." So basically she was born a Christian and decided to try Islam because she kind of liked it, I suppose. And then she met an Indian Christian family who apparently exceeded her prowess at religious debate, and they were praying for her, so she concluded that God in the Qur'an was "distant" and "far."

This is a claim that many Christians make about Islam, but it's totally unfounded. Muslims understand Allah to be Great, Almighty, Lord of the World, but also Gentle, Forgiving, and Loving. He says in the Qur'an that He is nearer to man than his jugular vein! You see, Christians want Muslims to think that "Jesus" (not the real Jesus, but their distorted perception of him) is close to them and that without him, God is far away. But in fact, we can see they don't understand Islam in the first place, because God is not far or distant in Islam.

Now, this poor convert person already admits to having a bad opinion of Islam while as a Muslim, and then went on, she says, to find the same aforementioned (non-linked) anti-Islam website which apparently cleared it all up for her. And then... magically, or mystically, she had a dream! Yes, a dream, and then she went back to Christianity. Overall, it's a pretty unremarkable story, I think. It might even be true. Basically this person thinks that Muslims have reason and logic and sense but no emotion and apparently don't really love their faith. Weird impression, I'll say, but anyway. Allah is the One Who Guides. :-) May He guide us and keep us firm on His deen.

(2) Now, the second post she left on my blog, for my post "The Bachelorette" was another story. She must have thought that marriage in Islam is something totally wacky, like what this story portrays--you'll see. What I found so amusing about this one is that I had read it before! You see, I have actually visited this anti-Islam website I keep mentioning, in fact before I embraced Islam I made a point to read all the converted-out-of-Islam stories. And I found them to be so bizarre it actually increased my faith in Islam. Subhanallah. This is one of those bizarre ones. Again, the poor girl is a Christian woman who converted to Islam, apparently because it was cool (she doesn't really say why) and then "soon things began to fall apart in my life." Indeed, what happened?

Well, she writes that she "belligerant to my co-workers and was soon fired." I can't figure out how Islam is related here. Muslims aren't supposed to be belligerent or anything of the sort, but gentle and merciful. Then we read that her Imam told her that she "had to return to my parents home since Islam forbids single women from living alone." Fancy that? Back to living with her parents? Okay okay, I'll keep going. Back in with her parents, she points out that they didn't like her wearing the "traditional Muslim garb" (her words, not mine... lol) and tried to forbid her. And then her friends didn't want to be around her (probably because her own bad attitude, which she's described) and she would only spend time around Muslims. Then the story really takes off...

She writes that a month after moving in with her parents again, she was "introduced" to her "future husband." Introduced? This sounds fishy... read on: "I was simply led into a room and told that he was the man that I was supposed to marry and I had no choice in the matter." I'm sorry... I really couldn't help cracking up at this point. Anything in the story which might have otherwise seemed true was pretty much blown out of the water by this shockingly bizarre development. Led into a room? By whom? Who has the authority to set her up with someone without her permission? Yeah right... somebody didn't do their homework. No choice? Give me a break.

Well anyway, since she didn't run for the hills at that craziness, she married the guy and then, as she says, "soon entered hell." She wasn't allowed to leave the apartment without permission, and never allowed to run the air conditioner, in 100-degree summer heat. And that apparently caused her to get a heat rash and heat exhaustion. And then her husband, whose name we learn is Mohammed (go figure, right?) makes her give her car back to her parents so she would really be "stuck at home." Not to mention her husband is some kind of slacker who doesn't come home much and won't take her out. Then she learns music is forbidden and her husband hits her.

You might not have thought it possible, but this story gets even worse... apparently, we learn her husband would often starve her--not leave her with anything to eat. So she asked a friend of his to bring her food which enraged her husband and resulted in extensive beatings and physical damage. So then her crazy abusive husband goes to Morocco, and eventually lets her get a job and eat, and even have her car back. Sorry... I'm rolling... So anyway, she eventually begins to see that Islam = abusive men, and oppressed women. What she called before the "traditional Muslim garb" became "heavy oppressive clothing." She had some more bad experiences with Muslims, cried, prayed, her husband left her (said he didn't care what she did!), she got a divorce, and went back to church!!

Now, I don't mean to belittle anyone's suffering, but doesn't this tale seem a little far-fetched for anyone to take seriously? It's just one stereotype after another. Like someone made up this girl, put her through all the experiences they could imagine to portray Islam badly (wife beating, hijab in the heat, not allowed to leave home or drive, forced marriage) trying to justify those activities in Islam (when of course we, the Muslims, know none of this is allowed.) Ultimately it's a story designed to give a woman (in particular a woman) doubts about the treatment of women in Islam, by telling this story of a woman who experiences all the basic stereotypes, plus some extras for added suspense.

Anyway, what's the moral of the story? That Muslim men are bad abusive hypocrites who treat their wives like trash--according to Christian missionaries. At least, pretending that they are makes for good stories and propaganda to try to lead poor confused Muslim women away from Islam. Especially those who might have converted from Christianity. A lot of women do, I think that is the target audience for stories like these. Anyway... I'm somewhat untrusting I suppose, but I really just have a hard time actually believing this one.

(3) The third exciting comment she left on my post 12 Characteristics of an Effective Da'ee was an article written by a known anti-Islam writer featured on aforemented (non-linked) site. And basically it pulls some ayaat out of the Qur'an, out of context, and attempts to prove that the Qur'an calls Allah (SWT!) a liar. A'udhubillah. It was pretty much garbage and I won't even bother summarizing it since I really don't see any benefits or lessons to learn from it.

That aside, given the nature of my blog, I found it pretty amusing someone would have the audacity to post such drivel here. But the conversion stories were especially funny--to me anyway. I don't mean to make fun of anyone here--and I seriously hope that nobody actually experienced the events in the second story. But I expect we will all find our Recompense in the Hereafter, and believe that Allah Almight is The Just.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hello,

I first just wanted to say that I 'followed' you here from the Catholic web forum which you referenced in your first post about missionaries aimed towards Muslims. And I would just like to say that in all the posts that you have made there, in all the arguments that you have been engaged in, you have consistently been polite and respectful and done your best to answer the questions put to you in a manner much nicer than the questions are generally put to you.

I lurk over there, and don't say much, but I just felt the need to finally say how nice I find it and how much I admire your ability to not respond on the same level as people who are rude and insulting to both yourself and your faith.

Now, I was responding to this post because of the use of the abuse stories in the anti-Islam comments that were pasted into your blog. I, personally, find these sort of tactics to be horrible and disgusting. They almost serve to downplay the widespread existance of abuse by laying the blame of the abuse to the religion, and not the individual.

I would hope that most people understand that an abuser is going to abuse, no matter which religion they claim to follow, and they will find excuses to justify their crimes in any situation. Men abuse women in every nation, culture, and religion around the world. And they always have. Religion is not the cause of these things, and a persons argument against a faith, I feel, must be pretty weak if their only course is to prey on a woman's fear of such things.

Thank you,
Amber

Amy said...

Hi Amber!!

Thanks so much for coming and reading my blog. And thank you for the compliment, seriously. It means a lot.

I appreciate your comments above here, and I agree with you totally--using that kind of a tactic, and I'm pretty sure it was a 'tactic,' is pretty low. There are, like you said, abusive men in every country, race, and religion. And it is a tragedy for all the women (and children) who suffer at their hands. I understand that where I live, it wasn't really considered a crime for a man to hit his wife, until recently.

But today we can see that a man who does that is certainly not doing so at the behest of religious teachings, and I will argue until I am blue in the face with anyone who says that he is. Because religion--especially Islam or any of the Abrahamic faiths (with which I'm more familiar)--religion is about believing in God, obeying God, and behaving in a good way.

And many people choose to be critical of Islam on this wife-beating issue, but if a man is "beating" his wife, according to the meaning of that word in English, then he's certainly a long way away from religious principles, or likely suffering from a serious disorder.

So when people blame the religion? They're really missing the issue, and almost covering up a serious problem that needs to be addressed.

I agree with you in the end as well, that a person's faith ought to be substantial enough without having to create fears to sow doubt in someone's mind.

And thank you also for a reminder for me to keep an eye on my own behavior and avoid being hypocritical. :-) Thanks for the visit and comments!

musafirfidunya said...

MashAllah!. Again an attack thwarted.
With each passing day and hour the test for us Muslims is getting harder and harder. These tests are there to perfect us in our faith. I have dealt with Christians and they do not know enough of Christianity accept a few tidbits. Infact, I was talking to one and he misquoted the very basic Ten Commandment! I was surprised and told him that if you were Muslim and done that you would not be trusted in your word! He was dumbstruck and then I explained the concept of Isnaad in our deen. Again, whom Allah Guides, none can misguide but whom Allah Misguides none can guide him ever. We ask Allah to increase our faith and give us patience in these troubling times and give us hidayah!

Anonymous said...

Hello,

Amy, I know that stories of abuse, when used in an attempt to frighten someone away from their faith, are most definately a 'tactic' and an underhanded one as well, in my opinion.

I have no proof of this, but I am certain that when they are trying to argue a man out of converting to Islam these missionaries don't use stories about the suffering and abuse of women. These stories, which are tragic, and I am certain that some of them are true (but that's no reflection on the religion) are only used with women.

And I admit to thinking of it as sort of insulting. For a man they have to try the intellectual route, because men are "less emotional" than women, but for women, try the emotion route, frighten them so that even if they do intellectually explore the faith, their gut/emotional reaction will make them turn away from it.

And you're right, until fairly recently there was a widespread cultural acceptance of the man's right to 'discipline' his wife and children in any way that he saw fit. While that doesn't make every man who lived in that era abusive, it did give the ones who were carte blanche to abuse and know that they were going to get away with it, because it was a 'family matter' and no one from outside the family would interfere.

Men, and women (because it does happen where the woman is abusive as well), who abuse are not only not doing so at the behest of their religions teachings, but flying in the face of them. And this is part of why it is so wrong when people blame abuse of a religion. It simply allows them to vent their own existant prejudices on the religion without having to admit that it is a prejudice.

And, as you said, it allows them to continue to overlook the real problem, which is the dysfunction of the relationship and the possible mental illness or addiction that the abuser is suffering from.

Okay, and this has gotten long and rambling, but before I stop, one more thing. And I do apologise, because it's a bit off the topic.

I wanted to thank you again for putting up and maintaining this blog. I am not a Muslim, but for a long time I had felt a need to start covering my hair. I've always dressed modestly, but this thing with the hair is not something that I've really been able to explain the drive to do.

However, it was something that I knew I needed to do, for myself, even if I couldn't explain it(and still can't, really) but in poking around on your blog, I found your older posts about covering, and it did help. So, I wanted to thank you for putting out personal things like that. They're more help to more people than you might think.

Thank you,
Amber