Friday, February 10, 2006

The Madness of Islam

Back in January of this year, the Associate Press ran a story about the recent Islamic hajj. What is a “hajj”?
  • The hajj is the foremost of all Muslim rituals.
  • Islam requires that all Muslims who are financially and physically able make the hajj at least once.
  • In modern times, about 2.5 million Muslims fulfill the hajj every year. However, less than 10% of all Muslims ever manage to complete it.
  • A person performing, and having performed the hajj, is called hajji. Many hajjis add 'Hajj' or 'Hajji' to their name after returning from Mecca.
  • As one significant part of the hajj, stones that have been gathered the day before are thrown by each hajji at the 3 jamra, pillars that represent the powers of Satan. At this place, Satan appeared in front of Ibrahim. When the 7 stones have been thrown, the hajj is more or less completed, although there are a few other ceremonies yet to be performed.

From the most recent hajj, we learn the following story, which you can read about at the BBC and CNN and FoxNews and even Al-Jezeera:

Thousands of Muslim pilgrims rushing to complete a symbolic stoning ritual during the hajj tripped over luggage Thursday, causing a crush in which at least 345 people were killed, the Interior Ministry said.

The stampede occurred as tens of thousands of pilgrims headed toward al-Jamarat, a series of three pillars representing the devil that the faithful pelt with stones to purge themselves of sin.

Interior Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Mansour al-Turki said 345 people were killed. More than 1,000 people were injured, said Dr. Abbasi with the
Saudi Red Crescent.

Footage from the scene showed lines of bodies laid out on stretchers on the pavement and covered with sheets. Ahmed Mustafa, an Egyptian pilgrim, said he saw bodies taken away in refrigerator trucks.

You can read about other tragedies in past rituals here. The government has gone to great lengths to protect these people from themselves, even building a double-decker bridge to allow more disciples a greater opportunity to "stone the devil" at the same time.

What an amazing contrast between Christianity and Islam! In Islam, you have pilgrims rushing madly to cast stones at an idol, thinking they are destroying the devil. In Chrisitianity, you have God Himself coming down and did battle Himself against the devil who inspired Islam and then, "having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross" (Colossians 2:15).

Now, we read of another "holy day" in Islam. During the Shia holy day of Ashura, devotees beat themselves with whips, chains, and knives - seeking to cover themselves in their own blood, an act called tatbir. Below are images from this "holy day." Oh, how desperately these deceived people need to know of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and the precious blood that He willingly shed for sin.

Flagellation is a part of all the world's religions. It appeared in the Middle Ages in Roman Catholicism as flagellants went about in various cities during the Black Plague whipping themselves in hopes of averting the wrath of God. Stemming from the ancient Gnostic belief that all things physical are evil and only the spiritual is good, the history of Christianity is littered with the sordid tales of misguided disciples trying to earn favor with God by beating their bodies.

However, such ritualistic abuse has absolutely no place in authentic Christianity. Sadly, it seems to have found a home in Islam. However, many of the more moderate Muslims decry this spectacle, saying that it puts their entire religion in a "bad light."

What a tragic event. Even more tragic is the thought process that these men and women are propagating on these children, scarring them physically and emotionally and spiritually, all the while thinking they are getting closer to their God. The true God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob must hate this with a white-hot holy repulsion while Satan laughs at the foolishness of these deceived people.

These people are without hope unless they are freed from the evil tyranny of Satan and his ritualistic paganism to find the marvelous grace of Christ. I am motivated more than ever to ensure that I make the trip this summer with people from my church to witness to Islams and hand them Arabic copies of the Scriptures.

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