Good Friday

Nails, crown of thorns

33 At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 34 And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).a]

35 When some of those standing near heard this, they said, “Listen, he’s calling Elijah.”

36 Someone ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down,” he said.

37 With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.

38 The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. 39 And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died,b] he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”

Mark 15:33-40
Jesus, thank You that You suffered for us. Thank You that You died on the Cross. Thank you that You are the eternally begotten Son of God. Lord open our eyes to see that we are the ones worthy of punishment. We deserve that Cross.
But You don’t treat us as our sins deserve. Jesus, the Beloved Son,  took our place. He took our sin and shame in exchange for forgiveness and righteousness and eternal life. Lord, how can we begin to thank you? Take our lives as living sacrifices to your praise and glory for everything You’ve done.
Surely he took up our pain
    and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
    stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
    and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
    each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
    the iniquity of us all.
Isaiah 53:4-6

How interfaith dialogue works

Dave Andrews, Julie Siddiqui
Julie Siddiqi and Dave Andrews

A few weeks ago, I posted about the Jihad of Jesus tour, and about why associating the Islamic concept of jihad with Jesus is to make a mockery of Him. Last Wednesday, I met with Dave Andrews and Julie Siddiqi on the London leg of the tour in London Central Mosque. There were around 20 people in attendance, one or two of whom were Muslims.

Dave Andrews is a charismatic, articulate man. He introduced the topic with the two most frequent responses he gets to his provocatively-titled tour. Muslims respond – what has Dave Andrews got to teach us about jihad? Evangelical Christians tell him- you’re obviously a total heretic. (I felt bad when I heard that one. Note to self: disagree without ranting.)

This was followed by about 45 minutes of dialogue between Dave and Julie covering various topics; the violent episodes in Christian history, the genocidal passages in the Old Testament, the need to create ‘safe spaces’ to discuss difficult topics, how Islam had helped Christians ‘reclaim’ the spiritual disciplines, how Jesus needed to be liberated from Christianity(?), how the bismillah was really the heart of mercy and grace within Islam, how Islam had given coffee to the world, and how you can never underestimate Muslims and Christians chatting over tea and samosas together. But despite the promising preamble, what there wasn’t much chat about was jihad, as defined by Islamic sources, the four schools of sharia and by implication, the vast majority of the Muslim world. For this I had to wait for the Q and A.

I brought up the commands to fight the unbeliever in the Quran (Sura 9:19, 9:29, 9:73, 8:39) – how do you deal with the fact these are there? Part of Allah’s eternal speech? Answer – these are contextual, meant only for the seventh century. So why aren’t there other verses that clarify this is contextual in the clear, detailed, well-explained Qur’an? Or in the ahadith, or the tafsirs? They don’t give any indication that these verses are time-constrained. When a devout Muslim reads a verse like Sura 8:39 – fight them until all religion is for Allah alone – and thinks to himself, I must continue what Muhammad started, the job isn’t done yet, how do you persuade him out of that conviction? I didn’t get much of an answer. Things didn’t improve when I brought up Muhammad:

Me: How do you deal with the fact Muhammad was the original jihadi? That he oversaw the slaughter of the Banu Qurayze tribe? That he assassinated his critics and had his enemies tortured? This is all in Islamic sources. And you compare this to Jesus, who died saying, “Father, forgive them?” Who told his followers to put their swords away?

Muslim speaker: Did you come here to teach me my religion? Have you noticed you’re in a mosque? I mean, no-one’s asked you to leave, and more power to you….but you are talking about our most beloved prophet here! Do you know any Muslims? Have you ever sat down and had dinner with them? (Yes. Many times.)

And then it was finished, time for the inestimable tea and samosas. Except it is not finished, it will never be finished until Muslims start to take these painful questions seriously, honestly asking themselves if a man like Muhammad is worthy of their allegiance. Last week marked the one year anniversary of the Westminster Bridge attacks. We owe it to all victims of Islamic terror to keep bringing them up.

“The Qur’an is a book of peace” – Mr Justice Haddon-Cave

Hatun and Lizzie examine the statement the judge made when sentencing the Parsons Green bomber on 23 March 2018.

The judge, Mr Justice Haddon-Cave said, “I sentence you to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 34 years.

Finally, Ahmed Hassan, let me say this to you. You will have plenty of time to study the Qur’an in prison in the years to come. You should understand that the Qur’an is a book of peace; Islam is a religion of peace. The Qur’an and Islam forbid anything extreme, including extremism in religion. Islam forbids breaking the ‘law of the land’ where one is living or is a guest. Islam forbids terrorism (hiraba). The Qur’an and the Sunna provide that the crime of perpetrating terror to “cause corruption in the land” is one of the most severe crimes in Islam. So it is in the law of the United Kingdom. You have, therefore, received the most severe of sentences under the law of this land. You have violated the Qur’an and Islam by your actions, as well as the law of all civilized people. It is to be hoped that you will come to realise this one day. Please go with the officers.” (Full statement here – 23 March 2018).

Qur’an claims Jesus didn’t die

Hatun and Godwin question Surah 4:157 in a detailed and well-explained discussion of the Qur’an.

And [for] their saying, “Indeed, we have killed the Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, the messenger of Allah.” And they did not kill him, nor did they crucify him; but [another] was made to resemble him to them. And indeed, those who differ over it are in doubt about it. They have no knowledge of it except the following of assumption. And they did not kill him, for certain. (Sahih International)