Speaker’s Corner is one of Britain’s quirkiest and most important institutions, a global icon of free speech. You can come and preach or advocate or ridicule anything you like, within the bounds of the law. And it’s a fantastic mission opportunity for the Church, although the Church has been slow to recognise this.
Muslims, on the other hand, have taken full advantage of Speaker’s Corner to do da’wah. Over the years, Muslims have become by far the biggest special interest group there, dwarfing the numbers of other groups (which are Christians, Atheists, Jews, Hebrew Israelites, Marxists, Vegans, LGBTQI activists and miscellaneous political/conspiracy theorists). Islamic Da’ists have the biggest internet presence, with some missionaries getting more than 300k subscribers on their channels. In principle, what they are doing is perfectly lawful.
However, let’s pause to consider the religion the large Da’wah team is there to defend. This is a religion whose founder ordered critics of it to be assassinated (Life of Muhammad, Guillaume trans. (p675-676), whose God’s vision of sucesss is an earthly kingdom, a caliphate, (Sura 24:55) where believers live in complete accordance with sharia law (Sura 4:59), and where the violent subjugation of non-believers is prescribed (Sura 9:29). Unlike in the Bible, where God loved us before we loved him (1 John 4:19), came into the world to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15), Allah has no love for transgressors (Sura 5:37.) The Bible constrains Christians, like Jesus, to turn the other cheek (Matt 5:39), not repay evil for evil (Romans 12:17), not contend for the Gospel with the ‘weapons of the world’ (2 Cor 10:3). Muslims are not bound by these constraints.
“And prepare against them whatever you are able of power and of steeds of war by which you may terrify the enemy of Allah and your enemy and others besides them whom you do not know [but] whom Allah knows. And whatever you spend in the cause of Allah will be fully repaid to you, and you will not be wronged.” (Sura 8:60)
“O you who have believed, fight those adjacent to you of the disbelievers and let them find in you harshness. And know that Allah is with the righteous.” (Sura 9:23)
According to Islam, earthly success matters; and when you are unsuccessful in debate – as is the case with missionaries’ inability to answer the question ‘who is Allah praying to?’ -it is in keeping with Islamic teaching to resort to other means of asserting dominance. Muhammad after all, claimed he had been made victorious “through terror” (Bukhari 4:52:220).
Over the past few of weeks, we’ve been surrounded by crowds, every attempt at sensible discussion being brought down by chants of “clean your arse” and “drink camel piss” Or love-filled speeches like these.Three of our team have been threatened with stabbing. There are plenty more examples of these kinds of incidents; usually we brush this off, and/or report it to the police, because we have better – so much better! – things to talk about. Last Sunday, a woman on our team was punched in the arm by a Somali man leaving the Corner. Why? For challenging Islam.
The reaction of the Dawah team? No pause for reflection on the assault let alone an apology, just more mockery:
Other groups at the Corner have noticed what’s going on too; atheists have been defending us, as well one group of Muslims have had the decency to put out a video condemning the recent behaviour of their co-religionists (warning: the video is full of profanity.) We hope they make the link with the teachings of their false prophet. As Jesus said,
“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.” (Matthew 7:15-17)
We can take the heckles and the mockery. Jesus said in Matthew 5:11,”blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. ” We are undeterred in our mission to make Him known and to expose the false religion of Islam.
But no-one should have to put up with violence for doing so. It’s wrong and it needs to stop.