As an idealistic 21 year-old, I decided that I was going to transform NYC. How? I was going to greet every passerby with a “Hello” and a smile. Why not! I wanted our city to be a friendlier, more humane place, and I felt uplifted that it was I who had the courage to champion this great cause.
I commenced my crusade at Riverside Park, where there was no shortage of people to greet. After several hours, I sat down on a park bench. Shortly afterwards, an older male sat down next to me. I recognized him as one who I had greeted. After several jokes, he invited me to walk up to Broadway to have a beer with him. Although I felt uncomfortable about this encounter, I couldn’t back away from my cause. Already, I had too much invested. Besides, I was the one who had initiated the contact.
He walked so quickly up to Broadway, I could barely keep up with him. When I did reach him, he had already emerged from the grocery with a six-pack. He then insisted in returning to the park, but it had already become dark. Since he had already paid for the six-pack, and I was still on my crusade to change the city, albeit more reluctantly, I followed him, even into the bushes of the darkened park.
In the midst of the bushes, he began to move closer to me. I had intended to drink one beer with him, fulfill my social ideal, and then hastily move on. However, his trajectory would now allow for this. I didn’t want to hurt his feelings – certainly not in light of my idealistic intentions – so I would force him to reject me. I therefore invented an elaborate lie to make myself utterly odious to him, and it succeeded, allowing me time to casually escape, without violating my “idealism.”
It later became painfully apparent to me that my other-centered vision had been built on false premises. For one thing, I lacked the resources to be able to pull it off. More importantly, I had mistakenly thought that if I showed kindness to others, they would show kindness to me and to others.
Sometimes, this is a good strategy, but sometimes, it is not. Neville Chamberlain had thought that the strategy of kindness would work with Adolf Hitler, but he didn’t understand him, and this proved costly.
Why wasn’t I able to modify my strategy or methodology once I had encountered a man who wouldn’t reciprocate in kind – one who wanted to use me for his own benefit? I was too committed to my ideal. I even liked being committed to it. Perhaps Chamberlain had been too committed to his ideal of peace, even after it became obvious that peace was out of reach, when it came to a Hitler. Hadn’t he read Mein Kampf?
Wisdom requires flexibility both in ideal and in action. Instead, I had been strong in commitment and idealism but weak in seeing things accurately and making the necessary adjustments.
Having seen these weaknesses in myself, I can also see them in others. I see these same tendencies among Western ideologues who have committed themselves to the ideal of an international community of brethren. We talk about interfaith dialogues, trying to find sturdy commonalities among the various religions upon which we can build bridges of friendship and cooperation.
While this is a wonderful ideal, perhaps we are once again playing Chamberlain to a Hitler. Perhaps our ideal is ill-fated because we have failed to understand the various players. Perhaps we are making the same mistake that I had made – that kindness will be reciprocated to kindness.
When I speak about the Islamic commitment to world domination and a worldwide Caliphate, people often respond, “You probably don’t have any Muslim friends,” suggesting that, if I did, I wouldn’t have these opinions. I respond that Muslims can be very nice people. I have known several who have assured me that Islam is a peaceful religion, and their own conduct has seemed to affirm their assurances.
However, I also know what the Koran and the Sayings of Muhammad teach, and there is little peaceful about them. In fact, the Koran even warns Muslims that they cannot be friends with non-Muslims:
- [Surah 3:27] “Let not the believers take the disbelievers for friends rather than believers. And whoever does this has no connection with Allah unless it is done [deceptively] to guard yourselves against them, guarding carefully.
- [5:54] O ye who believe, take not the Jews and the Christians for your friends and protectors. They are but friends and protectors to each other.
- [60:1] “O you who believe! Take not My enemies and your enemies (i.e. disbelievers and polytheists) as friends, showing affection towards them, while they have disbelieved in what has come to you of the truth”
- [60:4] “Indeed there has been an excellent example for you in Ibraaheem [Abraham] and those with him, when they said to their people: ‘Verily, we are free from you and whatever you worship besides Allaah, we have rejected you, and there has started between us and you, hostility and hatred for ever until you believe in Allaah Alone’”
How do Muslims understand these verses? This is an important question simply because when you cite surah to a Muslim that disagrees with his position, he will tell you that you have to understand the historical context before you can understand the surah. Therefore, I like to also consult Islamic commentators who write to other Muslims, not just us naïve Westerners. One commentator writes (www.koranqa.com; fatwa 59879):
- “Undoubtedly the Muslim is obliged to hate the enemies of Allaah and to disavow them, because this is the way of the Messengers and their followers.
- “Based on this, it is not permissible for a Muslim to feel any love in his heart towards the enemies of Allaah who are in fact his enemies too.”
- “But if a Muslim treats them with kindness and gentleness in the hope that they will become Muslim and will believe, there is nothing wrong with that, because it comes under the heading of opening their hearts to Islam. But if he despairs of them becoming Muslim, then he should treat them accordingly.”
Islamic friendship-deception is part of a larger practice known as Taqiyya, which authorizes Muslims to deceive non-Muslims for the sake of advancing Islam.
Knowing this, how then do we relate to Muslims? As a Christian, I must receive the Muslim in love, in hope of showing him a better way. His mind has been taken captive by the Devil to do his will (Eph. 6:12). However, we have a responsibility to him to help him see the light:
- And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will. (2 Timothy 2:24-26)
This suggests that we should be willing to embrace our Muslim neighbors with real kindness. However, this doesn’t mean that we are to give the Muslim a platform so that he can spread his religion and take others captive. To do this would be to partake in his evil works. Sadly, this is the substance of many of our interfaith dialogues. Shouldn’t we find it strange that we are never invited into the Mosque to speak about Christianity?
What does this suggest about the possibility of welcoming Muslim refugees into our land? If they are truly Muslim, they must obey the teachings of Muhammad, which are supposed to come from Allah. What do these teachings require of a Muslim? The death of the infidel if he refuses to convert or to submit entirely to sharia law:
- (Koran Surah 8:37) “Make war on them until idolatry is no more and Allah’s religion (Islam) reigns supreme.”
- (4:5) “When the Sacred Months are over, kill those who ascribe partners [like Jesus] to God wheresoever ye find them; seize them, encompass them, and ambush them; then if they repent and observe prayer and pay the alms, let them go their way’.”
- “…kill the disbelievers wherever we find them” (2:191) and “murder them and treat them harshly” (9:123), and “Strike off the heads of the disbelievers” (8:12, cp. 8:60).
How does Islam understand these many commands to do jihad until the entire world is under the Islamic Caliphate? Ibn Khaldun, the 15th century Tunisian historian, stated:
- In the Muslim community, the holy war is a religious duty, because of the universalism of the Muslim mission and the obligation to convert everybody to Islam either by persuasion or by force... Islam is under obligation to gain power over other nations.
Knowing these things, what does Christ’s love require of me? He came to comfort the afflicted and not to unleash murderers upon the innocent. This must also be our concern. If we were to instead bring murderers and rapists into our communities, this would bring the Church into disrepute.
Immigration is also a form of Jihad:
- He who emigrates (from his home) in the Cause of Allah [Jihad], will find on earth many dwelling places and plenty to live by. And whosoever leaves his home as an emigrant unto Allah and His Messenger, and death overtakes him, his reward is then surely incumbent upon Allah. And Allah is Ever Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. And when you (Muslims) travel in the land, there is no sin on you if you shorten your Salat (prayer) if you fear that the disbelievers may attack you, verily, the disbelievers are ever unto you open enemies. (Koran 4:100-101)
How can our idealism serve to bring into our neighborhoods those who want to rape, kidnap, and kill? It must not! Idealism is essential to life and the well-being of society, but when idealism is not directed by wisdom, it either dies or becomes malignant.