Courage under fire

Saudi Arabia is not a nice place to be if you’re a Muslim looking to become a Christian.

Anyone who wants to preach the message that Islam is a religion of love and tolerance should consider the punishment dished out on anybody who wants to leave the fold.

In Christianity we call communities that shun or excommunicate those who leave cults. It’s one of the criterion a cult must meet.

According to Islamic rules – as stated in the Hadith of Bukhari, Volume 9, Book 84, Number 57, which is authoritative for all Muslims:

“Some Zanadiqa (atheists) were brought to ‘Ali and he burnt them. The news of this event, reached Ibn ‘Abbas who said, “If I had been in his place, I would not have burnt them, as Allah’s Apostle forbade it, saying, ‘Do not punish anybody with Allah’s punishment (fire).’ I would have killed them according to the statement of Allah’s Apostle, ‘Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him.’”

A Christian convert in Saudi Arabia, a young girl, wrote this poem (and posted it online) shortly before her family killed her for apostasy. Here’s an excerpt:

There are tears on my cheek, and Oh! the heart is sad
To those who become Christians, how you are so cruel!
And the Messiah says, “Blessed are the Persecuted”
And we for the sake of Christ all things bear

What is it to you that we are infidels?
You do not enter our graves, as if with us buried

Enough – your swords do not concern me, not evil nor disgrace
Your threats do not trouble me, and we are not afraid
And by God, I am unto death a Christian—Verily
I cry for what passed by, of a sad life

Talk about courage under fire.

There are three things this episode prompts me to think.

  1. I’m glad I live in a tolerant country.
  2. Atheists should be glad we live in a country with a nominally Judeo-Christian background because they have the philosophical freedom to hold their beliefs.
  3. Showing that kind of conviction is a rare thing indeed – how many of us would kill our siblings for holding contrary views – and how many of us would hold a view that would cause that sort of family reaction?

This is a more serious tone than I like to put here – but this story is just overwhelmingly sad. And this sort of insight into martyrdom is rare. This lady’s entire poem is well worth a read. Do it.

The author

Nathan runs St Eutychus. He loves Jesus. His wife. His daughter. His son. His other daughter. His dog. Coffee. And the Internet. He is the campus pastor at Creek Road South Bank, a graduate of Queensland Theological College (M. Div) and the Queensland University of Technology (B. Journ). He spent a significant portion of his pre-ministry-as-a-full-time-job life working in Public Relations, and now loves promoting Jesus in Brisbane and online. He can't believe how great it is that people pay him to talk and think about Jesus.

18 thoughts on “Courage under fire”

  1. I don’t know enough about this to comment much but I do want to say that again I think there is a problem with pulling one section out of a whole document. I’m sure there are many verses in the Bible that we could do a similar thing with without taking the message of the whole. The difference between fundamentalism and moderation I would think.

    That is all.

  2. I guess the fact that I’m talking about a family that killed their own daughter wasn’t enough to identify these people – and most of Saudi Arabia’s ruling class, and in fact any Sharia law touting groups of Muslims as fundamentalists.

    While I’m sure there are a lot of nominal Muslims who would fall into the moderate category – I don’t think I’m going over the top to suggest that the fundamental teaching of Islam is not love – but militant proclamation of their faith – and punishment for any who would turn their back on the faith.

    What’s the point of believing anything if you don’t believe its “fundamentals” and think they’re worth fighting for?

    This isn’t a small section of a document – it’s one of a list of Islamic laws that true Muslims must follow, part of the Hadith. Like I said – it’s technically authoritative for all Muslims.

    The nasty bits of the Bible tend to apply strictly to the Jewish people as markers of their position under God. Find me anything objectionable directions for Christians and we’ll continue that line of debate. If you like.

    1. There are other examples from the Hadith of how those who leave the fold should be treated:

      Volume 9, Book 84, Number 58: “Behold: There was a fettered man beside Abu Muisa. Mu’adh asked, “Who is this (man)?” Abu Muisa said, “He was a Jew and became a Muslim and then reverted back to Judaism.” Then Abu Muisa requested Mu’adh to sit down but Mu’adh said, “I will not sit down till he has been killed. This is the judgment of Allah and His Apostle (for such cases) and repeated it thrice. Then Abu Musa ordered that the man be killed, and he was killed. Abu Musa added, “Then we discussed the night prayers and one of us said, ‘I pray and sleep, and I hope that Allah will reward me for my sleep as well as for my prayers.'”

      Volume 9, Book 84, Number 64: No doubt I heard Allah’s Apostle saying, “During the last days there will appear some young foolish people who will say the best words but their faith will not go beyond their throats (i.e. they will have no faith) and will go out from (leave) their religion as an arrow goes out of the game. So, where-ever you find them, kill them, for who-ever kills them shall have reward on the Day of Resurrection.”

  3. While I’m sure there are a lot of nominal Muslims who would fall into the moderate category – I don’t think I’m going over the top to suggest that the fundamental teaching of Islam is not love – but militant proclamation of their faith – and punishment for any who would turn their back on the faith.

    Yann Martel (author) summed this up really well last year when I heard him speak. He talked about in his studies of theology and philosophy he found that he could condense the essence faiths to just one word/concept. Christianity=love. Buddhism=peace. Islam=unity.

    I don’t feel that it is fair to say that Islam is one particular thing without the experience of it – it takes many many years of study to gain a grasp of Christian theology, wouldn’t you say? Let alone another faith (especially one that is not our ‘cultural heritage’ so to speak).

    What’s the point of believing anything if you don’t believe its “fundamentals” and think they’re worth fighting for?

    I guess the reason why there are so many different ‘brands’ of Christianity is because people disagree on what the fundamentals are. I don’t know that Islam would be any different.

    And when I say fundamentalist, you know what I mean (stop being like Tim). I mean a hardline-extremist/everyone-else-is-wrong approach.

    There are moderates and extremists in every single religion – quite frankly any form of religious extremism (fundamentalism) is scary. Whether it be Christian or Muslim.

    1. Also – I’d say most Christian division is not based on fundamentals – but on what secondary issues should be added to the fundamentals – if you don’t believe in the historical Jesus Christ, his lordship, death, and resurrection then I’d say you’re actually not a Christian. Most denominational schisms are over sub issues like baptism and liturgy.

  4. I’m just not entirely sure what your objection to the post is?

    It’s about a girl killed by her family for converting to a different religion. It’s heinous. And completely “by the book”…

  5. I’m just not entirely sure what your objection to the post is?

    It’s about a girl killed by her family for converting to a different religion. It’s heinous. And completely “by the book”…

    I don’t object the post for the most part. Obviously the idea that you are entitled to kill someone for leaving the fold is extremely heinous.

    My issue is the idea that you can judge an entire religion by the actions of some extremes.

    Also – I’d say most Christian division is not based on fundamentals – but on what secondary issues should be added to the fundamentals – if you don’t believe in the historical Jesus Christ, his lordship, death, and resurrection then I’d say you’re actually not a Christian. Most denominational schisms are over sub issues like baptism and liturgy.

    My point with bringing this up was to point out that pulling a verse out of the Koran and saying this is an authoratative text is like someone who is not familiar with Christianity pulling a Bible verse out that says a particular thing, and claiming that as the Bible is an authoratative text that all Christians must follow what it says. That is all.

    I would guess like Christianity with the basic tenent of Jesus Christ and the Resurrection, Islam would have core beliefs about the existence of the prophet. Not necessarily about the verse you mention.

  6. I mention all this as the other day Tim and I were at a comedy show where one item was a song all about ‘what Christians believe’ including that we think it is okay to sacrifice children, etc etc etc. He could pull out Bible verses to ‘prove’ what he was saying. As a Christian this was really offensive to me – someone who hasn’t actually investigated a faith and understood what it is about making assumptions as to the beliefs of ALL Christians based on his understanding of the Bible and traditions surrounding the church.

    So I am sure many Muslims would be very upset for an ‘outsider’ to make assumptions about a religion based on the same.

  7. I agree. Context is king. Which is why I gave the context – this passage is part of the Hadith. I know that links to wikipedia are less convincing than peer reviewed journals – but I have spoken to enough Christian missionaries who have worked in “closed Islamic countries”, and read enough books (and parts of the Qu’ran) to have formed the view that this is a teaching that most Muslims around the world would adhere to.

    I know there are moderate Muslims and nominal Muslims – but as far as people who actually adhere to the book go – this sort of practice is not frowned upon. It does them no favours as a PR exercise either.

  8. You’re a wuss Timothy!

    Also, I would think that perhaps Christian missionaries are not the most unbiased sources for information on another religion. Just a thought.

    I am just against generalisations of any kind (even that one). And I think the world has enough religious intolerance already.

    So saying, I am so very very happy (like you) to be living in this country. The more you learn, the more of a blessing you realise it is.

  9. They are more likely to have had first hand experience with the “darker” side of Islam than anybody else.

    1. What’s the good? Really? I’m curious as to what you think the good is…

      I don’t see much. Given that essentially I believe anyone who’s not a Christian is destined to hell – teaching people something that’s wrong is a bad thing to do.
      And there’s so much that needs to be excused on the basis of “culture” from a complete contextual reading of the Qu’ran – read in context (like killing apostates).

      I’m happy not excusing anything in the Bible provided it’s read in context as a whole – not cultural context – but an understanding of how the Bible fits together. I’d consider myself a moderate fundamentalist – because I think the standards in the Bible are to be applied to Christians – not to the whole world.

  10. Will research the good for you. Like I said, I don’t know much about it.

    …teaching people something that’s wrong is a bad thing to do.
    But again, who decides what is bad? For me, for example, I think it is very wrong to teach creationism in science classrooms, but for some Christians that would be very right.

  11. Amy – context.

    There is nothing in the bible that advocates killing people simply for not believing the same way we do.

    This killing is not “extremist” like you suggested. Read the Koran for yourself. If someone claims to be Jewish, Christian, or Muslim, and does not adhere to the teachings of their holy book, you could call them a “lukewarm” Jew/Christian/Muslim at best. If you got a Christian who fully lived out what the Bible teaches, you’d get someone like Nathan. (Or rather, someone who TRIES to fully live out what the Bible teaches. We are not perfect, and so we fail at this :P). If you get someone who fully lives out what the Koran teaches, you’d get Osaama bin Laden. You can’t judge a religion by the people who adhere to it, you have to judge the religion on its own merits, and the only way to discover what they are is to read its holy book.

    You get people who call themselves Christians and do ghastly things that the bible clearly condemns. You get people who call themselves Muslims and do ghastly things that the Koran condemns. BUT you get Muslims doing ghastly things that the Koran encourages, too. You won’t find anything like that in the bible. And anyone who tries to point to an Old Testament passage clearly has not understood the context. Richard Dawkins has tried that and made himself look like a right fool.

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