‘Please can you come and help our mum? cried the two children knocking on our door on Boxing Day. Ann rushed out. Their mum had collapsed in the street. Ann put her in the recovery position, called an ambulance and calmed the children.
They were a Muslim family from Pakistan, trying to better themselves in London. When her husband tragically died and all the men went off for the funeral Ann was able to go and join the women left behind in the house and offer love and sympathy.
We used to invite them into our home at Christmas. We spoke about how Jesus mother (Miriam) is the only woman’s name mentioned in the Koran and even has a whole chapter devoted to her, an honour not given to Mohammed’s mother. They respected us as real followers of Jesus who believed the Holy book – the Bible, unlike most of the other English people they knew who didn’t seem to care about God at all.
They always told me they felt ashamed whenever there was a terrorist attack by Muslims, and they’ve had plenty of reason to do so – since 9/11 Islamic terrorists have carried out more than 24,809 deadly terror attacks. In 2014, the BBC did a thorough analysis of Islamic terror attacks occurring during the month of November. They found 664 attacks and 5,042 deaths.
The attacks in Paris, the barbaric killing of soldier Lee Rigby in Woolwich are not incidents by nominal Muslims. Groups inspired by ISIS are exporting jihadism (religious warfare) to Europe. The aim seems to be to “punish” westerners for their immoral non-Islamic way of life and to divide western opinion.
France especially is a target since the French political establishment have been calling for the “de-islamisation” of French society. The French government banned the wearing of the Islamic face-veil in public. This is all a part of a wider secularising process, which also saw attempts over Christmas to ban the displaying of the Nativity in public places.
If Britain is the place of public debate about Islam, then France is the place of action.
This is provoking the ‘clash of civilisations’, as Samuel P. Huntingdon aptly puts it, hence the attack on the weekly French newspaper Charlie Hebdo, which has a track record of criticising Muhammad, Islam and ISIS.
How should we as Christians view Muslims in the light of all this? Exactly as we viewed our Muslim neighbour – they are members of the same race as we are, the human race.
The extremist groups such as Al-Qaeda, (which means ‘the platform’), the Taliban (‘the students’), Al-Shabab (the ‘next generation’), Boko Haram (‘against the west’), and ISIS (‘the Caliphate’, or Islamic State), are well known to be little more than power crazy people with a literalist interpretation of Islamic texts. They use jihad, a sexual form of holy war with the reward of unlimited sex with 72 vestal virgins, which is demonically brutal and inspired by the powers of darkness itself.
But let’s not forget how brutal Christians have been – the crusades, the transatlantic slave trade etc. Every time I drive past the Tower of London with its Bloody Tower and brutal history, I give thanks for how far our nation has come in just a few centuries.
Europe changed because we had a ‘Reformation’ of religion, followed by an ‘Enlightenment’ of reason, creating a society, still with many faults, but where millions of migrants want to live.
Including my Muslim neighbours.
A fulfilment of the promise that Jesus’ influence will draw people like moths to the light, ‘nations will come to your light’ (Isaiah 60v3).
If ever we Bible believing Christians needed to reach out with love and shine the light to ordinary Muslims who have wonderfully been drawn to our country, its now, amidst all the doom and gloom. And in our prayer times lets pray Islam will have a Reformation like Christianity did. They sure need it.