|Western Ideals are weak in the face of Islamic Ideology|
Tomorrow Britain goes to the polls to vote on whether they will remain in the European Union. There are many political and social issues turning up the temperature in this high stakes experiment in democracy. One of those issues is immigration – and particularly the immigration of those coming from an Islamic culture. Those who generally oppose further immigration of migrants are often accused – rightly or wrongly – of xenophobia. The ones who oppose Islamic immigration in particular are oft accused of ‘Islamophobia’.
CS. Lewis once talked about how a word dies. ‘Verbicide’ is the term he used for the murder of a word through excessive and misuse. ‘Islamaphobia’ has become one of those words and trying to have a discussion on it in modern culture has all the loaded tension of telling ‘yo mama’ jokes in old western saloon. The problem is that in using the word we rarely make the clear distinction on whether we are talking about Islamic ideology or Muslim individuals. We live in a culture where tongues are sharp – but not minds. It can be dangerous trying to find the path of sanity in the midst of such a conversational minefield. Often those who speak on the issue of Islamification are shouted down as bigots before they can even begin articulating their line of reasoning - be it good or bad.
Free speech… that was sooooo 20th century.
Before the intoleristas start taking shots at me for daring to pose such a question, may I simply ask: Is there an Islamic country – by history and majority culture – that has freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and freedom of religion? There are many Islamic countries – I have spent time in some of them myself - but I’ve yet to see one that has anywhere the level of personal liberty that Westerners are currently blessed with. Even Egypt – which many regard as one of the more Westernised Islamic countries – arrested a group of six yesterday for holding an unregistered prayer meeting in someone’s home. (Here)
For those interested in preserving Western values, it is understandable that they want to try and limit Islamic influence. Sadly, a desire to resist Islamic ideology is often misdirected at refugees who themselves are seeking asylum from countries that embrace Islamic ideology.
But as a Christian, I am not particularly interested in a wholesale protection of Western values. Countries like USA and UK are only temporary organisations and excessive patriotism is a distraction from the real battle – the battle for the hearts of mankind. The American Bill of Rights and the British Magna Carta will one day turn to dust. But people – from the well-off bank CEO in London to a refugee floating to an overcrowded raft in the Mediterranean – will last forever.
In addition to knowing Muslims, I’ve also been blessed to know many ex-Muslims. I think of the Afghan I met who became a Christian – only to see his wife and kids murdered before his eyes in an Islamic ‘honour’ killing. I think of the Iranian who – upon being discovered with a Bible hidden in his room – was thrown of the family and cut off from his community. He had to flee Iran to save his own life. Following Jesus cost them everything. None of these former Muslims have any rosy-cheeked, naïve ideals about what Islam - in its pure, undiluted form - really is. The ex-Muslims I know hate Islam because it blinded them from knowing Jesus – and the forgiveness he brings. (Western secularism can do the same thing).
This is why I hate Islam. I hate Islam because I have Muslim friends that I love and pray for. Is loving Muslims but hating Islam ‘Islamophobia’? Or is modern liberalism too impatient to appreciate the distinction between a person and the ideology that holds the person?
When calmly considered, Islam may genuinely be a threat to some Western values. Politcal nationalism and the unloving treatment of individual Muslims may make sense if you're a patriotic secularist - but not if you're a Christian.
If you’re a Christian who’s particularly drawn to politics - be careful what you fight for. From a certain strand of the Brexit supporters (not all) on one side of the Atlantic to some of the Trumpkins (not all) on the other side, I am hearing a call to protect Western culture. ‘British Sovereignty!’ and ‘Make America Great Again’. National politics can be seductive. You are called to fight for something much higher. You are not called to fight against secularists, atheists or Muslims. You are called to fight for them – fight in prayer, love, hospitality, and in the humble sharing of who Jesus is.