Stephen St.Clair’s Suggestions for LDS Interactions with People in the Middle East and their Descendants and Followers in the United States and Orange County
Based on my work in Interfaith Relations for Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and my own studies for many years, my approach to people and groups in the middle east and their co-believers living in the United States and the west will be, IN THIS SEQUENCE:
1. New Muslim-Background Christians in Islamic Societies and the West
New Christians converted from Islam are becoming a common phenomenon in the Muslim world. Islamic estimates are that they are happening at about 6 million conversions per year, and are of great worry to Muslim officials in Saudi Arabia. There are approximately 3 million new Christians in Iran, a million or more in half-a-dozen countries, and even 100,000 in Saudi Arabia. Many have been converted by seeing visions or having dreams of Jesus Christ. Many are in small Charismatic house churches, in countries in which they would be persecuted or killed if they were known.
- See the September 2008 article in Christianity Today: Looking for Home: Muslim-background believers in the U.S. struggle to find Christian community
- See the November 2007 article in Christianity Today : Why Muslims Follow Jesus: The results of a recent survey of converts from Islam
- See the 2007 report by Michael Ireland of the Assist News Service (headquartered in Lake Forest, California): Persecution Harder Among Muslims Who Convert to Christianity, But Saved Souls Bring Great Joy to Believers
- See on my blog the relevant sections of Joel Rosenberg’s 2009 non-fiction book: Inside the Revolution: Muslim Converts to Christianity in the Muslim World.
As a Latter-day Saint Christian (not a member of a fourth Abrahamic religion), I celebrate this, and will support the new Christians of Muslim origin, and their success. I believe that this will solve the LDS Leadership’s dilemma of how to proceed in the Muslim world. In all the countries of the global south, the Latter-day Saints thrive and grow as Charismatic Christianity thrives.
2. Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Christians in the Middle East and the West
We need to support the original Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Christians, and support their growth in their middle-eastern homelands and in their new places of residence in the west. From many years of genocide and persecution at the hands of the Islamic population in their homeland, many of them have left their homelands and are living by the millions in the West (particularly the U.S.) They know that, if the United States becomes secular like Europe, and then Islamized as is happening in Europe, they have no where else to go.
Middle-Eastern Catholic Scholar Samir Khalil Samir on Islam’s Problems and Solutions
Dr. Samir was born to an Eastern Catholic family in Egypt; educated in France; a Jesuit (a member of the scholarly Society of Jesus); founder and director of a leading academic center on Eastern Christianity, St. Joseph’s University in Beirut, Lebanon; a world expert on the Arabic language and Islam; the advisor to Pope Benedict XVI on the subject is Islam; author of the book 111 Questions on Islam: Samir Khalil Samir on Islam and the West , and an Advisory Board member for Daniel Peterson’s Eastern Christian Texts Initiative at Brigham Young University. He understands Islam’s challenges as well as anyone alive; and also how Western civilization and Eastern Christianity can be crucial components in solving them.
- Time Magazine recently referred to him as “The Jesuit Who Inspired the Pope’s Ideas on Islam.”
- Read virtually all of his book 111 Questions on Islam in Chapter-sized posts on my blog at the links below:
- Other invaluable articles by Dr. Samir:
Historical and ongoing persecution, marginalization, and genocide against Middle-Eastern Christians
- See an article from the Philadelphia Bulletin, Christian Plight in the Middle East.
- See excerpts from the book by Phillip Jenkins, The Lost History of Christianity: The Thousand-Year Golden Age of the Church in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia & How it Died .
- See an article by one of the persecuted Lebanese Christians, Walid Phares, Middle East Christians: The Captive Nations
3. Jewish People in Israel and Around the World
The Jewish people were the foundations from which Christianity sprang, including providing more than half of the Christian Bible. They are also part of the Judeo-Christian culture from which Western Civilization resulted, and the ones to whom Orson Hyde’s prayer of dedication promised some part of the Holy Land. My favorite classes as a BYU undergraduate were Biblical Hebrew and graduate seminars on the Old Testament by Kent Brown. My five years of graduate work at Claremont Graduate School was in Old Testament and Early Judaism, including a year of Hebrew and a course in Aramaic. 90% of my library consists of books in the Jewish tradition, including the Mishnah, the Talmud, and as many midrashic works and books of Jewish Liturgy, inter-testamental literature, Jewish spirituality and Jewish mysticism as at the Hebrew Union College Library. I have very close relationships with Jewish academics and Jewish congregational leaders. If that makes me a classic Latter-day Saint Judeophile, I am. Any suggestion of antisemitism or Judeophobia or Israelophobia will cause a strong counter-reaction; and I sometimes encounter it among academic and LDS Islamophiles. The Jewish people’s historical and current persecution by Islamists has been staggering. So I will support the Jewish people in Israel and wherever they are.
- See the original of Orson Hyde’s dedication of the land of Israel for the return of the Jews, .
- See excerpts from the book The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism: Anti-Semitism in the Hadith / Andrew G Bostom, Ed.
4 . Mystical Islam, Sufi
“Sufism is an open, intellectual interpretation of Islam. Here is an entirely indigenous and homegrown Islamic resistance movement to fundamentalism, with deep roots in South Asian culture. Its importance cannot be overestimated. Could it have a political effect in a country still dominated by military forces that continue to fund and train jihadi groups? It is one of the few sources of hope left in the increasingly bleak political landscape” (RAND Corporation Report)
We should support followers of the mystical branch of Islam, the Sufi’s; many of their followers in the west are exploring forms of this ancient practice that are true to Islam but compatible with democracy and pluralism. They are under frequent persecution in radically-oriented states such as Iran, Saudi Arabia, Muslim India, and Egypt.
- See the article “Sufi Persecution Page” .
5. Bahai’, a Post-Radical Form of Shi’a Islam
We should support Bahai’ism, which originated from a Shi’a background in Iran and offers a post-fundamentalist interpretation of religious pluralism, compatibility with science, and compatibility with democracy. They are also under extreme persecution in Iran and Egypt. Their safest haven in the Middle East is .. You guessed it … Israel.
- Read the article Persecution: In Iran, Baha’is have been challenged and blocked since the founding of their faith.
6. Islamic Reformers in the Middle East
We should support the Islamic Reformers in the middle east, and advance them in every way. Reformers among the leaders of Sunni and Christian leaders in Lebanon, Kurdish leaders in Iraq, and moderate leaders in Jordan, and Morocco, are trying to build a form of Islam that can co-exist with the modern world There are also numbers of reformers among the more highly-educated in many Muslim countries.
- See Chapter 14 of Joel Rosenberg’s book “Inside the Revolution”: Islam is the Answer, But JIHAD is Not the Way; Who are the Reformers, and what do they want?
7. Islamic Reformers in the United States and Europe
- See the 2004 list by Daniel Pipes on his blog: Identifying Moderate Muslims
- See the list of Arab and Muslim Voices of Moderation on the “Broader View” Website.
- See the listed sponsors of this advertisement against C.A.I.R. and the other organizations: American Muslims Commend FBI for their Rejection of CAIR .
We should support the Islamic reformers in the United States and Europe. There are genuine reformers trying to build forms of Islam that can flourish in the west and be compatible with democracy and pluralism. They are frequently marginalized by radically-backed elements who have taken control of much of Islamic leadership here. They include the following and many more:
- Dr. Ali A. Allawi, a senior visiting fellow at Princeton University. He has just been named one of the first two Gebran G. Tueni human-rights fellows at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. His latest book, The Crisis of Islamic Civilization, was published in March by Yale University Press. see his article Islamic Civilization in Peril.
- Dr. Tawfik Hamid, Director of the Islamic Society for Liberty and Modernity; Senior Fellow at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies; and President of the Global Movement Against Radical Islam. Dr. Hamid is the author of Inside Jihad: Understanding and Confronting Radical Islam. With his intense knowledge of the Arabic language and his deep understanding of all the holy texts of Islam, Dr. Hamid provides a fresh and theologically valid peaceful interpretation of the Quran to counterbalance the radical teaching.
- Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, Chairman, Board of Directors, American Islamic Forum for Democracy, Phoenix, Arizona. Dr. Jasser is the narrator on the movie The Third Jihad and makes frequent appearances on The Glenn Beck Show, among many other news organizations. Being on his website’s e-mail list is the best way to keep informed on the day-to-day progress of reformers and problems with Islamists in the U.S. He has just instituted a Youtube channel for excellent video content. YouTube Channel- AIFDtv.
- Sheik Dr. Ahmed Subhy Mansour, President, International Quranic Center , Virginia. President of the Free Muslims Coalition His description of Islam: “We find Islam has the same values as the West: freedom, unlimited freedom of speech, justice, equality, loving, humanity, tolerance, mercy, everything. This is our version of Islam, and we argue that this is the core of Islam according to the Koran.”
- Dr. Abdulaziz Sachedina, core member of the Islamic Roots of Democratic Pluralism Project in the CSIS (Center for Strategic and International Studies) Preventive Diplomacy Program and a key contributor to the program’s efforts to link religion to universal human needs and values in the service of peace-building. He serves on the board of the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy. Currently, Dr. Sachedina is the Frances Myers Ball Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Virginia.
- Dr. Reza Aslan, Iranian-American Shiite author and scholar of religions, Aslan is the author of No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam and How to Win a Cosmic War: Why We’re Losing the War on Terror. He is “one of the top spokespersons for progressive Islam in America” and a strong advocate of Islamic reformation. He now lives in Los Angeles where he is Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at the University of California, Riverside.
- Dr. Azar Nafisi, visiting Fellow and lecturer at the Foreign Policy Institute of Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies Johns Hopkins University; Baltimore, MD; Contributor, Middle East Forum
- Dr. Ahmed al-Rahim, Lecturer Emeritus in classical Arabic language and literature, Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies, Harvard University, Boston
- Dr. Khaleel Mohammed, Assistant Professor at the Department of Religious Studies at San Diego State University; Director, American Islamic Congress; Advisory Council, Intelligence Summit Co-founder, Center for Islamic Pluralism
- Dr. Mohammad Talib, Fellow in Anthropology of Muslim Societies and Islamic Centre Lecturer, Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies, Oxford University, UK
- Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl, Omar and Azmeralda Alfi Distinguished Professor in Islamic Law at the UCLA School of Law; author of the book The Great Theft: Wrestling Islam from the Extremists,
- Dr. Bassam Tibi, Professor for International Relations, Center for International Affairs, Göttingen University, Germany
- Sheik Dr. Muhammad Hisham Kabbani, Sufi Master, chairman of the Islamic Supreme Council of America
- Dr. Kemal Silay, Professor of Central Eurasian Studies; Ottoman and Modern Turkish Studies Chair Professor; Director, Turkish Studies Program, Indiana University, Bloomington; President, Center for Islamic Pluralism
- Supna Zaidi, Assistant Director, Islamist Watch
- Imaad Malik, Fellow, Center for Islamic Pluralism ; founder of the Islamic Millennium Foundation, an independent nonprofit public policy organization in Washington, DC
- Khalim Massoud, President, Muslims Against Sharia
- Kiran Sayyed, Council for Democracy and Tolerance and Muslim World Today
- Stephen Suleyman Schwartz, Executive Director, Center for Islamic Pluralism
- Dr. Jalal Zuberi, Southern U.S. Director, Center for Islamic Pluralism
8. Proxies for Islamic Radicals in the United States
- American Muslims for Palestine
- The Islamic Society of North America,
- The Muslim Students Association
- See Chapter 5 of Robert Spencer’s book “Stealth Jihad”; The Face of Islamic Moderation? CAIR, MPAC, and Other “Moderate” Muslim Groups
- See the carefully-detailed 2008 study (including court and FBI testimony) at the Strategy Center website: Extremism and the Council for American-Islamic Relations (C.A.I.R.)
- See the speech by Congressional Committee Ranking Member Frank Wolf on the “Human Events” magazine site; Who Is CAIR?
- See the advertisement against C.A.I.R. and the other organizations by real Islamic Reformers; Muslim Coalition Supports FBI Freeze of CAIR.
- See information about the lawsuit accusing C.A.I.R. of massive fraud against indigent members of the Islamic Community; CAIR sued! “The evidence has long suggested that CAIR is a criminal organization set up by the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas to further its aims of stealth Jihad in the U.S.”
- See the article about the problems of assuming that I.S.N.A. should replace C.A.I.R. as an organization representing moderate Muslims. New Disclosures Tighten ISNA-Muslim Brotherhood Bonds.
Mosques and Islamic Centers funded by and thus infected by Wahhabi Money from Saudi Arabia (80%, according to a Muslim Brotherhood spokesperson)
- See an article about the extent of Wahhabi influence in Mosques and Islamic Centers, Higher Education, and the prison systems on the Stephen Silverberg website at this link: The Wahhabi Invasion of America.
Islamic and Middle-Eastern Studies Centers and Chairs at many Institutions of Higher Learning in the U.S. funded by billions of dollars of Saudi-Arabian money
- See Chapter 9 of Robert Spencer’s “Stealth Jihad”, Education or Indoctrination? The Islamic Ideological Straitjacket in American Universities
- See the article about this trend on Campus Watch :The Fifth Column on Middle East studies, Title VI, Saudi funding
Hizb ut-Tahrir, Anaheim, California
- See the article in the Terrorism Monitor magazine, 2007: Hizb-ut-Tahrir’s Activities in the United States
- See the article in the Orange County Register: California grocer – trustee of the Islamic Center of Orange County – scrutinised for ties to Hizb ut Tahrir
The Islamic Educational Center of Orange County, in Irvine, California
- Reformist Muslims call this “the leading pro-Iranian radical Muslim element in America”: American Muslims Commend FBI for their Rejection of CAIR
Problems with Islam in History and in Our Time as recognized by eminent scholars
BYU Professor Daniel Peterson’s Opinions on the problems of Islam
BYU Professor of Islamic Studies Dr. Daniel Peterson works to build bridges with Muslims. But he also recognizes serious problems in Islam’s history and present that cannot be swept under the rug.
- Read his candid address to the BYU International Club: Sources of Tension between the West and the Islamic World .
- Read his highly-favorable opinion on the writings of anti-islamist writers Daniel Pipes and Bernard Lewis.
- Watch on YouTube his debate with Robert Spencer: Islam: Threat or Not? which Robert described as “boring because we agreed on almost everything.”
- Dr. Peterson describes himself as having been a reader of National Review since he was very young,and his favoring of the American interventions in Iraq and Afganistan.
Opinions of the “New Atheists” on the Problems of Islam
Proponents of the “New Atheism” are hard on Christianity, but much harder on Islam. The “Islamic Insights” website describes it in these words: “This brings us to the second major innovation of the new atheism: its opposition to Islam. Atheism is a rejection of all religion, or at least of all theistic religion, and since Islam is usually considered a theistic religion, atheism is in principle opposed to it. However, as a phenomenon with its roots in Europe, atheism has in the past concentrated its opposition to religion on Christianity. The new atheism, by contrast, emphasizes Islam as a particularly virulent form of religion that must be opposed. Often, the new atheists claim that because of the events of 9/11, they feel compelled to take a strong stand against religion in general and Islam in particular.”
- Read an article in the Los Angeles Times by Liberal Atheist Sam Harris, The End of Liberalism? Head-in-the-Sand Liberals: Western civilization really is at risk from Muslim extremists
- Read an article in the City Journal by Liberal Atheist Christopher Hitchens, Facing the Islamist Menace: Mark Steyn’s new book is a welcome wake-up call .
- Read an article in the Herald U.K. by Liberal Atheist Richard Dawkins, Europe is a haven of civilization trapped between Islam and US . He notes that the possible growth in Islam while Christianity declines would be a “poor exchange”.
Steve’s suggested changes in Interacting with Middle-Easterners and their descendants in the U.S. and Southern California
- I have acquired a copy of Samir Khalil Samir’s Book 111 Questions on Islam, as well as a copy of Robert Spencer’s book “Stealth Jihad” and a copy of the DVD “The Third Jihad” for each of you that wishes to have one. I will hand-deliver them, and I will meet with any or all of you over lunch or in a meeting to discuss my concerns.
- I suggest that we identify Muslim-background believers in Jesus Christ in Southern California, and strengthen their faith in Jesus Christ and help them adapt to Christianity and life in the West. Some possible southern California contacts would include:
- Pastor Sohrab Ramtin – Iranian Christian Church of San Diego, Mission Valley Chapel, 6964 Mission Gorge Road, San Diego, CA 92120; (619) 583-8295
- Pastor Payame Aramesh – Iranian Christian Message of Peace; P.O. Box 3239 Tustin, CA 92781; (949) 707-0200;e-mail KeshishHamid@yahoo.com
- Pastor Afshin Pour-Reza – Good News Persian Church; Worship Service: Sundays 4:00 PM; Bible Study and Prayer: Fridays 7:30 – 9:30 PM; 17101 Armstrong; Irvine, CA 92614; (949) 768-3181; Sermons by Pastor Afshin
- Philadelphia Persian Church; Worship Service Sundays at 4:00 pm; 3000 W. MacArthur, Suite 150; Santa Ana, California 92704; (949) 955-1777
- Pastor Azim Shariat – Persian Church Love Assembly (meets at the Covenant Presbyterian Church); Worship Service: Sundays at 6:00 PM; 1855 Orange-Olive Road, Orange, California 92865; Mailing Address: P.O..Box 7313 Orange, CA 92863; (714) 777-1212
- I suggest that we continue to identify and build relationships with Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Christians. When their interests and success are threatened or harmed by those of Islamists, as they frequently are, we should take their part. Some possible southern California contacts would include:
- Archpriest George Morelli, Ph.D., Assistant Pastor at the St George Antiochian Church in San Diego, who is also Chairman, Department of Chaplain and Pastoral Counseling (one of the seven departments for Antiochian Orthodoxy nationwide) with offices in Carlsbad; he is also the California chapter president of the Society of Saint John Chrysostom,; e-mail email@example.com
- Mounir Bishay, President of the Los Angeles based Christian Copts of California as well as Vice-President, American Middle-Eastern Christian Association (AMCA), Southern California (the Public Affairs organization for all the Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches); 1407 Foothill Boulevard # 235, La Verne, California 91750, Telephone (909) 392-1111: http://www.middleeasternchristian.org/ ; e-mail Mounir.Bishay@sbcglobal.net
- Dr. John Mark Reynolds, Professor of Philosophy at Biola University who is a member of many years of an Antiochian Orthodox Church, St. Michael’s Antiochian Orthodox this Church in Whittier. His father is Subdeacon Elias Reynolds. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
- I suggest that we work to identify and spend most of our time interacting with Muslims with a true reformist approach that will co-exist with modernity, pluralism, and democracy. Some possible Southern California contacts would be:
- Dr. Reza Aslan, Iranian-American Shiite author and scholar of religions, Aslan is the author of No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam and How to Win a Cosmic War: Why We’re Losing the War on Terror. He is “one of the top spokespersons for progressive Islam in America” and a strong advocate of Islamic reformation. He now lives in Los Angeles where he is Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at the University of California, Riverside; e-mail email@example.com
- Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl is one of the world’s leading authorities on Islamic law and Islam, and a prominent scholar in the field of human rights. He is the Omar and Azmeralda Alfi Distinguished Professor in Islamic Law at the UCLA School of Law where he teaches International Human Rights, Islamic Jurisprudence, National Security Law, Law and Terrorism, Islam and Human Rights, Political Asylum and Political Crimes and Legal Systems. His book, The Great Theft: Wrestling Islam from the Extremists, was the first work to delineate the key differences between moderate and extremist Muslims. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- I suggest that we phase out continuing interactions with C.A.I.R. and the local organizations that are made up of predominantly C.A.I.R. supporters; and avoid future contacts with people and groups associated with Hizb ut-Tahrir in Anaheim and the Islamic Educational Center of Orange County, in Irvine, California.
- I am aware that the Muslim Student Association at U.C .Irvine makes life miserable for the Jewish students there. I plan on throwing light on their unpleasant and unkind activities.