Entries tagged with “Islam”.


Ramadan began over the weekend.

A few years ago I wrote this post explaining a little about Ramadan.  The more we’ve been engaging with our Somali/Muslim neighbors the more we have learned the importance of Ramadan.   The 30  day celebration is most known for its daytime fasting ritual but there is a lot more depth to it.

I really liked the below message from President Obama delivered on the eve of Ramadan.

For more information and links read this post.

From Mosque Visit

Last week we, along with the entire community, were invited to visit a mosque that is about 5 blocks from our house.  I run by this center almost every day but had never been inside.  For a variety of reasons I won’t mention the name in text but you can see their sign pictured below and in the news reports.

According to news reports well over 100 non-Muslim neighbors showed up for the opportunity to tour the Mosque, observe prayer time, eat good food, listen to a presentation, and meet some of our Somali neighbors. Unfortunately, this wasn’t a completely altruistic move on the Mosque’s part but a brazen attempt at crisis management.

From Mosque Visit

You see, in recent months this mosque has all but been accused of creating terrorists.  It is hard to really judge the facts for sure, but the FBI was convinced enough that it added the mosque’s Imam (spiritual leader) and youth director to the no-fly list and they were denied travel for haj or the pilgrimage.  There is some truth to the concern because in October a young Somali man from Minnesota traveled home to Somali and blew himself up as a suicide bomber,  (Newsweek reports) a fact that was recently confirmed by FBI Director Mueller.  The young man was a member of the mosque, although they adamantly deny helping radicalize or fund his trip to Somalia.  (A note that it is perfectly legitimate for Somalis to be traveling back and forth and many who attend this and other mosques are US citizens with no desire but to live here peacefully and obtain the American dream)

As you can imagine this created quite a bit of controversy within the Somali community as well as the broader Twin Cities metro area.  Admitted or not, this was the primary reason for the mosque opening its doors, inviting everyone inside (including the FBI Director).  They wanted to provide answers about Islam, their local teachings, and to build some community trust.

We embraced this opportunity to see the mosque and to meet some of our neighbors and hopefully be able to connect and begin building friendships.  Our initial reaction is mostly of disappointment and confusion.  This was a great publicity stunt and opportunity for some to learn more about Islam and to raise awareness of some of the mosque’s programs but only a few from our group really felt like we walked away from the experience with a more positive feeling about the mosque or their desire to befriend us.  My wife and I actually had a great conversation with a local business man but time will only tell if it was a superficial “hosting” experience or something more solid.

It is hard to make snap judgments and we hope and pray that our initial reactions are wrong and that this serves as a turning point for the mosque.  We would love to see it more involved in the inner-working of the neighborhood and that their continued promise of open doors would hold true.

We enjoyed our evening at the mosque and the generosity of their community.  I just wish they had made the effort long before the negative publicity had occurred.

I actually video taped the entire 30 minute presentation from mosque leaders which you can see here.  There was also a 15 minute Q&A session afterward that I captured as well.

New Results from the event:

Minneapolis Star-Tribune includes a picture of my Pastor’s wife and kids.

Pioneer Press (AP Story ran by many news sources)

WCCO Video and Print

Minnesota Public Radio

Fox 9 (video includes a clip of us!)

Twin City Daily Planet

Refugee Resettlement Watch (an ultra-conservative perspective)

MinneAfrica blog

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Ramadan is a month in the Islamic lunar calendar as well as an Islamic holy celebration.  According to the Idiots Guide to the World’s Religions:

Ramadan is … a period of religious observance, adults embark on a rigidly observed period of abstention, reflection, and purification.

An Islamic site called Submitters describes the daily tasks of Ramadan:

The daily period of fasting starts at the breaking of dawn and ends at the setting of the sun. In between — that is, during the dawn and daylight hours — Muslims  (Submitters) totally abstain from food, drink, smoking, and sex. The usual practice is to have a pre-fast meal (suhoor) before dawn and a post-fast meal (iftar) after sunset.

Within the month of Ramadan, which falls on Sept 13 – Oct 13, are many different celebrations and events. It can be divided into 3 ten day segments known as Rahmah (mercy), Maghfirah (forgiveness), and Najah (salvation).

Laylat al-Qadr is traditionally the 27th night of Ramadan and represents the anniversary of when Muhammad first was given parts of the Qur’an and also the anniversary of when the Qur’an was delivered to earth. This “Night of Power” falls on October 7 this year. The last major celebration of Ramadan is Id al-Fitr which is the feast at the end of the fast and lasts for three days! It is also a time of almsgiving.

FASTING

I always thought of Ramadan as a period of fasting and this is definitely the main part of the celebration, during the daytime. Wikipedia describes the fasting

The fast is intended to be an exacting act of deep personal worship in which Muslims seek a raised level of closeness to God. The act of fasting is said to redirect the heart away from worldly activities, its purpose being to cleanse the inner soul and free it from harm. Properly observing the fast is supposed to induce a comfortable feeling of peace and calm. It also allows Muslims to practice self-discipline, sacrifice, as well as sympathy for those who are less fortunate, intending to make Muslims more generous and charitable.

This is a different style fast than we as Christians are used to.  This is made even clearer by the Crescent Project who makes it very clear that Muslims “make up their fasts at night”, instead of completely abstaining for the 30 day period. It is important to note at this point that Islam is very much a works-based salvation instead of salvation through grace.

It is important that Muslims become aware of their need for grace. We should be praying for the millions of Muslims around the world. To get e-mailed prayer updates visit 30 Days of Prayer they also have a neat interactive site. Some specific prayer requests from the Crescent Project are:

  • Pray that God will act during the Night of Power so that people may have a revelation of Jesus.  Read some real stories about this.
  • Pray for those who are genuinely seeking the Lord’s help. may he give them the help they need. Ps 34:18
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The Million Muslim Outreach is one of several current campaigns being run by the dynamic organization Crescent Project.

About Crescent Project

Our vision is to equip the North American Christian community to sensitively share the joy of knowing Christ with their Muslim neighbors. Personal relationships between Christian and Muslim populations are often strained or non-existent because of rampant misunderstandings that lead to fear and distrust. Our goal is to overcome misunderstandings about Islam through education so that Christians take the initiative to build friendships with their Muslim neighbors. Personal relationships open the door for discussion about spiritual issues and personal beliefs.

The overall strategy is genius.  Reach the millions of Muslims who are currently in the US and when they become Christians they will take the Hope of the Gospel back to their home country with them.  Western Christians have a hard time entering restricted countries, but these new Christians are able to return home and share with their family and friends.

Getting Involved

There are actually lots of ways to get involved with the Crescent Project, depending on your time and passion. (I’m going to try and list them from easiest/shortest to longest)

  • Prayer – sign up for their bi-weekly prayer e-newsletter
  • Research/Resources – reading their books, watching a DVD, listening to podcasts, and much more.
  • Oasis Groups – join other local Christians in prayer and outreach at monthly gatherings
  • Sharing the Hope Seminars – this is a one-day introduction to Islam, Muslim cultures, and ministry tools. These are held across the country and you can request one for your area. It is also available online.
  • The Oasis Conference – this is a weekend long training program held in Indianapolis each year.  The weekend includes speakers, workshops, visiting a mosque, and much more.
  • The Sahara Challenge – a one-week intensive training session focused on bridging the gap between Christians and Muslims.  It is also a pre-requisite for the next step:
  • Short-term Trips – spend a week in a Muslim country, gaining first hand experience interacting with Muslims and practicing your new skills and information.

Of course you are able to contribute financially to the Crescent Project or any of their ministry activities. They are also looking for new churches to connect with across the country and have a monthly luncheon in Indianapolis to spread the news of the organization. 

Back to the Headline

What is the Million Muslim Outreach?

Our vision is to see that one million American Muslims hear the gospel in 2007. We want that message to come through Christians living for Jesus. We believe in the power of one:

  • 1 Christian committed to sharing the message of Jesus
  • 1 Muslim’s life changed creates a ripple effect among friends and family

    We’re working with other Christian groups and churches to make this vision a reality. A Million Muslim Outreach will only be a catchy idea until you choose to act. Get involved today. Share the message of Christ with a Muslim.

  • You can purchase an outreach packet which contains resources which you can give directly to a Muslim.  The resources help a Muslim connect their beliefs about Jesus with what we as Christians believe.  The packet includes Life of the Messiah DVD, Adha in the Injeel (Sacrifice in the NT), and Is the Injeel Corrupted? (Is the NT Corrupted?).

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