Monday, January 30, 2017

January 30: Dr. Jay Adams

Please keep Dr. Jay Adams in your prayers. He is 88 today, and it was reported recently that his health has been poor.
Competent to Counselby Rev. David T. Myers
You wouldn’t think that it was so, but many theological seminaries in the past which had at their calling that of training Christian workers in the church, placed little or no emphasis on pastoral counseling.  As a result, so often ministers of the gospel went out into the church world with this gaping hole in their preparation.  This was the case with Jay E. Adams.   He had the experience of having a man approach him one Sunday in obvious distress.  Adams, by his own admission, was unable to help him.  When the individual died a month later, the young minister resolved in prayer to become a better counselor.  A lot of pastors can empathize with Jay Adams in this case.
Jay Adams was born in Baltimore, Maryland on January 30, 1929.  About fifteen years later, he was born again when a friend gave him a copy of the New Testament.  After an undergraduate degree from John Hopkins University, he earned degrees from Reformed Episcopal Seminary and Temple University.  A doctorate degree from the University of Missouri in Speech, not counseling,  as many mistakenly think, was earned later.  Adding to these educational degrees was practical experience in two congregations in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.  It was at his first congregation that the illustration of the distressed man, who  had been told that he had a short time to live, occurred on that Sunday.
All attempts from books and course studies to find some help in  counseling, failed for the young minister.  The reason was simply in that they  all originated in non-biblical approaches to the topic.  In fact, Adams began to effectively apply the Word of God to specific situations in the congregation.  That procedure began to bear fruits in people’s lives.
A turning point came in 1965 when Adams partnered with O. Hobard Mower.  Though not a believer, this person differed from all modern day psychologists by emphasizing the need to confess deviant behavior and assume responsibility for one’s actions.  In other words, the need to acknowledge their own failures to meet the problems of life was the issue.  Now Jay Adams, as a Christian, recognized that God wasn’t in the picture in this approach of Mower.  But even with that caveat, Adams watched as the majority of patients in two mental institutions were emptied by the team of counselors.
What Jay Adams did was to take the the secular methodology and put it through the sieve of biblical revelation, elevating the whole approach toward Christian counseling.  All of this was encapsulated in the best selling book, “Competent to Counsel” in 1970.  Readers were reminded of the Bible verse “And concerning you, my brethren, I myself also am convinced that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, and able also to admonish one another.” (Romans 15:14 NASV)  And the modern Biblical counseling movement, of which Jay Adams is the “father,” was on its way.
Words to Live By:
“Seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.” (2 Peter 1:3 NASV)
For further reading:
The earliest published work by Rev. Jay E. Adams that we could locate was titled “Does God Disown His Children?,” a brief exploration of the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints, which appeared in the May 1955 issue of The National Missions Reporter (vol. 8, no. 4, p. 13-14). His first major publication was Realized Millennialism, a self-published work issued from St. Louis, 87 pages in length. This was essentially a defense of the amillennial position, though it caused some controversy, as some saw it as an attack upon the premillennial position. But Dr. Adams real mark upon the world came with the 1970 publication Competent to Counsel, and it is safe to say that most know him today for his work in the field of Christian counseling, specifically for the approach which he has termed nouthetic counseling. His ministerial credentials have been with the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church since December 5, 1989.
Also on this date:
January 30, 1912 marks the birthdate of Francis A. Schaeffer. [thus making this year the 104th anniversary of his birth.]

A wee small voice of dissent concerning Trump and immigration

It seems that Trump's immigration restrictions have received near universal condemnation. I cannot vouch for the authenticity of the article below, but it has a different viewpoint. I will now duck my head beneath a newly built cyber wall :-) And I await the USA legal battles. That is one of their national sports. Personally, a blanket ban on Islam would I am sure be unconstitutional, But why not a religious test which allows non-muslims in from the six banned counties? Why not allow Middle Eastern Christians in? At least one European country has done this.

"I am not going to dwell on the legality of Trump’s statement because it is already established. Apart from the fact that the American Constitution does not give any rights to foreigners, according to the federal Immigration and Nationality Act, “Whenever the president finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he deems necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens.” 

The point I want to make is that by allowing Muslims to enter the country and granting them citizenship and naturalization the American government is violating the Constitution. 

Let us read the 45 words that constitute The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and see how not only it does not protect Islam, it actually requires its total ban. 

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances“. 

This amendment protects freedom of speech, press, religion, assembly and petition. These are inalienable rights of the citizens and it is the responsibility of the government to protect them. 
Islam is opposed to all the above. Not only no Islamic country tolerates freedom of speech and press, Muslims, even when they are a minority in a non-Muslim majority country, demand to curtail the freedom of speech of others and want the death penalty for those who criticize Islam and its inhumane teachings. 

In Iran, several members of the Bahai community are rotting in jail for the crime of assembling to discuss their religious matters and Christian pastors are jailed for preaching the Gospels to Muslims. In Saudi Arabia, Christians can be put to jail if they meet in each other’s homes to pray. Under Islam religious minorities have little rights, and sometimes they don’t even have the right to live. This is the religion Muslims want to bring to America and impose on others through terror. 

Coming to the United States is not a right of the seven billion inhabitants of this planet. It is a privilege that can be given only by the government of the United State. And the government must exert due diligence that those who enter the country pose no threat to the people and the Constitution. 

There have been dozens of terrorist attacks on the Americans by people who call themselves Muslims, resulting in thousands of death and injuries. So it is undeniable that a certain percentage of Muslims do pose a threat to the lives of Americans. 

Islam is also a belief system that opposes the American Constitution and strives to overthrow it. If a Muslim wishes to be faithful to his or her religion he must not accept the rule of non-believers (Q.9:23). 

They are ordered to “not obey the disbelievers and strive against them with the utmost strenuousness (Q. 25:52) because Muslims are made an exalted nation that they may rule over others (Q.2:143). 

Muslims are, therefore, required to “fight the unbelievers, and kill them wherever you find them until there is no more fitnah (dissension, resistance, disbelief) and until religion is for Allah” i.e. Islam and “unbelievers desist in their unbelief.” (Q. 2:191-193) 

It is clear that Islam is not just incompatible with the American Constitution, but antithetical to it and it is the duty of every Muslim to strive, with their words, wealth and body to overthrow any system of government that is not Islamic and establish the Islamic rule. 

Consequently, it is the responsibility of the US government to ban Islam altogether. The government is obliged to protect the Constitution and the lives of the Americans, not the sensitivity of a foreign group of people who wants to destroy the constitution and kill Americans. Why is this not clear to everyone?"

- Said Abdullahi (Ex Muslim)

Sunday, January 29, 2017

International Presbyterian Church, Ealing. The history of our building.

 In 1979 , the International Presbyterian Church, Ealing, purchased its first premises for the princely summon £250,000, an amount which now, 38 years later, might be sufficient to purchase a one bedroom apartment locally.

51 Drayton Green , now demolished, was a late-C19 institutional building in an Arts and Crafts Gothic style, built of red brick with Bath stone dressings, a tile-hung upper floor and a tile roof. It was set well back from the road, behind a boundary wall with stone-capped brick piers and spear-topped railings. The three storeyed main block was roughly square on plan, with side-wings projecting slightly to front and rear. To the north was a crenellated tower containing toilets and bathrooms. (Beyond this were the former laundry and chapel; these are now part of a separate property, the IPC church,  but were still connected to the main building via a copper-roofed quadrant-plan corridor.) The principal elevation, facing the Green, was dominated by a central chimney with twin-corbelled flues meeting to form a broad ridged stack bearing a stone cross in relief. The doorway beneath, and the three- and four-light mullioned windows to either side, had Gothic stone surrounds. The side and rear elevations were plainer, with timber mullion and transom windows under segmental heads. The internal plan was centred on a full-height top-lit circulation hall with galleries and flying stairs (both much altered), surrounded on three sides by a secondary circulation corridor giving access to the various rooms arranged around the periphery. The ground floor entrance lobby containsed an 1896 date stone; to the left were the former reception and superintendent's rooms with fireplaces and built-in cupboards, and to the right a toilet block and refectory. At the rear was a long room with twin bay windows overlooking the back garden, variously described in the original plans as 'dining room' and 'recreation room'; it was flanked by the former kitchen and staff dining room (or 'work room'). The first-floor plan reflected that on the floor below, with bedrooms and sitting rooms (some still retaining cupboards and fireplaces) at the front, and the much-altered former classroom and sick-rooms at the rear. The top floor had corner bedrooms, and in the right-hand wing a series of small sleeping cubicles that may be the original residents' accommodation. (These had been removed in the other wings.)

To the north and east of No.51, connected to it via a link corridor, are the former laundry and chapel buildings. These are now part of the International Presbyterian Church complex at No.53.
The building was constructed as a Home for Fallen Women run by an Anglican Religious Order, and
remained principally within their ownership until 1979. An English Heritage Report sets out a detailed description of the history of the building. It notes that:
“Drayton Green, now an open space surrounded by housing a mile west of Ealing Broadway, was until the late C19 a small hamlet of around twelve houses positioned around a long strip of common land. Its incorporation into the outer suburbs of London began around 1870 with the opening of a station on the GWR main line at West Ealing; the surrounding land was built up by the end of the century, although the core of the hamlet survived until the interwar years. One of the older houses around the Green, Cleveland Lodge, was acquired in 1884 as the premises of St Helena's Home, a women’s' reformatory founded that year by the Revd Richard Temple West, vicar of St Mary Magdalene Church, Paddington. From 1892 the  running of the Home was taken over by the Sisters of St Mary the Virgin, an Anglican religious order founded at Wantage in 1848 that specialised in the rehabilitation of so-called 'fallen' women. Four years later it was decided to demolish Cleveland House and replace it with a purpose-built structure: this afforded an increase in residential accommodation, and also brought the Home and its large onsite laundry into compliance with factory legislation. The new three-storey building, designed to house nine staff and around 30 residents, was designed by the Westminster-based architect Ernest Pilkington, and was opened in October 1897 at a ceremony attended by the Bishops of London and Reading. A chapel, replacing an earlier temporary structure, was added around 1915 to the designs of Ninian Comper. The Home remained in the care of the Wantage Sisters until around 1940, when itwas requisitioned by Middlesex County Council for use as a girls' remand centre. In 1965 the main building reverted to the Sisters, who used it as a base for religious retreats; the former laundrybuilding was altered to gain extra residential accommodation, and the link to the chapel rebuilt in its present form. The Sisters finally left in 1980; the chapel and laundry buildings went into separate ownership (they are now the property of the International Presbyterian Church at 53 Drayton Green) and the Home itself saw a series of uses, firstly as the educational hostel of the Chinese Embassy.
The Community of St Mary the Virgin was founded in 1848 by William John Butler, then Vicar of Wantage. As Sisters, we are called to respond to our vocation in the spirit of the Blessed Virgin Mary: "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. Let it be to me according to your word." Our common life is centred in the worship of God through the Eucharist, the daily Office and in personal prayer. From this all else flows. For some it will be expressed in outgoing ministry in neighbourhood and parish, or in living alongside those in inner city areas. For others, it will be expressed in spiritual direction, preaching and retreat giving, in creative work in studio and press, or in forms of healing ministry. Sisters also live and work among the elderly at St Katharine's House, our care Home for Elderly People in Wantage.William John Butler (1818-1894) was  a High Church Anglican priest, Butler was Vicar of Wantage from 1846 and several of his curates became notable churchmen (e.g. H. P. Liddon). In 1880 he became a canon of Worcester and in 1885 Dean of Lincoln. He was nearly appointed to the bishopric of Natal in 1864 but did not accept it. He was the founder of the Community and continued as Warden until his death.

When the IPC moved to purchase all the properties and the four bedroom caretaker's house too, the church offered the sins £200,000.They acepted but the Charity Commissioners intervened saying the property was worth more. The bid was increased to £250,000 and the nuns told the Charity Commissioners they must accept for IPC were the only purchasers who would continue to use their consecrated chapel for Christian worship.

While the Chinese Embassy had the building, the events of Tienanmen Square took place. There was a defection and a suicide. Eventually the building was sold to developers who then sold to Notting Hill Housing Trust who planned to demolish the main building. The local Civic Society called on English Heritage to see if they would list the building so preventing demolition. But English Heritage saw no significant architectural merit. But they espied the IPC chapel at the rear and deemed it worthy of a Grade II preservation listing thus frustrating the initial plans o the church to develop their site, the chapel now being too small for a growing congregation.It is hoped that 2017 will see development of the IPC site, keeping the chapel but building a larger sanctuary to the rear with anciliary facilities. The old convent block had a cross carved into a stone above the front door. It remained in place under the Chinese ownership, surely the only communist embassy building in the world marked by a cross. The housing trust has kept the stone placing it now in the boundary wall of the premises next to the road. It bears the date 30 June 1896.

A very belated reflection on the papal visit to UK - United Kingdom (September 16 to September 19, 2010)

This was written after Benedict visited but before he resigned. I found it on my computer and decided to  belatedly blog it.

I have the greatest respect for Benedict as a politician, not as a church leader. I am going to write a review of the official booklet for his visit. It shows a view of becoming a Christian that has little to do with repentance from sin and everything to do with joining the RCC. I found it impossible to understand that salvation is by grace alone and received by faith alone from this booklet. Rather salvation is in the RCC alone is the implication. Of course many RCs are truly Christian but I believe that is in spite of the RCC which obscure savings grace and tries to monopolise it. Here is a parallel with Islam. Most Muslims one meets on the UK are people of peace. I think this is in spite of their religion, not because of it. Both the RCC and Islam are different animals when they rule the roost to when they are minorities. Muslims have been much better at exploiting minority status in the UK than have RCs. I do not think the world my grandchildren will inherit is under any real threat from the RCC. It is under threat from secularism and Islam.I have the greatest respect for Benedict as a politician, not as a church leader. I am going to write a review of the official booklet for his visit. It shows a view of becoming a Christian that has little to do with repentance from sin and everything to do with joining the RCC. I found it impossible to understand that salvation is by grace alone and received by faith alone from this booklet. Rather salvation is in the RCC alone is the implication. Of course many RCs are truly Christian but I believe that is in spite of the RCC which obscure savings grace and tries to monopolise it. Here is a parallel with Islam. Most Muslims one meets on the UK are people of peace. I think this is in spite of their religion, not because of it. Both the RCC and Islam are different animals when they rule the roost to when they are minorities. Muslims have been much better at exploiting minority status in the UK than have RCs. I do not think the world my grandchildren will inherit is under any real threat from the RCC. It is under threat from secularism and Islam.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

My autobiography

I have been a member at  since it started in 1969.In 1970 we joined where I was ordained in 1977.We returned to Ealing in 82 and I have been an elder here since 1983. I am their oldest elder among six of us, two of whom are full time elders and two others full time missionaries also. I am Presbyterian by conviction but if you were to see me preaching at the Heathrow Immigration Removal Centre near the airport you would say I am Pentecostal too for worship there is African style and I have a tambourine :-) I was recruited there by the chaplain who is Pentecostal so i must be a presbyterian who gets on well with Pentecostals. 
    Graham Weeks grew up in rural North Yorkshire His family were evangelical Methodists. 
Graham rebelled against the faith in his teens but became a believer when he went up to London University to read pharmacy. After qualifying as a pharmacist he studied theology and mission at All Nations Christian College.In 1969 he married Katy and moved to Ealing for her to study missions. That year they were among the first members of the International Presbyterian Church Ealing which grew from the ministry of Francis Schaeffer's L'Abri Fellowship.
   In 1970 they moved to Vom Christian Hospital, Nigeria with the then Sudan United Mission. After language study Graham was hospital chaplain as well as pharmacist. He was ordained in the Church of Christ in Nigeria and after three years at Vom he served teaching in Bible School , Theological Education by Extension, translation and language teaching. Teaching Hause with a colleague converted from Islam gave him a concern for church planting among Muslims in a country where there are many churches but in 120 years of mission there has only ever been one church planted from Muslim converts.
In 1982 the family returned to Ealing and in 1983 Graham began to serve as one of the elders of International Presbyterian Church. He returned to employment in community pharmacy working various community pharmacies and finishing with 13 years in Finchley. 
    In 1986 Graham became involved in local politics chairing a Parents Action Group opposing Ealing Council promoting the acceptability of homosexuality in schools. 
    From 1990 to 1998 he was an elected councillor on Ealing Council specialising in social services. 
Losing his seat in 1998 and resigning from the Conservative party over its lack of conservatism in the area of sexuality, his free time is now spent serving his church. He has twice served as moderator of the denomination and is concerned to see the gospel taken to Muslims and the suffering church supported in Muslim lands. Where he used to live in Nigeria there is a front line conflict between Muslims and Christians . He preaches regularly to detainees at the Immigration Removal Centre, Heathrow.
    Graham and Katy have four children who love the Lord and six grandchildren.

Burns Night - January 25th - Quotes

Robert Burns. 1759-1796
But human bodies are sic fools,
For a' their colleges and schools,
That when nae real ills perplex them,
They make enow themsels to vex them.
Robert Burns.
I pick my favorite quotations and store them in my mind as ready armor,offensive or defensive, amid the struggle of this turbulent existence.~ Robert Burns 1759-1796
And O! be sure to fear the Lord alway,
And mind your duty, duly, morn and night;
Lest in temptation's path ye gang astray,
Implore His counsel and assisting might:
They never sought in vain that sought the Lord aright.
Robert Burns, The Cotter's Saturday Night

The cheerfu' supper done, wi' serious face,
They, round the ingle, form a circle wide;
The sire turns o'er, with patriarchal grace,
The big ha'-bible, ance his father's pride:
His bonnet rev'rently is laid aside,
His lyart haffets wearing thin and bare;
Those strains that once did sweet in Zion glide,
He wales a portion with judicious care;
And "Let us worship God!" he says with solemn air.
They chant their artless notes in simple guise,
They tune their hearts, by far the noblest aim;
Perhaps "Dundee's" wild-warbling measures rise,
Or plaintive "Martyrs," worthy of the name;
Or noble "Elgin" beets the heaven-ward flame,
The sweetest far of Scotia's holy lays:
Compar'd with these, Italian trills are tame:
The tickl'd ears no heart-felt raptures raise;
Nae unison hae they with our Creator's praise.
The priest-like father reads the sacred page,
How Abram was the friend of God on high;
Or Moses bade eternal warfare wage
With Amalek's ungracious progeny;
Or how the royal bard did groaning lie
Beneath the stroke of Heaven's avenging ire;
Or Job's pathetic plaint, and wailing cry;
Or rapt Isaiah's wild, seraphic fire;
Or other holy seers that tune the sacred lyre.
Perhaps the Christian volume is the theme,
How guiltless blood for guilty man was shed;
How He, who bore in Heaven the second name,
Had not on earth whereon to lay His head:
How His first followers and servants sped;
The precepts sage they wrote to many a land:
How he, who lone in Patmos banished,
Saw in the sun a mighty angel stand,
And heard great Bab'lon's doom pronounc'd by Heaven's command.
Then kneeling down to Heaven's Eternal King,
The saint, the father, and the husband prays:
Hope "springs exulting on triumphant wing,"
That thus they all shall meet in future days,
There ever bask in uncreated rays,
No more to sigh, or shed the bitter tear,
Together hymning their Creator's praise,
In such society, yet still more dear;
While circling Time moves round in an eternal sphere.
Compar'd with this, how poor Religion's pride,
In all the pomp of method, and of art;
When men display to congregations wide
Devotion's ev'ry grace, except the heart!
The Power, incens'd, the pageant will desert,
The pompous strain, the sacerdotal stole;
But haply, well-pleas'd, the language of the soul;
And in His Book of Life the inmates poor enroll.
Then homeward all take off their sev'ral way;
The youngling cottagers retire to rest:
The parent-pair their secret homage pay,
And proffer up to Heaven the warm request,
That He who stills the raven's clam'rous nest,
And decks the lily fair in flow'ry pride,
Would, in the way His wisdom sees the best,
For them and for their little ones provide;
But chiefly, in their hearts with grace divine preside.
From scenes like these, old Scotia's grandeur springs,
That makes her lov'd at home, rever'd abroad:
Princes and lords are but the breath of kings,
"An honest man's the noblest work of God;"
And certes, in fair virtue's heavenly road,
The cottage leaves the palace far behind;
What is a lordling's pomp? a cumbrous load,
Disguising oft the wretch of human kind,
Studied in arts of hell, in wickedness refin'd!
O Scotia! my dear, my native soil!
For whom my warmest wish to Heaven is sent,
Long may thy hardy sons of rustic toil
Be blestwith health, and peace, and sweet content!
And O! may Heaven their simple lives prevent
From luxury's contagion, weak and vile!
Then, howe'er crowns and coronets be rent,
A virtuous populace may rise the while,
And stand a wall of fire around their much-lov'd isle.
Robert Burns, The Cotter's Saturday Night  
Oh wad some power the giftie gie us
To see oursel's as others see us!
It wad frae monie a blunder free us,
And foolish notion.
Robert Burns. 1759-1796. To a Louse.

But Mousie, thou art no thy lane
In proving foresight may be vain
The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men
Gang aft agley
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain
For promis'd joy!
~Robert Burns, To a Mouse (1785)

Man's inhumanity to man
Makes countless thousands mourn.
Robert Burns. 1759-1796. To a Mouse.

Australia Day?

Down under the SydneyMorning Herald will on Saturday reveal the results os a survey asking about changing their national day. The present date commemorates the arrival of the Firs tFleet which established the penal colony at Botany Bay. So many view the day as a colonial relic and not inclusive of the indigenous Australians who were there before the arrival of the British.

Being a man known for my politically correct sensitivities and an English streak of masochism I have a solution to the problem.

 I can understand sensitivities expressed here. After all we Poms do not commemorate the Battle of Hastings or any other invasion. Australia has no national holiday between June 12 and Christmas. So I commend to you 29th August. This combines two Australian sports, cricket and Pom bashing.

The Ashes is a Test cricket series played between England and Australia. The Ashes are regarded as…

How Islamic Are ‘Islamic’ Blasphemy Laws?

  • How Islamic Are ‘Islamic’ Blasphemy Laws?
    Sultan Shahin
    Published on January 25, 2017
    January 4 has become an iconic day for moderate Muslims in the Indian subcontinent,
    reminding us every year that the battle for the soul of Islam has not even begun properly.
    Moderate, progressive, liberal Muslims are being killed in the name of blasphemy, but they
    are not able to defend themselves even with a coherent ideological counternarrative.
    On this day in 2011, Salmaan Taseer, the governor of Pakistani Punjab, had been murdered by
    his own body guard for having shown compassion for a Christian lady Asia Bibi, falsely
    accused of blasphemy. This despicable murderer Mumtaz Quadri has now been executed on
    orders of Pakistan judiciary, but has acquired the status of a saint and martyr in the eyes of
    millions in South Asia, particularly ulema of most schools of thought.
    Asia Bibi is known to have been falsely implicated, as most victims of Pakistan’s Black
    Blasphemy laws are. Pakistan Press has reported that all cases of blasphemy against Islam are
    actually to settle personal scores or to acquire a non-Muslim’s property. But Pakistan and
    South Asian Muslims are not alone in misusing the concept of blasphemy. A celebrated case
    going on in Indonesia now is against Governor Ahok, a Christian who is supposed to have
    quoted, just quoted, some verses from Quran and thus angered many Muslims enough to slap
    a case of blasphemy against him. How can a Christian quote scripture, the only true
    scripture? (Do Christians represent the Devil for these Indonesian Muslims?)
    Apart from the criminality, and totally anti-Islamic nature of such devious thinking, the
    stupidity of it all takes the breath away. And this in Indonesia which we progressive Muslims
    used to cite as an example of moderation in Islam. Should we be at all discussing such inanity
    in the 21st century? But this is a very popular blasphemy charge and millions of people
    cannot be imprisoned; we can only argue with them hoping to instil some sense in their
    The Holy Quran does not prescribe absolutely any punishment for blasphemy, though
    numerous verses describe in detail how Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) was reviled
    and abused by early Meccans in prose and poetry. As Quran exegete and a columnist for, Muhammad Yunus points out: “The Meccan enemies of the Prophet
    called him impostor, a madman (Quran 30:58, 44:14, 68:51), and an insane poet (37:36) and
    ridiculed the Qur’anic revelation (18:56, 26:6, 37:14, 45:9), which they declared to be strange
    and unbelievable (38:5, 50:2), a jumble of dreams (21:5)9 and legends of the ancients (6:25,
    23:83, 25:5, 27:68, 46:17, 68:15, 83:13). They accused him of forging lies and witchcraft
    (34:43, 38:4), forging lies against God, forgery and making up tales (11:13, 32:3, 38:7, 46:8),
    witchcraft (21:3, 43:30, 74:24), obvious witchcraft that was bewildering (10:2, 37:15, 46:7),
    and of being bewitched or possessed by a Jinn (17:47, 23:70, 34:8).”
    He comments: “By definition, all these accusations were blasphemous. Nowhere in its text
    does the Qur’an prescribe any punishment for those who uttered these blasphemies.”
  • Yet ulema quote a consensus of scholarly opinion (ijma) in favour of blasphemy being an
    unpardonable offence. Indeed, if somebody simply questions this ijma, he meets the same
    fate, death. Ijma is an instrument of creative rethinking of Islamic provisions (ijtihad) in the
    absence of any clear guidance in Quran. The idea is to take the religion forward, in the
    absence of a messenger of God, not to regress to Dark Ages, as ulema are using this provision
    to do. Indeed, they have made ijma such a strong instrument that the Qur’anic dictates
    themselves have to be considered abrogated if they contradict the consensus opinion of
    Muslim jurists. “It is better that the verse (from Quran) is interpreted in such a way that it
    conforms to their opinion.” [Doctrine of Ijma in Islam, by Ahmad Hussain, New Delhi, 1992,
    Regardless of any justification for Blasphemy laws in Muslim countries, common sense
    suggests that they can only be applied to Muslims. Otherwise, the term blasphemy can be
    stretched to mean anyone who doesn’t believe Islam to be a true religion. But anti-Blasphemy
    laws are applied to non-Muslims in every Muslim country that has such laws. So ultimately
    the question is related to whether Muslims believe in freedom of religion. Clearly many
    don’t, except when they live in non-Muslim-majority countries.
    Although Quran, Islam’s foundational text, contains hundreds of verses asserting the
    legitimacy of other religions, a consensus in Islamic theology and jurisprudence has
    somehow emerged that other religions cannot be allowed to exist. Theologians cannot
    directly contradict the Quran by saying so, but this is the obvious implication of their
    doctrines of Jihad. Mainstream Islamic Theology and jurisprudence is completely based on a
    dichotomy between Muslim and Kafir. Kafirs have to be eventually eliminated from the
    world, either by persuasion or use of force. The only other option is they accept Muslim
    domination and accept the status of dhimmis (jizya-paying second class citizens).
    Most Ulema do not even accept the religious freedom of those whom Quran gives the status
    of ahl-e-kitab, by virtue of their belief in previous prophets of God. Some of these have been
    mentioned in the Quran and many are not as they are too numerous (124,000, according to
    one Prophetic tradition). They were sent to all nations with revelations. Quran asks Muslims
    to have the best of and the most intimate including marital relations with all ahl-e-kitab. Iman
    or Faith is defined in Islam as, among other things, having faith in all previous prophets of
    God and considering them of the same status as Prophet Mohammad.’ (Quran 4:164; 2.21;
    35:24; 10:47; 21:7).
    To illustrate the point about Islamic theologians circumventing clear, unequivocal Quranic
    dictates about freedom of religions, I quote the following passage from the writings of
    Maulana Abdul Aleem Islahi, an influential cleric of Hyderabad. No Indian Alim (scholar, pl.
    ulema) has disputed this widely-circulated narration so far.
    Discussing the oft-quoted Quranic verse 2: 256 “La Ikraha fid Deen” (meaning, let there be
    no compulsion in religion), the Maulana writes in his booklet, ‘Use of Force in Quran’: This
    is an established fact (that Quran gives religious freedom to all). But it is related only with
    accepting or not accepting the belief. This does not mean that ahl-e-Kufr, (infidels) should be
    left totally free on earth with their un-belief and should not be made accountable. If this were
    true, what do we mean when we say that the religion (Deen) of God has been revealed to
    dominate the world?
  • "It is He Who has sent His Messenger (Prophet Mohammad pbuh) with guidance and the
    religion of truth (Islam) to make it superior over all religions even though the Mushrikoon
    (polytheists, idolaters, etc.) hate it." Surah at-Tawbah 9: 33. What will this verse mean then
    and what relevance will the obligation of jihad have (if we accept the Quranic decree of no
    compulsion in religion)?
    “--- It is the duty (of Muslims) to struggle for the domination of Islam over false religions and
    subdue and subjugate ahl-e-kufr-o-shirk (infidels and polytheists) in the same way as it is the
    duty of the Muslims to proselytise and invite people to Islam. The responsibility to testify to
    the Truth and pronounce the religion God has entrusted with the Muslims cannot be fulfilled
    merely by preaching and proselytising. If it were so there would be no need for the battles
    that were fought. "And fight them until there is no fitnah (mischief) and [until] the religion,
    all of it, is for Allah. And if they cease - then indeed, Allah is Seeing of what they do." Surah
    Anfal 8:39)
    “Jihad has been made obligatory to make the Deen (religion) dominate and to stop the centres
    of evil. Keeping in view the importance of this task, the significance of Jihad in the name of
    God has been stressed in the Quran and Hadith. That’s why clear ordainments have been
    revealed to Muslims about fighting all the Kuffar (infidels). “United, fight the polytheists as
    they fight against you.” (Surah Tauba:36)”
    There is a consensus of ulema’s opinion (ijma) around such views. Peaceful, pluralistic, early
    verses revealed in Makkah are supposed to have been abrogated by aggressive war-time
    verses that came later in Madina. Guided by ulema as they are, Muslims have come to believe
    that ijma is more important than Quran, indeed Quranic commandments of peace and
    pluralism, co-existence with other religions, patience in times of adversity, not rushing to war
    on the slightest pretext, etc., have been abrogated for over a millennium. Ulema keep quoting
    these verses to non-Muslim audiences as part of their taqaiyya (a religious instrument to
    deceive the enemy), but Muslims are supposed to know that these verses are abrogated and
    are being quoted only as a strategy of deception.
    Progressive Muslims keep quoting these peaceful verses as they are not well-versed in
    theology and jurisprudence. They still believe in Quran. Largely living in their own world,
    they have no idea what is going on in the community. They do not understand why pluralistic
    Quranic verses do not have any impact on the Muslim masses any more. No wonder they
    have not been able to come up with a cogent theological counter narrative.
    Sultan Shahin is the founder-editor of a Delhi-based progressive Islamic website This article appeared first in The Sunday Guardian, New Delhi on 15
    January 2017.