A New Wave is Coming- A Poem
A new wave is coming
Can you feel it?
I can and I am afraid
Intolerance in the name of God
What happened to peace on Earth?
Where have all the Good Samaritans gone?
Children being taught to rise up
against those who are different
those who have different beliefs.
They call themselves Warriors for Christ
Did Christ ever react violently?
Did he ever strike down his opposition?
He kept sinners nearby and loved them
Somehow the message was lost.
A new wave is crashing all around.
Do not be fooled
They do not come in Peace.
I wrote this after watching a documentary called Jesus Camp. The documentary followed a group of radical Christians as they taught their children to be as radical as they were. They encouraged their children to see visions and speak in tongues, of course there is no real way to know if what they said and did was real but seeing the display made me skeptical. There is even a section of the dvd where the children list their abilities which seem to all include speaking in tongues, the gift of prophesy, and seeing visions.
The thing that I found most startling was that the main woman had said she wanted the children she was working with to be as radical as Islam, ready to die for what they believed in. I found this idea completely horrifying. I was raised in the church and have made it a goal to learn about other religions as well. In the church I learned that we are here to serve one another, to do good works. The thought that someone claimed to be Christian and was ready to do acts of violence turned my stomach.
Then came her idea that ALL of Islam is raising their children to rise up against the Christian people of the world. I don't believe this woman has EVER even peeked at the Quran if she is spewing this nonsense to her followers. The Islamic religion has five pillars that it's religion is based upon shahadah (the creed), daily prayers (salat), almsgiving (zakah), fasting during Ramadan, and the pilgrimage to Mecca (hajj) at least once in their life. These pillars can also be found in the Christian religion, proving that we aren't as different as this woman wants everyone to believe.
The use of a creed is something that both Islam and Christian sects use. The Islamic creed says, "I testify that there are no deities other than God alone and I testify that Muhammad is the messenger of God ." Very simple and straight to the point. There is one God and he had a messenger. The creed I used in church, the Lutheran version of the Christian creed, was much, much longer.
"I believe in God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth. And in Jesus Christ, his Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, and born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilot, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended into Hell. On the third day He rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. From thence He will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic church, the communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen" Clearly this is much longer and covers more ground, but the meaning is still the same. There is one God and he also had a messenger.
The next pillar of Islam is daily prayer, which is to be done five times a day, to focus the mind on God. Doesn't Christian beliefs also call for daily prayer, times to quiet the mind and have a moment of your day devoted to communication to God? Prayer and meditation are a staple for every religion I have read about, one commonality throughout the world religions. Maybe this one thing can help us build a positive relationship with those around us.
The third pillar of Islam is fasting during Ramadan. Fasting is done from dawn to dusk during the month of Ramadan. During this time the Islamic people are encouraged to feel the nearness of God, atone for their sins, think of the less fortunate, and express their gratitude for what God have given them. There are also people that are not expected to fast, such as the elderly, those who are ill, and those who are pregnant. Christianity also encourages fasting, but this is mostly for Lent. People give up food or an activity during lent, like chocolate, beef, or even playing video games. They do this to remind themselves of the sacrifices of Christ and is a way to express remorse for their sins. Christian fasting is not as structured as the fasting during Ramadan, and fasting can be done at any time to show remorse and repent for sins committed. The stipulation in Christianity is that you should not showboat your fasting, meaning that no one should look at you and see you are fasting by your sadness reflected in your face. Fasting in both religions is meant to cleanse the body and soul while acknowledging all that God has provided for you.
The fourth pillar of Islam is alms-giving, the donation of a portion of the household wealth given to the needy. This is a religious obligation of an Islamic household and there is also a suggestion of giving more as a voluntary donation. This is also seen in Christianity in the form of tithing, the donation of 10% of your income to the church. In reality most people do not give 10% but do make weekly donations in the form of an offering during the services they attend. Passing the collection plate was always done every service in the churches I attended. Both religions ask for money to support their work and help those less fortunate, yet one more thing they have in common with each other.
The final pillar of Islam is the pilgrimage to Mecca, or the Hajj, which everyone that can afford the trip and is physically able to complete the pilgrimage must do at least once in their life. The pilgrimage is a performed ritual that symbolizes the lives of Ibrahim (Abraham in English) and his wife Hajra (Hagar in English). While pilgrimages are not required of Christians they are done by many followers, they often visit the holy land or various places in the world viewed to be sacred.
So do these commonalities suggest a nonviolent Islam? No, but at the same time they do not suggest a nonviolent Christian population either. Every religious group will have their radicals but does that mean the entire group acts the same way as these radicals? No, so we must remember these things before we make a judgement on another group of people. As Mahatma Gandhi said, "You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty."
As I have done before I give you a challenge, learn about those you are told to fear. Learn what they really stand for before believing every word you are told. We have more in common with each other than we are led to believe.
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