Why Muslims are Welcome in Christian Scotland

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“Upcoming special event; Good Friday and very Happy Easter especially to my beloved Christian nation X Bismallan…..lets follow the Real Footstep of Beloved Holy JESUS CHRIST (PBUH) And Get The Real Success In Both Worlds xxxx”

It was an interesting tweet. And it probably cost Asad Shah his life.  The Glasgow shopkeeper was murdered last Thursday outside his shop in what police have described as a ‘religiously motivated’ killing, apparently by a fellow muslim.   This shocking event has traumatised many within the community and within the country. Mr Shah was originally from Pakistan, but had made Scotland his home and has shown a great enthusiasm for his adopted ‘beloved Christian nation’. The greatest tragedy in this is for Mr Shah’s widow and their family. We pray for them and ask that God would grant them his peace. The Lord abhors violence and is near to the widow and fatherless

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-35898543

There are however wider lessons for all of us in the wider community in Scotland to learn. Lets consider some of these.

The Sect – Mr Shah belonged to the Ahmadiyya movement. The Ahmadis number about 10 million throughout the world and are considered as a heretical sect by most Muslim groups. They believe that its 19th century founder Mirza Gulam Ahmad was a prophet and Messiah. They have been banned in Pakistan as non-Muslim. Many moved to Britain believing us to be a safe haven of religious tolerance – which they also practice.   It must be very disturbing for them that this perceived ‘safe haven’ is no longer so safe. That the sectarian wars they fled from in Pakistan have followed them to the UK.

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The Sunnis – And the reason why it is no longer safe is disturbing. It’s not because of a ‘Christian’ backlash against Islam, or anti-religious secularists but rather it comes from within Islam itself.   That itself is profoundly disturbing. But there was more disturbing news coming out of Glasgow’s Islamic community. Imam Maulana Habib Ur Rehman of Glasgow Central Mosque has expressed his support for Mumtaz Qadri, the former bodyguard of Salman Taseer, the governor of Punjab province. Qadri was executed because he killed the governor by shooting him 28 times as a punishment for his support of a poor Christian woman who had fallen victim to Pakistan’s extreme blasphemy laws. The Imam said that he was complaining about the death penalty – but of course that was not what he was doing. He messaged –  “I cannot hide my pain today. A true Muslim was punished for doing which the collective will of the nation failed to carry out.” In other words he regards Qadri as a hero who took the law into his own hands and executed a man the law did not see as fit for execution – a man who did not blaspheme but just simply supported a woman accused of blasphemy.  It is to be hoped that the Imam will be as quick to condemn the bombing of Christians in Lahore yesterday, as he has been to lament the death of a convicted assassin. The trouble here is that the Imam is not a side figure – he is the leader of the largest mosque in Scotland. And this is not from an extremist Islamist sect but from mainstream Sunni Islam and the Barveli group within that.   The Barvelis control about 40% of the Mosques in the UK and are not considered extremist.  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-35893123

The Secularists – Our militant secularists don’t know how to handle this either.   The blood was hardly dry on the streets of Glasgow before they were using this tragedy as yet another opportunity to blame all religion.   Garry Otton of Secular Scotland pontificated

“I don’t know how many times religion has to headline the news every day before someone wakes up and smells its toxicity? I’m tired of tip-toeing round it with repeated warnings of respecting ‘faith’ and ‘culture’”

Mr Otton and his fellow secularists are hardly noted for their ‘tip toeing’ round religion’, but their message nonetheless is chilling. The fundamentalism of the more militant atheist secularists is as prejudiced and ignorant as any of the extremist religious fundamentalists.   And their constant attacks and misunderstandings do not really help the position. Mr Shah’s ‘Christian Scotland’ is anathema to them. Strange that he felt so welcome in it. I suspect that he would not have been so welcome in the nirvana of Secular Scotland or the ‘secular’ states of Syria, Turkey, China and North Korea.

The Christians – We mourn and grieve at the loss of any life, but especially when it is someone killed for expressing their faith that human beings should live together in harmony. We are not like some atheistic secularists, or the warped fascist anti-Christianity of people like the EDL and BNP, who believe that the problem is the religion of Islam and have some sick and confused notion of a white ‘Christian’ Britain. This is blasphemy from people who do not understand what Christianity is and who Jesus Christ is.  We don’t want to build a wall to keep Muslims out of Scotland – indeed we want to welcome them. And Mr Shah’s message indicates why – We were his ‘beloved Christian nation’. A nation that practiced the Christian values and virtues of tolerance, equality and welcoming the strangers.

Christian Scotland does not want to exclude Muslims; we want to welcome them in the name of Jesus. There are of course caveats.   Not least that, as Mr Shah did, they recognise that this is a Christian nation and not an Islamic one. We are secular, in that there is a separation of Church and State, so that no religion runs the State.   But our secular society is one that is based upon Christian values. One of these is that people of different views and opinions are genuinely tolerated.  Most importantly there is freedom of religion – freedom to practice, change, preach and live your own religion (or indeed non-religion). So those who support separate ‘Sharia’ laws, or support terrorism, or advocate the killing of other human beings because of their religion, or punishment for apostasy, are not welcome.   We welcome the poor, the refugee and those seeking a better life, whatever their religion or background. But we would commit suicide as a society if we welcomed those who in the name of freedom use that freedom in order to destroy it.

At a personal level I am thankful for my Muslim neighbours and the several Muslim families who live in our street. They are good neighbours. And I am delighted that they live in a country whose law is based on Christian principles and not on Sharia law or the Islamic notion of the State.  I am delighted that they live in a country where they need not fear bombs being set in children’s parks on Eid.

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In Christian Scotland we do not believe it is right to kill, punish, abuse or exclude those who have different religious/political/philosophical beliefs.  I do not want Britain to turn into an Islamic state, but neither do I want an apartheid system to be developed in Britain. It will be, if it has not already become, a disaster to have ‘separate’ development in different areas of the UK (and indeed Europe), where multi-culturalism means that separate Islamic states within states are developed (or Islamic ghettos).

May God grant that abiding by the principles of His Word, those of us who are Christians within Scotland would take every opportunity to welcome Muslims, to offer support and help in the name of Christ, and to seek to bring them the good news of Jesus Christ.   I am thankful for the diversity and opportunities (cultural and spiritual) that the movement of Islamic peoples to Scotland has brought. May we use those opportunities wisely.

David Robertson

St Peters Free Church

Dundee

The latest Solas magazine carries some articles on this in our latest edition. Mine can be found here – http://www.solasmagazine.com/the-crescent-the-cross-and-the-collapse-of-european-civilisation.html

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20 thoughts on “Why Muslims are Welcome in Christian Scotland

  1. It is horrendous what happen to this gentleman and the greif and fear his poor famly are going through is unimaginable. I personal believe that the vast majority of Muslim people are peace loving. I do have concerns regarding some of the practices of Islam and I have researched this faith ideo!ogies and laws. I understand your empathy with this loving gentle man. I whole hartedly agree with your statement we do not want Scotland to become an Islamic state. But it is my option you will not be able to take the message Christianity this religion. Dream all you want but it’s never going to happen. I think you know that yourself deep down going by your statement. Islam needs to be encouraged to self reflect. Until that self reflection then reform Which looks extremely unlikely going by the news article about the Glasgow Mosque committee members reformers resigning through threats to themselves and their family members. And the reforms they sought were to just give woman an active role in the Mosque. Even Egypt has reformed on this aspect of Islamic faith. But still Eygpt makes it difficult for other Christian communities to practice their faith. Notice I said difficult not illegal, I will not be welcoming to this religion being critical of it and will not be tolerant to a faith that encourages intolerance others. Encouraging islamic growth within western countries is the equvilant of reinstating the inquisition in the 21st centuary. I hope I am wrong and you prevail printing the message of Jesus we can only dream. But in the mean time let us be vigilant after all we do not want to be thrown to the lion’s again.

    1. Jay – thanks for your interesting comment. I think you are leaving one thing out of your equation – ‘the God who answers by fire’! We have the Holy Spirit and the Word of God…therefore I believe that the gates of hell will not prevail against the church of Christ. Maybe the Lord will allow Islam to take over in order to chastise us – or maybe he is sending Muslims here that we may be able to bring Christ to them!

  2. I have been reading “Too many to jail – the story of Iran’s new Christians” (M. Bradley, Monarch Books). The author chronicles the remarkable growth of the house church movement in Muslim Iran despite state opposition and persecution, and the statement of then President Ahmadinejad, “I will stop Christianity in Iran” (2006, newsarticle). Yet during his presidency the church grew more rapidly among Muslims than at any time in recent history.

    There are literally “too many to jail”

    I understand that in this country many Iranians are converting from Islam to Christ, especially men.

    As David says the Holy Spirit will work despite man’s worst intentions.

    1. John – there is ALWAYS much more. But that article is disgraceful….to suggest that the Ahmadis provoked this, without any evidence, is paranoia and appalling. Even if the shopkeeper was insane (and so far no other indication has come of this) killing him is not justified. And although the writer says he is against the killing (he kind of has to), he does nonetheless attempt to justify it and blameshift. I think what concerns me even more is the defence of Qadri…

  3. By definition a militant secularist would be someone who is determined to let you believe what you want to believe, so long as it is kept away from matters of state. I fail to see how this could have any negative effect on the life of Mr Robertson, or that of anyone else for that matter, and as such it cannot be taken as an insult.

    As for welcoming Muslims, so long as it’s people like Majid Nawaz and not the dregs of humanity such as Anjem Choudary I fail to see how any reasonable human being could object.

    I would however counter the argument that the BNP/EDL are anti-Christian. The BNP are National Socialists and many Nazis were Christians. Similarly there are many Christians and people of other faiths connected with the EDL. Just because they do not meet Mr Robertson’s definition of Christianity does not make any Christian members of such organisations any less so.

    1. By your own self definition yes! But even then it is self contradictory because for most militant secularists everything is a matter of state! And I am afraid that your knowledge on the Nazis seems to have come from the intranet rather than any historical knowledge. You also seem to be completely unaware of what a Christian is. It’s not my definition, it’s Christ’s! By definition a Christian is a follower of Christ. By definition a militant secularist is someone who doesn’t even know what that means!

  4. The author is clear “Nothing justifies the murder”
    I may have missed this, so please point out where in the article the author “defends Qadri”
    Thank you

    1. Not the author but the Imam of the Glasgow Mosque – had you read this as well. It is interesting….if it had been a non-muslim who had killed him the press, and the Islamic community would have been up in arms at this Islamaphobic crime – but because it was an internal sectarian killing there has been a very different response –
      http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2016/03/the-questions-nobody-wants-to-ask-about-asad-shahs-murder/?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

  5. Thank you David. That’s better!
    I was concerned about the accuracy of your reference to Qadri as I was also concerned about your comment that the author attempted to justify the killing, when he was clear that “nothing justifies the murder”
    Thanks for pointing me to the Spectator article which I’ve read – the sad thing is, as Douglas Murray says, “nobody will ask about this, because almost nobody knows, or cares to know, or cares to hear the answers. They would care deeply about webs of association if the man arrested for Mr Shah’s murder had been a non-Muslim” I think this warning works both ways. Linking the tragedy with an unestablished link to the “Easter message” is inflammatory and betrays a lack of religious literacy: not least because there are other possible motives which “might” be confirmed in the investigation.
    It seems to me that whoever we are, we’re more easily attracted to “webs of association” than to truth.

    1. Thanks John….I’m sorry but I do think that the article was a classic case of someone saying ‘I am not attempting to justify’ before going on to excuse….

      I agree with you about the webs of association….but you are not seriously denying the truth that the Ammadis are a persecuted minority within the Islamic world? Or that the police have said that this was apparently a ‘religously’ motivated killing?

  6. Thank you David – no need to apologise, you are entitled to your view! I prefer to accept the author’s word (until I have evidence) when he states “nothing justifies the murder” and “I am shocked and horrified at the deplorable murder of Asad Shah.”
    I’m not clear how you have formed the impression I might be “seriously denying the truth” that the Ahmadiyya community are not a persecuted minority; however let me reassure you! I have many friends in the Ahmadiyya community in Dundee and hear from them firsthand about the persecution they face in their homelands. Also I’m not clear how you have formed the impression that I might be denying the truthfulness of the police when they say this is a ‘religiously motivated’ killing – my reason for drawing your readers’ attention to the article is that we should remember there is, as you say, ‘ALWAYS much more’ to ‘religiously motivated’ killings.

  7. Thank you David. There’s no need to apologise – you are free to have an opinion! My preference is to accept the author means what he says when he states very clearly that “Nothing justifies the murder” and also that he was “shocked and horrified at the deplorable murder of Asad Shah.” I’m very susceptible to interpretative or ‘mysids bias’!
    I don’t understand why you’re suggesting I might be ‘seriously denying the truth that the Ammadis are a persecuted minority within the Islamic world’ or the police view that it was a religiously motivated killing’. Let me reassure you! I have many friends in the Ahmadiyya community in Dundee and also two in Edinburgh and hear from them about the persecution in their homelands and I’m in no doubt about the reality of this. With regard to the police statement – the link I posted is very clear that there is evidence for a religiously motivated killing. However religious violence, like all violence, is a cultural process that is context-dependent and complex. Oversimplifications of religion and violence can lead to misguided understandings and exaggerations of causes for why some people commit violence and why most do not commit violence. As I said, it seems to me that whoever we are, we’re more easily attracted to “webs of association” than to truth and as people who are ‘in Christ’ we have to be careful.

  8. Thank you David. There’s no need to apologise – you are free to have an opinion! My preference is to accept the author means what he says when he states very clearly that “Nothing justifies the murder” and also that he was “shocked and horrified at the deplorable murder of Asad Shah.” I’m very susceptible to interpretative or ‘mysids bias’!
    I don’t understand why you’re suggesting I might be ‘seriously denying the truth that the Ammadis are a persecuted minority within the Islamic world’ or the police view that it was a religiously motivated killing’. Let me reassure you! I have many friends in the Ahmadiyya community in Dundee and also one or two in Edinburgh and hear from them about the persecution in their homelands and I’m in no doubt about the reality of this. With regard to the police statement – the link I posted is very clear that there is evidence for a religiously motivated killing. However religious violence, like all violence, is a cultural process that is context-dependent and complex. Oversimplifications of religion and violence can lead to misguided understandings and exaggerations of causes for why some people commit violence and why most do not commit violence. As I said, it seems to me that whoever we are, we’re more easily attracted to “webs of association” than to truth and as people who are ‘in Christ’ we have to be careful.

  9. Thank you, George! Indeed a very useful post to keep in mind illustrating the complexity of religious violence.
    In the conclusion of a very helpful paper (see link below) by Matthew Rowley, a Reader at Tyndall House, on “Fifteen Ways to Critique our own Thoughts” he says:
    “Violence in the name of God is an extremely complex phenomena and oversimplification further jeopardises peace. The primary argument of this paper is that unhelpful thought patterns only exacerbate the situation. Understanding the complexity of violence and our own tangled thoughts on the issue is an
    important step towards diagnosing the problem and moving towards reconciliation.
    And, at the end of his paper, Matthew Rowley quotes Karen Armstrong in Fields of Blood (p.366) with challenging words for our polarised age:
    “No state in history, however great its achievements, has not incurred the taint of warrior. We are all, religious and secularist alike, responsible for the current state of the world…. The scapegoat ritual was an attempt to sever the community’s relationship with its misdeeds; it cannot be a solution for us today.”
    http://www.klice.co.uk/uploads/Ethics%20in%20Brief/EiB_Rowley_21_2_WEB.pdf

  10. Maybe Muslims are welcome in Christian Scotland, but they ARE NOT welcome in a secular Scotland.

    Christians are naive!

    Muslims behave in a moderate religious fashion because they have to in our society, but just you wait till there are no restrictions on them, or they have the upper hand or numbers…watch as Muslims start to behave ‘FUNDAMENTALLY’ in order with their doctrines!

    I’m sorry, but have you even READ what Islam is about!? …don’t be so damn naive.

    -oh just so you know, I am very worried about what Christians believe also, and in particular those nutters called Mormons.

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