Why we need Burqas and Mosques



France has mandated by law the Muslim Burqa offensive to French culture.  It is now illegal for a woman to don the traditional Muslim dress in France.  If they are caught they must pay a fine and take a ‘cultural awareness’ class.  We all know the uproar over the Mosque and cultural center being planned two blocks from Ground Zero in New York.

Beyond Western sensibilities and patriotism, it is interesting to hear arguments against Muslim practice based on either so-called American Christian culture or so-called American Christian beliefs.  Islam is not Christian. I am not Muslim.  In discussion with Muslim friends we have sharp disagreements over truth and, mostly, over the identity of Jesus. 

However, Burqas and Mosques are a good thing for Christians. For one, in a radically secular culture that values universal human rights and pluralism above anything else, religious freedom for one will ensure religious liberty for the other.  But the key issue is one of visible, and audible piety.  Should we be offended when a Muslim hears the call of prayer on our soil and prays five times per day?  Should we be intimidated by women in black burqas?  Certainly not on the basis of Western democracy.

What burqas and Mosques should do for the Christian is to provide a deep challenge and a sense of shame that we have a faith that few actually follow.  Would a Christian risk occupation to pray at the set hours of the day (ancient Christians prayed seven times per day)?  No, ‘we can pray anytime’ is the usual argument we hear.

The Adhan is not offensive, only a reminder that Muslims pray and American Christians use excuses not to.  The burqa is not offensive because it is a reminder that Christians have little visible presence in our culture, save scandals and politics.

Receive the challenge of Islam.  And pray.  And be salt and light.

3 thoughts on “Why we need Burqas and Mosques

  1. Allahu akbaru’llahu akbar!
    Allahu akbaru’llahu akbar!
    Ash shadu la ilaha illa Allah!
    Ash shadu la ilaha illa Allah!
    Ash shadu ana Muhammadan rasulu’llah!
    Ash shadu ana Muhammadan rasulu’llah!
    Hay ala selah! Hay ala selah!
    Hay ala felah! Hay ala felah!
    Allahu akbaru’llahu akbar!
    Allahu akbaru’llahu akbar!
    La ilaha illa Allah!

    I was taught to sing the adhan by my Pakistani roommate at college back in the 1960’s. Shahid Yusuf was very pleased that I could sing it, and I even chanted it during an ‘ecumenical’ service in the college chapel. Those were the days of religious and cultural experimentation.

    I was impressed by Shahid’s never putting his copy of the Qur’an anywhere but on top of the highest horizontal surface in his dorm room. I never actually saw him pray the five times a day in the year that I live next door to him. I was mildly alarmed and very confused when he threatened me with “If you ever say the name of prophet Muhammad like that in a joking manner again, I will kill you!”

    We used to be able to get on our flights with our family members waving goodbye nearby. We used to be able to go to the airport a half an hour before check in time.

    There can be a mosque within walking distance of the Vatican, or around the corner in my neighborhood in Portland, Oregon. No veiled Muslim woman has to fear that she will be molested walking down a side street at dusk.

    I cannot Christian worship services in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and other Muslim nations. I can attend Christian worship services at a risk if I am in Egypt, Iran, Pakistan or Indonesia.

    If I convert to the Islamic faith, my relatives may disown me, but no one will threaten to kill me. My good Christian friend [name withheld to ensure he will not be assassinated] of Pakistani Muslim heritage cannot even tell his parents that he is now a Christian, because they would kill him.

    Let us be ashamed of ourselves if we have apostatized and denied Christ by belonging to dead or hypocritical Christian “churches” and denominations. Let us not champion a faith we believe in name only and try to use it to oppose another religion we equally do not believe. But whether we are Christians or not, whether this culture of ours is Christian or not, it is based on principles of freedom and mutual tolerance that can only be sustained by law and order, as we or our predecessors have established in our native lands.

    Faced with the implacable religio-fascism of Islam, to admit even the smallest and least noxious of its expressions is to open a door to wider incursions of this barbaric totalitarianism.

    An Orthodox deacon who is politically left-wing and pro-Palestinian was deceiving the public during our recent Greek festival, saying such things as “There is no Islamic threat,” and “Muslims venerate the Blessed Virgin Mary more than Protestants.” This deacon is a retired West Coast high school teacher and former Episcopalian. There are idiots in every denomination, and freedom can be easily betrayed by those who have never learned to pay the price to achieve and preserve it.

    Burqas and mosques are bad, not just for America, but for Western civilisation. Those who welcome them, who even promote them, will have a price to pay. Unfortunately, they may find it to be too high a price, and too late to pay it.

  2. I have to agree with the above commenter. The progress of Islam was incremental by and large in what is now Turkey. It would spread in cycles of war and peacetime. No matter how many times peace was made and then broken, Christians continued to either a) promote coexistence with this faith in their lands. or b) continually underestimated the seductive power of Islam. Now Turkey has a negligible and powerless Christian population.

    Its funny but I was considering this point the other day. I struggle with the ever growing population of veiled Muslim women in my university. I want to help them. I want to say what is in my heart to them but there is never the right opportunity. I feel I could write a book on why the veil is bad for women even when voluntarily assumed. I tried to console myself that at least they were willing to suffer for the sake of piety but quickly realized what a Trojan Horse of an argument that is. The veil represents a host of unwholesome and damaging ideas about women and their place in society particularly outside the home. In particular, it divides the world into girls who supposedly love God by wearing the veil and those who do not love God so much. I think that smart people are more than capable of working out the implications of such a division. What does it say then about girls who choose not to wear it? What does it say about a girl who changes her mind about wearing it? I won’t even go into the ostentation of the kind of in your face religion that the veil represents.

    I believe there is boundless good reasons why Christ did not command us to wear certain items of clothing to mark ourselves out. He is against all ostentation in religion knowing well that most people are all too capable of mistaking the false piety of outward appearances for the real piety of the heart. (please note that I said most. I do not mean to include the priesthood or the religious who are a different case) He wanted to Christians to be known by our love not our clothing.

    We have to be careful not to fall for the seduction of Islam and its ideas. We have to stand firm that the way of Christ is the only way.

    If we are inspired by the presence of Muslims in our midst, it should not be in order to emulate them, but as a spur to us to ever greater effort to reach these people and pierce the lies that enslave them.

  3. I like your tolerance but I must say that actually the Adhan IS offensive to all Christians, Jews and other faiths because it claims that Mohammed is G-d’s messenger and this is, to us, heresy.
    I don’t mind hijab on girls as long as is it doesn’t conflict with uniform regulations, perhaps this is what you meant… but the BURQA has NOTHING to do with Islam and everything to do with female oppression. It is offensive in my culture and frightens the children because they look like dementors from Harry Potter films. I don’t wear bikinis in Doha so perhaps no Burqa in Paris is more tolerant!

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