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Thursday, November 27, 2014

Announcing SISTER RELIGONS? - Interviews with Mark Durie and others

Sister Religions? a series of extended interviews with Mark Durie and others has been published in DVD form by Hatikvah Films.  It is available on Amazon (US) and direct from Hatikvah in the UK.

Sister Religions features groundbreaking interviews with Mark Durie, Elizabeth Kendal and Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali.

As a battle of ideologies rages across the Middle East, many people are asking the questions: Do Muslims and Christians worship the same God? Are Judaism, Christianity and Islam Sister Religions? Simple questions or maybe not...

You have three choices. Which will you choose?

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00PG8PPBA/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00PG8PPBA&linkCode=as2&tag=markduriecom-20&linkId=IALSWDV43S26OFKY

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Islam: solution or problem, that is the question

An earlier version of this article appeared in the November 2014 edition of The Melbourne Anglican.

A slogan of the Muslim Brotherhood is “Islam is the solution”. Dean Philip Jensen recently stated in regard to the Islamic State (ISIS) that “It is time to face the truth that Islam itself is part of the problem.” Solution or problem: what is the truth about Islam?

The world has been shocked by ISIS, which has committed beheadings, crucifixions, stonings, enslaving and selling captives, and imposing the notorious ‘three choices’ upon Syrian and Iraqi Christians. More than this, it has showed itself proud to do such things. The fact that thousands of Muslims from around the world have been traveling to the Levant to join ISIS suggests that these people also consider the acts of ISIS to be in accordance with Islam.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Jihadi Islam: a further response to John Azumah

By Mark Durie


This is an edited version of an article posted by Fulcrum.

John Azumah has taken yet another bite of the apple by releasing a third response to my Lapido Media article “‘Three Choices’ and the bitter harvest of denial”. This is an earlier response, now re-issued, in edited form, with Fulcrum (for his previous comments, both reported on Lapido Media, see here and here).

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Fear and the rhetoric of 'unprecedented' barbarity

By Mark Durie

Many leaders have been stating that the Islamic State’s actions are ‘unprecedented’, ‘extreme’, ‘unique’, or even ‘eccentric’.  Western leaders who are intervening in the Syria-Iraq conflict justify their actions by declaring the Islamic State to be uniquely evil.  In announcing military action and increased security measures, Australian Prime Ministry Tony Abbott said of the Islamic State that “To do such evil — and to revel in doing such evil — is simply unprecedented”. David Cameron stated that “ISIL is a terrorist organisation unlike those we have dealt with before.”  Barack Obama claimed “these terrorists are unique in their brutality.”

Friday, September 26, 2014

Muslims Need Truth and Love

By Mark Durie

This article first appeared in Eternity Magazine.

The past few weeks have been hard ones for Australians, not least for Australian Muslims. Various alleged plots by Islamic State supporters to slaughter Australians has Islam in the news. Even as I write, five out of ten of the “most popular” articles on The Australian’s website are about Islamic jihad and national security.

What are ordinary Australians to make of conspiracy theories aired by Muslims on the ABC’s Q&A program, implying that recent police raids were staged as a cynical act to manipulate public opinion?  Are Muslims being unfairly victimized by all these security measures?

How are we to evaluate Senator Jacqui Lambie’s claim that sharia law “obviously involves terrorism”?  Or the Prime Minister’s decision to mobilise Australia troops against the Islamic State? 

What about the Islamic State’s grandiose claim that “We will conquer your Rome, break your crosses, and enslave your women.”  Or Mr Abott’s declaration that the balance between freedom and security needs to be adjusted in favour of greater security and less freedom? 

Friday, September 5, 2014

Complexity, Truth and the Islamic State: a Response to John Azumah and Colin Chapman

Recently Lapido Media published an article of mine entitled ‘Three Choices’ and the bitter harvest of denial: How dissimulation about Islam is fuelling genocide in the Middle East.  In it I argued that Western theological illiteracy, made worse by demonstrably false statements put out by scholars, has weakened leaders’ and governments’ capacity to manage the risks associated with Islamist radicalism.  Because of this illiteracy Western leaders have had great difficulty grasping the implications of the global Islamic revival, especially its impact upon religious minorities.

I referred to three Christian scholars whose writings are examples of this problem: Miroslav Volf, Colin Chapman and John Esposito.  

Colin Chapman and John Azumah have responded to my article (see here, here, and also here), to which I am responding in my turn with this article.  

Friday, August 15, 2014

Christians are 'asking' to pay jizya: reflections on the Islamic State

An important documentary by VICE News has been published which uses extensive footage gained by a journalist embedded with Islamic State forces.  The youtube video linked here is set to start at 29m 58s, just before a section in which it is declared that Christians had asked for a dhimma pact, requesting to pay jizya.



(The link for the youtube video is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AUjHb4C7b94)

There are many noteworthy things about this documentary.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

‘Three Choices’ and the bitter harvest of denial: How dissimulation about Islam is fueling genocide in the Middle East

By Mark Durie

Published first by Lapido Media: see here.
Republished by permission.
Also see summary and comment by Jenny Taylor here.

In northern Iraq religious genocide is reaching end-game stage.  Islamic State (IS) soldiers, reinforced with military equipment originally supplied by the US, are driving back Kurdish defenders who had been protecting Christians and other religious minorities.  While hundreds of thousands of refugees have been fleeing into Kurdistan, around 40,000 Yazidis and some Christians are trapped on Mount Sinjar, surrounded by IS jihadis.  (Yazidis are Kurdish people whose pre-Christian faith derives from ancient Iranian religious traditions, with overlays and influences from other religions.)

The Assyrian Aid Society of Iraq has reported that children and the elderly are dying of thirst on Sinjar.  Parents are throwing their children to their deaths off the mountain rather than see them die of thirst or be taken into slavery by IS.  

The IS jihadis are killing the men they capture.  In one recent incident 1500 men were executed in front of their wives and families.  In another incident 13 Yazidi men who refused to convert to Islam had their eyes plucked out, were doused with gasoline and burned alive.  When the men are killed, captured women and children are enslaved to be used for sex, deployed as human shields in battle zones, or sold to be used and abused as their new owners see fit.

The United States has ironically called for greater cooperation.  UN Ambassador, Samantha Power, urged ‘all parties to the conflict’ to allow access to UN relief agencies. She called on Iraqis to ‘come together’ so that Iraq will ‘get back on the path to a peaceful future’ and ‘prevent ISIL from obliterating Iraq’s vibrant diversity’.

Of course it is not ‘vibrant diversity’ which is being wiped out in Iraq, but men, women and children by their tens of thousands.  This is not about the failure of coexistence, and the problem is not ‘conflict’. This is not about people who have trouble getting on and who need to somehow make up and ‘come together’. It is about a well-articulated and well-documented theological worldview hell-bent on dominating ‘infidels’, if necessary wiping them off the face of the earth, in order to establish the power and grandeur of a radical vision of Islam.  


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Update on The Koran and Child Marriage

In my last post I criticized  an article which had appeared in The Australian, It is the young flesh they want.  

 I challenged a paragraph in which an academic, Associate Professor Jennifer Burn was quoted as claiming that “The Koran does not support child marriage”.  However Associate Professor Burn asked the Australian to amend the article by removing this quote, as she had been misquoted: Anne Barrowclough, the journalist who wrote the article, had apparently not checked the quotation its alleged source. The Australian has made this correction. 

The original offending paragraph was:
“It is critical that the whole community is educated,” says Jennifer Burn of Anti-Slavery Australia. “The Koran does not support child marriage and the Grand Mufti of Australia says that consent is vital. But there are over 60 different traditions within the Muslim community, with different interpretations of the religious scriptures. We need the religious leaders to take the message into the communities, because they will listen to their leaders rather than us.”
The corrected paragraph is:
“It is critical that initiatives to address child marriage and forced marriage are developed in consultation with communities and with community leaders.”  
I have amended my previous post to inform readers about this correction.

I would also ask those who have reposted my earlier article to update their versions using the version at: http://markdurie.blogspot.com.au/2014/06/the-koran-and-child-marriage.html

=========

Mark Durie is a theologian, human rights activist, pastor of an Anglican church, a Shillman-Ginsburg Writing Fellow at the Middle Eastern Forum, and director of the Institute for Spiritual Awareness. He has published many articles and books on the language and culture of the Acehnese, Christian-Muslim relations and religious freedom. A graduate of the Australian National University and the Australian College of Theology, he has held visiting appointments at the University of Leiden, MIT, UCLA and Stanford, and was elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities in 1992.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

The Koran and Child Marriage

Today a report appeared in The Australian, a national daily newspaper, which discussed forced marriages in our nation.  There were many good points made in this article, which was entitled It is the young flesh they want. [This article has now been amended - see below: changes paragraphs are in blue.]

However the article reported, as if it were true, a completely false and easily disprovable statement about the Koran.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Boko Haram and the Dynamics of Denial: Islam is not the victim here

It is a common refrain of pious Muslims in the face of atrocities done by other Muslims in the name of Islam that Islam must not be shamed: whenever an atrocity potentially dishonors Islam, non-Muslims are asked to agree that ‘This is not Islamic’ so that the honor of Islam can be kept pristine. However the real issue is not what would be good or bad for Islam’s reputation.  … Islam is not the victim here. The pressing issue here is not to get people to think well of Islam, but how these girls can be rescued, and above all how Boko Haram’s murderous rampage is to be halted.

This article was first published by Front Page Magazine.


Thursday, May 1, 2014

Tony Blair on the Islamist Threat

Tony Blair delivered a major speech on April 23 entitled, “Why the Middle East Matters”. In summary, he argued that the Middle East, far from being a “vast unfathomable mess” is deep in the throes of a multi-faceted struggle between a specific religious ideology on the one hand, and those who want to embrace the modern world on the other.  Furthermore, the West, blinded up until now as to the religious nature of the conflict, must take sides: it should support those who stand on the side of open-minded pluralistic societies, and combat those who wish to create intolerant theocracies.

This article was first published by Front Page Magazine.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Videos and Other Resources by Mark Durie on Islam

This blog is a bit different from usual. It provides a broader context for my writings on Islam.

There are two aspects to my speaking and writing on Islam.  Some of this is for secular or multi-faith audiences: in such forums I do not assume the audience adheres to or even sympathizes with a Christian worldview. By and large this markdurie.com blog adopts this approach: virtually all my articles on Islam intended a more general audience end up on this blog, where they go out to around 650 people.

Although not assuming a Christian audience, my concerns here are almost always theological, as I seek to make Islamic ideology understandable, and its significance in shaping the behaviour of at least some people, not all of them Muslims.  (My book The Third Choice takes this approach.)  This perspective is important for understanding issues of human rights, war and peace, and human behaviour in general.  Theological illiteracy is one of the crucial disabilities of modern western people in engaging with the world of Islam.

I am an academic by training and background, but a pastor by profession, and I also teach for specifically Christian audiences.  (My other two books Liberty to the Captives and Which God? fit into this category.) Some of this teaching focuses on persecution of Christians.  Other teaching has been concerned with evangelism: for example how to understand Islam in a way that puts presenting the Christian message in context.  Some of this teaching has also been concerned with how to help people of Christian faith who are leaving Islam or who suffer fear of Islam or Muslims.  

I have recently reorganized the videos at http://www.markdurie.com/videos-and-audios. At that site is a set of three lectures delivered at Calvin College which many have found useful in explaining Islam. 

On the same web page there are also videos of two lectures presented at Moody Church in Chicago, which speak about persecution of Christians. One of these teaches on 'dhimmitude' and provides prayers for Christians in response to dhimmitude.  Many people of Christian faith have found this an impacting and liberating message (which can also be found in more detail in the book Liberty to the Captives).

There are also links to other audios and videos, including talks at think tanks and for public forums including radio.

I also write on other topics besides Islam, including more general ethical issues, such as abortion, slavery and marriage.  These writings tend to show up on my 'vicar's blog'.

I often preach at the church where I serve, and my sermons are regularly loaded on the church website at smac.org.au.  Some are better than others.


Mark Durie is a theologian, human rights activist, Anglican pastor, a Shillman-Ginsburg Writing Fellow at the Middle East Forum, and Adjunct Research Fellow of the Centre for the Study of Islam and Other Faiths at Melbourne School of Theology.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

The Rising Sex Traffic in Forced Islamic Marriage

Western nations are facing what has been called an “epidemic” of forced marriages of their young Muslim women. While those who compel young Muslim women and girls into marriages could be charged with human trafficking offences and also in some cases placed on the national register of sex offenders, governments also should target for prosecution all those who are involved in the solemnisation of these illegal marriages.

This article first appeared in the March 2014 edition of Quadrant.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Multiculturalism’s Child Brides

Recent reports of under-age marriages in Australia are evidence that the authorities need to do more to enforce marriage laws in Western nations, and to restrict the practice of unregistered ‘clandestine’ religious marriages, particularly Islamic marriages.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Islam’s Second Crisis: the troubles to come

In What Went Wrong, Bernard Lewis charted the decline of Islam in the modern era and the resulting theological crisis for the Muslim world.

Now Islam is going through a second crisis, caused by the repeated failures of revivalist responses to the first crisis.  This second crisis, combined with the cumulative effect of the first crisis, which remains unresolved, will lead to a long drawn-out period of political and social instability for Muslim societies.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Andrew Brown on "Response to A GUIDE TO REFUTING JIHADISM"

Andrew Brown of the Guardian has commented on my response to A Guide to Refuting Jihadism, which was published first on Lapido Media and then in fuller form on this blog.

Brown writes:
Can you dissuade fanatical jihadis using theological argument?
by Andrew Brown (as revised on Feb 10, 2014)
It doesn't really matter whether the fundamentalists are right about the nature of Islam – it's loyalties and peer pressure that drive them.

How much of what jihadis do is religiously motivated? At one extreme are those who claim their beliefs are entirely explained by oppression and reaction to social circumstances; at the other is the view that the Qur'an is a kind of brain parasite, compelling its victims to slaughter. This latter view is still quite popular on the fringes of the right. I'd like to think the view that religion doesn't matter at all has been abandoned entirely but there is bound to be some groupuscule or cult that still clings to it.

More sophisticated versions of the argument continue, though, and there was a fascinating outbreak this week when the Henry Jackson Society published a pamphlet organised by a former jihadi giving theological reasons why jihadi violence is as unjustified as terrorism, and a counterblast saying this would persuade no one, as Muhammad himself had clearly done indiscriminately violent things and the fanatics we are dealing with use only the text of the Qur'an.

Both sides in this dispute know what they are talking about. The Henry Jackson pamphlet comes with a foreword by the remarkable Usama Hasan, who himself fought in Afghanistan in the 1990s; the Christian counterblast comes from an experienced watcher of the jihadi scene.

Read the full article at:
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/belief/2014/feb/09/fanatical-jihadis-theological-argument-islam-fundamentalists

Friday, February 7, 2014

Response to A GUIDE TO REFUTING JIHADISM – Critiquing radical Islamist claims to theological authenticity

This article first appeared with Lapido Media: see here.

The Henry Jackson Society had just launched a guide to rejecting jihadi theologies in Islam, A Guide to Refuting Jihadism by Rashad Ali and Hannah Stuart.  There are also forewords by two Sheikhs, including one from Al-Azhar University, and endorsements from other Muslim leaders.  
Although the appearance of this guide as a welcome acknowledgement that jihadi violence is theologically motivated, its use of Islamic sources is flawed and unconvincing, and there are risks for secular governments in embracing its arguments.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

The Abrahamic Fallacy

The original of this article was published in the New English Review.

The Abrahamic Fallacy

by Mark Durie (February 2014)
Presented at Ahavath Torah Synagogue, Stoughton, Massachusetts January  9, 2014
and for Children of Holocaust Survivors in Los Angeles, California, January 21,2014
(the video displayed here below)
Introduction
The Abrahamic Fallacy is the belief that Abraham is a figure of unity for Islam, Christianity and Judaism. 
The phrase “Abrahamic Religions” has become very popular as a cover-term for these three faiths. It is particularly popular among Jewish and Christian progressives on the one hand, and Muslim apologists on the other. The term implies a kind of unity or brotherhood across the three faiths.
More broadly, the term “Abrahamic religions” has become the standard term, both in comparative religions and popular parlance, to refer to the three monotheistic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, in contrast, for example, to Indian religions and East Asian religions.
In essence the claim embodied by the expression is that Abraham is “shared” as a point of common origin by all three monotheistic religions, and naming him as their shared identity is meant to signal that these three faiths are linked together in some kind of theological continuity. 
The expression is in fact used in a variety of ways. Adam Dodds points out that for some, it is simply a cover term for the grouping of Islam, Christianity and Judaism, a kind of functional shorthand without any intended theological content. Others – perhaps the majority of writers – use the phrase to imply some degree of “historical and theological commonality,” perhaps unspecified. For still others the term implies an intimate unity, namely that it is one and the same God who has authored the Bible and the Qur’an, and the same eternal message is presented in both books.
But is the construct of “Abrahamic religion” helpful, or quite the opposite, a bad idea? And specifically, is the multi-faith Abraham the same person found in the pages of the Torah, or is he merely a product of wishful thinking?