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DA'AWA VS. PROSELYTIZATION
( CONVERSION EFFORTS IN KASHMIR AND IRAQ )
--Bob Crane's email response to a CUI member's concerns on the subject.
courtesy: Center for Understanding of Islam (CUI), New Jersey
Bob Crane is Chairman of the Board of the CUI and author of several books and hundreds of articles on global strategy, comparative legal systems, and Islam. President Nixon appointed him to be Deputy Director for Planning in the National Security Council, and a decade later President Reagan appointed him to be U.S. Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates. Bob Crane's interest in Islam began in a chance meeting with a Shi'a imam in Bahrain that led to his personal study and consequent acceptance of Islam as the key to truth, love, and justice. Bob Crane's remarkable books and Research Papers that offer unique insight toward understanding of contemporary issues relevant to American Muslims, can be ordered from the Center For Understanding of Islam at firstname.lastname@example.org
The outcry about occupying armies engaging in converting the occupied peoples is now front-page news, as shown in recent days by reports of organized campaigns of religious conversion in Kashmir and Iraq. This is a crime against humanity, and all people, especially Muslims, should be aware of what is involved.
The standard differentiation between Muslim and Christian outreach is its purpose. Muslim da'wa is supposed to be merely education about Islam without any pressure or even any purpose to convert anyone. Christian evangelization, on the other hand, is designed to convert people, because those who do not "accept Jesus as their Savior" will all go to hell. Converting others is part of being a fundamentalist Christian.
Muslims recognize that all the world religions are legitimate as part of the plan of Allah, though not all are equal, and that sincere people in any faith can go to heaven provided that they believe in the existence of God,
recognize accountability in a final judgment, and practice good works. These three are the only requirements for "salvation" according to the Qur'an. Therefore there is no need to convert anyone to Islam, though it is
vitally important that everyone be educated about Islam in order to counter misinformation and prejudice. People become Muslims only because Allah wants them to. It is not up to the individual persons involved.
You talk about "Islamic Proselytization." This is an oxymoran, because proselytizing, i.e. trying to force people to convert to Islam, is un-Islamic. Islam is probably the only religion in the world that truly respects freedom of religion, because it recognizes the legitimacy of all major religions.
Christians, at least the fundamentalist kind, are convinced that all Muslims are going to hell because they are Muslims. Therefore, they believe that Christian love requires that every Christian try to convert Muslims.
The approachs of the two religions to religious freedom are diametrically opposite.
Now we come to the deliberate campaigns of conversion, as we see in Kashmir and now in Iraq, especially exploiting the physical vulnerability of the targeted people as a tool of conversion. This, from the Islamic point of view, is cultural imperialism and a denial of human dignity.
Muslims should demand that the only humanitarian groups permitted in Iraq must not only renounce proselytizing but have no record of ever having committed such a crime. If the U.S. government permits such activities during its occupation of Iraq, such violations of human rights should be brought before the new International Criminal Court as a crime against humanity.
The current administration in Washington, of course, for obvious reasons refuses to recognize the legitimacy of this court, but this is precisely why such an indictment should be brought. Such a lawsuit would expose any hypocrisy, as well as highlight the fundamentally un-American nature of such hypocrisy as an affront to human dignity and to the most basic principles of America's founders.
<< It is interesting! Is it not that religion has been used for all times to exploit the Humans for political purposes including clout and to have numerical advantage if not numerical superiority? The situation in Kashmir to me does not appear to be any different than in any other part of the world. What I am going to say next is probably not going to sit well with those who like to have unilateral and partisan point of view only. It is most likely true that those Christian churches involved in Kashmir and other parts of the world are buying the souls and the minds of the converts to Christianity by exploiting their ignorance and their poverty. When those Kashmiris or for that matter Muslims anywhere else in the world can be so easily enticed into changing their religion for few dollars, then the natural question that arises is what good those Muslims are (without being judgmental of their intentions and their place in the hereafter) from the religion point of view except carrying an external Muslim identity? So if they convert to Christianity or any other religion does not really matter much, Does it? To
have a balanced and fair point of view one has to ask the question how is DAWAH (Islamic Proselytization) different or legitimate while spreading Christianity is not? Why should one condemn one and condone the other? To paraphrase Karl Von Clausevits, Is that the Religious Wars are tools for the continuation of politics of religion by any means available? We at CUII are trying to raise and discuss the questions of conscience confronting and challenging the Muslims all over the world in an atmosphere of mutual understanding and respect congenial and civilized atmosphere where education of the mind ,ours and everybody else’s,is the intention and the goal. I would therefore respectfully request all who read this that my comments are to be taken form that perspective only and not in any negative sense.
It’s conversion time in Valley Slowly and discreetly, Christian evangelists make inroads into Muslim heartland of Kashmir TARIQ MIR SRINAGAR, APRIL 5: Amid booming guns and endless violence, Kashmir is witnessing a discreet spurt in conversion — from Islam to Christianity. Christian groups are putting the number of neo-converts at over 10,000 and a Sunday Express investigation confirms that conversions have been taking place regularly across the Valley. At least a dozen Christian missions and churches based in the US, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland have sent evangelists to the Valley and are pumping in money through intermediaries based in New Delhi.
All Saints Church in Sonawar,
Srinagar. By Javeed Shah
In the Valley where death and trauma are a way of life, the missionaries are getting immediate attention because they reach out to the poor, needy and those affected by violence. Also, they bring in a lot of money. Though conversions have not encountered any resistance from Muslim organizations, it has led to tensions between Kashmir’s native Christians — a miniscule community of 650 — and the enthusiastic evangelists.
The native Christians are increasingly getting vocal against the outsiders. ‘‘This type of conversions aren’t good for local Christians who had shared a cordial relationship with Muslims here for centuries. The conversions they are doing are Biblically wrong. There are umpteen cases in which one person has been baptized thrice within a few months. These so-called evangelists have set up businesses in the garb of Church and social work,’’ says Pastor Leslie Richards, a native protestant living in Braen, Srinagar. ‘‘The converts here do it for monetary reasons and the people who convert them too do it for the same reasons,’’ he adds.
Christianity Today, a magazine, puts the number of Kashmiri Muslims who recently converted to Christianity at thousands. An article, Harassed
Kashmiri Christians Reach out to Discreet Muslims, posted on their website Christianitytoday.com reasons: ‘‘Wearied by violence, thousands are
interested in the Prince of Peace. They have faith in Jesus but don’t come out. Their number goes into thousands in the rural areas.’’ The estimates
pieced together by the evangelists here say the number of converts to Christianity touch 12,000 in the Valley.
The founder of Agape Mission, Pastor Neethi Rajan, a Hindu convert from Chennai, says, ‘‘God spoke to me clearly and asked me to go to
Kashmir.’’ Determined to spread the Gospel among Kashmiris, Rajan says as long as people
are not exploited, spreading the message of Christ isn’t wrong.
‘‘Thousands of people have accepted Jesus as their saviour and many more are showing
interest across Kashmir. There’s nothing wrong in preaching the Gospel,’’ says Rajan.
Asked about the source of funds, Rajan says friends help him out. Insiders, however, say he is linked to Assemblies of God, a US-based mission.
Though many organisations say they are interested in social work and not conversions, an investigation across the Valley confirmed conversions. Among
the churches and missions that have set up bases are US-based German Town Baptist Church, US-based Frontiers, a mission with an avowed aim to reproduce
churches among unreached Muslim people (www.frontiers.org)
and Assemblies of God. They have funded around a dozen churches and missions in Kashmir.
Two German-based missions, Call of Hope and Overseas Social Service, have a base with over 60 evangelists. Another mission, The Campus Crusade for
Christ, with bases in the West has a strong network of evangelists among the students in the Valley.
The Switzerland-based mission, The Good Way, has a base in rural Kashmir. Two Indian missions, National Missionary Intelligencer and Cooperative Outreach
of India, too fund evangelists here. The focus of evangelical work is mostly in rural Kashmir and areas bordering Srinagar.
Cooperative Outreach of India (COI), a Delhi-based NGO that works among the lepers and downtrodden in Srinagar, makes no bones about the source of
funding. Insiders say COI receives funds from the German Town Baptist Church, one of the wealthiest Protestant churches in Tennesse, US, Frontiers, another
US mission and Call of Hope, a mission based in Germany.
The director of the COI, Remesh Landge — who was recently in the Valley to give away sewing machine to lepers — admits that they receive money from Churches overseas. ‘‘We do get some foreign funding from churches and missions overseas. But we don’t use them to convert people. We work to try and help the poor and needy here.’’
He blames the Roman Catholic church for discrediting the image of Christians
who work among the poor. ‘‘Our churches and missions don’t have that much
of money. Roman Catholics have huge money. It’s they who created controversy in
other parts of the country by converting tribals which ended in the sad killing of Graham Staines.’’ adds Landge.