“Nobody changes from Muslim to Christian – you are a Muslim…If I had a knife now, I would kill you.” Abdelaa Hashem – an Egyptian judge, to Martha Samuel Makkar, according to her lawyer. Convert Makkar had been charged with forging identification documents. (Egypt does not allow religion changes on identification papers.)
Well, it is the law – it is illegial to change your stated religion on your legal documents in Egypt. And Romans, Chapter 13 speaks clearly about obeying authority because ALL authority has been placed there by God. No one said it would be easy. It was not easy for the early Christians in Rome to obey the rulers of Rome as it was the emperor who was blaming Christians for what was going wrong at that time in the empire and who was persecuting them – putting them to death. And Paul had the audacity to write (under the inspiration and direction of the Holy Spirit) that they were to pay taxes to this “authority” when the tax money was going directly into persecuting believers. It is often not easy to obey the authorities and see them as placed there by God Himself. So, she should not have changed the listing of her ‘religion’ on her identification papers because it is against the law that the authorities have put into place – and this authority is of God.
However, I was interested in what the judge had to say in this quote (as found in a recent edition of the magazine Christianity Today). “Nobody changes from Muslim to Christian – you are a Muslim…If I had a knife now, I would kill you.”
Now I am no expert on the Muslim faith – but I do believe that the Ten Commandments form part of their theological base. And so murder would be a sin. Of course, they believe they have the truth and that only Muslims are doing the will of Allah – which includes ridding the world of infidels. An infidel is someone who does not convert to Islam and the Muslim faith. Convert or die. “Muslims view all other religions as satanic expressions of polytheism… All Muslims have a sacred mission: to bring the entire world under Allah’s dominion by force of persuasion.” (Larson’s Book of World Religions and Alernative Spirituality – page 275).
“There are only two classes of people: Dar-ul-Islam, those who have submitted, and Dur-ul-hard, those who resist. The latter are fair game for missionary efforts, financial pressure (e.g., the oil embargo), and the ‘sword of Allah’ in jihad [holy war], or whatever measures are necessary to bring them under the authority of Islam.” (Larson – Page 269).
So, if this woman who faced a judge in an Egyptian court had converted away from the Muslim faith – although guilty of breaking the civil law of the nation because she changed her religious listing on her idntification papers – she would also be fearful for her life even from a judge of the nation that swore to uphold the law. He could actually knife her to death and declare it proper religious justice and justify it to himself as being faithful to his call as a Muslim.
In that context his comment in a court of law does not seem so strange. Just as frightening – but not as far out or strange as it first appears.
Thinking about this a lot these past few days … and I really admire the passion and the zeal this judge has for what he believes to be the truth. And, how this “truth” has shaped his life and his thinking. And, his resulting commitment to the beliefs that he holds to – and to actual will to act on those beliefs – is commendable.
Looking at a lot of Christians today – you will not see this type of zeal and passion in their lives for what they say they believe. In fact, apathy and lethargy (as well as self-centeredness) have taken over in many cases and, as a result, we don’t speak up to express our worldview or our point of view. We fail to declare the Gospel and whimp out before even the least opposition. Maybe we don’t truely believe that Jesus is the ONLY WAY to the Father – and so don’t feel the passion to rescue the lost compelling us to tell others – because we don’t really believe they are lost! Maybe we don’t believe that the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation! Maybe we simply don’t know what we actually believe! Well, I believe we only believe those parts of the Bible that we actually put into practice and apply in our lives. This means that there is really little actual “belief” in what God has spoken to us within the Church in North America.
We have much to learn from the Muslims then – and from the Jehovah Witnesses and the Mormons, as well. Much to learn about passion and zeal … and remember God’s Word states:
“So love the Lord God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence and energy.” (Mark 12:30 The Message)
And, Romans 12:11 states: “Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fevor, serving the Lord.” In The Message Version this verse reads: “Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame…cheerfully expectant…”
More on these verses next time!