Written by Sherry
Friday, 26 February 2010 19:33
A reader sends word of this remarkable interview with a Muslim missionary ("Daniel") who has recently been baptized as an Orthodox Christian in London. This strangely is a translation of a translation of a translation and comes via the blog Notes on Arab Orthodoxy. The blogger believes the interview to be authentic.
"The first time that I had the desire to study the New Testament in detail was when I was in front of the Kaaba in Mecca—I lived for a time in Mecca. Christian literature is strictly prohibited in Saudi Arabia and many websites are even blocked, but with the development of modern communications, it is not difficult for those who are looking to find the Word of God. After a time, I tried to convince and American who was working in the Saudi capital to convert to Islam. When I spoke to him, he responded with much courage and conviction. I was surprised by his courage, because in Saudi Arabia a man who preaches Christianity can easily be killed. Conversations with Christians in Saudi Arabia were very important for me. As someone associated with the Islamic mission in Arabia, I encountered many foreigners."
"I agree that there are many secret Christians in Saudi Arabia. Several times I myself have encountered people who were probably secret Christians. We need to understand that in Saudi Arabia and other countries, maybe the majority of Muslims go to the mosque not because their faith encourages them to, but because they are obliged to do so under the pressure of laws and customs. Visiting the mosque becomes a burden. Muslims of today are rather less religious than people in the Christian world believe."
"In Muslim countries, many people search for truth and it’s because of this that the Christian mission will grow. Most promote Christianity among friends, and recently there have been television networks and many more internet sites dedicated to mission among Muslims. In general, many Muslims distance themselves from Islam and this is especially visible in Western countries. In Great Britain, many Muslims have converted to Christianity. In the Anglican Church, Muslims who have adopted Christianity are estimated at a hundred thousand people. Many of them are Pakistanis. They have their own Christian churches and are forced to hide because of the danger of reprisals from the Muslims. There are also Arab and Bengali converts to Christianity. Very many convert because of mixed marriages."
"Sherry's note: I've never heard this statistic before that that doesn't mean it is impossible. There are some creative missionary endeavors within evangelical Anglicanism, especially in the global south.
On Muslim practice in the UK
The presence of mosques in the UK is very weak. Most Muslims won’t ever go to a mosque. The young people have effectively left Islam, even if they say that they’re still Muslims. In the mosques they don’t find a common language with the Imams from Pakistan or Bangladesh. Young people can barely speak Urdu or Bengali but only English. Many are ashamed of Islam because of terrorism. Our inter-religious council investigated mosque attendance and we know what the real picture is and it is especially alarming for Islam, but it is to the advantage of certain people to present Islam as an immense force.
Are there many Muslims who convert to Christianity in Great Britain?
"On the one hand, there are very many. This happens without any publicity. In effect, according to most schools of Islam an apostate from Islam should be executed, even though the imams of the chief mosques of London say that they cannot be executed for apostasy from Islam.
However, on the other hand, we can say that there are very few, since many Muslims simply abandon their faith and become unbelievers. Unbelief is an illness common to all. Certain Muslims try to present atheism and the absence of religion as characteristics of Christian civilization, but Muslims themselves, even more than Christians, lose their faith in the Western world."
Sherry's note: the issue of "secret believers" in both Islam and Hinduism is getting a lot of attention in the evangelical missions world. Some of these undercover believers in Jesus are baptized and would call themselves Christians. Others are not baptized and consider themselves to be both culturally Muslim and spiritually followers of Jesus. Some missionaries are intentionally fostering "NBB" (Non Baptized Believers) with the idea that someone who is not forced out of their family and cultural setting - as so many Muslim Background Believers are - is much better placed to be an evangelizing influence
The only category in Catholic or Orthodox ecclesiology for a "non baptized believer" would be a sort of life-long catechumen. But a catechumen that has no intention of being baptized eventually or of calling him or herself a "Christian" which is - or at least, has been - unthinkable. Welcome to post-modernity. This movement is highly controversial in evangelical circles as well. There are very rough estimates that there night be as many as 15 million "Non-baptized believers" in the Muslim and Hindu worlds.
I'm planning a series of posts on the huge Lausanne missions conference to be held in Cape Town in October to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the landmark Edinburgh Missions Conference of 1910. Over 4,000 invited missions leaders from all over the world will attend. It is an ecumenical conference of evangelical missions.
If there is any Catholic representation at this conference, it is low key and informal. But the many of the leaders are former Catholics. And the fruits of the conference will ultimately affect Catholics all over the world. A number of these leaders are working in Europe, working to stem the tide of secular disbelief there.
As part of the preparation for this conference, Christianity Today is sponsoring a web based "Global Conversation" on 12 topics of major interest to evangelical missionaries. The topic for December, 2009 was Muslim Followers of Jesus.
It was a spirited conversation with lots of comments and the website is worth perusing for those who want to get a better sense of this wholly new development in the history of the Christian-Muslim relationship.