Allah or Jesus?Last month I attended my annual training session that's required for maintaining my state prison security clearance. During the training session there was a presentation by three speakers representing the Roman Catholic, Protestant and Muslim faiths, who explained each of their belief systems.I was particularly interested in what the Islamic Imam had to say. The Imam gave a great presentation of the basics of Islam, complete with a video. After the presentations, time was provided for questions and answers.When it was my turn, I directed my question to the Imam and asked: "Please, correct me if I'm wrong, but I understand that most Imams and clerics of Islam have declared a holy jihad [Holy war] against the infidels of the world. And, that by killing an infidel, which is a command to all Muslims, they are assured of a place in heaven. If that's the case, can you give me the definition of an infidel?"There was no disagreement with my statements and, without hesitation, he replied, "Non-believers!"I responded, "So, let me make sure I have this straight. All followers of Allah have been commanded to kill everyone who is not of your faith so they can go to Heaven. Is that correct?"The expression on his face changed from one of authority and command to that of a little boy who had just gotten caught with his hand in the cookie jar. He sheepishly replied, "Yes."I then stated, "Well, sir, I have a real problem trying to imagine Pope John Paul commanding all Catholics to kill those of your faith or Dr. Stanley ordering Protestants to do the same in order to go to Heaven!" The Imam was speechless.I continued, "I also have problem with being your friend when you and your brother clerics are telling your followers to kill me. Let me ask you a question. Would you rather have your Allah who tells you to kill me in order to go to Heaven or my Jesus who tells me to love you because I am going to Heaven and He wants you to be with me?"You could have heard a pin drop as the Imam hung his head in shame. Needless to say, the organizers and/or promoters of the 'Diversification' training seminar were not happy with Rick's way of dealing with the Islamic Imam and exposing the truth about the Muslim's beliefs.Chuck Colson once told me something that has sustained me these 20 years of prison ministry. He said to me, "Rick, remember that the truth will prevail."And it will!
Summary of the eRumor
Origins: The piece quoted above ("Allah or Jesus?") is an editorial penned by Rick Mathes, Executive Director of the Mission Gate Prison Ministry.We asked Mr. Mathes if he could provide some information about the origins of the piece, and he responded:
This article is an exact recording of a real event that I participated in. My only commentary was, "the truth will prevail." I think this meeting was in May 2003 and I will not give out more details for fear of retribution. The purpose of the class was to increase "religious sensitivity", that is, tolerance for each others beliefs and I really blew that. The director was purple with rage however the Imam and I exchanged signs and said "Salaam" which means "peace" in Arabic (I hope). I questioned him (Imam) really to get a clear refutation of what is commonly thought of this Jihad nonsense. But apparently he wasn't educated enough to rebut my remarks or by his silence on this matter (I think) concurred with my implied conclusions. In either case I was surprised. And when I said I found it hard to be his friend, everyone laughed out loud. So the mood was an amazing mix of those who were interested like me and others that were just amused by the whole thing. I left the matter open on purpose (the truth will prevail) so that either side could speak up and claim the truth as their own.
Reporter Greg Kearney, writing for the Lee News Service, traced the story to a correctional facility in Fulton, Missouri, and came away with a decidedly different version of events from Missouri state officials.According to Tim Kniest, Public Information Officer for the Missouri Department of Corrections, the event described was a training program for prison volunteers, for which ministers from several faiths were invited to give presentations in order to acquaint prison volunteers with the varied religious beliefs of the inmate population. The man who gave the presentation about Islam was not a Muslim minister; he was an inmate pressed into service to present a short film on Islam and answer some questions when the prison's Volunteer Coordinator was "unable to find an Imam to speak."Moreover, reported Mr. Kniest, the prison's Volunteer Coordinator said that "The inmate did a good job," adding, "He was asked a few questions that were beyond his ability to answer. But he was not asked anything like that question [in the editorial]":. . . the Volunteer Coordinator at the prison said that no such exchange as the editorial reported ever took place. "He certainly did not 'Hang his head in shame'," according to Kniest. In fact, the inmate was thanked by the assembly before being escorted back to his quarters. Furthermore, the coordinator does not recall any questions dealing with jihad [Holy war] against the infidels of the world as reported in the editorial.In the editorial the inmate is presented as an Imam, or Islamic minister, which he clearly was not.
For Muslims the question asked by Mr. Mathes is not difficult or so esoteric that it takes an "expert" in Islam to answer. It is a question easily answered by any Muslim or non-Muslim who has studied the Qur'an, teachings of Islam or the history of Islam with non-Muslims. The myth about Muslims declaring holy war against infidels is a false creation by enemies of Islam meant to demonize Islam in the minds of those who are ignorant of the religion. In fact no such teaching exists anywhere in the Qur'an or can be found anywhere in authentic Islamic literature. The ecumenical attitude and respect for all righteous people regardless of religion is expressed very clearly in many places in the Qur'an. One of the verses that addresses that is the following: