Mormons and Muslims

October 24, 2011 | 62 comments
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I had a university professor who lived in Iran and ran a television program dedicated to classical Persian music prior to the Islamic revolution. He spent a lot of time during the seventies crossing sketchy borders into various ‘Stans. One of his tools for successful border crossing (not to mention survival) was a pamphlet he wrote himself, highlighting similarities between Mormons and Muslims; things like a founding prophet, directly revealed scripture, fasting, and polygamy. I was intrigued by his comparisons, and this class was one of the many things that prompted me to study Arabic and learn more about Islam.

prayer

 It’s sad to me that so many Mormons (like Americans in general) have negative and badly stereotyped views of Muslims. As adherents ourselves to a religion that often seems to get more than its share of unfair and unfounded criticism, we can afford a deeper look. During the time I’ve spent in Muslim countries (and with Muslims in this country), I have noticed quite a few points in which Mormons and Muslims have more in common than either group does with other denominations of Christians.

One of the first that seems to come up is alcohol. If you go out to a restaurant and decline to order wine, your American waiter will think you’re cheap, your Italian waiter will think you’re crazy, and your Tunisian waiter will light up in pleasure and disbelief, commend you for your temperance,  and tell you this is the first time he’s ever seen a non-Muslim who doesn’t drink.

Another fairly obvious similarity is our emphasis on modest dress. When I lived in Damascus, I never saw form-fitting or revealing clothing—except in the Christian quarter of the city, where cleavage was as ubiquitous as crosses, and jeans were worn as tight as humanly possible. The Muslims, on the other hand, whether they wore head-scarves or not, generally dressed modestly. My Muslim friends who wear the hijab (the general term for a Muslim head covering of any sort) say they view it as a way of respecting both themselves and Deity. They typically describe it as an outward expression of their inner commitment to God. Sound familiar?

It is true that in some countries and cultures the hijab has become a tool of repression, used to keep women within limited, pre-determined roles and force them to take responsibility for curtailing male lust. Unfortunately, I’d have to cite this as another similarity between our culture and theirs, considering the number of lessons I heard in Young Women’s about dressing modestly so I didn’t give the boys bad thoughts. 

Interestingly enough, during the ten months since the peaceful revolution in Tunisia, usage of the hijab has increased dramatically. For the past fifty-odd years, wearing it had been discouraged. One dictator infamously called it a “dirty rag.” Those who wore it could be barred from universities, intimidated, and even arrested.  Now many Tunisian women, especially the young, hijabare exercising their newfound freedom to practice their religion as they see fit, and wearing the hijab.

It has been suggested that the increase is a mere fashion trend, devoid of real religious commitment, and inspired by glamorous new styles available via the internet from the Emirates, which may be partially true. (Yes, I admit, I can see the fascination of the hijab myself.) Still, when a sixteen-year-old decides on her own (or in concert with her friends) that “modest is hottest,” I’m not going to be the one to discourage her.

Another fascinating area of convergence is our veneration for a founding prophet. No, we Mormons don’t worship Joseph Smith, but our Christian friends can perhaps be forgiven for thinking we do, especially when we sing songs like Praise to the Man, quote scripture originating with him much more often than the Bible, and even claim that he “has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it.”

For centuries, Muslims were referred to by outsiders as “Mohammedans,” and accused of worshiping their prophet. It is certainly true that they put as much emphasis on him as we do on our prophet. Their declaration of faith, the honest recitation of which is more or less the equivalent to a Christian baptism, states, “there is no God but God, and Muhammad is the messenger of God.”

qur'an It was common, especially in the 19th century, for detractors of our church to compare Joseph Smith to Muhammad, and accuse him of planning to enforce “Mormonism” with the sword. The similarities between the two are striking. Both Joseph and Muhammad had seminal visions, spoke with previous prophets, and married multiple wives. Both envisioned and created physical as well as spiritual communities of believers. Each produced a famous holy book that became what we call a “keystone” of the new faith, although our Doctrine and Covenants is more similar in form to the Qur’an than is the Book of Mormon.

When I see my Muslim friends wash their hands before they touch their holy book, keep it on the top shelf above all other books, and hang beautiful quotes from it on their walls, I feel a renewed appreciation for the sacredness of the word of God, and I revere my own holy books a little more.

Another area in which Muslims inspire me is the practice of fasting. I was fortunate enough to spend Ramadan in a Muslim country this year. I’ve always been impressed by the idea that Muslims fast for an entire month, but the actual reality of it staggered me. Especially when that month was August, and the country was mostly composed of desert.

minarets

My Tunisian neighbors would find the New Testament injunction of “appearing not unto men to fast” quite odd. For Muslims, fasting is a community affair. Everyone knows that everyone else is fasting, and they all do what they can to help each other out. Talking about how hungry you are is both acceptable and common. Work slows down everywhere. People spend much more time with their families. It’s like a month-long holiday, in the original sense of “holy day.” Both families and communities draw closer together as they experience the trials and joys of Ramadan together. And I can only imagine the spiritual power that results from such sustained, communal devotion.

Last but not least, Muslims make great member missionaries. I’ve been invited to embrace Islam by both close friends and random internet acquaintances. The Muslims I know always seem happy to discuss their religion at the slightest provocation. I enjoy the novelty of being on the receiving end of an invitation to read a book and pray about it. I appreciate their candid willingness to share how their religion blesses their life, and how happy they (and I) would be if I converted. And I’m both amused and touched to see myself through their eyes as the “golden contact” I must appear.

photo credits: prayer, hijab, Qur’an, minarets

62 Responses to Mormons and Muslims

  1. Sam Brunson on October 24, 2011 at 5:33 pm

    Interesting parallels. One thing, though, that I take issue with:

    If you go out to a restaurant and decline to order wine, your American waiter will think you’re cheap, your Italian waiter will think you’re crazy

    You just have to do it the right way (and maybe in big cities). If you ask what nonalcoholic drinks they have upfront, no waiter I’ve ever had in the U.S. (again, at a decent, big-city restaurant) blinks. Either they have the standard cola, Sprite, etc., which is, frankly, embarrassing for them, or they have specialty sodas (or a good sparkling apple cider or grape juice), which is better, or they have a bartender who can make a great nonalcoholic mixed drink, which can be remarkably good. There are enough pregnant women, recovering alcoholics, or people who aren’t in the mood for a drink that a decent restaurant will be ready to accommodate (and profit from) them.

    We did eat at one restaurant in Italy where, after our lunch, the waiter was getting ready to comp us a glass each of the house wine. And it was kind of sad to say no. He wasn’t at all snooty, although he couldn’t figure out why we said no (it helped, of course, that we were with my at-the-time pregnant sister).

  2. Kurt on October 24, 2011 at 5:33 pm

    Very insightful, civil, and timely article. Well done.

  3. Ardis E. Parshall on October 24, 2011 at 5:53 pm

    An additional similarity is that if you turn to the internet for help without already being thoroughly familiar with what you’re hoping to learn, you will inevitably land on anti-Islam sites which grossly distort everything about Islam, but which will be presented in such calm and “helpful” terms and with such extensive quotes from men who are represented as being authorities that you won’t realize you’re reading something that no Muslim would recognize.

    When my niece converted, I accompanied her to several events for the families of new converts, and I tried to talk to her about what attracted her to Islam as a faith. I understood already why she was attracted culturally, but I wanted to understand something about it as a religion, and the interior life of a Muslim, not just the visible mechanics (which is really all you tell us about, too). I haven’t been able to find the answers to my questions, but I’ve learned through dramatic experience not to trust anything I’ve found on the internet.

  4. Alison Moore Smith on October 24, 2011 at 6:03 pm

    Sarah, I appreciated your thoughtful post. One of our first business partners and his wife were Muslim. Wonderful people. It’s so important that we fairly analyze these situations.

    It’s sad to me that so many Mormons (like Americans in general) have negative and badly stereotyped views of Muslims

    You follow this by discussing things we have in common, like abstinence, belief in a prophet, and modesty. Interesting points, but I’m not sure commonality is going to dissuade people from being fearful. If a guy has a gun to my head, the fact that we’re both vegans really doesn’t matter much to me, if you know what I mean.

    So I’m interesting in knowing what you believe the negative, stereotyped views are. More important, I suppose, are what erroneous views you believe exist.

  5. Sarah Familia on October 24, 2011 at 6:47 pm

    Good question, Alison. Since September 11th, there has been a tendency to link the ideology and actions of a group of extremists with an entire religion and culture. I can’t count the number of times that people have been shocked that I’ve lived in the Middle East because they view it as a scary place full of crazy people. The word “Islam” comes from the same root as “salaam” (peace), or the Hebrew “shalom.” Over and over, Muslims I speak with implore me to go back to America and tell my fellow Americans (and Hollywood) that they are normal, God-fearing people who love their families and desire peace with others. And that is overwhelmingly my experience with the Muslims I’ve met. So I’d say the main mistaken view I’d like to address is that there is something inherently violent about Islam, or that most Muslims are/support terrorists.

    Another major stereotype I addressed above is the idea that all (or even most) Muslim women are repressed.

    For me, the point of recognizing our similarities is to see the sometimes scary “other” as something we can relate to, and realize the common humanity we share.

  6. Sarah Familia on October 24, 2011 at 6:51 pm

    BTW Sam, sorry about my stereotyping of American and Italian waiters in my article about not stereotyping. Mea culpa. I adore eating out in Italy, and most of our waiters have been completely understanding of our weird teetotalling habits. (In Italy, though, it’s not considered taboo at all to drink the occasional glass of wine while pregnant. And alcoholics are remarkably rare. It’s only the odd Italian who doesn’t habitually drink wine with dinner. But here I am stereotyping again. Better stop. :)

  7. Jax on October 24, 2011 at 8:16 pm

    As part of our military training for interrogation we were given a TON of information about Islam and Muslims and were expected to become subject matter experts on it. I soaked it up.

    One afternoon I was talking to my friend in the course who had studied to become a Baptist preacher and was planning on pursuing that after his military time. He asked about the church and we went through a pretty typical first missionary discussion. His comment near the end was that we are basically Muslim, except that rather than saying Muhammed is the prophet we would say Joseph Smith is. I told him yes. Other than the extreme violent wing, we are very similar (unless someone can point out a extremely violent wing of Mormonism, though our D&C does talk about violence about as much as the Quran does). Throughout our course he would point out many similarities as we came across them in our studying – most of them that you put forward here.

    Thanks for the post!

    P.S. When are we going to have the missionary efforts similar to the sons of Mosiah, who go into the lands of those sworn to hate us and who teach their children to hate us (Lamanites/Nephites, Muslims/Americans) and who we will be laughed at to scorn for thinking that we could convert them? Is anyone willing to go through the imprisonment and depravation in return for the eventual rewards? Will the Lord give His blessing for such an adventure?

  8. Jax on October 24, 2011 at 8:19 pm

    P.P.S. I don’t mean to imply that Muslim hate americans and teach their children to hate us, just that that is the stereotype. It does happen by some, just like some Lamanites did, but in neither case did ALL people hate or teach hate any more than ALL americans teach kids to hate Muslims.

  9. Bob on October 24, 2011 at 9:38 pm

    We don’t need to ‘know’ about Muslims__we need to learn to trust them as good a people.

  10. Amira on October 24, 2011 at 10:19 pm

    This is a great post, Sarah. I think you could take your point about people assuming that all Muslims support terrorism or that Islam is violent and make another connection with our church. Not that most people think Mormons are violent, but that many people assume we’re a homogeneous mass- we’re somehow all the same and think the same. Muslims get the same thing. The “I’m a Mormon” campaign tries to combat that stereotype, but I wish we knew enough about Islam to know that it’s not all the same everywhere.

    My family has been very comfortable living in Muslim countries. Muslims, in general, are very easy people to living among, despite all the stereotypes. It’s nice to never have someone in real life tell you your religion is going to take you to hell.

  11. Petra on October 24, 2011 at 10:57 pm

    Another similarity, playing off Amira’s point–people hear “Mormon” and assume “Utah,” and people hear “Muslim” and assume “Arab.” Neither are true.

  12. Chadwick on October 24, 2011 at 11:01 pm

    I heart this post.

    I recently took my family to a trip in Dubai, as we currently live in Bangalore and heard it was a very family friendly place to go. We loved it there and stayed quite a while as we really needed a break from India.

    Having grown up in the desert, it actually felt like home to me, after ten long months in the tropics. The people were so incredibly kind. Women certainly did not seem oppressed. The call to prayer (which I actually liked hearing; I could use more reminders to pray in my life) seemed to go pretty much ignored. Not ignored, but it’s not like shops closed and people ran you over to get to a prayer room. Most in Dubai attend when they can and otherwise probably move on or say a quick prayer in their hearts only. The city and their mosques were very clean. Dubai reminded me of SLC, desert city, super clean and well planned, with very friendly people. If only SLC had an ocean instead of a stinky lake….

    But that is Dubai. I’m told Muslims are more orthodox in other states.

    I think worrying about Muslims putting a gun to your head is like worrying about a Mormon abducting you into a polygamous lifestyle. Sure, it could happen, but probably won’t. Firstly, most Muslims are not militant (none that I’ve met). It strikes me as unfair to characterize them as such. Just like it strikes me as unfair when people ask me how many wives I have. A few bad apples shouldn’t characterize the whole barrel.

  13. sar on October 24, 2011 at 11:03 pm

    Kourosh Ali Khan’s influence is far-reaching.

  14. Cameron N on October 24, 2011 at 11:56 pm

    As a Mormon, one similarity that I wish existed, for the sake of all parties involved, is an official governing body with distinct leadership. The Muslim community is too decentralized and patchwork for true muslims to effectively differentiate themselves from and condemn the evil bastardized version. Of course, I guess we can’t expect singular organizations from anywhere but the only true church.

    I appreciate your thoughts Sarah. Especially that of member missionaries.

  15. Aaron on October 25, 2011 at 5:55 am

    You are not in sync with all those good folks in Utah who send me anti-Muslim hate mail via the internet.

  16. James Olsen on October 25, 2011 at 9:00 am

    Great post Sarah. I’ve found that in talking to Muslims about my religion, a comparison of the five pillars is very helpful. In addition to what you discuss above:

    Prayers – the use of both sacralized ritual and personal prayer; we don’t have “set times of prayer,” but we have orthodox notions of daily morning, evening, family, personal, and food prayers, in addition to any other personal prayers that the day calls for.

    Alms giving: at least half the tithing slip would probably pass as zakat.

    Hajj: we don’t go to Mecca; but we do have specific holy sites that we believe every good Mormon who can needs to go before they die, at least once, to perform necessary rituals – the temple. This makes a great deal of sense to Muslims, while absolutely perplexing most Christians I know.

    Then of course, there’s the generally orthopraxic nature of our two religions.

    Finally, perhaps sadly, I find that the antipathy held by many Christians with regard to Mormonism creates an initial positive feeling about Mormonism amongst Muslims who don’t know much else about us.

    I feel a holy envy when it comes to the month of Ramadan. I’ve lived in Muslim countries twice during Ramadan. The way that these holy days bring together all aspects of their religion in a month+ long communal celebration and worship is absolutely remarkable – a ritual that gathers sacred time, space, and community together in one. And then there’s the adhan. I love the adhan.

  17. Raymond Takashi Swenson on October 25, 2011 at 9:33 am

    One thing that concerns me about modern Islam is its intolerance toward Jews and Christians.
    In countries like Egypt and Turkey and Iraq, where there have been Christians since the First Century CE and Jews centuries earlier, perseecution of those minorities seems to be increasingly intense and violent. Any LDS engaged in such actions would be condemned and excommunicated by church leaders. I understand Muslims are more like US Protestants in having no central huerarchy or authority but by the same token shouldn’t there be some social standards to anathematize such bigotry? And the government passing of death sentences on Muslims who convert to Christianity does not impress me as the action of people who are confident that their religious community can prosper without coercion. That is totally opposed to the LDS article of faith that embraces feedom of worship and tolerance, and is certainly not promising for any near future effort by LDS missionaries in those countries.

  18. Jax on October 25, 2011 at 9:44 am

    I like the feeling that has been conveyed about Ramadan and teh community strengthening that takes place. But can you really compare that to LDS fasting? I’ve never been in a unit where any community strengthening took place because of fasting (though I do hear the stories) and it seems our call for monthly fasting is ignored by most of even the active members.

  19. Amira on October 25, 2011 at 10:35 am

    Raymond, while I understand your concern about religious persecution, it’s not necessarily the case that the conflict is always just about religion. Political and economic problems usually underlie a lot of the conflict. It’s too easy to make disputes look like they’re just about religion.

    The media focuses on the problems, but I have lived peacefully and with a full religious life in several Muslim countries with no fear of persecution. In fact, in the part of the world I currently live in, Muslims are actively proselytized, although that’s obviously very unusual. Bigotry isn’t a given in the Muslim world any more than polygamy is in ours.

    There are some interpretations of Islam that allow for the death penalty for converting away from Islam, or some violent persecution. That is a problem, of course, and it’s obviously not something that compares with our church. But there are also many Muslims who disagree with those things (just like most Mormons distancing themselves from the FLDS). Just because you’re not hearing about them doesn’t mean they’re not out there, and they are unquestionanbly a majority in many parts of the Muslim world.

    One more thing- I think Muslims are often as sensitive to criticism as we are. Muslims are talking about problems amongst themselves, but that doesn’t mean they are telling the Christian world about them. We often do the same. (And I don’t mean this to say that Muslims and Mormons are very similar to each other, just that if we look more closely at our reactions to problems within our Church, we might understand Muslims a little better.)

  20. Miri on October 25, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    I love this post and I am really thrilled to see conversations like this happening. The prominence of anti-Muslim sentiment in America really gets to me.

    I have one thought in reference to Raymond’s comment, which is something we’ve probably all heard before. It’s usually mentioned as evidence of the argument that Islam is just a violent and/or dangerous religion (although I don’t know if that’s what Raymond was saying). The thing that I don’t understand is why small pockets of “intolerance” (if, in fact, they are solely about religion, and not based on something else like Amira pointed out) are evidence of anything other than just being human. Many people manage not to notice, but here in America Muslims are persecuted all the time. Do we use that to make a blanket statement about Christianity?

  21. Frank Pellett on October 25, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    There are some people who believe we still have (and support) Danites, our own militant group. Not exactly a good point of commonality, but its there all the same.

    I, personally, would love to go live in a predominately muslim country to live and possibly convert by example (rather than actively prosteliting(sp)). If only I were young and unattatched. I don’t think its encouraged by the Church is because they don’t want to direct people to go into places where their lives may be in danger.

    Most excellent article. :)

  22. bbell on October 25, 2011 at 3:04 pm

    Raymond has a point that makes many of the “enlightened comments” about Islam in my view simply false.

    The Islamic idea that death is an appropriate sentence for conversion from Islam is a widespread belief both of the common folk and actually a part of Sharia law in the Muslim world. My own mission in Africa had strict rules that simply did not permit Muslims to be taught/converted for this very reason. This rule was put in place after a Muslim family joined the church and a fatwa was declared by the local mosque calling for their deaths. After a couple of attempts to kill this family they left for Orem. Other missions have similar rules due to this simple fact.

  23. bbell on October 25, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    Food for thought

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apostasy_in_Islam

    Hate for the facts to get in the way :)

  24. Sam Brunson on October 25, 2011 at 3:48 pm

    RTS and bbell,
    Part of the problem is that you’re treating Islam as monolithic, and reading its scripture in the most negative light. It is true that there are Islamist governments that treat women and apostates pretty poorly; still, that’s largely not my experience with Islam in the U.S. Last year, I had a Muslim woman in one of my classes—there was nothing in her religion that prevented her (a) from studying or (b) from doing so at a Jesuit university.

    Frankly, you don’t have to look too hard in LDS scripture or history to find statements (and practices) that make us look bad. Why is it that we get to deny that these things are part of our religion, when we don’t allow Muslims to do the same thing?

  25. bbell on October 25, 2011 at 4:14 pm

    Sam,

    I don’t think that is very accurate description of a comparison between mainstream Islamic practices and Mormonism. Who is denying parts of our religion?

    I don’t think the two movements compare very well especially when it comes to violence against apostates, as part of the historical conversion process (see history of Egypt for example), or violence against women be it domestic violence against spouses, honor killings, or female genital mutilations.

    These facts make a comparison with Mormonism virtually impossible.

  26. Ryan on October 25, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    My second daughter helped me to view Muslims in a better light when we lived next to a Muslim family. I’ve always tried to teach my daughters to respect other races and creeds, but I had my own ignorant fears when it came to Muslims. My daughter would play with their boy all the time and then come home and ask me about their religion and Allah. The phrase from my missionary discussion came to mind, “Most people believe in God they just call them by different names…” The next thing I know she’s walking around the house singing “I’m a child of Allah.” It was pretty funny.

    The family were refugees and had a very sad history, particularly the boy who had been tortured on two occasions. My heart went out to them. They fled Syria to get away from the violence and oppression.

    My daughters play softball and he wanted to learn. I taught him to stand at the plate and swing a bat. When he hit one I told him looked like a real American boy. My daughter was appalled that I said such a thing, but he stopped her and confirmed that he was a real American boy. he was proud to be in America. He was up for anything, we took him swimming and he didn’t know how, but he jumped right in and my wife had to save him from drowning but he felt like he did great despite swallowing half the pool.

  27. Ryan on October 25, 2011 at 5:21 pm

    I have to say that I do believe there are some great commonalities here that shouldn’t be easily dismissed. However, I think there are even greater ones in the Book of Mormon.

    Tradition and Qu’ran hold that many Muslims are descendent of Abraham’s Ishmael and Isaac’s Esau. In both cases they are the first born and surrender their birthright to a younger brother (from the Judeo-Christian side). However, despite some time apart they are able to come back to their brother’s and reconcil. Has there ever been a time when we could use a reconcilliation like we could use today? Why can’t we follow these examples? (Rhetocial lament)

    Now compare this to Laman and Nephi in the Book of Mormon. Once again we have an older brother losing his birthright to a younger brother. Of course, Laman and Nephi don’t reconcil but later on we see that many Lamanites come to the faith. Even before they come back, the Lord uses the Lamanites as an example for the Nephites to follow when it comes to loving their wives and their children. I noticed in a trip to New York how few children I saw around, but those that I saw more often than not were Muslim. I was very, very impressed with this. A few years ago while touring the Hale Centre Theater with my daughter we heard a story of one of the actors who was asked to speak at the U.N. where he was able to present on the church and its values on the family. A number of Muslim representative approached this brother (who was wearing beard because of a play he was in) and this opened some doors on the common ground of taking care of our families.

    I know that there was once a mission in Iran and there are a few missions in Muslim countries now, but I just can’t shake the feeling that the day will come when we see many Muslims join the church and we see a reconcillation again. One that I think father Abraham has been waiting for. Just like the sons of Mosiah saw, there will be many who will scoff and say it’s impossible, but we can see from the scriptures that this has happened before.

  28. Jax on October 25, 2011 at 7:23 pm

    Actually Ryan, Christianity is exploding in Muslim countries, especially in North Africa and the Middle East. That is one of the reasons we are seeing so much violence against them… the Imams are losing huge numbers in almost every country and are concerned with the widespread growth of Christianity amongst Muslims … not to dissimilar from Christian laments about people in the US converting to Islam… and have taken to preaching hate and violence against people who leave Islam. They aren’t joining the church, mostly because we don’t try to get them (see #21). While I agree that there are some very close similarities, I generally agree with bbell and RTS about the violence against Jews/Christians. Amira in #18 tried to brush this off by saying that many Muslims deny this just like LDS people deny kinship with FLDS… but if there were as many preachers amongst LDS people as there were FLDS, then we would be a prime target for suspicion as well – and they would dominate the conversations about Mormons, just like violence dominates the discussions about Islam.

    There ARE muslims who disagree with violence in the same way that we disagree with polygamy, that is true, but are there any LDS bishops preaching violence? What if the same percentage of Bishops were doing so as there are Imams doing it? Or if Mormons were starting violent uprisings to overthrow their countries? Or blowing themselves or others up? Wouldn’t you expect to hear the church disavow them??? of course you would and it would be a very loud and public disavowal… But do you see or hear any of that from the Muslim community? No, and part of my job with the military was to listen for it, but it just wasn’t there. There is plenty of mumbling and complaining about it and individuals who say, “Well I don’t like that”, but by and large it goes unchallenged by the Muslim community. And that is a problem!

    Most of these similarities (which are striking) are in the foundings and in principles… but in organization, in practice, and in perception, Mormons are FAR different.

  29. Brad on October 25, 2011 at 8:39 pm

    Jax (27)

    Where do you get the idea that Christianity is exploding in the Middle East and North Africa? Now there are a number of Christian groups there, particularly the Copts in Egypt (about 6-10 percent of the population). While some Muslims there have converted to Christianity, it is quite rare. Most people don’t convert from Islam to Christianity.

  30. TonyF on October 25, 2011 at 8:49 pm

    @Jax – Christianity is NOT exploding in the Middle East or North Africa. I lived in probably the most progressive Muslim country in North Africa for 8 months (Tunisia) and never heard this comment made by any of my Muslim friends. What are you basing this on? Please provide the link. As for your comments regarding violence dominating the discussions about Islam, this has not been my experience… then again.. judging from your comments, we probably don’t run in the same circles.

  31. Chadwick on October 25, 2011 at 10:19 pm

    bbell:

    I served a mission in Hong Kong, a real melting pot, and we were also asked to refrain from teaching Muslims. We had to get permission to teach any, and that had to be because they approached us.

    That being said, I know a handful of Mormons who abandoned their children when they left the church, came out of the closet, etc. I also have a Sri Lankan coworker here in Bangalore (who is Buddhist) whose mother and father are very disappointed in her because she is dating a Chinese guy instead of a Sri Lankan guy. Their inability to accept her choice is seriously ruining her life. Seems like the desire to keep one’s tribe in tact is strong among all sorts of religions and cultures. And threats can range from disownment to death. Not saying two wrongs make a right. But again, perhaps we can be a little more tolerant in trying to understand why they feel death is acceptable following a conversion when other tribes also have unacceptable practices as well.

  32. Bob on October 25, 2011 at 11:33 pm

    Chadwick,
    “keeping one’s tribe in tact is strong among all sorts of religions and cultures”.
    I disagee. Most Tribes welcome inter marriage with other Tribes. Clans, a little more picky. Nations/Cultues get into taboos.

  33. Ryan on October 26, 2011 at 9:41 am

    Hugh Nibley did a great comparison of Mormon’s and Muslims and points out even more comparisons than Ms. Familia like the council in heaven. Nibley points out similarities and signifcant differences particularly contrast in the prophets Joseph Smith and Muhammad, but I think it’s helpful to the current discrussion.

    http://lds.org/ensign/1972/03/islam-and-mormonism-a-comparison?lang=eng

  34. Marie on October 26, 2011 at 11:46 am

    It wasn’t just detractors in the 19th Century who saw the similarities between the two faiths–LDS church leaders, especially Parley P Pratt, saw and embraced those similarities, even though they knew that most Christians viewed any similarities to the “Muhammedans” as negatives. I think often of these quotes from early Church leaders (which praise the general moral climate of Muslim societies and criticize those of mainstream Christianity), when I hear other Mormons begging mainstream Christians to call us Christians.

  35. Marie on October 26, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    I’ve only skimmed the prior comments, so someone may have said this already, but we have to keep history in mind when we criticize the extremist religious elements in some Muslim societies today. The Muslim world was carved up and colonized by Western nations in the 20th Century, and (with the discovery of oil) oppressive regimes have been upheld and armed by the West in order to ensure our steady supply. When Mormons have been similarly and unfairly threatened in our history, the rhetoric over the pulpit has been decidedly fiery, and religious mandates to defend wives, children, religious freedom, liberty, and the moral climate of the religious community have all been trotted out. I daresay most religions have some scripture they can and do appeal to in such times to justify retaliation/defense. Whether acting on such scripture is a religious failing or righteous indignation is up for grabs, but it is a feature common to *many* faiths when they feel oppressed.

  36. Jax on October 26, 2011 at 12:32 pm

    Brad and TonyF,(#28 & #29),

    I get it from Joel Rosenberg’s book Epicenter. I quote from the book:

    But even today, an exciting and dramatic spiritual revolution that is being completely missed by the mainstream media is under way throughout the Islamic world. The bid (untold) story in the MIddle East is that more Muslims are turning to Christ today than at any other time in human history, and much of it has happened since 9/11.

  37. Jax on October 26, 2011 at 12:58 pm

    That wasn’t the end…sorry… I continue

    Over the past several years, I have had the privilege of interviewing more than three dozen Arab and Iranian pastors and Christian leaders throughout North Africa, the Middle East, and central Asia. In sharp contrast to the picture the media is painting, the picture they present is one of Christianity being dramatically resurrected in the lands where the Bible was written.

    “While I was writing for this book, for instance, my wife and kids and I lived for two months in Egypt, where scores of Arabs are coming to Christ in the most amazing ways. During our time there we visited the largest church of born-again believers in the Middle East, which meets in a cave on teh outskirts of Cairo beside what is known as the “garbage village.” SOme 10,000 new and growing believers worship there every weekend. In May of 2005, more than 20,000 Arab believers gathered for a day of prayer for their unsaved Muslim friends to become followers of Christ. The event was broadcast throught the Middle East on a Christian satellite-television network, allowing millions more to see God powerfully at work.

    Such stories of lives transformed are spreading throughout Egypt and North Africa. Despite government restrictions and Muslim attacks against churches and believers, Christianity there is growing like wild-fire. “I’ve never seen such hunger for God’s Word and teh message of Jesus as I do today,” one North African Arab Christian Leader told me.”

    Those are from chapter 14 of his book. He also give statistics: <In 1996 the Egyptian Bible Society sold just 3,000 video copies of the JESUS film, based on the Gospel of Luke and produced in the late 1970s by Warner Brothers and Campu Crusade for Christ. in 1997 the Bible Society decided to sell the videos at the famed Cairo International Book Fair. Sales surged to 35,000 in just a few weeks. IN 2000 the group sold 600,000 copies of the JESUS film and a children's version of teh video. Today annual sales top 750,000 copies of the Bible on audio-cassette, 200,000 – 300,000 full Bibles, and between 300,000 and 500,000 New Testaments.

    "We don't give these away," on Bible SOciety leader told me. " We don't charge a lot, but we charge something, and many many people are buying them."

    When I was in Casablanca and Rabat in 2005, I found the Moroccan media up in arms about the “phenomenon of Moroccans converting to Christianity.” Newspaper and magazine articles estimated that 25,000 to 40,000 Muslims have become followers of Christ in recent years.

    In neighboring Algeria – the birth place of St. Augustine but for many centuries almost devoid of a Christian presence – more than 80,000 Muslims have become followers of Christ in recent years. The situation has become so alarming to Islamic clerics that in March of 2006, Algerian officials passed a law banning Muslims from becoming Christians or even learning about CHristianity. Christians trying to share the faith with Muslims face two to five years in jail and fines of 5,000 to 10,000 euros for “trying to call on a Muslim to embrace another religion.” In a move to stamp out the repidly growing house-church movement, the law also forbids Christians from meeting together in any building without a license from the government.

    In Sudan, meanwhile, one of the biggest stories in modern Christendom is unfolding – a spiritual awakening of almost unimaginable proportions amid civil war, radical Islam, rampant persecution, and outright genocide. More than one million Sudanese have turned to Christ just since the year 2000 – and not in spite of persecution, war, and genocide but because of them. “People see what radical Islam is like,” on Sudanese Christian Leader told me, “and they want Jesus instead.”

    I could go on…he has info and stories from Iran and other places, but I can’t quote the whole chapter so I gave you just some of the info from North Africa. He has 41 footnotes documenting where he gets his numbers and information for that chapter. Go check it out.

  38. Jax on October 26, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    AAARRRGGGHHH… I had another post where I had typed several other quotes…Guess it got lost in cyberspace!

    anyway… Rosenberg goes over number in Algeria, Sudan, Iraq, Iran, etc, and quotes interviews he has had with Islamic clerics and Christian leaders in these countries. It is chapter 14 of his book “Epicenter”, and he has 40+ footnotes documenting where he gets all his information so that you can double check it himself.

    He talks about the law in Algeria that was passed in 2006 to stop the Muslim from converting. And an Al Jezeera television interview with a Saudi Cleric when he states that 6 million Muslims are converting to Christianity every year and calls it “a tragedy”.

  39. TonyF on October 26, 2011 at 3:11 pm

    @Jax – First of all. We could do with a lot fewer Joel Rosenbergs. He is not part of the solution. He is part of the problem. Secondly, as I said before, Christianity is NOT exploding in the Middle East or Africa. If this were really happening, it would be news. It isn’t news and the only “facts” to support the claim is some obscure interview transcript with “an important Islamic cleric” posted on websites like faithfreedom.org, who also say things like:

    “Muslims are becoming disillusioned with Islam. They find out that the mechanistic ritual of praying five times per day, reciting verses that they do not understand and indeed mean nothing, getting up at taxing hours of the morning and abstaining from food and water until the sunset are not means to becoming more spiritual but are instruments to control their mind.”

    -and-

    “The weakening of Islam means the triumph of mankind.”

    I’d like to see a few credible sources with real numbers and studies… Again, we could do with a lot few of these kinds of internet sites also.

  40. Jax on October 26, 2011 at 3:49 pm

    TonyF,

    Other than your opinion of Rosenberg, do you have anything to say it isn’t?

    If he doesn’t count as a reference for you (for me he is just a reliable a witness as you are), then here are some of his endnotes:

    The Moroccan Times article Mar 12, 2005 “WHy Are Moroccans Converting to Christianity?” (looks like it was in the news, who knew?) other Moroccan publications that have run similar stories include Attajdid, Le Journal Hebdomadaire, Le Matin, and La Gazette Du Maroc.

    “Algeria bans Muslims from learning about Christianity” ArabicNews.com Mar 21, 2006

    Stan Guthrie, “Hope amid the Ruins: Anglican Bishop Sees Massive Church Growth,” Chrisianity Today, January 2004

    Sheikh Salman Al-Odeh, “Christian Missionaries Sweeping the Islamic World,” transcript, Lesson 66, Monday 12th of Safar, 1413 Hijra (1993), from http://www.islamworldnet/transfer.htm Al-Odeh was apparently citing the 1982 edition of the “World Christian Encyclopedia” The updated figures in the 2001 edition foudn that the number of Christians in Africa had jumped from 9.9 million in 1900 to 360 million in 2000.

    Sheikh Ahmad Al Qataani, interview on Aljazeera, transcript, December 12, 2000. (this was the interview where he called it a tragedy that 6 million Muslims a year are joining christianity).

    Julian Lukins, “Behind the Black Veil,” Charisma, June 2004

    Patrick Johnstone and others, Operation World (Waynesboro: Authentic Media, 2001), 353. – this quote in text was “at the time of the Islamic Revolution in 1979, there were only about 500 known Muslim converts to Jesus inside the country [Iran]. By 2000, a survey of Christian demographic trends reported that there were 220,000 Christians inside Iran.

    Compass Direct news service, “Government Officials Admit Christianity ‘Out of Control’” October 7, 2004.

    He has many of his other references in the chapter… you can go find them yourself if you want them, but he obviously isn’t just giving his personal opinion about it. Even if he were though, it would be just as good of evidence as your time in Tunisia.

    It does also appear that these types of stories ARE in the news, just not the mainstream US news. Rather than say that they don’t exist, which is wrong, how about you figure out why the US media didn’t/doesn’t find it a relevant story to report on?

  41. Brad on October 26, 2011 at 5:23 pm

    Jax,

    Interesting references. I read Rosenberg. He is right that there are Muslim leaders making claims that droves of Muslims are converting to Christianity. I looked up the interview with Shaykh Qataani, whom Rosenberg cites, who is a Muslim leader claiming that some 6 million Muslims in a year convert to Christianity. Qataani is the person I am taking issue with. For one he is mainly talking about Muslims converting to Christianity in sub-Saharan Africa. I can see how many of them may be converting, probably out of hopes of a better life. But conversions seem more rare in the Arab world, Iran, Turkey, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. His figure of 6 million a year seems inflated, and it just isn’t reflected in census data of many Muslim countries. And even if the censuses are poorly conducted and deliberately deflate the numbers who claim Christianity, or if converts are hiding their conversions, there doesn’t seem to be a major fear spreading throughout the Muslim world of Christian conversion. I mean, it would seem like there would be more shaykhs talking about losing followers than there are if it were a real issue. So I am convinced that there are probably many Muslims who do convert to Christianity in a year. But I would still need more data than just a few interviews with shaykhs to be convinced that conversion rates are large and significant. It could be that Qataani is deliberately inflating stats to drum up among Muslims about conversions to Christianity.

  42. Brad on October 26, 2011 at 5:25 pm

    drum up fear among Muslims about conversions to Christianity

  43. Brad on October 26, 2011 at 5:40 pm

    Jax,

    Just read #38. Maybe there are more converts than I thought. But it still seems insignificant. Operation World reports numbers of people who have ever converted. But it doesn’t seem to report retention rates. I would imagine that retention is very difficult given the fact that in many Muslim countries people are denied freedom of assembly and Christian organizations have to operate underground. Many converts probably stop associating with the churches out of fear of persecution.

  44. Jax on October 26, 2011 at 5:44 pm

    Brad,
    I figured he could be inflating that stat as well for “sensationalist” news programming… but he said it none the less, Rosenberg used it more to show that it was considered a “tragedy” to Muslims. I’m the one who used it as a statistic.

    Rosenbergs numbers do show less success in Arab countries than in Africa, but the story was about Muslims converting, not necessarily Arabs. We often think of them interchangably, but Muslim doen’t equal Arab.

    But he didn’t just quote a few sheikhs. Algeria had so many convert that they passed a law against Muslim converting or even learning about Christianity and that punishes Christians with 5-10 yrs in jail and 5,000-10,000 euros for “trying to call on a Muslim to embrace another religion.” The US State Dept report on religious freedom for 2005 quoted a member of parliament who said the spread of Christianity was the reason for it because it was a security concern. The Muslims wanted to react violently to converts leaving Islam and it was created social unrest.

    In Sudan, since 2000 almost a million Sudanese have turned to Christ and the Christian leader he interviewed said the reason was, “People see what radical Islam is like and they want Jesus instead.”

    “In Morocco 2005, the Moroccan media was up in arms about the “phenomenon of Moroccans converting to Christianity.” Newspaper and magazine articles estimated that 25,000 to 40,000 Muslims have become followers of Jesus Christ in recent years. These numbers are overstated, church leaders in the country tell me, but the fact that they are being published and widely discussed says a lot about the dynamic that is at work and how rapidly the church is growing there.”

    Rosenberg admits that some numbers are inflated, but the growth of Christianity amongst Muslims is real enough that Muslim leaders are worried about it, even if we don’t see it here in the US. To me, it isn’t surprising that the US media doesn’t want to report the success and growth of Christianity – they seem antagonistic to it here in the US, why would that change overseas?

    On a side note, did anyone else notice that Elder Holland went to the Middle East this year and organized the first stake there?

  45. Jax on October 26, 2011 at 5:49 pm

    Brad,

    but they don’t fear the persecution enough to NOT convert? They know if they convert that they are possibly going to be killed for it, so I doubt they do it and then leave it… they just hide it.

    They hold secret meetings in houses and don’t want to report their conversion… so the only numbers available really are estimates. And so the best people to give those estimates are the people who live in the countries and are involved in the conversion… Many of whom also want to stay anonymous. Many of Joels interviewees were anonymous in the book. If you think he is a liar, then those anonymous sources hold no weight, but I don’t see any reason to think that about him. He has enough documented sources that confirm the view that the reports seem credible.

  46. Brad on October 26, 2011 at 6:11 pm

    Jax, interesting stuff. I’ll have to look more into the issue of conversion rates. Like I say, it is higher than I thought, but I don’t see it really taking over the Muslim world. I think that many conversions are out of hope to gain a higher social status, access to better life. When I lived in Istanbul, this was the case with the LDS branch there. Lots of people wanted to get added to a list and use that as an excuse to flee the country and get refugee status. There were some honest conversions, but church growth was slow and hard. As for Elder Holland in the Middle East, I think that the stake organization is for the expats. If you go to Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates there are many LDS folks, but hardly any of them are local Arabs.

  47. Wilfried on October 27, 2011 at 9:51 am

    I thought not yet mentioned:

    A pretty extensive Wikipedia entry on Mormonism and Islam.

    Another Ensign article (2000) about Mormons and Islam is James Toronto’s A Latter-day Saint perspective on Muhammad.

    In BYU Studies (2001): Mormonism and Islam: from polemics to mutual respect and cooperation by Arnold H. Green

  48. Raymond Takashi Swenson on October 27, 2011 at 1:13 pm

    I just read an interesting article in the current First Things journal, “The Islamic Case for Religious Liberty”, which can be read for free on the web site at http://www.firstthings.com. The author, a Muslim and professor of Islamic Studies at a university in Australia, argues that the pro-religious freedom statements in the Quran should be understood as neutering the religious intolerance statements in various hadith (compilations of statements attributed to Mohammad). He does note the reality of real intolerance, though:

    “Unfortunately, many Muslim-majority countries have failed to follow the Prophet’s example. Muslims in these states face penalties for blasphemy, heresy, and, most famously, apostasy. Non-Muslims are barred from proselytizing and possessing or importing unsanctioned religious items, including Bibles. They face restrictions on the public practice of religion and strict limits on the building or renovation of places of worship. The government monitors their religious activities, raids private services, and sometimes harasses or imprisons non-Muslim believers simply for practicing their faith.”

    Hugh Nibley certainly promoted respect for Arabic societies by pointing to their commonalities with the culture of Lehi, and the work of Daniel Peterson and others at the Maxwell Institute has brought important Arabic works into English and promoted understanding of Islam and the views of Muslims. Mormon tolerance for and sympathy with Muslims has marked a lot of Mormon rhetoric over the pulpit for over a century, in reaction to the criticisms made by traditional Christians of Mormonism by comparing it to Islam, a criticism that continues today as some Evangelicals claim that the Mormon view of Christ is similar to the Islamic view. The Church’s BYU Jerusalem Center has made conscious efforts to have good relations with Muslims as well as Jews and Christians in the region.

    The US military forces operating in the Middle East, and especially Iraq and Afghanistan, have clearly been operating with the message to indigenous populations that the US does not see Islam as its enemy, but only those radical elements that attack Americans and others, including Muslims. There has been none of the racist official propaganda that characterized the World War II dehumanizing of the Japanese and identification of Japanese Americans with their cousins in the Imperial Navy and Army.

    At the same time, there has not been the extensive fraternization and marriage between US soldiers and host country women that became a major phenomenon of “war brides” from Japan and Germany immigrating to the US as wives of soldiers, sailors and airmen (including my own parents). Such cross-cultural marriages could benefit the relationships between the peoples of the two nations, at a personal and family level, but we don’t seem to be seeing much of it.

    I do not perceive Americans in general or Mormons in paticular as engendering ill will toward Muslims in general or their Muslim neighbors in particular. On the other hand, I feel personal frustration that the leaders of government seem to be irrationally reticent to name the source of the terrorism that has imposed burdens on US society since 9/11/2001 as arising from radical elements in Islam. We encounter it in the silly way that the Transportation Security Administration treats a 60 year old grandmother as if she were a suspect terrorist because her knee implants set off a metal detector, rather than focusing their scrutiny and resources on young men with ties to the Middle East and Islam (with some random screening of others). A blatant example is the report done by the Pentagon on the terrorist mass murder committed by a Muslim US Army major and psychologist at Fort Hood, a report that nowhere mentions Islam as having anything to do with his motives.

    Americans and Mormons do not have it in for Muslims, but clearly there are a few Muslims that have it in for us. And for Christians and Jews. That is simple reality, acknowledged by some Muslims (above).

  49. Tim on October 27, 2011 at 1:24 pm

    Raymond,

    For what it’s worth, an Iranian American friend of mine gets a very thorough check by the TSA each and every single time he goes to an airport. I’m not about to defend the TSA, but it does appear that they are focusing on people from the Middle East while not forgetting that some terrorists don’t fit the stereotypical profile (like that Christian guy from Norway…)

  50. Raymond Takashi Swenson on October 27, 2011 at 3:49 pm

    The example I gave of TSA abuse of innocent grandmothers is NOT a hypothetical. It happens to my wife every time she flies out of our local airport. There is absolutely no rational basis for harassing her, and detaining her so long that it threatens to prevent her boarding her flight. She has also gotten singled out “at random” for inspection at Reagan National, after a line of Arab young men went through with no scrutiny beyond the standard carry-on x-ray and metal detector pass.

    I can understand how Norman Mineta was extra sensitive to racial discrimination and presumptions of guilt when he started the whole process as Secretary of Transportation. He had gone through the World War II “Internment” Camps as a child. I am Japanese American, so I can understand the concern. However, the fundamental difference between the Japanese American families who were imprisoned for three years without due process of law, and people who have some characteristics in common with the Jihadists who are committing most of the modern terrorist attacks on US aircraft, is that there was not a single Japanese American who ever committed an act of espionage or sabotage prior to being forcibly detained behind barbed wire under the watch of machine gun towers. By contrast, there are specific rational connections between the characteristics of being Muslim, and especially Arabic Muslim, and the organization of people who are actively promoting, planning and attempting to carry out attacks on American aircraft. Unfortunately, US citizenship does not break that connection.

    Furthermore, if there is a lawful basis to subject all airline passengers to search using metal detectors, x-ray machines, luggage hand search, and/or electronic full body scans, and if it is lawful to do additional intrusive searches on selected passengers, then additional scrutiny focused on people who are more likely to be among the known organization that is the principal target of these inspections, is also legal. I am sure that is burdensome to anyone who is Arabic, or whose ancestry is from another Middle Eastern country, or who is Muslim, but my wife has already contributed her share of being hassled, to absolutely no purpose other than allowing government officials to say they don’t discriminate against Arabs or Muslims. But the fact is that, if the burden is so small that it can be randomly imposed on aged people with physical disabilities, then it is not a significant burden for people who unfortunately share characteristics of the people who are the most active threat. The people inconvenienced by this additional scrutiny might want to take it up with the idiots who promote “Jihad” against innocent people (including Muslims). When it is clear that the only metal “on” a person is coming from prosthetics, treating her as if she was attempting to smuggle a weapon on board the plane is just plain stupid, and a misdirection of resources.

  51. Lucy on October 27, 2011 at 4:35 pm

    Thanks for this post. In the comments, I especially appreciate the cross references to the work of Nibley, Green, Toronto, Peterson, and Muslim scholars. Here is one of Peterson’s articles that elaborates on the aforementioned concept of “holy envy” http://www.fairlds.org/FAIR_Conferences/2011_Mormonism_Islam_and_the_Question_of_Other_Religions.html
    It is possible that the Lord is raising up prophets among the people of the Middle East, not unlike Samuel the Lamanite, and that other records may come forth from that region of the earth.

  52. Brad on October 27, 2011 at 6:48 pm

    Raymond (48),

    1) The Fort Hood report that you are referring to is not an investigative report of the incident, but an internal review meant to address the why the military’s violence prevention model. The prosecution in the military tribunal, which has yet to occur, will bring up in their reports lists of possible motives for the shooting. The news media wrongly jumped on the report opportunistically to attempt to push forward the bogus narrative that the government and military is not identifying Islam as a problem.

    2) You say that Americans and Mormons do not have it in for Muslims. You are ignoring the widespread Islamophobia that is palpable almost everywhere in the media (especially conservative media) and American private and public discourse, and yes even Mormon discourse (including many regular posters on this blog).

    3) You suggest that the government should try to point at Islam as a problem. I disagree for two reasons.

    a) It is only globalist violent salafist Islam (which constitutes an extremely small percentage of the world’s Muslims) that is a problem. In reality Islam is just as diverse of a religion as Christianity, but it recognized by the vast majority of Westerners as a near monolith. Most Muslims are apolitical, they don’t believe that religion should be used as a political tool. Even most who do believe Islam is beneficial as a political tool are nonviolent (the prevailing Islamist parties in Turkey, Tunisia, and Indonesia, are all nonviolent and open to strong relations with the West). We don’t start identifying Christianity as a problem because of the Norway bomber, the Westboro Baptist church, the Ku Klux Klan, the branch Davidians, the IRA, and other radical thinkers and movements who are supposedly motivated by Christianity.

    b) We are trying to win the hearts and minds of Muslims and at the same time keep Americans (who either don’t know or willfully won’t know anything about Islam) from panicking about Islam. It is bad enough as it is. There have already been a number of protests by both Europeans (i.e. the Swiss) and Americans against the construction of mosques based on irrational fear of Islam. Muslims are harassed constantly in Europe and the US. The TSA actually does engage in some profiling. Ask most Muslims and they will tell you that they always get “randomly” checked at airport screenings.

  53. Tiffany W. on October 27, 2011 at 6:50 pm

    I didn’t have the time to read through the comments. I found the OP very interesting and informative.
    I just spent a long evening with a Muslim family while visiting Saudi Arabia with my husband. A long discussion ensued about Muslim beliefs and practices. I found my friends to be articulate and passionate as they described their beliefs. I found much to respect and appreciate and many similarities between our two faiths.

  54. Dan on October 28, 2011 at 9:38 am

    Raymond,

    #16,

    One thing that concerns me about modern Islam is its intolerance toward Jews and Christians.

    One thing that concerns me about modern Christianity is its intolerance toward Muslims.

    Everyone is now even.

  55. Dan on October 28, 2011 at 9:43 am

    Raymond,

    Americans and Mormons do not have it in for Muslims, but clearly there are a few Muslims that have it in for us.

    yeah, that’s why we attacked Iraq…oh…er…exactly how many Muslims have WE killed vs how many of us THEY killed? We DO have it in for Muslims. That’s why we’ve attacked Afghanistan, Iraq, threatened Iran, and so on….

  56. Dan on October 28, 2011 at 9:45 am

    Raymond, once again,

    The people inconvenienced by this additional scrutiny might want to take it up with the idiots who promote “Jihad” against innocent people (including Muslims).

    So now that a white Christian man committed a terrible act of terrorism, will we now start doing the same to white Christians as we do to dark Muslims? Somehow, i think not.

  57. Bryan in VA on October 28, 2011 at 11:07 am

    Dan (53),
    You point is flawed since it omits the efforts of the US to liberate the Muslim peoples of Kuwait, Bosnia, and Kosovo.

  58. Lucy on October 28, 2011 at 4:52 pm

    “I was intrigued by his comparisons, and this class was one of the many things that prompted me to study Arabic and learn more about Islam.”

    Who was this professor? Which university? Out of curiosity, what else inspired you to study Arabic and learn more about Islam? I was also wondering what the author’s take is on the works of Bernard Lewis. Thanks.

  59. Miri on October 28, 2011 at 5:47 pm

    Raymond, I absolutely understand how frustrating travel is for your wife. It’s equally frustrating for members of my family. We happen to have darker skin than most Americans because my mother is from Israel, and it is rare for one of us to make it through the airport without being taken aside, delayed extensively, and having all of our belongings searched. We are LDS and Israelis are Jewish–not even the remotest connection to Islam anywhere among us.

    I can’t understand how you would wish that kind of experience onto others, simply because of the actions of other people who might look like them. It’s completely impractical for the reasons Tim mentioned, but more importantly, it’s wrong. Fear does not make it okay.

    And I’m going to have to agree with Brad’s last comment, too–there is a LOT of ill will toward Muslims in this country, and I’m very surprised if you’ve really never seen an example of it. I see it all the time.

  60. SUNNofaB.C.Rich on October 30, 2011 at 10:59 pm

    all I have to say about this piece is phbbbbbt! I’m not a Mormon but I wouldn’t sell your guys religion short by comparing it to Islam.

  61. NewYorkNik on November 1, 2011 at 8:54 pm

    Sarah, I really appreciated your thoughtful post on Mormons and Muslims. While I, too, recognize the similarities in some religious practices I would have to say that I believe there is a disconnect between the tenets of Mohammad’s teachings, and what is being preached by Imams today. I have many Israeli friends here in NY who have been subjected to more hate crimes and violence than most of us can imagine. They are literally fighting for their right to even exist. The hatred that the Muslims (in general) feel towards Israelis (Jews) is palpable. I also have friends who died in the Twin Towers thanks to this extreme form of hatred. I concur with some of the posts which condemn the Muslim leaders for not taking a stronger stance against all the terrorism.

    Sarah, Have you by any chance read “Infidel” or “I Am Nujood, Aged 10 and Divorced”? These books are real eye-openers as to how Islam is practiced in most third world villages. Extreme forms of Islam span 2 whole continents and while I DO agree with some of the tenets of their faith (I’ve even been criticized for quoting them in the Gospel Doctrine class I teach), we need to not be totally ignorant of the deprave acts that are being wrought on women, Jews, and Christians in the name of Islam.

    Just a little more food for thought.

  62. Ken on November 17, 2011 at 11:51 am

    It’s true that building relationships of trust is what we’ve been instructed to do when talking about religion with others. That’s nice that you want to point those out here. The problems with muslim beliefs many Americans have however have to do with the violent speech and actions that many Muslims have perpetrated. I’m not saying it’s the majority of Muslims, but it is way too many. They need to fix their problems from within but it seems the moderate Muslims must be too afraid to pick up that cause and make it happen. If they would stop chanting death to America, death to Israel, telling their children that Jews want to drink the blood of the muslim, as what was performed in a skit at the university of Islam in gaza, stop the car bombings, stop the planned attacks on the US, stop ahmadinijad from saying he wants to kill all the Jews, stop the killing of Christians in Egypt, stop burying their women to their heads and stoning them as with soroya and the list goes on, then we might start looking at the good parts of their beliefs and take them at their word that they’re a peace loving people. Being peace loving is easy if you force everyone to your way of thinking. There are similarities because truth is eternal. Forcing people or threatening their extinction sounds like someone’s plan for mankind but it wasn’t Christ’s.