Blessing the Nations

ArabIconby Anniel   5/13/14
Late one very dark night, I stood with my friend, Ibitsam, under a streetlight in Chicago. She held before me a picture of her son, Mohammed, so I could see how he had looked a few short months before when he had still seemed healthy. She said he was no longer recognizable to anyone. We held each other and wept for her son, who died only a few hours later.

Ibitsam, she was well named, for her name means Smile in Arabic. I had seen her glorious smile when we first met and had seen how it transformed a rather plain face into a thing of great beauty. She was also intelligent and kind. Her husband, Abdul Aziz, came to get me the morning of Mohammed’s death and said he wanted me to come and “look” at his wife. I thought he meant for me to help her in some way, but he literally wanted me to “look” at her, to “see” her. In her exhaustion she lay across the bed, passed out like a small, broken bird. Abdul Aziz said a simple thing as he gazed lovingly at her, “Isn’t she beautiful?” Oh, yes. They flew home that afternoon so that was the last time I saw her.

Over many years I have met and grown to love other Arab women, and many of their husbands and children, including almost all of Ibitsam’s ten brothers and sisters. I also believe I was “adopted” as a member of an extended family when the highest ranking clan chief pulled me into his arms and kissed me on both cheeks in front of all the adult males and females in their group. I, who had been told never to touch or shake hands with an Arab male, was stunned and never figured out for certain what had happened. But thereafter the women accepted me as one of their own, insisted I share their food, and in all ways treated me as family. Some of them even removed their veils in the presence of my husband.

Now when I hear arguments raised for and against Islam and/or Arabs, I am torn. Because of the ones who are now my friends, I fear for them when their homes are wracked by war and I weep for their losses. But I also stand with the Jews, and Israel as a nation. I do think we will pay a high price, not just in the United States, but all around the world, for the impression that we have turned against Israel and accommodated Islamic militancy.

I have met Arabs who are evil in their disdain for us, the Great Satan, even while taking advantage of all that America has to offer. Do I think even those I call friends would hesitate to behead me and mine? I’m not sure, but I fear that some, if called upon to do so, would indeed go ahead and kill us all. There is always a small uneasiness that makes me question even those I think of as friends. I am very sorry for that.

Once for several days my daughter and I helped keep a death watch over the most beautiful and engaging child I have ever met, an almost four-year-old Arab boy named Haitham. His body was rejecting a lung and kidney transplant and his great will to live made for a long, grim struggle. His absolutely devoted father finally could not bear to see his pain and was physically unable to visit without totally breaking down. We periodically sat with Haitham’s mother until one day she also could no longer bear the pain. The task of watching this death was not for the faint hearted, yet it was also a precious and holy time.

Haitham’s death led me to ponder on him, and all Arabs, as children of Abraham. After his willingness to sacrifice his son Isaac on the mount at Moriah The Lord God told His friend Abraham, “. . . in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is upon the sea shore. And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.” (Genesis 22:17-18).

Christian’s are taught that ” . . . if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:29) In these days Christians and the children of Jacob, who became Israel, are still sundered from the children of Abraham’s son Ishmael, and Jacob’s twin, Esau, but as we accept Christ we are of Abraham’s seed. Perhaps these groups must reach a point where they all accept Christianity before they can become the blessings they were meant to be to “all the nations of the earth.” To many people these are obscure matters from an ancient history that doesn’t mean much to them, and the enmity between us seems insurmountable, yet God’s words are eternal.

Even in my uneasiness about these Arab people who are my friends and brethren, as a Christian I know that the Lord God’s promises to Abraham are true, and that each of us who are of Abraham’s seed will yet bless all the nations of the earth. How that will eventually come to be I cannot comprehend, but in the Lord’s own time it will surely happen. • (4052 views)

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22 Responses to Blessing the Nations

  1. Timothy Lane says:

    My understanding is that Esau’s progeny became the Edomites. I’m not sure what (if any) ethnicity would be their successor today. (The Herods were Idumaeans, which is basically Roman-era Edomites.)

    I would like to think that there are indeed reasonable Muslims/Arabs (not identical groups, though they obviously do overlap considerably). We’ve occasionally eaten at a local Bosnian restaurant (since closed) as well as an Arab one, though we have no way of knowing their religion. (For that matter, the Indian restaurant we go to most often — Shalimar, with its lunch buffet and its Christmas hours — has a Pakistani name.) What Islam needs is people who adapt the religion to modern civilization, which would require condemning Schweinhunde such as Boko Haram and the various Al Qaeda allies as well as the Muslim Brotherhood and even worse jihadist groups. But, as Bob Beckel complained last night on Hannity, so far no Muslim nation has chosen to condemn Boko Haram’s atrocities. Until they do, they must be considered pure barbarians. Hence my extreme hostility to Islam (or more precisely to jihadism).

    • Rosalys says:

      Arabs are an ethnic group. Islam is a (vile) religion. It is Islam that is the big, big, big problem for the entire world. Bridgette Gabriel comes from an Arab Christian family and there was animosity between the Jews and the Christian Arabs. It was a cultural distrust rather than a religious one. It wasn’t until they sought medical treatment for I think it was her mother over the Lebanese border into Israel that she, through personal contact, began to see the Jews in a new light.

      I have a friend whose son is married to a Muslim woman. She seems a modern American type of woman – she doesn’t wear a hijab or anything. Her son has not converted to Islam and I understand he has no intension of doing so; they bring their daughter to Grandma’s house for Christmas dinner. But his wife’s parents, her brother and his wife and son are all living in the same house. This family living arrangement seems to be a cultural thing. I suppose that Brother-in-law does earn a living, but the house they all live in has been bought and is being paid for by my friend’s son and the greater responsibility for support of the whole crowd has been laid on him. The parents really love my friend. Now whether this is genuine love or some form of soft jihad – maybe it is some of both – I am in no position to know or even guess; I’ve only met them once and very briefly. I find this sponging off of him by a whole family disturbing, but apparently he likes the close knit family arrangement and doesn’t mind.

      Hospitality among the Arab people is famous. It’s the religion you can’t trust!

  2. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    I think the truth is that people are sometimes nice despite Islam. There are enough commonalities between people that even a rotten ideology can’t always spoil that aspect.

    But when push comes to shove, one will be waiting a long time for any Muslim to denounce the violent actions done in the name of Islam and to take sides with a pluralistic idea of society. We shouldn’t fool ourselves about that.

  3. steve lancaster says:

    Right you are Brad,

    Western civilization has been resisting the encroaching influence of Islam since the 7th century. What many apologists for Islam forget is that most of the Middle East was Christian before the conquest. Coptic Christians were influential in the final cannon of Scripture and development of theology. If it had not been for Charles Martel in 742 most of Europe would have been Moslem by 800 CE. This is a war that has been hot and cold for over 1300 years and there is no reason to believe it is anywhere near the end.

    For over 50 years we fought the Cold War sometimes hot and sometimes cold, but it was always a war of ideology. For the West the current conflict is ideological for Islam it is theological. As long as that dichotomy continues there will never be peace. Islam is the great enemy of the West we either defeat it or it will defeat us. There is no middle ground.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Ditto. Well said, Steve.

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        Islam was on a general decline from the fall of Granada, the last Muslim Kingdom in al-Andalus, in 1492 and the defeat of the Ottoman forces in front of Vienna in 1683.

        It is interesting that the last Muslim Kingdom in Spain fell the same year that Columbus set sail for the Indies. For a period of 500 years, Islamic lands were something of a backwater where modernity was ignored. From the 1800’s many of these countries were ruled by colonial masters. And the little modernity which did penetrate these countries was brought by their colonial overlords.

        Islam’s resurgence is due, in large part, to the discovery of oil in the Middle East and the failure of the Socialist Ideal which the Arab and other elites adhered to in their anti-colonial efforts.

        On the one hand, there are some fabulously wealthy people in an area full of poverty. These people and their servants have helped divert the attention of the masses from the true reasons for their poverty and the failure of their culture. Instead, they have channeled the plebs’ anger to the West who, as colonialists and supporters of Jews are responsible.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          One thing I’ve read is that sometime in the medieval era, some Muslim leader decided that all relevant knowledge had been discovered; anything new would be anti-Koranic and thus heretical. Naturally, this eliminated any intellectual curiosity in Muslim societies, which thus became focused solely on their own history and Muslim theology (primarily the latter). I wonder if any Muslim nation has produced a single Nobel Prize winner in any scientific endeavor.

  4. john hartnett says:

    Steve Lancaster said: Islam is the great enemy of the West; we either defeat it or it will defeat us. There is no middle ground.
    But there is another possibility, to which the writer of the original piece alluded. We defeat the Islamic creed by converting the followers of Islam. That may seem impossible at present, but such events may occur in time as to lead to Islam’s demise. And what can fill the emptiness of a decimated/bankrupted belief system? Another belief system; this one sent by a God of love, not one of brutal oppression.

    • steve lancaster says:

      On an individual basis it is possible for conversion to work, but we are talking of cultures not individuals and Islamic culture is antithetical to Judo-Christian culture. The war is at its heart a war of theology vs. ideology one wins the other loses.

  5. Anniel says:

    John – Thank you so much. That was exactly the point I was hoping people would get. The God of love moves in mysterious ways to accomplish His purposes. We are called to love even those who seem to be our enemies, and, yes, I do love my friends. Somehow I like to think there is a reason I met so many Arab people who showed love to me. I hope they remember me with fondness, too, even though they were amused by Alaska and could barely comprehend my home. Maybe we’ll meet again in God’s time.

    • john hartnett says:

      Thanks very much for your article.
      On the surface, I wholeheartedly agree with Steve. Islam and the West, by Islam’s centuries-old choice, are implacable enemies and the West seems to have forgotten this, to its great peril.
      On a human level, for us to survive, Islam must be defeated. But I’m thinking beyond a purely human level, and so are you. So was Francis of Assisi when he went to Egypt with the Crusade led by Louis IX. He nearly converted the Muslim leader, but the time for that was not right then.
      The same Lord Who guides human history allowed Islam to subjugate most of what had been Christian territory, most of which He has allowed them to occupy now for nearly 14 centuries. I have no idea why this is. A God Who has created and ordered hundreds of billions of stars in our Milky Way galaxy alone, and billions of other galaxies beyond that, is so far superior to me in His span and scope that I can’t comprehend all His ways other than those He’s chosen to reveal to us in this life, together with those revealed by the ordered workings of His creation. I am but a microbe in my comprehension of His omnipotence.
      But I expect that one day events will unfold that will make possible the mass conversions of the Muslims, together with those other children of Abraham.
      Are you aware of the great, and improbable, Christian victory at Lepanto? (Don Juan of Austria is coming to the fight!) and the again improbable victories over the Turks at Vienna? The victory of Charles Martel (The Hammer)that saved Europe?
      All these events are providential. Yet I don’t see the West converting anyone until it is re-converted itself and goes forth with zeal once again, believing in itself. That day does not seem close at hand, to say the least.
      And so in the meantime, yes, I agree with Steve in that the West must recognize that Islam (not individual Muslims) is, to its evil core, a most implacable and treacherous enemy and must, for the West’s survival, will itself to defeat it. I would add, however, that without that self-conversion I speak of this is most unlikely in the cultural quicksand of the present day. But when that day comes, the West will have to be able to offer Arabs and others now under the boot of Islam, something far better. Treasures, I hope, that it has re-discovered from its own history.
      All of us serve one master, either God or the devil. In the course of every human life which of those masters we serve at any given moment can change. But in the sum total of how we conduct our lives, we serve either one or the other. Muslims are a captive army. The “angel” who appeared to Muhammed, if he existed as more than convenient myth at all, was clearly not an angel of light, sent by The Light; quite the opposite.
      But Christ poured Himself out to offer all men redemption, Muslims as much as anybody. So no matter how heinous the actions of so many of them, century after century, we have to remember this and discipline ourselves to remember that they are cherished souls foundering in darkness who are in need of light.
      Yes, in the meantime we may have to kill them in self defense as becomes necessary, but we must nevertheless not transfer, to them as individuals, hatred for the evil they do. For if we allow ourselves to hate them, as created souls loved by the same God Who forgives us our own atrocities against Him, we become worse than them.
      That said though, because of what they are taught by the imams from the Koran and the Hadiths, I would find myself very hard-pressed to trust a Muslim
      because he has been indoctrinated with an ideology that comes directly from his true master.

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        He nearly converted the Muslim leader

        How do you know this? Oral tradition?

        • john hartnett says:

          Dear KFZ:

          • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

            So it would have been correct to write “oral tradition has it that St. Francis nearly converted the Muslim leader”.

            I seriously doubt the this, but at least the claim would have been modified with the words “oral tradition has it”.

            For whatever reasons, the number of Christians who converted to Islam is likely larger than the other way around. I suspect that fact that the Muslims conquered countries, which were previously largely Christian in makeup, has a lot to do with it.

            • Timothy Lane says:

              Islam provides for the status of dhimmi for Christians (and theoretically Jews as well), which might best be described as “knowing your place” (as Southerners used to say of blacks who weren’t “uppity”). They’re second-class citizens whose religious freedom is restricted and who face special taxes. Not surprisingly, some find it convenient to convert — the fiscal consequences of which occasionally led to bans on conversions. Of course, conversion the other way is apostasy, and it’s morally virtuous for any Muslim to kill any apostate.

              • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

                Islam provides for the status of dhimmi for Christians (and theoretically Jews as well), which might best be described as “knowing your place” (as Southerners used to say of blacks who weren’t “uppity”).

                That’s such a good point and so well said, Timothy. Thanks for blasting through the fog of feelgoodism that often surrounds this religion. The narrative out there is that Islam is a “religion of peace” because, after all, it makes special concessions to Christians and Jews.

                But you formulated the issue correctly. Dhimmitude and the Jizya tax are meant to be humiliating things.

                You may find individuals Muslims who are just swell. And surely the same was true of individual Nazis. But they both belong to a backward and barbaric totalitarian ideology. And when push comes to shove, these “moderate” Muslims are not likely going to be your friend.

            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              For what it’s worth, Mr. Kung, it seems to be generally believed that Francis went to meet the Muslim leader in order to be martyred. He apparently fully expected to be martyred — such was the habit of “peaceful” Islam when confronted with those of another faith. And Christian martyrdom (which differs from the nut-jobs who put on bomb vests and walk into a marketplace) was considered a good and proper ending to a life. It was a passive trust in God, not an active stab in the heart of peaceful others. It was a peace cult, if you will, as opposed to a blood cult.

              But apparently Francis was of such good humor and ebullient personality that the Muslim barbarian decided to spare him.

              In Did Muhammad Exist?, Robert Spencer delves into the obscure origins of Islam and posits that it could be a wholly self-consciously concocted religion (along the lines of Scientology) in order to breed and augment a warrior cult.

              Whatever the case may be, Islam is a totalitarian system (and by no means just a religion) from a decidedly un-progressive era. It institutionalizes and glorifies violence. It has an ideology similar to Nazism. It is a “master race” type of totalitarian ideology, a “supremacist” religion.

              I read the other day where the decidedly touchy-feeling Marxian Pope Francis says he believes in the Devil. For a man who has said that individuals can decide for themselves what is good (the relativism of the Left incarnate), it seems an odd and old-school thing for this man to believe in a literal Devil.

              And if there is a literal Devil out there, he has already backed his religion of choice: Islam.

              • Timothy Lane says:

                Both Judaism and Islam were created as the basis of a theocratic society, unlike Christianity (a religion primarily of the powerless), though Judaism was only meant to rule the Promised Land whereas Islam was meant to rule the whole world. (As their predecessor said, “Today we rule Germany, tomorrow the whole world.”) After the Bar Kochba revolt failed and led to the Diaspora (which was already in place to a limited degree), the Jews realized they needed to rework the religion into something to be practiced in a non-Jewish society. Islam needs its own version of the Talmud to become a religion of civilized people, but so far I see no sign of any effort to accomplish this necessary task.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Whatever one thinks of any group (such as Muslims), one must always remember that its members are all individuals, and as long as they can (and will) think for themselves, there is hope for them no matter what their errors. And after all, who among us is error-free?

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        I am not a big fan of Islam, having read the Koran three times. But I must say I have met many Muslims who were good people. They were not fanatics in any way and some where even fun to be around.

      • john hartnett says:

        as long as they can (and will) think for themselves….
        But how many do? Obviously, none who truly follow their “faith.”
        As I said, I find them, for that reason, very difficult to trust. I can love them, in the sense that I desire what is best for them, i.e. their freedom, well being, prosperity and above all their salvation. But trust them?
        Those Muslims I have met and found very likeable I still have found a reservoir of mistrust for them, despite my fondest impulses to the contrary.

  6. Anniel says:

    Thank you for your thoughtful responses, and the history lessons. Life is always lived one person at a time, even when our choices seem enforced against our will. I don’t know who said this but it was a reminder that the blood of Christ is the eternal price of our freedom. Only as individuals do we accept the price.

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