Friday, March 26, 2010

Fitna in Morocco

TIME magazine has published an article by Lisa Abend entitled: In Morocco, a Crackdown on Christian Aid Workers. 21 March 2010

(For background and analysis see my earlier post of 14 March 2010 entitled, Morocco: up to 70 foreign Christians expelled.)

Abend's article mentions a number of cases not previously mentioned in other reports; such as that of a Korean-born Protestant pastor in Marrakesh who was arrested as he led a worship service in his church. It also includes a moving 55 second film clip which shows the distress suffered by the orphans at the Village of Hope orphanage on 8 March, after they learned that their foster parents were going to be taken from them and deported. Furthermore, it also gives us another hint as to what might be simmering beneath the surface.

Quoting from Abend's TIME magazine article: "According to the Moroccan government, the deportees all broke the law, using their status as aid workers to cover their proselytizing. 'They are guilty of trying to undermine the faith of Muslims,' Interior Minister Tayeb Cherkaoui said in a press release.

"But were they? Broadbent denies the charges. Part of his job at the Village of Hope was to ensure that staff members understood the rules prohibiting proselytizing, and he notes that all the orphanage's children received instruction in Islam. 'We weren't teaching Christianity in any formal way,' he says. But asked if reading the Bible to Muslim children constitutes proselytizing, he said, 'We understood that it wasn't. And in any case, the authorities have always known that these children were being raised in Christian families.' "

Herein lies the problem -- it is a matter of perspective. The foreign Christians and the fundamentalist Muslims are viewing the issue of Christian aid work through completely different lenses. The Christian aid workers believe that as long as they are not pressuring Muslims to convert to Christianity then they are not guilty of proselytising. They believe that for a conversion to be genuine it must be of the heart and absolutely free, so they have no interest in "proselytising". They simply believe in liberty, and that it is an idea's ability to stand on its own two feet in the open market place of ideas that gives it worth. But for the Muslim fundamentalists who are doubtless behind this move and possibly pressuring the reformist government for concessions, the issue is fitna.


In his book The Third Choice, Islam, Dhimmitude and Freedom (Feb 2010, Deror Books), pastor, linguist and Islam-scholar Rev Dr Mark Durie notes (page 96): "The Arabic word fitna 'trial, persecution, temptation' is of crucial importance in understanding Muhammad's metamorphosis" [from rejected "loser" in Mecca, to victorious "winner" in Medina]. "The word," explains Durie, "is derived from fatana 'to turn away from, to tempt, to seduce or subject to trials'." (Quote taken from E.W. Lane, An Arabic-English Lexicon. Book 6, p.2334ff.)

Thus fitna, which is equated with persecution, involves anything that could cause a Muslim to leave Islam -- anything from vile torture to magnetic grace. The whole purpose of jihad was to eliminate fitna. For some, this simply meant that infidels had to be so totally subjugated and humiliated, to the point of wretchedness and paralysis, that the alternative to Islam was abhorrent and repulsive. For others, the elimination of fitna required the elimination of infidels in order to ensure that there was no alternative that could threaten Islam in any way.

For according to the Islamic order, Muslims are superior -- the most noble/best community ever raised up for mankind (Q3:110) -- and therefore must dominate. It is the Muslims who are called to success. Thus a thriving dhimmi would be a source of fitna for the Muslim community. Of course a thriving apostate is the most threatening embodiment of fitna imaginable. This is why the dictators of Islam are so desperately apostaphobic.

Durie writes (p.97) concerning the fitna phrases in the Quran (Q2:190-193 and 217, and 8:39): "These fitna phrases, each revealed twice in the Quran, establish the principle that jihad was justified by the existence of an obstacle to people entering Islam, or of inducements to Muslims to abandon their faith. However grievous it might be to fight others and shed their blood, undermining or obstructing Islam was worse."

For, as the Quran states: ". . . to turn men from the way of Allah, and to disbelieve in him . . . is a greater transgression with Allah [than fighting in the sacred month], for persecution (fitna) is worse than killing. . ." (Q2:217)

Fitna in Morocco

Consider again the words of Tayeb Cherkaoui, Morocco's Interior Minister who has accused the Christian aid workers of being "guilty of trying to undermine the faith of Muslims", and the words of Christian aid worker Chris Broadbent, who flatly denied that any "proselytisation" had taken place.

Obviously MP Cherkaoui has determined that nothing shakes the faith of a Muslim, tempting him/her to leave Islam, as much as the sacrificial gracious love of a Christian. As far as he is concerned, every one of the deported Christian aid workers was guilty of fitna (persecuting Islam, attacking Islam, seducing Muslims away from Islam) whether they were aware of it or not.

For active evangelisation is not the only form of fitna presenting a challenge to Islam. The fundamentalists know that in order to really eliminate fitna, they must eliminate every demonstration of Christian sacrificial love, Christian mercy, Christian grace, Christian joy and Christian assurance/peace -- for these amount to the most devastating fitna of all!

The expulsion of foreign Christian aid workers from Morocco may well set a precedent. All does not bode well for Christian aid work in the Muslim world.