June 16, 2006

He went to observe and learn. So, I think it was unnecessary and unwise to set himself up for potential martyrdom.

A friend in Illinois sent me the following as part of an e-mail on Friday afternoon, June 16.

- - - -

Here's my report on midday prayer at the mosque about an hour ago.
I went to a mosque that is not associated with Nation of Islam.
I entered 15 minutes early and was told to leave my sandals in the special room where there was a place to wash my feet.
I did so and entered …sitting in the back….
Only men entered….
Then a leader came and [chanted]….
Next the imam came to the front and reminded people to face the front….
He then asked non-Muslims to stand and raise their hands.
I was the only one.
He …asked what my purpose was for being there.
I said I am a Christian and a chaplain and currently have a Muslim patient and want to learn better how to work with him.
He asked if I could profess that God is One and Mohammed is his prophet.
I said "No."
He laughed nervously and many of the 50 or so guys started to gasp and look around at me.
He said: "You believe God is one and Jesus submitted to him?"
He was trying to give me a way to save face.
I said: "Yes, Jesus submitted to God and WAS God."

I have never before felt like someone wanted to kill me until today.
EVERYONE was looking back at me and some scowled in the most seriously scary way I've ever seen as they hissed.
The imam was in a jam now;
he told everyone to calm down and told me that I would have to sit in the foyer with the women (no women were present) but I could not worship there.
He meant no disrespect.
One of his guards …came from behind and motioned me to follow him.
I ignored him until I was finished talking (listening) to the imam.
He told me not to leave until after the prayers when he would come and talk to me.

I left.

- - - -

I wrote my friend the following response.

- - - -

You could have said Jesus submitted to God, for he submitted his humanity to God.

Inside the mosque, it wasn't absolutely necessary to say that Jesus is God.
To proclaim that in a mosque was proselytism (evangelization) and, in their understanding, a blasphemous utterance.
So, in my judgment, you committed an UNNECESSARY offense.
(There are NECESSARY offenses.)

What was your ORIGINAL and CONSCIOUS intention in going into the mosque?
Simply to observe?
To pray to the God of Abraham?
To evangelize/proselytize?
To do all three?

- - - -

In my judgment, my friend spoke unwisely.

When the imam (Muslim clergyman) asked my friend why he had come,
my friend answered,
“…I am a Christian and a chaplain
and currently have a Muslim patient
and want to learn better how to work with him.”

Since my friend stated that as his purpose for being in the mosque,
I presume my friend would have done best to simply add,
“I’m here to observe as a guest.”
The unspoken intention my friend would have done best to keep in mind would have been,
“I’m not here to announce Jesus right now;
I’m here to observe Muslim prayer.”

If you want to learn, it may at times be wisest to shut your mouth and say as little as possible.

On this occasion, I believe my friend failed to obtain a positive lesson in how “to learn better how to work with” his Muslim patient. Rather, he may have learned what NOT to do-- a negative lesson.

My fear is that my friend could have gotten killed. If he had waited around for the imam after the service, would some zealous jihadist within the congregation have taken the occasion to harm my friend?

As for my comment that Jesus submitted to God, I remind my readers that there is such a thing as the “One Will Heresy” (called “monothelitism”).
The reality is that Jesus had both a human will and a divine will. The two are distinct in existence, even though they act in harmony.


Anonymous Andrew said...


1:48 PM  
Blogger white african said...

ummmmmm, interesting, it seems you entered the mosque having already made your judgment on muslims and islam, i guess you felt you were put in the corner when asked by the imam as to what you were doing in the mosque and felt that you had to give an answer, by implying that you may have been attacked by a 'jihadist' if you had stuck around gives the impression that you entred with a sense of paranoia and fear and expected the worst, thats a shame...

3:50 PM  
Blogger Father Stephanos, O.S.B. said...


"White African", to whom are you writing?

I wasn't the one who visited the mosque. It was a friend in Chicago, Illinois.

As for expecting a "jihadist" in a mosque, one of the September 11 Muslim terrorists had been a member of one of our local mosques here is San Diego, California.

The vast majority of Muslims are not terrorists.

However, it certainly appears that the majority of terrorists are Muslims.

11:59 PM  
Blogger David L Alexander said...

A Christian enters a mosque to observe. Upon learning that he was Christian, he was asked (without provocation) to renounce his faith. He did not. He was asked a question. He gave an honest answer. That's not proselytizing, that's being polite, or simply honest. Those who were "offended" set themselves up for being offended -- unless they were expecting a different reaction.

Now that you mention it, a good number of martyrs should have kept their mouths shut. They didn't.


1:03 PM  

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