Tonight at Campbell Baptist Church in Windsor the second part of a four parts series warning people of the “deadly threat of Islam” is about to get underway. In this series Pastor Don McKay hopes to make Christians and our community aware of what he says is an evil and deadly reality – Islam. His words last week were in most cases so inflammatory they could not be aired by local news reporters. Pastor McKay and the church are now under investigation to see if what they did was by nature Hate related and if so punishable. As you all know I spoke last week about how Pastor McKay has not represented Christians well and does not reflect the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as I know them.  I also said that his choosy reading of the Quran was deliberate and does not reflect the balance of Islamic teaching. This of course is consistent with fundamentalism and their treatment of our own scriptures.

This past week has been interesting. The level of conversation in the city has been tremendous. I am pleased to say that most of it has been insightful and most intellectual conversations have denounced the talks at Campbell Baptist for what they are – fear filled and inaccurate. As they prepare to meet tonight for a session entitled “Could Jihad be Coming to you Neighbourhood?” many open-minded and accepting Christians have planned to be in attendance to speak peace and love in the face of fear and intolerance.  I cannot attend tonight but I do intend on taking some time in tonight Markus Book Club to look discuss the importance of what is happening in the community around us. We all need to be engaged in this very important debate to remind people that as Christians we are not enemies of Islam or any other faith.

Conservative Evangelicals like to throw around the threat that we are all at risk because jihad is at hand and it is all about us. I personally think that this is not only unfair rhetoric it also is unfounded and ignorant of what Islamic teaching.  I recently read Karen Armstrong’s book “A Short History of Islam.” It is a good book for all people who are seeking to learn more about our Islamic neighbours to read. I have begun to read it again along with the Quran. With respect to the inference that is made in tonight’s seminar at Campbell Baptist Church about Jihad I was reminded of what I Karen Armstrong and her sensible approach to Islamic teaching. I did a quick internet search and found a great short article of hers entitled The True, Peaceful Face of Islam 2002” Here is an excerpt from that article:

Islam is not addicted to war, and jihad is not one of its ‘pillars," or essential practices.  The primary meaning of the word jihad is not "holy war’ but "struggle." It refers to the difficult effort that is needed to put God’s will into practice at every level personal and social as well as political.  A very important and much quoted tradition has Muhammad telling his companions as they go home after a battle, "We are returning from the lesser jihad [the battle] to the greater jihad,’ the far more urgent and momentous task of extirpating wrongdoing from one’s own society and one’s own heart.”

That sounds pretty sensible to me. So taking that into account, I would like to say in answer to tonight’s topic (“Could Jihad be Coming to you Neighbourhood?”) at Campbell Baptist – “I sure hope so!” The idea that the greatest and most difficult “struggle” is expunge wrongdoing wherever it is found is something I quite appreciate. In this holy tradition of Muhammad, we learn that there is a need to be cleansed as society and as individual. We should hope that all of our neighbourhoods experience a holy jihad. I pray for an end to injustice, oppression hatred and fear in my neighbourhood and in my world every day. I pray that I might act in ways that are less hurtful and more life giving. When I confess, I pray that all of my “wrongdoing,” my sinfulness, my failings may be forgiven and that I might learn no ways of being that allow me to live a more holy life. I should hope that tonight someone reminds Mr. Mackay of what Jihad really is. And I pray that he might have ears to listen.

Say a prayer this night for all who are assembled at Campbell Baptist.  Pray for peace and for tolerance and for respect among all peoples.