A.S. Ibrahim: What mosques mean | WORLD
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A.S. Ibrahim: What mosques mean


WORLD Radio - A.S. Ibrahim: What mosques mean

Muslims see Islam expanding and Christianity contracting


MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Today is Wednesday, February 22nd. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Myrna Brown.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. Today, a new voice as we welcome A.S. Ibrahim of World Opinions. Ibrahim is a native of Egypt and he heads up the center for the Christian Understanding of Islam at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. His commentary today concerns recent headlines coming from Buffalo, New York.

A. S. IBRAHIM, COMMENTATOR: Many in the West know that a “mosque” is a Muslim house of worship. But few understand the aggressive ideology behind the Muslim pattern of building mosques in non-Muslim lands.

For many Muslims, building a mosque is a theological statement of Islam’s hegemony. It is a visible declaration of Islam’s victorious advance and success. The structure itself becomes a sign of Islam’s superiority over other belief systems. Just think of the minaret towers on a city’s skyline in a Muslim country.

A recent report explains that a Muslim group plans to create a mosque inside St. Ann Catholic Church in Buffalo, New York. A Muslim group purchased it and plans to invest at least $22.5 million in its renovations. Why spend this much on an old church building? The answer is simple: For many Muslims, this is a theological statement of Islam’s superiority. In their view, Christianity recedes and Islam expands.

A few months earlier, another group of Muslims purchased Detroit World Outreach Church—a megachurch building—and turned it into a mosque. Before that, in Bridgeport, Connecticut, the local Islamic Community purchased the historic United Congregational Church. One of the first actions of the Muslim owners was to take down the cross from the altar—a clear declaration of the new identity of the building. That’s something we’ve seen before. In Milwaukee in 2016, a Muslim group purchased a church building and took out Christian symbols like crosses before announcing the deal.

In contrast, many Muslim-majority countries don’t allow building churches in Muslim lands, or at least make it extremely difficult. Their logic is that Islam is the only truthful religion.

Consider Saudi Arabia. Building churches is prohibited in the places where Muhammad resided. Christians are not even allowed to enter the sacred cities of Mecca and parts of Medina. To avoid criticism, Saudis publicly claim: “There are no Christians here, why would you build a church?” Ironically, these same Saudis are willing to fund mosque buildings worldwide where Muslims are not found in large numbers.

Consider the examples of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya. All proudly declare they are Muslim countries. They falsely claim to have no local Christians, and only allow a few church buildings exclusively for foreigners. Local Christians have only one choice: underground house churches. In Egypt, Coptic Christians make up 15-20 percent of the population. Until recently, Copts could not build a church without presidential permission!

Many secular Westerners view a mosque as evidence of religious freedom, a cherished value in the West. However, next time you see a mosque replace a church, remember what it means to Muslims. They see Islam expanding and Christianity contracting. The mosque is there to offer visible proof.

I’m A. S. Ibrahim.

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