Thursday, 22 August 2013

What Are We Doing to Help Fellow-Christians?

Our view of the world is distorted by media that are so biassed they deserve little or no credence. I get most of my news these days from alternative websites. Here is a story you won't hear on Channel 4 News.
A 15-year-old Christian girl called Mariam was seized from her home in Qusayr, in the district of Homs a few weeks ago.
The town was  captured by Syrian rebels earlier this year. Mariam was abducted by militia of the jihadist group Jabhat al-Nusra and forced to marry the commander of the militia. After raping her, he announced the next morning that he was divorcing her, and handed her over to one of his fellow-soldiers, who married and raped her likewise. This was repeated on 15 consecutive days with 15 consecutive "husbands". Mariam showed signs of madness, and they killed her.
The story was reported by Fathers Issam and Elias, two Greek Orthodox priests who are working in the area trying to help victims.
The sheik Yasir al-Ajlawni, a salafist of Jordanian origin, now living in Damascus – has issued a fatwa declaring that rebels against the rĂ©gime of Bashar al-Assad have the right to rape any Syrian woman who is not a sunni Muslim. This means all Shia Muslims and Christians. To make his fatwa bang up-to-date, he issued it over the internet, using "social media".
Here are some pictures of her family praying for her, before the militants sacked and desecrated their church.

And here is the blushing bridegroom!

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Down on Your Knees

There are many resemblances between gardening and religion. Both of them involve a lot of trying to propitiate higher powers, and both of them involve spending a lot of time on your knees. There is really no way that you can get to grips with the planting and weeding without kneeling on the ground, and when people try to do it some other way they just get appalling back problems.
        Gardening means that you have to be aware of the seasons, the phases of the moon and the weather. You can hope to understand them, and even to some extent predict them, but you cannot control them. You have to watch them in humility and try to submit to their inscrutable decrees. The elements, the sun and moon, the changing seasons, even the wind and the rain, were all gods at one time and humans learned to revere them and persuade them to bestow something edible on us by a combination of nature and our own efforts. We have to learn their laws and accept that sometimes, evil things we cannot control, such as slugs and snails, or peach-leaf-curl, will still wreak havoc in our gardens. Why do these wicked beasts exist? We do not know but we have to grapple with them as part of the great struggle between good and evil in the universe.
       Christian churches still all face East, and we say this is so they will face Jerusalem, but funnily enough most of the pagan temples before them faced East too, because that is the direction of the dawn and therefore the most auspicious. If you want a vegetable plot to succeed, you should orientate it east-west, so that the rows run sideways from north to south. This gives plants the best sun exposure and air circulation. It also resembles the pews in a church.  
        Through agriculture, human beings first learned to cultivate the ethos of delayed gratification. When you hunt, you find and kill what you want, and you eat it immediately. Same with gathering really  - you find it, pick it and eat it. When you plant, you have to wait. You have to do the work and invest time and energy, while having faith in nature to one day give you something back. Faith links gardening and religion, because when you plant a few little specks of seeds in a pot of soil or a trench, you see almost nothing for a long time, and you have to wait and hope. Religion likewise teaches the ethos of delayed gratification. Without this, we would have no advanced civilization. Nobody would invest or do any jobs. The more civilized we are, the more we learn to do this. Delayed gratification means that you devote yourself to bringing up children for years and years and then, one day, amazingly, you find you have a civilized adult who is worth talking to! Marvellous.

Monday, 5 August 2013

What is the National Zakat Foundation?

According to the National Zakat Foundation, thousands of Muslim women suffer domestic abuse yet cannot get help from existing shelters or safe houses. Why would this be true?
Their publicity campaign, linked to a Ramadan appeal, claims that a Muslim woman called Sara has suffered domestic violence and maltreatment from her husband yet got no help from the social services, the courts or the benefits system. They claim she was left "penniless and homeless"...of course if true this is terrible, but why would it happen? Does Sara live in the UK or elsewhere? The appeal message is careful to avoid saying.
Your sister Sara was afraid for her life after enduring horrific abuse from her husband. When she decided enough was enough she filed for divorce but was left penniless and homeless - until she found NZF. Find out how Sara's life has changed.

Here is the video they are circulating:-
As far as I was aware, any women facing such problems in the UK would automatically get accommodation in a secure, secret shelter and if there was any violence the divorce would take only one year, not five. Support from the benefits system would be automatic.
The fact that Sharia law permits a husband to beat his wife and forbids her to leave him or disobey him is tactfully excluded from their Ramadan appeal.
It claims that they need donations to provide homes for homeless people and provision for orphans.
Where exactly are these cases and how do we know that the money donated is really going to philanthropic and life-saving causes?


Tonight could be Laylat al Qadr. Who will you empower on the Night of Power?

Tune in to our Live Appeal on Sky Channel 192 (Freesat 402) between 8.45 pm and 3am to find out why Darren and Rashid are supporting our work to ensure our brothers and sisters are no longer destitute and alone. Change the story > 

Make the most of the last 10 days and read our Powerful Tips for the Last 10 Nights by Sheikh Tawfique Chowdhury
The National Zakat Foundation is an initiative of Mercy Mission UK, charity number 1122922
National Zakat Foundation, Wembley Point, 1 Harrow Road, HA9 6DE  |   0203 318 1001