Islam, the world and us

A record of interview with Barnabas Fund’s Dr Patrick Sookhdeo in the April issue of Australian Presbyterian is one of the more helpful things I’ve read in a while for an understanding of Islam and Muslims, both from a western cultural point of view generally, and from a Christian point of view in particular.

The most significant insights for me centre around Islam’s understanding of the world, the future and its place in both. Muslims are taught that every nation belongs in effect to them. (“Islam teaches that all lands belong to Allah, who has given them to the Muslims.”) When coupled with a historical perspective on the theology of Jihad, violent conquest of other nations can be seen as legitimate. (Jihad may have a core meaning of simply ‘striving’ for a righteous life, but in the context of the development of Mohammed’s understanding of his destiny violence came to have a place in the quest.)

So in terms of human endeavour, one worthy priority is encouraging the branch of contemporary Islamic scholarship concerned with the place of war in Islamic theology.

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A Bush ballad

(or An ode to Bush justice)

[This piece just kind of “landed” on the page in front of me one morning while I was in the middle of reading a Psalm and praying. I guess it marks the rekindling of a creative writing gift, largely neglected since childhood. I wrote it a couple of weeks after “Sept 11”. One or two details of fact may now be corrected, but the work stands….]


Just keep your finger on the trigger, George,

don’t let them get away.

Keep your finger on that button,

make sure those nasties pay.

Don’t worry whether you know for sure

bin Laden is your man.

Near enough is good enough

where terrorists stalk the land.

Six-thousand innocents paid the price!

How will justice tell?

Why, take out thousands more of theirs,

and some of yours as well.


“Collateral damage” said McVeigh;

you reeled in disgust.

But of course it’s somehow different

when you know your cause is just.

So when Afghani orphans wail

and widows wring their hands,

Just tell them it’s for Justice! Freedom! Peace!

they’re sure to understand.


And when the terror strikes again,

a little worse perhaps?

Just pump the trigger once again

and blast them off the map.

When at the last Peace wins the war,

be sure we won’t forget.

The free world will salute you

— if there’s any of us left.