The Muslim’s Love for His Fellow Man

On Wednesday Iranian courts released captive American hostages Shane Bauer and Joseph Fattal two years after kidnapping them in a mountainous region on what may have been the Iraqi side of the border.  In what was at worse an inadvertent intrusion by three hikers, the Iranian clerics, who control the courts, finally released the two men after defying Iranian President Ahmadinejad in a bid to assert the power of the Sharia courts over the presidency and extorting one half million dollars “bail” from the families of each man.

The Iranian clerics have taken a hard stand against anyone who does conform to their rigid Islamic tenents.  In July an Iranian judge released former army colonel Hamid Pourmand who had been imprisoned in Tehran’s infamous Evin Prison for “hiding” the fact that he was a Christian from his military superiors.  Originally tried for apostasy, which carries the penalty death by hanging, Pourmand was sentenced to three years in prison after being held in solitary confinement for five months and tortured daily in the time leading up to his trial.  Pourmand had been volunteering as a lay pastor with the Assembly of God church in the port city of Bandar-i Bushehr when the secret police raided a church conference in Karaj, near Tehran.

The five pillars of Islam: Bearing witness that there is no God but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, Observance of Prayer, Paying Zakat, Fasting during Ramadan and Pilgrimage to the house of Allah, do not permit the belief of other religions.

More recently, Pastor Yousef Nardarkhani, who converted to Evangelical Christianity at the age of 19, is awaiting a final decision on his conviction for apostasy from the Sharia courts. On September 22nd a regional court in Rasht upheld Nardarkhani’s conviction for “converting to Christianity and encouraging other Muslims to convert to Christianity”.  The appeal decision reads in part “He must repent [of] his Christian faith if this is the case. No research has been done to prove this; if it can be proved that he was a practicing Muslim as an adult and has not repented, the execution will be carried out.”

Pastor Nardarkhani leads a church of 400 parishioners in the city of Rasht.

Meanwhile in Somalia, Al Shabaab rebels have blocked international relief supplies from reaching dying Somalians in the southern part of the country.

Al Shabaab, which is allied with Al Qaida and may be a subsidiary organization, has demanded bribes from United Nations relief workers before letting the food in.  One Al Shabaab commander told the starving Somalians “You can eat anything but food aid.” 

More than two million Somalis are facing starvation in the Al Shabaab-controlled territory, which faces its worst drought in sixty years.

Catholic Pope Benedict XVI has called the Somali situation ”a humanitarian catastrophe” and called on the international community to immediately come to the assistance of the Somali people.

All of the world is confronting hardship and evil.  In a time where all men should be striving for peace, it seems that the extremist followers of Islam agitate for persecution and suffering, even of their own people, in the name of their religion.  To torture people, sentence them to death and let children die of starvation is not the mark of peaceable people following their religion faithfully.

Pray for Pastor Nardarkhani, for the children of Somalia, for the families of the murdered 9-11 victims.  Pray for Christianity which is under assault worldwide.  As Jesus said “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.

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