Sunday, September 12, 2010

Responding to Islam with a Christ-colored Pen

by Dina Sleiman

Yesterday was the sober anniversary of 9/11. Stories of Islam and the Middle East fill the headlines. No one is quite sure how to treat this subject. Our American mentality of multiculturalism and tolerance encourages us to be fair and accepting. However, we’re confused. Where does Islam end and terrorism begin? How much should we accept? Is Islam a religion of terror or a religion of peace? Do we have a right to police the Middle East? What about the controversay surrounding this pastor in Gainsville, Florida, who had planned to burned the Qu'ran? Surely being offensive to the faith of others is not a proper representation of Christ. Should we support such freedom of expression?

But there’s a more important question that cuts deeper than any of those. How does God view the Islamic people?

Our new slogan at Inkwell Inspirations is "responding to life with a Christ-colored pen." A few years ago, I was asked to respond to Islam with a Christ-colored pen. My husband was looking for someone to write songs about Islam to help explain this issue to an English speaking audience, but every musician he approached said the same thing. “I don’t know enough about Islam.” Well, thanks to being married to a Middle Easterner, I know a lot about Islam. And I write poetry. I even know a little bit about music. So I thought, maybe God would give me a song about the Islamic people.

Not long after, these words popped into my mind, “They cry peace, peace, but there is no peace.” Now that sounded surprisingly scriptural to me, so I looked it up, and indeed it was a scripture from Jeremiah 6:14.

So, I began to construct a ballad out of the many stories I had heard about Muslims who have come to Christ. I longed to give a glimpse into their hearts and into the love that God has for these people. The story of how I wrote the song is a beautiful example of Holy Spirit inspiration, but I will save that for another time. Because today, I want you to focus on viewing the Islamic people through a Christ colored pen. The words to the song are beneath the video.

Painfully devoted their hearts are crying out
Five times daily, face pressed to the floor
Desperately they're calling, faithfully they fast,
Scattering their alms among the poor
Branded with the name of peace, their world is split in two
Again they find themselves caught up in war
Fighting for a cause, a cause they've long forgot
While deep inside their hearts cry out for more

They cry peace, peace but there is no peace
They cry peace, peace but there is no peace
To Allah god they cry and they're left to wonder why
There's no peace for them on the inside, and no peace for them on the earth

She sweeps a veil across her face, sleeves beyond her wrist
Capturing her silent tears, and covering her chains
Fearing for her family, for her very life
Terror is the only story that remains
Her daddy said he loved her, controlled her with his fist
Bound to a calloused husband, he'll divorce her at a whim
She fears she'll be abandoned, left begging on the streets
But more she fears he'll take her babies far away with him

She cries peace, peace but there is no peace
She cries peace, peace but there is no peace
To Allah god she'll cry and she's left to wonder why
There's no peace for her on the inside, and no peace for her on the earth

Circling his holy shrine, he's dressed in purest white
He strives to find acceptance in a heart of blackest stone
No way to right the wrongs he's done, so vainly he'll just walk
A midst the crowd he's calling out, while feeling so alone
Desperate for redemption now, for promise after life
For assurances of paradise, he straps death to his chest
Longing so to prove his worth, he'll go to any length
He'll show his god that he'll withstand this bloody, horrid test

He cries peace, peace but there is no peace
He cries peace, peace but there is no peace
To Allah god he'll cry and he's left to wonder why
There's no peace for him on the inside, and no peace for him on the earth

Because of tender mercy, a God of truest light
Has sent his son for all of them, to die to give them life
For each and every precious soul He suffered on a cross
To offer them redemption, free from bondage, chains and strife

He cries peace, peace Oh, child I'll give you my peace
He cries peace, peace I long to give you my peace
To Father God just cry, you'll no longer wonder why
I offer peace for you on the inside, a peace surpassing earth.

Oh yes peace, peace, My child I'll give you peace
Oh, peace, peace, I long to give my you peace
More than you can understand, oh my dear, just take my hand
I give my peace to you on the inside, and now pour it out on earth
I gave my peace to you on the inside, so now spread it through the earth

I hope that through this song God has begun to open your heart and pour into it his love for the Islamic people. God is on the move in the Middle East today. Please pray for these people that God will touch them with his love and change them in a way that wars and laws never could. Pray that God will set them free and give them his peace that passes all understanding.

Feel free to leave and questions or comments about Islam. What do you think about the canceled Qu'ran burning in Gainesville, Florida? What about the Islamic Community Center they plan to build near the 9/11 site?


  1. Dina, thank you for sharing your lovely lyrics. I hope the video touches many hearts. I'm sure it's been used and will continue to be used to share the love of Christ.

    My thoughts on the current controversy: How do Christians and Americans react when the flag or the bible is burned elsewhere? Usually not a lot of reaction.
    I'm not looking for violent reactions, just look up from your life once in awhile. We're too busy and isolated in our pleasant universe to take note of much. 9/11 -that we noticed...
    This was one person's reaction. I don't agree with it.
    Reactions like Dina's call to share love and peace would be nice.

    The NYC mosque was under development for a long time, just like ny place of worship in a free country, congregants build new ones. This site is two blocks from Ground Zero, from what I understand, and in a two block radius in NY you can find a lot a variety, something for anyone to dislike. This area already includes multiple places of worship of different faiths.

    This became an issue because a politician decided to make it one. 9/11 families are divided on this. I don't think this is desecrating the site or its story.
    I guess you have to think what America stands for and make an individual decision. Mine is, be careful what religious rights you want to end.

  2. I think it's wrong to be tolerant of other gods though, and I think Jesus would agree.

  3. Beautiful song, Dina. Thank you for posting on this subject. It's so desperately needed.
    Deb, I completely concur with your closing statement!
    John 3:16 should sum it up for us, ya know? "For God so loved the WORLD..."

  4. Deb, there are going to be some things coming out in the news soon that might change your mind about the NYC building. Seems as if they are planning to name it something that represents Jihad. Only Americans don't know the language and culture and don't understand that. I'm curious to see the reaction when people realize this. I hope the info is incorrect, but knowing as much as I do, I suspect it's not.

    The trick for Americans is to love and respect the people while understanding that many of them do not share our values. The issue is also complicated because many American born Muslims truly are tolerant and peaceful and good hearted, but the religion is very different in the Middle East

  5. Adge, again, I would say this is tricky. We can't allow other gods into our lives or our homes, but how we deal with it as a society and a government are different. Here are a few things to keep in mind.

    1) The Muslims do serve the one God maker of heaven and earth. The God of Abraham. Allah, is simply the Arabic translation of God, and Arab Christians use it as well. However, from a Christian perspective, we would say they follow a false prophet and a false book. They do not believe Jesus is the son of God. Only a prophet and a lesser prophet than Mohammed. Also, their God is very different than the Christian God in character.

    2)It seems that the main issue people, Christians included, had with the Gainsville situation was the attitude of the pastor. It did not seem to be about setting people free and love, it seemed to be about retribution and vengance. That's God's job. It's our job to spread the "good news" and show Christ's love to the world.

    3) Since we do live in a democracy, I believe it is important that we respect others' freedom of religion. Otherwise, they might try to take away ours.

  6. Yes, Niki, I agree it has to be all about God's love. This is important for reaching the Islamic people. In their religion, there are no guarantees. They have to earn their salvation. When they understand that God loves them and paid the price for their eternity, that is what will make a difference. We can't reach them through the head, only through the heart.

  7. Thanks for sharing your heart with us today, Dina. What a difficult, tricky, painful subject.

    I'm personally relieved that the Florida pastor didn't burn the Qu'ran. It seemed to me an act of hate which would accomplish nothing toward furthering the Kingdom of Christ.

    In church today, I was reminded that no one is beyond the reach of Jesus. No person is too hard-hearted, lost, or hateful to be struck off the list of people we should try to reach for the Kingdom. Even those with whom we disagree.

  8. Susanne, I think you hit the Gainsville thing on the head. It was really about his attitude.

    Honestly, I find it very easy to love the Muslim women, because they are so victimized. I just read A Thousand Golden Suns (by an American Muslim by the way) and Veiled Freedom. Both heartbreakers about women in Afghanistan. But the men, and especially the terrorists are more of a challenge to love. I hope the terrorist section of the song helped you to see them differently, though. They are radically trying to please God. I think many of them are seeking redemption. And the first verse is to represent the more moderate, peace-loving Muslims who struggle with confusion. There certainly are many of them.

  9. Loved your poignant, lovely song. I know these pepole are in great bondage, and the Lord longs to see them set free.

    I do not think it right to build a mosque on the 911 site. Why would they want to, other than to thumb their noses at us? The Japanese did not build a Shinto shrine on the site of Pearl Harbor. They could have legally, but they did not consider it. I'm baffled why these people would consider desecrating our nation like this, apart from hating us. I think they think we are stupid idiots. No other nation is this "tolerant."

  10. Well, Jeanette, I always like to think the best of people, but I am afraid that there might indeed be a "thumbing their noses" motivation behind the mosque in New York. I'm just waiting for more American Middle Easterns to speak out on this and reveal some of the cultural and language issues that Americans are naive about.

  11. Oh, what a beautiful post. I just want to have God's heart to love all people but am also cognizant of guarding my heart against things that God hates...

    Only the Holy Spirit can figure some of this out!!

    Blessings, dear one.

  12. Thanks, Patti. Sometimes it is difficult to figure out how to love people while standing strong against evil. As you said, we have to lean on the Holy Spirit for his wisdom.

  13. Well done, Dina and Susanne, for this two-part weekend devotion.

    A few days ago I started saying "Love!" whenever my kids were fighting. Seems like that jolts them into silence far quicker than me saying "Hey, stop fighting and get along."

    Love like Jesus did: In Grace and in Truth.

  14. Love, such a simple yet powerful word. Love the lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength. Love the neighbor as yourself. Jesus's instructions are pretty simple, so why are they so hard for us to live out?

  15. A sad poem. Muslims appear to be a people desperately in need of "true love."

    While there is only one Way to heaven (being Christ,) I don't believe we will show people that road by cheap tricks and hopped up publicity stunts. Do I think we have a right to defend ourselves from terror? Of course. But to burn a Qu'ran? Not a good idea.

    I believe the Bible to be Holy, to be powerful enough to withstand all the wrong in the world. There is no need for chaotic, defiant book-burnings to prove our devotion and the Bible's truth. The Bible stands alone, shining and wondrous no matter what the world throws against it.

    (Book burnings have a smattering of Hitler, don't you think?)

    Also, as far as an Islamic Community center at Ground Zero - I think it's more than a little insensitive to the victims if 9/11 to build such a center. However, we cannot, as Americans, stop any religious group from worshipping in any place where they own property. Furthermore, I think there are bigger, moral problems in this country that the media (and the president) should be devoting their time to.

    Elder abuse, abortion, entitlement, laziness, scams artists, drug abuse, etc. etc.

  16. Thanks for sharing those excellent thoughts, Britt.

    Two concepts that seem to keep coming through in all these comments are the importance of love and of religious freedom. Probably we should just focus on those and let God sort out the rest.

  17. Hey, I also want to mention that I'll be pitching a novel with a Muslim main character this week at the big ACFW conference. Please keep it in your prayers. It's a sisterhood type book with a Christian ballerina, a veiled Muslim, and a New Age hippie chick to represent the typical American postmodern mindset. It's called "Dance from Deep Within."

    The Westernized Muslim in my book is an example of a peaceful, good-hearted Islamic person, and she struggles with how to deal with issues such as terrorism, abuse, etc...

  18. Wow! This post was breath taking. The song is beautiful.

    The comments are also engaging.

    I love what Britt Mitchell had to say and also Dina's responses to the comments.

    This is a great blog and part of what makes it great is that folks are able to share their opinions, views and faith in an honest way. It encourages discussion but not offense.


  19. So true, Bex, about this blog being a place where we can share. The same is true behind the scenes among the Inkies. I'm so thankful for this group.


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