I'm sure that most of you know where you were on September 11, 2001. If you're old enough to remember, I'm sure you recall exactly where you were and what you were doing. But I pose another question. Do you remember what you were doing on September the 10th or, for that matter, the 9th?
On the 9th, I was having a conversation with my somewhat recalcitrant 21 yr old son. Let me preface by saying that I believe that the Bible's the very Word of the God of the Universe. He challenged me... “How do you know that the Bible's the Word of God? How do you know that the Qur’an, for instance, isn't the Word of God?” I admitted to him that I had entered into this discussion with some initial biases so I told him that, for the sake of objectivity, I would do some research on Islam.
The 10th was a Monday. During lunch I got on the web and looked up a number of introductory web-sites on Islam. I noticed, in general, a willingness to pay homage to Jesus but a lack of understanding of whom Jesus is from the Biblical perspective. They had an appeal for an assumed commonality with believers in Jesus, but when one digs deeper, they deny that Jesus had any elements of Deity in His nature and to believe that He was God was 'shirk' and marked one as an “infidel”.
I concluded from my short introduction to Islam that anyone who takes Islam seriously was FUNDAMENTALLY CRUEL.
Muslims had been moving into my neighborhood, buying up houses with cash. They'd even bought a school building 2 blocks from my home, calling it an “education center” yet, since then, it's been converted into a mosque. I remember praying. “God, I'm not prepared for this. I'm just a spoiled Jewish boy from the north side of Chicago”. God spoke to my soul in a way that only He can... “I will prepare you”.
Mind you... that was September 10th, 2001. The next day, of course, for the first time in American history, there was an attack by a foreign entity on American soil. It was at the hands of believers in Islam.
I'm grieved by the presumption of Islam. As a Jew, I'm also grieved by the presumption of Judaism. Both “religions” (which I prefer to call “world views”) attest to the greatness of God and hold staunchly to his “oneness”. But, in so doing, they don't even begin to understand the wonder and grandeur and magnificence and holiness of this God of whom they allegedly give allegiance. And He is echod... one.
President Bush began a “war on terror”. The proponents of terror had, for years, carried out a war on America. I'm of the opinion, however, that this war that is waging is not a war that merely involves guns and tanks and bombs. It's a war of ideas and world views.
Every Sabbath, in the synagogue, the strains of the prayer, called “the Oleynu”, are chanted. Included in its refrain are the words of the Prophet Zechariah... “In that day (the day when peace will reign on Earth), the Lord shall be one and His Name shall be one”.
There's a popular bumper sticker making its way about the streets of America. Using the symbols of various religions as letters, it spells out the word “tolerance”. To be honest, tolerance is the mandated antitheses of some of those religions represented by those symbols. They are mutually incompatible. Yet, at least according to Zechariah, there will be no peace on this planet until the peoples of the earth come to a mutual conclusion concerning who this God is, what He is like and what He expects from us human beings.
The fact that these “religions” can't agree on these issues is not to be ignored (as is the case with these bumper stickers mentioned previously), but, I would argue, debated with attitudes of humility, civility and mutual respect. How else can we come to a consensus and agree on who God is, what He is like and what He expects from us?