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Learning Shariah at a Phoenix Mosque

21 May

There is a well-known mosque in Phoenix, Arizona. It is north of Orangewood and east of 27th Ave. Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi, both killed when they attacked a Draw Muhammad Contest in Texas, attended this mosque.Hassan Abujihaad, convicted of handing over military intelligence to al Qaeda, attended this mosque.

I didn’t know all that then. On Friday, December 16th, 2011, I was passing out copies of the Gospel According to St. John on a public sidewalk near mosque. The team I was with was there to discuss Islam and Christianity with Muslims for the purpose of having all peoples call Jesus Lord and be saved from their sins. Here’s how we proceed: I usually ask the men leaving prayer as they are on their way to their vehicles if they have read the Holy Injil. Most people pass by but sometimes they take one and say “thank you”, while other times they say “no” – in so many words or less. However, if they stop or inquire further I say, “This is Gospel According to Saint John in Arabic and English”. Sometimes, we talk more.

One man I spoke with that day was ‘Miraj’, who was visiting Phoenix from the midwest. We spoke for about one full hour. The first 50 minutes were very cordial. I told him he was nice and respectful numerous times. I apologized once for cutting him off in my excitement. He was very patient and understanding. This is not to say I was not troubled by some things he said. Miraj told me Muslims had proof for their beliefs while Christians utilized “blind faith”, that mosques have been burnt down in the United States, and that persecution in countries such as Pakistan was not bad at all (in fact, he claimed the laws there usually protect Christians). Most troubling was this exchange:

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Me: “What if I said anything like that [like what a Muslim apologist I just quoted said about Jesus] about Muhammad in an Islamic country?”
Him: “You cannot say that because the punishment is very clear, like if you say that such thing, you will be beheaded – that’s the punishment and it is clear – there is no two opinions about it – that’s very clear.”
Me: “Listen, my name is Mark. What is your name?”

Him: “Miraj.”
Me: “Miraj?”

Him: “Yeah.”
Me: “Miraj, we just shook hands and we’re talking, we’re calm, I’m not making fun of you, you’re not making fun of me – this is good. But right now if I said something dirty about Muhammad what should happen to me?”

Him: “Well, because here I don’t have all the …”
Me: “What should happen to me under God’s law?”

Him: “Well, then in Islamic law, it’s clear, if you insult Prophet Muhammad, then the punishment is you should be beheaded”.

Shortly after this, a tall young man (pictured in the video below briefly, wearing all white) interrupted us. I had already spoken with this young man the week prior briefly – he was rude and not well-informed. I did my best to get the conversation with Miraj back on track. I asked the tall man to please refrain from interjecting and we could talk again next week.  He said he was going to leave but then did not and loudly dominated the conversation. Whenever he told me to stop and listen to him, he would place his rather-large hands on my shoulders in a less than gentle manner. This tall man said the following to Miraj:  

“Good job, brother. You handle it. Yeah, just stick to the truth like that.  Don’t worry. Don’t be like salty Muslims and be like, ‘oh, no, in Islam we don’t have these things’”. 

I responded: “No, no, he said I should I should be beheaded if I say something dirty. He said this; so you would be happy about him.” 

The tall man said back to me: “Well, of course – you can’t. In a Muslim state that’s the punishment; no one talk about the messenger of Allah.”

I noticed Miraj became more aggressive the minute this other man arrived. He began saying things like this: “It doesn’t matter what you like and don’t like, what matters is what God likes and what he wants. Your opinion doesn’t count – you are no one.” This comment was in regards to my distaste for Sharia Law. This may not seem like a very big deal but for the most part Miraj was not saying things like this before. For example, at one point he even said that Pakistan applied some of its blasphemy laws in an unfair manner against Christians. We continued on like this for a few minutes and the tall man quickly lost whatever patience he had and said the following:

“Here’s what: Islam is the fastest growing religion no matter if you like it and it’s going to dominate the whole world – no matter if you like it. You’re going to be paying the jizyah when that time comes. You’re going to be paying the jizyah.”

I replied: “And you know who is going to judge you?”

“God. Only God.” 

“Yes—”

“You’re going to be paying the jizyah, buddy. It’s going to dominate the whole thing.”

“And this is your dream.”

“It’s going to dominate everything.”

“And this is your dream.”

“It’s not a dream, it is already happening. Yup, it’s already happening.”

Shortly after, the mosque president stormed out, demanding to know what church I was from. He asked if I was from Calvary. He did not believe me when I told him I was not. He told me I could come and talk about Jesus but then asked me not to quote anything from the Qur’an. He said I had to make sure people knew what they were getting was not Islamic. He told me I was deceiving people. Not wanting to be viewed as purposefully deceiving people, I turned to Miraj and asked him if he knew what he was getting; unfortunately, he would not give a straight answer. It did not help that the tall man was still throwing his two cents in. I pointed out that the one article I had said answering-islam.org printed on it. He asked me why it had verses from the Qur’an. I told him because Muslims are not supposed to throw it away that away. In response, he got right up in my face and ripped up the paper – five times. As we continued to speak, he accused me of being a liar and said I was not welcome. I told him I was on a public sidewalk and as long as there was no Sharia Law, I was allowed to be there. The mosque president and I spoke for about five minutes, then he turned and left. The other two men followed suit.

After listening to the audio, there are things I would have done differently. For example, I noticed when the man downplayed Islamic persecution of Christians all over the world, I became agitated. He even mocked the idea of Christian persecution and said Christians do the exact same thing. Even though this issue is dear to me, misinformation is no excuse for me to be rude. Christians must be bold with Muslims, yes, but I also must give them a chance to hear the truth – but only in love. 

NOTE: Some of the audio quoted in this piece can be downloaded right here, on a radio broadcast I did on the topic. Some of the names and such have been changed.

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Ministry to Muslims ARIZONA UPDATE 2014

23 Oct

MINISTRY UPDATE!

MINISTRY TO MUSLIMS recently completed its fourth annual outreach trip to Phoenix, Arizona. For four days (October 16-19), we prayed together, trained together, witnessed together, learned together and worshipped together. I was part of it; this is what happened:

TRAINING
Wonderful speakers helped equip attendees for the outreach. Here is a partial list:

Speakers
Sam Shamoun:
Sam resides in Chicago and is well-known for his many debates and articles. A fellow apologist dubbed him “The Assyrian Encyclopedia”. Read his many articles at Answering-Islam.org here

Al Fadi: A passionate, Saudi Arabian-born Muslim who providentially lived with a Christian family during college. Al Fadi is now an author and speaker for reaching out and understanding Muslims. His website and book can be found at TheQuranDilemma.com

Anthony Rogers: Anthony became a Christian and was immediately drawn to evangelism and apologetics. He is currently pursuing a seminary degree and writes articles for Answering-Islam.org. View his YouTube channel here

Topics
-Do’s and Don’ts
-Facing the Islamic Challenge
-Answering Islamic Objections
-Why the Muslims?

THE DEBATESa rogers
There were also two moderated debates on Saturday between Anthony Rogers and ex-atheist Muslim-convert, Andrew Livingston. Andrew is a Muslim apologist and a writer for TAQWA Magazine. The two topics were, “What Did Jesus Say About Himself?” and “Was Muhammad a True Prophet?” More than 50 people listened intently. We had a wonderful time with Andrew; for example, we enjoyed some fine Middle Eastern Cuisine at Fattoush together and talked … Star Wars! I pray that Andrew truly experienced a taste of what a grace-filled and gospel-centered Christian community looks like up close. Check out Andrew’s articles at the TAQWA website

OUTREACH!
Outreach was the main purpose of our trip. We went to several strip malls and struck up conversations at local Muslim-owned shops in the area. About 15 people did this in key areas of the city for a large part of Thursday. On Friday, about 20 of us passed out Arabic/English copies of John’s Gospel at local mosques.

One Muslim man asked a MINISTRY TO MUSLIM team member this as he exited the mosque: “What kind of excuse are you guys going to have when you stand in front of God?” Even though we hear things like this often, it’s still an insight to the way a devout Muslim thinks. One man told us, “I say this with all sincerity and respect toward you guys, but what you are doing out here is the absolute worst crime you can commit – persuading people to commit the sin of shirk.” (Shirk is associating partners with Allah and Muslims believe Christians blaspheme this way when we ascribe deity to Jesus Christ.) Overall, we had some powerful conversations. One brother who was part of the team was a wheel-chair bound Egyptian Christian. It was a blessing to witness his compassion and wisdom for the people he spoke with – both in English and Arabic!

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Stoopid w/Anthony, Luis, Sam @the Arab Fest

Saturday and Sunday nights our team came out in full force to Arizona’s ARAB-AMERICAN FESTIVAL. We partnered with several local churches, a few from downtown Phoenix, another from Mesa and yet another from Tucson. Together, we were able to rent TWO vendor booths, where we took professional pictures for festival-goers at no charge. The booths were filled with gospel material in both Arabic and English, which we passed out everywhere we could to everyone who would take one. We distributed literally thousands of tracts and multiple-language Jesus movie DVDs.

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Hear Jamal on Mid-Eastern Christians!

GOSPEL PARTNERS 
I thank the Lord for moving in his people’s hearts to mobilize and unite for God’s glory and the sake of the gospel. Especially Pastor Jamal Bishara of First Arabic Baptist Church,  a Palestinian-born Christian who has been laboring for 30 years in this field. The Lord used him to bring together Christians from multiple denominations, multiple ethnicities and multiple nationalities. The congregation graciously let us use their campus for the event and were very generous all around. (Listen to Jamal’s interview on BPR by clicking the picture)

Will you prayerfully consider being part of the Phoenix trip in 2015, either by going or sending?

Contact George Saieg at 

http://www.ministrytomuslims.org/join-us.html

 

“Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.” (Mathew 9:36-38, NASB)

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 ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Vocab Malone is a Christian hip hop artist and slam poet. He is Pastor of Teaching  and Evangelism at Roosevelt Community Church in downtown Phoenix, Arizona. Vocab holds a Master’s Degree from Phoenix Seminary and is  pursuing a D. Min at Talbot. He is married to Nicole together they have adopted four boys. Vocab can be heard every Sunday night on Backpack Radio on 1360 KPXQ. Follow him on Twitter @VocabMalone

Muslim Outreach Training *updated* with Debate Audio

9 Oct

Download the FLYER

2013 Muslim Outreach Training
*updated* with Debate Audio

Is Jesus God? A Training Debate
October 19, 2013 at First Arabic Baptist Church in Phoenix, AZ
Christian Apologist Anthony Rogers vs.
Pastor Vocab Malone acting as Muslim ‘Jamar Sadat’
                                                   download audio below

Is Jesus God? Part 1 Opening Statements 
Is Jesus God? Part 2 Rebuttals, Closing Statements, Audience Q&A

ear my interview with George Saieg on Backpack Radio: “Ministry to Muslims” Episode #162

Mosque Evangelism Training
@Phoenix Seminary
Friday, October 18th, 2013

Pastor George Saieg and his outreach team from California will be teaching on how to reach out to Muslims in love. Below is a video from last year’s conference about why we should reach out called “Why the Muslims?”


Training Class: Presenting the Deity of Christ to Muslims
@ROOSEVELT COMMUNITY CHURCH
Sunday, October 20th, 2013

Anthony Rogers (Nevada) of Ministry2Muslims will ask and answer “Do The Synoptic Gospels Teach the Deity of Christ?” and discuss outreach to Muslims. 

Below is a video from last year when Pastor George spoke at Roosevelt called “Reaching Out to Your Muslim Neighbors”

Updated 10/22/2013

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