The initiative by the notorious East London Mosque smacks of a good old public relations opportunity for converting the infidel, if not to the one true faith then at least to the anti-Israel cause.
Never mind that over the decades Jewish volunteers have quietly joined with Christian volunteers to serve Christmas meals to the lonely and needy on Christmas Day in many a town and city (yep, I actually saw it reported on the telly once, decades ago), it's this Muslim da'awa thing that counts.
And how the malign and the merely naive have been lapping it up.
Note, for instance, how one of Sizer's clerical faithful retells the story of the Good Samaritan to her flock.
Note, too, how a self-styled "liberal" church in Greater London recently celebrated the birthdays of some chap it named as Jesus and one whom it resectfully labelled "the Prophet Mohammed".
To quote the influential Anglican blogger Archbishop Cranmer:
'Mawlid (or Milad) is the Islamic festival commemorating the birthday of Mohammed. The only thing it has in common with Christmas is that it isn’t actually the day the celebrated baby was born. Yet All Saints Church in Kingtson upon Thames thinks there’s an interfaith syncretised opportunity to be found in holding a joint birthday celebration for both Mohammed and Jesus – so they put the flags out for both, rejoicing in both, eulogising both, solemnising both, glorifying both, honouring both.
[N]ote how this event is “Marking the birthday of Prophet Mohammed”, but not looking forward to the birthday of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Mohammed gets his prophethood, while Jesus gets neither his prophethood nor his priesthood; neither his kingship nor his messiahship. It’s the exalted Prophet Mohammed along with plain old Jesus, because to have added any of his claims to divinity would, of course, have alienated many Muslims (if they hadn’t already been alienated by the haram celebration), which wouldn’t have been very interfaith or sensitively missional, would it?
We have been here before: when Westminster Abbey hosted a service in which Mohammed was named in the succession of prophets, they effectively proclaimed to the world that Mohammed is greater than Jesus:
In Islamic theology, Mohammed was ‘The Prophet’ who came to fulfil and complete the partial revelations of all preceding prophets. Muslims believe that his coming was prophesied by Jesus: ‘But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father..‘ (Jn 15:26). The ‘Comforter’ or ‘Advocate’ (NIV) whom Christians believe to be the Holy Spirit is, for Muslims, Mohammed. So when he is declared in Westminster Abbey to be ‘The Chosen One’, it is not simply a benign multifaith expression of ecumenical respect in a commemorative service of reconciliation: it is a dogmatic affirmation of a perfected prophethood to which Jesus is subordinate, and His divinity thereby denied.
And then, of course, there was the act of divine worship in St Mary’s Cathedral, Glasgow, in which it was declared publicly from the Qur’an that God can have no sons, and so the Gospel writers were engaged in a blasphemous deceit. Every time a church accords Mohammed the epithet ‘Prophet’, they are rejecting the crucifixion, denying the resurrection of Christ, and refuting that the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, for Mohammed denied all of these foundational tenets of the Christian faith. The Jesus he espoused is the plain old one – no more than a prophet, and certainly an inferior one to him....'And as the Gatestone Institute recently reminded us,
'This year's Christmas season has been marked by Islam-related controversies in nearly every European country. Most of the conflicts have been generated by Europe's multicultural political and religious elites, who are bending over backwards to secularize Christmas, ostensibly to ensure that Muslims will not be offended by the Christian festival.
Many traditional Christmas markets have been renamed — Amsterdam Winter Parade, Brussels Winter Pleasures, Kreuzberger Wintermarkt, London Winterville, Munich Winter Festival — to project a multicultural veneer of secular tolerance.
More troubling are the growing efforts to Islamize Christmas. The re-theologizing of Christmas is based on the false premise that the Jesus of the Bible is the Jesus (Isa) of the Koran. This religious fusion, sometimes referred to as "Chrislam," is gaining ground in a West that has become biblically illiterate....'It is indeed that ignorance of the Bible on the part of European populations that has led to the diminution in support for Israel. As I have pointed out many times, the dilution of religious teaching in schools, the wilful ignorance of our shared Judeo-Christian cultural heritage in societies that have become "multicultural" and "secular" means that fewer people identify with the People of Israel against latter day Hamans and Pharoahs than was once thecase. I have pointed this out to Jewish groups; for the most part I get blank looks, and shrugs. It is as if Jews expect Christians to be hostile to them. But as students of philosemitism are aware, this has not not been inevitably so.
Luckily, however, despite such Christians as these, and Muslims like this one:
There are Muslims prepared to assert the essential Jewishness of Jerusalem.
'The Qur'an in Chapter 5: 20-21 states quite clearly: Moses said to his people: O my people! Remember the bounty of God upon you when He bestowed prophets upon you , and made you kings and gave you that which had not been given to anyone before you amongst the nations. O my people! Enter the Holy Land which God has written for you, and do not turn tail, otherwise you will be losers."
The Quran goes on to say why the Israelites were not allowed to enter the land for forty years...but the thrust of my analysis is where Moses says that the Holy Land is that which God has "written" for the Israelites. In both Jewish and Islamic understandings of the term "written", there is the meaning of finality, decisiveness and immutability. And so we have the Written Torah (unchangeable) and the Oral Torah (which represents change to suit times). And in the Qur'an we have "Written upon you is the fast"--to show that this is something that is decreed, and which none can change. So the simple fact is then, from a faith-based point of view: If God has "written" Israel for the people of Moses, who can change this?
I also draw your attention to the fact that the medieval exegetes of Qur'an--without any exception known to me--recognized Israel as belonging to the Jews, their birthright given to them. Indeed, two of Islam's most famous exegetes explained "written" from Quran 5:21 thus:
Ibn Kathir (d. 774/1373) said: “That which God has written for you” i.e. That which God has promised to you by the words of your father Israel that it is the inheritance of those among you who believe” . Muhammad al-Shawkani (d. 1250/1834) interprets Kataba to mean “that which God has allotted and predestined for you in His primordial knowledge, deeming it as a place of residence for you” (1992, 2:41).
The idea that Israel does not belong to the Jews is a modern one, probably based on the Mideast rejection of European colonialism etc, but certainly not having anything to do with the Qur'an. The unfortunate fact is that most Muslims do NOT read the Qur’an and interpret it on the basis of its own words; rather they let imams and preachers do that for them.
How did the Jews lose their right to live in the Holy Land? All reliable reports show that it was by the looting and burning that followed from 70-135 C.E. When the Muslims entered the place in 638, liberating it from the Byzantines, they knew full well to whom it rightfully belonged. But we find that Muslim chroniclers state that the Muslim caliph accepting the surrender of the Byzantine Christian representative, Sophronius, on certain terms, one of them being that the Jews would not be permitted to enter the city. I personally have a hard time accepting this story, and aspects of its historicity because as modern scholarship has shown, Muslim reports about that time were recorded long after the fact and are not as reliable as once thought. And we know too that when the first Crusaders took possession of the place in 1096-1099, they slaughtered Jews and Muslims....
When the Muslims conquered Jerusalem, it should have been left open for the rightful owners to return. It is possible that Jewish beliefs of the time only allowed such return under a Messiah--but that should not have influenced Muslim action. And in contrast to the report of Sophronius above, there are also reports showing that Umar in fact opened the city to the Jews. If this be the case, then the later Muslim occupation and building a mosque on the site of the Temple was something that was not sanctioned by The Qur’an. How honest is contemporary Islam with this? Given the situation in the Middle East, politicking etc stands in the way of honesty....
I admit that the Qur'an has verses that are polemic, but my view is that the Qur'an in fact respects the Jews (which explains Moses being so often mentioned)...but that it is the oral traditions of Islam (the hadith) that demonizes the Jews. For many Muslims, this is a hard pill to swallow because for almost 12 centuries, they have been taught that acceptance of oral traditions are a creedal element of Islam....
What is the interpretation of the final two verses of the first chapter of the Quran? "Guide us to the straight path--the path of those upon whom you have bestowed your bounty, not those who have incurred your wrath, nor those who are astray.
This verse has nothing about Jews or Christians...yet, almost every person learns that those who have incurred divine wrath are the Jews, and those who are astray are Christians. What is more problematic is that the average person learns this chapter and its interpretation between the ages of 5-8. And we know that things learned at this stage of life become ingrained, almost to the point of being in one's DNA, if I may put it that way....
The reformation will come from Muslims based in the West, and the voices of women will be loud and pivotal in that reformation. Let us look at some names that are as yet unknown to many, but names that have done so much for changing Islamic thought...names of people who may disagree vehemently with each other, but names of people who, for all their difference have done much to purge Islam of the male chauvinism that has afflicted it for centuries ...: Note that they are, with one exception, all now in the West, and that they have all had a western education.
....The Qur'an states at the very beginning of the second chapter "this is a book wherein there is no doubt, a guide for the God-conscious." Its contents are therefore to be seen by every Muslim as being divinely ordained, and to be followed. The verses on Israel as in 5:20-21 are not there just to be read; they are there to be followed. In Islam also, there is the elemental maxim "Calamity must be removed" (al darar yuzal). Muslms must face up to reality--in the years since Israel has been established, the focus of the region has been to seek to have it removed. And they have been unsuccessful, and there seems to be no hope for success. The pragmatic, proactive thing to do would be to come to grips with reality: Israel is there to stay, and it can exist in a state of peaceful coexistence, or in a stage of bellicosity. The Qur'an tells Muslims that God will not change their position until they change it themselves--and this is a classic example for putting that edict into effect. Only when MUSLIMS themselves accept Israel will they be following their Qur'an. Israel will negotiate from a position of guaranteed security, and while there may be tension from time to time, at least peace will be the norm.'See also here and here