Good Friday: Praying for end to the pandemic
Tomorrow is Good Friday – and in these unusual times, the Southern Baptist Convention is calling for a special time of prayer.
After a Muslim imam recited an Islamic prayer at a state legislative session on Wednesday, a Delaware state lawmaker condemned his colleagues for permitting Muslims to give the invocation, contending that Islam’s holy book – the Koran – incites followers of Islam to kill the infidel (non-Muslims) in the name of jihad.
State Sen. Dave Lawson (R-Marydel) chastised other lawmakers from the floor of the Delaware State Senate for their inaction and complacency.
“We just heard from the Quran, which calls for our very demise,” Lawson orated, according to the daily newspaper headquartered in Dover, Delaware, the News Journal. “I fought for this country, not to be damned by someone that comes in here and prays to their God for our demise. I think that’s despicable.”
The United States military veteran was so appalled by the recitation of the prayer that he walked out of the invocation with one of his colleagues.
“Lawson – who served in the Air Force and did a tour in Vietnam – was responding to a recitation from the Quran in Arabic by Tarek Ewis, imam of the Masjid Isa Ibn-e-Maryam mosque in Newark,” WND reported. “Naveed Baqir, executive director of the Delaware Council on Global and Muslim Affairs, followed with an English interpretation of the imam’s recitation then offered a prayer. During the invocation, Lawson stepped out of the chamber with fellow Republican state Sen. Colin Bonini.”
Outraged at the opposition, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) – which has frequently been exposed for its ties to Islamic terrorist organizations – made a public announcement blasting the two legislators for protesting the invocation and encouraging fellow Republicans to follow their lead.
“State and national Republican Party leaders must repudiate this Islamophobic episode and begin to address the growing anti-Muslim bigotry in party ranks nationwide,” CAIR Government Affairs Director Robert McCaw declared in a press release on Thursday.
The pro-Islamic organization specifically pointed out the conduct it was targeting for condemnation.
“The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today called on state and national Republican Party leaders to repudiate Islamophobic comments made by a GOP lawmaker in Delaware following a Muslim invocation Wednesday in that state’s legislature,” the public statement reads.
Part of the Muslim invocation recited by Tarek Ewis – the imam of Newark, New Jersey’s Masjid Isa Ibn-e-Maryam mosque – called for those in attendance to tolerate Islam and be accountable to the god of Islam.
“Give this assembly the courage that is necessary to lead our state towards a more just and peaceful state,” the first part of the Islamic prayer stated. “Allow the members of this assembly to stand firm for justice as witnesses to you, even if it is against themselves or of their kin or anyone else without any discrimination or prejudice.”
This was followed by Ewis reading a Quranic passage that was read in Arabic and interpreted by Delaware Council of Global and Muslim Affairs Executive Director Naveed Baqir:
"O ye who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to God, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be (against) rich or poor," Baqir orated from The Holy Quran, 4:135.
President Pro Tempore David McBride – a Democrat – publicly rebuked Lawson and Bonini’s protest of the invocation, as seen below, but the gesture was not enough for the Islamic group.
"I have never been of the mind to censure the words of other members, but I also believe deeply that words have consequences,” McBride warned fellow members on the Senate floor, according to the CAIR release. “To criticize the sacred prayer of another religion from the floor of the Senate strikes me as antithetical to everything we ought to stand for as lawmakers."
Not finishing there, the Left-leaning pro-Muslim politician stressed that Muslims currently serve the country as police officers, soldiers, professors, teachers and doctors before he insisted that the Republican lawmaker’s protest was taken as a personal affront.
“[I am] personally offended that our guests from the Muslim community and anyone else here in the chamber today would feel anything less than welcomed with opened arms,” McBride continued, according to WND. “And for our guests today to be branded as anti-American when our First Amendment of our country’s Constitution explicitly guarantees the freedom of religion is both ironic and deeply sad to me.”
During the invocation, Baqir interpreted the passage from the Quran that was recited on the Senate floor.
“O you who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to God, even though it be against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, be he rich or poor, God is a better protector to both than you,” Baqir stated when interpreting the passage to the Delaware paper. “So do not follow the lusts of your hearts, lest you may avoid justice, and if you distort your witness or refuse to give it, verily, God is ever well-acquainted with what you do.”
Waking America up
After the controversial episode, Lawson expressed to the local paper that McBride’s rebuke of his protest was done out of ignorance and masked in tolerance. He also sent the warning that passages in the Quran call for the slaughter of “infidels” and that the persecution of Christians and the restriction of women’s rights are promoted in Muslim-majority nations.
“[McBride is] ignorant of what’s going on,” Lawson informed the News Journal. “Their belief flies in the face of our Constitution. This is not our Bible, we should not be allowing them to pray from that book in our house, just as I do not believe I would be allowed to pray from my Bible in their house.”
Responding to Lawson’s comments, Baqir countered his contentions, calling them “textbook Islamophobia.”
“It stems from a deep-rooted misconception about Muslims,” the Muslim advocate told the Dover daily. “My belief does not call for me to kill anyone. The Quran says we are not supposed to hate people; we are supposed to hate sins.”
Insisting that Lawson is by no means a bigot or hater, Bonini defended the nature of the protest and the message behind it.
“Anybody who knows Dave knows that there is not an ounce of hate in him,” Bonini impressed. “There is not an ounce of hate in me either. [The walkout was not intended to] be specifically disrespectful to the people who are here [and] religious freedom is not a one-way street. You have a right to pray, as do I. And I have a right to be offended by what you believe – just as you have a right to be offended by what I believe.”
Not the first time …
Late last year, a similar incident took place in Indiana, when a 10-minute Muslim invocation was allowed by Kokomo Common Council President Bob Hayes and other council members. They invited a Muslim man to recite an Islamic prayer in place of the usual Christian prayer that is offered.
The invocation that took place in late August 2016 also provided an explanation of daily rituals conducted by Muslims that was delivered by Seyed Zarabadi of the Islamic Association of Kokomo, who sat and prostrated himself before the council while demonstrating how authentic Muslims prayers should be performed to Allah – the God of Islam.
Hayes attempted to justify and convince the community that the gesture was in the name of tolerance, saying the invocation was an idea that council attorney Corbin King and council member Steve Whikehart approved.
“We thought it would be a good idea to be inclusive of different religions, and that’s why we did it,” Hayes expressed, according to the Kokomo Tribune. “We hope to continue it by extending invitations to others as well. I thought it was a great teaching, learning moment. Also, if you took the time to really listen to what the gentleman was saying, it should have touched you spiritually, because he talked about God, and we all have a God that we pray to.”
He insisted that others in the community should follow his example of inclusion.
“I think it shows Kokomo as a receptive and inclusive community, where perhaps, what if a person of the Muslim faith wanted to come to Kokomo to open up a factory, a business?” Hayes added. “And perhaps he or she would read the story and say, ‘Oh my goodness, Kokomo did that? They must be inclusive and a community that embraces everyone.'”
Disagreeing with Haye’s explanation and condemning the gesture, the representative of Kokomo’s 5th District, Cindy Sanders, sat down when she saw who was delivering the invocation and remained seated until it was over – a demonstration of allegiance to her Christian faith that was followed by a number of spectators.
Sanders recognized Zarabadi’s right to speak at the meeting, and she maintained that her decision to sit had everything to do with her Christian beliefs – not because he is a Muslim – noting that she would have done the same thing if he was a Buddhist.
“I believe that Jehovah God is the God that I serve – I don’t serve Allah,” Sanders stressed, according to the Tribune. “I believe that Jesus is God incarnate and they believe that He was a man. So that’s kind of where I’m at. I feel like I would be violating even the first commandment. The Bible, I believe, is true.”
The devout Christian politician said her statement resembled what athletes have been allowed to do during the national anthem – such as what San Francisco 49’er quarterback Colin Kaepernick did last season – or what atheists often do during Christian prayers.
“I believe that we have the right to free speech – we have that in our Constitution,” Sanders concluded. “I believe so strongly I love the Lord. I just see that we need to be sure that we are being heard, as well … I would hope that they respect that I have my strong beliefs in the Bible, and following the Bible. I believe it is the inspired Word of God, and I hope they would respect that just as I respect them, and to not stand up … I would not be a part of anything other than … I worship Jehovah God.”
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