Thursday, April 17, 2014

KU FAAN KITAABKAAGA

Pastor Ali Sharif Ibrahim: Ku Faan Kitaabkaaga

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Islamic Extremists in Somalia Behead Two Christians

Al Shabaab militants publicly execute mother of two, cousin.

Coastal town of Barawa, in southeastern Somalia. (Wikipedia)
Coastal town of Barawa, in southeastern Somalia. (Wikipedia)
NAIROBI, Kenya (Morning Star News) – Islamic extremists from the rebel Al Shabaab militia last week publicly beheaded a mother of two girls and her cousin in southeastern Somalia after discovering they were Christians, sources said.
In the port town of Barawa in the Lower Shebelle Region, the extremists on March 4 called residents to the town center to witness the executions of the 41-year-old mother, Sadia Ali Omar, and her 35-year-old cousin, Osman Mohamoud Moge, the sources said.
Before killing them, an Al Shabaab militant announced, “We know these two people are Christians who recently came back from Kenya – we want to wipe out any underground Christian living inside of mujahidin [jihadists’] area,” according to an area resident whose name is undisclosed for security reasons.
Omar’s daughters, ages 8 and 15, were witness to the slaughter, sources said, with the younger girl screaming and shouting for someone to save her mother. A friend helped the girls, whose names are withheld, to relocate to another area.
“We are afraid that the Al Shabaab might continue monitoring these two children and eventually kill them just like their mother,” the area resident said.
The militants from Al Shabaab – which has vowed to rid the country of the Christian fellowships, which meet secretly as leaving Islam in Somalia is punishable by death – became suspicious of Omar and Moge due to their irregular attendance at Friday mosque prayers, sources said.
“The two people who were killed on many occasions did not take Friday prayers seriously, especially Omar, who claimed that she was praying in her house,” another area resident said.
Another source noted of Al Shabaab, “They have some spy everywhere in Somalia.”
Somalis who have lived in Christian-majority Kenya are especially suspect. The sources said Omar lived in the Nairobi suburb of Eastleigh for seven years; her husband became ill in 2011 and returned to Somalia, where he died. Omar and her cousin Moge, who helped take care of her daughters, left Kenya for Somalia in January 2013.
Barawa reportedly came under Al Shabaab control in 2009. In October 2013, a U.S. Navy SEAL team raided a beachside house in the town in an unsuccessful search for Al Shabaab leader Mukhtar Abu Zubeyr.
In the capital city of Mogadishu last October, gunmen who said they intended to kill a Christian for spreading his faith shot him to death, according to an area resident. Two men armed with pistols on Oct. 20, 2013 shot Abdikhani Hassan seven times as he approached his home after closing his pharmacy in Dharkenley District. Hassan was survived by a wife who was pregnant and five children ranging in age from 3 to 12.
The Somali cell of Al Qaeda, Al Shabaab was suspected of killing Fatuma Isak Elmi, 35, on Sept. 1, 2013 inside her home in Beledweyne, Hiran Province in south-central Somalia (see Morning Star News, Sept. 9, 2013). Her husband had received a threatening note that morning believed to be from the Islamic extremist group and was away at the time of the murder.
Al Shabaab’s attack on the upscale Westgate Shopping Mall in Nairobi, Kenya on Sept. 21, 2013 killed at least 67 people, with dozens still unaccounted for (see Morning Star News, Sept. 22).
On April 13, 2013, Al Shabaab militants shot Fartun Omar to death in Buulodbarde, 20 kilometers (12 miles) from Beledweyne (see Morning Star News, April 22, 2013). Omar was the widow of Mursal Isse Siad, killed for his faith on Dec. 8, 2012 in Beledweyne, 206 miles (332 kilometers) north of Mogadishu. He had been receiving death threats for leaving Islam (see Morning Star News, Dec. 14, 2012).
Siad and his wife, who converted to Christianity in 2000, had moved to Beledweyne from Doolow eight months before. The area was under government control and there was no indication that the killers belonged to the Al Shabaab rebels, but the Islamic extremist insurgents were present in Buulodbarde, and Christians believed a few Al Shabaab rebels could have been hiding in Beledweyne.
On June 7, 2013 in Jamaame District in southern Somalia, insurgents from the group shot 28-year-old Hassan Hurshe to death after identifying him as a Christian, sources said (see Morning Star News, June 20). Al Shabaab members brought Hurshe to a public place in the town of Jilib and shot him in the head, they said.
On Feb. 18, 2013, suspected Islamic extremists shot Ahmed Ali Jimale, a 42-year-old father of four, on the outskirts of the coastal city of Kismayo (see Morning Star News, Feb. 28).
In Barawa on Nov. 16, 2012, Al Shabaab militants killed a Christian after accusing him of being a spy and leaving Islam, Christian and Muslim witnesses said. The extremists beheaded 25-year-old Farhan Haji Mose after monitoring his movements for six months, sources said (see Morning Star News, Nov. 17, 2012).
Mose drew suspicion when he returned to Barawa in December 2011 after spending time in Kenya, according to underground Christians in Somalia. Kenya’s population is nearly 83 percent Christian, according to Operation World, while Somalia’s is close to 100 percent Muslim.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

KU FAAN KITAABKAAGA

PASTOR FAISAL HASSAN JAMA: KU FAAN KITAABKAAGA

Saturday, March 15, 2014

How the Early Church Viewed Martyrs

Somali Christian martyr: David Abdulwahab Mohammed Ali
Christians held a theology of martyrdom that gave them courage to endure.


The early church's theology of martyrdom was born not in synods or councils, but in sunlit, blood-drenched coliseums and catacombs, dark and still as death. The word martyr means "witness" and is used as such throughout the New Testament. 

However, as the Roman Empire became increasingly hostile toward Christianity, the distinctions between witnessing and suffering became blurred and finally nonexistent.

In the second century, then, martyr became a technical term for a person who had died for Christ, while confessor was defined as one who proclaimed Christ's lordship at trial but did not suffer the death penalty. 

A passage from Eusebius describes the survivors of the persecution in Lyons (in 177 in what is today France): "They were also so zealous in their imitation of Christ … that, though they had attained honor, and had borne witness, not once or twice, but many times—having been brought back to prison from the wild beasts, covered with burns and scars and wounds—yet they did not proclaim themselves martyrs, nor did they suffer us to address them by this name. 

If any one of us, in letter or conversation, spoke of them as martyrs, they rebuked him sharply.… And they reminded us of the martyrs who had already departed, and said, 'They are already martyrs whom Christ has deemed worthy to be taken up in their confession, having sealed their testimony by their departure; but we are lowly and humble confessors.' "

Roots of the Martyr Ideal

The ideal of martyrdom did not originate with the Christian church; it was inspired by the passive resistance of pious Jews during the Maccabean revolt (173—164 B.C.). Antiochus IV, the tyrannical Seleucid king, ignited the revolution by a variety of barbarous acts, including banning Palestinian Jews from religious practices such as circumcision. 

Stories abounded of steadfast Jews, such as Eleazar the scribe (2 Macc. 6), who chose torture and death rather than violate the Law by eating pork. Two hundred years later, the Jewish War of A.D. 70 saw thousands become martyrs for their faith rather than capitulate to Roman paganism. This noble tradition helped shape the church's emerging theology of martyrdom.

Why Not Armed Resistance?

The Maccabean period also, however, gave stories of avenging rebels such as Judas Maccabeus. What prompted Christians to emulate the passive resisters such as Eleazar, rather than armed revolutionaries like Judas Maccabeus?

To answer this question one need look no further than to Jesus himself. The church understood martyrdom as an imitation of Christ. The Lord was the exemplar of nonviolence at his own trial and execution, declaring that his servants would not fight because his kingdom was not of this world.

Jesus' words burned themselves deeply into the collective psyche of the Ante-Nicene church: "If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also (Luke 6:29); do not resist an evil person (Matt. 5:39); blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness (Matt. 5:10); if they persecuted me, they will persecute you also (John 15:20)."
Paul and the other New Testament authors sustained and developed the theme that followers of Christ were to suffer, not fight, for their Lord. A believer's weapons were not composed of iron or bronze but were made of sterner stuff (Eph. 6:13ff.).

Stephen, the first Christian martyr, died a Christlike death, praying earnestly for his tormentors. Eusebius, the church historian, called Stephen "the perfect martyr"; thus he became a prototype for all martyrs to follow.

The Ultimate Contest

The martyr's nonviolent response to trial and torture was never equated with passivity or resignation. For the early church, the act of martyrdom was a spiritual battle of epic proportion against the powers of hell itself. Justin, for example, wrote an apologetic to Emperor Antoninus Pius charging that his punishment of Christians without examination was "by the instigation of demons. "

Despite their moral opposition to gladiatorial and athletic contests, Christians freely appropriated the language of the games to describe their spiritual bouts with evil. Eusebius wrote effusively of "the discipline and much-tried fortitude of the athletes of religion, the trophies won from demons, the victories placed upon all their heads."

This imagery was used, with some irony, to depict women and children doing battle against spiritual wickedness. Prior to her death, Perpetua recorded in her prison diary that she had a vision in which she defeated an Egyptian wrestler (a common participant in the games) before Christ, the heavenly umpire. Conquering this symbol of the Evil One, she was awarded apples, the prize in Apollo's games at Carthage. Another martyr, Blandina, was described as "she the small, the weak, the despised, who had put on Christ the great and invincible Champion, and who in many rounds vanquished the adversary and through conflict was crowned with the crown of incorruptibility. "

These vivid athletic metaphors echo the thoughts of another martyr who died years before Blandina and Perpetua, during the Neronian persecution: "Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever" (1 Cor. 9:24—25).

The Ultimate Companion

For early Christians, such a battle was not waged alone. The church, as G. W. Lampe notes, understood the believer's suffering and death as a concrete and literal realization of death and burial with Christ, enacted figuratively in every convert's baptism (Rom. 6:3). Ignatius of Antioch, on his way to martyrdom at Rome, wrote the church there to take no action to prevent his death, for he wished to "attain to Christ" and to be an "imitator of the passion of Christ, my God."

The New Testament afforded to the early church numerous explications of this theme: To persecute Christians is to persecute Jesus himself (Acts 9:5); Christ's disciples would suffer as he did (John 15:20); believers are to be crucified with Christ (Gal. 2:20); Christians are to "rejoice in so far as you share Christ's sufferings that you may rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed" (1 Pet. 4:13).

Martyrs not only represented Christ, but also found Christ actually present with them, in a mystical way, during their torment. At the death of Blandina (in Lyons in 177), it was said "they saw … him who was crucified on their behalf in the person of their sister." And this was written about Sanctus, who suffered at nearby Vienne: "But his poor body was a witness to what he had undergone—one whole wound and bruise contracted, having lost the outward form of a man—in which body Christ suffered and accomplished mighty wonders, bringing the adversary to nought."

The church understood the source of the martyr's strength and testimony to be the Holy Spirit. Only by his inspiration could such powerful proclamation be given before hostile authorities. The martyrs relied on Jesus' promise: "Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit" (Mk. 13:11).

Those who confessed their faith in the face of persecution were seen as receiving a word of revelation and proclamation much like the Old Testament prophets. Vettius, spokesman for the martyrs of Lyons, was described as having "in himself the Paraclete, that is, the Spirit of Zechariah," (who was identified in Luke 1:67 as a Spirit-possessed prophet).

The Spirit fell on slave and free, baptized and unbaptized, granting dreams and visions as he saw fit. For example, Polycarp (the bishop of Smyrna martyred c. 155) saw his pillow on fire, understanding the vision as a prophecy regarding the kind of death he would die. 

Basileides, an Alexandrian soldier, was granted a vision of the martyred Potamiaena, who informed him that he would soon have the privilege of dying for Christ. In both instances the prophetic visions were fulfilled.

The Ultimate Crown

The negative side to the assurance of inspiration during trial and torture was the danger of apostasy under the same conditions. The Shepard of Hermas declared that a servant who denies the Lord is evil. Cyprian went further, reminding the lapsed that apostasy is equivalent to blasphemy of the Holy Spirit: "For that it is a very great crime, they themselves know who have committed it; since our Lord and Judge has said, 'Whoever shall confess me before men, him will I also confess before my Father which is in heaven, but whosoever shall deny me, him will I deny.' And again he has said, 'All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men and blasphemies, but he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Spirit shall not have forgiveness, but is guilty of eternal sin.' "

Because they stood against apostasy, and because they possessed gifts of prophecy and visions, martyrs and confessors were held in high regard in the church. Their spiritual authority, in fact, rivaled that of bishops. The Spirit, R. L. Fox notes, enabled them to "bind and loose," pronounce on heresy and orthodoxy, and forgive sins. In one instance, Saturus of Carthage saw a vision in which he and Perpetua, both martyrs-to-be, were called upon to mediate a dispute between a bishop and his elders.

The early church also believed in martyrs as master intercessors. The First Epistle of John alludes to the power of intercession: "If anyone sees his brother commit a sin that does not lead to death, he should pray and God will give him life" (1 John 5:16). Numerous stories were circulated of almost legendary feats of prayer performed by martyrs during their lifetimes. Thus it was not difficult for Christians at that time to imagine these same prayer warriors interceding at the heavenly court after death. This belief is illustrated by an inscription, one of many similar, in the Roman catacombs: Paul ed(t) Petre pro victore—"Paul and Peter pray for Victor."

It was said the rewards of a virgin were 60 times greater than an ordinary Christian's, but a martyr's were 100 times greater. While Christ's death remained central to the early church's understanding of salvation, it was believed that a martyr's death effaced all sins committed after baptism. Melito of Sardis claimed, "There are two things which give remission of sins: baptism and suffering for the sake of Christ." Tertullian echoed this, writing to martyrs: "Your blood is the key to Paradise."

The belief in the virtue of martyrdom generated the phenomenon of "volunteering," whereby numbers of Christians actively sought persecution and death. In one account, a Roman governor was interrupted in his courtroom by a Christian named Euplus who shouted, "I am a Christian. I want to die." His request was granted. The early church did not advocate voluntary martyrdoms and, in fact, Origen and Clement specifically warned against them. Jesus himself in Matthew's gospel advised fleeing when persecution was imminent. Thus, those who volunteered to die were a small minority.

From Love to Veneration

The sentiment of the early church toward its martyrs moved from love to reverence to veneration. The author of the account of the martyrdom of Polycarp wrote: "For him as Son of God we adore; the martyrs, as disciples and imitators of the Lord, we reverence as they deserve on account of their unsurpassable loyalty to their King and Teacher."

Martyrs were honored by having their "heavenly birthdays" (i.e., the anniversaries of their deaths) celebrated annually. The celebration service was held at the grave of the deceased with prayer, oblations, Communion, and a reading of the martyr's history of suffering and death. This practice was quite contrary to Christianity's Jewish roots, for Judaism, following the Mosaic law, held that a grave was unclean. Thus a third-century Syrian Christian advised fellow believers to meet in their cemeteries without fear of impurity.

It is not certain exactly when the honor paid to the martyred dead was transferred to their physical remains, but the account of the martyrdom of Polycarp, written in the second century, includes a statement that the church of Smyrna counted the bones of the saint "more valuable than precious stones and finer than gold." Believers in Antioch held the remains of Ignatius in high esteem, while Cyprian's blood and clothing became objects of veneration.

The emphasis on procuring martyrs' relics produced many abuses but did not dampen the church's desire to honor its faithful dead. The importance of relics grew to such proportion that the Seventh Ecumenical Council (in Nicea in 787) decreed that relics must be placed in the altar of a new church before it could be consecrated.

Any abuses surrounding the honoring of the martyrs should not blind us to the spiritual debt the whole church owes to these brave souls. By their faithfulness to Christ in spite of torture and death, these men, women, and children proclaimed to the world that Jesus, and not Caesar, is Lord. In the words of the Book of Revelation, "They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death (12:11)."

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

N. Korea Tops Somalia, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan as Worst Place to Be Christian

rodman
Dennis Rodman blows a kiss to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, seated above in the stands, before an exhibition basketball game with US and North Korean players at an indoor stadium in Pyongyang, North Korea on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014. (AP Photo/Kim Kwang Hyon)
(CNSNews.com) – On the day former NBA star Dennis Rodman sang “happy birthday” to Kim Jong-un in Pyongyang, a religious freedom advocacy group named North Korea the world’s worst country to be a Christian for the 12th consecutive year.
Islamic states dominated Open Doors’ 2014 world watch list, accounting for nine of the ten countries with the worst records. Of the full 50-country list released Wednesday, 36 are countries where Islamic extremism is “the main engine driving persecution of Christians,” stretching from North Africa to Brunei.
The top ten countries for persecuting Christians over the last year were: North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Maldives, Pakistan, Iran and Yemen.
“In no other country in the world are Christians so fiercely persecuted because of their faith than in North Korea,” said Open Doors. “Like others in that country, Christians have to survive under one of the most oppressive regimes in contemporary times. They have to deal with corrupt officials, bad policies, natural disasters, diseases and hunger.
“On top of that, they must hide their decision to follow Christ. Being caught with a Bible is grounds for execution or a life-long political prison sentence. An estimated 50,000 to 70,000 Christians live in concentration camps, prisons and prison-like circumstances under the regime of leader Kim Jong-un.”
North Korean Christian
North Korea has topped the Open Doors’ watch list of countries where Christians face greatest persecution for 12 consecutive years. (Photo: Open Doors)
North Korea melds an atheistic, Stalinist form of communism with a quasi-religious personality cult around Kim and his predecessors, Kim Jong-il and Kim Il-sung.
While persecution of Christians is at its most extreme there, by far the largest number of countries on the watch list are Islamic states, where Christians – including converts from Islam – face violence and discrimination at the hands of the authorities, extremist Muslim groups, or both.
The countries in the top ten that rose most on the list since last year are Syria, up to third place from 11 a year ago; and Pakistan, rising to eighth place from 14.
In Syria, “atrocities against the Christian community, perpetrated especially by foreign supported jihadi groups, run at their highest level since the war began almost three years ago,” said Open Doors.
Syria also accounted for more Christians killed during the year than any other country over the past year – 1,213, followed by Nigeria (612), Pakistan (88) and Egypt (83).
“Polarization is increasing across the Middle East, and Islam is becoming even more radicalized with the civil war in Syria giving the jihadists a new impetus,” Open Doors quoted a watch list persecution analyst as saying.

Pakistani Christians
Pakistani Christians protest after hundreds of Muslims burned and looted Christian homes in the city of Gorja in an August 2009 rampage. "Stop killing of innocent Christians," reads the placard. (AP Photo)
In Pakistan – described by Open Doors as “simply the world's most extremist infested state” – a suicide bombing at a Peshawar church last fall killed 89 Christians in the country’s deadliest attack targeting Christians. But the year also witnessed an increase in anti-Christian pressure in society.
In compiling the annual list Open Doors measures freedom Christians have in five spheres – private, family, community, national and church life – plus a sixth sphere measuring the degree of violence.
“The methodology counts each sphere equally and is designed specifically to track the deep structures of persecution, and not merely incidents,” says the group. The list was independently audited by the International Institute for Religious Freedom.
“Often completely unaddressed in the West is the fact that Christians are the largest persecuted minority in the world,” says Open Doors USA President/CEO Dr. David Curry.
“Countries on the WWL, such as North Korea, Saudi Arabia and throughout the Middle East and North Africa are targeting Christians; imprisoning, punishing, and even in some cases murdering people who choose to express privately or publicly their Christian faith. The 2014 WWL is a wakeup call to Americans to become more aware of these atrocities and restrictions on religious freedom.”
Beyond the top ten, the Central African Republic, where Christians are being targeted by the mainly-Muslim Sekela rebel alliance and foreign mercenaries from Chad and Sudan, came from nowhere last year to make 16th place.
Another newcomer to the list this year, Sri Lanka, is in 29th place, “after a significant rise in anti-Christian violence (over 50 attacks on churches last year alone) powered by a strident Buddhist nationalist movement and higher pressure on Christians from local communities and monks.”
Big risers this year further down the list include Burma, Colombia, Jordan and Kazakhstan.
One of the trends tracked by the list was the increase in persecution for Christians in what are generally considered to be “failed” states, including six of the top ten – Somalia, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen.
Looking back over a decade, Islamic countries have always featured strongly on the annual list’s top ten, but the overall trend has been a worsening one.
On the 2004 list four of the top ten countries were Islamic. The number rose to five in 2005 and 2006, to six in 2007 and 2008, to seven in 2009, to eight in 2010 and 2011, to nine in 2012, to eight in 2013, and this year back to nine. 

Saturday, January 25, 2014

MY RELIGION


By: Prof. Mohamud Siad Togane

An Islamic regime must be serious in every field.
There are no jokes in Islam.
There is no humor in Islam.
There is no fun in Islam.
                                          . . . Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini

But Jesus said
Let the little children come to me
And forbid them not
For of such is the kingdom of heaven.
. . . Jesus

Watching them, Jesus laughs.
 “Why are you laughing at us?”
 The nettled disciples ask,
And Jesus says that he is laughing not at them
But at their strange idea of pleasing their God.
. . . Jesus

Jesus, we learn, was laughing at the disciples’ prayer
Because it was directed at their God
The Old Testament God
Who is really no friend of mankind
But, rather, the cause of its suffering.
. . . Jesus

The Imams of Montreal summoned me
To their Kangaroo court
On St Laurent
In the Red Light District

And threw their holy book at me
And threw
The Montreal Gazette

Open
Pointing to

What they did not like
What they did not approve of
What drove them pious babbling blind

A photo of me
Suited up in a
Santa Claus Suit
With a child on my lap
Whispering his secret wish in my ear

They yelled at me

Imagine if you can
 A Black Somali Santa
Like you
Called
Mohamud!

What a blasphemy!
What a disgrace to the Muslim Canadian Community
What are you?

Are you a Muslim?
Or
Are you a Christian?
Or
Are you a Godless Jew!

What is your religion?
I laughed
Because
I did not want
To give them the pleasure of weeping

I knew
It was no laughing matter
A week before this extraordinary incident
I remembered them putting out
A fatuous fatwa

Condemning to hell all Moslems
Who had the Grace to wish Canadian Christians
Merry Christmas!

They intoned unctuously
What you have done
Is
Grievous sin
Is
A mortal sin

Tell us right now

What are you?
Are you a Muslim?
Or
Are you a Christian?
Or
Are you a Godless Jew?

What is your religion?

I answered

Anything that brings a Smile to a child’s face
Anything that brings Peace to a child’s face
Anything that brings Joy to a child’s face

Anything that is Fun
Anything that is Funny
Anything that leads this world

Out of its Deep Doodoo
Out of its Deep Darkness
Out of Lucifer’s Laocoön

Into the Lord’s Light of Laughter

That is my religion

And then everything went quiet
As quiet as when the Good Lord doodled on the ground
And shamed the Pharisees
And looked up
And said

Woman
 Where are those thine accusers?
Hath no man condemned thee?