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An Urgent Message for Barnabas Fund supporters

23 September 2001

Dear Barnabas Fund supporter,

By the time you are reading this, you should have received the October-November issue of Barnabas magazine and our new “End the Silence” petition. These were written, and the petition campaign planned, before the terrible atrocities in New York and Washington on 11th September. I want to assure you that we do not in any way wish our literature to be perceived as possible fuel for anti-Muslim violence.

I also want to ask you not to forget Christian minorities in the Muslim world during this time of global turmoil and uncertainty. They feel desperately vulnerable, and are fearful of becoming the victims of revenge attacks by Muslims angered by America’s anticipated military attacks on Muslim targets. Christians in Pakistan are particularly nervous, having experienced revenge attacks during the Gulf War of 1990-91. Yet their needs, their suffering, their very existence go unacknowledged by the media. I warmly endorse all the statements by church leaders in favour of the protection of Muslim minorities, but would urge them also to speak out in favour of the protection of Christian minorities. So please do circulate the petition. It is needed now more than ever.

The tragic events in the USA have generated an urgent debate in the media about the nature of Islam. Most of what has been written and said about Islam since 11th September, both by Muslims and by non-Muslims, has strenuously asserted that Islam is a religion of peace. As a reader of Barnabas you will be aware that, sadly, this is not the whole truth.

I was invited to contribute an article to Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper on this subject, which was published on Monday 17th September. In this article I drew attention to several verses in the Qur’an which command Muslims to fight against non-Muslims. I tried to make the point that, although thankfully there are many peace-loving Muslims in the world today who give a spiritual interpretation to these verses, there is another strand of contemporary Islam which takes the verses literally, just as they were taken in the early days of Islam. I believe that the latter group is far more numerous than the media have admitted. I believe it is important that the non-Muslim world recognises the existence of this debate within contemporary Islam, and realises that Islamic militants are sincerely pious Muslims who simply take their scriptures at face value.

As a result of the article I was invited to attend a meeting between senior Christians and Muslims at Heathrow, London, on Friday 21st September. I am immensely thankful to God for the statement produced by this group. This called for the protection of Muslim minorities in the West from revenge attacks and also for the protection of Christian minorities in the Muslim world from revenge attacks. It was what I had personally hoped and prayed would result from the meeting. I am so pleased that at last the plight of Christians under Islam is being included in the current debate. This statement will be circulated both in the West and in the Muslim world. Please can you circulate this statement to Christians and Muslims you know. (Further copies are available on request.)