“Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” — Matthew 5:10-12
Christian Persecution in the Middle East continues to rage on. On March 12th, The Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah declared that it is “necessary to destroy all the churches of the region,” Raymond Ibrahim of Jihad Watch reported. The Grand Mufti made the statement in response to questions at a forum regarding Kuwait’s move to ban the building of Christian churches in the country.
“The Sheikh based his proclamation on the famous tradition, or hadith, wherein the prophet of Islam [Muhammed] declared on his deathbed that ‘There are not to be two religions in the [Arabian] Peninsula,’ which has always been interpreted to mean that only Islam can be practiced in the region,” Ibrahim explained. The article goes on to detail the importance of the Saudi Grand Mufti in the Arab Muslim community:
“Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah is not just some random Muslim hating on churches. He is the Grand Mufti of the nation that brought Islam to the world. Moreover, he is the President of the Supreme Council of Ulema [Islamic scholars] and Chairman of the Standing Committee for Scientific Research and Issuing of Fatwas. Accordingly, when it comes to what Islam teaches, his words are immensely authoritative.” (source)
Ibrahim also very correctly compared the muted reaction among leaders in America, including President Obama, and contrasted that with the massive media coverage, protests and outrage over Florida Pastor Terry Jones, who planned a “Koran Burning” at his tiny church in Florida last year. President Obama passionately condemned the plans of Terry Jones (an unknown Pastor with no real influence) but has been strangely silent in the face of this proclamation from one of the most influential leaders in the Muslim community who also has the authority to issue Fatwas to the Muslim world. Additionally, in Saudi Arabia, Christianity is banned altogether and there are no churches. In December 2011, 35 Ethiopian Christians were arrested, jailed and eventually deported by Saudi authorities after being caught holding a private prayer session. Yet somehow legislators and leaders seem to leave this country off of the list of those in need of “freedom” and “human rights” when discussing the much-heralded Arab Spring.
Jihad Watch article also raised the point that the Grand Mufti’s declaration was based on the hadith, which is considered part of Islamic jurisprudence, even though it condones and promotes violence against non-Muslims. As we have covered at Beginning and End, persecution of Christians in the majority Muslim nations has been a severe problem for some time. Consider the attacks of the past month:
Iran — authorities have begun sweeping through towns arresting Christians suspected of holding worship meetings in an effort to stamp out the house church movement (source).
Nigeria — Terrorist group Boko Haram claimed responsibility for suicide bombers who set off a car bomb at a church in Jos, Nigeria, killing a church member and a baby (source).
Bible prophecy predicted massive Christian persecution and in many areas that persecution is coming to light. Continue in prayer Christians in Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern nations that they will stay strong in the faith despite clear opposition and potentially risking their lives. And pray that the light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ will continue to shine in these nations and touch the hearts of those who seek to destroy Christianity so that they know they too can be forgiven by the Lord through Jesus. As the Bible records in the book of Acts, Christian persecution d only served to make the church stronger. God willing, that will be the case here.