The word of god for benighted Muslims

'Missionary' activity is stepped up in order to 'save' the Ishmaelites

As a thinly-veiled mouthpiece of the American establishment, the TIME magazine is strictly outside the purview of my regular reading. I must, however, confess that I was tempted into breaking my vow of abstinence last week. The June 30, 2003 issue of the magazine carried too provocative a cover to resist. It pictured an upheld fist clenching a cross, nudging against a slogan asking a cryptic query: "Should Christians Convert Muslims?"  Now, inter-religious polemics have ceased to interest me lately, tired as I am of loud-mouthed fanatics peddling their wares. However, since the niggling issue of relations between Muslims and others continues to exercise a fascination for me, I shed my scruples about the venerable TIME, and clicked on its web-page to go through the cover-story.

The gist of the story, based on reports filed by correspondents in North America and West Asia, was, to put it in a nutshell, this: Western, largely American, Christian evangelist fundamentalists appear to be convinced that the time has now come to wage an all-out spiritual war against Islam. Islam, as many of them see it, is a satan-inspired programme of terrorism that bodes ill for all humankind, and represents the greatest challenge to Christianity and Christiandom. As an American evangelist, identified simply as "Barbara', puts it, Islam is in itself the ultimate "weapon of mass destruction". Gripped by a fanatic zeal to spread their faith to "benighted" Muslims, the story speaks of scores of Christian evangelists following close on the heels of American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, offering 'aid', both material as well as 'spiritual', with the latter, predictably, being tied to the former. The report quoting the Massachusetts-based Gordon-Cornwell Theological Seminary suggests that there are today more than 27,000 Christian missionaries working in Muslim countries, almost double the number two decades ago.

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Himal Southasian