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[COMMENT: John Rankin has about as good a chance as anyone I know at doing an excellent job with Islam. This is a beginning, and a good one. Visit his website below.
This theme of Ishmael and Islam would make a powerful study for inner healing. See Biblical Inner Healing. E. Fox]
A Vision for "First the Gospel, Then Politics..."
A Passion for "The Love of Hard Questions."
Rev. John C. Rankin,
Theological Education Institute (TEI) and the Mars Hill Society
150 Trumbull Street, 4th Floor, Hartford, Connecticut 06103
860/246-0099 www.teinetwork.com email@example.com
TEI Update #161, November 7, 2006
Dear Friends in Christ:
Greetings in the love of the Lord.
Below is the current draft of the beginning of the Introduction to my book proposal: Inner Jihad: Islam's Struggle with Freedom. I have been preaching this reality from the text of Genesis 16:1-16, and can do so in churches which are interested. Just let me know.
This Thursday the 9th, I will address Mars Hill Forum #119 at Brooklyn College, in Brooklyn, NY, with an atheist professor of philosophy: If There is a God, Why Does Evil Exist? (1:30-3:30 p.m., at the Student Center on Campus Road and East 27th, on the top floor known as the Penthouse). Your prayers are welcome, and the sponsors with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship are excited.
Blessings in Jesus,
Imagine Ishmael – as a young boy, perhaps five or six years old.
There he sits outside the small tent, meant to spend these years at play and wonder, yet the intrusion of undeserved pain already gnaws at his soul. There, at the bitter edge of a large nomadic community, he lives alone with his mother Hagar. They are shunned by most people, with furtive glances that young Ishmael doesn’t know how to define, but he feels them deeply and unhappily. His mother loves him dearly, holds him tight and teaches him the basics of hygiene, language arts and social skills, of how to grow into manhood.
But his father is not present to model such a manhood, for Abraham is married to Sarah, and Ishmael is the son of a hastily arranged and foolish concubinary with Sarah’s maidservant Hagar. In other words, we come to learn that Ishmael is the son of a discarded slave-woman whom Sarah despises for no good cause. Ishmael has no legitimate inheritance rights or honorable standing in the community, he is rejected and feels the shame deeply, all for something which is not his fault. But at age five or six, he does not understand these social and sexual realities – he only feels the shame, and doesn’t know why he has to feel it, when other boys his age do not. They have daddies at home.
Then imagine the periodic community-wide feast involving perhaps 2,000 people. The seat of honor goes to the patriarch, the wealthiest and most powerful man in the area – Abraham. And next to him sits his beautiful wife Sarah. Then back at the edges sit Hagar and little Ishmael. Hagar has told him before that this man is his father, but he is not allowed to see him, for this man’s wife would be furious, and they would have to flee for their lives into a desert that only holds death. Ishmael listens, and most of these words are not really understood, but serve as background for the years ahead. At this moment though, the little Ishmael only has one desire – to sit next to his daddy in the sight of all people, to be honored as daddy's little boy. So simple, not possible, and thus Ishmael grows to be a wild donkey of a man, always fighting for survival and for a dignity not given. The effects on world history have been catastrophic.
I believe that this psychology of rejection, thus ugly fruit of an absent fatherhood, lies as the core of the Muslim soul today, especially at its Arab roots. For the Arab peoples are descendants of Ishmael, and Islam grew out of Arabia. There is a deep struggle in the subconscious of Ishmael’s lineage. The Arabic word for struggle is jihad. Here, it is an inner struggle for honor to erase the undeserved shame, an inner struggle for freedom from a birthright of slavery. For those of us who are a biblical people – Jewish or like myself, Christian – we have no good contribution to make to the worldwide clash between Islam and the West unless first we have mercy on the little boy Ishmael. This is a mercy we all need from a thousand other angles as well, but the affect on Ishmael is the most historically dangerous of all.
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