Tag Archives: Islam

Abraham’s Tomb, another example of Herod the Great’s building genius

The following are some of my pictures of Abraham’s tomb, located in Jerusalem. As you would probably deduce this tomb would not have been built for Abraham upon his death, there would not have been this kind of architecture in this location at this time. The tomb, also described as a fortress, was built by Herod the Great, about 3,000 years after Abraham lived.

01_3This is my picture of Abraham’s tomb, obviously not a product of 3,000 BC. I found it incredibly fascinating that Herod the Great built not just this, he rebuilt the temple, a huge feat in and of itself. He built Masada. He built an amazing fortress on the top of a man-made “mountain”, which, I can’t find any pictures of and I’m very upset. Herod was called “the Great”, because of his amazing architectural accomplishments. I’m not aware of any other rulers who were honored with “Great” because of their building.

Obviously the significance of this “fortress” is not about Herod, but for the reason that this structure was built here. I found a good description of this by Bruce Feiler in his book “Walking The Bible” and the following is his description on pages 67 and 68.

“The fortress that I was about to enter is said to exist on the exact spot where Abraham buried Sarah. It was built two thousand years ago, perhaps by Herod the Great. Despite its scale, the building uses no mortar. Inside, it contains a courtyard and two colonnades containing memorials to Abraham, Sarah and Jacob. The memorials to Isaac and Rebekah are in an adjacent room.”

This is located in an area that is Muslim, and has been divided between Muslim and Jewish. Both Islam and Judaism, as well as Christianity, recognize Abraham as their “Father”, Judaism through Abraham’s and Sarah’s son Isaac, Islam through Abraham’s and Hagar’s son Ishmael.

The following are more of my photographs:



This picture is of one one of the “cells” containing a tomb. I can’t tell who would have been buried here though. 04_6

07_908_100 This final shot showing part of a Muslim worship area.

Who is God leading you to witness to?

I find it fascinating that people don’t want to share their faith in Jesus because they feel that they might be “forcing” people to change their beliefs. They have no problem telling you how much better their baseball team is (we of course know it’s the Red Sox), why their make of car is better, why Boston/York/St Louis is better than anywhere else, etc, etc.

But when it comes to a truly life changing decision, a decision that effects a person for eternity, well… ya…. It doesn’t matter, just so long as you sincerely believe, yada, yada. Ya what a cop out. There is only one way “I am the way the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through Me.” [Jesus] (John 14:6). Say what you will, there is a God, He is the origin of all creation, He does sustain our lives, world, universe and He has revealed Himself in the Bible. You are probably a very nice person and done wonderful things, but sin still separates you from God. Believe what you want, but that’s the way it is. God has given us a way to come to Him, to be His adopted child. His revelation, the Bible and His Son Jesus who died as the payment of the penalty that we incur in our sin. Any other way, which are either all devised by man, or by Satan have you jumping through all the hoops and then maybe, just maybe, you might have some kind of eternal existence. I’m here to tell you, if that eternity isn’t in Jesus, it’s not going to be pleasant. We can do it God’s way, which is loving, caring, compassionate and what is best for your life now and for eternity.

What prompted this, which I should be doing on a regular basis anyway, is an article  in Leadership Journal (yup the new issue’s out!!). An interview by Daniel Darling with Nabeel Qureshi. Nabeel is a Christian, he was a devout Muslim who was led to Christ by a serious, devout and knowledgeable Christian he refers to as David.

“When I met my friend David, everything changed. He was able to defend his faith and as someone who was strong in his beliefs, I felt a bond with him and we became friends.” Qureshi was a very serious Muslim who based his faith on devoutly pursuing his faith. Learning, reasoning, and especially talking to Christians who really didn’t know what they were talking about and it seems, to me, that they really didn’t care. Now I don’t expect everyone to be an expert Christian evangelist/apologist. I really don’t. Having said that, they could be a lot more serious in their faith. Taking time on Sundays to attend Bible study, worship, listening to Christian radio, doing some extra reading. Not asking for a lot of heavy lifting, but taking a genuine interest in your faith, ya versus taking it for granted.

Now again, I know we are not always going to know everything we need to know, always what to say. I think I’m pretty experienced in this and I can’t say I’m always right on and right by the numbers. Having said that, is that a reason for just avoiding the fact that the Holy Spirit has put someone in front of you that He intends for you to witness to that person? Matthew 10:19 Jesus promises that we will be given the words we need when we are witnessing to others about Jesus. I’ve had that experience, it doesn’t come as a bolt of lightning, but you can often feel that the Holy Spirit is guiding you. Cut to the chase, we are called to be faithful, not always to be somehow “successful” in our terms, but to faithfully follow His leading. “The historical evidence he [David] provided for Jesus’ death and resurrection, as well as Jesus’ claim to be God, made all the difference. When I contrasted the evidence for Christianity against the evidence for Islam, I knew that intellectually there was no comparison.”

I think that Nabeel’s advice about reaching a Muslim for Christ is really on the nose and frankly can be our ordinary way to reach all others: “I think the Lord gave us the perfect instruction for evangelism in Matt 22: 37-39, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind … and love your neighbor as yourself.’ When you love the Muslims around you by treating them like family and helping those who need help, they will come to know you more and perhaps even wonder what makes you so loving.” How do too many people “love the Lord”? “how come me God?” “Gimme more God.” “I want, I want…” Maybe loving the Lord could be, going to worship, witnessing to others, serving His church, quit making excuses. “How come I’m the only one…”- you say? When you’re really not doing a whole lot.

Article in local newspaper about Ben-Ghazi


Freedom of religion and speech YDR article

December 19, 2012 at 12:52pm

York academics, clergy disagree over limitations on freedom of speech


Daily Record/Sunday News

<!–date–> Updated: 09/25/2012 05:21:10 PM EDT Does freedom of speech have limitations when words prove capable of inciting deadly violence?One area academic says yes, while a York pastor isn’t so sure.

They responded to mixed reports that an anti-Muslim video led to deadly violence in Benghazi. American ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and four other consulate staff were killed Sept. 11 in the violent uprising.

The Rev. Jim Driskell said the American media was too quick to blame the attack on the low-grade anti-Muslim video, “Innocence of Muslims.”

Driskell, pastor of First St. Johns Lutheran Church at 140 W. King St., doubts the movie fueled the attack. U.S. officials are still determining how much of the attack was preplanned.

“It seems clear that this was a terrorist plot and not some spontaneous act of violence,” Driskell said. “But let’s focus on where the violence is coming from and how to stop that, instead of trying to find ways to shut Americans up.”

The onus, he stressed, should be placed on the perpetrators of the violence, not on those exercising their First Amendment rights.

Lee Barrett, professor of theology at Lancaster Theological Seminary, said the First Amendment includes no absolute protection. Comparing it to laws against shouting fire in a crowded theater, Barrett said free speech in the religious realm should have restrictions as well.”Freedom of speech is not the only moral value and it’s not the only political value,” he said. “Often moral and political values don’t harmonize nicely and you have to make some choices.”

For Barrett, the choices are simple. He believes the video had some role in the violence, just as general religious oppression has promoted unrest in the Middle East for centuries.

“If you weigh on the scales dozens of dead Americans, Libyans and Egyptians over the right of one jerk to say outrageous things, then I think the rights of the dead take precedence,” he said.

What about Christians?

For Driskell, the concern is one of consistency. Numerous Christian-based films have caused controversy over the years – “The Last Temptation of Christ,” for example – and he said the media generally tends to give these filmmakers a pass.

Directed by Martin Scorcese, “Last Temptation” depicts the life of Jesus Christ and his struggle with various forms of temptation including fear, doubt, depression, reluctance and lust.

The book and 1989 film depict Christ being tempted by imagining himself engaged in sexual activities, a notion that outraged some Christians. The movie includes a disclaimer explaining that it departs from the commonly accepted biblical portrayal of Jesus’ life, and is not based on the Gospels.

Still, Scorcese was nominated for an Academy Award for the film.

“If any of the people who made some of these anti-Christian movies were shouted down … I can only imagine the wailing and gnashing of teeth that would result,” Driskell said

But Barrett sees it differently.

“I don’t really think there is a double standard in the way the media covers Christianity and Islam,” said Barrett, who holds four degrees from Yale University, including a Master of Divinity conferred in 1975. “The mainstream media has been pretty even-handed in covering terrorism of any religion, be it Christianity, Islam or any other religion.”

The fact is the vast majority of Americans recognize that Christian terrorists in the United States are a tiny minority, Barrett said, “so that message does not need to be repeated.”

Polls tell a different story when it comes to Islam, he added, with many Americans still viewing the religion with distrust and doubt.

‘One of those gray areas’

Imam of the congregation Masjid At-Tawheed in York, Mujahid “Rick” Ramos values freedom of speech and calls the issue “one of those gray areas.”

“Freedom of speech is something we all cherish and appreciate,” he said. “But at the same time, a person has to be responsible.”

Ramos does not think the video, or the coverage of it, was anything more than a contributing factor in the recent violence. While he does not believe Islam has a propensity toward violence, followers are definitely frustrated, Ramos said.

“There’s this widespread frustration among Muslims, this sense of feeling helpless,” he said. “Throughout history we see that violence tends to be the reaction of a person who feels helpless.”