President Donald Trump’s long-touted campaign to implement a (temporary?) ban and introduce “extreme vetting” has eventually come into effect. In Canada, the federal Conservative leadership candidate Kelly Leitch pushed for vetting immigrant for “Canadian values”. Since she, as a member of the last government, sought to ban the wearing of the hijab and burka, her call has been interpreted as anti-Islam. What should a Christian position be on this issue?
On the one hand, it is argued that the teaching of Islam is fundamentally violent and hateful and Muslims seek to eventually dominate the world by force; the Islamist extremists like ISIS represent the true Islam which all Muslims believe in their hearts. All Muslim immigrants and refugees should, therefore, be rejected. On the other hand, it is argued that many Muslims are moderate and that Christ’s commands to love your neighbor and to love your enemy should lead us to accept most Muslim immigration—certainly those who are refugees.
Before we examine this issue in more detail, a word on immigration in general: Not only should we recognize that Canada and the U.S. are nations of immigrants, but also from an economic perspective, continued immigration is essential. Declining birthrates and smaller families means our populations are graying. Statistics Canada recently announced that the number of seniors is greater than the number of youth. Our birth rate, currently at 1.6, has been steadily falling over the last several decades: 1971 was the last year when the average number of children matched the 2.1 replacement level needed for the population to renew itself, without being bolstered by immigration. Without immigration, the burden on the working-age population to support increasing numbers of seniors would grow “bigly”. This graying of populations is increasing also in other countries and is a major reason for Germany, for example, initially welcoming large numbers of refugees. Conclusion, economically speaking, we need immigrants—a fact, not necessarily recognized. A recent poll reports that the majority of Canadians believe that Canada should accept fewer immigrants and refugees.
Moreover, Love of Neighbour demands that we take seriously the refugee problem facing the world. The number of refugees accepted into Canada, 40,000, is a drop in the bucket compared to the major displacement of Syrian refugees. Jordan with a native population of 6.5 million, hosts at least one million Syrians. Lebanon hosts about 1.5 million—about a quarter of the countriy’s population and Turkey is thought to have close to three million Syrians on its soil.
Actions of Muslims that Inspire Fear
It is not difficult to find reasons to fear Muslims. Consider only:
- · Police in France brought a dramatic end to a suspected terrorist attack, storming a supermarket in the southern town of Trèbes, shooting a suspect dead, and freeing several hostages. At least three people are reported to have been killed in the man's morning-long spree, which began in the nearby municipality of Carcassonne when he hijacked a car, executing a passenger and wounding its driver
- · The attack by a van mowing down pedestrians on London Bridge and stabbings in Borough market in which seven were killed and 36 injured. One of the attackers was identified as a U.K. citizen who came to the U.K. with his parents as refugee from Pakistan. Another was from Moroccan origin.
- · The Manchester suicide bombing by Salman Abedi killing 22 and injuring 59 (including many children). Abedi is alleged to have links to a radical imam, Egwilla, now in Libya but formerly a cleric at an Ottawa mosque (becoming a Canadian citizen). He has been accused of promoting violent jihad in Libia  He issued the following call to arms: Allah break the backs of the tyrants and the oppressors and the unjust and those nations of the world that are with the…We are waiting for martyrdom in the name of Allah. And by Allah this is our path until we push back evil. We will not stop or resign.
- · The April killing of a policeman on the Champs Elysees in Paris
- · The April attack in Stockholm where four people were killed and at least fifteen were injured when a man drove a truck down a busy shopping street. The man has allegedly admitted being a member of ISIS and told police investigators that he had “achieved what he set out to do”.
- · A militant attack on a bus in Egypt, killing 28 Coptic Christians—the fourth deadly attack against the countries Christans.
- · A takeover of Marawi in the Philipines by a group led by Isnilon Hapilon, an Arabic-speaking Islamic preacher known for his expertise in commando assaults who pledged allegiance to ISIS in 2004 leading Dutarte, the Philipine president to declare martial law.
- · In March a London attacker mowed down pedestrians on Westminster Bridge, killing two men and two women and injuring many others.
- · December 2016, Christmas market truck attack in Berlin killing 12 and injuring 48.
- · In July 2016 in Nice, a terrorist in a lorry mowed down revelers who had just finished watching a firework display to mark Bastille Day in France. The horrific rampage killed 84 people and injured hundreds of others.
- · March 2016, two suicide bombings in Brussels killed 32 people and wounded more than 300 other victims in a day of terror.
- · November 2015-A series of terrifying attacks in Paris killed 130 victims and injured hundreds of others.
- · The 2009 “honour killing” of his three daughters and first wife in a car submerged in a canal in Kingston by Mohammad Shafia , his wife and their son (who were imprisoned in 2012 for life with no chance of parole for 25 years).
- · ISIS still in Syria and elsewhere although their dreams of a caliphate have been shattered. Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan,Pakistan, Somali etc.,
- · Boka Haran and other Islamists in Northern Nigeria have killed thousands of Christians and kidnapped many.—6,000 Christians were killed in the first six months of this year alone.
- · In a sermon in Montreal, at the Al-Andalous Islamic Center, Imam Sayed al- Ghitawi included the following: “O Allah, destroy the cursed Jews. Oh Allah, shows us the black day you inflict on them. Oh Allah, make their children orphans and their women widows”
This list is only a sampling of the most recent attacks, Wikipedia lists a total of more than 20,000 killed plus 52,000 injured. Moreover it ignores the violent struggles between rival Muslim factions /countries—Shiites, Sunni etc.
In light of such incidents, governments obviously have a duty to protect its citizens. As Romans 13 teaches (vs. 4) “he is God’s servant to do you good…he does not bear the sword for nothing…an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer”. As the Westminster Confession's chapter 23  states, "It is the duty of civil magistrates to protect the person and good name of all their people, in such an effectual manner as that no person be suffered, either upon pretense of religion or of infidelity, to offer any indignity, violence, abuse, or injury to any other person whatsoever.” The government, then, has to protect its people from being harmed by others-- also those who are motivated by religion-- including Islam.
Within the country, that is likely to mean increased surveillance and, perhaps, detention of suspects. It is striking that several of those involved in the incidents above were previously “known to police.” As for immigration and refugees, extreme vigilance is required to, as far as possible to exclude potential terrorist attackers.
Are all Muslims to be feared?
Does that mean the government should simply ban immigration and visits of all Muslims since the noted terror attacks were carried out by Muslims? Most Muslims would vehemently object to such a ban since they argue such attacks have nothing to do with Islam. Two recent letters to the editor, for example, argue:
The Manchester attacks were conducted under the concept of “jihad”—the concept of killing innocent civilians in the name of religion. The irony here is that this is completely false. These ‘jihadists’ are conducting violence based on an extreme misinterpretation of jihad. Causing any sort of harm, or suffering goes against the peaceful nature of Islam. In fact, the word ‘Islam’ literally means ‘peace’ and the Qur’an—the Holy Book of Islam—unequivocally rejects any such violence. As an Ahmadi Muslim, I strongly condemn these attacks against humanity and want to assure Canadians that the Muslim majority does not subscribe to such extreme beliefs.
As a member of the Ahmadi Muslim community, I extend my condolences to all the innocent civilians and stand with them in mourning their loss. Like many others, I am at a loss for words and confused. … As a Muslim, I am taught to forgive, tolerate, and promote peace. I don’t know what ISIS is trying to accomplish by claiming responsibility for this disgusting act of terrorism. But, it has nothing to do with Islam.
This claim to peace is also found in the introduction in an English translation of the Quran
The Quran is, from the beginning to end, a book which promulgates peace and in no way countenances violence. It is true that jihad is one of the teachings of the Quran. But jihad, taken in its correct sense, is the name of peaceful struggle rather than any kind of violent action.
On the other hand, other letter writers stress that these attacks are a matter of religion.
We comfort ourselves with such bromides at our peril. Of course, it’s about religion—the religion that has jihad, the eternal holy war against the infidel, as a core tenet. …having the courage to state that unpleasant truth is a prerequisite for confronting and defeating those waging jihad in our time.
Islamic Fundamentalist Theology?
The terrorism embodied in ISIS is not of recent origin but rather centuries old. Their goal is to establish an Islamic theocracy—to unite the Muslim world under the black banner of Khilafa (or Caliphate), and to establish their set of divine laws (Sharia) on Earth. This author, Ahmed Shah, goes on to argue that it is hard to find any Isis atrocities that are not sanctioned by Islamic texts. For example, even the execution of apostates or the taking of female sex slaves can be justified by religious texts. He argues that the Muslim community must embrace bold thinkers who are prepared to reform Islam and its traditions and reinterpret violent passages within Islamic scriptures to combat Islamic extremism. It’s clear then that Muslim scriptures do support terrorist endeavors. As one of my relatives concluded:
A simple search of Google gives almost equal results that either say Islam is fundamentally flawed and evil, versus it being loving but just infected with bad people.
Cornelus Van Dam, in a recent article , “Is Islam a religion of peace?” provides the following from a book by Quereshi:
The word Islam refers to the peace that comes from surrender (to Islam). ..If you convert, you will have safety through surrender. ..There are military connotations here and therefore,”to contend that Islam signifies peace in the absence of violence is incorrect. Islam signifies a peace after violence, or under the threat of it.’ Islamic history is full of war and violence ‘No one can claim that Islam is a religion of peace in the sense that the religion has been historically devoid of violence, neither in its origins nor in the history of the global Muslim community. Apart from the first thirteen years of Islamic history, when there were not enough Muslims to fight, Islam has always been an elaborate practice or doctrine of war.
Van Dam, in fact, concludes that progressive Muslims who want Islam to be a religion of peace do not have much of a foothold. They do not have the authority of Mohammad and the Quran to back them up. Rather, “Violent expressions of Islam adhere more consistently and more literally to the foundational texts of the Islamic faith, the Quran and the hadith”
If Islam is really a religion of peace, wouldn’t we expect more widespread condemnation from "moderate" imams when these atrocities occur? Are there, in fact, many moderate imams who can lead the “reform” suggested above? One of my family wrote:
Are all imams fanatics in preaching Sharia law? I read plenty of former Muslims who say they are, and further, I have read that a part of the strategy that Muhammad laid out was for some imams to intentionally appear moderate until the bulk of the recruits are in the land they intend to take.
The current cultural climate of Sweden and the U.K. are different than Canada and the US. In those cultures it's hard to find moderate imams, whereas 20 years ago one could find them. I suggest that Canada today, is 20 years younger than those countries. The "moderates" in the Islam army have a role to play while the troops are immigrating to the country in question. They say they are moderate to cast doubt on the true intentions of their brotherhood. But in the end when they develop critical mass in a society, the "moderates" take off their sheeps clothing. Some suburbs of London are so heavily Muslim that white women are urged by the police to refrain from ever entering for fear of being gang raped (something the Koran allows them to do).
My sister, who went to Mali on an evaluation trip, found that “the older established Imams and Muslims were very upset with the influx of the modern Muslims. Their interpretation of the Quran was quite different from what the new Imams were wanting. They were terrified of those groups”. This suggests both the existence of moderate imams as well as a recent reemphasis on the violent aspects of Islam.
Van Dam, in another article reports on a credible study that found significant extremist influence in Canadian mosques and Islamic schools, e.g. “there is nothing but extremist literature in the mosque libraries” and “the voice of extremists is everywhere from the mosques and their libraries to the halls of government”. They conclude that “many Muslim youth in Canada are influenced by a steady stream of extremist messages…by mosques, schools, Islamic association and the Internet”. The report notes that there are humanists or modernist Muslims who want “Islam to be a modern religion based on its earlier beliefs in rationality, empiricism and a question for knowledge through the scientific process. However, the humanists are frequently ignored and “the Islamists are currently winning the struggle.”
Yes, there are moderate Muslims but their voices are not heard as often as necessary, nor do they appear to have strong “scriptural” backing.
Should Muslim immigration be limited?
That does not mean that we should not limit the numbers that we allow to enter. There are limits to the amount of immigrants that can be integrated even when they have skills, training and language ability as per Canada’s point system. Integration of refugees without language and work skills is even more difficult. The desirable amount will have to be a matter of ongoing discussion depending on variations in the economy. When lots of Canadians are out of work, the amount of newcomers should obviously be reduced even though their entrance will benefit the country in the long run. It is at such times that far right racism rears its ugly head with vandalism of mosques etc. Government must also be able to control such excesses.
- · Promise to obey the law of the land
- · Acceptance of freedom of religion
- the equality of all Muslims and non-Muslims the right of every individual to choose his/her religion
- Uphold the separation of church and state
- Promise not to seek any application of Sharia law outside the mosque.
- · Promise to do their utmost to integrate into the host society
Of course, this vetting and oath is no guarantee that violent attacks will be prevented. Apparently, it is permitted for Muslims to lie to “infidels”. Moreover, these attacks have also been authored by those who were born and raised in the West. Nevertheless, government must do its best to ensure that potential attackers are kept out of the country. It must also do its best to ensure equality of all religions within the country and protect against religiously inspired discrimination and violent attacks by those already within its borders. However, that’s beyond the scope of this post.
 This post arises out of a private family email exchange. In this post I have picked from an extensive discussion without specific credit. My thanks go out to Rev. Tim Black and Andrew Douma --who contributed at length to the discussion-- as well as Jack Boersema, Attie Sandink and Michelle Vandergriendt
 Graeme Hamilton, “With faith comes altruism”, National Post,May 20, 2017,p. A6
 Michael Petrou, “The Greatest Exodus of our Time”, National Post, July 15, 2017, pp.A10-A14
 Steward Bell, “Bomber linked to Canadian Imam”, National Post, May 26, 2017, p. A1.
 Jim Gomez & Teresa Cerojano, “Philippines launches anti-terror attack, National Post, May 26, 2017, pA11
 Cornelis Van Dam,” Nigerian Genocide of Christians”, Clarion Sept. 7,2018
 Robert Lantos, “Words Matter”, National Post, May 26, 2017, p. A13
 Kashif Solail, Calgary, Letter to the Editor, National Post, May 30, 2017
 Saba Sadiq, Toronto, Letter to the Editor, National Post, May 30, 2017
 The Quran, translated by Maulana Wahidduddin Khan Farida Khanam, Goodword books, 2016
 Ahmed Shah, “Muslims must tackle radical theology issue”, National Post, Nov. 2,2017, p.A9
 In an article entitled “Islamic Reformation?” in Clarion, Nov. 3, 2017, p. 619 which is based largely on a book by Nabeel Quereshi, Seeking Allah, finding Jesus.
 Qureshi p. 92.
 The writer ascribed this notion to a book, A History of the Middle East by Peter Mansfield. There are also indications that Islamists such as Turkey’s Erdogan are encouraging Muslims to expand their influence through the cradle by having large families. See Cornelis Van Dam, “Conquest by the Cradle,”, Clarion, June 16, 2017, p.353
 Cornelis Van Dam, “Lovers of Death?”, Clarion, July 14,2017, p.401
 Of course, neighbor love can also be shown by marshalling government resources to support potential refugees in their own country or protected neutral zones. However, current reality suggests that is not possible as the only option. It’s not a case of “either, or” but all alternative.
 See a study by Sam Solomon and E Al Maqdisi, “Modern Trojan Horse: The Islamic Doctrine of Immigration” in Van Dam’s article “Conquest by the Cradle”, op. cit.
 i.e. “church discipline” applies only within the “church”, does not apply to those who withdraw and cannot apply contrary to law, e.g. “honour killing.”