Monthly Archives: November 2021

Brief Holiday Special: Do Muslims Do Thanksgiving?

What do Muslims do for Thanksgiving? Well, most of them probably go to work or school. But what about the several million who live in the U.S.? Do families celebrate with get togethers and eating halal turkey? Do they watch football? Presumably Robert Saleh will. He’s the head coach of the New York Jets and a Muslim of Lebanese descent. Even though no matter which of the six teams playing today win, he’ll still be second to last in the league!

Khalil Abdur-Rashid the Muslim Chaplain at Harvard University says, “Thanksgiving. . .affords people who are normally heedless and forgetful of the myriad of blessings, of which we are recipients, to at least once a year acknowledge those blessings. Consequently, Thanksgiving, while not directly legislated by Islam, is at least in essence compliant with the spirit of Islam.”

He goes on, “In most houses, the practice of circling the dinner table with family, expressing what we are thankful for, and why we are thankful for it, is a way of not only expressing thanks to Allah, but also declaring and announcing our gratitude to others. It is an expression of the verse in the Quran, “And as for the blessings (ni’mat) of your Lord, proclaim them!” (Quran 93:11).”

You are a blessing! I’m thankful to God for you and grateful to you for reading Muslim Connect. 

Maybe there are some Muslims on the way to celebrate Thanksgiving at your house right now, maybe tomorrow, maybe Christmas or next year. That would be a blessing to them and to you and your family. I’m grateful for that as well.

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Vests of Death: Why Do Suicide Bombers Do It?

Three suicide bombers blew themselves up in Kampala, Uganda earlier this week, killing three others, injuring dozens and permanently altering the lives of many.

When we hear of a suicide bombing, our hearts go out to the victims and their families. That’s natural and appropriate. But do we ever wonder about the man or woman who killed themself?

We’ve got busy lives and maybe it seems a waste to give thought to those who choose to kill themselves in an evil effort to kill others. I get that, but sometimes I wonder: What do they want? What do they expect to happen? What could be so important or make them so desperate? As my friend David Weston asks in his provocative essay, “[what is the] reasoning behind the motivation that leads a person to literally give up their lives by taking the lives of others, often in a most violent and gruesome way?”

I’m not satisfied with answers like, “That’s the way Muslims are,” or “Of course they do it. They instantly get 70 virgins in paradise.” Almost no Muslims are that way, including the cowards who recruit, coordinate and deploy the bombers. And the women who strap on the vest don’t do it for the virgins.

However true those motives are, I wonder what else might be going on.

Author and professor, Adam Lankford contends that Muslim suicide bombers are people who want to kill themselves, but need an “Allah approved” way to do it. When you want to die, but Islam tells you that taking your own life is a ticket to Hell, maybe you look for another way.

How many are motivated by revenge similar to Samson, arguably one of the very first recorded suicide attackers? And if so, revenge for what?

And how many die believing, hoping their sacrifice expands the kingdom and glory of God?


Could you do me a favor? I had an article published this week on the very popular Denison Forum site. Please give it a look and a comment. I’d appreciate it.

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The Richest Muslim in the World

On this Veteran’s Day, I’m grateful for Muslim Connect readers who’ve served our country, perhaps even amongst Muslims. Thank you.

One of my favorite things to say is, “I had no idea.” Not only does this honor the person you say it to: They were, after all, trying to tell you something novel, it also shows a bit of humility and helps cultivate a delight in the world God has created.

I had no idea that the richest person in history was a Muslim guy named Mansa Musa who lived from 1280 to 1337. He inherited his kingdom from his dad (Still the best way to be super rich!) then multiplied his holdings with gold and salt. It has been said that he had so much wealth, it couldn’t really be assessed. When Musa led his entourage of 60,000 people on Hajj to Mecca in 1324, he gave away so much gold along the way that he crashed the economic system of a good portion of North Africa!

Some of the currently richest Muslims in the world are ones who own countries or who married into the royal family. For instance, Princess Lalla Salma, the former wife of the king of Morocco is reportedly worth $2.5 billion. Many others have made their fortunes in finance and business. Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair, a 67 year old Emerati, took over his uncle’s bank and now is said to have $2.7 billion, well, in the bank.

After his dad’s death in 1966, 21 year old Azim Premji left Stanford, mid-way through his engineering studies, to return to India and take over the family business. He did ok with it, expanding into the tech world and eventually being dubbed, Czar of the Indian IT Industry.  In 2013, Premji signed the Giving Pledge, the first Indian to do so, and agreed to give away at least half of his $11 billion fortune, including over $2 billion to education causes in India.

Jesus said, “it will be hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven.” Let’s pray that these and many others would be the camels who could!


PS: Got any thing you’d like to see addressed in Muslim Connect? Questions you’re wondering about? I’d love to give them some thought and maybe write about them in coming weeks. Shoot me an email. Thank you.

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The Arabic word madrasa basically means a place for education. Outside of Arabic speaking countries it has come to refer particularly to institutions focused on Islamic training. As you’d guess, there’s huge diversity in the theology and purpose of various madrasas.

Years ago some friends and I were taken to lunch after Friday prayers to a madrasa in Malaysia. As we sat on the floor, feasting on a mountain of yummy chicken and rice, a young student put his missionary training into action: With earnest sincerity he put his hand on my pastor’s knee, looked in his eyes and said, “Brother, become a Muslim.” That will leave a mark, pretty much whoever you are!

Madrasas in many parts of the world serve similar purposes for young Muslims as AWANA does for kids in evangelical churches. I think AWANA has a leg up on most madrasas in that kids can memorize scripture in the language they speak! Muslim kids usually memorize the Quran in Arabic. They learn how to say it, but maybe not what they’re saying!

Think about why you take (or might take) your kids to Sunday School, youth group or AWANA. Probably most Muslim moms and dads have similar motivation. They want their offspring to grow up and live out the faith. They want good and respectable kids.

If you grew up in church, maybe you remember early Sunday School days. One of the first people ever to teach me how to follow Jesus was Ethel Smith. Her face deeply wrinkled, breath smelling like Sen Sen, it was fifty years ago she taught our unruly class and I’ve never forgotten.

The good people at just released a beautiful video in which a former Muslim leads viewers in prayer for kids and adults in madrasas. Will you watch it and pray with me for the winsome, kingdom work of Jesus to break loose in madrasas all over.

Much thanks to those who responded to the questions in last week’s Muslim Connect, “Muslims Are Trouble.” I appreciate you. It’s not too late to weigh in, if you wish. 

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