On chain letters and anti-Islamic sentiment

Some people evidently believe everything they read. I know this because I received the following in my email. From a relative. Who knows I married a Muslim.

Oh, yeah, I have to add this side comment before I start. When adding exclamation points, the more you add, the more I’ll believe you. It’s true, it does work like that. Especially if I wouldn’t believe it without the exclamation points. [/sarcasm]

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The Muslim religion in the fastest growing religion per capita in the United States, especially in the minority races!!!

Allah or Jesus?

by Rick Mathes

Last month I attended my annual training session that’s required for maintaining my state prison security clearance. During the training session there was a presentation by three speakers representing the Roman Catholic, Protestant and Muslim faiths, who explained each of their belief


I was particularly interested in what the Islamic Imam had to say. The Imam gave a great presentation of the basics of Islam, complete with a video.

After the presentations, time was provided for questions and answers.

When it was my turn, I directed my question to the Imam and asked:

"Please, correct me if I’m wrong, but I understand that most Imams and clerics of Islam have declared a holy jihad [Holy war] against the infidels of the world. And, that by killing an infidel, which is a command to all Muslims, they are assured of a place in heaven. If that’s the case, can

you give me the definition of an infidel?"

There was no disagreement with my statements and, without hesitation, he replied, "Non-believers!"

I responded, "So, let me make sure I have this straight. All followers of Allah have been commanded to kill everyone who is not of your faith so they can go to Heaven. Is that correct?"

The expression on his face changed from one of authority and command to that of a little boy who had just gotten caught with his hand in the cookie jar.

He sheepishly replied, "Yes."

I then stated, "Well, sir, I have a real problem trying to imagine Pope John Paul commanding all Catholics to kill those of your faith or Dr. Stanley ordering Protestants to do the same in order to go to Heaven!"

The Imam was speechless.

I continued, "I also have problem with being your friend when you and your brother clerics are telling your followers to kill me. Let me ask you a question. Would you rather have your Allah who tells you to kill me in order to go to Heaven or my Jesus who tells me to love you because I am going to Heaven and He wants you to be with me?"

You could have heard a pin drop as the Imam hung his head in shame.

Needless to say, the organizers and/or promoters of the ‘Diversification’ training seminar were not happy with Rick’s way of dealing with the Islamic Imam and exposing the truth about the Muslim’s beliefs.

I think everyone in the US should be required to read this, but with the liberal justice system, liberal media, and the ACLU, there is no way this will be widely publicized. Please pass this on to all your e-mail contacts.

This is a true story and the author, Rick Mathes, is a well known leader in prison ministry.

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At first, I thought it was spam. I’d never received email from this particular relative before, so I didn’t know her email addy, and my anti-spam program also thought it was spam. I mean, seriously, who in their right mind would send narrow-minded prejudicial ignorant crap like this to me? Certainly no one who knows me very well.

But then I looked at the sender’s name. Looked familiar. Next thought was that she sent the email only to me. Perhaps as a warning "look at what you married" kind of email. You know the kind. Bitter, meddling, and up to no good.

I then went online to do a check on this guy, and a whole bunch of links come up.

The first one I went to was from Break the Chain. I copied their text into an email as a rebuttal to clue-less relative and emailed her this:

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There are always at least two sides to every story, and I thought you would be interested in seeing another.

I found the following at http://www.breakthechain.org/exclusives/rickmathes.html.  You can go there to see this article in full and to learn more about chain letters.
(3/24/200) Since the horrible events of September 11, 2001, the Islamic faith, and those who follow it, have been the subjects of intense scrutiny and distrust. Desperate to know why so many innocent people had to die, many have tried to "prove" that the Muslim faith is intrinsically violent. Given this social tone, it is not surprising that this chain letter, supposedly putting one of Islam’s own on the spot, has become so popular. At the very least, we can say this is a one-sided account of real events.


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It then repeats the same chain letter she sent me. And then the additional text at the bottom of it:

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Rick Mathes and his wife, Trish, are the founders of Mission Gate Prison Ministries, an outreach to those who are incarcerated and their families. The essay above was offered in the ministry’s subscription newsletter and appears in the version above unchanged from its original. Some versions, however, have changed. Most notably, some have added preface or postscript notes that lack the validity of Mathes original, but have become seamlessly integrated with it. Also, some versions have fallen victim to e-mail spell-checkers and incorrectly list the author’s name as "Rick Mattes" or "Rich Mattes."

The veracity of the claims made in it, however, is the author’s to prove. Unfortunately, Rick Mathes told BreakTheChain.org that he will not provide further details because, in his words, "I fear retribution – I have a 20 year prison ministry to protect."

Third-party accounts of the events in question paint a significantly different picture than the one offered by Mathes. Tim Kniest, spokesman for the Missouri Department of Corrections, told the Lee news service that the training session in question was for prison volunteers and took place in a corrections facility in Fulton, MO. However, according to Kniest, prison officials’ recollection of events that day differ from Mathes’ in several aspects:

Religious leaders representing faiths followed by current inmates were invited to present.

The presenter on Islam was not an Imam, but rather a Muslim inmate who was pressed into presenting after no Imam could be arranged.

Prison officials confirm that the Muslim inmate was asked a few questions that he was unable to answer, but none along the lines of those suggested by Mr. Mathes.

Mathes, however, maintains that his is an accurate account, using the facts he knew at the time, and did go into some more detail making the encounter seem less antagonistic than his original account:

"…the inmate was introduced as an ‘Imam’. Mr. Kneist was not there to know what was said or not and cannot disprove that what I wrote wasn’t said. In fact when I said, ‘I have a hard time being your friend when your faith says to kill me to go to heaven.’ everyone burst out laughing. When his presentation was over and it was time for a break, we all felt sorry for the inmate including my self. In fact I gave him a sign and said ‘Salaam’ and he responded with a knowing smile. Knowing that there wasn’t any animosity between us.

"I really asked the questions I needed to know the answers to and he did not respond as I thought he would have. I expected him to defend this "jihad" thing as rebel Muslims using religion to cloak their evil deed in.

"His silence leads me to conclude that either he was ignorant of his faith, was caught off guard and speechless, or agreed with my premise and conclusion (which I think he was).

"I am getting 24 emails in favor of the article to 1 against. We all agree that there is a "simmering volcano" in the Muslim community. Give me an Imam that will sing "God Bless America" or will say the "Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag" and I will listen to them discredit the fears we have about the Muslim community and all that we see and hear in the media. Until the American Muslim community speaks up, I have my doubts about those who join them."

Nonetheless, this essay falls short of being the proof that Islam’s leaders cannot deny the violent nature of their own religion that many would have it be. Since both sides of the argument have recognized that the person Mathes was questioning was not an Islamic official nor a recognized expert in the religion, his actions should not be considered indicative of all Muslims. Break this chain.

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There’s similar information at Truth or Fiction:

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We contacted Rick Mathes, founder of Mission Gate Prison Ministries in Chesterfield, Missouri, and he stands by his story.

There have been some published reports from critics of Mathes’ article who say the confrontation did not take place the way he describes and that the Moslem who spoke at the conference was not an Imam, but a prisoner who volunteered to speak as a Moslem.

Rick Mathes says that the man was introduced at the meeting as an Imam and that the story happened as he describes it.

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And then there’s Snopes:

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Origins: The piece quoted above ("Allah or Jesus?") is an editorial penned by Rick Mathes, Executive Director of the Mission Gate Prison Ministry.

We asked Mr. Mathes if he could provide some information about the origins of the piece, and he responded:

This article is an exact recording of a real event that I participated in. My only commentary was, "the truth will prevail." I think this meeting was in May 2003 and I will not give out more details for fear of retribution. The purpose of the class was to increase "religious sensitivity", that is, tolerance for each others beliefs and I really blew that. The director was purple with rage however the Imam and I exchanged signs and said "Salaam" which means "peace" in Arabic (I hope). I questioned him (Imam) really to get a clear refutation of what is commonly thought of this Jihad nonsense. But apparently he wasn’t educated enough to rebut my remarks or by his silence on this matter (I think) concurred with my implied conclusions. In either case I was surprised. And when I said I found it hard to be his friend, everyone laughed out loud. So the mood was an amazing mix of those who were interested like me and others that were just amused by the whole thing. I left the matter open on purpose (the truth will prevail) so that either side could speak up and claim the truth as their own.

Reporter Greg Kearney, writing for the Lee News Service, traced the story to a correctional facility in Fulton, Missouri, and came away with a decidedly different version of events from Missouri state officials.

According to Tim Kniest, Public Information Officer for the Missouri Department of Corrections, the event described was a training program for prison volunteers, for which ministers from several faiths were invited to give presentations in order to acquaint prison volunteers with the varied religious beliefs of the inmate population. The man who gave the presentation about Islam was not a Muslim minister; he was an inmate pressed into service to present a short film on Islam and answer some questions when the prison’s Volunteer Coordinator was "unable to find an Imam to speak."

Moreover, reported Mr. Kniest, the prison’s Volunteer Coordinator said that "The inmate did a good job," adding, "He was asked a few questions that were beyond his ability to answer. But he was not asked anything like that question [in the editorial]":

. . . the Volunteer Coordinator at the prison said that no such exchange as the editorial reported ever took place. "He certainly did not ‘Hang his head in shame’," according to Kniest. In fact, the inmate was thanked by the assembly before being escorted back to his quarters. Furthermore, the coordinator does not recall any questions dealing with jihad [Holy war] against the infidels of the world as reported in the editorial.

In the editorial the inmate is presented as an Imam, or Islamic minister, which he clearly was not.

Whatever may have transpired at the prison training session referred to above, the notion expressed by this piece is inaccurate. Islam is not a monolithic religion in which unanimity of belief and action is coordinated from a central authority. Islam has an estimated two billion adherents in countries all over the world who belong to any one of a number of different sects with varying beliefs, traditions, and interpretations of scripture. (As well, some religious groups identify themselves as Islamic but are not recognized as such by the vast majority of Muslims.) No one Muslim (especially one who wasn’t even a cleric) could speak to what all of Islam believes, any more than a single member of a Methodist congregation could speak for every denomination and follower of Christianity. Many, many Muslims reject the idea that "all followers of Allah have been commanded to kill everyone who is not of their faith," or even the suggestion that such an interpretation has ever been a valid tenet of Islam. We sent this piece to several Muslim groups and invited them to offer comments; they provided somewhat different explanations about the concept of jihad, how Muslims regard non-Muslims, and other related topics, but they all agreed that the editorial presented a grossly distorted version of their beliefs.

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Or you could refer to Urban Legends.

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Comments: The above text, circulating via email since September 2003, was written by Rick Mathes, executive director of Mission Gate Prison Ministry in Chesterfield, Missouri. In subsequent statements on the ministry’s Website, Mathes affirmed that the incident took place exactly as described.

However, a different version of events was reported in an article by Greg Kearney of the Lee News Service, in which a spokesperson for the Missouri Department of Corrections, which sponsored the training session, stated that the "imam" Mathes refers to above was a prison inmate and ordinary Muslim, not a trained cleric, and that although the inmate did answer various questions about his faith to the best of his ability, the issues of jihad and violence against non-believers were neither raised nor discussed during the exchange.

It is therefore a case of Mathes’ word against the prison official’s. I have not been able to find public statements by anyone else in a position to confirm the facts.

As to the substance of the alleged debate àwhether or not it is a core tenet of Islam that believers must wage holy war against non-believers wherever they are found àthere is fierce disagreement on that issue even among acknowledged experts in Muslim culture and theology, so I will not attempt to defend one side or the other in this brief commentary. See the resources below for further reading.

Sources and further reading:

From the Gate: Allah or Jesus
Editorials by Rick Mathes, Mission Gate Prison Ministry

Allah or Jesus?
Urban Legends Reference Pages, 13 January 2004

The Qur’an on Terrorism
About’s Guide to Islam argues that passages from Islam’s holy book that appear to promote wanton violence are routinely taken out of context

Islam: A Religion of Peace?
Columnist Larry Elder interviews Robert Spencer, author of "Onward Muslim Soldiers: How Jihad Still Threatens America and the West" [Part II]

Does the Qur’an Promote Violence?
Fedwa Wazwaz of the Islamic Resource Group, Crystam Minnesota: "It is clear that any allegation that the Qur’an teaches violence and religious hatred is totally unfounded and violate the textual, historical, linguistic and broader context of the Qur’anic teachings…"

The Stupidity of Dialogue with Islam
Excerpt from "The Sword of the Prophet: A Politically-Incorrect Guide to Islam" by Serge Triflovic

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I also went to Islam Online. Their comments were rather much longer, and far too long to quote here. If you’d like to read more, I’d suggest you go there and read for yourself. I am, however, going to quote bits and pieces.

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Jihad simply means  striving,  and any effort can be called a jihad. But in Islamic parlance, it stands for the Muslims  effort to obey the commands of God in their life, even when the odds are against them. In certain contexts, as mentioned above, where fighting for truth and justice becomes unavoidable, that effort can also be called jihad. But today the word is terribly misinterpreted and misunderstood to mean  holy war.  The concept of a holy war comes from the Christian history of the Crusades.

Islam never considers war as holy. Fighting is allowed in Islam only as a last resort, as a necessary evil, not as something holy. The Qur an says what means:

{To those against whom war is made, permission is given [to fight], because they are wronged;- and verily, Allah is most powerful for their aid } (Al-Hajj 22:39).

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This agrees with what Fahim and I have discussed as the meaning of Jihad, which he always explained as striving to obey God.

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To continue on the subject of killing, it is true that God has permitted fighting; but this fighting must be against oppression and injustice, not against non-Muslims as such! Where innocent men, women and children are attacked, or when intolerable atrocities are committed, Muslims are asked to fight to protect the innocent and safeguard their rights.

Those who blame Allah and this is just the Arabic name for God for commanding the Muslims to fight can turn the pages of their own book and see how Joshua at Jehovah s command  left none remaining, but utterly destroyed all that breathed, as the Lord God of Israel commanded  (Joshua 10:40).

Didn t Jesus himself say,  Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. I have come to set a man against his father and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law  (Matt. 10:34 35)?

I would particularly like to make it clear that the Qur an does not instruct Muslims to kill non-believers to guarantee them a place in Heaven, as you have said. On the contrary, God commands the believers to invite others to His way in the most peaceful manner. In this call, the Muslims are commanded to appeal to their common sense and to their own faith in truth and justice. Most certainly God has categorically prohibited forcing anyone to accept Islam, let alone killing! The Qur an says what means:

{Let there be no compulsion in religion. Truth stands out clear from error: whoever rejects evil and believes in God hath grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold, that never breaks. And God heareth and knoweth all things} (Al-Baqarah 2:256).

{Say:  The Truth is from your Lord.  Let him who will believe, and let him who will, reject [it]} (Al-Kahf 18:29).

{Goodness and evil can never be equal. Repel [evil] with good: then will he between whom and you was hatred become as it were your friend and intimate} (Fussilat 41:34).

{Invite [all] to the way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious: for thy Lord knoweth best, who have strayed from His path, and who receive guidance} (An-Nahl 16:125).

From these verses it is clear that anyone who uses force to convert a non-Muslim or harm any human being on that score, breaks the divine command; and such a person is not what a Muslim should be.

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Author: LMAshton
Howdy! I'm a beginner artist, hobbyist photographer, kitchen witch, wanderer by nature, and hermit introvert. This is my blog feed. You can find my fediverse posts at https://a.farook.org/Laurie.

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