THE LOVE THAT WINS.
Real Christians are the best and truest friends of Moslems everywhere and always. It is only when Christian things have been done in an un-Christian way, or when un-Christian things have been done by Christians, that Christianity has appeared as a bitter foe to our Moslem brethren. Not the Crusades, but Raymund Lull represented the real spirit of Christianity toward Islam in the Middle Ages; not the bombardment of Jiddah in 1858, but the foundation of Robert College in 1864, expressed the real desire of Christians toward the Moslem world; not the Italian campaign in Tripoli, nor the Russian executions in Teheran, nor Greek atrocities at Smyrna, but the work being done day by day in the missionary hospitals of North Africa and the Near East, the relief administered by the various organizations, and the ministry of healing and friendship from Fez to Kirman, represent the spirit of the Gospel and of Christianity.
In the Koran chapter of The Table occurs a remarkable verse, the eighty-fifth, to which we call attention because it expresses this same truth, only half comprehended by the Prophet himself,
and one that has never needed emphasis so much as is does to-day :-" Thou wilt surely find the nearest in love to those who believe to be those who say, 'We are Christians' ; that is because there are among them priests and monks, and because they are not proud." Al Baidhawi, the great expounder of the Koran, comments on this text as follows"Because of their gentleness and the tenderness of their hearts and their little desire for the present world, their much care for knowledge and labour; and to this the text has reference, that is because there are among them priests and monks and because they are not proud; i.e., to receive truth when they understand it; or they are humble and not arrogant like the Jews. So this passage teaches that humility, a teachable spirit, and the fleeing from evil desires are praiseworthy even in the case of the infidel." In spite of the sting at the end of this comment, Al Baidhawi, and other commentators with him, have here shown us the surest line of approach if we would win our Moslem brethren to Christ. Humility, docility and love speak a language that is everywhere understood and that cannot be gain-said. It was understood by Mohammed in the earlier part of his career when he met Christian monks and teachers, and is understood to-day by his followers.
A passion for Moslem souls does not mean that we are to compromise or to conciliate at any price. "Faithful are the wounds of a friend." There is a real sense in which he who loves Moslems most, must often, like a skilful surgeon,
Yet this is only part of the cure of souls. The surgeon hurts to heal. The Great Physician is tender. In days when Moslems are justly irritated by the political aggressions of Christian Powers, or the un-Christian conduct, at times, of the so-called representatives of Christianity, we may well emphasize the ministry of friendship, and enter a plea for less of the spirit of controversy and more of the spirit of the Cross; not for less assault on the citadel of error, but for more ministry of healing to the wounded and dying in the trenches. In this connection we quote part of a letter from a missionary in Persia: "If there was a mistake made at the Lucknow Conference in 1911, it was that of dwelling too much on the intellectual and linguistic preparation for workers among Moslems, and not enough on their spiritual preparation. Is it not possible to inform ourselves thoroughly of our enemy's ground, and yet remain ignorant of our own? A course in practical piety and applied Christianity is of more use than so much knowledge of strategy and tactics, It was not when St. Paul attempted to accommodate himself to the critical Athenians, by showing how much he knew of their religion, that he obtained the greatest success, but just after, when he determined among the
Corinthians to know nothing but Jesus Christ and Him crucified."
The nearest way to the Moslem heart is the way of God's love, the way of the Cross. "If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. Love suffereth long, and is kind, love envieth not; love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up; doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not its own, is not provoked, taketh not account of evil; rejoiceth not in unrighteousness, but rejoiceth with the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things." Where this is the attitude and character of the missionary, he will doubtless hear again from Moslem lips, "And thou wilt find the nearest in love to those who believe to be those who say, 'We are Christians.'”
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