Whether a believer by faith in Christianity, Judaism or Islam the question of the degree of assimilation is always present. How willing is the individual to modify his faith to gain commonplace in the society in which he finds himself? Down through the centuries this dynamic has been faced at various times by people in each of these three major faiths. Christianity was born under the shadow of this challenge as was Judaism. From my understanding, Islam was founded apart from this initial challenge to belief. At its founding, pagan Roman rule was in steady decline with Christian governance in the ascendency. The Muslims waged jihad and established Islam as their governmental authority almost from the beginning of the faith. It was not until Christian- proclaiming forces eventually gained dominance that the question of assimilation ever had to be faced by the Muslim believer.
Islamic law leaves no room for a Muslim to live permanently under non-Islamic rule. It would seem it’s the duty of every good Muslim to promote the establishment of Islamic law in the country in which they live. They cannot in good conscience pledge allegiance to a non-Islamic sovereignty.
The world view of Islam is that the world is to be totally Islamic—no exceptions. You can’t aspire to world domination by respecting the values of the people you seek to dominate. It would seem therefore that assimilation is not an option for a faithful Muslim.
The history of the Christian faith has been marred by periods of misapplied understandings of world domination and conversion. While the message of the scripture is that all might be saved through faith in Yeshua (Jesus) there is no command that this is to be a forced or mandated faith. It is a choice. In the sad history of the organized church the Catholics and Protestants have from time-to-time forced the conversion of unbelievers. I find no such mandate in scripture.
Today’s Judaism, having its roots in the Babylonian exile in 700 BC, has not interpreted scripture to envision world domination by forced conversion. It is true that the Israelites’ possession of Canaan after the desert sojourn and departure from slavery in Egypt was brutal. This was a one-time event. The scripture does not promote forced conversions. Just the opposite—the Israelite is, as is the Christian, to be the light of the world, drawing people out of the darkness.
Whereas Islam mandates its universal establishment by its followers now, at this present time, Christianity looks to the millennial reign of Yeshua as the time of world governance. It would seem Judaism sees only the promised land of Israel as of world governance significance. Not that it would rule the world, but that the world would seek the leadership role of the nation.
The question of assimilation into the culture in which you find yourself then seems to be: for the Muslim, it is not possible; for the believing Christian and Jew it is one of degree. For the Christian he is to be in the world, but not of it. I would say that it is the same for the Jewish believer. Each is to be salt and light.
How then does the Christian relate to the Muslim whose creed does not permit him to be assimilated, but to be the assimilator by force? This question must be answered in light of today’s migration of Muslims around the world. As Americans the question is the receiving of refugees from countries with professed hostility to our country.
The most difficult scripture for the Christian response is found in Matthew 5:43-45:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
When the whole admonition from Yeshua is read in context it would seem that rain and sun equals love but love is not bringing someone who wants to murder you into your house. That is showing a lack of love for your family, for your community. To love your enemy is a heart attitude. It is the opposite of hate. To do good to and pray for a person is a long way from bringing that person under your roof. God loves every one of His creation, yet there is a day of judgment when He in effect turns His back on those with whom He has been long-suffering and shown grace, but who have resisted and rejected that offer.
All through history and especially during the early second millennium forced conversions were the purview of the Muslims and Christians depending on who was in power. These converts were called crypto believers. They were outwardly “assimilated” into the faith into which they were forced, but there was no heart transaction. Apologists for each of the three faiths found forgiveness for the false conversions when subsequently repented.
So the question facing Judaism and Christianity today remains how to treat the influx of Muslim Islamists who cannot make a heart confession of allegiance to the sovereign nation where they seek asylum? Could it be the strategy of Islam is to, in effect, by appealing to the American largess and naivety be sending us a Trojan horse? The plight of the Muslim refugees makes a powerful TV appeal to open our doors to the oppressed. I do not believe ever in our history have we faced such a challenge.
The solution cannot be offered by rational thought as it involves faith which to the rationalist is not necessarily logical. Both Christian and Jewish believers must appeal to Yahweh who initially established the dynamic between Ismael and Isaac—between Jacob and Esau. What was His grand plan for the division in the first place?
In the interim, while seeking Divine guidance, there can be a tolerance, but not an expected true assimilation of the Islamic immigrant. If the Muslim is admitted to this country, recognizing the caveat with which he enters, he can be accepted; he can be “loved;” he can experience the rain and sun this Christian land offers.