Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog


A Review Article by Jacob Thomas

Even though Islam has been explored by various authors in recent years, one wonders if the doctrines and worldview of this religion have been fully grasped by those reading such books. We certainly hope enlightenment is growing. Among electorates in various nations this appears to be the case. Yet, actions by many leaders of Western nations and liberal intellectuals the world over often indicate willful blindness to Islam’s teachings and desire for world conquest.

Therefore another book on Islam is in order. Marvin W. Heyboer has written a timely book reflecting upon his travels in several Muslim countries in order to find out for himself the condition of non-Muslim people living under Islamic rule. It is a sad story. He was moved to embark on his project soon after 9/11/2001; seeking to understand what impelled young Muslim men to attack important centers of America, killing thousands in the most fiendish manner.

Before Heyboer gets to the personal details of his journey, he sets forth the background of Islam. He has made an effort to study the authoritative texts of Islam: the Qur’an, the Hadith, and Sirat (Life) of Muhammad. Islamic aggressiveness in doctrine and life is outlined in the first three chapters of the book. While these facts are generally well known, they bear reiterating, because they still hold sway in the Islamic mind.

Muhammad began his mission in Mecca (610 A.D.) as a preacher of monotheism, and after moving to Medina (622) he became a successful military commander launching several raids on the Meccan caravans on their way to Syria. He became the absolute ruler of the territory he commanded, and went on to eliminate Jews and Christians from Arabia, finally decreeing that the Islamic Umma, the community of true believers, must involve itself in Jihad. Non-Muslims coming under Islamic rule, and who desired to remain in their own religions, had to pay the Jizya tax, and were designated as Dhimmis. Heyboer explains this dual aspect of Islamic Imperialism: Jihad and Dhimmitude.

In the final seven chapters devoted to Heyboer’s “Journeys into the Heartland of Islam” he relates the many obstacles he had to overcome in order to interview the victims of Islamic persecution.

In the spring of 2004, the author arrived in Nigeria and began his visit to the northern part of the country, where the population is predominantly Muslim. The authorities had been persecuting Christians for decades. I can attest to this because in May, 1966, I happened to be in Kano, one of the major cities in Northern Nigeria. I witnessed firsthand the beginning of the riots that were to result in the killings of many Christians who lived in the area. I shall never forget my ride to Kano’s International Airport, as I attempted to escape the dangerous situation. Eventually I did manage to escape to Lagos. The native Christians, however, could not escape.

Heyboer almost 40 years later ventured into Nigeria and met a pastor in the town of Gillian. How little things had changed. Marvin listened to a shocking account of a tragedy that took place in 2002:

Several church members were killed as they rushed through here to escape the armed Muslims. This is where we lost ten of our smallest children. They ran here for safety. They locked the door for protection. All of them died from burns and suffocation.” P. 95

Marvin later visited the Sudan and his account of his travels there reads like a thriller. It is almost impossible to obtain a visa to the country; but having finally succeeded and gotten into the country, Heyboer’s difficulties mounted.

Hotel registration was no formality. Front desk personnel were pushed aside, and I faced a second port of ‘official’ immigration. My passport with visa was withheld. I was not to venture beyond the Khartoum city limits during my stay in Sudan!” P. 156

Before too long, Marvin discovered that a Sudanese woman with a gold colored jacket showed up wherever he went. He later learned that she was from the Sudanese Intelligence and was assigned to keep a watch on his movements. However, with the help of a Christian Sudanese, he managed to escape her surveillance. In a visit to a Christian home, he heard the heart-rending story of John, a young Christian, who one day, was caught by Sudanese soldiers and sold into slavery. Eventually, John managed to escape, but still suffers physically and mentally, from his time of captivity.

Finally, Marvin ended his journey in Egypt. Whether he was in Cairo, Alexandria, or in Upper Egypt,2 he learned about the almost unbearable conditions that the Copts (Egyptian Christians who are the original inhabitants of the land) have undergone for decades.

A young Christian, Brahim, shared his frustrations with Heyboer, and described the plight of Coptic Christians in the land of his forefathers.

In America, Muslims have the freedom to build mosques. In Upper Egypt, Christians cannot even use a speaker system to address an audience in their local church building.” P. 205

The list of indignities suffered by Copts is long, and somehow the West seems to be blissfully ignorant of it!

Summarizing his experiences in the African “Heartland of Islam,” Marvin Heyboer writes:

At journey’s end, I have seen the wounded, broken victims easily camouflaged by Islam behind the Crescent curtain. Many suffer in tears of silent dignity. Why do some religious leaders praise a religion of such oppression? Why do they argue that only some of the more radical Muslims perpetrate such violence? That is exactly not the point. It is not about what every Muslim does or does not do. It is about what Islam (sharia) instructs them to do. In my visits and studies, I did not once, not once uncover leaders of Islam (political or religious) who seriously condemned terror jihad and compensated those looted or offered healing to those wounded. The point is Islam teaches terror behavior.” P. 283

“JOURNEYS INTO THE HEART AND HEARTLAND OF ISLAM” is a timely book that serves as a corrective to the superficial and deceptive accounts of Islam that depict it as a “religion of peace,” which has been highjacked by extremists. I am thankful to the author for undertaking his journey “into the heartland of Islam,” and providing us with this much-needed account of the sufferings of Christians under Islam. It should further persuade Western readers particularly of Islam’s intolerance toward other religious beliefs. It should prevent them from being fooled by the political correctness that appears to have paralyzed so many others in political and journalistic circles in the West hindering them from grasping the inherent danger of Islam and its relation to world-wide terrorism.

The book suffers from the lack of a Table of Contents and Index and some misspellings. But this should not distract from its overall importance.



1 Marvin W. Heyboer, Journeys into the Heart and Heartland of Islam: Victims Speak Out. Published by Dorrance Publishing Co., Inc., 701 Smithfield Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15222.

2 Upper Egypt stands for the south of the country, while Lower Egypt designates the area from Cairo all the way to the Mediterranean Sea. A few miles north of Cairo, the Nile River divides into two branches, thus forming the Delta region.

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