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Monday, June 23, 2014

Update on The Koran and Child Marriage

In my last post I criticized  an article which had appeared in The Australian, It is the young flesh they want.  

 I challenged a paragraph in which an academic, Associate Professor Jennifer Burn was quoted as claiming that “The Koran does not support child marriage”.  However Associate Professor Burn asked the Australian to amend the article by removing this quote, as she had been misquoted: Anne Barrowclough, the journalist who wrote the article, had apparently not checked the quotation its alleged source. The Australian has made this correction. 

The original offending paragraph was:
“It is critical that the whole community is educated,” says Jennifer Burn of Anti-Slavery Australia. “The Koran does not support child marriage and the Grand Mufti of Australia says that consent is vital. But there are over 60 different traditions within the Muslim community, with different interpretations of the religious scriptures. We need the religious leaders to take the message into the communities, because they will listen to their leaders rather than us.”
The corrected paragraph is:
“It is critical that initiatives to address child marriage and forced marriage are developed in consultation with communities and with community leaders.”  
I have amended my previous post to inform readers about this correction.

I would also ask those who have reposted my earlier article to update their versions using the version at:


Mark Durie is a theologian, human rights activist, pastor of an Anglican church, a Shillman-Ginsburg Writing Fellow at the Middle Eastern Forum, and director of the Institute for Spiritual Awareness. He has published many articles and books on the language and culture of the Acehnese, Christian-Muslim relations and religious freedom. A graduate of the Australian National University and the Australian College of Theology, he has held visiting appointments at the University of Leiden, MIT, UCLA and Stanford, and was elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities in 1992.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Koran and Child Marriage

Today a report appeared in The Australian, a national daily newspaper, which discussed forced marriages in our nation.  There were many good points made in this article, which was entitled It is the young flesh they want. [This article has now been amended - see below: changes paragraphs are in blue.]

However the article reported, as if it were true, a completely false and easily disprovable statement about the Koran.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Boko Haram and the Dynamics of Denial: Islam is not the victim here

It is a common refrain of pious Muslims in the face of atrocities done by other Muslims in the name of Islam that Islam must not be shamed: whenever an atrocity potentially dishonors Islam, non-Muslims are asked to agree that ‘This is not Islamic’ so that the honor of Islam can be kept pristine. However the real issue is not what would be good or bad for Islam’s reputation.  … Islam is not the victim here. The pressing issue here is not to get people to think well of Islam, but how these girls can be rescued, and above all how Boko Haram’s murderous rampage is to be halted.

This article was first published by Front Page Magazine.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Tony Blair on the Islamist Threat

Tony Blair delivered a major speech on April 23 entitled, “Why the Middle East Matters”. In summary, he argued that the Middle East, far from being a “vast unfathomable mess” is deep in the throes of a multi-faceted struggle between a specific religious ideology on the one hand, and those who want to embrace the modern world on the other.  Furthermore, the West, blinded up until now as to the religious nature of the conflict, must take sides: it should support those who stand on the side of open-minded pluralistic societies, and combat those who wish to create intolerant theocracies.

This article was first published by Front Page Magazine.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Videos and Other Resources by Mark Durie on Islam

This blog is a bit different from usual. It provides a broader context for my writings on Islam.

There are two aspects to my speaking and writing on Islam.  Some of this is for secular or multi-faith audiences: in such forums I do not assume the audience adheres to or even sympathizes with a Christian worldview. By and large this blog adopts this approach: virtually all my articles on Islam intended a more general audience end up on this blog, where they go out to around 650 people.

Although not assuming a Christian audience, my concerns here are almost always theological, as I seek to make Islamic ideology understandable, and its significance in shaping the behaviour of at least some people, not all of them Muslims.  (My book The Third Choice takes this approach.)  This perspective is important for understanding issues of human rights, war and peace, and human behaviour in general.  Theological illiteracy is one of the crucial disabilities of modern western people in engaging with the world of Islam.

I am an academic by training and background, but a pastor by profession, and I also teach for specifically Christian audiences.  (My other two books Liberty to the Captives and Which God? fit into this category.) Some of this teaching focuses on persecution of Christians.  Other teaching has been concerned with evangelism: for example how to understand Islam in a way that puts presenting the Christian message in context.  Some of this teaching has also been concerned with how to help people of Christian faith who are leaving Islam or who suffer fear of Islam or Muslims.  

I have recently reorganized the videos at At that site is a set of three lectures delivered at Calvin College which many have found useful in explaining Islam. 

On the same web page there are also videos of two lectures presented at Moody Church in Chicago, which speak about persecution of Christians. One of these teaches on 'dhimmitude' and provides prayers for Christians in response to dhimmitude.  Many people of Christian faith have found this an impacting and liberating message (which can also be found in more detail in the book Liberty to the Captives).

There are also links to other audios and videos, including talks at think tanks and for public forums including radio.

I also write on other topics besides Islam, including more general ethical issues, such as abortion, slavery and marriage.  These writings tend to show up on my 'vicar's blog'.

I often preach at the church where I serve, and my sermons are regularly loaded on the church website at  Some are better than others.

Mark Durie is a theologian, human rights activist, Anglican pastor, a Shillman-Ginsburg Writing Fellow at the Middle East Forum, and Adjunct Research Fellow of the Centre for the Study of Islam and Other Faiths at Melbourne School of Theology.

Friday, February 28, 2014

The Rising Sex Traffic in Forced Islamic Marriage

Western nations are facing what has been called an “epidemic” of forced marriages of their young Muslim women. While those who compel young Muslim women and girls into marriages could be charged with human trafficking offences and also in some cases placed on the national register of sex offenders, governments also should target for prosecution all those who are involved in the solemnisation of these illegal marriages.

This article first appeared in the March 2014 edition of Quadrant.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Multiculturalism’s Child Brides

Recent reports of under-age marriages in Australia are evidence that the authorities need to do more to enforce marriage laws in Western nations, and to restrict the practice of unregistered ‘clandestine’ religious marriages, particularly Islamic marriages.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Islam’s Second Crisis: the troubles to come

In What Went Wrong, Bernard Lewis charted the decline of Islam in the modern era and the resulting theological crisis for the Muslim world.

Now Islam is going through a second crisis, caused by the repeated failures of revivalist responses to the first crisis.  This second crisis, combined with the cumulative effect of the first crisis, which remains unresolved, will lead to a long drawn-out period of political and social instability for Muslim societies.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Andrew Brown on "Response to A GUIDE TO REFUTING JIHADISM"

Andrew Brown of the Guardian has commented on my response to A Guide to Refuting Jihadism, which was published first on Lapido Media and then in fuller form on this blog.

Brown writes:
Can you dissuade fanatical jihadis using theological argument?
by Andrew Brown (as revised on Feb 10, 2014)
It doesn't really matter whether the fundamentalists are right about the nature of Islam – it's loyalties and peer pressure that drive them.

How much of what jihadis do is religiously motivated? At one extreme are those who claim their beliefs are entirely explained by oppression and reaction to social circumstances; at the other is the view that the Qur'an is a kind of brain parasite, compelling its victims to slaughter. This latter view is still quite popular on the fringes of the right. I'd like to think the view that religion doesn't matter at all has been abandoned entirely but there is bound to be some groupuscule or cult that still clings to it.

More sophisticated versions of the argument continue, though, and there was a fascinating outbreak this week when the Henry Jackson Society published a pamphlet organised by a former jihadi giving theological reasons why jihadi violence is as unjustified as terrorism, and a counterblast saying this would persuade no one, as Muhammad himself had clearly done indiscriminately violent things and the fanatics we are dealing with use only the text of the Qur'an.

Both sides in this dispute know what they are talking about. The Henry Jackson pamphlet comes with a foreword by the remarkable Usama Hasan, who himself fought in Afghanistan in the 1990s; the Christian counterblast comes from an experienced watcher of the jihadi scene.

Read the full article at: