“Let us bring the Muslim children to our countries, where we can breed them with our culture and only then return them to their homelands.” (Nixon)1
After the last war in Kosovo, the overall economic situation of the country has deteriorated in a drastic way. As is well-known, the end of war meant that Kosovo became a target for many Christian organizations, a phenomenon which seems to accompany every war-emerging country nowadays. The same happened to post-communist Albania, as well as Bosnia, Rwanda and several other countries in the world involved in different conflicts. Needless to mention, great poverty is a gate to disbelief, as man is continuously in search for the provision granted to him by the Almighty and frustration seems to cause all kinds of incongruent decisions. In order to elucidate the bitter reality in Kosovo, we are presenting the case of the conversion of an entire Muslim family to Christianity.
The latest case known to us concerns a Muslim family from the Dobreva village of Fushkosova. Their young daughter had been wounded in the head severely in an accident, and the only solution seemed to be an expensive operation, which they could not afford. They immediately sought the help and assistance of all Islamic organizations operating in Kosovo, but to no avail, as no one was ready to support them whatsoever. This family therefore, was forced to seek help from the local churches, which showed readiness to assist, however, with the cost of converting the entire family to Christianity.2
There is no doubt in our mind that, in order to receive something from the Christians or the followers of other religions, the poor Kosovars will be put certain conditions by them. In the case under discussion, it is very probable that this child’s father was frustrated by lack of response or any kind of support by the Muslim organizations and has hoped for solution to his problem through non-Muslims. It is therefore rather sorrowful and distressing to see that the reason for such conversions is exclusively due to poverty or afflictions and the number of such cases is considerable, as well as the number of those who have converted for similar financial reasons, like scholarships, citizenships, employment and other economically attractive offers to foreign, mainly Western countries.
We are also certain that such cases are spread throughout Kosovo, as for example with the building of building houses for families struck by heavy losses from the war, orphanages, social help centres and the like, which represents a serious danger for our fellow Kosovars struggling with the new realities that have emerged in all aspects there.
Let us consider the above-mentioned example more closely. Is it the case that the Kosovars themselves cannot help such fellow countrymen ? Or is it perhaps that they simply do not wish to help for such cases ? It’s a common fact that Kosovo is not deprived of rich people, but the ultimate responsibility and burden lies with us, the religious leaders, preachers and scholars, who barely work or make any substantial efforts in this respect. It is our duty to invite those people to Islam, because such individuals bring a special strength and prosperity for the community as well as religion in general. Did not the Prophet(P) prayed for ‘Umar to embrace Islam ? He was a man whom everyone stood in awe. Among the Companions of the Prophet(P) there were affluent personalities, who used to help the religion of God continuously.
One might object that this is not the ultimate, true goal of Islam – namely, to invite people and benefit from their well-being. But this is not the case, really. Allah(T) has decreed that the call should not be extended only to those who regularly pray in the mosque, because they have already understood their obligations vis-a-vis Islam, and there shouldn’t be any major preoccupation about their level of dedication and practice.
Rather, the framework of the da’wah should include more dimensions and widen up, we should not confine ourselves within the precincts of the mosque, but should visit and approach the families who have no access to even the most basic facts about Islam. We should not be satisfied with the Friday sermon, but to concentrate our efforts harder and insha’Allah, more fruitful work. We as preachers of this faith should not excuse ourselves with their wealthy funding, while at the same time we lack everyday necessities. I say this because in Kosovo too, there was a lot of money spent from Muslims from abroad, but which were bitterly ill-managed with the consequence of being left only with a handful active Muslim organizations. One should compare this with the exceedingly higher number of Christian organizations of different sects and denominations.
Is there a danger for the Kosovars from the (Protestant) Christian organisations operating there ?
Another feature of the situation of beliefs among the Kosovars of today is that Albanians do not talk of religion that often, let alone make it a main subject of their day to day conversations. We have personally heard many Muslims say that there is no danger at all from such organizations, because, as they see it, those organizations are few in number and their followers negligible.
But we are arguing quite the opposite here, the dangers being many. Based on what we consider convincing evidence and extensive facts, it turns out that many of those organizations teach the children unfounded and fictitious ideas on matters of belief and religion. And there is not many among us paying attention to such activities, because the parents in the first place possess virtually no information on matters of Islamic belief. They are often tricked to believing that all their children do in those organizations’ centres is learn English well, achieve a good mastery of the computer, participate in numerous competitions and excursions to interesting places, and they’re proud of it.
But this is not how missionaries act and deal with our children. While it is true that they have no truth to call to, they do have sophisticated methods of propaganda, a professional approach to dealing with common people, a hard work and dedication to their cause, which have enabled them to approach our Muslim youth and introduce them to their beliefs, which is not little. Let us not forget that their activities never stop and their motivation are not perceptible on the surface.
As an illustration, we will mention a conversation we had with a colleague in the capitol of Kosova, Prishtina, concerning the different problems and difficulties faced by the Muslims recently, as well as the extent to which the imams were concentrating on da’wah. During our conversation, he told us that a number of Kosovars had already accepted Buddhism, Hinduism etc. One should ask, how did this come along ? Doubtless, the international presence is not there just for administrative work ; they become happy at the locals impression with or attraction to their religion(s) as well.
Another example is the one concerning the so called House of God’s People. God is a witness to the level of influence they had exerted on the minds of Kosovo’s youth. When we asked a neighbour of ours for the reasons why she was participating the preaching at this organization, she replied : “They explain to us their religion well, teach us English, computer skills ; we have our projection room where we watch movies on Jesus Christ and different subjects on religion. We are being regularly taken for excursions to different places in Kosovo, where we are not being separated from each other and we have fun, drink and receive gifts frequently.”
This is the witness of a girl coming from a Muslim family, who’s been driven away from our pure faith and has been exposed then to certain Christian doctrines, followed by amusements, partying and a general decline in morals. Are these the fruits of the so called ‘plans without plan’, as the British would put it, at a time when they are inviting our sisters and brothers to Christianity and other religions ? Does the fact that they possess no written (or declared) plan for telling us that we have no religion, make their intention for going there any less that driving our people away from our tradition and religion, away from Islam ?
How can one invite to a false teaching ? How can one claim to be innocent when they spread messages which are very much against the established tradition of that place ? We will quote a message from the head of the missionaries of the Christian organization Samuel the Room-mate. Look at the words of Mr. Samuel :
“Your principal duty and aim is to take a Muslim out of Islam, a creature with no bond to his Allah, and thereby no bond to (Muslim) ethics (akhlaq). Through this action of yours, you will be precursors of colonialism in Muslim countries, for you have prepared their minds to accept the road you’ve laid for them, and that is abandoning Islam. You have educated a youth which knows not its bond with Allah and is not desirous to. Thus, a generation has been created, which is exactly as colonialism wants it to be, uninterested as it is in lofty matters. It is a generation which likes comfort and sluggishness and which strives for fulfillment of its passions, thereby making the base desires their lives’ goal. If they study, this is for satisfying their passions, if they amass wealth, it is for pleasures, and if they built centres it is play. This generation sacrifices anything for the sake of realizing its desires.” 3
How do the Christian missionaries act in different parts of the world ?
The well-known scholar Ahmad Deedat [may Allah have mercy on his soul] has spoken frequently about the methods that such missionaries follow, especially Jehovah’s witnesses. Expounding on the history and development of this sect, he wrote :
“The Jehovah’s Witnesses are on of the Christian factions, founded in the U.S. some hundred years ago. With their tireless efforts they have been successful in spreading their teachings abroad. It has already become the second largest group in Nigeria, a Muslim dominated country.“4
He continues by elucidating on the missionary activity in Indonesia, the country with the greatest number of Muslims in the world, where, he writes :
“…we see a large number of missionaries inviting to their religions, and Christian missionaries alone amount to six hundred thousand full time working personnel. And what amazes is that these are not clerics, priests or pastors, they are true callers to their faith, doing their utmost to convert people… they even possess special airports for their planes. And the number of these jets exceeds that of the Indonesian government. They also have boats, in order to access the far away islands, because Indonesia has more than 2000 islands, some of whom are difficult to reach…“5
These were but a few data on the success and determination of the Christian missionaries, who have taken the trouble to go to far-away Muslim lands, not to speak of our own country, Kosovo, Albania and Macedonia. We cannot even compare to countries like Nigeria or Indonesia, where the number of universities and religious scholars is exceedingly larger than those in our country. But the common denominator is the presence of very poor people in all these places, which has made them attractive for conversion work of missionaries. A colleague of ours from Indonesia says :
“There is a lot of disunity among the Muslims of Indonesia. We have two Islamic Communities, which means that for Ramadan, some start fast earlier and some later, and some celebrate the Eid earlier and some later. There are but two classes of people : very rich and too poor ; missionaries address the poor, because the rich do not need shelter or housing. The missionaries never complain of hard work conditions ; they build hospitals, houses, treat the sick, educate the Muslim children offering scholarships to them, whereas the Muslim leaders occupy themselves with trivialities.“6
Returning to the situation in Kosova, many of these missionaries have continued working unbothered and even promoted and advanced further, thus strengthening their position with more experience and larger presence in public life. They have studied the mentality of people and the illnesses they suffer from. These elements are the basics for a successful caller. And these missionaries do not study and get degrees for an office, a good wage, as often happens with some of our imams, who seem to think that Islam ought to be studied in order to survive economically. But shouldn’t we live for Islam instead of living from Islam ? It is question we must remember well before we meet Allah in the Day of Resurrection.
What has been done for the rebuilding of religious facilities in Kosova ?
Based on the data provided by the Islamic Community of Kosova, more than 200 mosques have been destroyed during the last war, not sparing even the Council of Islamic Community, it’s rich archives and precious library. Also much of the waqf property has been demolished or permanently damaged. In the meantime, there has been a major building project of churches in the after-war Kosovo. So, while we face a great need to accommodate the worshiping and faith-practising needs of the Muslims there, the opposite tendency has been observed, in the building of disproportionately more churches and non-Islamic objects of cult like statues and huge crosses, as well as a campaign of modernization to strip Kosovo of it’s Islamic identity. In our post-war homeland plagued by corruption, a great number of statues has been erected, like the one of Skanderbeg, in the location where a famous mosque was supposed to be rebuilt, after having been demolished by the communists. It will thereafter be very difficult to build any mosque nearby, asi it is claimed it cannot and should not compete with the staute of the “national hero”.
Below is a picture of that mosque taken more than 60 years ago.
The Yunus Efendi Mosque, known as the mosque of Llokaçi, built in 1551 and demolished by the communists in 1954.
Is this not an offense to the past, present and future generations of Muslims in Kosova ? To bring an object which has never existed there and posture it as something of national value and an obstacle for religious practice, is truly unjust and irritating for many.
One should mention here that we witness a waste of public funds for erecting statues of the so called Mother Teresa, which is being paraded as a national figure and getting shoved to Albanians everywhere, lately even in ID cards. Also, the building of the cathedral in the centre of Prishtina, for which they have demolished an old, prestigious gymnasium is a further example of this trend. We wonder what would have happened had the case been for building a huge mosque instead ? How would the politicians and public have reacted ?
After the war in Kosovo, there has been much complaint against the rebuilding of the mosques, with the pretension of pressing on the priorities, like hospitals and schools. But those same voices never make a sound for the cathedral being erected in front of them, which clearly speaks of double standards and spiritual blindness.
And here, the question of the government contributing for the Islamic objects of worship or any other expenditure related to Islam directly or indirectly is really out of question. We should ask instead who stands behind all of this, what do we need statues, churches and cathedrals for ? Does not this speak of influence from missionaries in the leaders circles of this country ? Entire teams of missionaries, who study the culture, situation, economy and history of our people are included in this campaign of calling and inviting to their beliefs.
APPENDIX I : THE CHRISTIAN ORGANIZATIONS IN KOSOVO
What follows is an incomplete list of Christian organizations operating in Kosovo, with their contact details.7
1) Italian Consortium of Solidarity, Marco Bruccoleri, Nëna Tereze 32⁄8, Prishtina, 038 – 223 002, email@example.com
2) The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, Eli Eliezri, Luan Haradinaj 15⁄2, Pristina, 038 224 194, firstname.lastname@example.org
3) CARITAS Switzerland, Jehona Rekathati, Rr. Lekë Dukagjini, nr. 1, Prizren, 029⁄44739, email@example.com;firstname.lastname@example.org
4) Catholic Relief Services, Lee Norrgard, Rr. Dukagjini (Aktashi) II No.39A, Prishtinë/038 /249 – 602⁄249 – 744, 044 500 695, email@example.com
5) Aid for Aid, Rupert Douglas –Bates, 19 Nentori, Hyrija e 7, nr.4, Prishtinë/,++381 – 38-545454 evening, firstname.lastname@example.org
6) Norwegian Church Aid, Anne Caroline Tveoy, Rr.Fehmi Agani Nr.18, Prishtinë/038/244 – 744, email@example.com
7) Youth With a Mission, Mathew Piercey//Eric Baker, 101 Qafa C7, Prishtinë/(038)49 400, firstname.lastname@example.org
8) Caritas Italiana, Luigi Biondi, St.Rexhep Bislimi — Catholic Church, Ferizaj/Gjilan, 0290⁄28 – 110, 044 500 539, email@example.com
9) International Catholic Migration Commission, Conan E.Peisen, Novi Pazar nr. 48, Prishtinë/038 /244 — 313, 244 – 314, firstname.lastname@example.org
10) The Catholic Organization For Relief And Development, Zana Haxhiavdyli, R. Mazllom Lakuci 42, Gjakove/Peja, 0390 – 28427⁄21743, email@example.com
11) Christian Aid, Lina G. Cosico, Rruga:Abdullah Bugari, Rahovec /Prizren, 029 77 917, 044 120 080, firstname.lastname@example.org
12) Dan Church Aid, Derek Frost, Fsh.Korenice, Gjakovë/Peja, 044 237 319, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
13) Caritas France, Secours Catholique, Alexis Adam, Rr.Tirana Nr.101, Mitrovicë/028 30 250, email@example.com
14) Christian Children’s Fund, Inc., Sergei Tsyganov, Zenel Salihu No. 28, Pristina, 038⁄248 – 979, 044⁄502 144, firstname.lastname@example.org,email@example.com
15) The International Mission Board Of The Southern Baptist Convention, Donna Robinson, Rr. Prizrenit No 1, Prishtinë/038 /555 – 899, firstname.lastname@example.org
16) Caritas Austria, Thomas Preindl, Cultural Building in Istog, Peja, 00873−761−61−8692, email@example.com
17) Caritas Secours International /International Hulpbetoon – Belgium, Bruno Vermeylen, 24 JNA Street, /Leposaviq, Mitrovica, 028 84 – 179, firstname.lastname@example.org
18) Caritas Czech Republic, Ladislav Muller, Rruga : Rgjep (sh) Djakovica, Trajko Peric No 7, Gjilan, email@example.com
19) Caritas Polska — Humanitarian Organization of the Polish Episcopate Conference, Hubert-Andrezej Matusiewicz, White Eagle Camp base and the Polish KFOR, Kaçanik, Gjilan.
20) Centro Laici Italiani per le Mission, Stefano Frasca, Rr.UCK-Bankos kati I III, zyra 43, Gjakove, Peja, 0390 21 484, 044 134 168
21) Bashkësia e Ungjillit, Jeffrey L.Geaslen, !4 Qershori Nr.19, Gjakove, Peja, 0390 29 516, 044 – 128 676, firstname.lastname@example.org
22) Pax Christi Vlaanderen, Nehari Sharri, Saraqeve19, Prizren, 044 190 773, email@example.com
23) Fondacioni Vepra e Bashkimit të Vëllezërve të Krishterë të Shqipërisë, Adrian Alia & Bafti Hoxha, Rrasat e Koshares 28, Prizren, 029 24 389
24) Mission East Trust, James Hendry Still, Mbretëresha Teutë, Mitrovicë, 028⁄39580, 044⁄176317, Jimmet22@hotmail.com
25) Voice of Roma, Isak Skenderi, Laplje Selo BB., Prishtinë, 063 877‑1958, isak_Skenderi@hotmail.com,firstname.lastname@example.org
26) European Christian Mission, Gani Smolica, Zija Prishtina no. 40, Prishtinë, 038 554 558, email@example.com
27) Fondacioni ” Nxënsit e Jezusit”,Valerie Kroeker, Rr.Nene Tereza Nr:10, Gjakovë/Peja, 0390 20 273, 044 188 303, firstname.lastname@example.org
28) Qendra e Krishterë Shqiptare, Julian Shtëmbari, Dardania 1÷334÷3, Pejë/039 29 339, email@example.com
29) Biblische Glaubens Gemeinde, Dr.Hans Baur /Selman Zenuni, Rr.Fehmi Agani nr.6, Gjakovë/Peja, 0390 21 862, 044 154 542, firstname.lastname@example.org
30) Aksioni i Dashurise/Love in Action, Justine Horsfall, Qyteza Pejton 2/A, Prishtinë/038 248 645, 044⁄126 – 446, email@example.com
31) Messiah Evangelical Fellowship, Femi Cakolli, Nazim Gafurri st. No.76/A, Prishtinë/038/39 405, 063⁄801 39 60, firstname.lastname@example.org
32) Kosova Humanitarian and Charitable Society — Mother Theresa, Don Lush Gjergji, Agim Ramadani p.n. Pristina, 038÷249−864, email@example.com
33) Shoqata Protestante “Bashkesia e Jezusit”,Bukurije Nikçi, Emin Duraku nr.27, Pejë, 039 32 349, 044 138 404, Bukurija@yahoo.com
34) Caritas of the Catholic Church in Pristina, Nosh Gjolaj and Smila Paulina Micakaj, Karposhi str. No. 41, Prishtina, 038⁄545 536, firstname.lastname@example.org
35) Caritas of the Catholic Church in Bec, Kole Thaqi and Gjergj Malota, Bec village No.59, Gjekove/Peja, 044 122 796⁄044 139 601
36) Kosovar Catholic Church Caritas, Don Albert Krista, Kisha Katolike, rruga e Gjilanit P.N., Ferizaj/Gjilan, 0290 21962;20041 ; 044120302, email@example.com
APPENDIX II : CHRISTIAN PROTESTANT ORGANISATIONS IN KOSOVO
1) Mark Edwards/Organization : CrossWorld/Home country : USA.
2) Mark and Celeste Yocom/Organization : Calvary Chapel/Home Country USA.
3) Pastor Bukurije Nikqi/Church : Fellowship of Jesus/Pejë-Istog, Kosova.
4) Jeff and Linda McLaughlin/Organization : Fullness of Time Ministries/Home Country : USA.
5) Matthew and Rachael Piercey/Organization : Youth With A Mission/Home country : USA.
6) Jeff and Deb Diehl/Organization : CrossWorld/Home country : USA.
7) Dave Lowrance, Missions Team Leader/Richfield Community Church, Yorba Linda, Ca/Home country : USA.
8) Seongmin Lee/Abudant Life Church, Prishtinë/Home country : South Korea.
9) Yeonhee Kim/Abundant Life Church, Prishtinë/Home country : South Korea.
10) Irun Park/Abundant Life Church/Home country : South Korea.
11) Joshua Miekley/“Vepra e Bashkimit te Vellezerve te Krishtere te Shqiperise” Foundation/Home country : USA.
12) Pastor Driton Gashi/Eternity Church/Gjakova, Kosova.
13) Pastro Astrit Morina/Eternity Church/Gjakova, Kosova.
14) Don and Marti Denham/Organization : Lift Kosova/Home country : USA.
15) Gary and Michele Gallina/Organization : Assemblies of God/Home Country : USA.
16) Ransom and Linda Pyle/Organization : International Teams/Home country : USA.
17) Matt and Judy Krebs/Organization : Eastern Mennonite Missions/Home country : USA.
18) David Thomas/Organization : Pioneers/Home country : USA.
19) Mark and Mary Orfila/Organization : Assemblies of God/Home country : USA.
20) Steve Davis/Organization : Association of International Missions/Home country : UK.
21) Steve Frey/Organization : Assemblies of God/Home country : USA.
22) Donna Robinson/Organization : International Mission Board/Home country : USA.
23) Pastor Imir Gashi/Church of the Nazarene/Prishtinë, Kosovë.
24) Jeff and Diane Geaslen/Organization : Apostolic Team Ministries/Home country : USA.
25) John and Ruth Chesnut/Organization : Christian Church-Churches of Christ/Home country : USA.
26) Mark Brinkman/Organization : Christian and Missionary Alliance/Home country : USA.
27) Gregor Menga/Organization : Frontiers/Home country : Albania.
28) Altin Zefi/Organization : Campus Crusade for Christ/Home country : Albania.
29) Robin & Mirjana Essex/Organization : Elim New Life Foundation/Home countries : UK and Albania.
30) Jason Stryd/Organization : Horizons International/Home country : USA
31) Pastor Driton Krasniqi/Fellowship of the Lord’s People/Prishtinë, Kosova.
32) Pastor Artur Krasniqi/Fellowship of the Lord’s People/Prishtine, Kosova.
33) David and Kristian Dyer/Organization : Operation Mobilization/Home countries : Australia and Norway.
34) Dr. Hans Baur/Organization : Bashkësia e Besimit Biblik/Home country : Germany.
35) William Prime/Organization : Global Neighbors, Inc./Home country : Canada.
36) Brad and Abigail Byrd/Organization : Radstock/Home country : USA and UK.
37) Primrose Leahy/Organization : European Christian Mission International/Home country : Republic of Ireland.
38) Ernie and Suzy Penner/Organization:Greater Europe Mission/Home country : Canada and USA.
- Nixon is quoted as having said this at the question of how to deal with Muslim’s great attachment to Islamic values, a problem for which he saw Islam’s very nature as the main obstacle, which was to be dealt with by the method suggested in his answer.
- For reasons of security we have not mentioned the details of the family or the girl involved. This is also the case with other examples cited below, for all of whom, nonetheless we are ready to offer all the needed information. Despite numerous difficulties in many aspects, we were able to verify those cases personally during a trip to Kosovo, through personal interviewing and direct observation. Of course, many other similar cases were not mentioned in this brief paper.
- Muslimanë, Zgjohuni ! Nebil B.Abdurrahman el-Muhajjis, përktheu nga boshnjakishtja Sali Shasivari. Stamboll 1999.
- Allah fil Jehudijjeti vel Mesihijjeti vel Islam, Ahmed Didat, terxhemtun ve ta’liku : Muhammed Muhtar.
- Allah fil Jehudijjeti vel Mesihijjeti vel Islam, Ahmed Didat, terxhemtun ve ta’liku : Muhammed Muhtar. (Libri është në gjuhën arabe)
- These are private interview data with a graduate of the Islamic Jurisprudence in the Islamic University of Brunei, class of 2005.
- Adresat e sipershenuara kam marrë nga Mr. Jakup Cunaku, i cili kohëve te fundit ka mbrojtur temën e magjistraturës mbi Fetë në Kosovë.