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In the early days of Medjugorje great controversy arose among some Catholics who took issue with reputed words from the Blessed Mother (on October 1, 1981) stating, when asked if all religions are good, that "members of all faiths are equal before God. God rules over each faith just like a sovereign over his kingdom. In the world, all religions are not the same because all people have not complied with the commandments of God. They reject and disparage them." That was followed by the question: Are all churches the same? "In some, the strength of prayer to God is greater, in others smaller. It depends also on the power which they have." It is men, said Mary, allegedly, who have created division. At another point, asked if there were any holy people around, the Blessed Mother indicated a Muslim woman as particularly devout -- which caused further controversy; and again when a Muslim child was healed during an apparition. She said, at the same time, that there is only one mediator between man and God -- Jesus -- and that it "is no coincidence" that she chooses to appear mainly in Catholic settings.

That ecumenical stand (tempered, however, by the strong hint on how special the Catholic Church is) was echoed at another apparition site, Kibeho, in Rwanda, where, noted Father Gabriel Maindron, a priest who authored an early seminal book on the apparitions, "we are urged by Vestine [Salina, an alleged seer] to attach no importance to the diversity of the world's religions: 'Before God, there is only one religion, namely, that we are all children of the one God, and the true child is the one who loves and does God's Will. God looks at the love that we have for Him and our neighbor.' Before God, there are no Catholics, Protestants, Adventists, Muslims, or those of other religions," the priest continued. "The religious divisions are often the work of men who look for the goods of this world."

"God is like a Father Who has many children, but they should take care not to divide themselves," said another alleged seer there ("alleged" because only three of the seven were approved by the Church, and he, like Vestine, was not one of them). "They should rather try to receive the Word of the Father in the same way. They all meet in front of the same God, so why is it that they want to be separated? God wants us all to be united -- for us all to pray with one heart, to all have the same faith, to all serve the same one, true God. There is no other way that leads to Him." At Kibeho, which began just months after Medjugorje (on November 28, 1981), the message was so strong that the bishop, Jean Baptiste Gahamnyi, said in his initial sanction of a shrine at Kibeho that "the Marian devotions must be ecumenical. They cannot go against the efforts that have been started, especially since Vatican II, towards the unity of all Christians."

In short, the Blessed Mother was imploring us to stop judging and hating each other.

But this is not to see all religions as equal.

And in fact, there are many reasons to take a step back from faiths like Islam.

Though it respects Mary, and, to a degree, considers Jesus special, aspects of Islam are in grave error and in some cases there are even occult practices.

This is obvious in a fascinating book called As Easy as Drinking Water, by Afshin Javid -- a formerly devout Muslim from Iran who converted after hearing the Voice of Jesus while in prison.

In his book, Javid describes how he used "jinn" (spirits) to attack his enemies -- in effect, how his religion taught him to hurl occult curses on those he hated.

In fact, there is an entire chapter in the Koran on "Jinn" spirits and a Muslim collection of writing called the Hadith indicates that Mohammad was in communication with these spirits.

"Westerners are at least casually familiar with the notion of contacting the supernatural realm by means of sťances, meditative techniques, Ouija boards, and magical spells," he writes. "The concept of interaction with the spirit realm is present and, in fact, well-known in Islam. Muslims believe in the existence of a parallel race of spirit beings referred to as the Jinn, from which the English word 'Genie' is derived. The Jinn are not considered equivalent to angels and demons but are lesser spirit beings. The Koran frequently discusses the Jinn, indicating they are made from fire, as opposed to human, who are formed from clay. The Koran also has many verses in which Mohammad addresses the Jinn directly with exhortations beginning, 'O you assembly of Jinns and men.' Muslims believe that the Jinn, like us, have the choice to be religious or not and can decide, therefore, to be Muslim or not."

Continues Javid:

"My contact with the Jinn occurred as a direct result of meditation in the scriptures of the Koran. To be more specific, in the Koran there are certain Surahs which begin with sets of Arabic letters having no apparent meaning. These are referred to as the 'Secrets' or the 'Mysterious Letters' of the Koran. I had begun meditative chanting of the Secrets of the Koran some time earlier, and by this means I had developed frequent communication with the Jinn. I had learned the practice of calling on them in order to make things happen -- either for a favor for me or a friend, or payback to an enemy for wrong done to me."

Heeding Islamic teachings, Javid called on the Jinn to hurt others. Speaking of a guard he hated, Javid writes, "I prayed a curse on him as I summoned all of my contempt, all of my hatred, all of my violent thoughts, and all of my disgust for this pagan. I gathered all the darkness, all the blackness, and all the poison I could summon into a curse, drew my gaze toward him, fixed my eyes on his, took a deep breath, and blew all that spiritual venom across the room like a spitting cobra.

"Suddenly, a look of terror crossed his face. He grabbed his throat and began gasping for air. I maintained eye contact with him and let him suffer for a while. He looked up and flipped his head back and forth as if he were trying to shake himself free. I finally withdrew the prayer and he was able to breathe again. He knew I had been given powers from another realm, and he ran down the hall and never mocked me again. I am not exaggerating when I say that those whom I cursed would, within days, have an accident or get sick.

"These powers were obtained by the chanting, recitation, and meditation on the scripture of the Koran alone and from no other book, teaching, or coaching."

Javid says he would communicate with the Jinn "conversationally" and heard their audible voices when the spirits entered his room (requesting recitation of the Koran). They rewarded him with psychic powers (the ability to tell what others were doing in other rooms). It is not fair to say that all or even most Muslims go to this extent. And indeed, there are good people in all religions (and we need to focus on that goodness).

But we can't ignore occult aspects from which they need deliverance.

The admissions are not insignificant when we consider the rapid growth of Islam and the widespread hatred among many Muslims of the West. Some have even feared that Islam may one day spawn an "anti-christ."

Be that as it may, Robert James Woolsey, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, told a conference in Washington recently that America needs to realize that it's "at war" with those who would spread Islamic, or Shariah, law, imposing such beliefs on Christians -- an especially daunting possibility when one reckons the occultism that might also be imposed (along with persecution, which already is rampant).

Does this occult aspect answer questions about the mysterious force that seems to surround Muslims -- and also account for what is often a fierce, violent anger?

Javid was such a devout Muslim that he fasted for weeks at a time.

Yet all it took for him to convert in prison were these simple words from Jesus: "Rah, rasti va zendegi," or "I am the way, the truth, and the life."

"With the very mention of His Name, I collapsed in a heap at his feet," says the former Muslim. "As I lay there, I suddenly understood all the richness, profundity, beauty, and nuance of His Name. It was as if each wonderful word He spoke exploded with meaning in my mind and heart. The two words 'Jesus Christ' reverberated within me, and as clear as day I could hear the phrase, 'the Living God' echoing in my mind. When God speaks to you, every related idea He intends for you to understand is revealed at the instant the word is spoken. With this I finally understood: Jesus Christ is the Living God!"

[see also: former CIA director: we're at war with Shariah and What the Church teaches]

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