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Saturday, August 25, 2018

"Jesus and the Samaritan woman."

During his earthly ministry, Jesus went against the accepted social norms of his day and reached out with respect toward women, speaking publicly with them, healing them, and showing compassion. Jesus is the perfect standard for us to follow in how we ought to treat women. This short article is adapted from my new book, "Broken yet beautiful: Rising up from their ashes."
My book is available in kindle and paperback on

John 4:3-4
“He left Judea and departed again for Galilee. And he had to pass through Samaria.”

        “And he had to pass through Samaria,” This is very important to understand. Jesus deliberately chose this route. He was a man on a mission to break down the hostile and divisive walls of racism that had existed for centuries between the Jews and the Samaritans. The Samaritans were despised and hated by the Jews. During the Babylonian captivity when pagans had entered the land and mingled with the Jews, the result was a deadly mixed race. The Hebrews of the Northern Kingdom and the Assyrian settlers had intermarried poisoning the pure race during of the captivity in 722 b.c. The worship of Yahweh had been corrupted by heathen practice, creating a major rift between the Jews and Samaritans. The Samaritans had offered to rebuild the temple and were refused by the Jewish people, so as a result they had built their own temple on Mount Gerazim in protest. The Jewish people were known to say, “May I never set my eyes on a Samaritan!”

        However, Jesus had deliberately chosen the route that took him through Samaria so that he could break down the divisive barriers of racism and bring hope and healing to the hardened hearts that had been corrupted by sin for so many centuries!

        Weary from his long journey, Jesus decided to relax sitting next to Jacob’s well, located in the Samaritan town of Sychar. Just as Jesus had sat down, a young Samaritan woman arrived with her bucket to draw water from the well. This woman specifically chose the same time every day to draw water from the well knowing that she would be alone. Her reputation among the other village women had been tarnished because she was living with man out of wedlock. In order to avoid the stigma of confrontation, the Samaritan woman secretly came alone. However, today she was not alone.

        As soon as the woman arrived at the well, Jesus startled her with an unusual request.

        “Give me a drink.”

        The fact that Jesus was talking to a woman and not just any woman, but a woman from the despised and half-breed Jewish race, was shocking to her.

        “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria? (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans) Jesus in talking to the Samaritan woman, broke through two barriers, one steeped in bigotry and the other in gender discrimination. When the Pharisees saw a woman approaching, they would close their eyes and as a result were always constantly running into things. Thus, they were nicknamed, “Bleeding and bruised Pharisees.”

        However, as we have seen so far, Jesus deliberately chose to go against the accepted racial norms of the day and broke with the accepted precepts of gender abuse. Jesus had traveled a long distance to keep a divine appointment with a woman who had been shunned by her female peers and ostracized by the Jewish race.

        “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, “Give me a drink,” you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”

        Jesus reaches out in compassion to this shunned woman and invites her to drink of the water that will go beyond just quenching her thirst, but instead will fill her soul with refreshment and healing. Yet this woman does not yet grasp what Jesus is exactly saying.

        “Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob?”

        Jesus immediately corrects her perception and gently guides her into the spiritual truth that he is offering her.

        “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up into eternal life.”

        The words of Jesus had penetrated the anxious soul of this woman and gave her a craving for what he was offering.

        “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to drink water.”

        Before Jesus graciously gives her the living water, she must first be gently prodded by the convicting grace of a Holy God who knows everything about us. Jesus in respect and politeness points out the prevailing sin in her life that she needs to recognize before experiencing the refreshing taste of living water.

        Jesus said to her, “Go call your husband, and come here.”

        The woman answered in shame, “I have no husband.”
        Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, “I have no husband,” for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.”

        The Samaritan woman is astonished and recognizes Jesus as a prophet. However, she skillfully tries to avoid her sin by turning the conversation toward the subject of correct worship. The woman points out that she knows when the Messiah comes he will reveal all things to them. Jesus looks her intently in the eyes and proclaims, “I who speak to you am he!”

        Dropping her water jar in shock and amazement, the Samaritan woman rushes back into town announcing in jubilation that she has found the Messiah. As a result, many believed her testimony.

        This is a beautiful and profound story of God’s grace toward women. The Samaritan woman was one of the first persons that Jesus revealed his Messianic identity to. She had come to the well on an ordinary day and left transformed by the true living water that had cleansed her from all of her guilt and shame. She also became a passionate evangelist, commissioned by the Son of God, to take the message of living water to her village. The first evangelist was a woman who had the reputation of being a harlot and now was heralded as a beautiful bearer of good news!

        Christian author and Apologist, Ravi Zacharias has a powerful commentary on this beautiful story in John’s gospel:

        “The Samaritan woman grasped what he said with fervor that came from an awareness of her real need. The transaction was fascinating. She had come with a bucket. He sent he back with a spring of living water. She had come as a reject. He sent her back being accepted by God himself. She came wounded. He sent her back whole. She came laden with questions. He sent her back as a source for answers. She came living a life of quiet desperation. She ran back overflowing with hope. The disciples missed it all. It was lunchtime for them!”

"The Male Guardianship Law in Saudi Arabia."

While it is true that Saudi women have been finally given the right to drive, yet the most oppressive law still remains on the books against them. The Male Guardianship Law still keeps Saudi women in chains and while there seems to be a movement for reform in the kingdom, the movement needs to seriously address this most oppressive law! The following article is adapted from my new book, "Broken yet beautiful: Rising up from their ashes."   My book is listed on


      On Sunday June 24, 2018, the world witnessed an historic milestone take place in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. After decades of protests, the driving ban against women was finally lifted and for the first time now, women can legally be issued driver’s licenses and sit proudly behind the wheel of a car without going to jail again. While this is a major, historic accomplishment in a nation hostile to the rights of women, still it is a very long road ahead for women to finally experience true freedom. Most every Saudi woman will tell you that until the Male Guardianship Law is finally repealed, they will still be under the domination of a man.

        Before explaining the restrictions on women because of the Male Guardianship law, I want to first educate you on a little of the history of Saudi Arabia and a form of Islam known as Wahhabism. Wahhabism was born through a radical 18th century Muslim reform movement. The purification of Islam took place through the efforts of Muhammad ibn al-Wahabband and was formally adopted by the Saudi Family in 1744.

        Members of Wahhabism call themselves Unitarians with a strong emphasis on the absolute oneness of God (Tawhid). They reject the practice of visiting tombs, venerating saints, advocating a return to the original teachings of Islam incorporated in both the Quran and Hadith. They also stress a literal belief in the Quran and the establishment of a Muslim State basely sole on Sharia Law.

        The Wahhabis occupied Mecca and Medina at the end of the 18th century, bringing everything under their control. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was created in 1932, assuring the religious and political dominance of Wahhabism. Many of the sites associated with the early history of Islam, (homes, graves or companions of Muhammed) were demolished in order to purify the holy religion.

        Both Britain and the United States subsidized Saudi Arabia in 1945 right after World war II and enabled them to join the United Nations. While the driving ban has been lifted, more than likely for economic reason rather than women’s rights, there is still a great chasm for females to cross until they have obtained equal rights. The rules for the Male guardianship Law still prohibits so much of women’s freedoms despite a few glimpses of hope on the horizon.

        In 2015, women were able to cast ballots for the first time during municipal elections but couldn’t speak to male voters or couldn’t have men and women mixing in their campaign offices. The late King Abdullah issued a decree in 2011 that gave women the vote and two years later, ordered 20% of seats in consultative council to be set aside for women.

        In 2015, there were more Saudi women studying in universities than men and a few years earlier in 2012, Saudi Arabia sent two women to the Olympics.
What Saudi women cannot do.
1)   Saudi women cannot divorce, travel, get a job or have surgery first without permission from their male guardians.
2)   Saudi women cannot mix freely with members of the opposite sex.
1.     In 2013, authorities ordered shops that employ both men and women to build “separation walls,” to prevent sexes from co-mingling.
3)   Saudi women cannot appear in public without wearing a full length black abaya, which is supposed to protect a woman’s modesty in public.
4)   Saudi women cannot conduct certain businesses without a male sponsor. If a woman wants to own her own business, she has to call at least two men, who can testify of her character in order to have a loan approval or a license.
5)    Saudi women cannot apply for a national identification card or passport.
6)   Saudi women cannot eat at restaurants that don’t have a separated designated family section. Women are also required to use a separate entrance from men.
7)   Saudi Women cannot retain custody of their children in a divorce.
8)   Saudi women cannot get a fair hearing in court. (Surah 2:282) The Quran teaches that their testimony is only worth half that of a man’s
9)   Saudi women cannot receive an equal inheritance


        In April of 2017, The United Nations elected officials from Saudi Arabia to sit on a commission for women’s rights. This is insulting to the women of Saudi Arabia who are constantly living under the oppressive dictatorship of men. It is absurd that a group of men sit on a panel that supposedly promotes women’s rights, shaping global standards on gender equality and empowerment of women.
UN watch director, Hillel Neuer rightly points out,
Every Saudi woman must have a male guardian who makes all critical decisions on her behalf, controlling a woman’s life from birth to death. Electing Saudi Arabia to protect women’s rights is like electing an arsonist to become the town fire chief!”  The panel will serve a four-year term from April 24, 2017 until April 2021.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

"Let's be the voice for Iranian refugees!"

This is the latest blog from my dear Iranian friend, Mehnoush. Mehnoush understands and feels the pains of refugees,because she herself is one who is currently residing in Sweden waiting for a very important interview to determine her residency. In her new blog, Mehnoush takes you behind the scenes of the lives of refugees and "puts a face on them," telling their painful stories of escaping from Iran to find refuge in another country where there is hope for freedom and a new life.

  The highest number of refugees belongs to the countries in which obligatory Islam, absolute poverty, dictatorship and war are easily recognized. A refugee is the oppressed voice of a person who has left his/her own land for the very elementary human rights including freedom and independence. In recent years, a remarkable number of Middle Eastern refugees, especially from Iran, have been obliged to leave their lands.

   In Iran, they determine your name, nationality and religion five minutes after your birth and that’s why you spend the rest of your life defending the things you have not chosen yourself. Spiritual and mental pressure, lack of freedom of press and expression in addition to the suppression of human character and values is day to day life in Islamic Iran; therefore, the only option left to everyone is leaving motherland and seeking refuge from a supportive country. It is noteworthy that women and girls have undergone the highest amount of mental and spiritual suppression and harm in Iran in terms of arranged marriages, compulsory Hijab, rape and freedom suppression.

   There are many Iranian refugees found in Sweden, especially young women and girls who mostly speak out their deep grief. Some days ago, an Iranian woman shared with me her own painful story. She was forced to marry an old man and suffer unbelievable pains in terms of her sexual relationship, pregnancy and child birth. She told me that her husband regarded her as the servant of the house and the slave of his bed. After giving birth to three girls  and being forced to live with them in a village, she finally decided to escape and reach Sweden through the mountains and the sea with hundreds of difficulties to seek refuge.

   Also, there was another Iranian woman refugee who told me her husband beat her so badly that when she got to Sweden, she was suffering from broken ribs, teeth and hands. She told me if she hadn’t escaped to Sweden, that she would have committed suicide in Iran. 


     Another girl told me about the suppression of her religious views and that she was dismissed from university due to her Bahá'í Faith and the regime threatened her with imprisonment for writing a letter of complaint.

     Yes, these are the lamentations of some of the battered Iranian girls and women who have been oppressed by both the Islamic government and traditional cruel families. Please join me in being the voice of the suffering refugees who have no alternative left but to flee their homeland for a country that will give them safety and freedom.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

"No matter if we die, we'll retake Iran."

This is the latest blog from my dear Iranian friend, Mehnoush, who is currently living as a refugee in Sweden awaiting an interview for residency. Mehnoush takes us behind this scenes to the uprising and bloody protests in Iran featuring the personal message from a courageous freedom fighter.

      The voice of people's protest across the streets is the sign of a new movement towards freedom and being saved from a dark and vague future. People from almost every city have been gathering in the streets to put an end to a 40-year period of cruelty, corruption, capital punishment and war raising regime. You the incapable authorities of the Islamic government, you need to pack your stuff and face the end of these 40 years of dictatorship and cruelty. 

Iranian people are not going to calm down until they make sure their land is filled with freedom, peace and stability. Their patience and resistance will soon result in the sweet tune of freedom.

    The evil 40-year period of Islamic government of mullahs has come to an end, a period overflowing with cruelty, corruption, murder and bloodshed. Throughout all history, Iran has never experienced a government more shameful than the one run by the mullahs. No one can imagine the number of the crimes committed or the youth being murdered or the girls and young women being raped by the agents of this regime or the families scattered away and wandering homelessly on the streets or in foreign lands during this horrifying dominion. There are numerous types of crimes committed by these vicious murderers. In the last 40 years, the only headlines and top stories have been about murder, death, capital punishment, war, suicide, embezzlement, poverty, unemployment and inflation.

        Every single day, as soon we open our eyes, we face a dark and vague future before us. We only struggle to survive. Life means nothing to us. We only pass the time with an empty stomach and an exhausted body. The breaking news of men, women and even children committing suicide, embezzlement, unemployment, inflation, water and electricity outage in addition to the recent droughts have all made us lose our hope and spend our days and nights in sheer stress. We do not have the slightest human and social rights. We now only imagine reaching our wishes during our nightly dreams. We do not dare to think of the future as we barely see a future ahead. Only a day to night routine has been satisfying and enough for us. The voice of our protest on the streets with empty hands is heard well enough, but only our photos and videos are shared through the social media. I wonder when such black clouds are going to leave the sky of my city! I wonder if we can ever sense the smell of freedom and peacefulness. The only common hope followed by all Iranians these days is to get freedom, democracy and peacefulness back to the ancient land of Persia, a dream that can only come true when people are in unison. So, let's get out now and start to shout:

                           "No matter if we die, we'll retake Iran.”