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Book Jacket

Trade Paperback
Jan 2005
Harvest House Publishers

The Last Judgment

by Craig Parshall

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In the Near Future

THE POLICE WERE RESTRAINING the tightly packed, screaming mass of people. There was a palpable feeling that something was about to give way. Like a flood tide stressing cement and steel, the undulating human wave was pressing against the police barricades. Nervous state and federal agents had their hands poised over their sidearms and nightsticks. Gas masks dangled from their belts. Behind them, a riot squad, armed with tear gas guns, stood rigid.

The small army of sheriff ’s deputies, state police, and federal agents had formed a protective ring around the angry, surging mob. But their line was being strained by hundreds of protestors. Many of them were screaming, red-faced, against “the bloody Butcher”—“the Sheikh of slaughter.” Several of the women wore buttons bearing pictures of victims of the World Trade Center attack, as well as of the Wall Street bombing and the port and mall bombings that had followed in the years later.

The police had separated these protestors from the other group—the one with signs demanding “Tolerance for All Religions,” and even-handedness and free speech for Arab–Americans, and calling for an investigation into “American War Crimes Against Muslims” and denouncing “U.S. and Israeli Atrocities.”

The two separate knots of protestors and their law-enforcement restrainers were on the perimeter of the sprawling compound of the Islamic Center for Cultural Change, situated in northern Virginia about twenty miles off the Washington beltway. The shoving and pushing and the screaming of profanities and threats were going on at the fringe of the property, out near the highway.

Amid the confusion and anger, some of the deputies were still trying to figure it all out.

“I thought they weren’t going to invite this sheikh bozo to come and speak…” one sheriff ’s deputy at the protest line shouted out to a fellow deputy.

“They weren’t. They supposedly uninvited him.”

“What happened?”

“He showed up anyway.”

“How does a guy like that—somebody who says that Osama bin Laden was a hero, get into this country anyway? Why didn’t INS stop that scumbucket at the border?”

But before his partner could respond, a protestor broke through the line and began running, an American flag flying behind, toward the Islamic Center buildings.

The two deputies lit out after him. He dodged. They chased. After a moment or two of head fakes, turns, and twists, and while one of the groups cheered him raucously, the man was tackled.

“Don’t let the flag touch the ground!” someone in the protest group cried out.

The deputies held the man down and rapidly zipped his wrists together behind his back with heavy-duty nylon ties.

Fifty yards away, along the front doors of the Islamic Center— within the portico of the pink-stoned building, with its graceful Persian arches and the towering minaret in the background—a dozen private security personnel walked nervously back and forth, eyeing the mobs from a distance. They would pause occasionally listening through their earpieces to the proceedings taking place inside the cavernous auditorium.

Within the Great Hall of the Prophet, as it was called, every red velvet seat was taken.

In the upper deck, a hundred additional Muslim visitors were standing, straining to catch a glimpse of the notorious “glorious mufti.”

Sheikh Mudahmid was at the podium. He was a man in his late sixties with a deeply lined face and a jet-black beard that reached down to mid-torso. He wore a gray-and-white robe with a white turban.

He had just finished his address. Now he was basking in the thunderous applause.

But here and there, in the pockets of shadow in the auditorium, there were a handful of voices. Questioning. Dissenting. They were whispering. But audible.

The sheikh surprised the audience by agreeing to take questions from the floor. When the Muslim clerics in the high-backed chairs behind him jumped to their feet and assured him this was not necessary, the sheikh waved them back to their seats with a slow, confident wave of his right hand. He turned back to the audience.

He was in absolute control. He feared nothing.

One cleric approached the floor microphone and asked a question that keyed into a statement the sheikh had made in his speech.

“Allah be praised,” the man from the floor intoned quietly as he began. “I want to seek your wisdom. What you said, about the possibility of jihad regarding the ‘American–Israeli Incest’ as you called it—do you mean a personal jihad in our devotion to Allah and Muhammad his Prophet, and our personal war against the unrighteousness from the contamination of the infidels? Or do you mean an actual, corporate war of Muslims…a military gathering…a confrontation of Israel and the United States? I believe that the media has twisted your words in the past—there has been much misunderstanding.”

“What I have said,” the sheikh replied with a calm, pleasant smile, “I have said. There is nothing hidden. America is the beast of unrighteousness and Israel is its whore. What does the Quran say? What does it speak regarding such filth? Do we not have the instructions of the Prophet to rid the world of such abominations? Are we not the kin of the great warrior Saladin? Are we men—or are we little children?”

A loud murmur swept through the hall.

A second man, who looked about thirty, with closely cropped beard, short hair, and intense eyes, approached the microphone.

“Greetings, Sheikh Mudahmid.” The sheikh gave a half-nod, studying the young man carefully.

“I wish to return to the main theme of this conference,” the man said. “Is it not ‘The future of Islam’?”

The sheikh smiled broadly.

“I am heartened,” he replied with his arms outstretched to the audience, “that our young cleric-to-be has at least learned how to read.”

And with that, he turned and pointed to the large banner in back of him, bearing the words, THE FUTURE OF ISLAM—ONE GOD, ONE PROPHET, ONE POWER.

Laughter rippled through the great hall.

The young man smiled back. But he pressed on.

“The banner says ‘one prophet.’ And so you speak this day of Muhammad. But you speak only of Muhammad. What about Jesus? Doesn’t the Quran also call Jesus a ‘messenger’ of Allah?”

The sheikh leaned forward. His smile had evaporated.

“Sura three, verses thirty-three through sixty. Yes, that is what it says. Go home and read it. But Muhammad is the last and the greatest of the prophets. Why do you bother me with such childish questions?”

“And yet,” the young man retorted, “the true test of a prophet is whether what he speaks is shown to be the truth. Isn’t that correct?”

The sheikh did not answer. His eyes narrowed as he cast a withering glance at the young man standing at the microphone.

“Those very same verses that you, Sheikh Mudahmid, just quoted to us—don’t they also say that Jesus was, and I quote, ‘created by God from the dust,’ just like Adam? Which means that the Quran teaches that Jesus was only a mere mortal.”

By now, several muftis and religious teachers in the audience had risen and begun commanding the young man to sit down.

But he was immovable, locked into place at the floor micro-phone. His shoulders were straight and his head rigid, as if he were fixed to some invisible scaffold.

And as he continued, his voice was becoming higher-pitched and more penetrating.

“But if what the Quran says is true, then Jesus is a liar. For Jesus tells us in His own words—not the words of the Quran hundreds of years later, but His own words, recorded by His apostles, His eyewitnesses, in the Bible—that ‘before Abraham was, I AM.’ ”

The auditorium exploded. Half of the men in the audience were on their feet, yelling at the questioner.

“Sheikh, is it not true,” the young man was now shouting to be heard, his eyes fixed on the sheikh, “that if the Quran is correct, then Jesus cannot be a prophet—He must be a blasphemous liar, worthy of death!”

Someone on the dais gave a sign to the security guards in black robes scattered along the walls of the auditorium.

Up on the stage, behind the podium, the sheikh could see the point coming. So he began to speak to drown out the approaching heresy—but not quickly enough.

“Unless…” the young man continued, his cries filling the great hall, cutting and sharp like broken glass, “unless Jesus was no mere human prophet—but was the Son of God. The second Person of the Godhead. Who shall come to judge the living and the dead. He is coming—coming very soon—and that is the future of Islam you have failed to discuss…the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. And when He comes, then woe to you false teachers of the law…woe to you who lead millions upon millions astray…idolaters of religion, falsely so-called, vainly puffed up by your fleshly minds, taking delight in false humility and worship of angelic creatures—but failing to worship Jesus the Alpha and the Omega!”

The great hall now filled with a roar as the young man was dragged away from the microphone by the security guards.

“What is your name, infidel?” the sheikh bellowed from the stage.

The young man broke free and ran back to the microphone.

“I am Hassan Gilead Amahn…servant of the Lord Jesus Christ…”

“You are the enemy of Allah—and you are accursed!” the sheikh shouted back.

“There is no condemnation for me,” the young man shouted as three security guards dragged him away by the arms, “nor for you, if you embrace Jesus the Messiah—His love is great enough even to save you, Sheikh Mudahmid…”

The audience poured into the main aisle like a rush of ocean surf, grabbing at the young man, slapping, shouting, and striking.

The three security guards had managed to drag their captive to within just a few yards of the exit, but the surging arms and fists of the angry crowd were pulling them down.

Hassan Gilead Amahn felt himself crushed to the floor under the human wave. As he tried to get up, fists flew at him from all sides, smashing into his jaw, his eye sockets, his forehead, pounding on his back.

He stumbled, dizzy and losing consciousness.

Then there was a face of a bearded man with a scarf wrapped around his head—he was wide shouldered, and strong. He grabbed Gilead by the neck, and pulling violently, launched him up and away from the floor and the crowd and yanked him safely through the doors.

For just an instant, Gilead’s eyes focused, and he looked the bearded man in the face as he shoved Gilead through the front doors and out into the night air.

Then the man with the beard disappeared.

The law-enforcement agents were already running at a full sprint toward the great hall. A contingent of the protestors, seeing their opportunity, knocked down the barricades and surged forward onto the sprawling lawn that led to the front doors of the Islamic Center—where hundreds of screaming Muslims were pouring outside.

The police started swinging their night sticks and calling for the Muslims to go back into the building—and for the protestors to retreat.

But it didn’t work.

Tear-gas canisters flew overhead, and bitter clouds swept over the yard. People covered their faces and fell to the ground.

Someone, somewhere, yelled to the police to arrest Gilead.

“He provoked it! He started a riot!”

Gilead was thrown to the ground, cuffed with thick nylon ties, and then led roughly to a squad car and pushed into the back-seat—where he sat for close to an hour under the watchful gaze of two deputies standing outside.

Then one of them got in the front, looked over the seat at Gilead, and read Gilead his rights.

Then he asked, “Do you have a lawyer?”

Gilead looked back at the deputy but didn’t respond.

“I said, do you have a lawyer?”

Gilead shook his head.

“Fine,” the deputy replied.

Then, as he turned to his clipboard to retrieve the waiver of rights form, he muttered to himself, “Buddy, you’re going to need one…”

Excerpted from The Last Judgment by Craig Parshall. Copyright © 2005 by Harvest House Publishers. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.