TEL AVIV – The father of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl puzzled many Americans with his Arabic declaration at the White House Rose Garden event with President Obama that announced the release of his son in exchange for five top Taliban commanders
At the White House, he said in Arabic, "In the name of Allah, the merciful, the compassionate," which, according to an Islam expert, amounted to him claiming the White House as a spoil of war.
It's doubtful he understood the significance of what he was saying, the expert said. Indeed, while the elder Bergdahl began studying Arabic and Pashto and growing a beard that made him look more and more like a sympathizer of the Taliban captors of his son, friends and two former pastors of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church he attended, insist he has not converted to Islam but remains "a brother in the Lord." The Washington Post reported worried friends sometimes asked him if he hadn’t succumbed to some form of the captive-bonding Stockholm syndrome. On Monday, according to the London Daily Mail, Bergdahl's neighbors said he has shaved his beard.
Nevertheless, his declaration at the White House wasn't his only use of Arabic terms that have significant war-related connotations to Muslims.
In a 2013 speech, Bergdahl sent his son an Islamic message that has multiple uses in the Quran, including as a virtue in waging jihad, or so-called holy war, to further Islam, WND has found.
Meanwhile, Fox News reported Friday it obtained secret documents generated by a private intelligence group contracted by the Defense Department which said that at one point during his captivity, Bowe Bergdahl converted to Islam, fraternized openly with his captors and declared himself a "mujahid," or warrior for Islam.
Bob Bergdahl’s Islamic message to his son was delivered in an address at a June 22, 2013, community rally in Ketchum, Idaho, near the Bergdahls' hometown of Hailey. The event was meant to draw attention to Bowe’s continued absence and was broadcast on BBC Radio.
In attendance were state Sen. Michelle Stennett and Ketchum Mayor Randy Hall.
At one point during the brief speech, Bergdahl addressed his son directly.
He stated: “Bowe, my son. Zmazoy, if you can hear me on BBC Radio. You are part of the peace process. You are part of ending the Afghan war, like we have known for some time.”
“Have faith. Do good works. Continue to tell the truth. But above all, Sabr. Have the patience that can only come from god. We are being tested and god tests those who he knows can persevere.”
Sabr is one of the two main components of Islamic faith. It is the Islamic virtue of "patience" or "endurance.”
According to the Hadith, which guides Islamic law, the virtue of faith is composed of four pillars: Patience, or Sabr; Conviction; Justice; and struggle or jihad. The reference to jihad as an Islamic pillar is commonly interpreted as an internal struggle but at times is meant as the fight to spread Islam, including by the sword.
The term “Sabr” itself has multiple uses and meanings in the Quran and Islamic tradition. The word is mentioned 90 times in the Quran, sometimes in reference to patience during jihad.
“And know that victory comes with patience,” reads one verse related to jihad.
Another verse says victory in jihad comes to those who are patient.
“Yes, if you hold on to patience and piety, and the enemy comes rushing at you; your Lord will help you with five thousand angels having distinctive marks.”
Yet another use of Sabr in jihad involves the instruction for where to station army units.
“O you who believe! Endure and be more patient, and guard your territory by stationing army units permanently at the places from where the enemy can attack you, and fear Allah so that you may be successful.”
The Quran presents Sabr as a virtue when punishing the enemy.
“And if you punish your enemy, then punish them with the like of that with which you were afflicted. But if you endure patiently, verily, it is better for those who are patient (Sabr).”
Sabr is also used routinely in the Quran as a non-jihadist virtue, including for “patience” in serving Allah.
When Allah commands Muslims to serve him, the Quran reads: "Serve him and persevere (Sabr) in his service."
The same use of Sabr is cited in the Quranic verse, “And endure patiently, for your patience is not but from Allah.”
The Quran cites Sabr as central to receiving reward in the afterlife.
“Only those who are patient shall receive their rewards in full, without reckoning.”
Another verse states: “Only those who are patient shall receive their rewards in full, without reckoning.”
The Islamic scholar Nasir al‑Din al‑Tusi defined Sabr as self-restraint when confronted with undesirables.
Getting his son back
In an interview with Christianity Today magazine, Phil Proctor who met the Bergdahls when he served as interim pastor of their church in Boise, called Bob Bergdahl "a brother in the Lord" who needs prayer and love.
Proctor, now pastor of Sterling Presbyterian Church, an Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Sterling, Virginia, has remained close to the family. Bob and Jani Bergdahl have stayed with him during their frequent trips to Washington, D.C., on behalf of their son, he said.
The pastor urged a more "gracious" approach to Bob Bergdahl, who has "said things that are outside of our comfort zone as he's tried to do whatever he could to get his son back."
"I don't know what I would have done if it was my son over there," he said. "I know Bob has, through the years, professed his faith in Christ and his reliance upon Christ. He's a brother in the Lord and we need to pray with him and love him."
Proctor said he doesn't know whether or not Bowe is a deserter and said military justice will sort that out.
"If Bowe was a deserter, I'll be the first to send him a care package in prison," he said.