of War - Jihad
By Craig Branch
The horrific murderous
attack on New York's World Trade Centers, the Pentagon
in Washington, and the hijacked plane crash in Pennsylvania
provoked a wide range of emotions and responses throughout
America and around the world. Americans initially expressed
shock, fear, anger, sorrow, compassion, and numbness.
These reactions were followed by resolve, patriotism,
reassessment of values and priorities, and an attitude
of bonding or unity which transcended the many differences
which separate a diverse America.
these will bring out the best in people and the worst.
The worst is exhibited in attitudes of revenge and more
excuses to rationalize racist acts. There have been
sporadic incidents of harassment, desecration, and violence
towards Muslims or anyone who looked ethnically Middle
Above all, people
asked, "why" did this happen? This, was followed
by "what are we going to do about it?"
But there have
surfaced many more questions and issues which require
answers. As Christians we should be aware that God has
revealed that He "works all things after the council
of His will" (Ephesians
1:11). So we can know some things truly, those which
He has clearly revealed, and can still have the peace
that goes beyond understanding in those things we do
not yet know.
theologian Richard John Neuhaus recently spoke here
in Birmingham while lecturing at Beeson Divinity School,
insightfully noted that the September 11th attack raised
two fundamental and profound questions - Who are we
as a country? and Who are they? I want to address these
two questions and the two previous ones.
The world is trying
to answer these questions as well. But there is much
confusion. On one end of the spectrum, there are those
calling for an aggressive campaign of annihilation against
all hostile Arab or Islamic countries, and on the other
end, there are those who are staging protests against
any act of aggression.
said his staff are announcing that this is not a war
between the US and Islam. And as I anticipated "moderate"
Muslim clerics and some secular academics are supporting
Bush's claim that these terrorists are not practicing
true Islam, but are a radical militant, extremist fringe
group. They claim that Islam is fundamentally loving,
peaceful, and tolerant. President Bush even hosted a
Ramadan break-the-fast dinner at the White House honoring
Islam's holy month. And yet, the so called fundamentalist
Muslims are calling for a Jihad, saying that this is
a war against Islam.
One hand, we have
a well known and respected Christian leader, Bill Hybels,
pastor of Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago,
saying things like, "I was so concerned by the
gap between Muslims and Christians that I thought Willow
could do something about it."
So what did he
do? He hosted a local Muslim leader to speak to all
of his 17,000 attendees on Sunday morning (perhaps Bill
hasn't read 2
John 8-11). Hybels added, "There are some Christians
spreading half-truths that the Quran encourages violence.
When you take some stuff out of context, we've got major
On the other hand,
many Christian mission societies and apologist echo
the charge of Ion Warraq, author of Why I Am Not A Muslim,
who writes, "to pretend that Islam has nothing
to do with Terrorist Tuesday is to willfully ignore
the obvious and to forever misinterpret events. Without
Islam the long-term strategy and individual acts of
violence by Usama bin Laden and his followers make little
needs to understand them in order to be able to deal
with them and avoid past mistakes. We are confronted
with Islamic terrorist and must take seriously the Islamic
component. Westerners in general, and Americans in particular,
do not understand the passionate, religious, and anti-Western
convictions of Islamic terrorists."
whose response to the tragedy earned him great respect,
hosted a celebrity and ecumenical inter-religious prayer
and unification gathering at Yankee Stadium and proclaimed
to the United Nations Assembly that Muslims, Jews, and
Christians are meeting in their places of worship and
"getting through to the same God…in slightly
different ways." This view reflects and reinforces
the unfortunate pervasive perspective of relativism
Liberals and skeptics
are also taking full advantage of this opportunity to
express their own intolerance of all religious fundamentalists
in general who attempt to justify their "intolerant
and aggressive" view by claiming whatever they
do is God's will.
Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson sent the unpopular message
that this happened as part of God's judgment against
America, for its slide into immorality, pointing a finger
specifically at homosexuals, radical feminists, abortion,
the America Civil Liberties Union, and People for the
American Way. Then under media pressure, Falwell sort
of retracted. Are they right? Wrong? Right but intemperate?
And most recently
we are hearing from some that the attack is Americas
fault - not due to Falwell's charges, but due to American
arrogance and flawed foreign policy.
So which view is
true, or is it somewhere in between? Either way, it
is critical that we understand this vital issue.
I believe one clear
purpose of this tragedy is that God wants to draw attention
to Islam, both for Christians and for Western leaders.
Islam is the 2nd largest religion in the world (1.2
billion) and in the US (6 million), yet it is one of
the least addressed mission fields.
This article will
attempt to answer or at least provide significant light
on the issues and questions previously addressed, as
well as a few more. We will look at a brief history
of Islam, its teachings, how it relates to Christianity
and somewhat with Judaism, a special focus on Jihad
or what is often referred to as "Holy War or Struggle",
how should Christians respond, and what can America
learn from this about herself.
To understand the
horror of this Sept. 11 as well as the past and continuing
history of other suicide bombings, killings, assassinations,
torture, war and persecutions in Muslim related countries,
in Israel, and in Palestine, we need to understand the
evolution of Islam in its historical context.
Islam in Arabic
means surrender or submission to the will of Allah (God).
The word Muslim is derived from Islam and means one
who submits to the laws and duties of Allah. Islam is
the worlds second largest religion with about 1.2 billion
followers. Islam is America's second largest religion,
numbering about 6 million behind Christianity (Protestant
About 80% of Americans
identify themselves as Christian but only 40%, based
on their answers to a survey fall into the "born-again"
minimally Christian category. When the survey elicits
a more informed content based on response, only about
8% of the population are evangelical. These figures
help in our understanding of the gap between an idealized
or perceived Christian influence, and the more actual
reality. This gap also has a bearing on the negative
(hostile) perception and prejudice of most Muslims toward
the USA and Christianity.
perceive the ethnicity of Muslims to be mainly Middle
Eastern or North African. Actually the Arab constituency
is only about 13%, while 25% are South Asian, 42% are
African American (other than the Nation of Islam cult)
and 21% are either African or European Caucasian.
and Early History
Muhammad was born in 570 AD in Mecca, Arabia, His family
was a member of Quraysh tribe, one of the largest and
most powerful of a number of polytheistic, occult oriented
tribes. He was married to Khadija an older businesswoman
with an Ebionite (an early Christian heresy) background.
Some of the heretical doctrines of the Ebionites had
an influence in some of Muhammad's later doctrinal formulations.
He claims to have
begun to experience visions or visitations from the
angel Gabriel in 610. Before Muhammad began to allege
having visions he had contact with Jewish traders and
merchants as well as Christians (including some Christian
sects or heretics/cults). He was attracted to their
monotheism and that they had written Scriptures - the
The alleged trance/visions
were later collected and compiled into the Quran (which
means recitations) by his followers. The pagan polytheistic
tribes, including his own didn't receive his new messages,
and his only allies at that time were Jews and Christians.
This explains the content of some of these visions -
Biblical characters and events, although flawed. And
it explains the favorable disposition and respect in
the earlier writing of the Quran toward Jesus and Christians.
Pressure and persecution
followed and caused Muhammad to flee to Medina with
about 100 families. Here he began to gather more followers
and to develop a religious/political code to govern
all of life through continuing revelations for the Quran.
He began raiding caravans of his enemies - enemies of
Allah to accumulate wealth and resources. He justified
his actions with more revelations inserted into the
There exists a
general disposition among most historians, especially
Christian ones to charge Muslims with the use of the
sword as a way of conversion and the advancement of
Islam. However, much of its spread was done peacefully
through its message and apparent attractiveness of its
culture. But there was and is clearly a significant
historical component to the spread of Islam by the sword.
Muhammad led thousands
of followers, Muslims, and laid siege to Mecca which
included several battles. Once he won Mecca, in 630
AD, he gained more followers because of his merciful
acts of clemency. In the next 2 years before his death
in 632, he had gained control of all of Arabia.
During the final
10 years of Muhammad's life he served the Muslim community
as a prophet, political and economic leader, and a conqueror
in the cause of Allah. He established the umma (Islamic
nation) with such strength that shortly after his death
Islam advanced quickly to claim vast territories. Under
his direction, the mission of Islam had been set. The
world was divided into 2 domains: one which existed
under Allah and one which was still in ignorance and
disobedience and needed to be brought into submission
under Allah's theocratic rule.
death, Islam was led by a series of caliphs which means
"deputy of the Messenger of Allah". Four Caliphs
served in the first 30 years and during that time Islam,
by persuasion and warfare by the Muslim armies expanded
their rule into Persia, Syria, Jerusalem, Palestine,
all that had constituted the Babylonian and Byzantine,
and Assyrian Empires, Egypt, and most of Iraq.
A few years later
Libya and Iran came under their control. By 732 they
had controlled Spain and a southern portion of France
until Charles Martel stopped their further conquest
of Europe. They later occupied Afghanistan and penetrated
into what is now Pakistan and India. There were peaceful
advances as well through missionaries and trade into
Malaysia, Indonesia and Philippines.
The Ottoman Empire
from 1517-1924 made up of Muslim Turks ruled much of
Asia Minor and took over Constantinople (renamed Istanbul)
in 1453. They expanded their rule from Austria in the
west to India in the east. European countries began
invading the lands of Egypt (France), India (British),
Indonesia (Dutch), Central Asia (Russian), which began
the colonization era and decline of the Ottoman Empire.
WWI and the Ottoman's alliance with Germany hastened
Up until the 12th
century, the Islamic umma, or collective community,
enjoyed qualitative advances in art, science, technology,
and medicine. The strict law made for a generally orderly
society. But then things began to occur from the West
that would ever foster deep rooted hostility toward
Christianity, Israel, Western Europe, and eventually
the United States.
Even though Biblically,
the New Testament worldview presents a separation of
Church and State, the Church at Rome formed expedient
and pragmatic alliances with secular governments in
order to regain its strength and for a perceived protection.
The Crusades were mounted as an attempt to regain the
Holy Lands occupied by the pagan Muslims. There were
six major Crusades fought between 1096 and 1212. After
some initial success, the "Christians" were
beaten back and the lands remained under the domination
of Islam until the UN's establishment of the state of
Israel in 1948.
This in the Muslim's
mind, their people in 1948, their people had been unjustly
uprooted from the lands they had occupied and settled
for almost 1300 years.
The influence of
the "Christian" Crusades, the later Spanish
Inquisition, and the colonization periods mentioned
earlier upon the Muslim world, has caused a deep and
bitter animosity within the Islamic umma or community,
that is both politically and theologically fed.
view the world though the lenses of their own theocratic
worldview, many do not understand that those actions
were a incidental perversions of Christianity. Other
Muslims are critical of Christianity because it does
believe in separation of Church and State and therefore
is far inferior to Islam's theocratic Shari'a. Because
of the past Muslims have tended to view Christianity
as a warring, colonialistic, imperialistic, and political
movement seeking to dominate the world, including the
lands of Islam. They see Christian missionaries as agents
of Western imperialistic societies, as well as preying
upon Muslims with blasphemies. Islam's own theology
of the duty for every Muslim to engage in a "defensive"
jihad, or holy war against invasion and oppression,
necessitate their active animosity.
Thus these events
have never been forgotten. In fact in many Muslim countries
and in Muslim mosques, their children are raised with
a steady diet of hostile propaganda against the West
and Christianity in their primary and secondary school
curricula, and in their sermons.
Muslims also view
the establishment of the state of Israel and the subjugation
of Arab Palestinians as an extension of this Crusader
mentality and action. Add the United State financial
support, its corrupt social influence (drugs, alcohol,
pornography, television, bikinis, materialism, abortion,
relativism, gambling - all under the rubric of freedom
and democracy), their invasion into Iraq, and their
military bases in holy Islamic territory, including
the sacred land of Saudi Arabia, and you have aroused
the deepest of angers and resentment, even rage.
Some of Americas
foreign policy efforts have not helped either. From
the Muslim perspective the US is thoroughly hypocritical.
Muslims say that with all the talk about freedom and
democracy, the real foreign policy priority is to maintain
stability by supporting what they say are corrupt pseudo-Islamic
government heads which suppress true Islamic law (shari'a)
especially when it furthers the US expansion of its
ideology and financial interests.
The true significance
of this history coupled with their theology will become
more clear later, especially when we understand the
controversial doctrine of jihad.
At this point we
need to examine what are the major beliefs of Islam.
- 2nd largest
religion in America at 6 million
- 2nd largest
religion in the world at 1.2 billion
- Islam in Arabic
means surrender or submission. Today Muslims are attempting
to project the meaning of "peace" with the
implication of Islam being a peaceful religion.
- Not true etymologically,
doctrinally, or historically.
- Muslim means
a person who submits or surrenders his life to the
will of Allah (God). Allah is the Arabic name for
God. It is derived from Al (the) ilah (deity. The
one true God.
II. Basic Beliefs
A. 5 Pillars -
Essential Sacred Duties and Obligations
1. The confession,
(Shahada) - there is no god but Allah and Mohammad is
His Prophet or Messenger/Apostle.
2. Prayers, (salat)
- ritual prayers 5 times per day facing the east (toward
3. Fasting; (sawn)
during the 9th lunar month, Ramadan, Muslim fast from
sunrise to sunset (eating, drinking, and sex), for that
4. Alms giving,
(Zakat) - to practice regular charitable giving, formalized
in the Shari'a to be 2.5% of one's income to the poor
(hajj) - all Muslims must make a trip to Mecca at least
once in their lifetime if possible, or intend to , to
worship ritually at sacred sites.
B. 6th Pillar
a struggle or effort in the cause of Allah. Most Muslims
believe in a two tier application of this struggle.
These are the "Greater Jihad" which involves
the personal struggle over evil inclinations and striving
for righteousness in submission to Allah.
Jihad" often referred to as "Holy War"
involves mortal combat (the sword) defending Islamic
people, territories, and propagation from outside aggression
C. Prophets -
Agents God sends to preach the message of Allah as guardian
of the faith. The
actual revelation of divine law is given by a Messenger.
One can either or both.
D. Muhammad -
The final messenger, Prophet, Apostle of Allah, the
"Seal". The one through
whom the Quran was revealed.
1. Quran - Recitation
allegedly given to Muhammad by the angel Gabriel between
610-632 AD Islamic scriptures perfectly preserved, without
error, written in Arabic. Any other language translation
can dilute meaning.
2. Sunnah - the
customs and traditions of Islamic life which are based
on the teachings and practices of Muhammad.
3. Hadith - the
narratives, teachings, and practices (sunnah) of Muhammad
that are written by his close followers and preserved
in written form. Most authoritative collection compiled
by al-Badawi in 922 AD (7,300 out of 600,000).
4. Also the Torah
of the Prophet Moses, the Psalms given to the Prophet
David and the Gospel of Jesus through the Prophet Jesus
were also scripture. But Muslims teach that they have
been corrupted. Only the Quran is perfect.
F. Shari'a - sacred
Canon or Constitutional Law of Islam containing the
sum of Allah's guidance for all areas of life. A Theocracy.
Based on the Quran, Hadith, the consensus (Ijma) of
the Muslim community's scholars (Ulama).
G. Da'wa - Islamic
missionary activity primarily through persuasion, example,
economic, political, debate, and social means.
H. Umma - The community
of Islam, the solidarity of faith and prayer. Unity
of belief and practice under shari'a. Islamic state.
III. How Islam
A. The Paradox
1. Early Quranic
passages show great respect for Christians, "People
of the Book".
2. Quran claims
Christians have the Scriptures - Word of God.
3. Given protected
minority status under shari'a.
4. Yet later in
Quran, passages grow hostile.
5. Our doctrine
considered shirk or blasphemy, therefore apparently
we are infidels and idolaters - worthy of jihad.
B. Jesus -
1. A messenger/prophet
2. Born of a virgin,
3. Coming again
4. Was not divine
- God the Son or Son of God
5. Was not crucified
C. The Bible
1. The Law, Psalms,
and Gospel of Jesus considered Scripture
2. But those have
all been corrupted, abrogated by Quran
3. Only true where
agrees with Quran and Hadith
4. Yet. No Quranic
verse says gospels corrupted.
5. References to
Christians having God's scripture poses major apologetic
problem for Muslims (had all 27 NT books at the time).
D. The Trinity
1. In Quran, described
as Father, Son and Mary
2. Considered shirk,
blasphemy because it associates Allah with human and
1. Muslims see
a contradiction between OT (works) and NT (grace)
2. Islamic salvation
based on good works outweighing bad deeds - Paradise
3. Automatic paradise
for martyrs who die fighting in the cause of Allah.
attack on America of September 11 and the subsequent
suicide terrorist attacks in Israel has forced America
and the Christian Church to turn its needed attention
on the complex matrix of middle eastern politics and
to uncover the true nature of Islam. What is there in
Islam that would lead Muslims to commit so many heinous
terroristic acts? Does orthodox Islam sanction such
atrocities? Or are they the aberration of a relatively
few militant extremists?
Many Muslims in
America are attempting to assuage the fears and animosity
of the public, while at the same time attempting to
take advantage of any opportunity to gain support of
their cause or position in Palestine (West Bank and
But what is the
truth? Does Islam sanction such terrorism, or is it
truly a religion of peace and tolerance? That is the
question. The answer is not so simple. The truth is
that both dimensions exist in Islam and these two faces
are in conflict with each other.
There are five
major groupings of Muslims within Islam and each of
those groups can have several sub-groupings. The five
are nominal or secular Muslims, cultural Muslims, moderate
Muslims, fundamentalists, and radical militants. The
unstable, volatile, and ambiguous spectrum is the many
Muslims who move between the fundamentalist and militant
After WWII the
territories of Islam became a political and economic
pawn played between the US and the Soviet Union. The
rich oil deposits were necessary to help run an increasingly
industrial complex. Countries like Saudi Arabia, Iran,
and Egypt began commercial partnerships with the US,
and in the eyes of many conservative Muslims, saw all
attempts at modernization as an insufferable spiritual
This time marked
the rise of Islamic fundamentalism which is called "Islamism"
led to Iran's overthrow of the Shah and the establishment
of the Ayatollah Khomeini. Iran is mainly composed of
Shiite Muslims which differ in some ways from the major
group of Islam - Sunni Muslims. In the struggle for
a return to competing views of fundamentalist Islam,
Iran and Iraq engaged in combat with one another, declaring
a jihad (holy war). Iran also seized our American Embassy
there and its personnel, holding them hostage, while
calling the US, "the Great Satan". The fundamentalists
assassinated Egypt's prime minister, Anwar Sadat after
he did the unpardonable, signing a peace accord with
Islam's two biggest enemies, the United States and Israel.
It is very important
to note that during the 1980's and 90's, Islam began
escalating a significant revival of fundamentalism.
In clashes against Israel and even one another (if a
Muslim country was becoming too secular or compromised
too much with the West), as well as more recently the
United States (i.e. the first car bombing of the World
Trade Center in 1993 ; suicide bombing of the US Embassy
in Beirut in 1983; the truck bomb attack against the
US Marine compound in Lebanon killing 241 Americans
in 1983, forcing US Troops to pull out; the 1994 bombing
of the US Embassy in Kuwait, and the twin assaults on
US Embassy's in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 where 224
Islam certainly has been heavily recruiting young Muslims
into its ranks, people who are both poor and disenfranchised,
and those who are more educated ideologues. Islamic
militant organizations like Hezbollah and Hamas, Al
Qaeda, and Islamic Jihad have been active in their fight,
especially terrorist style, against Israel, Russia,
and the US.
The renowned Islamic
scholar Bernard Lewis observed that Muslims accuse the
West, particularly the US of sexism, racism, imperialism,
tyranny, and exploitation, all of which they believe
is contrary to Islam. Lewis believes that what is the
highest evil and totally unacceptable to Muslims is
the dominance of infidels over Muslims. This domination
is blasphemous and unnatural and therefore true Islam
must be protected and defended from such insult and
is also against secularism and much of modernism. Therefore,
even Muslim countries whose leaders interact too closely
and import Western things into their country or culture,
are seen as an enemy of true Islam.
So what authority
drives Islamic fundamentalism. It is the Quran and Hadith.
In the midst of uncertainty and fragmentation, there
is a search for the security of certainty. The belief
in the absolute certainty of the literal Quran provides
that drive. Thus men like Bin Laden and those who crashed
the planes on Sept. 11 (as well as every other armed
Muslim aggressor), were quoting the Quran repeatedly
as their justification.
An Associated Press
story (9/24/01) quoted students representative of more
than and estimated several hundred thousand students
in Pakistan in Islamic schools as saying, "I am
ready for jihad, and so is every other student."
Many of Pakistan's 30,000 Islamic schools have direct
links to militant groups. Most of the Taliban's leaders
studied there. Christians can be attacked and killed
under the nations blasphemous law.
A World magazine
story (9/8/01) reported that since 1999 Muslim armies
have attacked Christian villages killing between 500-800
in Indonesia. The Laskar Jihad group proclaimed a jihad
against Christians have destroyed 400 churches, and
people were forced to convert to Islam.
In Sudan fundamentalist
Muslims are fighting to establish Islamic Shari'a or
strict Islamic law over the country.
My own church has
many reports from missionaries in Islamic countries
who report either personal or eye witness accounts of
beatings, torture, rape, and killings by Islamic fundamentalists.
My own view is
that Islam is schizophrenic. It suffers from a multiple
personality disorder. When Muslim clerics and "moderate"
Muslims say that those who practice these things are
not practicing true Islam, I have to ask, "On what
basis do you say that? Who ultimately officially speaks
for Islam? How many and which Muslims make up the Ijma
or "consensus," or which ulama, of what is
I ask because there
are huge numbers of "fundamentalist" Muslims
who claim that the "moderates" are not truly
representing Islam but have compromised and are relativizing
There is much confusion
in the messages we hear from Muslim scholars, Muslim
leaders, and the actions of Muslim militants all over
the world. The Muslim world, in fact, is anything but
homogeneous. It has dividing lines which have been further
exacerbated after September 11.
On one hand, there
are many more moderate Muslim elites who are largely
Western-educated, who favor Muslim state built on some
kind of synthesis of the Islamic tradition and modernity,
instead of the canonical Shari'a patterns.
On the other hand,
there are many fundamentalists who say that only when
religious purity is restored, will the community thrive
once again. The obstacles to this are the corrupt leaders
in the Muslim world and their allies (the West). Their
formula is to eliminate the Western support. The only
difference among fundamentalists and the radicals is
in the means to accomplish this.
This is the heart
of the crisis within Islam. Fundamentalists are trying
to import a 7th Century cultural theocracy into the
21st Century. This internal crisis (which also effects
the external) is exacerbated because Islam is essentially
a dominant creed (non-Muslims vanquished or ruled),
a theocratic creed (all aspects of public and private
life are governed by Islamic law), and a dogmatic creed
(where there is a significant roadblock to reinterpret
tradition in terms of modern life).
1. Events and
Theology - Israel-Abraham- Isaac- Ishmael theological
- Jewish and Christian
rejection of Muhammad – Quranic verses (jihad)
- Ongoing tradition
of jihad against “Christian” Byzantine
Empire first few centuries (and later “Christian”
Europe) in spread of Islam
- “ Christian”
Crusades from 1099- 1212
- Spanish Inquisition
began in 1478 and over 10,000 “heretics”
tortured and killed, many Muslims
Period (18th and 19th century), European West and
Russia retaking many territories
- 1948 U.N. establishment
- Israeli annexation
- Israeli partition,
inequity, and treatment of Muslims in Palestine
- U.S. political
and commercial domination grows
- Blame of U.S.
spread of materialism and immorality for the cause
of decline of Islamic culture
- Compromise of
Islamic political leaders with West
- Rise and resurgence
of Islamic “fundamentalism” from the 1960’s
Ayatollah Khomeini’s overthrow of “corrupted”
Muslim government and takeover of U.S. Embassy- hostages
- U.S. military
intervention in Beirut, Lebanon- premature pullout
resulted in massacre of over 800 Palestinian men,
women, and children (1982)
- U.S. forces
reentered Beirut, established base - thrust into bloody
mosaic of conflicts- Hezbollah and martyrdom
- CIA attempt
to assassinate Hezbollah leader Sheik Fadallah failed-
Mosque bombing killed 80 innocent Arabs
arms to Iran deal to aid Shi'ites over Iraqi Sunnis
- U.S. bombing
of Libya (1986) in retaliation to Kadaffi’s
role in TWA hijacking and other hostages/ murder
- Military bases
and presence in Islamic countries like Saudi Arabia,
Continual “compromise” of Islamic political
leaders with U.S. (West) in economic and cultural
- U.S. waited
until Muslims almost exterminated in Bosnia before
stepping in, yet immediately came to the aid of Kuwait
in Gulf War (self interests)
- Bombing of Iraq
and ongoing embargo causing “millions of Iraq’s
children to starve”
$3 billion annual aid to Israel, $0 to Palestine per
Camp David accords ($450 million to Arafat).
alliance with Israel- politically and religiously
- Steady diet
of the above reasons to hate America fed in many thousands
of Islamic schools in recent decades producing large
generation of “fundamentalists”
Is Islam a religion
of peace? Are the Taliban, Al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah,
Islamic Jihad and many others just cultic perversions
of Islam? Does the Quran and Islam reject terrorism?
Is Islam compatible with democracy in America? Does
Islam permit or encourage suicide bombers? How does
Islam view Christians, Jews, and the Bible? Are Christians
being Biblical in their response?
The event of Sept
11 has awakened America to the pressing reality of the
issues of being a part of the global community. It has
shaken us out of our impregnable mind-set and awakened
us to our vulnerability.
What God has allowed
and ultimately ordained leaves Christians with many
opportunities in the kingdom of God. It is a time for
Christians and Americans to reassess what is true, important,
and to reevaluate our priorities. It is a time to rethink
our leadership responsibilities in the world.
It is a time to
seriously consider the question who are we as a country
and exactly what does it mean to be a "Christian
Satan is not asleep
though and the flesh of man is weak. There are many
distortions of the issues and reactions/responses which
will ultimately lead to weakness and death because it
is not of the truth.
The following are
some examples of the expert voices which precipitate
1. Muslim scholar
Dr. Farid Esack of Auburn Theological Seminary states,
"In Islamic Law there is absolutely no justification
for this kind of dastardly deed."
2. Veteran religion
editor of Newsweek, (Sept. 24) Kenneth Woodward recently
quoted Imam Yohya Hendi, Muslim chaplain of Georgetown
University deploring the slaughter of September 11,
"It violates the very foundation of Islamic Law."
An article in the
Los Angeles Times (Sept. 24) also supported Hendi's
view, "Most Muslims and non-Muslim experts on Islam
are quick to say that extremists are distorting the
faith and violating its fundamental principles of peace."
Hamid Dabashi of Columbia University states, "Nothing
in the Quran, Islamic theology or Islamic Law in any
way, shape, or form justifies ramming two airplanes
into civilian buildings."
3. Several years
ago after a number of Muslim terrorist attacks on US
holdings, a local Muslim leader wrote a letter to the
Birmingham News. he wrote "According to Islam's
deepest instincts political or military subjection is
unnatural and calls upon Muslims to resist through Jihad.
The reality of the present time is the dominant penetration
of secularist and excessively permissive Western civilization
in the Muslim world…the decadent excesses of immorality
with its incalculable degenerating effects are rejected.
This major aspect of struggle is the Islamic Jihad exercised
by Muslims wherever they live. Jihad in Islam is a continuous
struggle by Muslims, individually and corporately, to
enhance the quality of the human condition, resist transgression
and disfranchise selfishness."
Now is he talking
about the greater Jihad or the lesser Jihad? The fact
is that the condition he relates and the condition related
for the "lesser" jihad are congruent.
After the September
11th attack, the local Birmingham Muslim Center staged
an open house as a public relations effort. "You
should know that Islam categorically condemns such action."
Also written was, "You should know that the terrorist
act is not an act of Jihad (Holy War)," and "You
should know Islam has always preached love, mercy, justice,
and peace…that an American Muslim condemns the
attacks just as any other American."
4. President Bush
hosted a meeting at the White House, with Muslim leaders
from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)
and the American Muslim Council (AMC), received a Quran,
and mutually condemned the September 11th attack.
Yet shortly after
that, the media revealed that the leaders of these groups
were activist in supporting other militant jihad groups.
According to chief of the FBI's counter-terrorism section,
these two groups have been defending, exhorting, and
raising money for the Islamic terrorists groups, Hamas
CAIR has a long
history of intimidating more moderate or secular Muslims
who disagree with its more totalistic agenda.
5. Publicly, some
American mosque leaders say Islam means peace and tolerance,
and we are Americans from one side of their mouths,
but from the other side comes something far different.
For example, a
recent Washington Post story revealed a profile of Fawaz
Damra, Imam of the Cleveland Islamic Center. He is seen
inviting Jews to break Ramadan with him and hugging
the local Catholic bishop.
Yet several years
ago, Damra was taped raising money among Palestinians
in Chicago for the terrorist group Islamic Jihad, where
he said, "The Jihad stabs Jews…12 Jews, who
will give $500?
6. Salman Rushdie,
a British author who had a death warrant issued on him
by Iran's late Ayatollah Khomeini states, "This
war is about Islam…If it isn't about Islam, why
the worldwide Muslim demonstrations in support of Osama
bin Laden and Al Qaeda? Why did those 10,000 armed men
mass at the Pakistan-Afgan border answering some mullah's
call to jihad?"
In fact, a whole
chorus of writers ask the questions, "Which Muslim
nation is an example of freedom and human rights and
where is there not a Muslim nation where there hasn't
been bloodshed in the name of Islam?"
7. Salih bin Mohammad
Lahidan, chairman of the Judicial Council in Saudi Arabia
wrote of September 11th, " Those who commit such
crimes are the worst of people. Anyone who thinks that
any Islamic scholar will condone such acts in totally
8. Zaid Shakir,
former Muslim chaplain at Yale University writes, "The
Quran pushes us in the opposite direction as the forces
at work in the American political spectrum." From
this he argues that Muslims cannot accept the legitimacy
of the existing order here in the U.S.
9. We have in our
files a number of news reports as well as personal experiences
of the attitudes of some Muslims on the street of not-so-private
condoning the attack of September 11. Locally, one such
Muslim from Pakistan who has lived here 9 years said
that bin Laden to Muslims is like the Pope is to Christians.
10. Sheikh Muhammad
Sayyed Tantawi is the Grand Sheikh of the al-Azhar Mosque
and University in Cairo. He is reported to be the highest
spiritual authority for the nearly 1 billion Sunni Muslims.
indicated bin Ladin's aggressive acts do not represent
true Islam (whose Jihad is allegedly defensive), he
nevertheless calls the Palestine suicide bombers, martyrs
of Islam. He also publically disapproves of the coalition
the U.S. has forged to fight terrorism, stating that
Muslims cannot attack other Muslims.
Yet even more
recently (Dec. 4, 2001) he condemned (per Shari'a) the
3 suicide bombers in Jerusalem and Haifa (early December
2001). He stipulated that terroism was aggression against
innocent men, women, and children (which is contrary
to Islam), and jihad is legitimate self-defense against
injustice and oppression.
Again, the problem
is that the above pronouncements are inconsistent and
therefore ambiguous at best. On top of that, many fundamentalist
or traditional Muslims point out that Tantawi is respected
but his views are not binding. In addition to that,
Palestinian Muslims in the Gaza Strip dismiss as irrelevant
the "moderate" views of government-appointed
11. Sheik Yusuf
Qaradawi, chairman of the Sunna and Sira Council in
Qatar is one of Islam's most prominent Sunni scholars.
He too approves of the Palestinian suicide bombers and
calls for opposition to the American entry into Afghanistan.
He has harshly criticized the U.S. for its support of
Yet he led a panel
of prominent Muslim scholars in the Middle East in issuing
a fatwa, a declaration denouncing the terrorist attacks
on the U.S. and proclaimed that it is the "duty"
of every Muslim to help apprehend the terrorists.
12. Sheik Hamoud
bin Oqla Shuaibi, a senior cleric in Saudi Arabia criticizes
his own government, "Whoever supports the infidel
against Muslims is considered an infidel… It is
a duty to wage Jihad on anyone who supports the attack
on Afghanistan. The campaign by the criminal Bush, under
the pretext of fighting terrorism, is nothing but a
Crusade as before in history."
13. On December
6, 2001, the FBI announced the freezing of funds of
153 Muslim groups and individuals in the U.S. who are
possibly funding terrorist activities abroad. The leader
of one charity, the Holy Land Foundation for Relief
and Development, Shukri Abu Baker is an official in
the terrorist group Hamas, and Holy Land raised $13
million last year.
14. Martin Kramer,
editor of the Middle East Quarterly, writes, "Nothing
has been more completely missed than the threat posed
by Islamic terrorism to the United States and the West."
He adds that the majority of experts "failed to
ask the right questions at the right time about Islam.
They underestimated its impact in the 1980s; they misrepresented
its role in the early 1990s; and they glossed over its
growing potential for terrorism against America in the
Yet another leading
American scholar of Islam, and founder of the Center
for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University,
responds, "some believe that all Islamic fundamentalist
groups or movements are a threat. The others, represented
by myself and several others, would say that you have
to distinguish between mainstream Islamic society and
those extremists who attack people in their own societies
and now in the West."
"In their view, any Islamic movement is either
moderate or potentially moderate. So every time there
is a disagreeable act by some Muslim group what they
say is: 'Well, this doesn't represent Islam; this is
not true Islam.' But the real question which they don’t
ask is why do the people who perpetrate these acts justify
them in terms of Islam?"
What we continue
to encounter from Muslim spokesmen is that Islam is
a religion of peace and not one of terrorism, violence,
or of coercion. Indeed we often see this latter point
quoted in the Quran, "There is no compulsion in
religion" (Sura 2:256).
Great pains are
taken by the Muslims to repeat, "terrorism is not
Islam." But this is by in large a rhetorical devise.
First, one must define "terrorism". Depending
on how one defines it, a case can be made from Islamic
sources on either side. This is why I refer to Islam
as a schizophrenic religion, suffering from a multiple
But the real issue
that the Muslim must respond to is that of jihad - the
sword of Islam. The fundamental problem here though
is that the Muslim is faced with the question - "who
ultimately speaks for Islam as the final authority?"
Since the passing of the Caliphite in 1924, Muslims
are personally responsible for finding out the truth
through personal study and the learned views of the
Muslim clerical scholars - who don't always agree with
Let's hear how
jihad is defined by various Muslim authors of Islamic
publications. Iqad Hilal writes, "The Islamic ideology…is
universal ideology meant to liberate all mankind. Consequently,
one cannot expect this ideology to be confined to a
specific people or land. In order to deliver this ideology
to the rest of humanity, the State that adopts this
ideology shoulders the responsibility of carrying it
to new lands. As would be expected, this goal will lead
to a conflict with other states and their ideologies.
This conflict has to be resolved either through diplomacy
or through force" (Islam: A Complete Way of Life,
3rd ed. p. 73).
He goes on, "Islam
adapted Jihad as its method of carrying its authority,
justice, and ideals to other lands…Jihad…at
best, its legal meaning can be understood as using the
military force where diplomacy fails, to remove the
obstacles the Islamic state faces in carrying its ideology
to mankind…summary, Jihad is the method adopted
by Islam to protect its lands and save humanity from
the slavery of man-made regimes."
leader, Ahmad Sakr of the Foundation for Islamic Knowledge
writes about Jihad being among other things effort "and
fighting to defend one's life, land, and religion…Jihad
is not a defensive war only, but a war against any unjust
regime. If such a regime exists, a war is to be waged
against the leaders, but not against the people of that
country…in war Islam prohibits civilians."
These are latter claims and somewhat comforting but
we must ask, "on what authority or basis can you
make that claim?"
Mahmroud Ayoub, professor of Islamic studies at Temple
University writes, regarding the so-called "lesser"
jihad, he writes, "only in worship, unity of purpose,
and social consciousness can Muslims protect those who
are weak, exposed and oppressed. In fact, the main aim
of jihad in society is to eradicate wrong doing and
oppression. Again the challenge to the first Muslims
is most appropriate to us today in view of Lebanon,
Afghanistan, Iraq, the Philippines, and wherever else
Muslims suffer oppression."
Ayoud goes on to
explain, "What then is the Qur'an enjoining on
the people of faith to investigate the need for fighting
and whether it is justified or not." And what is
the justification "that should motivate them to
fight?" He answers, "It is to make the world
of Allah uppermost. When this consideration calls for
a jihad of arms, then fighting becomes an obligation
on every Muslim able to carry arms.
what it means to "make the word of Allah uppermost."
He states, "It is to insure His will as revealed
in the Qur'an, exemplified in the life of the Prophet
Muhammad [Sunnah] and his companions and enshrined in
the Shari'ah be done." In other words, that all
the world comes under the theocratic rule of Islam.
So what is the
will of Allah as revealed in the Quran and exemplified
in the life of Muhammad concerning the jihad of warfare
by the sword?
1. Speaking of
"those who suppress faith" [Islam], "Fight
in the cause of God those who fight you but do not transgress
limits…and slay them wherever you catch them"
2. "And fight
them on until there is no more tumult or oppression
and there prevail justice and faith in God." (Sura
the above passages claim that this is applicable only
to a "defensive jihad", similar to a Christians
"just war" perspective. While we can understand
this, when one adds other Quranic passages and the concepts
of the U.S. and Christian military action, military
station, cultural and doctrinal presence in the Islamic
territories, this amounts to an "oppression",
which justifies even this jihad. But there are additional
passages which do not reflect a "defensive jihad"
either in scriptural or historical context for example:
those who believe not in God nor the Last Day, nor hold
that forbidden which hath been forbidden by God and
His Apostle [Muhammad], nor acknowledge the Religion
of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book
[Jews and Christians] until they pay the Jizya [compensation]
with willing submission and feel themselves subdued"
(Sura 9:29; see also 5:33).
4. "But when
the forbidden months are past, then fight them and slay
the Pagans wherever you find them, and seize them, beleaguer
them, and lie in wait for them to every stratagem (of
war)" (Sura 9:5).
Yusuf Ali in his
commentary on the above verse states that jihad must
be pursued with "vigor" which may take the
"form of slaughter" or "ambush and other
stratagems." Could that not include suicide bombings?
Many Muslim leaders are saying no, it could not because
the Quran prohibits suicide and it limits warfare only
to combatants. But attain, that is not the whole story
as we shall cover momentarily.
5. "It is
He who got out the unbelievers among the People of the
Book from their homes at the first gathering of the
forces. Little did you think that they would get out;
and they thought that their fortresses would defend
them from Allah! But the wrath of Allah came to them
from quarters from which they had little expected it,
and cast terror into their hearts" (Sura 59:2).
Now does that
not strike a familiar chord?
your Lord inspired the angels with the message, 'I am
with you: give firmness to the Believers: I will instill
terror [there is that word again] into the hearts of
unbelievers: you smite [cut off] them above their necks
and smite all their fingertips off them" (Sura
8:12; see also 8:60).
them and Allah will punish them by your hands, cover
them with shame, help you to have victory over them,
and heal the wounds of the Believers" (Sura 9:14).
in the cause of God and know that God hears and knows
all things" (Sura 2:244).
9. Some other jihad
passages are Suras 47:4; 9:123; 4:10; 4:102; 5:17; 9:52;
Examples of Jihad/Terrorism Against the US
1. 14,000 killed
by terrorist Jihad in past 20 years (many Americans)
2. From 1983-mid
2001, 300 suicide attacks documented worldwide
3. Truck bomb U.S.
Embassy in W. Beirut (63 died)
4. U.S. stabilization
attacked in Beirut -1982
5. U.S. Embassy
bombed in E. Beirut 1983 (241 died - also 60 French
6. TWA hijacked
(1 Marine hostage beaten and killed)
7. 30 Americans
kidnapped as hostages, including priest, pastor, professors
- CIA station chief killed
8. World Trade
Center in NYC car bomb, 1993, killing 6, wounding over
9. Bomb on Pan
Am flight killed 241 and 11 ground on Dec. 21, 1988
10. U.S. personnel
in Riad, Saudi Arabia, suicide bomb killed dozens of
US Air Force personnel
11. 1998, 2 US
Embassies bombed in East Africa (Kenya, Tanzania) 224
12. Bomb attack
on USS Cole Oct. 1, 2000 (17 killed, 39 wounded)
13. Over 3,000
killed on September 11, 2001 in NYC and Washington
14. So far 3 dead
in Anthrax bioterrorism attack
15. 13 Egyptian
Christians shot dead May 14, 1992 (10 farmers, 1 schoolteacher,
16. Many thousands
of other Christians have been killed by Muslims in Syria,
Nigeria, Sudan, Egypt, and other Muslim countries
I return to my earlier description, Islam is schizophrenic.
Traditional, orthodox, fundamentalist Islam cannot escape
from their intrinsically militant roots. The more moderate
Muslims, which include most of the heads of Islamic
countries, are caught between the proverbial "rock
and a hard place." They are trying to play both
ends. On one end are the militant fundamentalists to
whom the "moderates" have to mollify and appease
(which includes paying them large sums of money and
turning their heads from their terrorism). On the other
end, they realize that they must modify or liberalize
traditional Islam in order to move into the 21st century
to acquire the technology and commercial benefits (i.e.
progress) of modernity from the West. The U.S. is trying
to reinforce the latter.
It is often said
that the militants are a small percentage. This is true
of those who are overtly acting out their militant Jihad.
But the concern is about those "closet" fundamentalists
who are being more pragmatic and biding their time as
they work more toward power. But even if that "small
percentage" is say, 10% (which is probably an underestimate),
then we are talking about 120 million militants!
Muslims we encounter
personally may be anywhere along the spectrum of the
five categories mentioned above. Christians should be
"wise as serpents and harmless as doves" as
we interact. Share sympathetically concerning the possible
flaws and inequities in past foreign policy and the
perversions of the Crusades. Ask good questions regarding
their personal understanding of Jihad. Hopefully, they
may be more moderate and therefore more open to the
The next section
of this paper will focus on a Christian apologetic approach
(more to come).
Other Articles by Craig Branch