I find that we are in a dilemma – Christians, that is. The recent actions of Islamist Muslims are so horrendous (and recurring) that many in the “West” (the “democratic” world, regardless of geographic location) may soon ascribe the actions of radical Islam to all Muslims. A few quotes from the referenced Reuters article are revealing of the plight of Muslims in France:
In the poor Nice suburb of Ariane, many Muslims feel their community is being unfairly blamed for the Bastille Day attack that killed 84 people, and fear discrimination and social divisions will grow in its wake. …
France is home to Europe’s largest Muslim minority. In a sign of the growing feeling of alienation among many Muslims in Ariane and elsewhere, [one Muslim], a roof-builder born to Moroccan immigrants, said the whole community was blamed “every time something happens in France, in Europe”.
The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack in Nice. ISIS is a “Sunni Salafi Jihadist Muslim branch of Islam. All Muslims are not Salafi Jihadist Muslims, in fact, only a small percentage are.
Islam has two primary sects and many dividing lines within the two sects. (Thereby fulfilling Daniel 2:41-43 NASB. Read more.) The primary dividing line is between Sunnis (90%) and Shias (10%) (two sects, one strong and one weak (Daniel 2:42)). (Read more) Then, within each sect are many more dividing lines which break a sect into branches, much like a tree with many branches. In Shia Islam, the branches are further defined by its leader’s legitimacy as a blood descendant of Muhammad through his daughter, Fatima, and her husband, Ali, son of Abu Talib. On the chart of Shia Islam below, Ali is on the left side, top, with his sons, Hasan and Husain, below. The branches for Shias are further complicated because of a “naming” process required to occur before the current imam died. And, since Sunnis assassinated Shia imams because they were threats to the leadership of the Sunni caliphs, there were frequent disagreement as to who the next legitimate imam was to be. As the chart below notes, Shias have many different branches because of disagreement as to the rightful successor to the prior leader. (Read more) The primary branches in Shiism are “Fivers” (“Zaydies,” in Yemen; brown color below), “Seveners” (“Ismailis”; blue below), and “Twelvers,” yellow in the chart), each laying claim to a particular Imam as the infallible, legitimate leader from the main tree of Shia Islam.
Mainstream Sunnis, however, do not recognize non-Sunnis (Shias) as true branches of the tree of Islam. To Sunnis they are false Muslims. ISIS is a branch within Sunnism, and it does not consider Shias (or most other Sunnis) as true Muslims which explains why ISIS frequently targets Shias as their adversary. (Read more). Shias are referred to as “rafida,” a pejorative term meaning “rejectors,” that is, those who reject Islamic authority of the true Sunnis and their leaders from the beginning of Islam.
The word “Salafi” describes a Muslim who holds to the most conservative, purist form of Islam, traced back to Muhammad and his companions, combined with an aversion to politics. The word ‘Salafi’ comes from the Arabic phrase, ‘as-salaf as-saliheen’, which refers to the first three generations of Muslims (starting with the Companions of the Prophet), otherwise known as the Pious Predecessors.1 The Islamic State is a salafist branch of Islam. Its origin is actually from Al Qaeda, another salafist branch of Islam, which was not violent enough for ISIS, requiring their breaking off from al-Qaeda. (Read more) Al Qaeda’s origin are the Wahhabis of Saudi Arabia, the most predominant Sunni Salafi branch in Saudi Arabia.
“Jihadist,” when used in conjunction with “Salafi,” describes a further refinement within Sunni Salafi Islam that advocates violence as the only means to spread Islam to the masses. To a Sunni Salafi Jihadist Muslim, jihad is necessary because non-Muslims must be saved from their non-Sharia democratic societies. Sharia law must be imposed because it is in the best interests of humanity to do so even if people do not believe it to be so. To a Sunni Salafi Jihadist, violence is not only necessary, it is just and in the best interests of those upon whom jihad is waged– even if the deaths of many are required to effect the change. The writings of Sayyid Qutb and Mustafa Mashhur of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt seek to establish this fact as 20th century Islamist scholars. (Read more). The reason, of course, that Salafi Jihadists believe violence is the only means to spread Islam is because of the actions of Muhammad. Muhammad spread Islam by the sword beginning in Medina, particularly, his last years before his unexpected death in 632 A.D. The last surah revealed to Muhammad is Surah 9 which contains the renowned “verses of the sword” (Qur’an 9:1 – 7, particularly, verse 5). This surah abrogates, or supersedes, all prior surahs revealed to Muhammad, including the verses which advocate that there should be “no compulsion in religion.” (Qur’an 2:256).
One web site has compiled a number of interesting polls on the “religion of peace.” Here are some of the results, particularly those relevant to Americans and our British friends.
- Pew Research (2011): 8% of Muslims in America believe suicide bombings are often or sometimes justified (81% never). 28% of Egyptian Muslims believe suicide bombings are often or sometimes justified (38% never).
- Pew Research (2013): Only 57% of Muslims worldwide disapprove of al-Qaeda. Only 51% disapprove of the Taliban. 13% support both groups and 1 in 4 refuse to say.
- BBC Radio (2015): 45% of British Muslims agree that clerics preaching violence against the West represent “mainstream Islam.”
- The Polling Company CSP Poll (2015): 19% of Muslim-Americans say that violence is justified in order to make Sharia the law in the United States (66% disagree).
- The Polling Company CSP Poll (2015): 25% of Muslim-Americans say that violence against Americans in the United States is justified as part of the “global Jihad” (64% disagree).
According to Pew Research, Muslims are the only major religious group in the world that is projected to increase at a faster rate than the world’s population over the next forty years:
If one considers the increase in Muslims as projected above, then the impact of ISIS on the world’s Muslims should be an important fact that must be wrestled with. Here is the good news: in all of the statistics I have reviewed, the most encouraging was done by Pew Research last year on the opinion of Muslims around the world regarding ISIS:
If the world’s Muslims have an overwhelmingly unfavorable view of ISIS, and assuming the Pew Research statistics have not been rendered invalid by the Qur’anic doctrine of “taqiyah” (which advocates lying; Read more), there is grave spiritual danger when Christians assume that their Muslim neighbor next door is looking for an opportunity to run them over with a truck. Rather, Christians must be motivated by the command of Jesus that we evangelize the world, including the world of Islam.
As most of you know, my view of end-times Scripture is that Islam is the “cloak” under which satan covers to wage war against believers (Revelation 12:17; Read my book here). Yet, as a believer in Jesus Christ, I cannot let my knowledge of the Qur’an and my knowledge of Islamist attacks around the world cause me to turn a blind eye to the hearts of Muslims that Christ is seeking for Himself. (Read more). This view is combined with the fact that the one group in the end-of-days that does not pay homage to the “beast” of Revelation 13:1-10 (whom I interpret to refer to Allah, a demonic spiritual being subject to satan) is Christians (Revelation 13:7-8). Christianity will remain true to God until the end of this age. So how can a few taint the way we look at the many all over the globe? The two are not the same. A Sunni Salafi Jihadist Muslim is not the lens through which God has called us to see Muslims all over the world. If we see Muslims through the lens of Salafi Jihadist Islam, we will be blind to the opportunities God will bring us to share the love of Christ with a Muslim; and that is not the will of God. If it were, God would never have struck Saul with a bright light on the Damascus Road, only to send Paul to the opposite ends of the world. In other words, if “Saul” can be transformed to “Paul” so can my Muslim neighbor next door. The transformation is hardly any more difficult for God. The question is whether Christians want to be a part of the transformation process!
There were two recent ambushes of police (Dallas and Baton Rouge) by two angry black men, presumably to avenge the deaths of other black men at the hands of rogue police. (Read more) The deaths of the policemen are beyond tragic, horrific. The same can be said of the deaths in the African-American community at the hands of police, most justified, but some not. (Read more) We cannot view all African-Americans like the two angry black men who ambushed the two groups of police officers. Likewise, we cannot view all police like the rogue police who use excessive violence, even unto death, against the black men. If either occurs, our society as we know it will crumble.
Will not the same thing occur if we view all Muslims in the same way we view ISIS? As I have written before, we must hate the Qur’an but love a Muslim. Read more. I pray that God will give us the courage to do both.
Jesus come quickly.
JackFootnotes to post:
- http://www.theweek.co.uk/world-news/6073/what-is-salafism-and-should-we-be-worried-by-it [↩]