Ecumenical & Interfaith, Muslim Ministry
Unpacking the ISIS News Release on the Paris/France Attacks
November 15, 2015
Updated March 8, 2018
7 comments 207 views
On November 13, ISIS released the following document (A Statement on the Blessed Onslaught in Paris against the Crusader Nation of France) celebrating their "holy war" or jihad against France who they call a "Crusader nation." It is noteworthy that the attacks are justified by citations from the Qur'an, use of the Islamic calendar, and celebrate the dedication of the "holy warriors" in their so-called battle to rid France of its sinfulness. In a very ironic fashion, the statement is a back-handed challenge to the Church as well.
a. This so-called jihad or holy war by ISIS finds its justification in the Qur'an and in the life of Muhammad and Islamic history. That is to say it is not a "radical" "extremist" or "lunatic fringe" effort. The precedent of what happened to the Jewish tribe the Banu Nadir is immediately appealed to in the text by its reference to Surah 59.2.
b. Nations which historically were associated with the cross, namely France and Germany in this case, are dubbed "Crusader" nations. It is a sad irony that largely these nations from which Calvin and Luther had their roots, and which was influenced by the Reformation, have forgotten God, and live in immorality. It is also a pitiful irony that ISIS, for all of its moral outrage against the "sins" of these nations, perpetuates the same and more especially in areas under its control.
c. The easy justification for slaughter on the part of ISIS stems from this so-called "righteous indignation." Yet it could be deemed a hypocritical indignation, just as the Surah of the "hypocrites" was appealed to.
d. As much as the liberal press would suggest that any outrage against Islam for this action is questionable, one wonders if it is high time for Islam to take responsibility for its actions. Little wonder, however, that when the Egyptian "Mark Gabriel" started asking questions while he was still a Muslim, about the linkage between the actions and ideas of the founder of his religion and perpetual violence, he was jailed and tortured for asking the wrong questions.
e. These actions are directly linked to a strategy called "civilization jihad." Note how these ideas are linked by a strategy paper from the Muslim Brotherhood of the USA entitled "An Explanatory Memorandum"
“The process of settlement is a “Civilization-Jihadist Process” with all the word means. The Ikhwan [=Muslim Brotherhood] must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and — “sabotaging” its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.” – Pg. 7 of 8
Compare this statement with that of a French historian André Servier who lived in then French Algeria in the early 1900's.
“Islam was not a torch, as has been claimed, but an extinguisher. Conceived in a barbarous brain for the use of a barbarous people, it was — and it remains — incapable of adapting itself to civilization. Wherever it has dominated, it has broken the impulse towards progress and checked the evolution of society.”
André Servier, Islam and the Psychology of the Musulman [French L’islam et la psychologie du musulman. Paris, 1923
f. The document rightfully demonstrates that the West faces an ideological type of warfare where jets and bombs will not necessarily completely win the day. In a back-handed way it also challenges the Church to think how it can mobilize its youth to lives of self-sacrifice, and why its task of unashamedly proclaiming a Biblical Christian worldview is more needed than ever.
g. The document in a back-handed way challenges the Church to self-sacrifice, loving our lives not unto death, of eternal rewards, and of having a healthy understanding of what martyrs like Bishop Polycarp of Smyrna stood for.
h. As much as the reference to the Crusades could invoke a lot of hand-wringing on the part of the West, the reality at present is that ISIS has declared war on all of humanity except itself, and thus calls for a strong response from all of humanity except ISIS, just as the Allies took a strong response to the Nazis. Platitudes such as those which came from Chamberlain about Hitler, do not portray love, but culpable indifference to the sufferings of others.
i. This document is a wake-up call. Will the West hear it?
[i] Note that this is date is from the Islamic calendar, which counts history from the year of the Hijra or immigration to Medina.
[ii] The Surah (chapter of the Qur'an) where this comes from is called Sūrat al-Hashr and it means "the exile" or the "banishment" which refers to the Jews of the tribe of Banu Nadir from their settlement. The not-so-subtle message that continues in the text is that ISIS is going to banish the "crusader" French from their own houses, with the blessings of Allah.
[iii] This is a dominant theme in Islamic history, and is detailed especially in the first authorized biography of Muhammad, by Ibn Ishaq and revised by Ibn Hisham.
[iv] From Sūrat al-Munāfiqūn or the "hypocrites". The text makes it clear that only Allah of Islam, Muhammad, and Muslims are those who "know" or are properly guided. Those who are two-faced are the ignorant ones. Likely it serves two purposes. First it distinguishes ISIS and its supposed obedience to the laws of Allah and the ways of Muhammad from all other people, and secondly it could be a covert call to arms for all non-ISIS Muslims, as by definition, the hypocrites were those who were Muslims, but were not radical enough and tried to soften the radical attitudes of Muhammad and his closest followers.
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Salaam thank you for this "wake up call" I agree that the church does need this and that we are challenged by the rise of Islam and extremist Islam. As Calvin has reminded us in the Reformation, Islam challenges our theology and it is important that we know our Scriptures, our theology, and are able to defend out faith. I also think you are right that our young people should be challenged to engage in missions with Muslims even at significant cost and suffering. The time is right for missions to Muslims.
But I do not support violence and reprisal type cycles of violence. Security and limited war maybe necessary by states but individual Christians are called to love Muslims and our response even to violent attacks has to be forgiveness coupled with witness. While I admit that extremists have Quranic support (and also from the Hadith) many Muslims and Christians continue to see them as extremists (on the fringes) because of the type of Islam they follow. Labelling all Muslims as extremists potentially could lead to the closing of doors to Syrian refugees as we are seeing in some US states (and possibly some Canadian provinces).
Let's try to reduce the fear factor and encourage respectful engagement with our Muslim neighbours.
When your forefathers lived in Holland, they lived under Nazi domination. Daily, they heard stories of Jews being rounded up and sent to their death in concentration camps. It would be very convenient to say "I do not support violence and reprisal type cycles of violence" in order to stop the Nazis. Yet someone somewhere had to say, "enough is enough." This is not about a personal vendetta against a Nazi, but it is a reasoned position to declare a just war against barbaric injustice. This is not a time for "humanitarian sentimentalism" to quote the post about the refugee situation that you can find elsewhere.
Secondly there are not two types of Islam. There is one kind, founded on the three pillars of the Sunnah [the reports of the life the Muhammad found in the Hadith], the Sira [the biography of Muhammad] and the Qur'an. All of these are subjected to the theological interpretations of the consensus of Islamic thought over its history. Like it or not, for all of its small variations, Islam is remarkably consistent in its thought, say concerning the position of an "infidel." All Islamic schools over time, in all its variations see the infidel as inferior, one who can be humiliated, milked of its resources, and killed if necessary. Just how literally all of this is applied depends largely on the type of Islamic state in which the infidel is found, how much in the majority Islam happens to be in a particular country, and whether there will be any recriminations against Islam for doing so.
If you read my post carefully, I suggest that all of humanity [and that includes non-ISIS Muslims] to challenge ISIS. I did not label all Muslims as extremists. Many Muslims live peaceably in spite of the precedents of their founder. It is these very Muslims that ISIS refers to as "hypocrites." They do so, as they feel that secular Muslims are supposed to live by the precedents of their founder, and are not doing so, and thus have caved in to the values of the non-Shariah law.
Lastly. I have seen the word "fear factor" come up a few times in some blogs. Here are a few facts:
a. ISIS said it would flood Europe with refugees. It did it.
b. ISIS in the above document says it will look for more blood. It will.
c. ISIS has threatened malls here and there, centers of government here and there. It will attempt to hit these targets.
Is this fear mongering to say that it would be prudent to circumvent a possible attack on the West Edmonton mall, and to actually eliminate the source of the attack? I would say not at all. Actually, by telling the chickens in the hen house that the snake that killed the last three chickens in relatively harmless, engenders more fear than ever.
Thanks Salaam for your articles articulating the basic Muslim perspective. I am by no means an expert in Islamic thinking. So such an article helps with getting into the mind set of those who have a Muslim religious bias. I realize that the Islamic religion upholds a theocratic form of national government, unlike the U.S., Canada, or other democracies. The theocratic form of Islam seems, to me, to come close to what we read of in the Old Testament when God was perceived as Israel’s only ruler. There was not a separation of church and state by which the state was governed by separate laws from that of religious law. That helps me to understand how a Muslim mind set can consider that all others (other than Muslims) are infidels and worthy of death.
When Israel (in the Old Testament) was told to go into the promised land and take possession of this land by killing all the inhabitants of this land, this killing was to include men, women, and children. It didn’t matter if some of these inhabitants were good or not. In God’s mind they were all infidels and deserved to die. The Israelites were not given any other option than to destroy the people living in this promised land. It didn’t matter that this land had previously (previous to God’s promise) and legitimately belonged to other people. The Israelites were not to question God but to simply obey. God’s honor was at stake and disobedience as an affront on his honor. This is the God whom we, as Christians, worship. Just as killing non Muslims makes no sense to me, neither does our Old Testament concept of a just Jahweh God.
I think also contributing to this Old Testament and Muslim perspective is the idea that God’s greatest concern was for his own chosen people. God has a right to chose a chosen race (people) out from the sea of humanity to demonstrate his love particularly on them. Those outside of the chosen race were deemed as of little worth unless these outsiders were to acquiesce to the chosen nation’s God or deity. We see this today, and seems to be made clear in your article, Salaam. And it also seems to be clear from our own historic Christian roots, as well. If we can pretend to understand the God of the Old Testament, then we should have some understanding of the ISIS mentality of today. God help us.
P.S: Just as there are many Muslim groups disassociating from a radical Islamic perspective, so there are many Christians who try to redefine Christianity into a more moderate and loving religion, as well. Just as many Muslims can find sympathetic scripture passages to soften the core of Islamic belief, that same is true of Christianity. You can make Scripture say whatever you may want, whatever the religion.
One thing you might want to recall in the Old Testament is that small phrase "when the sins of the Amorites were full." From the Bible we know this took 430 years. That is a bit like waiting from 1585 to the present. John Calvin died 21 years earlier than this date. From 1585 to 2015 as it were, God was patient, continually extending grace to a debauched, child sacrificing, idolatrous group of people--i.e. the Canaanites or the Amorites, whose religion with a storm God, Baal with his unraised fist and all of the fertility rites that humans engaged in in order to cause the gods to do so was a continual affront to the holiness of YHWH.
430 years of grace, patience, long-suffering, and toleration is a long time in my estimation, and more or less changes the equation, when you portray the Old Testament YHWH as a blood-thirsty, vengeful deity. Like it or not He is able to bring about judgment due to his Holiness, and he refrains from bringing it about immediately because of his long-suffering.
Have a good Christmas
One other comment in light of this discussion that I think we can all agree on is that Jesus came to extend the message of God's grace to from the Jewish people to all people and to condemn the idea of a theocracy separate from the kingdom of God which elevates the servant over the master the last over the first. In the words of Isaiah 61 and Luke 4 the message is for the prisoner, the oppressed, the blind, the outcast. It is the restoration of exodus and exile and good news for all people, even ISIS.
Thanks Nathaniel, for your response to my comment. I can see, from your comment, that you want to hang on to the idea that the God of the Bible is a loving and gracious God. But I think you are looking at the Bible’s teaching only at a surface level. You are not considering what the Bible teaches about God below the surface at the deeper level. As I see it, you are looking at the veneer on the surface and not the substance. What I have appreciated, in the past, about the Reformed theological understanding of the Bible is that it goes deeper in trying to understand the Bible’s teaching.
You suggest that God was very patient and gracious with the people in the land of Canaan, in fact for 430 years. I’m not sure where you get this time frame from. Are you trying to calculate from the time of Adam up to the time when God told the Israelites to go in to the land and slaughter the people of Canaan? You portray God as gracious, patient, longsuffering and tolerant for this length of time. I’m not sure where you draw this from. In fact it sounds more like your own summation of God’s character toward the Canaanites and Hittites, rather than the Bible’s.
If I read my Bible correctly, it is only the chosen of God who are loved by God. The chosen people of God, whether in the Old Testament or New, are the ones who are the objects of God’s electing love and of the special ministry of the Holy Spirit by which he draws them to himself. But what about the others, the ones not chosen for salvation? They may hear a general gospel invitation but are not enabled to respond to God’s invitation apart from the Holy Spirit’s empowering and enabling. They are left to their own efforts to win salvation, which we know results in failure.
Those not chosen, the non-elect, are not only left to their own efforts to win God’s favor but are hindered or obstructed by God from having any success in pleasing him, according to the Bible. You see it is not only the elect who are predestined to salvation, but it is also the non-elect who are predestined to damnation. It’s a double predestination. For instance, Romans 9:17,18 says, “For the Scriptures say that God told Pharaoh, I have appointed you for the very purpose of displaying my power in you and to spread my fame throughout the earth. So you see, God chooses to show mercy to some, and he chooses to harden the hearts of others so they refuse to listen.” God is the one who hardens hearts. Most think the Canons of Dort adopt such a view of a double predestination..
But not only does God predestine the ends (the damnation of those not chosen) but the means as well. First, God has set the standard to please him at absolute perfection. But of course accomplishing such a standard is an impossibility. “There is none righteous, no not one.” or “All have sinned and fallen short...” or “Be perfect, even as your Father is perfect.” By setting a standard of perfection God excludes anyone from accomplishing such an impossible goal. Second, God credits everyone with the sin of Adam before they are even born. Even as David said in Psalm 51:5, “For I was born a sinner, yes, from the moment my mother conceived me.” So by God’s determination and act, all have failed the test of pleasing God because he credits all with Adam’s sin. This human failure was accomplished by God even before a person is born. Then third, God has imputed a sinful nature to all human beings, also before birth, with the result that all people have a natural inclination to sin. The apostle Paul talks about his own entrapment by his sinful nature in Romans 7:14-25 where he concludes by saying he is one miserable person because of his enslavement to sin. (Paul finds his hope in Jesus because he is one of the chosen or elect.) But you see, it was God who imputed or credited this sinful nature to all people before birth without asking if anyone wanted such a nature. God not only predetermined the ends of damnation for those not chosen to salvation, he also determined the means by which he would ensure such failure by human beings. As Paul says, God hardens the hearts of those not chosen to salvation. This is the act of God. And somehow, God blames human beings for their failure to achieve perfection.
Nathaniel, is this what you are calling the grace and love of God? Is this what you are referring to as the grace, long suffering, patience, and toleration of God, which lasted some 430 years? You see God’s hatred, according to the Bible, actually goes back to the mind of God before time.
A short response to Greg: If I read my Bible correctly, the gospel invitation may be extended to all people. That sounds like really good news. But the question not answered is, if people cannot respond to the gospel invitation, is it a sincere offer or really good news? “Many are called but few are chosen.” If we don’t go below the surface of the Bible’s teaching, it might seem that both Nathaniel and Greg’s comments ring true about God’s great love for the masses, but below the surface we see a much more complicated picture of God and a picture that makes sense of verses that speak of God’s hatred of sinners. But then we should ask, who made them sinners? The Bible more than hints that it is God himself. Either the Bible is true or it contains some contains some glaring contradictions. Maybe it is better to stay with a surface understanding of God. It feels so much better, and such a God is much easier to defend.
Thanks for listening. Wishing you a Merry Christmas.
To “Name Withheld”, I have tried (in a previous comment) to show that there is a deeper understanding of God and his purposes than what simply appears on the surface. The Bible teaches a double predestination, a predestination of a chosen people unto salvation and eternal life, and a predestination of those chosen for damnation and an eternity in hell. Granted, this is a difficult idea to swallow, but none the less it is clearly taught in the Bible. Many or most Christians would prefer to acknowledge only a surface teaching of God’s love for all people and God’s desire to see all accept his offer of salvation. So in a sense, there seems to be two teachings taken from the Bible, and both stand in stark contrast to each other (but not in reality).
I sense that those of the Muslim religion do the same thing. Those Muslims that stand in sharp contrast to a radical Islamic viewpoint want to show or claim that the Islamic religion is really about a loving God who wants to embrace humanity in his love. But that may be a more surface or superficial understanding of the Islamic faith. When understood at a deeper level of the Islamic teachings, you get a teaching that may accord in principle with the position held by the radical Islamics. This is what I seem to pick up from the original article and some of the comments. So it could seem that the Muslims do the same thing as Christians, that is, talk out of two sides of their mouths. Blessings to all at this Christmas season.
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