Throughout the campaigning for and actual occurrence of the 2016 Elections, each side of the aisle was preaching a message about radical Islamic terrorism. The right reminded us all that it is a massive problem that must be dealt with, and the left tried to isolate the terrorists from the religion of Islam. Different messages that were both loudly preached.
I agree with the political right that radical Islamic terrorism is a massive problem, and I disagree with the left that the terrorists are isolated from their pillars of religion. However, I have a different paradigm. Most view radical Islamic terrorism as first and foremost a political issue.
I see it as first and foremost a SPIRITUAL issue.
For a complete overview of the religious sources of Islamic terrorism, this summary is particularly helpful.
The Quran is filled with verses encouraging violence and discouraging peace. Unlike Old Testament verses that had historical context, boundaries, and were the Old Law in comparison of the New Law, violent passages of the Quran are frequently open-ended, call for the annihilation of a wide range of people, and encourage the destruction of those that disagree with you, not the moral persuasion. Thankfully, many Muslims choose to listen to their conscience that discourages them from bearing arms to kill ‘unbelievers’ instead of listening to their holy book.
The difference continues to grow rapidly. Compare Jesus, the King of the World who rode into Jerusalem on a donkey in order to die on a cross for his people, to the Prophet Muhammad, who rode on a stallion, sword in hand, leading an army to capture the city of Mecca. They cannot even begin to be put in the same category.
Are we surprised at Islamic violence toward women when the religion devalues women and treats them like property? Are we surprised when they kill homosexuals? After all, Islam encourages death to homosexuals, not love and kindness toward them. Islam itself does not encourage suicide simply to kill yourself, but it encourages martyrdom: Killing yourself AND others for one of the causes that are spoken about in the Quran (killing infidels, unbelievers, etc.).
The motivation for radical Islamic terrorism is different than all politically, geographically, culturally, or cause driven terrorist attacks in that it is first and foremost, spiritually encouraged. There may be peaceful Muslims, but Islam itself is not a religion of peace. As Ayaan Hirsi Ali of the AHA Foundation said at CPAC 2016, “I grew up as a Muslim…and anytime a Muslim leader tells me on TV that Islam is a peaceful religion, my intelligence is insulted.”
So, if Islam isn’t a religion of peace and radicalized Islamic terrorists truly are being motivated to kill and terrorize based around their religion, we need new strategy. As Christians, we KNOW the One who is peace himself: Jesus Christ. In John 14:27, he said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
As we deal with radical Islamic terrorism on a political scale, as it is, indeed, also a political issue, we must think about how we can create change on a spiritual level.
As people who don’t know peace and who don’t know the love that is found in Jesus Christ, we need to introduce it to them. It will take brave men and women willing to minister to terrorists, it will take specific outreach to Muslims. All of that, of course, is currently being done, but each and every one of us can play an enormous role in not only tearing down radical Islamic terrorism, but introducing lost people to Christ.
Prayer. When Scripture calls for prayer for enemies, that includes the people trying to kill us. If God can form mountains and create dry land in the middle of rivers, he can certainly change the heart of a terrorist and draw that person to Himself. If you don’t even know how to begin to pray for these people, an amazing organization called Adopt a Terrorist can help.
Let’s be people of prayer, not just people of politics. Radical Islamic terrorism needs to be fought not just on a national level, but when we’re on our knees fighting spiritual battles.