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koran

 

 

When Mohammed began the new faith “Isl*m” (meaning submission), it was not merely an introduction of a new religion but the establishment of a world view. Isl*m speaks to virtually every aspect of society, not just religious practice. There are rules for banking, behavior, politics, family, worship, and even charitable giving.

koran

The source for all this guidance is what Muslims call the Holy (or Noble) Qur’an. It is a document comprised of 114 “chapters” called surah, sura, or surat, and a number of verses that varies by surah.

islam 632 ad

 

 

By the time of Mohammed’s death in 632 AD, Isl*m had been established in much of the Middle East and Arabian Peninsula. 

 

first caliph

 

 

Once Mohammed died, succession was a major issue.

One group elected Abu Bakr, one of Mohammed’s colleagues, and established him as the First Caliph. The Caliph is the head person in Isl*m. Those who elected Bakr were called Sunni, which is from the Arabic word sunna for “way.” They believed that fidelity to “the way” was the most important thing, not Mohammed’s bloodline.

Another group insisted that leadership succession must come through a blood relative of Mohammed. They were called Shia, which is a conglomeration of the Arabic words for Followers/Supporters of Ali, or shi’atu Ali, because of their support for Ali ibn Abi.

Husayn ibn Ali, Mohammed’s grandson, was the “Third Imam” following in the footsteps of his grandfather. Seen as a threat by those known as Sunni Muslims, he was killed on October 13, 680 AD in Karbala, Iraq. The “bad blood” between these two groups has lasted for more than 1300 years. “Hard line” Sunnis view Shias as heretics and apostates. Of course, the penalty for apostasy in the Qur’an is death.

Add to that the plain language of some Qur’anic texts like these:

 

 

 

  

They wish you would disbelieve as they disbelieved so you would be alike. So do not take from among them allies until they emigrate for the cause of Allah. But if they turn away, then seize them and kill them wherever you find them and take not from among them or any helper.

Surah 4:89

Those who believe fight in the cause of Allah, and those who disbelieve fight in the cause of Taghut. So fight against the allies of Satan. Indeed, the plot of Satan has ever been weak.

 
 
Surah 4:76

The proclivity towards violence can be great among those who follow a strict interpretation of the plain language meaning of the words. Consider these verses as well:

 

Indeed, the penalty for those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and strive upon earth [to cause] corruption is none but that they be killed or crucified or that their hands and feet be cut off from opposite sides or that they be exiled from the land. That is for them a disgrace in this world; and for them in the Hereafter is a great punishment.

Surah 5-33

 That verse is somewhat mitigated by verse 34:

 

Except for those who return [repenting] before you apprehend them. And know that Allah is Forgiving and Merciful. 

Surah 5:34

 

Note, however, that forgiveness is only for those who come to, or return to, Isl*m before they are apprehended in battle.

There are numerous more verses that are similar, with extreme treatment for those who are apostates or infidels. Moderate Muslims view those verses as metaphorical, but current events render it somewhat difficult to discern who the moderates are. For example, recently, Saudi Arabia has beheaded three people. A couple was convicted of drug trafficking and murder. Another man in his twenties was beheaded for renouncing his Muslim faith and “desecrating the Holy Qur’an” by posting a video of himself hitting it with a shoe, one of the greatest forms of disrespect.

Among those who would be described as “moderate Muslims,” overwhelmingly they would approve of the establishment of a global Caliphate (where there is a leader in charge of everything) and the institution of Sharia Law everywhere, ordering society by Qur’anic law. By Western standards, those are quite radical views. According to research by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life, in many Muslim countries twenty-five to forty percent (25%-40%) of the Muslims believe that suicide bombing is always or sometimes justified.

Now, the question rises as to whether we need to be concerned in the West that the violence and stridence of those views could come to us. In fact, I do not believe it is a matter of “if” but rather “when.” We are already seeing examples, such as the beheading on the street in London and the attack on a publisher in Paris. With the open borders into the U.S. (the only nation in the world that I know of that has such an insane border policy), if only one in a million coming into the country are “wack-jobs,” we have a couple dozen already here.

 So what do we do? One of my friends used to say, “Why pray when we can worry!” Obviously, he was being facetious. He was just pointing out what we often do.  Shall we wring our hands and wrinkle our brows? Instead, why not do several things:

 First, pray as though our lives depend on it. In many cases, they will.

Second, learn about Isl*m. Some people need to be fully trained to engage Isl*m. The Christian Gospel is an utterly compelling message. It is so fundamentally different from imposed submission to Isl*m that when it can be demonstrated and proclaimed it is a very compelling position.

Add to that, the supernatural help that the Lord is providing as Jesus is revealing Himself to Muslims in dreams and visions!

Most of all, we should live vibrant lives, striving for intimacy with God the Father through Jesus Christ, by the Power of the Holy Spirit, and seeking personal holiness. Clearly, that will be advanced by faithful worship, sacramental life, deep study of the Word of God, intentional discipleship, and deployment in mission. It would also be a great help if those of Muslim faith would stand up and speak out more against violence. Sadly, most of the time, there are only outrageous actions by radical Muslims, with the only sound we hear from other Muslims is chirping crickets. Recently a gentle, truly moderate Muslim said to me, “I would like to speak out, but I am afraid.”

 Pray for all those in similar circumstances.