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Christianity and Islam: What American Christians need to know about Muslims

How to Eradicate ISIS

“We will reinforce old alliances and form new ones, and unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the Earth” – >Donald Trump, January 21, 2017.

(I’ll post more about the Middle East next week, but I thought I’d comment on the above quote from the President.)

Americans may be divided in many ways, but we all agree that the world must fight to destroy terrorism. We must strive to put our political and religious differences aside as we consider every possible means to defeat ISIS, Boko Haram, Hamas, and similar groups. So I hope that the Trump administration will forego politics as it sets up strategies to seriously weaken ISIS and the others at their source.

Terrorist groups need money and recruits in order to thrive. Weapons are expensive, and fighters who are killed or wounded need to be replaced. ISIS has been especially good at using social media to attract volunteers (30,000 by mid-2015!) and contributions. So if we make ISIS less attractive to potential recruits, it will become weaker and weaker, even without military action.

To get volunteers and donations, terrorist groups try to convince Muslims that Christianity is at war with Islam. Even worse, they say that Christian nations routinely invade Muslim countries in order to steal resources (like oil) and place Muslims under Christian control. The terrorists argue that God wants “true” Muslims to resist, using force where necessary. Young men (and some women) around the world like the idea that God wants us to use weapons against His enemies.

This is why ISIS claims to be Islamic. The leaders of ISIS are not interested in Islam, of course, any more than leaders of the KKK are interested in Christianity. (Do any Christians think that this group is “Christian”?) Instead, ISIS, Boko Haram, al Qaeda, Hamas, and the others use  Islam to help them attract followers.  Without the Islam connection, ISIS becomes no more than a group of thugs out for their own power and wealth. ISIS wants to be associated with “radical Islam.” For them, “radical” is a good thing, just as many Christians like to be called “radical.” So every time we use terms like “radical Islamic terrorism,” we are doing ISIS a big favor.

American Muslims, along with Muslims worldwide, work hard to teach local Muslims that Islam does not permit terrorism. (Check me on this: ask at your local mosque.)  According to most Muslims, ISIS violates core teachings of Islam, and therefore, by definition, is not Islamic.

Therefore, based on the above facts, it is obvious that we are much better off labeling ISIS and the others “terrorists” without calling them “Islamic.” If we spread the idea that ISIS is not Islamic, then ISIS becomes less attractive to potential recruits, and ISIS will have a harder time convincing the world that Christianity and Islam are at war.  And by refusing to identify ISIS as Islamic, we show support for our Muslim allies who are, in every way, fighting on the front lines against ISIS.

All of the above is no secret. Members of the FBI and intelligence organizations have spoken and written extensively about the methods used by ISIS, and about the strong relationships that American Muslim communities have with local law enforcement.

So why do so many politicians continue to call the bad guys as “radical Islamic terrorists?”

The answer, unfortunately, comes down to the two things we have to try to put aside: religion and politics. Many Christians distrust Muslims on a very basic level. A number of politicians use this distrust to create a scary image: a particularly bad form of Islam. “Radical Islamic Terrorism” is a much more frightening term than “radical terrorism,” and fear generates votes. Trump won the presidency in part because he convinced voters that he was the one who will keep Americans safe.

Responsible leaders should try to explain to the American people that our enemies want a war between Christians and Muslims. They should also stress that we need Muslim allies – those fighting ISIS in Turkey and Iraq, as well as American Muslims who regularly condemn terrorism. Refusing to call ISIS “Islamic” hurts ISIS while showing support for our Muslim friends. This may be politically unattractive, but it will help us to eradicate terrorism.

Will Trump decide that he needs American Christians to fear Islam?

Or will he put “America First”?

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3 comments on “How to Eradicate ISIS

  1. Pingback: Travel Ban 2.0: A Gift for ISIS | christianguidetoislamdotcom

  2. Truth
    May 25, 2017

    Islam is a religion of war, rape torture and terrorism. If you have studied anything about the religion you would understand this. A Muslim Is a man who seeks to be like Muhammad. That being said if a man strives to be like Muhammad they strive to be deceptive, lie, murder, torture, rape, enslave, steal and destroy anyone who does not follow Islam. The real problem with today’s term ” Radical Islam” is the fact that there is no such thing as radical Islam. Islam is Islam those who follow Islam long to be like Muhammad.

    Like

    • John Herbst
      May 25, 2017

      “Truth,” thanks for your input. Since you’ve chosen to be anonymous, some readers will suspect that I wrote this myself. But you and I know that I have no idea who you are.
      Your comment about Islam is plainly wrong. People who actually practice Islam do not believe that it is a religion of war or rape.
      Your definition of “Muslim” is wrong. The fact is that almost all Muslims teach that Muslims should not lie, murder, etc. The idea of striving to be like Muhammad applies only to Muhammad’s good qualities: kind, loving, honorable, obedient to God.
      You can prove both of the above very easily: go to your local mosque, and talk to a few actual Muslims. (Or, if you live in Hampton Roads, contact me, and I will be glad to introduce you.) Muslims in the US know what they believe, and they know what Islam teaches them. I do not believe that any actual Muslim told you any of the things that are in your post, and I question whether you’ve ever taken the time to talk yourself to an actual Muslim about Islam. It’s like people who make comments about Christianity without bothering to talk to Christians: they have opinions, but the opinions aren’t worth much.
      Thanks for commenting; I hope someday you check your ideas with real Muslims.

      Like

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This entry was posted on January 24, 2017 by .
The Text in Context

Helping modern readers engage with ancient biblical texts

Mark Biddle

Mostly on the Bible

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