From a dynamic resource on Islam and the mid-east
Kevin J. Turner is the President of Strategic World Impact, an organization committed to working in the “hot spots” of the world.
For eighteen years, Kevin has been working in the world’s most restricted and dangerous areas, witnessing suffering firsthand and encountering life-threatening situations. On more than one occasion, Kevin has been forced to run for his life as shelling and other attacks have taken place. During these years, Kevin worked in Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia for four years during the war.
Southeast Asia is another targeted area for him, as he’s made several trips smuggling Bibles into restricted nations there. He has photographed prison camps for pastors in the jungles, and has established short wave radio projects so tribal people can hear the Gospel.
For the past 11 years, Kevin’s work has focused on sharing the Gospel with unreached people groups in Sudan, and also helping the persecuted in Sudan’s neighboring nation, Eritrea. Additionally, for the past 7 years Kevin has been working in Pakistan, establishing a school to help children get a good Christian education and simultaneously working amongst the peoples in nearby villages.
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Kevin J. Turner, Executive Director of” Strategic World Impact
October 8, 2001
I believe the work of SWI is now more important than ever. While America was being attacked, I was in the desert of NE Sudan with an unreached Muslim people group, called the Beja. I was with the supreme religious leader ofthese people when we heard the news about the attacks via short wave radio.
I tell you this man was embarrassed to be called a Muslim. We were able to show them the Jesus film and the religious leader of this Beja nation took no less than two pages of notes. He gave us permission to show the Jesus film to all of the 3 million plus Beja people. More about that later!!!
Who Are Muslims and What Do They Believe?
I heard a reporter on one of the major news networks say, “We must not say that Muslims are terrorists because of the atrocities that took place on September 11 any more than we can say Christians are terrorists because of a sect like David Koresh and the Branch Davidians.”
Before I begin, let us examine the above statement very carefully. It is this type of statement that should be of great concern to Christians, and I believe that initially it does not catch the casual reader’s eye. First and foremost, the reporter is correct in saying that all Muslims are not terrorists. They are not! However, as we will learn, those following a strict interpretation of the Qur’an (Muslim Holy Book) will engage in Jihad (Holy Struggle not just Holy War). I will point out that those who flew airplanes into the World Trade Center and into the Pentagon were Muslims and terrorists. Each one of the terrorists received a letter encouraging them to follow their Muslim beliefs and to take innocent lives. I would like to point out that the Qur’an is very clear that all people should be under the submission of Allah. As such, those who adhere to the Qur’an justify themselves even in acts of terrorism to defeat Satan and compel all to submit. These references, found in Surah 2 and Surah 9, are two of many references.
David Koresh was not a Christian. However, he did claim to be one and in fact he went so far as to claim to be the Messiah. Let me take a moment to point out the difference between the two. David Koresh was the founder of a cult that consistently misused scriptures from the Bible. The verses he used were extrapolated and twisted to fit his teaching rather than being conformed to God’s Word. Basically, David Koresh was not a Christian nor was he following the teachings of the Bible (God’s Holy Word).
In the case of the terrorists, it is clear that they were what we call Fundamentalist Muslims. This basically means they were committed to pure Islam or submission to the will of Allah. As a Christian, I am committed to a strict adherence to the Holy Bible and believe that it is the Word of God just as it teaches. I must also point out a major difference between David Koresh, his Branch Davidians and the terrorists who attacked America. What Koresh did was heinous and it was directed against His followers.
It is not my intention to stereotype any one person or their religion. However, I would like to take a careful look at what the Muslim religion truly teaches and then to see if the actions of those who follow it are appropriate to what it teaches. Let us examine some verses from the Qur’an.
The Ultimate Goal of Islam: To Bring All People Into Submission To understand the underlying system, we must consider some theological aspects. A look at the Qur’an will be helpful.
In Surah 8:39 we read (according to Pickthall): “And fight them on until there is no more tumult or oppression. And there prevail justice and faith in Allah altogether and everywhere: But if they cease, verily Allah doth see all that they do.” The actual rendering should read, “until all of religion comes to Allah.”
Surah 61:9 confirms this: “It is He Who has sent His Apostle with guidance and the Religion of Truth that he may proclaim it over all religion, even though the Pagans may detest(it).”
This is backed up by a Hadith:
“The Messenger of Allah says: I have been commanded to fight against people till they testify the fact that there is no god but Allah, and believe in me (that) I am the messenger (from the Lord) and in all that I have brought.” Sahih Muslim I, p. 17
The word oppression should actually read uprising or revolt, which turns the passive tense into an active one. We should further realize that this is not just a question of all people submitting to God. In real terms it means that no less than all have to submit to Islam and its law.
Islam has divided the world into two parts: The Dhar-ul Islam and the Dhar-ul Harb; or in English, the territory of Islam and the territory of war. This may not necessarily constitute armed conflict (though this was very much the case) it is quite clear that those countries, which are not as yet under the Shariah (Islamic Law), are still to be conquered.
As Christians, we might be tempted to assume that conflict may be of a spiritual nature. We endeavor and wish that the whole world should come under the Gospel. In a like manner, Muslims endeavor to make the world Islamic. However, the church cannot legitimately try to force its influence on the state or rule the state. This would go against the Spirit of the Gospel. Attempts along this line have been made and wars have been fought, but none of these could be based on or could claim to have been supported by Scripture, the Christian authority.
Islam works differently. Only when the Shariah is the established law in a country does it constitute an Islamic state. To affect this, the government must be in Muslim hands. Islam does not differentiate between the secular and the spiritual. It follows an integrated system. Hygiene and politics, family life and prayer, hunting and business practices are all regulated by Islamic law.
While Christians and Jews may be tolerated, they are greatly disadvantaged and are not permitted to propagate their faith in an Islamic country.
Islam: On the Move To Expand Its Influence
When we carefully observe the current moves of Islam, we can indeed notice how it consolidates itself. Concerted efforts are made to strengthen its position in many countries, and not only in those countries which were traditionally Islamic. Muslims double their population biologically more than non-Muslims.
This population growth promotes migration. We can observe how in recent times much of the economy of Africa, as well as Europe, America, Australia and Asia is being controlled by Muslims. Whoever controls the economy also has a strong influence on government, the media and education.
In many Third World countries, Muslims often build very impressive mosques, even in areas with small groups of Muslims. They are adding schools that offer free education, in contrast to most of the government schools. This is extremely tempting to many parents. In addition, philanthropic help is offered to people in drought-stricken areas.
Employment is offered only to Muslims. This can raise the pragmatic question, “Why not become a Muslim?” Taken together, these movements begin to present an impact on the population, nominal Christians not withstanding.
The Muslim charity displayed, along with their sincerity, plus the social and material benefits become convincing to most people. Who can blame them- they need a firm grounding in the Word of God, and convictions to possess the Truth when accepting and following our Lord Jesus Christ.
Islam: Five Pillars (and even the sixth) Acts of worship in Islam are embodied in the five pillars. Muslims must:
1. Recite the basic creed, “There is no God but Allah, and Mohammed is His Prophet.”
2. Recite prayers in praise of Allah five times daily while facing Mecca.
3. Give money to the poor.
4. Fast for one month a year (Ramadan).
5. Make a pilgrimage at least once during his lifetime to Mecca, the city where Allah revealed the Koran to Mohammed.
Many Muslims include a 6th pillar called Jihad or Holy War or Holy Struggle.
Under this banner any Muslim who dies while fighting in Jihad, normally directed against Christians, is guaranteed a swift passage to Paradise. In the mind of the Radical Muslim, the West is considered the Great Satan and because of this must be dealt with. Terrorists use this reasoning as justification for attacks on America.
This era is a very sensitive chapter in the history of relationships between Muslims and Christians. There are various interpretations of the Crusades. Present day Christians feel convicted and condemn these acts as completely against the spirit of Christ. However, one has to consider the contemporary historical and socio-anthropological situation in order to form a balanced opinion.
By 1050 A.D., the House of Islam had been expanded. Its borders included the East beyond the Indus River deep into India. Reaching North into Central Asia, particularly East of the Caspian Sea. Also in the West, all along North Africa into Spain, where an Ummayad Khalif was reigning. Asia Minor had been the most recent acquisition of the Muslims. All of these areas were gained by armed conquest and many were then traditionally Christian countries (e.g. Spain, North Africa, Asia Minor and Northern and Southern Arabia).
In 1453 A.D., Constantinople, the center of the Eastern Church, became imminently threatened and fell together with the Balkans, into Muslim hands.
At the same time, we have to realize that Islam was by no means an integrated political or military entity. Around that time, endless wars for territorial gain and prestige were fought internally. Egypt was under the rule of the Fatimids, a Shiite sect. The Sunni Saljuk Turks from Central Asia were rapidly gaining power and control in Persia, Iraq, Syria, and Palestine.
In 1009 A.D., al-Hakim, who was a Fatimid Khalif of Egypt, gave the order that many churches should be destroyed. This included the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, which was then under his rule. Christians, pilgrims, and Jews were molested and subjected to humiliating treatment.
In 1095 A.D., the first Crusade was triggered. By 1097 A.D., some 50,000 men, mostly Francs and Normans, assembled at Constantinople marched through Asia Minor(Turkey) to the Holy Land. The Crusades dragged on for approximately 200 years.
In 1099 A.D., after conquering Antioch, the Crusaders continued on to conquer Jerusalem. As was the custom in those times, unbelievable atrocities were committed. A town called Ma’arrat Nu’man was conquered, over 100,000 people were killed and the town was burnt to the ground. Jerusalem fared no better as 65 – 70,000 people were slaughtered at the al-Aqsa mosque. “Heaps of heads and hands and feet were to be seen throughout the streets and squares of the City.” (Agiles p. 259 according to HISTORY OF THE ARABS by P.K. Hitti)
However, not much Islamic territory was conquered. The knights were satisfied to secure the holy places and fortified places along the Mediterranean coast for their defense. In real terms, the Crusaders were hardly more than a nuisance to the Muslims.
It needs to be said that more efforts were devoted to peace time activities rather than for war. During the 200 years of the Crusaders presence there were friendly relations between them and the Muslims.
At that time, a young Kurdish man advanced to leadership in Egypt and helped overthrow the Fatimid dynasty. He became a powerful leader who united Egypt and the Northern Arab lands. His name was Salah-al-Din, better known as Saladin. From 1187 A.D.-1189 A.D., he wrestled Jerusalem and many of the coastal fortifications from the Crusaders. He proved to be a man of stature.
He freed a majority of all of the Crusader prisoners of war, who were poor and could not provide a ransom. After these events, a period of peace secured free access for Christian pilgrims to Jerusalem and other holy places.
In 1229 A.D., after Saladin’s death, the country was divided among his leaders who lost its fortresses. Jealousy and dissention corroded the strength and unity of the Crusaders. In 1244 A.D., Jerusalem permanently fell to the Muslims.
The death blow to the Crusaders was given by al-Malik al-Zahir Baybars, a Mamluke (also a Turkish people group) who previously had stopped the Mongols from taking over the Middle East. He destroyed the venerated Church of the Nativity in Nazareth. Caesarea then capitulated under the condition that its 2,000 knights would be spared. Despite this they were all executed.
When Antioch fell to the Muslims, 16,000 Christians were slaughtered and 100,000 are said to have been sold as slaves. This senseless venture, costing hundreds of thousands of lives while inflicting untold misery to millions, all in the name of religion, and under the symbol of the cross, had now ended. Had these lives been invested in evangelizing the Muslims, the world might look different today.
That I can tell, we know of only one or two men, Francis of Assisi and somewhat later Raymond Lull, who seem to have chosen a different way of life. We are told that St. Francis crossed the enemy lines and upon request was led to the Sultan of Cairo, al-Kamil, a nephew of Saladin. Al-Kamil listened intently while Francis witnessed to him for a considerable time, however, he did not embrace it. Al-Kamil then offered Francis a large amount of treasures, which he declined before returning to the Crusaders.
At this point, I must pause to give an important explanation. We, by now may have come to a point where we may be tempted to fear or resent the Muslims. If this is what you have conceived, you may need to rethink your position on this issue.
Muslims, like all other people, are a creation of God! “They have zeal for God – but it is not enlightened” (Rom. 10:2). Our Lord Jesus died for every Muslim as well! God loves the Muslims, too! We have to differentiate between the religion of Islam and its system. The religion does not offer anyone salvation or assurance of forgiveness, to people
who grow up under its teaching. They have little chance to believe, because they have not sufficiently, effectively and convincingly heard and understood the Gospel. This is
certainly not their fault. To some degree it is ours because our evangelistic effort excludes the Muslims in our environment, and our effort does not take into consideration the altogether different mind-set and understanding of the Muslims.
In closing, there is no doubt in my mind that the Western Empire and all of its philosophies are, in a real sense, engaged with the ideals and philosophies coming from the Middle East. Islam will continue to exert its influence and resist what the West has to offer. In the West, we pride ourselves on free market, freedom of religion and human rights. However, we have turned free market to greed, freedom of religion to freedom from religion, and human rights to liberty for licentiousness. It is no wonder that people around the world see the inconsistencies of our lifestyle.
Initially we were a Christian nation with the values and truths, which went with it. While I believe this is still the greatest country in the world, I am well reminded that this grand ol’ USA is not my home, rather, I am searching for a city whose builder and founder is God.
Run To the Battle!
Kevin J Turner
Strategic World Impact