What should we do about Isis?
Isis I was recently asked what I thought the solution to Isis was. My first response was the gospel. The ultimate problem with this world is that people’s hearts are corrupt. Jesus is the only one who can change people from the inside out. The New Covenant promises a new heart that will follow after God. My friend responded that our country would not be able to respond in the way I am suggesting. I said, “Oh, you are asking how our country as a nation should respond.” I then suggested that there are three major problems that must be understood and faced before making a decision. First, we need to understand that if we stop Isis, other radical Islamic groups will sprout up like Hydra’s head being chopped off sprouted several more heads. The reason radical Islamic groups will continue to manifest themselves is because radical Islam is true Islam. The extremists as we call them are the faithful followers of the Qur’an and Muhammad. Explicit statements in the Qur’an such as Surah 9:5 command them to do what they are doing:
So when the forbidden months are passed, so kill the polytheists wherever you find them, and take them [as captives], and besiege them, and lay wait for them with every kind of ambush, so if they repent [convert to Islam] and perform the prayer and give the legal alms, so leave their way free. Surely Allah is forgiving, merciful.
Moderate Muslims suggest that there are also peaceful surahs and that the Jihad surahs are only advocating self-defense. I wish this were true. Surah 2:256 does state, “No compulsion in religion.” But what does this mean? What the radical Muslims know is that this was an early surah given when Muhammad hoped the Qurash people would accept his religion. Once he was forced out of Mecca and fled to Medina, he received new revelations that rescinded this one. The Qur’an teaches the doctrine of abrogation (Surah 2:106). Earlier surahs are abrogated by later ones. Surah 2:256 cannot be speaking of defensive war only because surah 2:216-218 teaches that in defense, war is permissible even during the forbidden months. The Qur’an clearly teaches that Muslims are to fight the infidels until Islam rules over the entire world. Even moderate Muslims want Shariah law enforced when possible. What Westerners do not understand is that Islam is not just a religion. It is a religious ideology that encompasses their entire worldview. It is true that most Muslims are relatively peaceful, but this does not mean that they are the ones who correctly interpret the Qur’an. The fact is that there is a large minority of Muslims who are not peaceful (perhaps 30-40% in the world) because the Qur’an is not that difficult to interpret. It is not like the Bible, in that it was written by only one person and in only one genre. It is mostly made up of direct commands from Allah; it is fairly straightforward in what it says. Because of these facts, we will always have radical Islamic extremists in large numbers threatening the U.S. Second, if we decide to fight Isis we need to decide who we will arm to help us in this battle. At first this might seem to be an easy answer – arm the enemies of Isis. But this is not as easy as it seems. Most of the Muslim world hates the U.S. Even after Isis burned alive a Jordanian soldier they captured and put the execution on YouTube, a large percent of Jordanians still support Isis. Isis’s cause is obviously being funded heavily by those throughout the Arab world that embrace their ideology. We can see this by how many other radical Muslim groups exist with large amounts of weapons such as Al Qaida, Boko Haram, Hezbollah, Hamas, Taliban, etc. How can all of these groups be thriving without massive support? How can there be substantial support unless a large percent of Muslims embrace their cause? Who can we really trust? There is another doctrine taught in the Qur’an and the Hadith called Taqiyya. Surah 3:54 states, “They deceived, and Allah deceived. And Allah is the best deceiver (makara).” The Hadith in Bukhari 49:857 and 84:65 teach that it is acceptable and good to lie to your enemy. If it is okay to deceive infidels (non-Muslims), then how do we know the Muslims are being honest with us? Our dealings with Karzai the former president of Afghanistan is a case in point. He took a lot of money from us and our allies, but in the end deceived us and was caught making deals with the Taliban. The greatest danger of our troops while we were in Afghanistan came from Afghani soldiers who turned and killed our soldiers. Who to support is not an easy decision to make. Third, any help against one group of Muslims disrupts the balance of power in the region. Until we realize the difference between Sunni and Shia Muslims, we will not be able to properly determine how to fight our enemy. There are radical Islamic extremists in both factions of Islam. Iran is predominately Shia and is currently attempting to build atomic weaponry. Israel correctly recognizes that Iran is the greatest threat to the region. Iran is working with Lebanon (Hezbollah) and Syria (Bashar al-Assad) because they are all Shia Muslim. Yemen just fell to insurgents who are allies with Iran and are Shia Muslim. Iraq is predominantly Shia, but was controlled by the Sunni until Saddam Hussein was taken out under the Bush administration. We should expect Iraq to form a coalition with Iran. If Shia Muslims gain too much power, things could go very bad for Israel. But Isis, Boko Haram, Al Qaida, Muslim Brotherhood and the Taliban are all Sunni Muslim. When we fight Isis we help Syria, where Assad has slaughtered thousands of his own people, even using chemical warfare. In this war we may end up trying to fight just enough to hurt one enemy but not enough to help the other enemy; the question is, “Is this a good strategy for war?” In reviewing these problems I am not suggesting that we shouldn’t try to stop Isis. Isis is evil and has declared war on us. Our government is responsible for protecting our citizens and helping our allies, especially Israel, which is our greatest ally in the region. But how do we stop Isis? The answer has to take into consideration all three of the factors above, lest we fight ignorantly and thus ineffectively. I still think the greatest weapon is the gospel. As Christians our primary loyalty is to our Lord, not our country. We must pray and send missionaries to other countries and share the gospel to Muslims in our own country. Evil hearts cannot be changed by politics. At the same time, I believe we should be involved in politics. Our nation should be involved in world affairs. But we must be careful not to confuse the two. We fight, even go to war, to defend ourselves from those who have declared themselves as our enemy. As Christians we seek to convert Muslims by sharing the gospel, the truth in love. We love our enemy in hopes that they will become our friend, but we also protect our families from those who would seek to harm them.