After another Jihadist-Terrorist attack in New York City it is not surprising to hear this question: Why are we being attacked by a militant brand of Islam?
We are at war. We are embroiled in a war we did not choose and most Christians do not understand. In fact, there are many Americans who refuse to recognize how embattled we are. After all, we are supposed to be living in a post-Cold War, multiracial, and multicultural world where religious wars are a nightmare of the past. Nevertheless, we are at war, a war that has brought down the Twin Towers, thrown the Middle East and North Africa into turmoil, created a callous and cruel Caliphate, the destruction of ancient Christian communities in Iraq and Syria, struck Paris and Brussels, and cost trillions of dollars in airport security worldwide and unwelcomed hassles for travelers.
We’ve witnessed barbaric beheadings and suicide bombings, the enslavement of young girls, and the gunning or running down of innocent and helpless people. Those who have fought against terrorists have often paid with their lives and limbs, and achieved no permanent victory.
We face the realistic threat of attack not just against our armed men and women serving in “harms way,” but against unarmed men, women, and children in a school or office, town or city, church or synagogue, anywhere. This is a pervasive war raging without any end in site, and being fought as a “Holy War” or what Muslims call a JIHAD. It is what I call “a holy hell” (holy in the eyes of Jihadists and a hell on earth for their victims – to borrow from General Sherman’s definition of war).
The current war is waged by Islamic terrorists to impose and extend their brand of Islam. It is a war that can only be understood in the context of an almost fourteen hundred year on-and-off Jihad that originated in the heart, soul, and mind of a self-proclaimed prophet named Muhammad. He felt called by God to win the world to a belief in and submission to Allah as he called God. He wanted to build what became known as the House of Islam (Dar al-Islam) at the expense of “other nations and empires” that were a part of the House of War (Dar al-harb) that needed to be subdued or conquered.
These unbelieving non-Muslims, or infidels, were to be converted, or subjugated. In his provocative little book entitled Faith, Reason and the War Against Jihadism George Weigel helps the reader comprehend “an enemy whose motivations were utterly alien to twenty-first-century western sensibilities” and “9/11 was the most lethal incarnation yet of ‘asymetrical warfare’” which is “hard to understand.” He quotes Bernard Lewis, “the English-speaking world’s preeminent scholar of … Islam,” who encapsulates the longest of wars with this assessment:
Since its first emergence from Arabia in the seventh century, Islam has been in almost continuous conflict with Christendom, through the original Muslim conquests and the Christian reconquests, through jihad and crusade, the Turkish advance, and the European expansion. Though Islam has fought many wars on many frontiers, it was the wars against Christendom which were the longest and most devastating, and which came to loom in Muslim awareness as the great jihad par excellence.”
Today Militant Islam is at war with much of the world, especially a Judeo-Christianity rooted in and defensive of Israel. The rebirth of Israel in 1948 proved to be a catalyst for a renewed “Jihad Par Excellence.” The rebirth of modern Israel with its Jewish majority government is viewed by most Muslims as the “Infidel Insult of Insults,” a Jewish state in what had once been Dar al-Islam.
The initial failure to abort this rebirth in 1948 was followed by further attacks by its Muslim neighbors in 1956, 1967, 1973, and 1982. The defeat of these Jihads has only added fuel to fires of embarrassment, frustration, and a nurtured hatred for Jews who have displaced Islamic Palestinians. All of this is exacerbated by the belief that a Jihad, or Holy War, against infidels has the blessings of Allah and promises suicidal martyrs Paradise in the arms of 72 virgins.
When Ayatollah Khomeini seized control of ancient Persia/Iran and succeeded for a time in thumbing his nose at the “Great Satan” (the United States), a resurgent, militant, and confident Islam began to resurface. This resurgence was also aided and abetted by the Jihadists who forced the Russians out of Afghanistan. The felling of the Twin Towers in New York City not only sent shock waves through America and the non-Muslim world, but it stirred the passions and hopes of Muslims yearning for Jihad. Even now there are millions of non-Muslims throughout the world who don’t understand what happened on 9/11, what is happening in Syria and Iraq, Europe and America, and will continue to happen if Jihadists are allowed to stay on the offensive. As historian Paul Fregosi cogently explains in Jihad:
The Jihad, the force de frappe of Islam, is a word which until a couple of decades ago had practically disappeared from the vocabulary of the Western world. It had become an esoteric term covering an epoch of forgotten confrontation between the Muslim East and the Christian West.
Next time we will seek to answer the following question: Is the Word Jihad an Integral Part of Islam?