My personal “earthquake” was triggered by a article that a priest friend of mine emailed me: Is terror intrinsic to Islam? by Father James Schall, S.J. [Click here if you’d like to read the entire article.]
Basically Father Schall’s opinion (and he strongly emphasizes that the article is only his opinion) is stated in the first sentence of his article: “The Islamic State and the broader jihadist movements throughout the world that agree with it are, I think, correct in their basic understanding of Islam.” Here are his major points:
- The purpose of Islam, with the often violent means it can and does use to accomplish it, is to extend its rule, in the name of Allah, to all the world. The world cannot be at “peace” until it is all Muslim.
- Jihadism, as it were, is a religious movement before it is anything else. (They believe) Allah does grant violence a significant place. It is over the truth of this position, or better the inability to disprove it, that the real controversy lies.
- It may be possible for some to read Islam as a religion of “peace.” But its “peace,” in its own terms, means the peace of Allah within its boundaries. With the rest of the outside world, it is at war in order to accomplish a religious purpose, namely, to have all submitted to Allah in the passive way that the Qur’an specifies.
- In Muslim doctrine, everyone born into the world is a Muslim. No one has any right or reason not to be. Hence, everyone who is not a Muslim is to be converted or eliminated. This is also true of the literary, monumental, and other signs of civilizations or states that are not Muslim. They are destroyed as not authorized by the Qur’an.
- We are in fact dealing with a religion that claims to be true in insisting that it is carrying out the will of Allah, not its own.
- It is easy to write this movement off as fanatical and ruthless, which it is. To the outside world, it sounds horrific, but I suspect not to those who believe its truth and see the current revival of Islam with relief. The second or third class ranking of Islam in the modern world is over. But to the degree that we misjudge what is motivating the renewal of Islam, we will never understand why it exists as it does.
As I read this article, I felt a quaking, first of all, as a reaction of “Oh no! This can’t be true.” The quake then spread into thinking about history and the conflict between the West and Islam that has been going on for well over 1000 years. Then I thought of Armageddon in Revelations and the final battle between good and evil. Could I be living in the early stages of this climatic war?
What is the answer?
Interestingly (and I think it was grace that provided this to me) there was an article in the Sun-Herald today about the reactions to the “rising tension in the community since the terrorism threat level was raised.” A Muslim who was interviewed said, “We just hope it goes back to how it was before . . . we just want to live in this great country.” Non-Muslims have joined in promoting harmony in the community. There is a woman’s group called WISH (Women in Solidarity with Hajabis). The Buddhists are organizing a solidarity march “so people can show support for the Muslim community.” 250 mosques around Australia sent a message that the “protection of human life is one of the five basic rights in Islam and as a Muslim we have a duty to protect humanity.”
Each of us need to look at all the evidence and decide which side we come down on. One side is the historical evidence Father Schall points toward, and the other side is the evidence of love and hate in our contemporary society. The future will be born out of each person’s decision and commitment to act according to their belief in this answer.