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Is ISIS an example of Muslim extremism, or are other Muslims simply inconsistent?

Recently, there was an article in the New York Times about how ISIS – the Islamic State – has enshrined a theology of rape, and in fact, they’re using rape as a recruiting tool. They view rape as an act of worship. It actually fits in as a part of their religious system and worldview. However, what is often said in the media is that “this is an example of Muslim extremism. This isn’t Islam at its pure, at its core. This is an adulterated version of Islam.” 

You actually see these type of comments when we look at what was said after September 11th. On Oprah’s show, and other shows, you had Islamic scholars who would say, “Islam is a peaceful religion. Islam treats women well.” But the majority of the time, these are Western Islamic scholars. When you ask Eastern scholars, you get a very different type of story. In fact, Eastern Islamic scholars will often tell you that Jihad is a fundamental part of Islam. Jihad is the term for “holy war” in Islam. Some people will say that it means struggle, and it does mean that, but what has often been said recently by, once again, Western scholars, is that this is some type of inward holy war.

Yet, often times Eastern scholars will condemn people for this same type of internalized, over spiritualized view of Jihad. No, Jihad is a war against any enemy and opposition to Islam. What I want to do today is look at a very brief comparison of violence, the treatment of women, and rape, and salvation, between Islam and Christianity. When we look at violence in Islam, the first thing we need to acknowledge is that this concept of Jihad is the way by which Muslims bring all things into submission to Allah. All things, all people. “Islam” literally means submission. Submission in all things to Allah (which would be their name for God)/ Part of this would be violence, and actually, we see that Islam has been violent from the very beginning.

Islam got its start in the 600s, AD, but by 732 AD, which is only 100 years after the death of Muhammad, Islam had expanded from a small peninsula region in Saudi Arabia, to dominate what remained of the whole old Roman and Persian Empires combined. How did it do this, you might ask? By violence. It’s not that today’s Islam is somehow a distortion of where it started. No, it’s simply a returning to its roots. “Violent Islam” is a repetitive statement, because Islam is by nature, violent. In fact, there are 164 verses in the Quran on Jihad, on holy war. Thankfully, not all Muslims are like this. In fact, many Muslims are not. I would say the majority are non-violent Muslims. However, those Muslims who are non-violent, are inconsistent, because their religion, properly understood, as it was taught from the very beginning, is a religion that enshrines violence, and does indeed enshrine rape at the center of its religious practice. 

That’s a brief statement about Islam. So, what about Christianity? Well, the Old Testament is full of violence. We must admit that. We can’t hide that. If you’re going to point out the violence in Islam’s past, you’re probably going to get confronted with, “What about the destruction of the Canaanites?” What about_______ act of violence? What about David’s killing of Bathsheba’s husband? Well, here’s the thing. There’s a very different set of circumstances between the violence in the Old Testament, and the violence in Islam.

For one, Christianity or Judaism, was traditionally and still is traditionally very peaceful. It does not spread its religious views by violence. There have been those who have been condemned, that have spread or tried to spread Christianity by violence, but that was not taught by Jesus, far be it. In Islam, violence was taught and actually enacted by Muhammad. There’s a stark contrast there. We also have descriptions of violence like David killing Bathseba’s husband that are descriptive. They simply describe something that happened. They do not prescribe it. What about things like the Canaanites? Well, I’ll link to the episode of this podcast where I deal with that in greater detail, but these are examples of God ordering the destruction of a whole people. 

This wasn’t Israel saying, “Hey, we don’t like these people. Let’s go kill them.” No, because not King’s in Israel called call for war, only prophet’s could call for war, after God instructed them to. God used Israel, his chosen people, to meet out justice and punishment on people, and groups of people, who were sinning. One of the sins of the Canaanites was burning their babies alive as a sacrifice to their God, Moloch, if you’ll remember. This was the group of people God gave over 400 years to repent, and they didn’t do it. Then, he used Israel to judge them. This is very different than the violence that is at the very heart of Islam. The Bible also teaches us to love our enemies. This isn’t some overriding moral principle that means we can never protect ourselves or something like that, but it does mean we love our enemies. We do not seek to go around killing them.

Once again, this is different from Islam, which traditionally, has given peoples it sought to convert 3 options. The first would be convert to Islam. The second would be, “Pay us for protection, and we won’t hurt you.” The third would be, “We’ll kill you.” Well, ISIS today is pretty much in keeping with that. They’re giving people the first and the third options. Convert, or die. This is exactly as it was all the way back in Muhammad’s time. Once again, they haven’t deviated from Islam. They’ve simply kept it and enacted it, as it was originally. That’s a brief summary on the violence aspect. There could be so much more said, obviously. 

What about rape and women? Well, we’re going to read some from the Quran here about its views on women. Surah 4.34 says, “As to those women on whose part you feel disloyalty, and ill conduct, admonish them, refuse to share their beds, and beat them.” This is a beating prescribed for women on whose part you fear disloyalty.

Not even if they’re disloyal (not that would be a reason to beat your wife or a woman) but no, just even the fear, the suspicion of disloyalty warrants beating in Islam. Let’s see what the Quran says in Surah 2.282. It says that a woman’s witness is equal to half of a man’s, because of the, “deficiency of her mind.” Now, it needs to be said that in the Bible, they didn’t think a woman’s witness was equal to much, either, but this wasn’t what was taught by God. This was what was viewed by man. This is a very different thing. Islam, we have God speaking, and saying, “This is how it should be”, and in Christianity, these passages that are negative about women are often said by men about women. There’s a difference in authority there. Additionally, in Islam, men are permitted to have 4 wives, and we’re told, in Hadith 128 (which is a part of Islamic authoritative literature, slightly less authoritative than the Quran,) that hell is mostly full of women who are ungrateful to their husbands.

That’s just a very interesting idea. We also see that Muhammad permitted the rape of women who had been captured in battle. There’s actually a rather explicit passage where men come to Muhammad and say, “It’s hard on us being celibate. We have these captive prisoners. What should we do?” He’s fine with them having sex with them. But what this really is, is rape. Why is this important? Because I’ve brought up this “descriptive versus prescriptive” idea before. We shouldn’t think that something is prescribed to happen a certain way, just because it is described to have happened that way. We need to treat the Quran and Islamic literature the same way we would treat the Bible. We can not have a double standard there and still retain credibility and intellectual honesty.

However, Muslims view Muhammad as the prophet. They would say, “Peace be upon him.” He is their example for how they should live. In fact, his life is authoritative for them. Since Muhammad permits the rape of women captured in battle, now we might start to understand why ISIS sees rape of women captured in battle as a good thing, because Muhammad permitted it as a good thing. This isn’t ISIS being inconsistent and extreme. This is them practicing what the founder of Islam actually permitted and did. 

Moving on, though, we see that girls who have not yet reached puberty, can be married. This is implied in the Quran by Surah 65.4, and in fact, Muhammad married a girl who was 6, but he waited until she was 9 to consummate the relationship. This was while he was in his 50’s, not that his age actually matters, I think, to make this point, but it does illustrate the depravity of the situation.

I hope you see that it should not be a surprise that ISIS acts the way they do. They are devote Muslims, and this is how the Quran, accurately understood, prescribed and describes how women should be treated. What about the Bible, though? You’ll often hear people say that the Old Testament makes a rape victim marry her rapist. This is simply not true. We’ve done a podcast on that. I hope you’ll go back and listen, and check out the link I’ll include to that. What we see is that there are 3 or 4 examples in the Old Testament of a rape, or a sexual encounter being described, and they’re not all the same. The first would be Exodus 22.16-17 where we see that seduction led to sex between a man and a woman, and the result is, that man has to marry that woman.

Now, some translations have poorly translated the verb in this verse as “rape”, but it is not nearly as strong of a word as rape, because there is a verse that has the word rape in it, a very strong word, as it should be, and this would be Deuteronomy 22.25, and this describes a rape and it prescribes death for the rapist. Israel would have clearly seen the contradiction between this verse, where a “rape victim” has to marry a rapist, and then in this other one, the rapist gets killed. They wouldn’t have enforced that as a law. They very well understood what we understand today through the use of good translation, and exegesis, which is the first passage in Exodus 22.16 describes a seduction type of encounter. Maybe she went against her better judgement, but it wasn’t rape. She does have to marry him. They had sex outside of marriage. The 2 have become 1, but it’s very different from the rape type situation described in Deuteronomy 22.25. 

We also see that especially the New Testament says other things about women. Specifically, in Galatians 3.28, we see that there’s neither Jew nor Greek. There’s not slave nor free. There’s not male nor female, because all are one in Jesus Christ, if indeed they have placed their faith in Jesus Christ. This is far different from what it means to be a part of Islam and be a woman. You are subjugated, you are treated as much lesser than a man. This is exhibited in how they dress, and how they are abused by their husbands, and there’s a lot that we don’t have time to get into today, but this is very different from how women should be treated in the New Testament community. Once again, I need to make the point that there are examples in the Bible of women being treated very poorly. We need to separate how people, how man treated woman, and how God prescribed the treatment for women to be.

The clearest and easiest way to deal with any type of personal discrimination is to go all the way back to Genesis and say, “How did God create that person?” Did he create them in the image of himself? Yes, he did. Any human being has been created in the image of the invisible God, and that is the foundation for any claim that has any meaning about worth, or dignity, or innate respect. A black person, a white person, a woman, a poor person, a rich person, all are the same in God’s eyes, with regards to their dignity and worth. This is not how it is in Islam. We’ve talked about violence, we’ve talked about rape, and we’ve talked about women, and I briefly want to talk about salvation, because this will put the previous idea of violence in Islam in its context.

Why is Islam violent? Well, there is no guaranteed salvation except for dying in the service of Allah. We see this in Surah 61.10, and in Surah 9.111. That is the only way to have assurance of salvation as opposed to Christianity which teaches that your salvation was not a work, so you can’t lose it. God did it, God’s not going to undo it. Jesus is very clear that he has never lost anyone and will never lose anyone that the father gives to him. Everyone the father gives to him, will come to him. 

Islam has a problem, and I would say this is probably due to the ignorance of Muhammad. Here’s the problem. Islam has the concept of God. It has the concept of man. It even has hell and heaven, but there is a crucial piece missing from Islam. There’s no mediator. There’s no go between, between God and man. There’s no one who takes upon himself the wrong doing of everyone else and sets it right. That’s just simply a mistake if you’re creating and crafting a religion like Muhammad was.

Christianity does not have this problem, because Christ secures salvation for his chosen people, and he will never lose any of them. We see in First Timothy that there is one God, and there’s one mediator between God and mankind. That would be the man, Christ Jesus. How do we gain this salvation that we can not lose? Is it by works, or is it by something else? 

Well, on the Islamic view, here’s how it works. “To all those who believe and do deeds of righteousness, hath Allah promised forgiveness, and a great reward.” This is in the Quran in Surah 5.9, but what is the New Testament idea of God’s love towards his people and salvation as a result? “In this is love, not that we have loved God, but he loved us and sent his son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins”, First John 4.10. 

Allah does not love the unbeliever. Yahweh loves the unbeliever. Allah makes people work to achieve their salvation. When you sit and think about it, it should be obvious that we can never outdo the bad we’ve done in our life with good, because even in the very act of trying to do good to outweigh the bad, we’re putting ourselves first, because we’re trying to atone for our bad so we don’t get a punishment. You can not have a salvific system that works based on works, and this is why Mormonism and Catholicism, and Islam, ultimately do not bring peace when they’re properly understood, because we can never work enough to earn our salvation. This is why Christianity should be a breath of fresh air when to any and every other person.

I hope this comparison of violence and rape and salvation between Islam and Christianity has been helpful. There’s a lot that could be said here, but probably the final thing that needs to be said is that Muslims are not our enemy any more than anyone else, which is to say, no one should be. A Muslim is someone that we need to pray for, and in fact, the evangelistic field is huge with Muslims. There are well over a billion of them, and they already believe that there’s a God. We just need to actually show them and convince them who the true God really is. I hope you’ll join me next week for “Unapologetic.”

2 thoughts on “Episode 24 – Is ISIS an Example of Muslim Extremism?

  1. Brian, I really enjoyed this article. It seems led by the HOLY SPIRIT and inspired by the WORD of GOD. It reinforced the ideas that I have in witnessing to one. I really commend you and thank you for becoming one of the students that can make me proud to have been a teacher. I feel that you are truly inspired by the HOLY SPIRIT.

    1. Hi Alex,

      I’m glad to hear you enjoyed this article, and I really appreciate the encouraging words.

      Thank you!

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