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Ministering to Muslims in America's Time of Crisis

On September 11, 2001, tragedy struck America as Muslim terrorists killed over 6000 people; and Muslim terrorists are most likely behind a continuing biological assault. President Bush immediately informed us that America was declaring war on the terrorists and the nations that harbor them. Two questions are relevant: 1) Can America win this war by military and political means? and 2) What is the role of the church in this time of crisis?

  • Douglas Layton,
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While ministering in the Muslim world over the past thirty years, I have repeatedly been impressed with the fact that calamity and crisis often go hand in hand with enormous opportunity for the church of Jesus Christ.

This was the case when Russia invaded Afghanistan. Prior to that time, there were merely a half dozen or so Afghan Christians in the world. As over four million refugees flooded the more moderate Muslim nation of Pakistan, Christians were able to minister both to the Afghans’ enormous physical needs and simultaneously address the tremendous spiritual hunger that developed during this bloody ten-year war. The number of Afghan believers multiplied into the hundreds.

The Gulf War resulted in a great opening to the Kurds of Northern Iraq who occupy the heartland of the Islamic world. In 1988, Saddam Hussein gassed Kurdish villages, ultimately destroying over 95% of them, murdered or “disappeared” nearly 300,000 Kurds, and did all of this in the name of “Allah,” the Muslim name for God. In early 1992, there were few, if any, Kurdish believers in Northern Iraq (Kurdistan). The Kurds hoped that the rest of the Muslim world would come to their rescue; but it was America, a nation perceived as Christian, that ultimately saved them from genocide by establishing a protected zone free from the onslaught of Saddam’s army. Christian relief agencies rebuilt their villages and ministered to the many needs of the Kurdish people. In gratitude, the newly installed Kurdish government ultimately gave a newly emerged Kurdish church freedom of religion that is unparalleled in the Muslim world. Today there are churches and Christian bookstores in every major city of Northern Iraq, several Christian radio stations broadcasting the gospel every day, and a Classical Christian school system operating with the full approval of the Kurdish government in buildings donated by that government.

After 9-11

On September 11, 2001, tragedy struck America as Muslim terrorists killed over 6000 people; and Muslim terrorists are most likely behind a continuing biological assault. President Bush immediately informed us that America was declaring war on the terrorists and the nations that harbor them.

Two questions are relevant: 1) Can America win this war by military and political means? and 2) What is the role of the church in this time of crisis?

It is inherent in war that the would-be-victor understands the scope of the war and the nature of the enemy, and then display the will to do what is necessary in the face of those facts. While our nation’s leaders are doing the best job they can in a very difficult situation, it is obvious they do not understand the nature of Islam or the scope of the battle ahead. There are terrorist organizations throughout Palestine and Lebanon. The Sudanese government sponsors terrorism and the mass murder and enslavement of Christians. Muslim Indonesia harbors terrorists. So does Libya. Evidence is mounting that Saddam Hussein has a hand in the current anthrax attacks. Iran sponsors terrorists. The list goes on. Is America going to war with all of these nations when we finish Afghanistan and catch Osama bin Laden — assuming we do? Already we are hearing the talking heads ask, “Why haven’t we won yet? After all we have been bombing for weeks.”

The Peace of Islam

On September 18, President Bush addressed the Congress and the nation stating, among other things, that Islam is a peaceful religion. We have since heard this repeated by other of our nation’s leaders such as Colin Powell and by every major news agency in the country. We have seen Muslim clerics declare the peaceful nature of Islam on talk shows and other world leaders such as Prime Minister Blair of Britain affirm the same. The problem is that nothing could be further from the truth. While many Muslims are peaceful, millions are not. The ones who are peaceful or “moderate” often do not understand their own faith. They are what we would call “folk Muslims.” The true nature of Islam is jihad or holy war. It is the clear teaching of the Koran (Islam’s holy book), confirmed by the revered sayings of Mohammed (called Hadith), that all Muslims have an obligation to do whatever is necessary to bring the world under the rule of Islamic law. The proscribed methods do not rule out violence, especially against those the Koran calls “infidels” or unbelievers.

I have just finished several weeks of briefings across the country and am amazed at the ignorance and level of deception. I asked people in a number of restaurants if they thought Islam was a peaceful religion, and all said they did. I asked a Jew at lunch if he thought Islam was a peaceful religion to which he replied, “Yes, I think so.” I asked all why they thought this and most told me they heard it from President Bush or in the many news broadcasts where Mullahs told them Islam Is peaceful. None of them had ever read the Koran, studied the history of Islam, or were aware of the massive human rights abuses that are common in the Muslim world.

It is a tragedy that our nation’s leaders are portraying Islam as a peaceful religion. Islam has made more progress in the last weeks in America than it has made in decades. It is now the fastest growing religion in America and the world. This has been due largely to population growth and immigration. However, if our leaders continue to sell Islam as a peaceful, wonderful faith, we may begin to see large numbers of conversions as well. To date, the only real progress Islam has made in this realm has been among blacks and disaffected sections of American society. However, there is an increasing number of middle-class Americans embracing Islam. With our Christian President’s endorsement — why not?

Muslims killed 6000 Americans in New York and Washington on September 11; they burn churches in Indonesia, execute Christian converts in Saudi Arabia, enslave a million Christian children in the Sudan and kill another 500 Christians a day, dance in the streets in Palestine while our widows and orphans mourn their dead, and somehow Islam ends up the most peaceful religion on earth. Go figure.

There are many seemingly contradictory statements in the Koran, but the book and other sayings of Mohammed called Hadith seem clear on certain issues. The following is a mere sample of the verses dealing with each subject.

The Koran gives a clear definition of “infidel”:

Koran -5:75: “Unbelievers (infidels) are those that say: “God is one of three. “ There is but one God, If they do not desist from saying so, those of them that disbelieve will be punished.”

The Koran tells Muslims they should fight against the infidels:

Koran - 9:123: “O Ye who believe! Fight those of the disbelievers who dwell around you, and let them find harshness in you....”
Koran - 47:4: “Therefore, when you meet the unbelievers in the battlefield smite their necks....”

What about the Jews?

Hadith-4:177: “Allah’s Apostle said. The Hour will not be established until you fight with the Jews, and the stone behind which a Jew will be hiding will say, ‘O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, so kill him.’”

The Koran and the Hadith lay out the methods condoned by Mohammed in the fight against infidels:

Koran - 5:33: “The only reward of those who make war upon Allah and His messenger and strive after corruption in the land will be that they will be killed or crucified, or have their hands and feet on alternate sides cut off, or will be expelled out of the land. Such will be their degradation in the world, and in the Hereafter theirs will be an awful doom....”
Hadith - 4:220: “Allah’s, Apostle said, ‘I have been sent with the shortest expressions bearing the widest meanings, and I have been made victorious with terror (cast in the hearts of the enemy)....’”
Hadith - 4:256: “The Prophet passed by me at a place called Al-Abwa or Waddan, and was asked whether it was permissible to attack the pagan warriors at night with the probability of exposing their women and children to danger. The Prophet replied, ‘They (i.e., women and children) are from them (i.e., pagans).’”

Islam demands death to any who convert from Islam:

Hadith - 4:260: “If somebody (a Muslim) discards his religion, kill him.”
The Koran and the Hadith offer eternal and temporal reward for those who fight in jihad:
Hadith - 4:46: “Allah guarantees that He will admit the mujahid in His cause into Paradise if he is killed, otherwise He will return him to his home safely with rewards and war booty.”
Hadith -9:111: “Lo! Allah hath bought from the believers their lives and their wealth because the Garden will be theirs: they shall fight in the way of Allah and shall slay and be slain.”

The Koran and Hadith tell us jihad is highly regarded by Islam and its true followers:

Hadith - 4:44: “A man came to Allah’s Apostle and said, ‘Instruct me as to such a deed as equals jihad (in reward). ‘He replied, ‘I do not find such a deed.’”
Koran - 9:52: “Further tell them: Can you expect for us anything other than two excellent things (victory or martyrdom)?”
Hadith - 21:27: “By He in whose hand my self is! I would like to fight in the way of Allah and be killed, then be brought to life again so I could be killed, and then be brought to life again so I could be killed.”

The real question is, “Has Islam changed now into a moderate, peaceful religion?”

What Do Muslims Say Today?

Yasser Arafat said, “Be assured that the many indignities heaped upon our people since ancient times must and shall be avenged. Surely the judgment of Allah is reserved for them until Palestine is transferred from Holy War to the House of Islam. Ishmael shall have his revenge.” (Quoted From Dr. George Grant’s book, The Blood of the Moon.)

The late Hashemi Rafsanjani of Iran also stated, “Every problem in our region can be traced to a single dilemma.... The everlasting struggle between Ishmael and Isaac (which) cannot cease until one or the other is utterly vanquished.” (Quoted From Dr. George Grant’s book, The Blood of the Moon.)

The late Ayatollah Khomeini quoting the Koran and Hadith said, “Moslems have no alternative but armed holy war (jihad), the conquest of all non-Muslim territories. It will be the duty of every able bodied male to volunteer for this war of conquest. Islam does not allow peace between a Moslem and an infidel. Islam makes it incumbent on all adult males, provided they are not incapacitated, to prepare themselves for the conquest of countries so that the writ of Islam is obeyed in every country of the world. But those who study Islamic Holy War will understand why Islam wants to conquer the whole world.... Those who know nothing of Islam pretend that Islam counsels against war. Those [who say this] are witless. Islam says kill all the unbelievers. Kill them and put them to the sword and scatter [their armies]. Islam says: Kill in the service of Allah.... Islam says, whatever good there is exists thanks to the sword and in the shadow of the sword! People cannot be made obedient except with the sword. The sword is the key to Paradise that can be opened only for Holy Warriors! There are hundreds of other Koranic Psalms and Hadiths [sayings of the prophet Mohammed] urging Muslims to value war and to fight. Does all this mean that Islam is a religion that prevents men from waging war? I spit upon those foolish souls who make such a claim.” (Quoted From Dr. George Grant’s book. The Shod of the Moon!)

Elias Canetti, who won the Nobel literature prize for his hook Of Crowds and Power, wrote that Islam is “A religion of war — literally a killer religion.”

Canetti was merely agreeing with Mohammed .... Hadith - 4:73: “Allah’s Apostle said, ‘Know that Paradise is under the shades of swords.’”

The Reality...

To reconcile contradicting opinion in the teaching of the Koran, it is best to ascertain how the followers closest to the messenger interpreted what Mohammed said. For example, when Jesus told His followers to disciple all nations, teaching them to do all that he had commanded them to do {Mt. 28:18-20), the listeners set out into the world and preached His name everywhere with great success. Within 250 years, many of the nations where Paul preached were, in large part. Christian. This was accomplished without violence per the teaching of Jesus.

What did the disciples of Mohammed do? The first four successors of Mohammed—Abu Bakr, Omar, Othman, and Ali — drew the sword and conquered one land after another, killing multiplied thousands as they did, and established a system of financial punishment (the Dhimmi tax system) for those who would not convert. Mohammed’s first followers knew very well that Elam was a religion which condones war as a means of advancing their laith, and that jihad is the obligation of every able bodied male. Many Muslims do not believe this approach is still valid for today, but millions of them do.

In 1998 there were approximately 165,000 Christian martyrs and in 1999 there were more than 170,000 (source: Voice of the Martyrs and Jesus Freaks, Albury Press). Most of them were in the Muslim world. In the Sudan approximately 500 Christians are killed daily (source: Voice of the Martyrs). In Indonesia, 5000 Christians have recendy been murdered in a jihad funded by Osama bin Laden (source: Bin Laden Funded Christian Haters: September 28, 2001 by Lindsay Murdoch). Hundreds of churches have been burned to the ground in Indonesia, and Christians have been tortured and murdered in Egypt (source: Michael Horowitz, The Wall Street Journal, July 5, 1995).

On September 11, there were celebrations throughout much of the Muslim world including Beirut, Palestine, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, etc. (source: Dr. George Grants briefing in Nashville, October 18, 2001). Nearly 1000 people have been arrested in the USA on suspicion of being involved in the terrorist acts of September 11. Many of them were detained because the FBI intercepted congratulatory phone calls from the Middle East (source: New York Times, October 28, 2001). It is not clear whether these calls were referencing successful involvement in a specific act or merely celebrating the humiliation of America, the great infidel nation. Regardless, it is obvious there are many Muslims who still believe violence is a tool available to the Islamic faith.

Our nation’s leaders do not understand the nature of Islam and are, most likely, not prepared for the scope of the battle. Therefore, the victory will not be won by military or political means. The victory against the kind of hatred that was unleashed on our nation September 11 can only be won by the church using the spiritual tools God has made available. We do not war against flesh and blood but against powers and principalities. The real problem is one of the heart. Only Jesus Christ can change the heart of Muslims.

The opportunity before the church is a great one. There are many “folk Muslims” and even some Fundamentalists who are beginning to question the efficacy of their faith. Many live in denial proclaiming those who did this deed are not “real Muslims.” We are told these perpetrators of violence have “hijacked Islam.” However, those who know and are intellectually honest understand the reality If we can lovingly and intelligently reveal the truth to “moderate Muslims,” I believe many will embrace our Lord.

What Must Christians Do?

Get educated, educate our leaders, and share Christ with Muslims at home and abroad. We must do several things to seize this tremendous opportunity Every Christian can and should pray that God will use this tragedy in a unique and powerful way to further His kingdom. But first, we must know what we are praying and talking about. We must “be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks a reason of the hope that is in you” (7 Pet. 3:15). Christians are woefully ignorant of Islam. I am so convinced of the need for educating Christians on this subject that I have committed the entire year ahead to holding Answering Islam Seminars across the nation. I believe every Christian should find some way to get up to speed on this vital issue through available books, tapes, videos, or seminars.

Next, Christians must commit the time and resources necessary for the battle ahead. Our President has told us repeatedly that the war against terrorism will not be short in duration or without sacrifice. The same is true for the spiritual warfare to which the church has been called. To date, we have committed a pittance of time and money, compared with what will be required to truly impact the Islamic world.

There are several levels on which Christians can get practically and actively involved. The most obvious is to share Christ with the Muslims who live around us. It is important we not beat our Islamic friends over the head with the jihad issue, merely driving them into a defensive corner. We must lovingly ask the questions and share the answers that will provoke thoughtful Muslims to begin questioning themselves.

The second level of involvement is attacking the root, rather than the fruit of the problem. Terrorism and the growth of Islam in America represent the fruit of the church’s failure to send adequate numbers of well-equipped missionaries to the Middle East and other Muslim regions. It is imperative that we re-take these lands which were once within the fold of Christianity. If we do not do so, Islam will continue to grow regardless how many souls we win here in the USA. Of course, we are talking about a massive missionary movement that will require vast resources and may take generations to reach the final goal. However, we will not finish if we do not begin.

One thing every Christian can do, and which can have immeasurable effect, is to help educate our nation’s leaders to the true nature of Islam. I understand President Bush and others must be careful not to unduly offend the Muslim world. But, at the same time, our leaders do not have to promote Islam; and they should use the opportunity to press for religious freedom in the Muslim world. The Prime Minister of Italy, Mr. Silvio Berlusconi, is the only world leader who has accurately portrayed the situation. In a speech given September 26, 2001, he stated that the war on terrorism is, at bottom, a clash of civilizations. “We should be conscious,” he said, “of the superiority of our civilization, which consists of a value system that has given people widespread prosperity and respect for human rights and religion. This respect certainly does not exist in the Islamic countries.” Mr. Berlusconi concluded his remarks by stating, “Europe must revive on the basis of common Christian roots.” Truer words were never spoken. Now we must get our own nation’s leaders reading from the same page and every Christian can get involved in making this happen.