BLOG 286 January 18, 2016
Last week we started the New Year by considering the problems facing Israel. This week we look in the opposite direction: the problems with ISIS. While the Islamic push has been slowed, the issues have far from slipped from the headlines. The West must remember what makes this terrorist menace tick and why fringe personalities fall for their propaganda.
Regardless of what Western politicians say, ISIS is fighting a religious war and the people who are recruited believe they are fighting for Allah. History has made it clear that the worst expression of hostility is a religious war because the soldiers believe God is on their side and He sanctions every act they commit. Consequently, ISIS remains an extremists expression of medieval Islam. They believe that even their defeats were predicted in the Koran and are a sign of the approaching final battle between good and evil (of course all non-Muslims are the bad guys). When they are pushed back, it is only another indication that the final end is near.
Is such thinking powerful? Simply look at American history. William Miller believed Jesus Christ would return sometime between March 1843 and March 1844. Fifty thousand believers lined up to follow the Millerite frenzy. Joseph Smith started Mormonism with the proclamation that that the New Jerusalem would be in Jackson County, Missouri. Even today a small band of Mormons expect the resurrection of Adam and the prophets along with Joe to start the new millennium. Are these proclamations magnetic? Absolutely!
Obviously, all Muslims are not jihadists anymore than the Millerites represent biblical Christianity. However, the extremist are the order of the day in Syria, Iraq, and the new state called ISIS. Bernard Haykel, the foremost secular authority on the subject, said, “there is an assiduous, obsessive, seriousness” about their dedication to the Koran.
ISIS’s destruction of objects dating back to antiquity is violence in the name of the quest for racial purity. The Koran specifies crucifixion as one of the punishments for infidelity. While the massacre of prisoners is completely repugnant to the West, the beheadings and destruction are following the prophecy and example of the prophet Muhammad in punctilious detail. ISIS is fundamentally reliving the earliest period in its history when Islam conquered with the sword. Suicide bombers get an automatic free ticket to heaven along with other benefits for killing themselves in religious warfare.
Obviously, such promises are powerful tools for recruiting soldiers. The poor and unstable are ready for their trip out of this world. Beats Obama Care all to pieces!
If the current administration believes it can bomb this ideology out of existence, they better think twice. The West has again been pulled into a war that has gone off and on for over 1,200 years. Where do we go next? There is no easy road out.
As long as Russia props up Assad as the ruler of Syria, the civil war will continue. In the meantime, more innocent people will be killed or attempt to immigrate. Sorry, but it doesn’t look like a good year ahead.