(Photo: Reuters/Ali Hashisho)
Americans know that the United States has been engaged in the War on Terror for the past 10 years. But how many Americans can answer the question of why radical Muslims hate us so much?
The United States has spent nearly $1.3 trillion on the war effort – a figure that dwarfs the Vietnam War ($738 billion), the Korean War ($341 billon), and World War I ($334 billion). And the United States has lost more than 6,000 troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
But again, can the average American explain why radical Muslims attacked the twin towers on Sept. 11, 2011, and why terrorist groups continue to recruit and scheme to attack us? Most likely the answer is no.
Jim Denison, a cultural apologist and former senior pastor of the 10,000-member Park Cities Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, sets out to answer that question in his new book Radical Islam: What You Need to Know.
According to Denison, who has lived and traveled among Muslims for some 30 years, there are two major parts to the answer. The first part is radical Muslims claim that the West has been attacking Islam since the crusades, with Pope Urban II announcing the First Crusade in 1095.
The First Crusade began the West’s attack on the “ummah,” or collective community of Muslims worldwide that transcends geography and time. An attack on any of Islam’s followers is seen as an attack on all Muslims because the ummah, or community, is attacked.
British-American historian Bernard Lewis, Cleveland E. Dodge professor emeritus of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University, writes in his 2004 book, The Crisis of Islam: Holy War and Unholy Terror:
"In the Western world, the basic unit of human organization is the nation, in America but not European usage virtually synonymous with country. This is then subdivided in various ways, one of which is by religion. Muslims, however, tend to see not a nation subdivided into religious groups but a religion subdivided into nations."
With this logic, the United States’ support of Israel in the conflict with Palestinians is seen as America’s attack on all Muslims worldwide.
“The Quran requires Muslims to defend Islam. So if you believe we are attacking Islam then as a Muslim you are required to attack us in defense of your faith,” explained Denison about radical Muslims’ worldview to The Christian Post.
Osama bin Laden published a “Letter to America” on Nov. 24, 2002, which says this much regarding why al-Qaida attacked the United States.
“The answer is very simple: Because you attacked us and continue to attack us,” bin Laden stated in the letter.
Extremists also claim the United States attacks Islam not only by supporting Israel and with our military presence in the Middle East, but also by exporting our culture through movies, music, the Internet, and other forms of mass communication.
“They see all of that as an imposition of a hedonist, secular culture on the Muslim world. In their world, at least in most of the Muslim world, there is not a significant distinction between faith and life, between church and state as we might say,” Denison notes.
The second major reason to the question of why radical Muslims hate America is based on their understanding of democracy. Because the American people elect the U.S. government and our taxes support the military, Muslim extremists hold American civilians accountable for the “war on Islam.”
“There are no innocent civilians. They see us the way you would see Germans who supported Hitler or Japanese who supported the emperor,” Denison explained. “In their minds, you and I are complicit in this attack on Islam.”
“In the mind of a radical Muslim, 9/11 was not an unprovoked attack on Americans. 9/11 was a defense of Islam, striking back at the heart of Western crusader, imperialist aggression; the twin towers – financial; Pentagon – military; White House – political.”
Again, Osama Bin Laden’s “Letter to America” points to the U.S.’s system of democracy to explain why American civilians are guilty for the deaths of Palestinian Muslims and those in Afghanistan, Somalia, Chechnya and Kashmir.
But the vast majority of Muslims in the world are peaceful. The Gallup poll conducted the largest-ever survey of predominantly Islamic countries after the Sept. 11 attacks and found 7 percent of the Muslim world has been radicalized.
That means 93 percent of Muslims in the world are peaceful. But that also means that 7 percent of 1.6 billion Muslims in the world, which translates to 112 million Muslims, are radical.
“We need to understand that it (radical Islam) is an enemy unlike any we have ever fought, and this is a war unlike any we have fought. Osama bin Laden was not Hitler. They are not seeking to defend a single city like Berlin. There is not a single leader with whom we can negotiate a truce,” stated Denison. “This is the battle of our lifetime. In fact, many scholars are beginning to call it the long war.
“We are going to face terrorism just as we face cancer, wildfires, and floods. I am afraid that it is simply going to be part of life in the 21st century.”
Denison, who founded the Denison Forum on Truth and Culture in 2009, suggests the United States continue to build relationships with moderate Muslim nations, encourage democracy in the world, promote economic progress in the Muslim world, help negotiate peace in the Middle East, and remain vigilant against terrorist threats.
On the web: www.denisonforum.org/