Islam Is Not the Enemy, But Many Muslims Are

No, Islam is not the enemy, but many Muslims are. This is the critical dilemma that America confronts and must wrestle without any further delay.

Credit : (By CP Cartoonist Rod Anderson)
(By CP Cartoonist Rod Anderson)

The horrific events in San Bernardino have now brought this issue to a crisis point. Any further delay in addressing this crisis will lead to additional innocent lives being sacrificed on the false altar of political correctness.

Islam is a "many-splintered" thing. As is the case with other world religions, there are different doctrinal and ideological versions of Islam, as well as varying degrees of devotion to each understanding of the Islamic faith.

In other words, Islam is not monolithic. The proof of this statement is illustrated by the fact that radical Islamic jihadism, the harshest expression of Islam (seeking to impose by force a world-wide Islamic caliphate) has, up to the present moment, killed at least four of their fellow Muslims for every non-Muslim victim.

Why are they killing Muslims? They are butchering their fellow Muslims because they will not submit to, and often resist, their radical Islamic jihadist version and vision of Islam as the only legitimate interpretation and expression of their Islamic faith.

The situation would be analogous to the KKK or some other Aryan white supremacist group claiming to be the only legitimate expression of Christianity and then threatening to kill anyone who refused to accept their narrow, cultic understanding of Christendom as the only "true" Christianity.

Some will object that the KKK is a weird, cultic splinter group with little or no influence in society. Thanks be to God, that is true now, but there have been times in the past, as late as the 1920s and 1930s, when the KKK wielded significant political and cultural influence in the United States, backed up by terrorist acts like lynching, and not just in the South.

Not all Muslims are radical Islamic jihadists, but many are.

Public opinion polls reveal that perhaps as many as 10 percent to 20 percent of the approximately 1.6 billion Muslim adherents worldwide believe that violence in pursuit of jihad is often morally justifiable (that's a minimum of 110,000,000 people).

As recently as 2011, 21 percent of the approximately 3 million Muslims in the United States believed that there were "a great deal, or fair amount of support" for "extremism" among Muslims in America. The same Pew poll revealed that 60 percent of American Muslims were "very/somewhat concerned about Islamic extremism in the U.S." Interestingly, the Pew poll also found that only 8 percent of Muslims in America believe that violence could be justified "often/sometimes," whereas 86 percent rejected violence.

The Islamic terrorist attacks in San Bernardino and Paris underscore that this crisis has now reached critical mass worldwide. This is a civilizational crisis, but it is not merely a struggle between Islam and the West. It is also a mortal struggle within Islam for the soul of the Islamic faith.

On January 1 of this year, Abdul Fattah el-Sisi, President of Egypt, went to the Al-Azhar University (widely considered the most important center in the Arab world for the study of Islamic doctrine and principles) in Cairo and delivered a courageous, and hopefully historic, tide-turning speech. President el-Sisi delivered his speech directly to the assembled Islamic clerics, scholars, and imams. President el-Sisi called on them to lead a revolution within Islam.

He said:

"I am addressing the religious scholars and clerics. We must take a long, hard look at the current situation ... it is inconceivable that the ideology that we sanctify should make our entire nation a source of concern, danger, killing, and destruction all over the world ... I am referring not to 'religion' but to 'ideology' — the body of ideas and texts. That we have sanctified in the course of centuries ... It has reached the point that this (this ideology) is hostile to the entire world ... I say these things here, at Al-Azhar, before religious clerics and scholars. May Allah bear witness on Judgment Day to the truth of your intentions, regarding what I say to you today. You cannot see things clearly when you are locked (in this theology). You must emerge from it and look from outside, in order to get closer to a truly enlightened theology ... let me say it again; we need to revolutionize our religion ... Honorable Imam (the Grand Sheik), you bear responsibility before Allah. The world in its entirety awaits your words, because the Islamic nation is being torn apart, destroyed, and is heading to perdition. We are ourselves are bringing it to perdition."

And Egypt's president did not just talk. On Tuesday, January 6th, el-Sisi attended a Coptic Christian mass (a first for any Egyptian president) and spoke of his deep affection for Egyptian Christians. Whatever one thinks of President el-Sisi's politics, these were bold and courageous actions, which could easily get him assassinated as was his predecessor President Sadat a generation ago.

It can also be the first sign of the beginning of a "reformation" within Islam that could be as significant historically as the one led by Martin Luther five centuries earlier.

Islam needs that Reformation as badly as Medieval Christianity needed it in the sixteenth century. And it must be led by Muslims just as Luther's Reformation had to be led by Christians.

Now is the time for a million-man Muslim march on Washington that denounces the radical Islamic jihadists and isolates them theologically and culturally. The American people need to see such a graphic demonstration and condemnation by Muslims of the barbaric acts that are being carried out in the name of their faith.

Such public condemnation needs to be followed up by publically demonstrated cooperation with law enforcement and security authorities in helping to identify, isolate, and neutralize the radical jihadists in their midst. Now is the time for moderate Muslims to demonstrate their loyalty to America and their support for Western civilization's beliefs concerning religious tolerance and human rights by making common cause with all Americans of good will in rejecting in word and deed everything associated with radical Islamic jihadism.

Otherwise, we are in for a perilous and dangerous period in America. Unless moderate Muslims make common cause with their fellow Americans to opposing radical jihadism, there will be more barbarous acts of terrorism in the homeland. And as those attacks persist, and the innocent casualties accumulate, there will be increasing pressure for all Americans to suspend, or surrender, their priceless and constitutionally guaranteed freedoms in the name of order and security. And given past experience and human nature, the result will be diminished freedoms for all Americans, Muslim and non-Muslim alike. Every person of good will has a personal stake in the rejection and defeat of radical Islamic jihadism. To deny that it is a mortal threat to civilization is an illogical and senseless luxury freedom loving people everywhere can no longer indulged.

Dr. Richard Land is president of Southern Evangelical Seminary and executive editor of The Christian Post.

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