Answering Jihad

Every time another Islamic terrorist blows up something or someone, political and media leaders speculate as to the root causes of jihad. What possesses people to sacrifice themselves for the sake of killing others? Former Muslim, Nabeel Qureshi, whose 2014 autobiography Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A Devout Muslim Encounters Christianity describes his journey from committed apologist for Islam to born again Christian, has written helpfully this week in USA Today about the root causes of the radicalization of young Muslims.

While the US State Department has tried to blame the phenomenon on social and economic factors like lack of assimilation or opportunity or on US policy itself, Qureshi encourages us to look at what the ISIS recruiters actually say in their recruiting materials. He writes, “ISIL’s primary recruiting technique is not social or financial but theological.” As evidence he points to a recent two-page recruiting brochure in which there were multiple references made to the Quran and the hadith (the sayings of the prophet Muhammad). So according to Qureshi, the motivation for jihad comes from within the highest sources of authority in Islam itself.

Qureshi points out that a generation ago, a Muslim wanting to know what the religious tenants of Islam were did not have easy access to the hadith and other sacred writings. As a result he would ask his local elders or his imam. Now that the religious texts of Islam are available to all, jihad propagandists can appeal directly to the recruits using the texts themselves but bypassing the sanitizing interpretations of their non-violent communities. When confronted with the actual words of Muhammad as well as the progression of Muhammad’s thought over his life time, the reader is faced with a “message [featuring] violence with increasing intensity.”

If the West continues to try to deal with the problem of violent Islamic terrorism as a social or political issue, it will continue to fail and fail badly in its efforts to contain the bloodshed. At the heart of the conflict is a religious, spiritual battle rooted in the religious texts of Islam itself. Qureshi is living proof of the power of the true Word of God that is found in the Bible to transform and rescue all types of people from the power of sin. This is a great encouragement to us as we consider how we might engage our Muslim neighbors. We have a real resource in our Bibles that will be more powerful than any drones or armies in terms of changing peoples’ hearts.

Qureshi has just published a new book called Answering Jihad: A Better Way Forward, in which he discusses this topic in much more detail. I have not read the book yet but look forward to doing so. We need to pray for men and women like Qureshi, who are willing to speak out for the truth, and we need to pray for Muslims around the world – that they would be exposed to the Word of God and to His Son, Jesus Christ.

“So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11, NKJ).


  1. Nathan Stockwell March 24, 2016 at 11:22 pm #

    While I do agree that the Islamic view of theology does play an important role in understanding the actual motives for the radicalization of young Muslims. I think we, in the West, do not remember our history well enough which impacts the Islamic view of their theology.

    We need to remember that near the end of the Great War, both the British and the French made a secret agreement known as the Sykes – Picot Agreement of 1916. This agreement meant that we would not be giving the Arabs the self-autonomy that we publicly promised them through Colonel T. E. Lawrence if they fought for us against the Ottoman Empire. The Agreement promised that the modern state of Israel would be under British control, and that, from an Islamic point of view, the Crusades were starting all over again.

    As a result of the Crusades, from the Islamic point of view, starting again, then Islamic eschatology feeds the flames of hatred against the West. We need to admit that we lied, and stop adding fuel to the fire by interfering with Middle Eastern politics, until we actually understand that our current role in the Middle East has not been helping. The Sykes – Picot Agreement of 1916 is why the Arabs call us (the West) liars.

  2. David Carr April 4, 2016 at 12:36 pm #

    Islam is one of Satan’s most successful methods for deceiving and entrapping people in their sin and sins.
    It should be answered with the Gospel by people who, like Raymond Lull (1232-1315), lived and died that Muslims might hear the Truth and believe in Jesus.
    Where are the servants of the King of Kings who are assaulting the strongholds of Islam with the Gospel and the love of Christ, seeking to be more than conquerors by seeing enemies become beloved brothers and sisters in the Kingdom?

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