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).
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