Abdel nervously glanced down at his watch. Again. It hadn't changed much since he had looked at it a few moments ago. Less than three minutes to go now. Unconsciously, he rubbed his free hand across his stomach, feeling the lumpy hardness of the vest beneath his coat.
He closed his eyes and thought for a moment of his family. They would be well take care of, he reminded himself, and well honored. His lips moving slightly, silently, as he quoted several verses from the Qur'an to steady his resolve…
"Then, when the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever ye find them...Fight them! Allah will chastise them at your hands, and he will lay them low and give you victory over them...Fight against such of those who have been given the Scripture as believe not in Allah, nor the Last Day, and forbid not that which Allah hath forbidden by His messenger, and follow not the religion of truth...And wage war on all of the idolaters...Go forth, light-armed and heavy armed, and strive with your wealth and your lives in the way of Allah! (Surah 9:5,14,29,36,41)."
Abdel's watch chirped softly, interrupting his thoughts. One minute to go. He breathed a silent prayer to Allah and remembered the last verses that his imam had quoted as the remote detonator had been wired into the plastic explosive strapped to his body.
"If thou comest on them in the war, deal with them so as to strike fear in those who are left behind them, that haply they may remember...Now hath Allah lightened your burden, for He knoweth that there is a weakness in you. So if there be of you a steadfast hundred they shall overcome two hundred, and if there be of you a thousand steadfast they shall overcome two thousand by permission of Allah. Allah is with the steadfast (Surah 8:57,67)."
A vest, lined with roofing nails, ball bearings, wood screws, and fence staples dipped in rat poison, was draped over his shoulders. "To increase the carnage," his imam had said.
Abdel opened his eyes. Wiping the sweat from his hairless brow he strode steadfastly toward the center of the cafe. It was crowded with business men and women, schoolchildren, and tourists, oblivious to the threat walking into their midst. Several froze when he suddenly raised his hands at precisely 12:00 PM and shouted "Allahu akhbar!" Others began to run but it was too late.
At exactly the same time, an unseen man several blocks away pressed the send button on his cell phone. The sound of a massive explosion ripped through the streets, followed immediately by dozens of car alarms in chilling chorus. Paying no attention to the column of smoke rising into the sky several blocks away, he dropped the phone down a sewer grate. Sirens began to sound in the distance as he casually headed off to a nearby mosque to give thanks.
Now some would object to the above scenario. "That's not true Islam," they'd say, "Islam is the Religion of Peace."
Would that that were true. Unfortunately, it's not. The oft quoted verse, "There is no compulsion in religion (2:256)," soon gave way to the more aggressive verses quoted above. Surah 2:256 was, to use the Islamic term, abrogated.
The Islamic doctrine of abrogation, or naskh, means that Allah can change, cancel, or supercede previously revealed verses as he sees fit. It comes from Surah 2:106: "Such of Our revelations as We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, we bring (in place) one better or the like thereof. Knowest thou not that Allah is Able to do all things?"
Most of the more peaceful, accommodating passages in the Qur'an were received after Muhammad had fled for his life from Mecca to Medina. They are referred to as the Median Surahs. But, as he and his followers grew in numbers and strength, Muhammad's revelations became less accommodating, less tolerant. Consequently, the Meccan Surahs, received after he retuned to Mecca and captured the city, are markedly more strident and aggressive than the Median Surahs.
Despite the protestations to the contrary, the Qur'an, the Hadith (a history of the acts of the Prophet considered nearly as authoritative as the Qur'an), and history show us clearly that Islam is far from being the Religion of Peace. Instead, it quickly became the Religion of the Sword.
Muhammad said, "And fight them [unbelievers and infidels] until persecution is no more, and all religion is for Allah (8:39)." And again, "Then, when the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, and take them (captive), and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush. But if they repent and establish worship and pay the poor-due, then leave their way free. Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful (9:5)!" In other words, kill them unless they submit and embrace Islam.
Nevertheless, recognizing that Allah is most forgiving and merciful, Muhammad allowed for certain Christians and Jews to be sparred even if they would not embrace Islam. All they needed to do was accept the second class status of dhimmitude, based on Surah 9:29: "Fight against such of those who have been given the Scripture as believe not in Allah, nor the Last Day, and forbid not that which Allah hath forbidden by His messenger, and follow not the religion of truth, until they pay the tribute readily, being brought low."
Ibn Omar, the Second Caliph (a sort of supreme Islamic leader and successor to Muhammad) followed in Muhammad's tolerant footsteps. He said:
"Whenever the Messenger of Allah (Muhammad) appointed someone as leader of an army or detachment, he would especially exhort him to fear Allah and be good to the Muslims with him. The he would say: 'Attack in the name of Allah and in the path of Allah do battle with whoever rejects Allah. Attack!...If you happen upon your idolatrous enemies, call them to three courses of action. If they respond to any one of these, accept it and stay yourself from them. Call them to Islam; if they respond, accept this and cease fighting them….If they refuse to accept Islam, demand of them the jizya (tribute): if they respond, accept it and cease fighting them. But if they refuse, seek the aid of Allah and fight them."So, here are the three options recognized for unbelievers when confronted by the teachings of Islam: (1) Submit and accept Islam as true; (2) Submit and live as a second-class dhimmi and pay tribute with humility to your Muslims overlords; or (3) Die. Keep in mind that all three were practiced by both Muhammad, the founder of Islam, and Ibn Omar, the Second Caliph.
Muslims have drifted from the absolutist positions of their Founder and the early caliphs from time to time. However, just like in Christianity, voices have been raised calling the Islamic umma, or community, back to its fundamental doctrines, beliefs, and practices. Examples would include the 14th Century scholar Ibn Taymiyya and the 16th century Sheikh Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahhab. They wanted to purge Islam from outside influences, returning it to the pure form practiced by the Prophet and early caliphs in 7th and 8th Centuries.
These two scholars are important because their writings greatly influenced the rise of Islamic fundamentalism, or Salafism, in the 20th Century. So much so that the Wahhabism, a virulent form of Islamic fundamentalism, is, along with oil, the chief export of Saudia Arabia. In fact, It has been estimated that over 80 percent of the mosques, Islamic centers, and Islamic schools in North America are either controlled or at least greatly influenced by the Wahhabist's money, materials, and literature.
It is not surprising, then, that millions of dollars annually find their way from American mosques and Islamic societies to many fundamentalist Muslim groups. Nor is it that armed fundamentalist training camps and numerous militant, jihadist cell groups dedicated to the violent overthrow of America have been identified throughout the United States. Nor that many "peaceful" imams such as Fawaz Dara, former leader of the largest mosque in Ohio, the Grand Mosque in Cleveland, who was deported because of, among other things, his ties to numerous terrorists, including the Blind Sheikh, Omar Abdul Rahman, who masterminded the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and Mahmud Abouhalima who helped carry out said bombing.
The writings of Taymiyya and Wahhab have also influenced and inspired a veritable smorgasbord of radical Islamic movements and terrorist groups: Al-Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, Hezbollah, Council on American Islamic Relations, Fatah, Islamic Jihad, the Muslim Student Association, North American Islamic Trust, Palestinian Liberation Organization, just to name a few.
If all of these represent isolated fringe groups, why do we not hear the vast majority of Muslims loudly and vehemently denouncing them? Their silence in deafening.
Just because some moderate Muslims (whom fundamentalists would call apostates) disagree with and cover up the true history of Islam and attempt to sanitize the practices and beliefs of their founder and early caliphs, while marginalizing today's fundamentalists as extremists doesn't alter the truth. Just because some politicians and media personalities claim that a few zealots have high jacked a noble religion doesn't change the facts. The Religion of Peace is actually the Religion of the Sword. Those who commit acts of violence and terror in the service of Allah are merely following in the footsteps of their Prophet.
Compare that mentality with Christianity. Those that depart from the original beliefs and practices of Biblical Christianity are those that sought to enforce their corrupted beliefs with the sword. Fundamental, Bible-believing Christians never did. In fact, they were quite frequently the recipients of the sword!
Century under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit wrote: "For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds (2 Corinthians 10:4)."
In fact, the Book of Acts shows us that "...Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures (Acts 17:2)" and that "...he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks (Acts 18:4)."
Two Bible-believing Christians, active in the 2nd and 4th Centuries are quoted by Dr. Phil Stringer in The Faithful Baptist Witness (1998). Tertullian (p.81) said:
It is a fundamental human right, a privilege of nature, that every man should worship according to his own convictions; one man's religion neither harms nor helps another man. It is assuredly no part of religion to compel religion - to which freewill and not force should lead us - the sacrificial victims even being required of a willing mind.Lactanus, (p.82), a student of Justin Martyr, puts it even more succinctly:
Religion cannot be imposed by force; the matter must be carried on by word rather than by blows, that the will may be affected. Torture and piety are widely different; nor is it possible for truth to be united with violence, or justice with cruelty. Nothing is so much a matter of free will as religion.Unfortunately, for Bible-believing Christians, the Roman Emperor Constantine wedded church and state together in 324 AD. The result was the creation of the official church of the Empire, known as the Roman Catholic Church. Even more unfortunately, this new state church soon availed itself of the sword of the Empire to enforce compliance with and acceptance of its corrupted doctrines.
Now, for the first-but not last-time the sword was used by so-called Christians to compel other Christians to conform to their beliefs. The cherished Bible doctrines of soul liberty and separation of church and state were considered threats to the newly established church-state system, threats to be rooted out by force if necessary.
Starting with the Roman emperors and popes and continuing with the Protestant reformers, enforcing state church beliefs with the sword was the rule rather than the exception. Not even the American colonies were exempt. Public whippings, jail time, seizure of property and children, fines, and banishment were all employed by the official churches in many of the colonies. Only Rhode Island, founded on Baptist principles, offered true religious freedom and a complete separation of church and state.
Unlike in Islam, it has been the churches and movements that have departed from the Bible that have employed the sword. It has been the faithful, prayerful, peaceful resistance by Bible-believing Christians, Baptists in particular, who have continued to resist unto the death, patiently preaching, teaching, and reasoning from the Scriptures.
In short, if it is wrong for Muslims to use violence to compel people to become Muslims and to enforce compliance with their beliefs, then it is wrong for Christians to do the same. We might expect it from those who hold to the Qur'an, not from those who hold to the Bible.