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Issues Facing Missions Today: 41. Is it ‘Islam’ or ‘Radical Islam’?

Issues Facing Missions Today: 41. Is it ‘Islam’ or ‘Radical Islam’?

Western liberals wish to avoid the politically incorrect issue of whether terrorists from Middle Eastern and North African countries do what they do because of their Islamic faith or not.  Is this a religious matter, or is it terrorism without any religious motivation?  Even when the terrorists claim that they murder because of their faith, liberal Westerners embarrassingly try to insist that this is not the case.  They try to criticize the terrorists for misunderstanding their own faith, as though they are somehow more able to explain Islam than Muslims.  Some will say that the agents of death are not true Muslims but ‘radicalised Muslims,’ but others will avoid the term ‘Muslim’ altogether.

Why would someone attempt this rather peculiar ‘doublespeak’ (a term coined by George Orwell in his work on politically correct totalitarianism—Nineteen Eighty-Four)?  One reason, apparently, is that liberals in the West have for decades tried to sweep religion under the cultural rug.  They have exiled religious faith to private places—behind church walls or in houses—anywhere but in the public square.  They have legislated against holding Christian convictions if they translate in any way to public life.  So, if any Muslims do commit violence because of their faith, they must, the denial mill purports, have been provoked—as in the now infamous story knowingly invented and shamedly told about an offensive video in Bengazi, Libya as the cause of an attack on the American embassy in 2012.

A second reason appears to be that President Barack Obama began his presidency by attempting to mend relationships with Islamic countries.  He has, however, repeatedly found himself in the embarrassing position of trying to address unrest in the Middle East when denial of the issues becomes impossible.  He would prefer to think of this unrest in terms of attempts to establish democracy or in terms of the previous administration's bungling into foreign wars or in terms of oppression and ethnicity (especially when Israel is part of the equation).  In other words, President Obama lacks the will or ability—or both—to analyze a deeply religious part of the world in terms of religion.  He is not alone.  Believing that reality is constructed, not a matter of facts, Western liberals seem to believe that their version of others’ beliefs is just as viable, if not moreso, than what people say.

As a result, public discussion in the West cannot rise to the real issue of whether terrorism is normative Islam or radical Islam.  Is the heart of Islam being exposed in the horrific attacks over recent years, or is this some cancerous aberration of some ‘true’ and peaceful Islam?  Divisions in Islam appeared right after the death of Mohammed, of course, and one cannot really speak of a ‘true’ form of Islam—only major traditions.  Also complicating any answer to the question are the facts that sacred texts ought to be read in Arabic rather than translation and that what is written needs to be read in some context with explanations.  This is the missing dialogue as the Western media attempts to present events without religious analysis. 

The following quotations might be a start for those who are capable of reading documents before passing judgements and able to listen to uncomfortable views without feeling that their predetermined views are being threatened.  Sadly, this rules out many in the government, on university campuses, and in news agencies in the West.

These quotations are from the Sahih Bukhari, which is one of the books of the Kutub al-Sittah.  The Kutub al-Sittah contains six collections by Muhammed al-Bukhari of sayings of Islam’s founder and form part of the Haddith.  The Kutub al-Sittah is given particular authority by Sunni Muslims (of which ISIS would be a representative).[1]


From Volume 4, Book 52: Jihaad

Allah's Apostle said, "You (i.e. Muslims) will fight with the Jews till some of them will hide behind stones. The stones will (betray them) saying, 'O 'Abdullah (i.e. slave of Allah)! There is a Jew hiding behind me; so kill him.' " (4.52.176)

Allah's Apostle said, "The Hour will not be established until you fight with the Jews, and the stone behind which a Jew will be hiding will say. "O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, so kill him." (4.52.177)

Allah 's Apostle said, " I have been ordered to fight with the people till they say, 'None has the right to be worshipped but Allah,' and whoever says, 'None has the right to be worshipped but Allah,' his life and property will be saved by me except for Islamic law, and his accounts will be with Allah, (either to punish him or to forgive him.)" (4.52.196)

I asked Allah's Apostle, "O Allah's Apostle! What is the best deed?" He replied, "To offer the prayers at their early stated fixed times." I asked, "What is next in goodness?" He replied, "To be good and dutiful to your parents." I further asked, what is next in goodness?" He replied, "To participate in Jihad in Allah's Cause." I did not ask Allah's Apostle anymore and if I had asked him more, he would have told me more. (4.52.41).

The Prophet passed by me at a place called Al-Abwa or Waddan, and was asked whether it was permissible to attack the pagan warriors at night with the probability of exposing their women and children to danger. The Prophet replied, "They (i.e. women and children) are from them (i.e. pagans)." I also heard the Prophet saying, "The institution of Hima is invalid except for Allah and His Apostle."  (Sahih Bukhari 4.52.256).

Allah's Apostle sent us in a mission (i.e. an army-unit) and said, "If you find so-and-so and so-and-so, burn both of them with fire." When we intended to depart, Allah's Apostle said, "I have ordered you to burn so-and-so and so-and-so, and it is none but Allah Who punishes with fire, so, if you find them, kill them." (4.52.259).

Ali burnt some people and this news reached Ibn 'Abbas, who said, "Had I been in his place I would not have burnt them, as the Prophet said, 'Don't punish (anybody) with Allah's Punishment.' No doubt, I would have killed them, for the Prophet said, 'If somebody (a Muslim) discards his religion, kill him.' " (4.52.260).

I asked Ali, "Do you have the knowledge of any Divine Inspiration besides what is in Allah's Book?" 'Ali replied, "No, by Him Who splits the grain of corn and creates the soul. I don't think we have such knowledge, but we have the ability of understanding which Allah may endow a person with, so that he may understand the Qur'an, and we have what is written in this paper as well." I asked, "What is written in this paper?" He replied, "(The regulations of) blood-money, the freeing of captives, and the judgment that no Muslim should be killed for killing an infidel." (4.52.283).

From Volume 8, Book 82: Disbelievers

Some people from the tribe of 'Ukl came to the Prophet and embraced Islam. The climate of Medina did not suit them, so the Prophet ordered them to go to the (herd of milch) camels of charity and to drink, their milk and urine (as a medicine). They did so, and after they had recovered from their ailment (became healthy) they turned renegades (reverted from Islam) and killed the shepherd of the camels and took the camels away. The Prophet sent (some people) in their pursuit and so they were (caught and) brought, and the Prophets ordered that their hands and legs should be cut off and that their eyes should be branded with heated pieces of iron, and that their cut hands and legs should not be cauterized, till they die. (8.82.794)

From Volume 9, Book 84: Dealing with Apostates

Behold: There was a fettered man beside Abu Muisa. Mu'adh asked, "Who is this (man)?" Abu Muisa said, "He was a Jew and became a Muslim and then reverted back to Judaism." Then Abu Muisa requested Mu'adh to sit down but Mu'adh said, "I will not sit down till he has been killed. (9.84.58; also in 9.89.271)

[1] For a searchable English translation of the Sahih Bukhari, see: