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Friday, July 3, 2015

Sex Slavery and the Islamic State

This article appears first in On Line Opinion.

Jamie Walker, Middle East correspondent for The Australian, asked two critical questions in a recent article which discussed the involvement of two Australian citizens, Mohamed Elomar and Khaled Sharrouf, in Islamic State sex slavery. In 2014 Elomar purchased sex slaves, of whom four, all Yazidis, later escaped to a refugee camp where the ABC caught up with them and interviewed them.  Elomar had also boasted on Twitter that he had “1 of 7 Yehzidi slave girls for sale” at $2500 each.

Walker’s questions were:

“The uncomfortable questions for the Western world, including Australia, are why this debased appeal seems to be gaining traction with Islamic State’s target audience, which increasingly includes women, and why it’s not challenged more stridently in the public arena.”
The Islamic State has given its own answer to the first question. In the fourth edition of its magazine Dabiq it aggressively promoted sex slavery as an Islamic practice, arguing that the practice conforms to the teaching and example of Muhammad and his companions.

Does this argument have any wider appeal than among Islamic State recruits?

The reality is that many Muslim scholars have upheld the practice of enslaving captives of war. For example Islamic revivalist Abul A‘la Maududi wrote in his influential and widely disseminated tract Human Rights in Islam that for Muslims to enslave their captives was “a more humane and proper way of disposing of them” than Western approaches. Enslavement by Muslims, he argued, is preferable to the provisions of the Geneva Convention because of the value of this policy for fuelling the growth of Islam:
“The result of this humane policy was that most of the men who were captured on foreign battlefields and brought to the Muslim countries as slaves embraced Islam and their descendants produced great scholars, imams, jurists, commentators, statesmen and generals of the army.”
Islamic revivalist movements which look forward to the restoration of an Islamic Caliphate have repeatedly endorsed the practice of slavery in the name of their religious convictions. For example the (now banned) Muhajiroun movement in the UK announced in an article, “How does Islam Classify Lands?” that once a true Islamic State is established, no-one living in other nations (which it calls Dar al Harb ‘house of war’) will have a right to their life or their wealth:
“… hence a Muslim in such circumstances can then go into Dar Al Harb and take the wealth from the people unless there is a treaty with that state. If there is no treaty individual Muslims can even go to Dar Al Harb and take women to keep as slaves.”
It is a problem that the Qur’an itself endorses having sex with captive women (Sura 4:24). According to a secure tradition (hadith) attributed to one of Muhammad’s companions, Abu Sa‘id al-Khudri, this verse of the Qur’an was revealed to Muhammad at a time when Muslims had been ‘refraining’ from having sex with their married female captives. Verse 4:24 relieved them of this restraint by giving them permission to have sex with captive women even if the women were already married.

Abd-al-Hamid Siddiqui, a Fellow of the Islamic Research Academy of Karachi and the translator into English of the Sahih Muslim, commented on this tradition, saying: “When women are taken captive their previous marriages are automatically annulled. It should, however, be remembered that sexual intercourse with these women is lawful with certain conditions.”

There have been many cases reported across the centuries of Islamic armies using captive women for sex slavery, but is this any different from all wars? It is different in one important respect, that the mainstream of Islamic jurisprudence has justified and supported this practice on the basis of Islam’s canonical sources, including Muhammad’s own example and teaching.  Islamic sex slavery is religiously sanctioned ‘guilt-free sex’.

This religious teaching is impacting our world today because the global Islamic community has been deeply affected by a grassroots religious revival, which seeks to purify Islam and restore it to its foundational principles, which include rules for war and the treatment of captives.

This leads us to Walker’s second question: why is the Islamic State’s ‘debased appeal’ not ‘challenged more stridently in the public arena’?

An obstacle which stands in the way of such a challenge is that it would require a sober evaluation of the Islamic character of sex slavery. However even suggesting a link between Islam and ‘terrorism’ has become taboo to those who are afraid of being judged intolerant. Not only do some impose this taboo upon themselves, but they are quick to stigmatise those who do not partner with them in this ill-considered ‘tolerance’.

The taboo attached to making any link between Islamic State atrocities and the religion of Islam was apparent in comments by Greg Bearup on his interview with South Australian politician Cory Bernardi. During the course of the interview Senator Bernardi linked the Islamic State with Muhammad’s example, to which the interviewer wrote “Kaboom!”, and called the comment a ‘hand grenade’, ‘inflammatory’ and ‘divisive’.

While it is a hopeful sign that some Muslims, such as Anooshe Mushtaq, have been willing to explore the Islamic character of the Islamic State, non-Muslim opinion-makers should show more backbone by engaging with the issue at hand.

It is not a sign of tolerance when free people deliberately silence themselves about the ideological drivers of sex trafficking. The same can also be said of acts of terrorism, such as the world has witnessed over the past week in France, Tunisia and Kuwait.

Until societies are able and willing to have a frank and free discussion of the ideological drivers which motivate acts of terror and abuse, they should not expect to be able to develop effective strategies to contain or wind back such atrocities.

A state of denial is a state of defeat.

Mark Durie is the pastor of an Anglican church,
a Shillman-Ginsburg Writing Fellow at the Middle East Forum,
and Founder of the Institute for Spiritual Awareness.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Correcting a typo in "Challenging Islam's Warrant to Kill"

In my most recent post "Challenging Islam's warrant to Kill" there was a typo, which has now been corrected:

A quotation from the Qur'an was incorrect:
Sura 9:123 ‘fight those of the disbelievers who are near to you’
(The post had 'believers' in error.)

Mark Durie

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Challenging Islam’s Warrant to Kill

This post was first published by FrontPage Magazine.

Last week the Islamic State’s ‘Hacking Division’ released the names and addresses of one hundred US military personnel.  It urged the ‘brothers residing in America’ – i.e. American Muslims – to ‘deal with’ them, which is to say, it wants them killed. 

There is much talk these days of radicalization and deradicalization. At the heart of both processes are religious ideas: theological dogmas.  What are some of the key theological principles which might cause a Muslim to take this call seriously? What is the Islamic reasoning given by the IS Hacking Division in support of its call to kill non-Muslims?

The Hacking Division quotes two verses of the Qur’an:
  • Sura 9:123 ‘fight those of the disbelievers who are near to you’ and
  • Sura 9:14 ‘Fight them; Allah will punish them by your hands and will disgrace them and give you victory over them, and satisfy [actually yashfi ‘heal’] the breasts of a believing people’.
The meaning of these two verses hangs upon the word qātilū, translated here as ‘fight’. The verbal root q-t-l from which qātilū is formed means ‘kill’, so the Arabic actually means ‘fight to kill’ (see discussion here). These Qur’anic verses truly are commands to kill non-Muslims.

The second quoted verse, from Sura 9:14, puts forward a view concerning what Muslims should do about emotional pain and anguish they may experience because of unbelievers.  ‘Allah’, the verse says, ‘will heal the breasts’ of Muslims, – and then the sentence continues into the next verse – ‘and remove the rage of their hearts’.

The key concept here is that if Muslims have strong feelings, including anger, against non-Muslims, their emotional distress will subside and be ‘healed’ as they kill, humiliate and triumph over non-believers. Strange therapy indeed for the human soul!  According to the Qur’an, peace within the Muslim soul can be secured by shedding non-Muslim blood.

These are stock-standard verses used to urge Muslims to go for jihad against disbelievers. However what most caught my eye in the Hacking Division’s call to arms against infidels in America was a reference to Muhammad’s teachings. The Hacking Division refers to hadith 4661 in a published English version of the Sahih Muslim (translated by Abdul Hamid Sidiqqi).

The Sahih Muslim is one of the most revered and authoritative sources for the teaching and example of Muhammad, whose life is considered exemplary and compulsory for Muslims to emulate.  This particular hadith can be found on page 1263 of Volume 3 of the English edition:
Chapter 789 (DCCLXXXIX)
About a man who killed a disbeliever and embraced Islam.
(4661) It has been narrated on the authority of Abu Huraira that the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) said: A disbeliever and a believer who killed him will never be gathered together in Hell. [See here.]
This is a most significant statement. It is saying that if a Muslim kills a non-Muslim, they cannot both end up in hell.  The alternative to hell is paradise, so in other words, killing a non-Muslim – who is destined for hell due to their unbelief – can provide a sure ticket to paradise for a Muslim.

This tradition is the authority for a view widely put about by jihadis, that if a Muslim personally gets to kill a disbeliever, the Muslim will gain paradise.  Put together with with the famous belief that for a Muslim to be ‘martyred’ in jihad opens the gates of paradise (see Sura 3:169-170; 9:111; and 22:58), fighting to kill non-Muslims can be a ticket to glory, win or lose. Either one kills and gains a get-out-of-hell free card, or one is killed and gains a get-into-paradise-free card. This is a win-win proposition for the jihadi.

Persuading Muslims to take the words of Muhammad seriously is the core strategy of radicalization.  This tactic works as well as it does because it appeals to a plain reading of Islam’s holy texts.

To be deradicalized, a Muslim needs to repudiate the theological authority of the teachings of Muhammad and the Qur’an. This is a hard call for pious Muslims. Ayan Hirsi Ali was surely correct in her recent essay calling for reform of Islam when she wrote that:
‘the fundamental problem is that the majority of otherwise peaceful and law-abiding Muslims are unwilling to acknowledge, much less to repudiate, the theological warrant for intolerance and violence embedded in their own religious texts.’
Hirsi Ali also declared:
‘we in the West need to challenge and debate the very substance of Islamic thought and practice. We need to hold Islam accountable for the acts of its most violent adherents and to demand that it reform or disavow the key beliefs that are used to justify those acts.’
Hirsi Ali was right: the West needs to engage with and repudiate the Islamic dogmas that killing or being killed in murderous attacks against non-Mulims is some kind of golden key which unlocks the gates of paradise. Until these beliefs and the canonical teachings they rely on are acknowledged and repudiated, the lives of non-Muslims will continue to be discarded as the ‘ticket to paradise’ of Muslim belligerents.

Hadiths such as 4661 from Sahih Muslim, and the Qur’anic verses cited here are a genuine part of the Islamic canon. Such verses remain unrenounced and unrepudiated by a great many Muslims and Islamic institutions today.

As long as such texts are not repudiated, the theological winds of Islam will all too easily continue to sweep pious Muslim hearts and minds towards radicalization, a process which exalts the idea that the lives of infidels are disposable.

Islam’s warrant to kill infidels is an idea which deserves to be exposed, challenged, thoroughly debated, and rejected.

Mark Durie is the pastor of an Anglican church, 
a Shillman-Ginsburg Writing Fellow at the Middle East Forum, 
and Founder of the Institute for Spiritual Awareness. 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

‘A Message Signed with Blood to the Nation of the Cross’

This post is a analytical explanation of a film produced by Al-Hayat Media of the Islamic State,  which portrays the ritual slaughter of 21 Coptic Christians on a beach in Libya, in the film “A Message Signed with Blood to the Nation of the Cross”.  Words in blue are from the film, either in the form of titles or sub-titles, or as narration.  Text in red is for the words of Muhammad or the Qur’an.  This is Part 2 of a pair of posts about this film.  Part 1 is Bearing the cross: a letter to the Islamic State.  This post has also appeared on Lapido Media.

The Coast of Wilāyat Tarābulus [in the region of Tripoli] by the Mediterranean Sea

The people of the cross, the followers of the hostile Egyptian Church
The opening scenes show the 21 men being led along the coast towards the camera, each one held by a hooded captor.
All praise is due to Allah, the strong and mighty, and may blessings and peace be upon[1] the one sent by the sword[2] as a mercy for all the world[3].
[1] It is a standard Islamic text opening to bless Muhammad.

[2] In this case Muhammad  is identified as the ‘one sent by the sword.’ This phrase is taken from Muhammad’s own words:
I have been sent with a sword in my hand to command people to worship Allah and associate no partners with him. I command you to believe and subjugate those who disobey me.”  Subhi al-Salih, ed., Ahkam Ahl al-Dhimmah vol 2: 736.  Also cited by (Ibn Taymiyyah in Majmu’ Al-Fatawa (Vol. 28, p. 270).
[3] Sura 21:107 “We have sent you [Muhammad] as a mercy for the worlds.”
Oh people, recently you have seen us on the hills of as-Sham [Syria] and on Dabiq’s plain,[4] chopping off the heads that have been carrying the cross delusion for a long time, filled with spite against Islam and Muslims[5].
[4] Dabiq is a town in northern Syria. In Islamic eschatology it is believed to be a place of battle between Christians and Muslims.  For this reason Dabiq was chosen as the title for the Islamic State’s propaganda magazine.
[5] The idea that Christians have enmity against Muslims is from the Koran:
Sura 60:4 “...enmity and hatred have appeared between us and you forever until you believe in Allah alone”
Sura 86:15 “Surely, the disbelievers are your ardent enemies.”
Sura 3:119 “O ye who believe! Take not others than your own people as intimate friends; they will spare no pains to ruin you. They love to see you in trouble. Hatred has already shown itself through the utterances of their mouths and what their breasts hide is greater still.”
And today, we are on the south of Rome, on the land of Islam, Libya, sending another message. “Oh Crusaders, safety for you will only be wishes,[6] especially when you are fighting us all together.[7] Therefore, we will fight you all together,[7] until the war lays down its burdens[8] and Jesus, peace be upon him, will descend, breaking the cross, killing the swine and abolishing jizya.[9]”
These few lines are packed with references to Islam’s canonical texts.
[6] Muhammad famously told the Jews of Medina aslim taslam convert/surrender (to Islam) and you will be safe’.  By this logic, those who refuse to convert to Islam can never be safe.
[7] Sura 9:36 “fight the polytheists all together as they fight you all together”. This verse comes hot on the heels of 9:29 which is the key verse in the Koran to support the subjugation of Christians under Islam’s yoke.  The Arabic word for ‘fight’ here actually means ‘fight to kill’.

[8] Sura 47:4 “And when you meet in battle those who disbelieve, smite their necks [i.e. behead them]; and, when you have overcome them, by causing great slaughter among them, bind fast the fetters - then afterwards either release them as a favour or by taking ransom - until the war lays down its burdens.

[9] Muhammad said “Isa (Jesus) ... will fight the people for the cause of Islam. He will break the cross, kill swine, and abolish jizyah. Allah will perish [destroy] all religions except Islam.” (Sunan Abu Dawud, Book of Battles).  According to this well-known tradition of Muhammad, Isa the Islamic Christ will destroy Christianity, and kill anyone who does not submit to the sharia of Muhammad.  In Islamic law the abolition of jizya means the end of tolerance for non-Muslim religions. After Jesus’ return, all humanity will be given only two choices: Islam or death.  These Christians in Tripoli are being killed  in anticipation of this end-times principle.
And the sea you have hidden Shaikh Usama Bin Laden’s body in, we swear to Allah, we will mix it with your blood.
The principle of qisas or retribution is at play here: just as Bin Ladin was buried at sea, so Christians will have their blood spilled into the ocean.   Cf. Sura 2: 190-94 “fight in the way of Allah those who fight you … slay these transgressors wherever you meet them and derive them out from where they have driven you out … if they fight you, then fight them …  if they violate the prohibition, then you may do the same in retaliation” And also Sura 16: 126 “retaliate with an equivalent punishment”.
The same motivation influenced the burning alive of the Jordanian pilot: because his bombs had caused people to die in burning buildings, so it was considered permissible to burn him.  See here.
The principle of qisas also accounts for the standard Guantanamo Bay-style orange jumpsuits supplied to the beheading victims.  This is saying: “we are humiliating you as you humiliated us at Guatanamo.”
The worldview of qisas is not limited to the Islamic State. Jordan and Egypt cited the same principle when executing prisoners and launching bombing raids in response to IS atrocities.
Another theological driver at play here is the principle of collective punishment: if one Christian wrongs a Muslim, then all Christians should be punished, even if these particular Egyptian Christians had absolutely nothing to do with Bin Ladin or his death:  because of the manner in which the United States buried Bin Ladin at sea, Egyptian Christians’ blood is to be mingled in the ocean.  Likewise, because of the humiliating way in which the United States treated uncooperative Muslim captives in Guantanamo, Egyptian Christians are to be beheaded wearing orange jumpsuits.
They supplicate what they worship and die upon their paganism.
As the victims are being forced down, first to kneel, and then to lower their heads into the sand, the subscription declares that they are ‘supplicating’ i.e. down on their knees to worship, and dying for the sake of their religion, which is their pagan ‘worship’.  As they go down, a number of the men can be seen calling on the name of Jesus. 

This textual inscription is designed to humiliate the victims and make crystal clear to other Christians that these men are being killed for their faith.  The manner of their death is also an enactment of the false worship they are charged with: they are compelled to bow down, as if to an idol, but they are going down to their deaths.  This ritual is communicating, “Because you have bowed down to a false god, you will now bow down to your death.”
This filthy blood is just some of what awaits you, in revenge for Camella and her sisters.
Camilla Shehata is a Coptic woman, the wife of a Christian priest, who went missing.  Her husband reported her missing to the police fearing that she had been kidnapped by Muslim men, who regularly kidnap, rape and forcibly convert Christian women in Egypt, all too often with the collusion of the authorities.  Kidnappers are known especially to target the wives of priests.  Later Camilla appeared on national television to state that she had just gone to be with relatives after a domestic dispute and she had not converted to Islam.  However the Muslim public in Egypt was not to be placated.  It was incited by Muslim leaders with the idea that she had converted to Islam, and the Coptic church, having kidnapped her, was torturing her to force her back into Christianity. This libel against Egyptian Christians was also made in connection with other Coptic women. 

This is a case of projection. Muslims have captured hundreds of Coptic girls and women in recent years (see here and here) compelling them through threats and violence to accept Islam and give false testimony that the have entered Islam willingly.  There is normally no recourse for the families of the captive females. The families are simply told that the women have converted to Islam and are now married, and their new husbands can speak for them, in accordance with Islamic law. (See my book The Third Choice, p.163ff for a theological explanation of why non-Muslim women are especially vulnerable to rape and capture in Islamic conditions.)
The massacre of congregants in the Baghdad Catholic cathedral on October 31, 2010 was also claimed by the Al Qaida perpetrators to be retribution for Camilla.  
The idea of revenging Camilla by killing random Coptic men is another example of a theological tendency among Islamic radical to promote collective punishment for the People of the Book.  The Moroccan jurist Al-Maghili wrote concerning the dhimma pact of ‘protection’ for non-Muslims, “The fact that one individual (or one group) among them [i.e. the non-Muslims] has broken the statute is enough to invalidate it for all of them”.
We will conquer Rome, by Allah’s permission, the promise of our prophet, peace be upon him.
This references a number of well-known hadiths of Muhammad in which he prophesies the conquest of Rome, e.g.: “You will attack Arabia and Allah will enable you to conquer it, then you would attack Persia and He would make you to conquer it. Then you would attack Rome and Allah will enable you to conquer it,…” (Sahih Muslim, the Book of the Torments and Portents of the Last Hour).
This boast signifies the final destruction of the fifth of the four original centres of the church. The others, already overrun by Islam, are Constantinople, Antioch, Jerusalem and Alexandria.
The film ends with a close-up of the blood-red water of the ocean: the signature in blood.

Bearing the cross: a letter to the Islamic State

This is the first of a two-part post on the 21 Egyptian martyrs killed in Libya.  This first part is a reflection, as a Christian, on aspects of this event and reactions to it.  The second part, ‘A message signed with blood to the Nation of the Cross’ consists of explanatory notes on the texts – spoken and written – which were part of the Islamic State’s film of their ritual beheadings.  This post has also appeared on Lapido media, and Quadrant Online.

The Islamic State sent me a letter this week. This letter was in the form of a short film produced by the Islamic State’s Al-Hayat Media centre.  This was not addressed to me personally, but to all Christians everywhere.  Its title was A Message Signed with BLOOD to the Nation of the Cross.  This was a video of the ritual slaughter of the 21 Egyptian Christians.  Their blood flowing in the ocean waves was the ‘signature’ at the end of the video.

As I write this it is Ash Wednesday.  This is the start of forty days of Lent, a period of fasting and contemplation for Christians all over the world.  For many centuries it has been a custom of Christians to receive a mark of the cross in ash upon the forehead as a sign of repentance.

As I received this mark of the cross today I was thinking of the 21 Egyptian Christian martyrs.  Copts permanently bear the sign of the cross, tattooed on their wrists, as a sign that they will refuse to renounce their beliefs.
A Coptic Girl with a Wrist Cross Tatoo

I intend to read out these men’s names at our morning church services this Sunday, here in Melbourne, Australia.  And I also choose to honour them today by writing to acknowledge the truth about why they were killed, and in particular the explanation given by their killers.

I also wish to record, as a Christian and a pastor, my intense protest at the White House official statement of February 15 2015 concerning this event.  This makes no mention of the reason the twenty one were killed: their Christian faith.  This culpable denial dishonours them, as it dishonours me and Christians everywhere. 

The White House statement claimed that “ISIL’s barbarity knows no bounds. It is unconstrained by faith, sect or ethnicity.”  Not true.  The Islamic State’s actions are constrained by its theology, and in this case its targets are also determined on religious grounds; they were Christians.  It is not an endorsement of the killers’ Islamic beliefs to acknowledge that these jihadis follow a form of Islam, and that their sect and faith does constrain their behaviour accordingly.

President Obama has defended his administration’s misrepresentations on the grounds that the radicals are “desperate for legitimacy” so “They try to portray themselves as religious leaders, holy warriors in defense of Islam.” But these are not desperate people.  They are shockingly confident in their beliefs. They do not “try to portray themselves” as Islamic: they sincerely believe they are. Christopher Hitchens got it right over a decade ago when he suggested of Al Qa’ida recruits that “they believe their own propaganda,” and “absolutely subscribe to the tenets of their version … of their religion, Islam.”

Obama also stated that “we must never accept the premise that they put forward, because it is a lie.”  This too is nonsense.  A lie is a deliberate intention to deceive, and these self-described jihadis are – at least by their own understanding – speaking the absolute truth when they claim to speak for Islam.

Some years ago I had the privilege of reading the Gospel at a Coptic service held in St Paul’s Anglican Cathedral, here in Melbourne.  The service was held to commemorate the 22 martyrs of the attack on Al-Qiddisin Church in Alexandria on New Year’s Eve. It was led by Bishop Suriel, Melbourne’s Coptic bishop.

The Al-Qiddisin martyr’s service impressed me deeply. I long pondered the fact that the Coptic church of Egypt has been grieving over the freshly dug graves of its martyred sons and daughters since the dawn of Christianity.  As I sat through the service and sung the hymns about martyrdom, I thought, “So this is what it means to be a Copt”.

The Islamic State video, a polished production, depicts 21 Christian men, hands bound behind them, being led one-by-one along a beach in Libya to a point where they are forced to bow down with their heads in the sand, and there they are beheaded, crying out Ya Rabbi Yasou ‘Lord Jesus!’, some reciting the Lord’s Prayer. Severed heads were then placed on top of each corpse, their Muslim slayer standing over them.  The final film shots show the Mediterranean washing red with their blood.
One of the Coptic victims with his killer

The whole event was meticulously choreographed and rehearsed.  The video’s obvious purpose is to humiliate and terrorise Christians, whom it derisively calls, “The Nation of the Cross”.  I admire the courage of the martyrs, who did not disown the name of Christ and the cross to follow Islam, even as they were being mocked and killed by their tormentors. 

It is indisputable (see Part 2) that the whole script of this video is intensely religious. It is packed with references to the Qur’an and the Hadiths of Muhammad.  As Graeme Wood comments in an important recent Atlantic Monthly article, the Islamic State adherents are constantly referencing Islam’s sacred texts. In their everyday speech, “Koranic quotations are ubiquitous”.  This film is no exception.  For anyone who knows anything about Islam it is impossible to view this film without being aware of the heavy constraining influence of the Qur’an and the Hadiths on the script.  These references are essential for understanding the true context, meaning and intent of the film.

The Egyptian government reacted angrily to the executions, bombing Islamic State positions inside Libya.  Egypt was incensed about this massacre – and rightly so – but it has a very long and enduring track record of not prosecuting Muslims who have massacred Christians within its own borders.  General Al-Sisi is a leader who has been complicit in this peculiar form of Muslim cowardice.  This moral inconsistency is causing great division and confusion among Copts at the present time.

My comment after the Al-Qiddisi massacre in January 2011 remains as valid now as it was then:
“I deplore the lack of freedom of religion in Egypt,  the authorities’ apparent unwillingness to protect the indigenous Christian minority and its places of worship, and the lamentable track record of the Egyptian justice system in securing criminal convictions against those who have targeted Christians for attack.  I call upon Egypt’s leaders to respond to these abuses honestly and with integrity, without making excuses or indulging in denial.”
There is a double standard in the house of Islam.  Examples are legion.  The Jordanian royal house has been prominent in speaking up against attacks against Christians in Iraq and Syria, yet at the time when the Common Word letter was being released to the Christian world in 2008 under Jordanian royal sponsorship, its own Royal Aal Al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought had posted on its website fatwas by its Chief Scholar – the former Mufti of Jordan – which declared death for Christians for the crime of leaving Islam, and even identified one person by name (see here).

King Abdullah has on the one hand been a champion of the rights of displaced Christians in the Middle East, and God knows they surely need one.  On the other hand he has held up the notorious Pact of Umar as evidence of Jordan’s history of religious tolerance:
“Jerusalem, which is, regrettably, subject to the worst forms of Judaisation today, stands witness to fourteen centuries of  deep, solid and fraternal relations between Muslims and Christians, enhanced by the Pact of Omar [ibn al-Khattab], and promoted by my grandfather, Sharif Hussein bin Ali, may God bless his soul.”
In contrast to this historical revisionism, the renowned Muslim jurist Ibn Kathir, accurately described the intent and effect of the conditions of the Pact of Umar as guaranteeing the continued degradation of Christians under Islamic rule:
“This is why the Leader of the faithful ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab, may Allah be pleased with him, demanded his well-known conditions be met by the Christians, these conditions that ensured their continued humiliation, degradation and disgrace.”
Readers who read classical Arabic may consult the Royal Jordan Aal al-Bayt Institute’s own database of commentaries here, to view Ibn Kathir’s original text.

The problem is that as long as Muslims allow derogatory words like mushrik ‘associator, polytheist’ and kafir ‘infidel’ to be applied to Christians, while also preaching Qur’anic verses which denigrate non-Muslims, the hostility and hatred can only continue.

As long as the highest legal authorities of the Islamic mainstream continue to assert the right of Muslims to kill those who leave Islam, bursts of extreme religious hatred such as we have just seen in Libya can only continue.

As long as Muslims claim that the well-documented brutal slaughters of Islamic conquest and the ensuing oppression of nations under the Islamic system of dhimmitude were a mercy to the world, the ‘opening’ up (al-futuh) of dark nations to light and truth, hatred towards non-Muslims will continue to arise in the house of Islam.

The fundamental problem is not peculiar variants of extreme religious worldviews, it is a deeply engrained religious worldview that is not acknowledged by many who hold it.  Those who, like King Abdullah, allow it room to breathe by claiming that it is something other than what it really is are as much a part of the problem as the violent jihadis who are proud to own the worldview.

In the house of Islam, hatred has deep roots stretching back through time.  In 1836 Edward Lane reported in The Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians that it was standard practice in many Cairo schools to require Muslim school boys to invoke daily curses on the heads of Christians, Jews and other non-Muslims.  In essence these curses called for the looting, killing and enslavement of non-Muslims.   It is only against the backdrop of inter-generational hatred that a television series on the Protocols of the Elders of Zion could have become mainstream viewing in Egyptian society, and continuing kidnapping, rape and killings of Copts are perpetrated without justice for the victims.

There is an ill-wind of hatred blowing in the house of Islam and it has been blowing for a very long time indeed.  When this wind is whipped up into a tornado, the world is appalled, but it is the constant steady breeze of hatred that is the root of the problem.

As this letter was addressed to the Christians of the world, here I give my personal reply to the Islamic State, written as a Christian:

I am not intimidated by your hatred.  Our Lord Jesus Christ taught us not to fear those who may kill the body.  The people of honour on that beach in Tripoli were those 21 courageous Copts, who dared to confess the name of Christ, even with a knife to their necks. They knew well what choice they were making. You thought to humiliate them, but the Word of God tells me they are the vindicated ones, the men of glory.  I believe they knew that full well.

For you I have no hate, only pity.  You wield the sword to kill ideas and worship you do not understand, but you do this in vain. The truth cannot be killed by your knives.

General Sisi of Egypt was right: because of you, people all over the world are doubting Islam.

Here is how a young Egyptian girl reacted to what you did:  

‘I am encouraged because now I know that what we have been taught in history books about Egyptian Christians being martyred for their faith is not just history, but that there are Christians today who are brave enough to face death rather than deny their Lord! When I saw these young men praying as they were being prepared for execution and then many of them shouting ‘O Lord Jesus’ as their throats were being slit, I realized that the Gospel message can still help us to hold on to the promises of God even when facing death!’
This is the true truth, and it is precisely because of this truth that a new wind is blowing in the house of Islam: a fresh breeze of questioning, a wind of gentleness and openness. This is the life-giving breath of hope that there must be a different way to walk with God.  You are men of the past: the future belongs to those you killed on the beach.

To read the second part of this post, go to this link.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

From Broken Hill to Martin Place: Individual Jihad Comes to Australia, 1915 to 2015

One hundred years ago today, a lethal jihad attack was staged against New Year’s Day picnickers in Broken Hill, Australia.  This attack and the recent Martin Place siege, events separated by almost exactly a century, show striking similarities.

For Australians, the anxious question about the Martin Place attack, which has grabbed the attention of everyone, is whether this atrocity is but a harbinger of a further series of deadly attacks on Australian soil, or whether it will pass into memory as an exceptional one-off event, much as the 1915 New Year’s Day massacre in Broken Hill did.
Alma Cowie, killed in Broken Hill 1915, and Katrina Dawson, killed in Sydney 2014

On New Year’s Day, 1915, two Muslim men, Bashda Mahommed Gool and Mullah Abdullah, shot and killed four people and wounded several others before finally being killed by police. They had both come to Australia more than a decade previously.

Beginning in 1860, many Muslim cameleers came to Australia to help open up the arid outback. Today a famous train from Adelaide to Darwin is known as ‘The Ghan’ to commemorate the contribution of the ‘Afghans’ – as they were known (although they came from many different places across the Middle East and South Asia) – to the development of Australia.

The jihad attack was staged against a picnic train which was taking 1200 picnickers out on a New Year’s Day in open ore trucks.  Bashda Mahommed Gool and Mullah Abdullah first made enquiries at the station beforehand to make sure they would be in the right place at the right time to attack this particular train.  They then positioned themselves on the side of a hill around 30 meters from the tracks, and opened fire as the trucks passed.  Among the victims was Alma Cowie, aged 17, shot dead. By the end of the incident the jihadi cameleers had themselves been killed by police.

The two were found to have left notes to explain that they were responding to a call to jihad issued by the Ottoman Caliphate (on 11 November 1914). 

Mullah Abdullah said that his intention was to die for his faith in obedience to the Sultan’s order, and Mahommed Gool wrote “I must kill you and give my life for my faith, Allahu Akbar, apparently in reference to Sura 9:111:
Allah has purchased of their faithful lives and worldly goods, and in return has promised them the Garden. They will fight for His cause, kill and be killed.
The  Ottoman fatwa declared that it was a religious duty “for all the Muslims in all countries, whether young or old, infantry or cavalry, to resort to jihad with all their properties and lives, as required by the Quranic verse of enfiru.” The verse of enfiru (Arabic ‘go forth’) is a reference to Sura 9:38:
You who believe! What is the matter with you, that, when ye are asked to go forth in the path of Allah, you cling heavily to the earth? Do you prefer the life of this world to the Hereafter? But little is the comfort of this life, as compared with the Hereafter. Unless you go forth, He will punish you with a grievous penalty, and put others in your place…
The enfiru verse calls upon Muslims to ‘go forth’ for jihad, or else face a painful doom under the judgement of Allah;  better to fight as a martyr and go to paradise than burn in hell for hanging back.

A more detailed fatwa, ‘A Universal Proclamation to all the people of Islam’ was published by the ‘National Society of Defense of the Seat of the Caliphate’.[1]  This ‘Universal Proclamation’ declared that ‘every Muslim without exception must be considered as a soldier’ and the duty of jihad ‘is enjoined upon all the peoples of Islam who are spread abroad upon the face of the whole earth’:
They must know that the killing of infidels who rule over the Islamic lands has become a sacred duty, whether it be secretly or openly, as the great Koran declares in its words: “Take them and kill them whenever you come across them, and we have given you a manifest power over them by revelation. [Sura 4:91]. 
This fatwa goes on to define three different forms of jihad, including ‘individual jihad’, in which an individual Muslim attacks an infidel in a solo act. It names contemporary examples of attacks on Westerners in colonial contexts which were familiar to Muslims at the time, including the killing of an English governor, Peter Galy,[2] as well as the assassination of an English chief of police in India.  The fatwa suggests the use of ‘cutting, killing instruments’.  It also cites as a precedent the assassination of certain Jews by Muhammad’s companions.

The fatwa urges faithful Muslims to rise up, ‘go out … and kill one of those who belong to the Triple Entente (Russian, France and Great Britain) of the infidels’:
... let every individual of the Muslims in whatever place they may be, take upon him an oath to kill at least three or four of the ruling infidels, enemies of Allah, and enemies of the religion. He must take upon him this oath before Allah Most High, expecting his reward from Allah alone, and let the Muslim be confident, if there be to him no other good deed than this, nevertheless he will prosper in the day of judgment …
The two ‘Afghan’ jihadis of Broken Hill, according to their own testimony, acted in accordance with such instructions: they went out to kill infidels as an act of individual jihad.

Another mode of jihad recommended by the ‘Universal Proclamation’ is ‘jihad by bands’, which it claims to be particularly effective when Islam is weak.  The ‘Universal Proclamation’ states:
… the most profitable of them is that which makes use of secret formations, and it is hoped that the Islamic world of today will profit very greatly from secret bands, and therefore it is in the degree of duty to him who wishes to participate in the Jihad that he should take council with people of experience in the formation of secret bands and gain profitable information of this kind.
‘Jihad by bands’ is the mode of Al-Qa’ida.

The third recommended form of jihad is ‘jihad by campaigns’, which is warfare using armies directed by the Caliph.  This is the mode the self-declared caliphate known as the Islamic State is following today.

The phenomenon of individuals launching a personal jihad against non-Muslim infidels is nothing new.  The precedents in the life of Muhammad are well-known and some of these were cited in the Ottoman ‘Universal Proclamation’.  As the Ottoman fatwa indicated, the phenomenon was already a thorn in the side of colonial authorities a century ago.

In the Dutch occupation of Aceh, the phenomenon of individual Muslims killing Dutch people was frequent enough to be given a name, Atjeh-moorden ‘Acehnese murders’.  The Dutch authorities conducted investigations into the mental state of perpetrators of such attacks.  This was not always easy: because the attacks were mounted with the intention of ‘killing and being killed’ to attain martrydom, only a minority of attackers survived in a fit state to be investigated. 

The Dutch wrestled for decades to understand the phenomenon.  The psychiatrist R.A. Kern conducted a study of Atjeh-moorden and concluded that while Islamic theology accounted for the common pattern of the murders, this was not enough to determine which particular individuals might be triggered to mount such attacks: for that one needed to look to the personal circumstances of the individuals.

Nevertheless, repeated psychiatric studies of perpetrators showed that they were not mad.  David Kloos summarized their findings: “Over the years, a consensus had formed among the Dutch that the Ajteh-moorden were committed deliberately, in ‘cold blood’ and thus ‘rationally’.[3]  Going for individual jihad was not normally a symptom of mental instability.

There are striking parallels between the Broken Hill massacre a century ago, and the recent Martin Place siege.
  • In both cases the media puzzled over the motivation of the attackers.  The Barrier Miner wrote in 1915 “The question has been asked over and over again, and by many people since yesterday morning’s tragic occurrence, as to the motive of the men in attacking the picnic train with its load of women and children...”
  • The attackers in both cases had resided for many years in Australia and were well-known in their communities.
  • Both attacks were individual acts;  although the 1915 attack by two individuals working together, they were not part of a larger network of jihadis, but were merely combining their individual efforts.
  • In both cases the attackers subscribed to the dogmas of jihad in the path of Allah, and martyrdom in Holy War.
  • In both cases, attackers were mobilized in response to a global call to jihad: in 1915 issued by the Ottoman Caliphate; in 2014 issued by Islamic State.
  • Both global calls to jihad had specifically invited Muslims around the world to commit individual acts of jihad by killing infidels (see here on the Islamic State’s call to Muslims to run over infidels with their cars).
  • In both cases the perpetrators had been experiencing difficulties with the law: in the 1915 massacre, Mullah Abdullah had been convicted days before for slaughtering sheep on an unlicensed premises.  In the Martin Place siege, Hojat al-Islam Muhammad Hassan Manteqi (AKA ‘Sheikh’ Man Haron Monis) was facing criminal charges as an accessory to the murder of his ex-wife and had a history of convictions for serious offenses.

There were also similarities in the way the wider community and the media responded:
  • In both cases the media took pains to point out that the majority of people in the Muslim community abhorred the killings, and reported that no-one from the Muslim community wished to claim the bodies (see here and here).
  • In both cases there were no reprisals against Muslims. However the Broken Hill German Club was burned down in 1915;  the killings were considered to be linked to the World War I conflict as a whole, rather than as manifestations of individual jihadism.
Michael Wesley, professor of International Relations and director of the School of International, Political and Strategic Studies at the Australian National University confidently wrote in The Australian that ‘this is a new and more dangerous form of terrorism’, which he called ‘third-generation’ terrorism. 

According to Wesley, ‘first-generation’ terrorism only appeared in the world in the 1960’s, ‘second-generation’ terrorism in the 1990’s, and this, in its turn, ‘morphed’ into ‘third generation’ terrorism, which we are experiencing today.

Is individual jihad really a new phenomenon?  Nothing could be further from the truth.  It is, on the contrary, an old, old form of warfare, as old as the origins of Islam itself.  The Ottoman fatwa writers knew their Koran and were qualified to draw conclusions from it, which did not differ from the long-established mainstream of Islamic teachings about jihad.

To discuss such things the term terrorism is inadequate and even misleading.  It confuses experts like Professor Wesley, who attempt to lump the Martin Place siege into a conceptual grid which includes the IRA, in apparent ignorance of the well-documented history of jihadism.

Also misleading is the widely used term lone wolf, which implies social disengagement and dysfunction, including disconnection with the broader jihadi movement.  This very Western secular construct overlooks the considerable attention in Islamic jurisprudence to the idea of warfare as an ‘individual obligation’ (fardh al-’ayn), which is incumbent upon Muslims as individuals, even if they are not enlisted in a jihad army. 

The West puzzles and puzzles over jihad.   The Martin Place hostage taker ‘Sheikh’ Monis certainly seems to have been a very unpleasant individual, and many have been tempted to write him off as ‘crazy’.   However what fascinates and terrifies most is the utter ordinariness of so many jihadis.   Here in Australia article after article has been published in the media pointing out how normal the young men are who have joined Islamic State.  We have read how they enjoy social media, made YouTube videos, do well at school, are liked by their friends, go partying, have girlfriends, support local football teams etc.  And all this is related to us as if it was the most amazing news.

Given the terrifying ordinariness of the jihadis, it is tempting to apply pejorative labels to them, to write them off as deranged misfits. This is an attempt to marginalize the problem. Australia’s foreign minister, Julie Bishop called it ‘idiotic’ to refer to those who die in jihad as ‘martyrs’.

However such attempts to push the jihad phenomenon to the edges of our rational world are doomed to fail. Instead the same question keeps arising, like a persistent itch, that the Barrier Miner put on January 2, 1915: ‘The question has been asked over and over again, and by many people since yesterday morning’s tragic occurrence, as to the motive of the men in attacking the picnic train with its load of women and children…’

This question will simply not go away.  In reality, the will to ‘go forth’ for jihad is not a manifestation of craziness – many of its actors are entirely sane.  It is not a manifestation of stupidity – many of its actors are quite intelligent.  It is not a manifestation of social dysfunction or poverty – many of its actors come from stable and wealthy homes.  It is not a manifestation of weirdness – many of its actors are quite ordinary.  Nor is it a manifestation of ‘morphing’ trends in international relations – jihadism is as old as the hills.

Jihadi terror is a manifestation of Islamic theology.  Despite the fact that so many Muslims reject jihadism, and millions of Muslims can be counted among its victims, this remains as true today as ever it has been. Yet this is something the West remains disturbingly ill-prepared to accept, engage with, or address appropriately.  We stubbornly continue to seek worldview solace in misplaced explanations.

Australians are right to be deeply concerned about the Martin Place incident.  History will show that this was not a one-off blip in the peaceful lives of Australians.  It will certainly not take another hundred years before more Australians die at the hands of Australian jihadis on Australian soil.  Such future tragedies may eventually compel us to revise and reject our inadequate worldviews.  Until then it seems we must continue to wear our self-imposed blindfolds, all the while trying to defend ourselves against an enemy we cannot see and stubbornly refuse to understand.


[1] Excerpts from the ‘Universal Proclamation’ are also reproduced in Andrew Bostom’s Legacy of Jihad, p.221 ff. For a different translation of the whole document see here, which is the version cited here.  Trans. American Agency and Consulate, Cairo, Egypt. US State Department document 867.4016/57, March 10, 1915.

[2] This is almost certainly a reference to the assassination of Boutros Ghaly five years previously, in 1910.  Ghaly was a Coptic Christian and prime minister of Egypt at a time when the country was a de facto English protectorate, although formally under the Ottomans Sultanate.  When the fatwa refers to him as an “English Governor”, this is a slander which summarizes the Islamic charge against him.  The assassin was Ibrahim Nassif al-Wardani, a graduate in pharmacology from a privileged Muslim background, who been educated in Lausanne, Paris and London. This was the first of a series of assassinations in Egypt which continued up until the start of WW I.   See  Reid, Donald M. (1982). "Political Assassination in Egypt, 1910-1954". The International Journal of African Historical Studies 15 (4): 625–651. (Prime Minister Boutros Ghaly was the grandfather of Boutros Boutros-Ghaly, the former secretary-general of the United Nations, after whom he is named.)

[3] David Kloos, ‘A crazy state: violence, psychiatry and colonialism in Aceh, Indonesia, ca. 1910-1942’. Bijdragen tot de  Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde 170: 25-65.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Announcing SISTER RELIGONS? - Interviews with Mark Durie and others

Sister Religions? a series of extended interviews with Mark Durie and others has been published in DVD form by Hatikvah Films.  It is available on Amazon (US) and direct from Hatikvah in the UK.

Sister Religions features groundbreaking interviews with Mark Durie, Elizabeth Kendal and Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali.

As a battle of ideologies rages across the Middle East, many people are asking the questions: Do Muslims and Christians worship the same God? Are Judaism, Christianity and Islam Sister Religions? Simple questions or maybe not...

You have three choices. Which will you choose?

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Islam: solution or problem, that is the question

An earlier version of this article appeared in the November 2014 edition of The Melbourne Anglican.

A slogan of the Muslim Brotherhood is “Islam is the solution”. Dean Philip Jensen recently stated in regard to the Islamic State (ISIS) that “It is time to face the truth that Islam itself is part of the problem.” Solution or problem: what is the truth about Islam?

The world has been shocked by ISIS, which has committed beheadings, crucifixions, stonings, enslaving and selling captives, and imposing the notorious ‘three choices’ upon Syrian and Iraqi Christians. More than this, it has showed itself proud to do such things. The fact that thousands of Muslims from around the world have been traveling to the Levant to join ISIS suggests that these people also consider the acts of ISIS to be in accordance with Islam.

The publicly stated position of ISIS is that it is motivated by religious devotion. The English language version of the ISIS magazine Dabiq recently praised the enslavement of the Yazidis, a non-Muslim group in northern Iraq. The article ‘The Revival of Slavery Before the Hour’, defended the practice from Islamic legal history, the example of the first Muslims, and Muhammad himself:
“The enslaved Yazidi families are now sold by the Islamic State soldiers as the mushrikīn [idolators] were sold by the Companions [of Muhammad] … before them. … enslaving the families of the kuffār [non-Muslims] and taking their women as concubines is a firmly established aspect of the Sharī’ah that if one were to deny or mock, he would be denying or mocking the verses of the Qur’ān and the narratives of the Prophet [Muhammad] … and thereby apostatizing from Islam.”
ISIS is a product of Islamic revivalism. After enduring several centuries of Islamic decline, a view developed across the Muslim world that if only Muslims were more religiously observant, Allah would make them ascendant again. This conviction has driven the Islamic revival, which seeks to renew Islam by going back to original sources, including the life of Muhammad.

What is significant is that a groundswell of protest against such revivalism is now rising up across the Muslim world. Magdi Abdelhadi, former Arab affairs analyst for the BBC, recently blogged that “a growing number of voices are laying the blame for the proliferation of groups such as ISIS squarely on Arab-Islamic shoulders … One writer after another concluded that ISIS, far from being an aberration, was in fact a textbook example of brutality in the name of Islam.

For example, one of the writers referred to by Abdelhadi criticised an Islamic tradition in which Muhammad said “he had come to slaughter” his enemies. This was featured in an ISIS propaganda video Clanging of the Swords Part 4 (view from 2:20) of Lavdrim Muhaxheri, a Kosovar ISIS commander. Muhaxheri was quoting the Qur’an to justify hatred: “to ... infidels wherever they may be we say the same thing that Abraham said to his father … ‘We have rejected you and between us and you there is enmity and hatred and hatred for ever until you believe in Allah alone.’” (The Qur’an, Sura 60:4) He then recited Muhammad’s words to the Meccans: “We say to you as the Prophet Muhammad said: ‘We have brought slaughter upon you’.” He was saying that ISIS is hating and killing because it desires to be faithful to Islam.

It is beyond dispute that many of the offensive acts of the Islamic State have precedents in Islamic sacred texts. For example, Muhammad enslaved two young Jewish women, Rayhana and Safiyya, after killing their husbands. These women are counted among his wives.

One of them, Safiyya, was a Jew from Khaybar who had been allocated in the division of the spoils of war to one of Muhammad’s companions, Diyha Ibn Khalifa. When Muhammad saw how beautiful Safiyya was, he desired her for himself, so he took her, telling Diyha to choose another.

Safiyya was led to Muhammad by Bilal past the mutilated bodies of her male relatives, including her father and husband. (Later Muhammad rebuked Bilal for this insensitivity.) When Muhammad made Safiyya his wife, he declared that he was freeing her from slavery, and the gift of her ‘freedom’ would count as her bride-price. On their ‘wedding night’ one of Muhammad’s companions, Abu Ayyub, Khalid b. Zayd was marching around the nuptial tent until dawn. When quizzed in the morning by Muhammad about this, he replied: “I was afraid for you with this woman, for you have killed her father, her husband, and her people.” Muhammad congratulated him on his thoughtfulness. According to Baladhuri’s Kitab Futuh al-Buldan (“Book of Conquests”), after Muhammad's death, Safiya confessed that “Of all men, the prophet was the one I disliked [actually hated] most, for he had killed my husband, father, and brother.”  

Years ago I spent a summer reading through Islam’s canonical sources: the Qur’an, the hadith ‘traditions’ and sira ‘biographies’ of Muhammad. It was a deeply disturbing experience encountering many texts such as this. These days, when I see ISIS ideologues citing these very same sources, I continue to be disturbed, but am no longer surprised.

These are not easy things to discuss in public. Certain fears rise up. But discuss them we must. One problem is that until someone has read authentic sources for themselves they will have difficulty imagining just how problematic their contents are. Nevertheless it is rational and necessary to give sober consideration to such information.

Many have said that anyone can find hatred in the scriptures of any religion. Of course it is true that Christians have quoted scripture to support gross wrongs. A case in point was Augustine’s appeal to Luke 14:23 ‘compel them to come in’ to justify forced conversion. Some, knowing about the history of Christians’ abuses of the Bible, imagine they can thereby understand Islamic extremism, but if this is all they know, they do not know Islam. The canonical Islamic sources are several orders of magnitude more problematic than anything found in the Gospels or even the whole Bible. The imagined comparison is not reality-based.

It also will not do to say that ISIS’s actions are un-Islamic because only a legitimate Islamic ruler can declare a military jihad. This technical argument ignores the fact that even if the ISIS fighters’ reasoning can be faulted, the point still holds that their actions are guided by their theology.

The religion of Islam has long been regarded by many Muslims as a prestigious brand, a symbol of stability and justice. However wherever Islamic revivalism has been implemented in recent decades, as a ‘solution’ to the problems Muslims face, it has produced results which many Muslims are finding intolerable: consider Afghanistan, Iran, Libya, Sudan, Algeria, Egypt under the Muslim Brotherhood, and now what remains of Iraq and Syria under ISIS.

In the light of the failures of Islamic revivalism, Western denial serves little purpose.

Muslims themselves are now deeply embroiled in a debate about Islam. The key question being aired across the Muslim world is not whether ISIS has been influenced by Islamic teachings – that is a given – but whether this is, as ISIS itself claims, the long-awaited solution to Islamic decline, or whether it is, as Dean Jensen has intimated, a “problem”.

Mark Durie is the pastor of an Anglican church, a Shillman-GinsburgWriting Fellow at the Middle East Forum, and Founder of the Institute for Spiritual Awareness. His book The Third Choice explains the implications for Christians of living under Islamic rule.