Search This Blog

Friday, August 12, 2016

What to tell would-be jihadis

Malcolm Turnbull has warned Australians fighting with the Islamic State that they face 'almost certain death'.  He needn't encourage them.  The Australian Prime Minister has apparently not yet learned that jihadis seek death and despise those who don't (Sura 2:94-96). 

Instead of inciting jihadis in their mission to attain paradise through martyrdom, Malcolm Turnbull might try discouraging them.

They might be told that their leaders have deceived them, and the Islamic State has done great damage to the Muslim cause.

They might be told that many Muslims who know more than they do consider their jihad to be null and void, so they risk being condemned as hypocrites and relegated to the lowest  place in hell (Sura 4:145).

They might be told that with so many jihadi groups fighting each other to attain paradise, they have no sure way of knowing which group is on Allah's side, and they are playing Russian roulette with their eternal destiny. Not Smart. 

They might be told that they can expect to be captured and banished to some desolate place for the rest of their long lives, without friend or family to comfort them.

They might be told that they are dragging themselves down the path to failure and disgrace in the eyes of their own community.  (To be fair Malcolm Turnbull did almost say something like this, if accidentally.)

Whatever we say, let's not tell them they face certain death.

Mark Durie is an Anglican pastor, a Shillman-Ginsburg Writing Fellow at the Middle East Forum, and author of The Third Choice: Islam, Dhimmitude and Freedom.


  1. Durie understands an Honour-Shame worldview. Turnbull just assumes all people have the same values. This is classic Western hubris.

  2. Uncle Remus got it right. Said B'rer Rabbit: "Please, B'rer Fox, don't fling me in dat briar patch."

  3. Hi Mark:
    Your fellow Australian Leah Farrall has some interesting points about how to communicate with potential jihadist recruits in this interview:

    Do you two know each other? Meet at conferences, perhaps?

  4. The delicious irony - a product of theological illiteracy on Turnbull's part, and most of our politicians along with the main stream media as well.

    Will we accidentally bumble our way to 'victory' over this threat?

  5. "They might be told that many Muslims who know more than they do consider their jihad to be null and void".

    Really? I wish Dr Durie would point us to them. I find plenty of support in the Islamic tradition for groups like ISIS and that authoritative criticisms (from Al-Azhar and various groups of imams) tend to appear more like weaselly circumlocutions on closer inspection.

  6. Some notable items:

    A pretty detailed list:

    The details of what different clerics will find acceptable naturally varies -- some Muslims may espouse Gandhian non-violence, as Gandhi's friend Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan (aka Bacha Khan) did, some may consider anti-US violence in Iraq or anti-Israeli violence in the Territories as freedom-fighting rather than terrorism, and some may focus on specific modes of violence such as suicide bombing.


Comments are moderated. Avoid profanities or foul language. Stay on topic. Avoid ad hominem attacks. Posts which violate these principles or are deemed offensive in any way will be deleted.