The dark roots of IS violence

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Fighters of  al-Qaeda linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant parade at Syrian town of Tel Abyad

Events are erupting faster than foreign policy can keep up. The literalist interpretation of the Qur’an of Islamic State (IS) traps them in a mediaeval mentality with its divine license to kill. Their aim is to re-instate ‘caliphate’ (Islamic Empire) but what’s really driving their brutality?

The romantic vision of ‘caliphate’ is for world domination. Its hypocritical undertones is the assumption of a divine right to rob banks, extort ransoms and have unlimited sex with conquered women (now) and vestal virgins (hereafter). ‘This nonsense is based on a dubious hadith (tradition) penned centuries after Muhammad’s death’, says progressive Muslim Imam Dr Taj Hargey.

It is assumed that victory over Islamic State will be theological not military.

Dr. Hargey is a good man who gets unwittingly used by the press to promote the negative narrative that all Muslims are part of the problem. He argues that Muslims didn’t protest after the 9/11 and 7/7 bombings; nor after the murder of British soldier Lee Rigby; nor against IS in Iraq. But they were rose up passionately to denounce the publication of a cartoon about Muhammad in an obscure Danish magazine.

But the public only see Muslims doing (or not doing) what the media wish us to see (or not see). Responsible Muslim leaders – ignored by the media – resort to social media as a voice, while their perceived silence feeds the popular view that all Muslims secretly approve of violence – which they do not.

Part of the problem is the centuries of western interference in the Muslim world; including the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, duplicity towards Jews and Palestinians when the State of Israel was set up, the damage done by the Gulf Wars. Add to this Sunni/Shi’ite tensions and the ‘Arab Spring’ and we recognise the current back-lash to all this – but there’s even more to it.

Mediaeval “unreformed” theology and clumsy western intrusions in the region are not the whole problem.

While it is true that the West has been imperialistic; and while the Qur’an does predispose some Muslims to a violent political reaction – let’s consider what’s actually going on in Iraq/Syria. It’s inhuman because IS fighters have declared ‘Jihad al-Niqah’ – a sexual form of ‘holy war’.

On one day 657 Yazidi girls were kidnapped, forced into slavery, forcibly converted to Islam and even married-off to IS fighters. Canon Andrew White and others report children Displaced people from the minority Yazidi sect, fleeing the violence in the Iraqi town of Sinjar, re-enter Iraq from Syria at the Iraqi-Syrian border crossing in Fishkhabourchopped in half; forced cannibalism; crucifixions; mass rapes; beheadings of adults and children; mothers forced to set themselves on fire and women having gold rings sawn off their finger.

This is more than a mere literal understanding of the Qur’an. There is a spiritual dimension to this demonic brutality, which is a resurgence of the dark spiritual forces which have stalked Iraq (ancient Assyria) since Bible times.

Assyria was depraved (2 Chron.33:9) and the British Museum holds visual evidence of Assyrians skinning their enemies alive. The prophet Jonah ran the other way while Nahum predicted the downfall of the regime. A son of Israeli captives, Nahum was born in Elkosk (Nah.1:1) now Al-Qush in Iraq just 25 klms from Mosul and across the Tigress River from Nineveh.

The ancient spiritual principality manifested itself brutally through US troops at Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad and now through IS fighters.

We can add to Iraq/Syria – Gaza, Libya, Ukraine and Yemen etc and the pattern is clear; something sinister is going on. Mosab Hassan Yousef, son of a Hamas leader is now a follower of Jesus who exposed the real agenda of jihadism, including the annihilation of Christians and Jews and the enforcing of a mediaeval form of Islam, which has shrunk the Iraqi church from 1.5 million in 2003 to around 350,000 today.

Bizarrely the merciless violence is being attributed to a ‘merciful’ and ‘compassionate’ deity – a point not lost on thinking Muslims who are abandoning Islam in increasing numbers and will continue to do so.

The ‘fiery red horse’ of the apocalypse is taking peace from the Earth (Rev.6:4) and it is the prayer of saints that is truly driving history (Rev.5:8). What a responsibility and privilege we have.



Tom Holland, The Eternal Empire of the Sword, The Sunday Times, 17 August 2014  

Dr Taj Hargey, Why aren’t British Muslims condemning the maniacs?, Daily Mail, August 15 2014



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