The, so called, ‘Arab Spring’ is a complex phenomenon. Although, one underlying dynamic – a common-denominator behind all of the uprisings – is that Arabised peoples are dissociating themselves from their past repressive regimes. In an increasingly globalised world, they favour the personal freedoms they see being enjoyed in the West.
In reality such freedoms are a by-product of the Judeo-Christian heritage as enshrined in the United Nations’ International Declaration of Human Rights; a treatise that some Islamic states choose not to sign up to, for this very reason.
Another way of expressing this underlying tension that is being experienced in Arabised nations is that they are rejecting the religious ideology that has been turned into a man-made form of religio-political repression.
Unlike the nations, which were part of the period of history known as ‘Christendom’, Islamically influenced nations have never had an ‘Enlightenment’ or a Reformation. This is what now seems to be painfully unfolding before us.
During the 1900s various autocratic rulers came to power in the Gulf, Libya, Tunisia, Egypt and Syria. Three generations have put up with the status quo but the fourth generation has said:
‘Enough is enough! … the wall of fear is being destroyed; neither Islam nor military force will dominate us anymore.’
The heart-cry of Arabised peoples is (unwittingly) for the biblical ideals of justice and freedom. They are ultimately asking for ‘New Jerusalem’ and rejecting what the New Testament calls ‘Babylon’ – and many are prepared to go to Armageddon to get it!
So how should we pray?
The biblical book of Revelation shows that, throughout the period of AD history, the prayer of the believing church plays the pivotal role in the unfolding of human history (Rev.5:8-11). Some key issues include the following:
- In Egypt, the power-broker is the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (Scaf). These senior military men are the nations “godfathers” who have huge commercial assets and political interests to protect.
- While the ousting of Egyptian President Morsi seemed necessary, the military may have made the mistake of allowing themselves to be provoked by Muslim Brotherhood supporters which the army brutally repressed. This led to a dangerous polarisation of the Brotherhood and Military with the public in the middle rejecting both, and demanding democracy.
- In both Egypt and Syria the biblical image in Revelation of the ‘suffering of the saints’ is emerging. Christian minorities are being made scape-goats as the Arab “Spring” leads to a military and/or Islamist “Winter” of turmoil and violence.
- We may be witnessing the ideological demise of what has become referred to as ‘Islamism’. This is because both a reformation and radicalisation are emerging simultaneously. Will the two fight one another until Islam tears itself apart?
‘Islam in the modern world is weak and brittle, not strong; that accounts for its frequent shrillness. Fundamentalist Islam will be dangerous for some time to come. Islam’s melancholic withdrawing roar may well be long and bloody – but withdraw it will. The fanatics and bombers do not represent a resurgence of unreformed Islam buts its death rattle.’ – Theodore Dalrymple
So the way to Armageddon is not as straightforward as we may think. What we do know is that God is sovereign in human history.