As Christians we want to hear what our Father is saying, so we came rest in peace whatever is happening around us; and so our actions arise from love not fear.
Let’s be alert, as watchmen in Australia, to what God may be saying and pray for true peace – freedom for all to live in harmony and wholeness.
- Peter Costello
- Greg Sheridan
- Dr Mark Durie
- Dr Peter Hammond
We have a duty to ask the tough questions on Islam and terrorism
November 23, 2015 – Peter Costello – Herald Sun
THE World Trade Centre 2001, the Bali bombings 2002, the Australian embassy in Jakarta 2004, Madrid railway station 2004, the London Underground 2005, the Taj Mahal Hotel Mumbai 2008, Charlie Hebdo, the Parramatta police station, the Bataclan Theatre in Paris — I could go on but you get the picture.
And the picture is not that all this is the work of Islamic State. Most of those jihadi attacks preceded IS. They were organised by different groups — al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, Lashkar-e-Taiba in India, Jemaah Islamiah in Indonesia — but they all had one thing in common.
Last Friday in the West African country of Mali, it was an affiliate of al-Qaeda, that stormed the Radisson Hotel shouting Allahu Akbar (God is great) before taking 170 hostages and killing 19.
Nor is the killing entirely indiscriminate. The gunmen holding the hostages in Mali’s Radisson Hotel were prepared to release some who could recite verses from the Koran.
It was similar in the Westgate Shopping Mall attack in Nairobi, Kenya (September 2013) where 67 hostages were killed. Some care was taken not to kill Muslims.
Those who could recite the Shahadah, the statement of Islamic faith, were released and spared.
In Africa there is a front line between Muslim states and secular ones so it might be necessary to take care that you are killing the right people.
In Europe, in the Bataclan Theatre, or in the Sari Club at Kuta beach in Bali, you can presume that the patrons are nonbelievers or “kuffar” who, as such, deserve to be killed.
And that is the point to these extremists. Those who refuse to submit to Islam deserve to be killed. In fact, there are special rewards in the afterlife for fighters who “martyr” themselves while doing it.
After each atrocity, complacent political leaders trot out the same platitudes. They tell us: “This has nothing to do with Islam … ”. It is wearing thin with the public.
All these attacks are coming from people who subscribe to one religion, which is not Catholic or Protestant or Jewish or Buddhist or Yazidi. Plainly it has something to do with Islam.
And the people who are doing it think it has everything to do with Islam. That is why they shout “Allahu Akbar” while firing their guns and detonating their explosives.
Now, it may be they have got Islam all wrong and the good thing is that their interpretation seems to be a tiny, minority one.
But the fact is that this interpretation has followers from different continents and different cultures, which tells us there is something in the source documents and history of Islam that gives them a peg to hang their hat on. If there were an easy demolition of this school of theology, why hasn’t it been done by now?
These are difficult questions to ask, but after the level of death in recent years we have to be honest and ask them.
One great illusion that Western liberals use to console themselves is that all religions are more or less the same. They know little of religion but find that belief to be comforting.
It means there is no need to worry that Muslim immigration is bringing special and unique problems to Western cities. Everyone just believes the same thing anyway.
On the weekend, Anthony Albanese, Labor’s leader-in-waiting, declared on television: “No religion gives sanctity to death.”
That is obviously untrue.
For example, Christianity regards the death of Christ on the cross as a great act of love and sacrifice.
What Albanese probably meant to say was that “No religion sanctifies killing innocent people”. But is that true?
It may depend on who you regard as innocent. We know, for example, that fundamentalist Muslims think adulterers should be stoned to death.
Dr Mark Durie is a Christian and academic who has spent years of his life living among Muslims. Writing in The Australian on the weekend he referred to Muhammad’s instructions to his followers on how to deal with the infidel. There are three choices: conversion, surrender, or the sword.
Religions are not all the same. Christ never sought to establish an earthly kingdom — “My kingdom is not of this world,” he said — but Muhammad did. He led an army in the conquest of Mecca.
As an earthly ruler he had quite a lot to say about how to wage war and make peace. These are the teachings that radical Islamists rely on to justify their conduct.
So what we need from the Islamic scholars is to tell us, and more importantly to tell would-be jihadis, why these difficult sections of the Koran and the Hadiths are not to be taken literally and not to be followed today.
They should explain why “jihad”, which once did include actual warfare, no longer means that and why what might have been acceptable in the seventh century cannot, under any circumstances, be justified now.
Like the rest of us, it is not in their interest to let one extremist use the Koran to justify mass murder.
There is no reason we should place any weight on what political leaders tell us about what Islam does or doesn’t stand for. Most of those leaders have dispensed with their own religious beliefs. They don’t understand the religious underpinnings of their own society — let alone the kind of society that a pious Muslim would aspire to.
Our leaders are right to wish for a peaceful Islam. But wishing something does not make it true. There’s a lot more that has to be done if we want that to be the outcome.
Peter Costello is a former federal treasurer
Western civilisation is under threat, but not just from terrorism
At the height of the Cold War, at the start of the fateful 1980s, Jean-Francois Revel wrote his classic How Democracies Perish, a bitter, bleak, trenchant book that saw the West losing the Cold War against Soviet communism.
Revel was wrong. Western democracy triumphed in the end. But for much of the Cold War it was a desperately close-run thing. Nation after nation in the Third World became communist. In the scathing assessment of Revel, democracies lacked the strength of will to prevail.
But then Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and Pope John Paul II emerged as the embodiment of Western will, leaders of moral authority and clarion conviction. But the West’s triumph grew out of much more than their leadership, indispensable though that was.
The West vanquished communism for two reasons. The economic and political model was so superior and this resulted in a massive disparity in economic growth and economic power between the West and the sclerotic communist bloc. Not unrelated to this, the communists themselves then suffered a system-wide crisis of conviction, made starkly evident when Polish soldiers refused to fire on Polish citizens to maintain a regime in power.
The Paris terror attacks indicate a new level of threat to Western democracies. Is it wrong to call this an existential threat, as Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Attorney-General George Brandis have done?
There is a serious argument for seeing terrorism as just a kind of terrible criminality that can never prevail. The benefit of this analysis is that it is reassuring. And it doesn’t serve the terrorists’ propaganda by inflating their status.
But ultimately that analysis doesn’t hold water. It simply doesn’t correspond with reality.
The Paris attacks should be seen in the light of a multiplying and interlocking series of threats the West faces. At the same time, far from its model demonstrating superiority, the West is gripped by a double crisis of belief, and of governance.
The age of terror does, in fact, represent an existential threat to the West, but it does so in complex ways through its interaction with other threats.
Let’s enumerate them.
First, there is terrorism itself. This exists now in all Western societies and in all Muslim societies. This jihadist ideology is based on a coherent if extreme world view in which Islam is persecuted by the West and the drive is to achieve the implementation of a pure and fundamentalist Islam.
In Western societies, such as France or Britain or the US or Australia, most terrorists may represent pathology more than coherent belief, disturbed or alienated people preyed on by entrepreneurs of identity. But there is also a cohort of quite successful people who are drawn to the intensity of the Islamist belief.
In the Middle East and across North Africa there are tens of thousands of such people. This indicates the failure of the West since 9/11.
Western intelligence agencies have prevented terrorists from acquiring nuclear materials and have prevented a mass casualty attack in the West on the scale of 9/11. But the Islamists have been successful beyond their wildest dreams.
Like the communists before them, but more successfully than the communists, they have established a constituency for their basic paradigm amid a substantial number of people in Western societies and the Middle East.
More than that, they share in common with many non-violent Muslims a great deal of a common narrative that focuses on resentment and paranoia.
The Grand Mufti in Australia should not be demonised for his foolish comments in response to the Paris attacks. He is not remotely a supporter of justifier of terrorism. But when he nominates causes of the terror attacks as “racism, Islamophobia, curtailing freedoms through securitisation, duplicitous foreign policies and military intervention”, he validates the paranoid and exaggerated sense of Muslim grievance on which the extremists thrive.
Everybody has their grievances. There are 11 million illegal immigrants in the US. Most of them are Hispanic. Many are Mexican. Mexicans could have a quite serious historical grievance about territory lost to Texas. Hispanics, legal and illegal, can well feel alienated in the US and picked upon in public debate. Yet there is no Mexican or Hispanic terrorist threat in the US.
Western Muslim leaders sometimes take refuge in arguing that because terrorism does not represent real Islam, it has nothing to do with Islam. Yet this ignores the obvious reality that this terrorism emerges from Islamic communities and, at least, from an interpretation of Islam.
So the first big threat to the West is the growing domestic terrorism threat. In time, the terrorists will become more sophisticated.
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has talked of information suggesting terrorists in France have planned terror attacks with chemical weapons. If the terrorist movement continues to spread, the chances are that eventually it will acquire some nuclear or radioactive material. That may not happen for a long time but the terrorist intent to do this is evident.
This threat is subject to a massive force multiplier in the Middle East. Islamic State controls a big chunk of territory in Syria and Iraq. Calls for more assertive Western military action against Islamic State are mistaken. The calibrated air attacks were necessary to preserve the Iraqi state. But what is clear from the unfolding of the Syrian civil war is that the defeat of Islamic State is not the top priority of the Middle East’s resident powers, who see Iraq and Syria much more through the prism of the Sunni-Shia conflict than through the Western terrorism prism.
At the same time, the appalling human suffering of the Syrian civil war has sent hundreds of thousands of people fleeing from Syria and heading ultimately towards Europe.
Two critical books, The French Intifada, by Andrew Hussey, and Reflections on the Revolutionin Europe, by Christopher Caldwell, detail the overwhelming failure of integration of North African and Middle Eastern Muslim populations in France and in Europe generally.
The picture is, of course, complex. Most European Muslims are law-abiding. But Europe, unlike the US, Canada and Australia, has never had a successful ethos for integrating large numbers of immigrants from foreign cultures.
However, there is a deeper structural problem for the West here. All Western societies have become substantially post-industrial and services-oriented. The parts of their economies that are industrial are very hi-tech. Up until at least the middle of the past century, Western societies could provide masses of jobs for unskilled migrants, even if they did not speak the language of the new society. In Australia, migrants could work in the car plants, and the Snowy Mountains Scheme, and in the white goods industries, and many other places without much formal education and, indeed, even without much English.
Now such jobs simply do not exist. Unskilled immigrants with language problems typically spend years and years without a job. They are humanely supported by the welfare system. But this is a toxic recipe long term.
Even though the European welfare system itself is a massive attraction, and one of the reasons almost no Middle East refugees seek asylum in the Arab Gulf countries, over time welfare dependency breeds alienation and resentment. It feeds perfectly into the Islamist narrative of Western oppression.
The West cannot leave the Middle East to its own devices. The political culture of the Middle East generates hatred of the West routinely and finances Islamist extremism around the world.
More than that, when terrorists control territory, as Islamic State does, and as the Taliban did in Afghanistan, and possess even rudimentary tools of statehood, their ability to threaten the West is amplified. The conflict in Syria magnifies the terrorist threat in the West in an obvious fashion. Perhaps 30,000 foreign fighters have flocked to Syria to join Islamic State and similar groups. Thousands of these people come from the West. They will return to the West and conduct acts of terrorism, as we saw in Paris.
However, it is wrong to think that Islamist terrorism is the only, or perhaps even the main, strategic threat the West faces. But by entangling the West, especially the US, in the Middle East, to some extent exhausting US strategic resolve in the Middle East, and by making Americans loath to engage in security actions around the world, the total security order of the West is gravely weakened.
Opportunist states use American weakness to test the limits. Russia invades Ukraine. China claims and occupies disputed territories in the South China Sea. Iran fools Washington with a fake nuclear deal and powers on towards nuclear weapons. The system is beset with entropy. The centre cannot hold. The interaction of the terror threat with traditional geo-strategic issues makes both much more difficult for the West to manage. At the same time, the West is undergoing a genuine civilisational crisis of belief and of governance. This is the first generation in Western history that, substantially, is not sustained by any transcendent beliefs. The death of God is also in the West the death of purpose and, for many, the death of meaning.
Can a civilisation really sustain itself on the basis of an ideology of self-realisation and entitlement liberalism? If so, it will be the first time in history. Not only that, even if the model was internally sustainable, can it really produce a society vigorous enough to defend itself against these multiplying security challenges.
George Orwell once remarked that the English sleep easy in their beds at night because rough men stand ready to do rough things on their behalf. Every soldier, every police officer, is ultimately prepared to sacrifice their life for an idea, a set of principles, a set of values, that they believe transcends their own experience and even their own mortality.
Western society is moving ever further away from the idea that anything beyond the individual can demand such sacrifice. The internal liberalism has never been more oppressive, while the ability to stand seriously against enemies is very much in question.
Straws in the wind even in Australia demonstrate grotesque elements to our civilisation. The Catholic Archbishop of Hobart is to be hauled before a thought police tribunal for the crime of propounding traditional Catholic sexual morality. Meanwhile, we rejoice in televised cage fights between women, which even our parents, much less our grandparents, would have regarded as the essence of barbarism.
At the same time demonstrators can march through the streets calling death to Israel, or even denouncing the evil of the Jews, without attracting legal penalty.
If a society has lost strong beliefs, can it really excite the transcendent loyalty of its own citizens, or of people who join it through migration?
At the same time there is well-documented crisis of governance across the Western world. No Western nation can balance its expenditures with its revenues. All are caught up in an entitlements crisis. Health and welfare spending are ballooning, so are unsustainable deficits. The prestige of democracy is under severe attack. For most of the Cold War, millions of people in the Third World, and in communist societies, yearned to live in nations governed as well as those of the West. It is a hard argument to make to a young banker or IT worker in Shanghai now that they would be better off if their government had the resolve and technical skill of Greece or Spain.
Put this all together and it’s not quite yet a full-blown crisis of a civilisation. But there’s a great deal of trouble ahead.
PARIS ATTACKS WERE NOT NIHILISM BUT SACRED THEOLOGY
by Mark Durie, pastor of an Anglican church in Melbourne, a Shillman-Ginsburg Writing Fellow at the Middle East Forum, and Founder of the Institute for Spiritual Awareness.
Leading British media commentator Janet Daley, in an article in the British Telegraph entitled ‘The West is at war with a death cult’ stands for everything that is woeful about European elites’ response to Islamic jihad. It is a triumph of religious illiteracy.
The jihadist enemy, she asserts, is utterly unintelligible, so beyond encompassing in ‘coherent, systematic thought’ that no vocabulary can describe it: ‘This is just insanity’, she writes. Because the enemy is ‘hysterical’, lacking ‘rational demands’, ‘negotiable limits,’ or ‘intelligible objectives’ Daley claims it is pointless to subject its actions to any form of historical, social or theological analysis, for no-one should attempt to ‘impose logic on behaviour that is pathological’. Despite this, Daley then ventures to offer analysis of and explanations for ISIS’ actions, but in doing so she relies upon her own conceptual categories, not those of ISIS. Her explanations therefore fall wide of the mark.
Daley writes: ‘We face a violent and highly contagious madness that believes the killing of civilians is a moral act.’ Here she appeals to Western concepts of war, reflected, for example, in the Geneva Convention, which provides detailed principles for the ‘protection of civilian persons’. Yet the first step in understanding a cultural system alien to one’s own, is to describe it in its own terms. ISIS does not subscribe to the Geneva Convention. Its actions and strategies are based upon medieval Islamic laws of jihad, which make no use of the modern Western concept of ‘civilian’. They do, however, refer to the category of disbelievers (mushrik or kafir). ISIS believes that killing disbelievers is a moral act, in accordance, for example, with Sura 9:5 of the Qur’an, which states :‘Fight and kill the idolaters (mushrik) wherever you find them’.
Daley writes: ‘The enemy has stated explicitly that it does not revere life at all’ and ‘Civilians are not collateral damage in this campaign: their deaths are the whole point.’ She goes on to lament that the latest French attacks lack any purpose, but are ‘carried out for the sheer nihilistic thrill of it’. The claim that ISIS does not ‘revere life’ seems to refer to any number of statements by Islamic radicals, including an ISIS militant who vowed to ‘fill the streets of Paris with dead bodies’, and boasted that ISIS ‘loves death like you love life’. This is a theological reference to a series of verses in the Qur’an in which Jews are criticised for desiring life (Sura 2:94-96, 62:6-8).
According to the Qur’an, loving life is a characteristic of infidels (Sura 3:14; 14:3; 75:20; 76:27) because it causes them to disregard the importance of the next life. The taunt much used by jihadis, ‘We love death like you love life’, implies that jihadis are bound for paradise while their enemies are hell-bound. The point of these statements is that Muslims are willing to fight to the death, while their infidel enemies will turn back in battle. This is not about reverence for life, but about who has the will to win. This has nothing to do with nihilism, which is a belief that there are no values, nothing to be loyal to, and no purpose in living. In fact ISIS fighters have strong and clear loyalties and values, alien though they may be to those of Europe.
Daley’s claim that the deaths are ‘the whole point’ is also mistaken. While it is true that the jihadis consider killing infidels a meritorious act, potentially earning the killer a place in paradise, and they consider being killed in battle against infidels a ticket to paradise, in fact the killings serve a strategic purpose. This is to make infidels afraid, and thereby to weaken their will to resist Islamic dominance. This strategy is commended by the Qur’an, in Sura 8:12, ‘I shall cast dread into the hearts of those who disbelieve. So strike above their necks and strike off all their fingers!’, as well as by the successful example of Muhammad in fighting the Jews of Medina, referred to in Sura 33:26-27, ‘He brought down from their fortifications those of the People of the Book who supported them, and cast dread into their hearts.
You killed a group of them, and took captive another group. And he caused you to inherit their land, their homes, and their wealth, and a land you had not set foot on.’ A similar passage is Sura 59:2, which ISIS has in fact been quoting in its celebrations of the Paris carnage. It may seem to Daley that ISIS’ often-stated intention of defeating the West is fanciful, but the point is to understand ISIS, and as far as it is concerned, these deadly attacks are instrumental in weakening the will of infidels and hastening eventual victory. Daley wonders what possible point these attacks could serve. She speculates: ‘… what is the alternative that is being demanded? Sharia law? The subjection of women? An end to liberal democracy? Are any of these things even within the bounds of consideration?
What could be accomplished by national self-doubt or criticism at this point, when there is not even a reasonable basis for discussion with the enemy?’ It is hardly a secret that the ultimate goal of ISIS is to bring non-Muslims everywhere to convert to Islam or live under an Islamic caliphate as dhimmis. Sharia law and the subjection of women are part and parcel of this. It is odd that Daley laments having no reasonable basis for negotiating with the enemy. ISIS is not playing by a Western-style negotiating rule book. It is following Muhammad’s instructions to his followers to offer three choices to infidels: conversion, surrender, or the sword. Bin Ladin has explained that the West’s rejection of this framework is the whole reason for its conflict with what he calls ‘the authority of Islam’:
“Our talks with the infidel West and our conflict with them ultimately revolve around one issue; one that demands our total support, with power and determination, with one voice, and it is: Does Islam, or does it not, force people by the power of the sword to submit to its authority corporeally if not spiritually? Yes. There are only three choices in Islam:  either willing submission [conversion]; or  payment of the jizya, through physical, though not spiritual, submission to the authority of Islam; or  the sword, for it is not right to let him [an infidel] live. The matter is summed up for every person alive: Either submit, or live under the suzerainty of Islam, or die.”
It may seem unimaginable to European elites that ISIS is fighting for the goal of the surrender or conversion of Europe, but ISIS is thinking in time frames which extend to centuries, and their forebears conquered vast territories using such tactics. A final act of conquest can be preceded by decades, or even centuries, of military raids. While killing is currently the main mode of ISIS’ attacks inside the West, if they could they would use other tactics as well, such as taking booty and slaves or destroying infrastructure, as they have been doing in Syria and Iraq. Daley claims it is pointless to argue with people who have no reasonable grievances, for ‘the French people did not deserve this, just as Americans did not deserve 9/11’.
However the important question is how ISIS sees its own motivations. Their ideology teaches them that infidels deserve death, simply by virtue of their unbelief. This has nothing to do with France’s history of colonialism or its treatment of Muslim minorities. ISIS needed no appeal to grievances to justify killing and enslaving Yazidis in Iraq and Syria, so why should they view the people of France any differently? Their objection to Europeans is that they are not Muslims, and their objection to European states is that they do not implement sharia law. It is irresponsible and dangerous to claim that a tenacious enemy is insane and incomprehensible. To refuse to acknowledge the ideology of ISIS, and to deny its relevance is tantamount to a death-wish.
Like so many other revivalist Islamic groups, ISIS believes that it will be successful if it stays faithful to its divinely-mandated goals and tactics. It believes the nations of Europe are morally corrupt, weak infidels who love life too much to fight a battle to the death with stern Muslim soldiers who have set their hearts on paradise. It believes Europe stands on the wrong side of history. To combat this ideology it is necessary for Europe to prove ISIS wrong on all counts. It must show strength, not weakness. It must have confidence in its cultural and spiritual identity. It must be willing to fight for its survival. It must show that it believes in itself enough to fight for its future. It must defend its borders. It must act like someone who intends to win an interminably long war against an implacable foe.
There is a great deal Europe could have done to avert this catastrophe. It could, long ago, have challenged the Islamic view of history which idolised jihad and its intended outcome, the dhimma. It could have demanded that Islam renounce its love affair with conquest and dominance. It could have encouraged Muslims to follow a path of self-criticism leading to peace. This lost opportunity is what Bat Ye’or referred to in a prescient 1993 interview as the ‘relativisation of religion, a self-critical view of the history of Islamic imperialism’. Instead the elites of Europe embarked on decades of religiously illiterate appeasement and denialism. There is still much that European states could do to defeat ISIS.
They could, for example, inflict catastrophic military failure upon it as a powerful counter-argument to its theology of success. This will not deliver decisive, final victory against jihadism, but it will make the supremacist claims of ISIS less credible and hurt its recruitment. Islam’s laws of war allow Muslims to suspend their battle with infidels temporarily if there is no immediate prospect of victory and the risks to their cause are too great. Europe also needs to act to suppress incitement of jihadi ideology by its clients, including the anti-Israeli jihadism of the Palestinian Authority. It must put more pressure on the militarily vulnerable Gulf states to stop funding Islamic radicalism throughout the Middle East and exporting jihad-revering versions of Islamic theology throughout the whole world.
One hope for Europe is that Islamic populations will get tired of the doctrine of jihad and all its bitter fruits. There are some signs that this is already happening, and many of the Muslims who are now seeking asylum in their hundreds of thousands will have come to this conclusion. However it seems likely that Muslim communities now established within Europe will be the last to reconsider their dogmas and their take on history, because they have not had to suffer first-hard the harsh realities of life under Islamic dystopias such as the ISIS ‘caliphate’ or Iran’s Islamic Revolution. A 2014 opinion poll found that among French 18-24 year olds, the Islamic State had an approval rating of 27%, which must include the overwhelming majority of young French Muslim men.
For Europe, the challenge from within will be more enduring and intractable than the challenge from without. Nevertheless, European states could still do much on their own turf. They could ban Saudi and other Middle Eastern funding to Islamic organisations, including mosques. They could stop appeasing Islamists in their midst. They could, even at this late hour, demand that the large and rapidly growing Muslim communities now well-established across Europe engage in constructive self-criticism of their religion, for the sake of peace.
Copyright © 2015 Deror Books, All rights reserved. Used with permission
Source: by Mark Durie. Dustributed by Australian Prayer Network.
Other articles by Dr Mark Durie: http://markdurie.com/
Adaption from Dr. Peter Hammond’s book: ‘Slavery, Terrorism and Islam: The Historical Roots and Contemporary Threat.’
Islam is not a religion, nor is it a cult. In its fullest form, it is a complete, total, 100% system of life. Islam has religious, legal, political, economic, social, and military components. The religious component is a beard for all of the other components.