The Rise Of Islam – Its Impact Upon Israel And The Church
Only a few years ago Islam was of little concern to many living in the western world. It was thought to be a wholly Middle Eastern problem far removed from any effect upon westerners. However, in the last few years, particularly since the 1991 Gulf War, there has been a quickening of interest in this religion. Of course that interest was greatly accelerated with the Islamic attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in September, 2001.
North Americans are realizing now that there are some five million Muslims living in their midst. In fact, Muslims are now on the verge of outnumbering Jews in North America, making Islam the second largest religion.
US citizens are awaking to the fact that mosques are rising in many of their cities, and over 800 mosques and Islamic centers are already built in their country. Episcopalians in the US are no doubt shocked to find themselves outnumbered by the Muslims. Incredibly, the shrill cry of the muezzin is now competing with the ringing of church bells in many communities.
Europe is also beginning to experience the reality of Islam on the move. Citizens of England are becoming aware that there are more Muslims living there than Methodists, or even evangelical Christians. 1 The French are realizing that Islam is now their second largest religion, with far more Muslims living in their country than Protestants. 2 In the Netherlands the most common boys name has already become “Muhammad.”
People the world over are being forced to “come to grips” with this fast-rising phenomenon. They have had to contemplate the sobering fact that there are now approximately 1.2 billion Muslims in the world. Roughly one out of every five person in the world is a Muslim. With Islam’s rapid birthrate and its vigorous missionary efforts, it has now said to be the fastest growing religion in the world.
How could a religion develop so rapidly on the modern scene? What are the roots and the history of this religion? Does its rise have spiritual implications for Jews and Christians? Let us look across the centuries in an attempt to answer these questions and many more. Let us trace the roots of Islam to ancient and even biblical times.
THE BIBLE’S “OTHER BROTHER” EPISODES
The roots of Islam can be traced directly to the Bible. This is illustrated by the fact that the one billion plus Muslims in the world today claim Ishmael as their spiritual father. In Muslim theology, it was Ishmael who was almost sacrificed to God by Father Abraham, and not Isaac. It is also Ishmael who has received the covenants and promises.
It may surprise us to realize that the present struggle between Islam, Christianity and Judaism began almost four thousand years ago as a family problem. It is an ancient struggle between brothers, between the chosen and the not chosen. We might therefore appropriately call Islam the religion of the other brother. 3
Let us further examine these ancient biblical roots. Our first glimpse of the family problem is found in Genesis, chapter 16. We are told here that God had promised Father Abraham an heir. However, the Patriarch was already 85 years old and no heir was born, due to the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. In what might have been a weak moment in Abraham’s faith, he accepted his wife’s offer of her Egyptian slave, Hagar. It was his hopes that perhaps she could bear them a son and an heir. As a result of this arrangement, Ishmael was born. Ishmael was described as a wild man:
He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers (Gen. 16:12).
It seems that much of the hostility of the Middle East today can be traced back through the ages to this man, especially since he is considered by Muslims everywhere to be the father of their religion.
This heir apparent to Father Abraham was now on the scene. But God immediately intervened in the situation and assured Abraham a son of his wife, Sarah. When that son was finally born he was named Isaac (laughter), and God swore that he would establish an everlasting covenant with Isaac, giving him the land of Canaan as an eternal possession (Gen. 17:7, 19).
God still promised to bless Ishmael and to multiply him exceedingly, so that twelve princes would come from him (Gen. 17:20). But in Genesis 17:21, God was very careful to promise that Isaac, not Ishmael, would inherit the land of Israel.
Over the centuries God has been true to his promises to bless Ishmael. Today there are twenty-two sovereign Arab nations in the Middle East. This Arab League controls over five million square miles of territory, compared to Israel’s approximately eight thousand square miles. The Arab League has well over one hundred thirty million people, compared to approximately seven million in Israel. God has also blessed Ishmael with most of the world’s oil. The Lord has kept his promise.
God also has kept his promise to Isaac. He has returned Isaac to his ancient possession, the land of Israel, much to the chagrin of Ishmael. The conflict between these two brothers has steadily increased in modern times. It has now become one of the greatest and most serious conflicts on the face of the earth. This conflict has made the Middle East the most volatile area of our world today.
The story of brothers and half-brothers continued. Later after Sarah died, Abraham took another wife, Keturah, and another six children were born from this relationship. Among these children were other Arab sounding names like Midian, Sheba, Dedan. It is interesting in Genesis 25:6, that Abraham gave gifts to these sons and sent them off to the east country (the desert), away from his son Isaac.
The antagonisms and feuds between brothers continued with the children of Isaac. His wife bore him twins, Jacob and Esau. Again we have God intervening and making a sovereign choice for his own redemptive purposes. God chose Jacob to inherit the promise as well as all the land of Canaan, or the land of Israel as it is known today. Again, there was bitterness and resentment on the part of the one not chosen. Esau, like Ishmael, moved into the desert in the area of Mt. Seir, or Edom, a land to the southeast of the Dead Sea. There he became the progenitor of multitudes of other Arab peoples.
All these desert peoples were joined by the children of Abraham’s nephew Lot. Their names were Ben Ammi, the father of the nation of Ammon, and Moab, the father of a people by that name. These two nations, along with Edom, are today combined together to make up the modern Arab-Muslim state of Jordan. Jordan, of course, joined other Arab forces to attack Israel in 1948, 1967 and in 1973.
The bitter rivalry between all these desert peoples and Israel is a thread running through the remainder of the Old Testament. Time and time again these Arab nations came in fury and bitter hatred to destroy Israel. First there were the Amalekites, then the Moabites or the children of Lot. Later, at different times, most all these Arab descendants of Abraham sought to destroy the seed of Isaac and Jacob.
Bible history is replete with the attacks of Edomites, Ammonites, Ishmaelites, Moabites, and hordes of other Arabs. When Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians in 586 BC, the Edomites were present assisting in the destruction and bringing down God’s eternal wrath upon themselves (Obad. 1:10-14). Later, as we see in Nehemiah 2:19, Arabs strongly resisted the re-building of Jerusalem under Ezra and Nehemiah.
When Israel was finally exiled again after the wars of AD 70 and 135, Arab peoples soon began to filter into the land. With the rise of Islam in the seventh century they actually took possession of the land. With “…glee and malice in their hearts…” they claimed God’s heritage as their own (Ezek. 36:5-6).
What the Arab peoples could not attain in centuries of war against Israel, they at last achieved with the rise of the Muslim faith (Islam) and its prophet Muhammad. For most of the following 1300 years, Islam would dominate the Holy Land as well as the heart of what was the Byzantine Christian Empire in the Middle East. Islam would also dominate Christians and Jews throughout the Middle East and even in North Africa, Spain and other areas. The Bible may speak of this Arab dominion over Israel in these words of Genesis 27:40: You [Ishmael] will live by the sword and you will serve your brother. But when you grow restless, you will throw his yoke from off your neck.”
Ishmael’s seed found their greatest spiritual and military leader in Muhammad. Muhammad was born of the Quraysh tribe about AD 570 in the city of Mecca. He was born in poverty, and to make matters worse, his father died before his birth. His mother was of an excitable nature and often claimed she was visited by spirits (jinns). She died before her son was two years old.4 Muhammad was then raised by his grandfather, who died when the boy was six. From this point, his uncle took care of him.
Since Muhammad was a poor orphan, it was necessary for him to work some as a shepherd. He also spent time with the Bedouin, and from them he learned much about desert survival and self defense. By the time Muhammad was ten he was traveling with his uncle’s caravans. They went on trips as far away as Syria. Payne says of his travels:
What is certain is that at an early impressionable age Muhammad showed a predilection for conversing with priests and rabbis when the caravans stopped at the trading posts, and he stored these conversations in his capacious memory. 5
When he reached his twenties, he became employed by Khadija, a rich widow, fifteen years his senior. He assisted her with her caravan business and soon earned her approval. In time they were married and Khidija bore him six children, four girls and two boys. Unfortunately, the boys died in childhood. Much later, after Khidija’s death, Muhammad took many wives and concubines, including the nine-year-old daughter of his devoted follower Abu Bakr.
While still in Mecca, Muhammad started to spend time meditating in nearby caves. About the year 610, he began receiving visions and visitations from the spirit world. Supposedly, the Angel Gabriel came to him and assured Muhammad that he was god’s messenger. He continued to receive supernatural visitations for the rest of his life. When his visions and revelations came, he would often fall down, perspire profusely, and begin to jerk with his eyes rolling backwards. At the onset, he worried that he was demon possessed, and even attempted suicide. His wife Khadija reassured him that he was a real prophet and not demon possessed. 6
It was during this period of the prophet’s life that he reported a very unusual visitation of the Angel Gabriel and an ensuing trip on a winged horse to the farthest mosque (Al Aqsa later interpreted to refer to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem). From there he was taken into heaven where he was embraced by god. Those Muslims who believe this account point today to what they claim is Muhammad’s footprint under the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount.
Before Muhammad’s coming, the people of Mecca and that part of Arabia had worshipped for centuries at the Kaaba, a pagan shrine in Mecca. This shrine contained 365 idols, including Hubal the moon god, statues of Abraham and Ishmael, painted angels and even pictures of Jesus and the Virgin Mary.7 One of the high gods at the Meccan shrine was Allah, who was acknowledged as creator god. Allah had three daughters, Al-Lat, Manat, and ‘Uzza, who were also worshipped.8
After his first visit by the Angel Gabriel, Muhammad began to proclaim that Allah was the true and only god and that he himself was the prophet of Allah. This was an obvious threat to the idolatrous religion of the Meccans and to the revenues from the pilgrimages of the devout. Muhammad was therefore not accepted by his fellow citizens of Mecca. They ridiculed and persecuted him and his few followers. In time the persecutions became so severe that they were life threatening.
At this dark period, Muhammad and his followers were welcomed in Yathrib, a city some two hundred miles (322 kilometers) north of Mecca. This city was founded by Jews and there was apparently a great deal of messianic expectation there. The men of Yathrib were initially disposed to accept Muhammad as their promised messiah. 9
The flight of Muhammad and his followers from Mecca to Yathrib occurred in AD 622, and is called the Hijra (emigration). It marks the beginning of the Muslim calendar. Once there, the city was renamed Medina (Medinat al-Nabi), or city of the prophet.
Payne comments about this period:
In the suras written at Medina, perhaps under the influence of the Jewish rabbis… Suddenly Abraham appears as the founder of the Kaaba, led there by a heavenly light, building on the place chosen for him and hearing a voice from the clouds, saying: “Surrender!” 10
From Medina, the true nature of Islam began to take shape with a shift in emphasis. Muhammad began to turn frequently to the sword as a means of advancing his religion. He began to send out raiding parties to prey on passing caravans. Muhammad’s men were encouraged by their leader’s revelations assuring them that “Martyrdom in battle was to be regarded as the highest prize, the quickest means of entering Paradise.” 11
Muhammad’s relationship with the Jews seems to have soured as they realized that he was not their promised Messiah after all. Arguments broke out with them and Muhammad’s attitude toward them hardened. During this period, Muhammad proclaimed that prayer should no longer be made facing Jerusalem, but that it should be made facing Mecca.
Muhammad heard that the Jewish tribe, the Bani Quraiza, southeast of Medina was in collusion with his enemies. He besieged their city and exacted a terrible vengeance upon them, beheading 700-1000 of its men and selling the women and children into slavery. He and his men then looted their possessions. 12 He attacked other Jewish tribes in the area and ultimately forced the Jews from his base, Medina. As Islam grew, the Jews were forced from all of Arabia.
Although Muhammad was now the uncontested ruler of Medina he longed to include Mecca in his fast growing religious empire. To this end he began to raid the rich caravans of the Quraysh tribe of Mecca. In the year 624, Muhammad and his followers won an important battle over the Meccans at Badr, near Medina.
Although he lost some other skirmishes, his confidence in a possible victory over Mecca continued to grow. In 628, Muhammad initiated a ten-year treaty with the Meccans. This is known as the Treaty of Hudaibiyah. Two years later when Muhammad felt strong enough, he broke the treaty and conquered Mecca. He then destroyed the idols and rededicated the Kaaba as the shrine of Islam.
The Treaty of Hudaibiyah became a model for Muslim relations with non-Islamic nations. From that time on it was believed that treaties could be made for expediency, but when it was to Islam’s advantage these treaties should be broken and the lands conquered.
THE DOCTRINES OF ISLAM
Muhammad died in the year 632, after his doctrine was largely crystallized and his armies set firmly on the path of conquest. The ensuing religion of Islam was based upon Muhammad’s many revelations that later made up the Quran. These revelations were originally scribbled on palm leaves, or on pieces of bone and parchment. They were also committed to memory by some of his devoted followers. After his death, they were collected into one authorized volume. The resulting Quran is considered by Muslims to be the infallible word of their god.
The Muslim faith stands on five pillars. They are Shahada, the simple confession that Allah is god and Muhammad is his messenger; Salat, the formal worship of Allah; Zakat, the giving of alms; Sawm, fasting during the holy month of Ramadan; and the Hajj, pilgrimage to Mecca once in a lifetime. Some feel that a sixth pillar should be added, that of Jihad, which is interpreted as service, exertion or holy war against infidels. 13
As to a summation of the Islamic faith, Morey describes it well by saying, “…that it is a form of cultural imperialism in which the religion and culture of seventh-century Arabia have been raised to the status of divine law.” 14
“Muhammad took the Arab culture around him, with all its secular and sacred customs, and made it into the religion of Islam.” 15 He literally gave the Arab people of his day all the things they desired. They had always worshipped at the Kaaba and had made pilgrimage to it, so Muhammad instituted this worship into his religion. Many parts of this ancient pagan worship are virtually unchanged in Islam even today. They had always worshipped Allah along with many other gods, so Muhammad instituted the worship of Allah. They had always believed in polygamy so Muhammad instituted it with some restrictions, however he himself had a total of 22 women as wives and concubines. 16
The residents of pre-Islamic Arabia had always fought between clans. Thus Muhammad instituted warfare or jihad as a virtual pillar of his faith, and even made it acceptable to raid unsuspecting caravans, to kill and rape innocent victims. He made it acceptable to break sacred treaties, to loot, to lie and steal in Allah’s name. Muhammad even took his adopted son’s wife, Zainab, and later conveniently got a Quranic revelation to support his action.17
In the western world, a lie is generally considered as something evil. This is not necessarily the case in Muslim theology. Al-Ghazzali, the great Muslim theologian who wrote in the eleventh-century had this to say:
Know that a lie is not haram [wrong] in itself, but only because of the evil conclusions to which it leads the hearer, making him believe something that is not really the case….If a lie is the only way of obtaining a good result, it is permissible….We must lie when truth leads to unpleasant results. 18
The Arab sociologist Sania Hamady adds to this, saying that many Arabs are “more interested in feeling than facts, in conveying an impression than in giving a report…” 19
We may also note that while other religions such as Christianity and Judaism have a linear concept of time and progress, Islam has a cyclical concept. In Islam the ideal is always to return to the era of Muhammad. This can be witnessed particularly in the Islamic revolution in Iran where the clock was turned back in many ways toward the
THE SWORD OF ISLAM TRIUMPHS
After the death of Muhammad, his trusted friend Abu Bakr became the first Caliph or successor. After him were Umar 634-644; Uthman 644-656; and Ali 656-661. As the Arabian Caliphate emerged, the emphasis upon conquest with the sword continued. It is interesting that the first major Muslim drive for conquest outside of Arabia was in the Holy Land. After some preliminary raids as far north as the Dead Sea, the Muslim armies in 634 finally routed Emperor Heraclius and the Byzantines. This battle just west of Jerusalem opened the door to the conquest of Palestine.
On August 20, 636, the Muslims won a decisive victory at the mouth of the Yarmuk River near the Sea of Galilee. As in many of Islam’s battles, it seemed that their god was with them. On that occasion a great sandstorm frustrated and maddened the Byzantine Christian forces.20 By the year 638, the Muslims had taken Jerusalem. Later in 692, the Umayyid Caliph, Abd-al-Malik, built the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount.
The great Islamic expert, Bernard Lewis, points out that “The Dome of the Rock, along with the adjoining Aqsa Mosque constituted the first great religious building complex in the history of Islam.” 21 Lewis concludes that such impressive building on the Temple Mount was of a polemic nature:
The polemical purpose of the shrine is reinforced by the choice of Quranic verses and other inscriptions that decorate the interior. One verse occurs again and again: “God is one, without partner, without companion.” 22
The rejection of the Christian doctrine of the Trinity is clear, and is made explicit in other inscriptions:
Praise be to God, who begets no son, and has no partner in [his] dominion: nor [needs]he any to protect him from humiliation: yes, magnify him for his greatness and glory!
Another repeated inscription is the famous Sura 1121 in its entirety: “He is God, one, eternal. He does not beget, nor is he begotten, and he has no peer.” 23
After subjugating Israel, the Muslim armies swept over Syria, the Persian Empire and Egypt. With the last Arabian Caliph, the Caliphate was moved to Damascus, and came under the influence of the Umayyids (661-750). In 750 the Abbasid Caliphate began and became centered in Baghdad. During this period, Islamic civilization reached its zenith. The center of Islamic influence remained in Baghdad until the city was conquered by the Mongols in 1258.
In an incredibly brief period, the Muslims methodically swept over the remainder of the Middle East, North Africa and as far west as Spain. Finally in 732, they were stopped at the Battle of Tours just outside Paris by the Frankish leader Charles Martel. The Islamic invasion of Europe was temporarily arrested and even reversed. By 1492 the Christian king Ferdinand pushed the Muslims (Moors) out of Spain.
However, later during the height of the Ottoman Empire, the Muslims renewed their conquest of Europe. They captured the Christian Byzantine capital of Constantinople in 1453, and then pushed on toward central Europe. The Muslims even began a siege of Vienna in 1529, but were finally driven from most of Europe.
LIFE UNDER ISLAM
As Islam and its holy war burst out of the confines of Arabia, many peoples were forcefully confronted with this new religion. Generally, polytheists were given the choice of conversion or death.24 However, Jews and Christians were referred to by Muhammad as “the people of the Book.” Accordingly, they came under special consideration.
In one particular case in Arabia, Muhammad had attacked the Jews at the oasis of Khaybar. Under the treaty made with them in 628, called the dhimma, they became subject peoples to Islam. Their existence was thereafter only for the benefit of Islam. They were doomed to remain second-class citizens. They lived it seemed, for the sole purpose of demonstrating to all the superiority of Islam over conquered religions.
Jews and Christians were thereafter treated according to the dhimma and were given the name dhimmi. 25 From this point the dhimmi were always at the mercy of the Muslim rulers, and subject at all times to the whims of Muslim mobs. The dhimmi status seemed to always hang in peril. In fact, in 640 the status of the dhimmi was revoked throughout the whole Arabian peninsula and the remaining Jews and Christians were expelled.
Soon the dhimmi status, for what it was worth, was applied to Jews and Christians in many conquered lands of the Middle East. Dhimmitude began to be more clearly defined by Muslim law and by common practice. There were several things that came to define dhimmitude in Muslim lands. Bat Ye’or, an authority on the dhimmi, in her very informative book by this title, lists three areas where the dhimmi were abused: 26
1. Oppressive taxation
In each conquered land, the Jews and Christians were allowed to remain and cultivate the land in exchange for the payment of a tax to the local Muslim ruler. This tax was called the Kharaj. This system was designed to remind the tenants that Islam owned the land. Their national identities and histories were blotted out and soon became virtually nonexistent.
They were forbidden to possess arms and thus became totally dependent upon the occupying Muslim power. In some areas, such as Morocco, this system became so oppressive that the Jews of that area were virtual serfs even as late as 1913, and were, literally, the property of their Muslim masters.
In addition to the Kharaj tax, the dhimmi were subjected to the poll tax or Jizya. This tax had to be paid in person by each subject, and it was often paid in a public and humiliating manner. It was common for the dhimmi to be struck on the head or on the nape of the neck as he paid the tax. This supposedly was to demonstrate the superiority of Islam. 27
The dhimmi were also victimized by higher commercial and travel taxes. In addition they were often victims of extortion and blackmail at the hand of their own rulers. Often, greedy rulers required them to pay an avania, or protection money. This was simply a sum of money extorted from the Jewish or Christian communities, under the threat of persecution. This practice of having to pay for their own protection soon became the norm for dhimmi communities in Muslim lands.
2. Social and legal discrimination
Dhimmi peoples were generally excluded from holding public office, were kept from many professions and high positions, or from being elevated, in any way over Muslims. In virtually all Muslim lands however, some Jews became elevated despite this ban.
Generally, the most degrading jobs, such as cleaning the public latrines, fell to the dhimmi. Yemenite Jews, until they immigrated to Israel in 1950, were still required to clean the public latrines and remove dead animals from the city streets.
In the courtroom, the evidence of a dhimmi could never be accepted in testimony against a Muslim. Thus it was often necessary for the dhimmi to hire Muslim “witnesses” for his court appearance. The dhimmi was not allowed to raise a hand against his Muslim masters, even if raised in self-defense. Such a thoughtless act would often result in the death penalty. In many Muslim lands, Jews were routinely beaten and abused in the streets. They could only beg for mercy and attempt to flee their persecutors. They did not dare defend themselves.
To further clarify their inferior status, the dhimmi were required to wear special clothing. The type of clothing varied from country to country, but always it seemed to be designed to make Jews and Christians appear inferior and foolish. In many countries the Jews were even required to go barefoot. They were also required to walk to the left of the Muslims. They were almost universally forbidden to ride horses, and even when riding donkeys, they were required to dismount upon meeting a Muslim.
Jews and Christians were often confined to special quarters, and these areas were usually shut up after dark. They were not allowed to enter certain streets of Muslim cities. This practice continued in Persia, Yemen, and North Africa until the nineteenth century. These dhimmi ghettos were frequently the scenes of awful pogroms and persecutions by infuriated Muslim mobs. At the whim of local rulers these pitiful quarters could be confiscated and emptied on short notice. Whether they lived inside or outside of these quarters, the houses of dhimmi could never be taller or more elaborate than the houses of their Muslim neighbors.
3. Religious discrimination
In Muslim lands, the construction of new churches and synagogues was generally forbidden. The restoration of certain pre-Islamic structures was permitted so long as they were not enlarged or transformed. Dhimmi places of worship were often ransacked, burned or demolished at the whim of the Muslims. This trend has continued right up through modern times. In Saudi Arabia, the government bulldozed the last Christian church in the kingdom in 1987. It was a unique 12th century structure found near the Yemen border.
Liturgical forms were strictly controlled. It was generally prohibited to ring church bells, sound shofars, publicly display crosses, icons, banners and other religious objects. Early photos taken during the middle of the nineteenth century confirm that even the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem had been stripped of both its cross and belfry.
In many Muslim lands, Jews and Christians had to bury their dead without mourning. Dhimmi graves had to be specially marked lest a Muslim should accidentally pray over the grave of an infidel. The cemeteries of dhimmi were not respected since they were considered as being from the realm of hell. Commonly they were desecrated or even destroyed completely, as occurred in Jerusalem during Jordanian rule (1948-1967). At that time the Jordanian army used many Jewish gravestones from the Mount of Olives to line their latrines.
The dhimmi had to take great care showing respect to Muslim holy places. In North Africa, if Jews and Christians entered a mosque it was considered a capital offense. It was not even permitted for them to look into a mosque when passing by. Any such accusation, whether true or false, could cost the dhimmi his life. This was especially the case in all charges of blasphemy. The dhimmi communities were religiously harassed and sometimes forced to convert. For instance, in Yemen, it was required that every Jewish orphan child be converted to Islam.
Of course, marriage or sexual relations between dhimmi and Muslim women called for the death sentence, although Muslim men could marry a dhimmi woman. To the Muslim, there was something about the dhimmi that was unclean and impure. This concept affected all Muslim relations with dhimmi peoples.
Is the dhimmi concept still around, and does it show up in the modern-day concept of jihad? We may think these Muslim concepts are grossly discriminatory in this modern age, but they are still very much alive in Muslim thinking. They are particularly evident in current ideas of jihad. The Islamic idea of world dominion has changed very little since the days of Muhammad. Involved in the Islamic concept is the complete military, religious and political domination of conquered peoples (which should ultimately include the whole world); Arabization of these peoples and nations; the absolute claim to their lands; the suppression of their historical, religious, and political traditions; and the extinguishing of their cultural and social aspirations.
It is unthinkable for Muslims that conquered peoples should rise up and throw off the yoke of Islam. Such a response is an affront to the Muslim religion. For this very reason the Muslim jihad has raged against Israel. Israel is like a tiny island surrounded by a sea of Islam. Not only was Israel once within the domain of Islam, but until the current immigration wave, over 60 percent of her inhabitants were descendants of dhimmi, whether they were refugees from Arab countries or indigenous to the land. 28
The Muslims have used jihad, which can be expressed in many ways, as a continuous weapon against Israel. It has been expressed through military, economic, political, and educational means. In spite of the current peace agreements, Israel is continually oppressed by active terrorism. In spite of the present peace agreements the economic boycott of Israeli products continues.
The history and culture of Israel is regularly appropriated by the Muslims, denied and even eradicated whenever possible. Today because of vast Muslim influence in the world, newscasts, newspapers, and magazines are often slanted against Israel. Even educational and reference materials are being slanted and twisted to the Muslim viewpoint.
Thus the jihad rages on and on, even in this modern day. But for Islam to succeed in its plan of total world domination there must be a people who are willing to play the part of the dhimmi.
ISLAM’S GREATEST INSULT
In Islam there developed another unusual concept related to all other peoples and nations. This concept is critical for the understanding of events in the Middle East and elsewhere today. The god Allah is to the Muslim the true and only god. All other nations are to be in subjection to this god and to his prophet Muhammad. In fact the very word Islam means “subjection.” In Islam there is the concept of dar-al Islam, that refers to the lands under subjugation by Islam. Then there is the concept of dar al- Harb, or the abode of war, referring to all lands under the infidels. 29
In Islam there can be no permanent peace with such lands. In addition, all lands once subjected to Allah must remain in Allah’s dominion. In Christianity, the belief is that God will avenge; that he is big enough to take care of himself. In Islam, it is incumbent upon the Muslim to avenge Allah. Thus jihad (holy war) becomes an urgent necessity in order to claim new lands, and especially to reclaim all lands that have been lost to Islam.
The latter, of course, is the very situation with modern Israel today. With the exception of the brief Crusader period, the Holy Land was in subjection to Islam from the seventh century until the end of World War I. It was bad enough for Islam’s armies to be defeated by Christians in 732, and it was especially irritating for the Muslims to be pushed out of Spain by the Christians in 1492. It was an even further insult for them to become subjects of French and British “Christian” colonialism in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. But the crowning insult to Islam and to Allah was having a hated Jewish state declare itself independent in their midst, and on land that was once claimed by Allah.
The Muslim Arab village of Silwan just south of Old Jerusalem’s walls
A further insult was having the Jews again lay claim to Jerusalem. By this time Jerusalem had become one of Islam’s holy cities, along with Mecca and Medina. It had also become a focus of Islamic political aspirations. All this was clearly in reaction to the growing Israeli presence. We can begin to sense why a Jerusalem controlled by the Jews seems especially designed by God to send the surrounding Arab nations reeling (Zech. 12:2-3).
We can now glimpse why the Muslims have fought the establishment of Israel since the days of the earliest pioneers and why they have launched four unsuccessful wars and hundreds of terrorist operations to destroy Israel. Israel, who declared independence and gained crushing victories over confederated Islamic armies in 1948, 1967 and again in 1973, shook the Islamic world to the core. Egypt’s President Nasser well expressed Islamic feeling when he said, “To the disaster of Palestine there is no parallel in human
Abdel al-Rahman al-Bazzar, the former Prime Minister of Iraq and professor of law at the University of Baghdad, had this to add to Nasser’s remarks:
The great danger of Israel is due to its being an ideological threat to our nationalism which challenges our entire national existence in the entire region. The existence of Israel nullifies the unity of our homeland, the unity of our nation and the unity of our civilization, which embraces the whole of this one region. Moreover, the existence of Israel is a flagrant challenge to our philosophy of life and the ideals for which we live,and a total barrier against the values and aims to which we aspire in the world. 31
How can such a problem, one seething for almost four thousand years, be solved by simply sitting down at the negotiating table? This seems very plausible and appropriate to the western mind, however, Islam can never truly agree to have an Israel in the Middle East. Israel is looked upon as a defilement, something unclean, in the midst of holy Arab nations. The very presence of Israel undermines the credibility of Islam. The Muslims are therefore obligated to declare an eternal jihad against Israel.
Many, even in Israel, think the nation can somehow appease this ancient hatred by giving up more of their hard won territory. Someone has remarked that if Israel gave up territory until she had only one square meter left on the sea coast, the holy war or jihad would continue until this square meter was brought back into the domain of the god Allah.
With this perspective we can understand how futile and senseless are all the so-called “peace talks,” and the current “peace process.” We can see how the 300 million Muslims in the Middle East see tiny Israel as a threat to Islam and why they are constantly building up their armaments. It explains how an Islamic nation like Iran, although it has no common border with Israel, would feel so threatened.
SCENARIO FOR AN ISLAMIC ARMAGEDDON
When we add to this situation the recent rise of Islamic Fundamentalism, we have an extremely explosive situation on our hands. This fundamentalism that has been largely nurtured by Iran, not only threatens Israel, but it threatens the more stable and complacent Arab states like Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Egypt. What the oil crisis of the early seventies could not accomplish in bringing all nations to a showdown war with Israel, Islamic Fundamentalism may now begin to accomplish.
After all, theological motivation is a powerful tool. Just a thousand years ago it was theological motivation that brought hordes of Crusaders on horseback to Israel, all the way from their homes in farthest Europe. We might be wise to consider that the hordes of armies coming from the North and East, which are spoken of by many of the prophets, just might be fanatical Muslim armies. These armies could come from the remote reaches of Azerbaijan, from Iran, from Pakistan, and even from China’s Xinjiang region. Of course, these invaders would always be gleefully assisted by Israel’s Muslim neighbors.
The horrors of the Book of Revelation seem closer when we realize that some of these radical nations are now equipped with the most sophisticated chemical and biological weapons. Very soon the stakes may be raised to include nuclear weapons.
For those who believe that the Bible is the word of God, Islam represents a terrible threat to both Judaism and Christianity. For those who do not believe the Bible, Islam is probably no more important than any other religion.
It is a time for Bible believers to be vigilant. The threat that Islam imposes should be clear to us by the fact that this religion is firmly planted on the Temple Mount with two of its shrines, The Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa Mosque. This should be a wake-up call for us. Bear in mind, that this is the spot where God will establish his throne (Jer. 3:17). There is no other religion on the face of the earth that boldly makes such a challenge to God. Islam may therefore be called the most dangerous of the earth’s religions. It is uniquely situated for an end-time confrontation with the living God, the God of Israel.
We can surmise that Islam is the devil’s answer, and somehow a part of his final plan of attack to overcome both Judaism and Christianity. The Dome of the Rock, with its Quranic inscriptions against the Son of God, stands as a constant blasphemy against Christianity. For the Christians and Jews, Islam could well play some part in the “abomination of desolation” spoken of by Daniel long ago.
Wherever Islam has gained complete sway, as in Iran and in Saudi Arabia, what is called sharia law has been put into effect. This law includes many crude punishments that seem to have passed to modern times from the seventh century. These are punishments like chopping off hands for stealing, and chopping off heads for greater offenses. Perhaps we should pay closer attention to the interesting verse in Revelation 20:4, where it is said:
And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshipped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
Why should Islam be considered a greater threat to the Judeo/Christian tradition than all other religions?
Allah, is a designation often used in the Middle East for the God of Judaism and Christianity. Why does this not seem appropriate?
With the Islamic understanding of treaties, based on the treaty of Hudaibiyah, of what value are the agreements western nations are making and desire to make with the Muslims? What value are the agreements being made between Israel and the Palestinian Authority?
Why are Muslim nations compelled to push the Jews out of the Middle East?
1. Robert Morey, The Islamic Invasion, Confronting the World’s Fastest Growing Religion (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 1992) pp.5-6
2. Frederick M. Denny, Islam, (San Francisco: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1987) p. 110.
3. See Jim Gerrish, “Islam, Religion of the Other Brother,” Dispatch From Jerusalem , 2nd. Qtr. 1990 page 1. I have drawn heavily on this earlier article for my content here.
4. Morey, The Islamic Invasion, p. 71.
5. Robert Payne, The History of Islam, (New York: Dorsett Press, c.1959 pub. 1990) p. 12.
6. Morey, The Islamic Invasion, pp. 71-72.
7. Payne, The History of Islam, p. 55.
8. Denny, Islam, p. 21.
9. Payne, The History of Islam, p. 23
10. Payne, The History of Islam, pp. 71-72.
11. Payne, The History of Islam, p. 37.
12. Morey, The Islamic Invasion, p. 83.
13. Denny, Islam, pp. 56-57.
14. Morey, The Islamic Invasion, p. 19.
15. Morey, The Islamic Invasion, p. 22.
16. Morey, The Islamic Invasion, p. 86.
17. Thomas Lippman, Understanding Islam, An Introduction to the Muslim World, (Penguin Books USA Inc., revised edition c 1982, 1990) p. 54.
18. Quoted in Samuel Katz, Battleground, Fact and Fancy in Palestine, (New York: Bantam Books, 1973) p. 134.
19. Quoted in Samuel Katz, Battleground, Fact and Fancy in Palestine, p. 134.
20. Payne, The History of Islam, p. 96.
21. Bernard Lewis, The Middle East, 2000 Years of History From the Rise of Christianity to the Present Day, (London: Phoenix Books Ltd., a division of Orion Books, Ltd., 1995)
22. Bernard Lewis, The Middle East, 2000 Years of History From the Rise of Christianity to the Present Day, p. 69.
23. Bernard Lewis, The Middle East, 2000 Years of History From the Rise of Christianity to the Present Day, p. 69.
24. Bat Ye’or, The Dhimmi, Jews and Christians Under Islam, (Cranbury, NJ: Associated University Presses, English edition, 1985) p. 45.
This is an excellent work with massive reproduction of original documents. I have drawn heavily upon her information in this section.
25. See Jim Gerrish, “The Dhimmi People:Jews and Christians Under Islam,” Dispatch From Jerusalem, 1st Quarter, 1993, pp. 8-9. I have reproduced much information from this earlier article here.
26. Bat Ye’or, The Dhimmi, Jews and Christians Under Islam, pp. 51-66.
27. Bat Ye’or, The Dhimmi, Jews and Christians Under Islam, p. 201.
28. Bat Ye’or, The Dhimmi, Jews and Christians Under Islam, p. 137.
29. Bat Ye’or, The Dhimmi, Jews and Christians Under Islam, p. 45.
30. Quoted in Bat Ye’or, The Dhimmi, Jews and Christians Under Islam, p. 122.
31. Quoted in Bat Ye’or, The Dhimmi, Jews and Christians Under Islam, p. 123.