America awakened September 11 to appalling scenes on TV of passenger planes deliberately crashing into the towers of the World Trade Center and into the Pentagon. Stunned disbelief gave way to the question, who could so carefully plan and efficiently execute such incredibly inhumane destruction and slaughter? What cause could so powerfully motivate educated and trained individuals to sacrifice their own lives and the lives of so many total strangers in this manner? In the minds of civilized people these men were unbelievable fanatics. But were they?
Could one call the spiritual leader of an entire major country a "fanatic," a man universally recognized as properly representing his religion? Who would know his religion better than the spiritual leader himself? Such was Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini when he declared, "The purest joy in Islam is to kill and be killed for Allah."(1) Is that fanaticism?
And could you call the founder of a major world religion a fanatic? Muhammad, who with his followers slaughtered thousands in establishing and spreading Islam, said of Muslims, "Who relinquishes his faith, kill him....(2) I have been ordered by Allah to fight with people till they testify there is no god but Allah and Mohammed is his messenger." (3) Was Muhammad a fanatic? Are they fanatics who obey him today in exacting the death penalty upon Muslims (as in Afghanistan, the Arab Emirates, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Sudan) who for the sake of conscience convert to another religion?
Do we need a new definition of "fanatic"?
There is a certain hypocrisy in the new outrage with which America and the world now view terrorism. History's bloodiest, most vicious and successful terrorist, Yasser Arafat, has been given the Nobel Peace Prize and embraced as a world statesman. He is proof to would-be imitators that terrorism pays big. The United Nations, European Union, and countless world political and religious leaders have sided with him in his terrorism against Israel. Arafat and his PLO held the record for the largest hijacking (four aircraft in a single operation) -- which has just been equaled, the greatest number of hostages held at one time (300), the greatest number of people shot at an airport, the largest ransom collected ($5 million paid by Lufthansa), the greatest variety of targets (40 civilian passenger aircraft, five passenger ships, 30 embassies or diplomatic ministries plus innumerable fuel depots and factories), etc. (4) Instead of being tried by an international tribunal as were the Nazi and Serbian leadership, Arafat's bloody exploits gained for him acceptance as a leader for peace!
In his brief speech to the nation the morning of the 12th, President Bush declared that the attacks on New York and Washington, D.C. were "acts of war." Indeed, they were -- jihad ("holy war"). He said that "freedom and democracy are under attack [but] we will not allow this enemy to win the war by...restricting our freedoms." Is it a mere coincidence that the freedom of speech, religion, the press, and of vote and conscience which we hold so dear in America are suppressed in every Muslim country?
Who dares to make the obvious connection between this declaration of war against America, and the declaration of war against the entire world by Muhammad in the seventh century, a part of Islam ever since? Since its inception, jihad has been waged by Islamic warriors to spread that religion of violence and hatred. Islam does not change. Rioting Muslim mobs invariably chant in their "fanaticism," "Allah is great! Allah is great!"
In the wake of this terrible act of "holy war," our President and Congressional leaders referred to God numerous times and invoked His blessing in tracking down the perpetrators of this infamous deed. The God of the Bible to whom they referred is not Allah, the god of Islam, whom the attacking terrorists served so faithfully! We may be certain that the hijackers were not Israelis or evangelical Christians. Never! The simple but horrible fact is that only the religion of Islam could supply the motivation for what they did. Why are Muslims responsible for most terrorism in the world today? There is a definitive and foundational reason.
It would be extremely naive to imagine that terrorists who are willing to blow themselves up in Israel or to crash a plane at the loss of their own and many other lives do so for some commendable humanitarian cause. The courage comes solely from a unique doctrine of Islam. Abu-Bakr, the first Caliph to succeed Muhammad (and one of the few to whom Muhammad promised Paradise without martyrdom), declared that even if he had one foot in Paradise he could not trust Allah to let him in. The only sure way in Islam of achieving Paradise is to sacrifice one's life in jihad. Yes, suicide is forbidden as self-murder. But to sacrifice one's life in killing infidels carries the highest reward.
And what reward does Paradise bring to the jihad martyr? He is promised a palace of pearls in which are 70 mansions; inside each mansion are 70 houses and in each house a bed on which are 70 sheets and on each sheet a beautiful virgin. He is assured that he will have the appetite and strength of 100 men for food and sex. This is the fantastic dream that is fed to Muslim boys from earliest childhood. This motivation alone gives the reckless courage and determination to train and execute terrorist deeds in which they sacrifice their lives in bringing death and destruction to "the enemies of Allah."
America has been called "the Great Satan" by Muslim leaders around the world. Thus the strike at America was a strike for Allah against his chief enemy. Palestinians danced in the streets to celebrate the destruction in America, shouting victory to Allah. The day before the attack CNN showed routine footage of third grade children in a West Bank school chanting death to Israel. Only indoctrination into Islam makes possible such incredible scenes and the terrorism they celebrate.
Though people of good will naturally recoil from attaching blame to a major world religion itself, we can no longer afford such sentimentality. No longer dare we allow Islam to escape its undeniable responsibility. Yet former President Bush called Islam a peace-loving religion.
The devastating acts of war by Islamic terrorists against the United States were greeted by naive statements from well-intentioned government leaders to the effect that we must distinguish between terrorism perpetrated by extremist groups and Islam itself which is peaceful. Yet there are more than 100 verses in the Qur'an advocating the use of violence to spread Islam. In the Qur'an, Allah commands Muslims, "Take not the Jews and Christians as friends....Slay the idolaters [non-Muslims] wherever ye find them.... Fight against such...as believe not in Allah..." (Surah 5:51; 9:5,29,41, etc..). Though most Muslims would shrink from obeying such commands, this is official Islam and it cannot change without admitting that Muhammad was a false prophet and murderer.
Several years ago Steven Emerson produced for PBS an excellent video titled Jihad In America. Its cameras went directly inside cell groups associated with mosques here in America where eager young Muslims were being recruited for jihad against the United States. Muslim leaders are shown giving speeches about bringing America to its knees through terrorism and making cold-blooded statements such as the following from Fayiz Azzam in Brooklyn in 1989: "Blood must flow, there must be widows, orphans, hands and limbs must be severed and limbs and blood must be spread everywhere in order that Allah's religion stand on its feet!" Yes, Allah's religion is the motivation!
In Kansas, in 1988, another leader recruiting Islamic holy warriors against the United States exults, "O, brothers! After Afghanistan [where Muslim "freedom fighters," aided by the CIA, drove out the Soviets and installed the brutal Taliban regime] nothing in the world is impossible for us any more! There are no superpowers or minipowers. What matters is will power that springs from our religious belief!" Yes, religious belief, the particular belief of Islam, is the only motivation capable of inspiring such "fanaticism."
At the beginning of the video, Emerson, who had tracked international terrorism for the prior ten years, reported on what he called "networks of Islamic extremists" inside the US. He accurately warned that "for these militants jihad is a holy war, an armed struggle to defeat nonbelievers, or infidels, and their ultimate goal is to establish an Islamic [worldwide] empire." Yet he later backpedaled into the incredible statement that "Islam as a religion does not condone violence; the radicals represent only themselves-an extremist and violent fringe...." That is simply not true. It is not because men are Arabs or extremists that they turn to terrorism, but because they are devout Muslims. Yet who will face this obvious fact?
Hatred of Israel and the call to destroy America for supporting her are also underlying themes of the terrorists seen in the documentary. Another Muslim leader in the US declares that Washington's Capitol Hill is "Zionist-occupied territory," that the Jews control Congress, and that the United States deserves what it gets so long as it continues to support Israel. Referring repeatedly to "Islamic holy warriors," the video documented as clearly as could be done that Islam is the driving force behind terrorism. Astonishingly, however, the narrator and counter-terrorism experts being interviewed repeatedly declared that Islam was not to be blamed but only the "fanaticism" of certain individuals. For example, Paul Bremer, former Ambassador-at-Large for counter-terrorism for the State Department, said it is "important to make a distinction...the vast majority of Muslims and Arabs are peace loving."
It is true that the vast majority of Muslims are peace loving and would protest that they oppose terrorism. Our sympathy is with them. However, should they not ask themselves why they follow a religion founded upon violence which from its very inception has been spread with the sword? Under Muhammad's leadership in the seventh century, thousands of Arabs (and many Jews and Christians) in the Arabian Peninsula were killed by Islam's fierce "holy warriors" to force that religion upon the Arab world. Upon Muhammad's death, most Arabians abandoned Islam, imagining that they were free at last. Swiftly, tens of thousands of Arabs were slaughtered in the Wars of Apostasy, which forced Arabia back under Allah. From that base Islam was spread everywhere with the sword.
On radio and TV, during that black Tuesday in September which we can never forget, we were repeatedly told by well-intentioned government officials that we must be careful not to blame Islam for what a few fanatics had done. In fact, terrorists act in direct obedience to Muhammad, the Qur'an, Allah and Islam. While nominal Muslims reject the idea, all Islamic scholars agree that it is the religious duty of every Muslim to use violence whenever possible to spread Islam until it has taken over the world. We need to face some simple questions: Is not the attempt to force them into Islam the cause of the cruel enslavement, torture and slaughter of millions in southern Sudan? Is not Islam the driving force behind the murderous and destructive riots against Christians in Nigeria, Indonesia, Pakistan and elsewhere? Is it not the enforcement of Islamic law that makes the Taliban deny all civil rights to those under its control in Afghanistan? And what is it but Islam that unites the otherwise divided Arab world in an implacable and unreasoning hatred against Israel? No Arab map in the world admits Israel's existence. It is only Islam's claim that Ishmael, not Isaac, was the son of promise and that the Holy Land belongs to them which unites Arabs in the "fanatical" determination to destroy the Jews.
There is a natural reluctance to accept any statement which seems to be a prejudiced attack upon a world religion. It is the fear of such prejudice which prevents the world from facing the truth. But is it prejudice to state the plain facts? No, it is not -- but it is difficult to face the truth that Islam itself is a religion of violence and that those who practice it are not extremists and fanatics in the ordinary sense of those words, but sincere followers of Muhammad.
The world has sided with Islam in its false claim to the land of Israel, which is now inaccurately called Palestine. This promised land, given to Israel by the God of the Bible, has been occupied by Jews continuously for the last 3,000 years, and they are the only people to have done so. In recognition of that undeniable historic fact, all of "Palestine" was to be given to the Jews for a national homeland by a 1917 ruling of the League of Nations. But steadily the Jews were betrayed by Britain's administration of this mandate (and the demise of the British Empire can be dated from that betrayal); the land was parceled out to Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, etc. Israel is now accused of "occupying" land which actually has been theirs for 3,000 years. The come-lately "Palestinians" are sustained by the world in the lie that they are the original owners of this land. As a result, terrorism is perpetrated not only against Israel but now in this latest act against the United States to apply pressure to force Israel out of its rightful land and to spread Islam around the world.
We have arrived at a defining moment when truth could triumph if the world would recognize that terrorists are not "fanatics" but devout fundamentalist Muslims who are earnestly following their religion. This recognition could bring fresh sympathy for Muslims of all nationalities who are tragically trapped in that system. The exposÇ of the truth could embarrass Muslim nations into opening the Islamic Curtain and allowing freedom to enter their borders. It could be a new day of open evangelism for the world where not force but love and reason permit each person to determine the faith he would embrace from his heart.
Let us pray to that end.
1 David Lamb, The Arabs: Journey Beyond the Mirage (Vintage Books, 1988),
287; David Reed, "The Unholy War Between Iran and Iraq" (Readers Digest, August 1984), 389.
2 Quoted on authority of Ibn 'Abbas in Sahih of al-Bukhari (Part 9),
19. Attested by numerous Islamic scholars.
3 Op. cit. (Part 1), 13. 4 John Laffin, The PLO Connections (Transworld, 1982), 18.