By Francis Frangipane
It would be both arrogant and foolish to limit the problem of terrorism to Muslims only. The fact is, many religions have had discomforting experiences with zealots and terrorism. Yet it is uniquely the Muslim religion that has produced entire armies of radical terrorists. How do we address this?
Consider: a man might be a nominal Christian, mostly unaffected by spiritual things, until one day he reads the Bible, and he finds a spiritual fire has been ignited in his heart. If that man remains in his new conviction, he will increasingly pattern his life after Jesus Christ — that is, he will become more loving and forgiving and more willing to invest his life in seeing others redeemed as well. He will, in short, increasingly become more Christlike. As Jesus predicted, “The works that I do, [My follower] will do also” (John 14:12).
However, if a nominal Muslim begins to read the Koran, and if he continues his daily readings and prayers, at some point he will increasingly surrender toward obeying all of Mohammed’s teachings. Within this man’s devotional life he may ultimately seek to possess true Islam — that is, total submission to Allah. Within this small group of zealots, a smaller percentage will embrace not only the teachings of Mohammed but his works as well. Just as the follower of Jesus ultimately seeks conformity to Jesus, so the committed Muslim will prove his faithfulness by obeying even the militant extremes of Islam. The works Mohammed did the follower of Mohammed will also do.
And this is the problem: the Christian who becomes increasingly like Christ is being conformed to a redeemer; the Muslim who becomes increasingly like Mohammed is being conformed to a military leader.Outwardly, the Muslim zealot may have originally presented himself to others as a man both courteous and nonthreatening. When he seeks employment he shows himself as one who disavows violence — he is sincere, for his religion at this stage is nominal. But as time passes and as he becomes more committed to Islam, he will begin to view non-Muslims as infidels instead of just neighbors or coworkers. He will justify the violent impulses he feels because the Koran tells him such impulses should be followed.
Remember, I am not speaking of all Muslims but only a small fraction. What I am saying is that the radicalization of at least a small minority of Muslims is almost inevitable. For the normal growth of an unrestrained, fully committed zealot will eventually conform him to the founder of his religion.
This means that as long as there are people reading the Koran, there will be a small percentage who pledge themselves to spread Islam, even by use of terrorism. We who live in the predominantly non-Muslim world will have to cope with the violence of these self-radicalized “true believers.”
Are you a moderate Muslim, a man or woman of spirituality and refinement? Then you must decide that you do not want violent Muslims — people motivated by hatred and blood lust — to represent you. You must denounce and expose radicals — even the son or daughter in your own home. The first line of defense against radical Muslims must be moderate Muslims.
Are you Christian? You must guard against prejudging all Muslims by the violence manifested by the few. Remember, here in the Western world, a number of people turned to Islam as a reaction to the sinfulness and scandals in the Church. Now, however, in this present atmosphere, these same people are beginning to harbor doubts about their decision. Let us, therefore, make sure our communication with Muslims is the expression of Christ’s love.
Additionally, let us pray for Muslims. My wife and I pray daily for the Islamic world. Many Muslims are coming to Christ, often through the sovereign manifestation of Christ through dreams and visions. (article) We pray that even the most radical Muslims may find forgiveness and life in Christ.
In the final analysis, perhaps the best way to win the radical Islamist is through the love shown them by the radical Christ follower.