Will Islamic terrorism end any time soon?
- Allah commands his followers to fight until the world is subdued under Islam.
- He promises them victory (with supernatural help) even when the odds are stacked against them.
- He lures jihadis with visions of eternal rewards replete with virgins galore and sensual pleasures beyond measure.
- He threatens the punishment of hellfire for Muslims who don’t “walk the talk,” who claim to be faithful but shrink from fighting and dying for Allah.
- He reassures Muslims that the kuffar (unbelievers) deserve death because they will roast in hell for eternity, hated by Allah; Muslims therefore should have no pangs of conscience for dispatching them to their eternal destiny post-haste.
One would think in light of this that Muslim armies would be rising up all over the world, trusting in the promises of Allah, to engage and defeat the forces of the infidel West, as well as the Communist world, the countries of Africa and Central/South America. After all, the Qur’an (Allah’s inerrant word) says:
“O Prophet, urge the believers to battle. If there are among you twenty [who are] steadfast, they will overcome two hundred. And if there are among you one hundred [who are] steadfast, they will overcome a thousand of those who have disbelieved because they are a people who do not understand.” (8:65)
In the next verse, Allah ratchets down the odds, recognizing that the Muslims are weak even with his angelic help:
“Now, Allah has lightened [the hardship] for you, and He knows that among you is weakness. So if there are from you one hundred [who are] steadfast, they will overcome two hundred. And if there are among you a thousand, they will overcome two thousand by permission of Allah. And Allah is with the steadfast.” (8:66).
Nevertheless, the Muslims are to fight under Muhammad and his generals, expecting victory even against stronger forces. And indeed, in the first major battle the Muslims fought against the unbelievers of Mecca, they were outnumbered at least two to one, and earned a convincing victory. Feeling that Allah was certainly on their side, they bought into the idea they were invincible. Until the next battle. The Meccans returned to Medina the next year better prepared, and inflicted serious losses on Muhammad’s army. Many believers were shaken by the fact that Allah had not given them victory, and wondered if Islam was a sham. But Allah soon revealed through his prophet that they had not succeeded for two reasons: 1) he was testing their resolve; and 2) among their ranks were numbers of hypocrites (whose hearts were not in fighting, and who refused to engage the enemy). Only if his army showed itself fully committed to him would he assure them victory.
This same perspective has given rise to modern Islamic “radicalism” or reformation (i.e., a return to the faithful beliefs and practices of the original Muslim community under Muhammad). When the last Caliphate fell into the dustbin of history (the Ottoman Empire, which was dismembered in 1924), some Muslim intellectuals began to ask why the non-Muslim world was now calling the shots, and the Muslim world supine and feeble before them. Their answer: we have drifted from our center; we are not truly committed to Allah and his prophet; but if we return to serious obedience, Allah will once again grant us supernatural help to regain our position of superiority in the world. From this mindset, the Muslim Brotherhood was founded in Egypt in 1928 and its movement spawned like-minded organizations around the Muslim world. The radical and terrorist organizations we see today are the fruit of this perspective.
So once again the world is faced with a resurgent Islam whose goal is to rule the human race. But Muslims by and large are not ignorant of the huge discrepancy between their relatively meager military resources and the vast destructive capabilities of the technologically advanced US armed forces together with its allies, not to mention atheistic China and Russia who also would swat down any frontal assaults by Muslim armies. Recognizing this, Muslim countries are biding their time, buying weaponry and technology, seeking as rapidly as possible to achieve parity with infidel superpowers.
The Islamic Republic of Iran is a perfect case in point. The fastest way to challenge Western power is to become a cardholder in the nuclear missile club, so Iran has worked hard in secret to develop that capability, while not neglecting their conventional armament upgrades. For example, yesterday the theocracy announced they were unveiling the “first 100% indigenously made” fighter jet, named “the Kowsar” (Kawthar, in Arabic). The name is significant, for it is the title of a short chapter of the Qur’an containing this promise from Allah:
“Indeed, your enemy is the one cut off.” (108:3)
Western military experts report that the Kowsar appears to be a remake of the USA’s F-5 fighter, numbers of which were shipped to Iran in the mid-1970s when Iran under the Shah was an ally. Even with massive upgrades imagined, such a jet would be no match for most modern air forces today.
But Iran’s tactics in announcing this new addition to its armaments is instructive of the general Muslim mindset when it comes to enemies who have superior forces. It turns to boasting and bluster as an attempt to plant doubt into the minds of those it considers its enemies as a ploy to dissuade them from mounting an attack which it rightly fears would bring overwhelming defeat. So, Iran’s President Rouhani declared, “Why does the US not attack us? Because it is aware of our power and the cost [that it will entail].”
Everyone recalls Saddam Hussein’s warnings to the Coalition Forces gathering before Desert Storm that if attacked Iraq would unleash the “mother of all battles” and inflict huge losses on its enemies. His bluster was quite convincing to the military layman, backed up as it was with reports that Iraq had the world’s fourth largest standing army at the time. But after 42 days of aerial bombardment of Iraq’s military and civilian infrastructure, the ground offensive to defeat the Iraqi army lasted only 100 hours. It was indeed a massive display of “shock and awe” which all who witnessed, including the Muslim world, have not forgotten. So, while not wanting to go face to face with infidel armies, radical Muslim governments and insurgent groups shake their fists at the West and continue their bluster, hoping to cower a vastly superior enemy.
But there is another strategy as well, known among military thinkers as “asymmetric warfare,” and defined well by the Encyclopedia Britannica as:
unconventional strategies and tactics adopted by a force when the military capabilities of belligerent powers are not simply unequal but are so significantly different that they cannot make the same sorts of attacks on each other.
Read the rest here.
What are the odds that a son born to a Muslim father, raised for more than a decade in Saudi Arabia, schooled in western philosophy and psychology, and then trained in eastern mysticism, should become a resolute Christian and ambassador of the gospel? Small odds indeed, when counted by human probability. But Dr. Mateen Elass sees this prelude to his ministry as witness to the amazing power of God to find and call His children to service-regardless of the odds.
Mateen was the second of four children born to a Syrian Muslim who had married an American while studying at the University of Wisconsin. Some years after Mateen’s birth, the family moved to Saudi Arabia where his father worked as an oil company executive. During his early teens Mateen began a search for God, largely through reading. For six years he focused on eastern mysticism and meditation including a stay at an ashram in India. Yet his nagging questions, Who is God? How can I know him? remained unanswered.
God guided Mateen toward an answer to those questions by bringing him into contact with genuine Christians. They repeatedly pointed him to Christ and challenged him, “Read the four gospels of the New Testament. Get to know Jesus.” He took up the challenge. After days of reading, study, and prayer, at the age of twenty Mateen became a follower of Christ. As is common in Middle Eastern families, he soon paid a high cost for his newfound faith: isolation from his father for more than a decade.
By the end of his college years, Mateen sensed God’s call to Christian ministry. After completing a B.A. at Stanford University he graduated from Fuller Seminary, earning M.Div. and M.A. degrees in Biblical Studies and Theology. After several years of pastoral work he returned to school earning a Ph.D. in New Testament Studies from Durham University in England, studying under the world-renowned NT scholar James D. G. Dunn.
Mateen’s prior ministries include an associate position for a small-town Presbyterian church in Wyoming, solo pastor of a young suburban church in Arizona, and Minister of Adult Education at First Presbyterian of Colorado Springs, a church at that time of more than five thousand people. He then served as senior pastor of Immanuel Presbyterian Church in Illinois for seven years prior to completing his pastoral work as senior pastor of First Presbyterian, Edmond, OK, from 2007 to 2015.
In the fall of 2015, Mateen took up a new calling with Voice of the Truth in Colorado Springs, a ministry dedicated to reaching the Arabic-speaking peoples with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Mateen’s particular work is with churches and Christian groups eager to learn about Islam, its claims and challenges, and how to share the gospel winsomely and effectively with Muslims. He is eager to respond to opportunities for teaching and training Christians in these timely matters.
Mateen and his wife Cindy have three children: Brittany and Strider and Kendall, all now adults carrying on productive lives of their own.
His heart is for those who walk where he once walked, those who search but have not yet found the love of Jesus, especially those feeling trapped in the religious strictures of Islam. Mateen sees his experience on both sides of the Christian-Muslim divide as providing a unique opportunity to create bridges of understanding. His great hope is that God will use him to reveal the love of Jesus to those ruled by hate or fear. “God will provide mercy and guidance to those who seek him, and will equip his people to win the world with the love of Christ.”
EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on Jihad Watch.