Identifying Radicals, Reformers and Revivalists

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Well, I hope you’re buckled in because we’re finishing this week off with two very exciting lessons!  Our excursion today will take us deeper into the world of Muslim activists, and tomorrow’s excursion…well, I’m holding on to that surprise!  But be prepared…it may very well challenge your thinking!

It is likely no surprise to you that Islam is rapidly growing throughout most of the world.  Though we won’t belabor that point, it lays the foundation for where we’re headed today.  So, take a quick look at demographic stats found on Wikipedia.  As you see, over 1.5 billion people on the planet (approximately 23%) consider themselves Muslim.  Likewise, Islam is the second largest religion in America.  Furthermore the Pew Research Center projects America’s Muslim population to explode from 2.6 million in 2010 to 6.2 million in 2030.

Given what we know about the teaching of violence in the Qur’an, it is no surprise that terrorism is a constant threat.  Don’t be fooled in thinking that terrorist operate only in the Middle East.  911 should be evidence enough of that!  But did you know that terrorist cells are operating all over the US this very moment?  Take a look at the Terrorist Networks in the United States.  What groups are functioning in your backyard?

Armed with that data, let’s jump ship and head out on today’s adventure!  The remainder of today’s study is based on Joel Rosenberg’s Best Seller, Inside the Revolution.  We’ll only scratch the surface, so I encourage you to invest in the book and read “the rest of the story!”

Rosenberg does an excellent job defining various Muslim activist groups and helping us in the Western world wrap our minds around this Middle Eastern mindset.  He has identified radicals, reformers and revivalists.  It’s a fascinating look, so let’s tune into his definition and description of each group.

Radicals“Islam is the answer, jihad is the way!”

Those involved in the most threatening activist group are known as radicals, and their mantra is “Islam is the answer, jihad is the way!”  They are fully entrenched in Qur’anic teachings regarding jihad; and among Shia Muslims, it is believed they are “called” to purposely bring about chaos resulting in end times and the appearing of the Mahdi (Muslim messiah).  They have no reservations in expressing their goals and rallying other radicals to help them succeed in their plans.

Click on the following links and consider these quotes:

Other radicals include current Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, former Iranian president Rafsanjani, Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah and now deceased, Osama bin Laden.

Rosenberg suggests that the root of their rage may stem from nearly a century of sound military defeats at the hands of the Israelis, the decline of intellectual successes, the growth of poverty and other demoralizing circumstances.  In fact, during a speech to senior Muslim officials in Islamabad in February 2002, Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf stated, “Today we are the poorest, the most illiterate, the most backward, the most unhealthy, the most unenlightened, the most deprived, and the weakest of all the human race.”  (BBC News, February 16, 2002)

Thus, radical leaders, realizing the downfall of Muslim countries, now see the answer as violent jihad. Thus, these ideas dot the Muslim landscape:  “Only Islam can give us hope,” (Shia terrorist leader Mohammed Taki al Moudarrissi); “Violence is the heart of Islam,” (Mesbah Yazdi, Iranian cleric/spiritual advisor to Ahmadinejad).

Also among the radicals is the Muslim Brotherhood, who recently took control of Egypt, but was then overthrown.  For good measure, google “Muslim Brotherhood motto.”  What is that motto?

Reformers“Islam is the answer, but jihad is not the way.”

Some may ask, “Isn’t there anyone in the Muslim world with any degree of rationalization?”  Indeed, there is a group of reformers among the Muslims, with various degrees of “rationalization!”

The reality is that a very serious war is being waged for the hearts and souls of Muslims.  While radicals insist that “Islam is the answer, and jihad is the way” and incite violence at virtually every turn, reformers insist that Islam is a religion of peace, but that radicals are perverting Islam to serve their own purposes.  Their mantra is “Islam is the answer, but jihad is not the way.”  Both positions buy into two different perspectives of the same deceitful “holy book,” the Qur’an.

Radicals obviously point to verses in the Qur’an (such as those we’ve previously studied) that lend credence to violence toward Jews and Christians and actually encourage it.  However, from the very same book, reformers draw upon verses that support their view that Islam is a religion of peace.  Here are some examples:

Therefore, reformers opine that Islam was sent as a message of liberation.  Yet, that flies in the face of the radicals.  Not unlike the Christian battles that rage between those who take God’s Word as straight-forward and authoritative versus those who choose to place man’s fallible opinions above the Word of God, there is a battle for real truth among Muslims as well!  The over arching difference is that Muslim radicals and reformers both use a corrupt holy book as their foundation, whereas Christians (even misguided ones) have a foundation that is God-breathed and profitable for teaching, reproof, correction and training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16) if taken in the straight-forward reading and context that was intended when God inspired it.

There are shared beliefs between radicals and reformers in the Muslim world.  Few would disagree that:

  • Enormous social and economic challenges are present in the Muslim world.
  • Islamic societies have failed to provide quality of life.
  • Political stagnation exists.
  • Western culture (movies, TV, music, pornography, etc) has had subtle, harmful effects on children.

However, unlike radicals, reformers do not believe that violence is the vehicle for change, nor do they believe that imposing their religion on others is appropriate.  They do not view the West as a mortal enemy and they do not seek to bring about the end of the world.  Instead, they argue that providing Muslim people with more freedom, more openness, more human and civil rights and more representative government is the key.

As you can understand, then, to take a stand on those views draws the ire of radicals who may as soon eliminate a rival faction, even if they are fellow Muslims.  Indeed, you see extraordinary violence between Muslims themselves.   A great example is ISIS (Sunni Muslims).  They have destroyed countless Shi’ite mosques in Iraq and Syria.

We have seen sweeping “revolutions” all over the Muslim world.  Beginning in Tunisia and quickly spreading to nations such as Egypt, Libya, Syria, Iraq, Yemen and beyond, the battle is being waged between radicals and reformers.  Which way will the pendulum swing as we head deeper into the last days?

It seems to beg the question: Is Islam really the answer?  Obviously, it seems to bode better for everyone involved if the reformers win out.

However, it’s a bit like watching two hated teams battle for a championship.  You hate that either made it, but you root for the lesser of two evils!

But allow me to share food for thought!  Radicals believe Islam is the answer and jihad is the way.  Reformers believe Islam is the answer, but jihad is not the way.  As Christ followers, we are convinced that neither the radicals nor the reformers have the right answer, yet one of them at least realizes an incorrect way!  Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me!”  (John 14:6)

Everyone seems to be looking for “a way”…whether politically, financially or in power.  Let’s pray that those who know that jihad is not the way will find Jesus to be the way, and that radicals and reformers alike will find that Islam is a dead end, but that Jesus promises to be the way, the truth and the life for them.  Jesus is the answer AND the way…and our next group, revivalists, have figured that out!

Revivalists“Islam is not the answer, and jihad is not the way; Jesus is the way!”

Whoa…wait a second!  Would a Muslim ever say, “Jesus is the way?”  You might be surprised!  This is where things start to get really mind-boggling, so stay plugged in for the rest of today’s study; then, whatever you do, don’t miss tomorrow’s!

Current news and international headlines will not tell you that perhaps the greatest spiritual awakening in history is taking place right now in the Middle East!  Muslims are in search of truth, and Jehovah God is revealing Himself to them in ways that seem absolutely foreign to us as Westerners!  How many of us have been awakened in the middle of the night to find the Lord supernaturally standing before us?  How many of us have actually heard Jesus’ voice speaking to us?  How many have had dreams and visions so absolutely supernatural that it could be nothing more than the Lord introducing Himself in unmistakable ways?  It’s happening to droves of Middle Eastern Arabs and Persians every single day!

There is simply not enough time in today’s lesson for me to share all the fabulous stories I have heard.  Instead, let me point you to three incredible resources (books) of personal “revivalist” stories, then leave you with Joel Rosenberg’s blog post of April 10, 2009.  First I highly recommend these personal accounts:

  • Son of Hamas by Mosab Hasan Yousef (Literally, a son of a Hamas founder, raised to be a terrorist, who later became a spy for Israel and then a Christian, now living in America.)
  • Once an Arafat Man by Tass Saada (Once a PLO sniper whose family was closely associated with Yassar Arafat, now a Christian living in America.)
  • Beyond the Crescent Curtain by David LeCompte (A compilation of testimonies from former Muslims throughout the Middle East, many of whom have experienced dreams and vision and have come to know Jesus personally.)

Now, finish off today’s study by reading More Ex-Muslims will Celebrate Easter this Year than any Other Time in History, Joel Rosenberg’s blog post of April 10, 2009.  Fascinating, though several years old now!

  • According to Joel, how many Shia Muslims have come to Christ since 1979?
  • How many Christians are in Pakistan?
  • In Sudan, how many followers of Christ are there?
  • In Syria?
  • In Saudi Arabia…the birthplace of Islam?
  • In 2001, according to Sheikh Ahmad Al Qataani, how many Muslims convert to Christianity?

Your study for today is done, but let the praise continue!  Our God absolutely desires that none should perish!  Amen!

Please join us tomorrow when we will study perhaps the most challenging lesson of the entire study!  You will be blessed!

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