What drives Muslims to blow themselves up in order to kill as many innocent people as possible? Desperation. Desperation channeled by ideology that convinces them that this action is a good and holy deed.
Islam was the religion of the greatest world powers from the time of its inception in the 7th century until the turn of the 19th century, and even some time after. Islam was so powerful that within about 100 years of its inception, it had swept East to modern day India and West to Spain. In the process, its adherents seized half of Christendom.
But within the flowers of this success were the seeds of its ultimate decline. In a battle over interpretation of their faith, proponents of the occasionalist philosophy called Ash’arism won out. As a result, Muslims understand God as someone can do whatever He likes, whenever He likes. This unpredictability squashes any investigation of the world. In contrast, Christians assert that God is always good, and goodness is constant. Thus the world is consistent and predictable. If I drop a ball from some height it will go down every time (and not up, or sideways, or spin in a circle).
Consequently, the scientific method developed in the West and not in Islamic centers. So, after centuries of slow development, the West surprised Muslims by stopping their advancing armies at Vienna in 1683. Then in 1798, Napoleon landed a small, but technologically advanced army in Egypt and crushed a large Muslim Mamluk Army. From that point, Muslim power unraveled. Tiny European nations captured large swaths of Muslim territory. The last vestiges of the immense Muslim empire were broken up and divided as spoils in the aftermath of World War I.nt-style:
Since that time, Muslim nations have continued to drop to the point where they are now at the bottom of nearly all development metrics. The precipitous decline of Muslim fortunes has fostered a sense of desperation. How could God’s chosen people fall to such depths? For a while, Muslim leaders emulated the successful (for a time) Nazi and Fascist governments, but Israel’s steady humiliation of Muslim armies proved that this secularization was not the answer.
Many Muslims now believe they need to return to their roots. The only possible answer to why things are so bad is that God is displeased with them. Thus the way ahead is to reassert the central place of God and rebuild and expand a Muslim Empire to establish the perfect society on earth.
One of the ways in which Muslims are allowed by their religion to spread the faith is through jihad, or holy struggle. Some Muslims assert that jihad is the “sixth pillar” or requirement of Islam. Muslims often speak of jihad as being an inner struggle against sin and temptation. This is true, but it is also true that jihad means an external struggle against infidels (unbelievers).
The rough plan in the minds of those who are leading the charge is this: the first target of jihad are the unjust rulers of Muslim nations. The second target of jihad is the division within Islam between Sunnis and Shi’ites. The third target of jihad is the infidel (Westerners and other non-Muslims). This is playing itself out now in Egypt, Syria, Iraq and a multitude of other places.
With over a billion impoverished, unemployed, desperate and discontented Muslims on earth, there is a large source of potential recruits into extremist movements who seek violent means of accomplishing this plan. Groups like the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas burrow into poor areas and dispense food, money, clothing, medical aid, and most importantly, schooling. This “education” indoctrinates radical and violent ideas, including “jihad by any means (suicide) is not only a holy, but required action”. This idea is for the most part justified within Islam, which is why there is no outcry from “Moderate” Muslims. Moreover, if Muslims stick up for Westerners, they are deemed apostates and become targets themselves.
What Must Be Done?
Within Islam, there are alternative philosophies to Ash’arism which understand the nature of God more akin to Christians. These philosophies need to be popularized. “Ash’arism is fundamentally incompatible with the world and will continue to be the source of their desperation. Unfortunately, a change of this magnitude is not only unpalatable, and is also practically impossible because Muslims do not have a central religious authority to steer the faith.
We must also understand that many Muslims are educated in their mosques and schools to hate Westerners and to see them as less than human – Christians and Jews in particular. This violent indoctrination must end. Anytime we see other human beings as less than human, violence inevitably ensues (see Nazi Germany and the Eugenics-based Pro-Choice movements for recent examples). We must lead by example in the West by valuing every human life as God does and at the same time encourage Western Muslim clerics to take the lead in making this very important change in the way Muslims see others.
These actions will be nearly impossible for Muslims to perform. Thus, I believe Islam will continue to splinter and violently explode over the next 1,000 years. If we in the West want to mitigate the secondary explosions from this, we need to live our faith. Part of the reason Muslims hate the West is because we have abandoned God. To live the Gospel, we must love our Muslim neighbors, respecting them, taking care of them, feeding them, and showing them another way, the way of love. This will give them hope and only hope will overcome a life of desperation.
The opinions expressed by the DPS blog authors and those providing comments are theirs alone; they are not necessarily the expressions or beliefs of either the Dead Philosophers Society or Holy Apostles College & Seminary.