As the shock of the Paris attacks died down, many reasonable and well-intentioned Christians followed in the steps of less reasonable and less well-intentioned secularists, declaring that it would be a mistake to lay responsibility for such acts of terrorism at the feet of all Muslims (a self-evidently true statement) or on Islam itself (far from self-evidently true). An ordained Christian minister whom I have known for years rightly pointed out that those who refuse to believe individual Muslims when they say that they do not support violent jihad are effectively calling them “liars or mere stooges.” Yet he and others who keep repeating that “ISIS doesn’t represent all of Islam” (a self-evidently true statement) all too often gently slide into implying something more: that ISIS is, in some essential way, not truly Islamic (far from self-evidently true).
The leaders of the Islamic State, needless to say, disagree with these well-meaning Christians. Here is how the former describe the jihadists of Paris:Share
This group of believers were youth who divorced the worldly life and advanced towards their enemy hoping to be killed for Allah’s sake, doing so in support of His religion, His Prophet (blessing and peace be upon him), and His allies. They did so in spite of His enemies. Thus, they were truthful with Allah—we consider them so—and Allah granted victory upon their hands and cast terror into the hearts of the crusaders in their very own homeland.Those who do not take representatives of the Islamic State at their word when they claim that they are acting on behalf of Islam and in accordance with Islamic principles are calling them “liars” as well. At best, they are judging these Muslims’ self-understanding of their religion in the same way that the teenaged atheist does when he says to a Catholic or a Lutheran, “If you were really a Christian, you would . . . ” The problem becomes even worse when they refuse to believe seemingly nonradical Muslims who, say, express a desire to see sharia imposed in Western countries or are reluctant to condemn acts of terror committed by other Muslims because, as the president of the Muslim Association of Greater Rockford once told Aaron Wolf and me, Islam is a pendulum that can “swing to the extremes and come back to the middle, but you are still within the boundaries” of Islam, and thus “You can believe someone is a terrorist, and I don’t.” Claiming that a man who freely volunteers such statements “doesn’t really mean it” or “doesn’t understand what he is saying” isn’t giving him the benefit of the doubt; it is calling him either stupid or a liar. (Read more.)