IS IT AN IDEOLOGY OR A RELIGION?
As Christians, I think it is important we become aware of the doctrines, ideas, culture, and practices of the Islamic world in which we have recently been immersed through the historic migration of peoples from Muslim countries, especially Syria, and the emergence of ISIL, a radical interpretation of the Qu’ran, or the teachings of Islam, with the end result being world dominance.
According to the dictionary an ideology is a body of ideas that reflects the beliefs and interests of a nation, political system, and underlies its political action; also, the integrated assertions, theories and aims that constitute a sociopolitical program, and “is usually taken to mean a prescriptive doctrine that is not supported by a rational argument”. (D.D. Raphael, 1970)
Broadly speaking, a religion is defined as an organized system of beliefs, ceremonies, and rules used to worship a god, or a group of gods; beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe when considered the creation of a supernatural agency, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs. Religion is the human response to that which is sacred, holy, absolute, spiritual, divine, or worthy of especial reverence, and deals with the ultimate concerns about their fate after death.
Islam is the Arabic word for “submission”, and a Muslim is any person who has submitted to God, and in a sense, are slaves of Allah ( Arabic for God). The focus of their religion is to do the will of Allah, and please him by good works, known as the Five Pillars of Islam. Hopefully their good works will outweigh their evil works so they can enter the paradise of God. They have no other assurance of Allah’s acceptance before death.
So Islam is both and an ideology and a religion.
ISIL operates as an ideology because it sees itself as a nation state, or a caliphate, using violence, cruelty and Jihad (Arabic for struggle) against Muslims, Christians, and Jews, or those they consider apostates and unbelievers. This group teaches its adherents that the only sure way of gaining Paradise is to commit Jihad, or holy war against the infidel. It can be viewed as “Islamism” because it envisions a political solution in terms of a struggle, and demands absolute loyalty from its followers, and a willingness to die for the cause.
The 19th and 20th centuries saw the rise of Communism, Nazism and Facism, and certain forms of Nationalism. We in the 21st century are confronted with Islamism, an ideology wearing the slimy cloak of religion.
I am currently studying the Qu’ran, (Arabic for Recitation) a very difficult book to understand. Mohammed did not know how to read or write, so common in the 7th Century Arab world of Caravan traders like himself. So he transmitted it orally by reciting it to his followers over a period of some 23 years. It has no order, or spiritual coherence, and the linear Western mind sees it as a rambling jumble of half-truths. But it can also be viewed as a steppingstone for Muslims to explore the Bible, the whole truth of God’s relationship to man, from Genesis to Revelation.
What does the Qu’ran have to say about Esa al Masih (Arabic for Jesus Christ, the Anointed One, or Messiah)?
Tune in for next week’s installment. Feel free to comment and ask questions.