Terror and Salvation

We all have the same future. We will all die; we will leave this planet for parts unknown. Well, unknown to some of us. There are those of us who are very sure where we’re going; we may have some misgivings about how we might get there – I’m not at all afraid of being dead, but, being a coward, the idea of getting dead does sometimes gives me pause. After that, however, I will be in heaven – that’s not up for grabs; it’s a surety and it has nothing to do with anything I’ve done. No one can point a gun at my eternal head, not even myself: I am a Christian. Over 40 years ago I realized that Jesus Christ was who He said He was and is still alive today. I understood that believing that brought with it a solid, unbreakable bond with Him and freedom to become all that I can become.

If, however, I were a Muslim, I would have no such security in my future. I would have no idea if Paradise was or was not a prospect for me. I would be looking toward an imminent judgment where Allah would choose my destiny – Allah, with whom I, nor anyone else, would ever have a personal connection. My sins would be weighed against my good deeds and if the sins outweigh, by even an atom, those works, then I’ll be lost. I’d be desperate to know then what will count as good and what will weigh against me.

But it’s confusing if you’re a Muslim because you can’t just go by what feels right. The Qur’an demands that Muslims be charitable, except, of course to non-Muslims. Those must be treated as follows: –  “… cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them” Quran (8:12).  Islam requires Muslims to pay a 2.5% tax (zakat), to say their ritual prayers (repetitions of Qur’anic verses) five times a day (salat), to also say the kalimah (a pronouncement of blessings on Allah) as often as possible, to fast for Ramadan, and to go on a haj (a pilgrimage to Mecca). These activities strike me as hollow rituals and not moral virtues, but the Qur’an does not differentiate here.

In the Christian way of thinking, God’s commandments – the Decalogue (Exodus 20) and/or Christ’s concise rendering “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ … [and]… ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,’”(Matthew 22:37-38), are our spiritual guidelines once we’ve believed in Christ’s work on the cross. Some of our nation’s laws are based on these ideas – laws dealing with murder, theft, lying, committing adultery, etc., but we see what is legal and what is spiritually beneficial as two different ideas, and we see the moral law as superior to the legal law.

A Muslim does not make that distinction. The law that requires 4 eye-witnesses in order to prosecute a rapist has just as much weight as the injunction against murder; and murder is only bad if you kill a fellow Muslim of your own sect. A Muslim is never to consort with witches, yet it is, in many Muslim countries, a common practice to seek occult assistance in reaching Paradise.

 A Muslim also has to weigh the validity of the earlier words of Mohammad against his later words since the two periods of his thinking are quite different, so a Muslim must invoke the Law of Abrogation which says recent is better. That means that a believer should adopt the more violent of the prophet’s sayings. And he must do all this moral measuring with a brain that may have been woefully affected by 47 generations of first cousin inbreeding.

I realize that not all humans have the same concern for their own eternal potential. Some think not at all about the end of life – merely eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die. Some think briefly, conclude that they’re fairly good, and God’s a nice guy and they’ll be fine. Some don’t want anything to do with God and assume that after death there is nothing. Some go the gradual route and assume they’ll have an infinite number of tries at this Nirvana thing. Some, like myself, know that their imperfections have been atoned for and their salvation is assured since it never depended on them in the first place. But many, mostly Muslims, and some confused Christians, worry about their ultimate destination and work hard to “make it” into heaven.

But what if you slip up? What if you fail to pay the tax? What if you habitually breaks some of the minor moral rules? What if you get drunk? Or sleep with a woman not one of your wives? Human beings don’t always behave them selves.

There’s only sure one option open – active and violent jihad. Sign up to get your 72 virgins, go blow someone up, or cut off their heads, or crucify them. This is how Mohammed gathered his soldiers – he promised them paradise if they died fighting for him and the spoils of war if they lived. If you work it right and can do enough damage and still keep your temporal existence, you have it made. If everything is just a balance and you do the hardest, most horrific “good” thing, then it must follow – in a twisted bit of a fortiori logic – then you can get away with anything else you want to do.

This helps explain why the news out of the Middle East has lately been so disturbing – the viciousness and brutality of ISIS is almost inhuman. How does a person get to a place where he not only thinks that beheading a child is good, but he can actually make himself do it? I find it really hard to wrap my brain around the rape, the crucifixions, the beheadings, the attacks on children. Humans have been doing these things to each other for millennia, but now this is being done because Allah told them to. It’s true that the Moabites threw babies into the fire for Baal, but Muslims are claiming that our God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, wants them to do those things.

The blasphemy makes my stomach curl up. Are these people so evil that we have to turn to demon possession for an explanation? I wish I could say yes here, but I can’t. Human nature is completely capable of such acts of depravity. There will be a future time when demon hoards will come gushing up out of the earth and torment mankind (Revelation 9), but it’s not yet that time. We have to face the fact that humanity has not “evolved” past barbarism, that given the right conditions, we are still capable of such atrocities.

Could demonic influence be at the heart of the radical Muslim mentality? Of course. Once we reject truth, we’re wide open to the lie, and Mohammed’s twisted ideas had to have come from somewhere. But my point here is to call attention to the sheer desperation his hideous ideas produce. If I had to live my life at the beck and call of a capricious, two-faced, loveless “god” who demands that his worshipers do things that all humans, since Cain and Abel, have known to be evil, I think I’d not be able to stay sane. I would become so overwhelmed with the Terror that is Allah that I’d be prone to do whatever I could to assure myself that he wasn’t going to get me too.

I’m sure that some, probably most, Muslims are habitual Muslims, people who – like many who call them selves Christians – are merely hobbyists, habitual Muslims, who march through the daily rituals and think little about it. But those who truly struggle with the impossibility of pleasing Allah, and those who see the tenants of the faith as an excuse to live a vicious, violent life, those people must be feared and stopped, but as we fight them, we can also pity them and pray for their deliverance. There but for the grace of God go I.